Hot New Spirits of SummerJune 16, 2014 By: Robert Plotkin
Between the thinning ozone and rising temperatures, your clientele is developing a palpable thirst. The question is — how do you best revive their wilting spirits? Don’t wait for things to happen, formulate a plan. Flex your creative muscle and devise summer drink specialties that reflect the individuality of your establishment.
“One of the best ways to distinguish your bar from its competitors is to market spirits on the backbar that are new, exciting and loaded with summertime appeal,” says Eeron Redhead, New York native and master blender at Eastern Caribbean Rum Company on Granada, makers of Canne Royale Extra Old Rum. “Here in the Caribbean we know all about having fun in the sun. And there’s no better way to celebrate the season than with a tall cold drink made with a great rum, especially if the rum is something fabulous that you haven’t experienced before.”
If you’re looking for a new rum to feature in your summer specialties look no further than Cannes Royale Extra Old Rum. It’s a blend of rums aged in charred oak barrels for up to 8 years. During its long maturation process, the rum gradually absorbs the tannins in the wood rendering it a dark copper color and imbuing it with fruit and oaky flavors. The rum is loaded with character that makes it a prime candidate for a classic Daiquiri.
Another new product perfect for summertime promotion is Solbeso, the world’s first spirit distilled from cacao fruit harvested on family farms in Ecuador and Peru. Cacao has long been celebrated for its many health benefits and as the key ingredient in chocolate. Because the cacao fruit is highly perishable, it is distilled shortly after harvesting in a specially designed alembic still. Solbeso is a vivacious spirit with a wafting floral and mocha bouquet and a one-of-a-kind citrus and spice taste.
“What makes Solbeso so much fun to work with is how well it performs in a wide variety of cocktails and drinks,” says mixologist Luis Garcia of Brother Jimmy’s BBQ in Miami. “Being distilled from cacao fruit, Solbeso is unlike any other white spirit. My experience is the best way to enjoy an exotic cocktail on a summer afternoon is when it’s made with an exotic spirit.”
A great summer specialty needn’t be complicated to be thoroughly satisfying. Case in point is French import AGA•VIE D’Argent, a groundbreaking spirit made with a blend of premium blanco tequila and lush, young Cognac. Enjoying this hybrid spirit is as close as the nearest iced tumbler. Guaranteed neither you nor your clientele have tasted anything remotely like it before.
AGA•VIE D’Argent is a gustatory gem, a summertime spirit ideal for use in any number of contemporary cocktails. It marries seamlessly with brandy and tequila, and is a natural in a specialty Margarita. But before you go off and start mixing AGA•VIE in cocktails, you owe it to yourself to take a long moment and sample it neat.
Few drinks are more closely associated with summertime than the iconic gin & tonic. Why not give your parched guests a new taste experience and build the drink with Fords Gin, a new brilliantly flavored gin created by acclaimed mixologist Simon Ford. The 90-proof, juniper-forward spirit is crafted on a base of wheat neutral spirits macerated with citrus (bitter orange, lemon and grapefruit peels), flora (jasmine flower and orris) and spice (angelica and cassia). The botanicals are steeped for 15 hours before being distilled in a traditional pot still.
“For Fords Gin we chose a botanical profile that would work well in as many classic drinks as possible,” says Ford, co-founder of the importer, The 86 Company. “We wanted a high juniper content to complement lime citrus drinks, as well as lemon citrus drinks. In addition, we ensured the gin had a good oil content for smooth, silky Martinis.”
Sizzlin’ Summer Rums
Welcome to the United States Selvarey Rum, a pair of exquisite spirits made by the legendary master distiller, Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez in the hot and steamy jungles of Panama. Selvarey White is a blend of column-distilled rums matured in charred American white oak barrels for 3 to 5 years. The younger rums add aromatics and vibrancy to the finished spirit, while the older rums contribute tremendous depth of flavor. Prior to bottling, the rum is filtered to remove its oak-induced color.
Equally enticing is Selvarey Cacao, an ultra-premium rum barrel-aged for 5 years and infused with the finest, locally sourced chocolate. The rich, amber rum is a genuine treat for the senses that enjoys unlimited applications behind the bar.
“Those of us in the on-premise business are always on the hunt for new and exciting spirits to showcase in our cocktails,” contends Aidan Demarest, renowned mixologist and Selvarey brand ambassador. “It’s an absolute joy crafting cocktails and mixed drinks with these two extraordinary rums. There’s nothing remotely like them on your backbar”
From the Green Mountains of Vermont comes Mad River Distillers Maple Rum, a spirit distilled from local cane, matured in fresh charred American oak barrels and then finished in casks that were previously used to age Vermont maple syrup. The resulting spirit is singularly delicious.
According to Mad River Distillers’ CEO John Egan, double barreling gives the Maple Rum a complexity and smoothness that is more characteristic of a whiskey or brandy. “As a result, it can be sipped on the rocks or used in traditional whiskey or brandy cocktails like a Manhattan or a Sidecar.”
Blue Chair Bay Rums are a wildly popular range of rums created by country music megastar Kenny Chesney. A lifelong devotee of the island lifestyle, Chesney set out to capture the beauty and sublime flavors of the Caribbean in a series of super-premium rums. His new chart-topper is Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum, a luscious flavored rum distilled from molasses on the island of Barbados and mellowed in casks literally 100 yards from the beach.
“Our three original flavors set an incredibly high bar, so we took our time with our latest addition. Just like life at the beach, some of the greatest things just can’t be rushed,” says Mark Montgomery, CEO of Fishbowl Spirits, parent company of Blue Chair Bay Rum. “Like the first three flavors, our banana rum embodies the ‘anytime, anywhere’ spirit of the islands with each sip.”
Also debuting just in time for summer is Tiburon Rum, a family-owned brand of premium dark rum handcrafted in Belize. This seductive aged rum is a blend of various molasses-based rums; each barrel-aged a minimum of 4 years, first in rum casks and then finished in ex-bourbon barrels.
Tiburon, 80 proof, well reflects the diversity of its blend. It has a shimmery amber/gold color and a honey, vanilla, caramel, chocolate and cinnamon bouquet. The rum quickly bathes the palate with the bakery-fresh flavors of nutmeg, toffee, banana and dark chocolate. The finish is long and spicy warm, making it well suited for drink making.
New Summer Spirits
Italian import Punzoné Organic Vodka is made at the Cantine Sgarzi Luigi winery in Piemonte, Italy from organic wheat grown exclusively in northern Italy and spring water drawn from the nearby Alps.
“Quality is luxury,” states Frank Guerrera, CEO and founder of Punzoné, Inc. “Our vodka is made from the finest and freshest organic ingredients, all of which are sourced from the nearby farms of northern Italy and produced at a world-class winery and distillery. Punzoné’s authenticity and craftsmanship is what makes us luxurious.”
Seemingly tailor-made for summer evenings is Punzoné Originale, an ultra-premium infusion in which the Punzoné Vodka is steeped with organic Sangiovese-grape sangria and organic blood oranges grown in southern Italy. Bottled at 17% alcohol (34 proof), the relatively low alcohol content allows its lush flavors to luxuriate on the palate for an agreeably long time. The red hued “cocktail punch” has a satiny, lightweight body and an alluring, fresh fruit bouquet. It glides lightly over the palate before slipping away into a delicious, artfully balanced finish.
Now a local favorite in hometown Austin, Texas, Deep Eddy Vodka is a range of skillfully crafted vodkas steeped in fun, romance and uncompromised quality. Its bestselling Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka is a classic summertime performer. The flavored treat is infused with black Indonesian tea leaves, organic honey and a touch of pure cane sugar. It is then rigorously filtered through charcoal for purity and bottled at 35% alcohol (70 proof).
According to co-founder Chad Auler there are two things that distinguish Deep Eddy from the competition—the liquid and the brand. “Our vodkas are made exclusively with high quality, real ingredients. We then pair the premium liquid with a brand look-and-feel that harkens back to quality, purity and innocent excitement of the 1950s. Every aspect of the brand experience from liquid to marketing says that it stands for quality, authenticity and just plain fun.”
And finally, our last new summer celebrity is Old Barrel Vodka, a classy French import that more closely resembles a young alembic brandy than a white spirit. The base grain vodka is five-times column distilled prior to being macerated in French Limousin oak barrels used previously to age Cognac.
“During its stay in the French oak, the vodka develops a lustrous color, a brandy like set of aromas and a finish full of Cognac flavors,” comments Irina Kogan of president of Aiko Importers, Inc. “Old Barrel Vodka is both excellent used in craft cocktails, or sipped chilled or over ice.”
À Votre Santé!