Twitter facebook
 
Spirits Trends

The New Class of Cocktail-Friendly Spirits

January 3, 2012 By: Robert Plotkin


One of the underlying precepts of modern cocktail culture is the better the liquor, the better the resulting drink. It’s as irrefutable as gravity. The reality, however, is that some spirits seem to prefer a more solitary existence, swirling alone in a snifter or languishing in a glass of ice. Others fortunately are adept at mingling and get along well with others. To a man, these charismatic and character-laden spirits are capable of propelling all cocktails that cross their path toward greatness. Like the spark of genius, some have it — most don’t.

So if sipping a slice of the good life is in your near future, consider expanding your cocktail horizons with a few new, engaging spirits. Your satisfaction is guaranteed and insured by Lloyd’s of London.

Topping this roster is Hangar One Frazier River Raspberry Vodka, a handcrafted, altogether captivating spirit produced each June from Washington State raspberries. The freshly picked berries are macerated in vodka, after which the fruit-infused spirit is redistilled in an alembic still. Before bottling, raspberry juice is added for complexity and a touch of natural sweetness and color.

The vodka has a lush, supple body and focused aromas of sun-drenched raspberries warming on the vine. It immediately bathes the palate with waves of long-lasting flavors that rival the real thing. Hangar One’s raspberry gem is sensational playing the lead in the Fraser River Cosmo, an inspired cocktail that also includes Cointreau, white cranberry and lime juice. From first sip to silky finish, the drink is a treat for the senses.

If zesty and refreshing sound tempting, get ready to salivate because Ketel One Citroen Vodka is all that and more. Made in Holland, the small-batch wheat vodka is an aromatic bonanza and dripping with the puckery flavors of freshly sliced limes and lemons. Few cocktails better showcase its inimitable talents than the Citroen Cubana, an exuberant twist on the Mojito. The tall drink is prepared using muddled limes, sugar and mint leaves, a splash of limoncello and a healthy dose of Ketel One Citroen. Before sending it on its way, top the concoction off with Perrier and an ample wedge of fresh lime.

Recent arrival Magellan Gin is causing quite a stir in cocktail lounges on several continents. The French import is made in small batches from triple-distilled neutral spirits, spring water and 11 botanicals, a mix that includes cloves and deep-blue Iris petals. The resulting spirit has lively citrus, floral and spicy flavors, and a naturally produced, light blue tint. Magellan Gin is well cast as the lead in the resurgent Aviation Cocktail. Cool, crisp and delicious, the classic drink also contains maraschino liqueur and a splash of fresh lemon juice.

The barista in you is going to flip over Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka, a classy, caffeine-enriched spirit with more flavor than it knows what to do with. Imported from Holland, the singular release has a rich, espresso palate and wafting bouquet of ground coffee. Among the vodka’s repertoire of creative uses is the universally appealing Double Dutch Espresso Martini, a delectable cocktail featuring Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka, Grand Marnier, Baileys Irish Cream and freshly brewed coffee. The ingredients are shaken, then served cold and frothy.

For those on the lookout for a cocktail with a high degree of sophistication, the search is over. First devised at London’s Savoy Hotel in the late 1920s, the peerless Bobby Burns Cocktail reaches its full potential when prepared with Highlander Dalmore Cigar Malt, a remarkably flavorful whisky comprised of a high percentage of Oloroso matured malts. Its velvety textured body delivers a rich palate of malt, honey and chocolate with Sherry notes. In the all-important supporting role I recruited Vya Preferred California Sweet Vermouth by winemaker Andrew Quady of Madera, Calif. Finished with a spot of centuries-old Benedictine the cocktail is exquisite.

Summer Year ‘Round

Cruzan Mango Rum from the Virgin Islands is first-class passage to paradise at steerage prices. Clear and light-bodied with a touch of natural sweetness in the finish, this tropical thoroughbred was seemingly bred for a life behind the bar. A prime example is the St. Croix Daiquiri, a sublime combination of Cruzan’s 5-year-old Diamond Estate Rum, the mango rum and fresh lime juice. Stylish and easily prepared, the cocktail is a sure thing.

There’s also even money riding on the Green Leaf Sidecar, a 21st century twist on a timeless classic starring hand-distilled Domaine Charbay Green Tea Vodka. The artisanal vodka is a singularly authentic expression imbued with the aroma and flavor brewed of green tea. The delightfully understated cocktail pairs the herbal-laced vodka with Cointreau and fresh lemon sour mix served in chilled glass drizzled on the inside with honey.

Stocking your bar with upper echelon brands needn’t blindside your wallet. Most of the spirits mentioned hover in the low 20s to mid-30s. Among the few exceptions is ultra-popular Partida 100% Agave Blanco Tequila, a vivacious silver tequila distilled from mature, estate-grown agaves cultivated in the lowlands of Amatitán, Mexico. Bottled fresh from the still, the sleek tequila is highly aromatic and delicately nuanced with herbal, peppery and citrus flavors.

A quick sip of the Partida Blanco will confirm that you’re in the presence of greatness, and while no prima Donna, the tequila deserves star treatment. To that end, cocktail and spirits authority Jacques Bezuidenhout of San Francisco designed the Partida Margarita, a minimalist’s dream come true made with the blanco and fresh lime juice sweetened with agave syrup.

Another breakaway contender is Scorpion 5-year-old Añejo 100% Agave Mezcal. Retailing around $180, it’s not the mezcal of your fraternity days. Scorpion is a highly refined, pot-distilled spirit handcrafted in Oaxaca, Mexico. As for the scorpion exoskeleton inside bottle, it’s included at no extra charge.

The brand’s growing popularity sparked the inception of the Stinger Margarita, a cocktail featuring mondo amazing Partida 100% Agave Añejo Tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime sour mix and a generous float of Scorpion 5-Year Reserva, which adds a much appreciated dose of smoke to the finish.

In the anchor position is newcomer Barsol Pisco Traditional Peruvian Italia Brandy from Bodega San Isidro, a spirit with charm, grace and loads of cocktail-friendly character. Produced in a number of varietal types, this bottling was pot distilled from Italian-style Muscat grapes. Semisweet, fruity with tart citrus notes, the Italia proved most qualified for use in Barsol’s Sideways Pisco Sour, a Pinot Noir-laced variation on the classic South American favorite. Salud!


 

Tiki Recipes to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Fraser River Cosmo

2 ounces Hangar One Fraser River Raspberry Vodka
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce white cranberry juice
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice (strained)

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass. Shake vigorously and strain contents into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an ample wedge of lime. Note: Simple syrup is prepared by combining one cup of sugar with an equal amount of near boiling water. Stir and let cool before use.

Citroen Cubana

2 1/2 ounces Ketel One Citroen Vodka
1/2 ounce Limoncello
1/2 ounce simple syrup
6-8 mint leaves (no stems)
Half of a lime (quartered)
Healthy splash of Perrier (about 1 ounce)

Place the mint leaves, lime wedges and simple syrup into an empty, 12-ounce double Old Fashioned glass. Muddle contents and add ice. Pour in the Ketel One Citroen, limoncello and finish with a splash of Perrier. Garnish with an ample wedge of lime.

Aviation Cocktail

2 ounces Magellan Gin
3/4 ounce Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice (strained)

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass. Shake vigorously and strain contents into a chilled cocktail glass.

Double Dutch Espresso Martini

2 1/2 ounces Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka
3/4 ounce Grand Marnier
3/4 ounce Baileys Irish Cream
1 1/2 ounces freshly brewed coffee

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass. Shake vigorously and strain contents into a chilled cocktail glass.

Bobby Burns

2 1/2 ounces Dalmore Cigar Malt Single Highland Malt Scotch
1 ounce Vya Preferred California Sweet Vermouth
1/2 ounce Benedictine Liqueur

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass. Stir and strain contents into a chilled cocktail glass.

Sideways Pisco Sour

2 ounces Barsol Torontel Pisco Brandy
1 ounce fresh lemon juice (strained)
1 ounce simple syrup
1-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 egg white (Pasteurized)
1 ounce Pinot Noir

Pour brandy, lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters and egg white into an iced mixing glass. Shake vigorously and strain contents into a chilled cocktail glass. Pour your favorite Pinot Noir on top of the cocktail and garnish with a lemon wheel.

Green Leaf Sidecar

2 1/4 ounces Domaine Charbay Green Tea Vodka
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice (strained)

Pour vodka, Cointreau, simple syrup and lemon juice into an iced mixing glass. Shake vigorously and strain contents into a chilled cocktail glass drizzled on the inside with honey.

Partida Margarita

1 1/2 ounces Partida Silver Tequila
1 ounce fresh lime juice (strained)
3/4 ounce agave nectar
3/4 ounce water

Pour tequila, lime juice, agave nectar and water into an iced mixing glass. Shake vigorously and strain contents into a chilled cocktail glass with a partially salted rim. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Stinger Margarita

1 1/2 ounces Partida Añejo Tequila
1 ounce Scorpion 5-Year Old Añejo Mezcal
1 ounce fresh lime juice (strained)
3/4 ounce agave nectar
3/4 ounce water

Pour tequila, lime juice, agave nectar and water into an iced mixing glass. Shake vigorously and strain contents into a chilled cocktail glass with a partially salted rim. Pour Scorpion Mezcal on top of the cocktail and garnish with a lime wedge.

St. Croix Mango Daiquiri

1 3/4 ounces Cruzan Mango Flavored Rum
1 ounce Cruzan Diamond Estate 5-Year Old Rum
1 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces fresh lime juice (strained)

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass. Shake vigorously and strain contents into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

 


Add Comment


© 2014 Questex Media Group LLC. All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited
Please send any technical comments or questions to our webmaster.