12 Most Interesting New Products for Cocktails
The Twelve most interesting new products for cocktails? Certainly there are more than 12, but for the intent of this assignment, I chose 12 that influenced me in positive ways this past year.
Sure there are some recognizable brands and a couple of under the radar finds. I was a Ministry of Rum judge in 2010, so Rum fits the profile as do bitters and of course Bourbon!
This year I was named the “On Whiskey” Columnist for OKRA Magazine in New Orleans- and that led me to the discovery of Absinthe- another historic spirit enjoyed in New Orleans, location of Tales of the Cocktail.
Twelve? Only Twelve? I’d better get cracking!
1. Bitter End Bitters
Founded by Santa Fe resident Bill York, Bitter End Bitters are not your grandparent’s supermarket bitters. These organically produced flavor concentrates tantalize and challenge even the most jaded of imbibers!
2. Bluewater Vodka
Founded by John Lundin, a consummate sailor who lives on a sailboat in Seattle. Bluewater is crisp, aromatic and artisan distilled using pristine Colorado spring water. It is also certified USDA Organic! I love it with a slice of grilled clementine- along with a good splash of the charred juice!
Mountain High Cocktail
2 shots Bluewater USDA Certified Organic Vodka
6 Clementines, peeled then sliced into 1/2′s then seared in a cast iron pan, then juiced
Dash of Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1 Medicine dropper of Bitter End Thai Bitters
Juice the grilled Clementines, reserve and keep cool
chill a Martini glass well with ice and water
to a cocktail shaker add 1/2 with ice
add Bluewater Vodka
add 1 Medicine dropper of the Bitter End Thai Bitters
add the Clementine juice and a splash of the sweet Vermouth
Shake and strain into the pre-chilled Martini glass
Garnish with a segment of a Clementine (un-grilled)
Art in the Age out of Philadelphia has set back the cocktail clock by creating a unique Ginger Snap Liquor. Weighing in at a hefty 80 proof, this is not a sickly sweet cordial, nor does it resemble some corn syrup laced vodkas. It is akin to the flavor of true American craft whiskey with crushed ginger snap cookies in the mix. Truly distinctive and aromatic, the culinary and cocktail opportunities abound!
4. Denizen Rum
Rum from Amsterdam? Sure, many rums are produced in places other than the Caribbean these days. I’m not talking Rum Agricole from Martinique, but I am rather fond of Denizen with a cube of coconut water ice and a squeeze of lime.
5. Ron de Jeremy Rum
Wait a minute. Does the famed Hedgehog have a rum named after him? He certainly does- and it drinks like the famed and highly illegal cigar rums of Cuba. Laced with a smooth, long taste- reminiscent of the original Havana Club – this smoky, caramelized sugar cane rum makes a fantastic hot buttered rum…
6. Jim Beam Devil’s Cut
What is the Devil’s Cut? It is the new, unique liquor that is soaked deeply into the aging barrel. There was a time that the Bourbon only had a second life influencing the aging of Rum, Scotch and Beer. The Jim Beam Company has developed a method of extracting the Devil’s Cut from the barrel. When blended with 80 proof Bourbon the result is deeply oaked and satisfying. They say mix it with cola, I say drink it in a crystal snifter with a splash of cool branch water to release the burn.
7. Tuthilltown White Whiskey
Suddenly the birth of moonshining is chic. Corn Whiskey is ultra-hot on the cocktail scene! New York’s Hudson Valley, Tuthilltown Distillery has recreated a lost art of making once forbidden Corn Whiskey and given it a new life. What exactly is White Whiskey? It’s a Moonshiner’s Nightmare!
I’d be remiss if I missed talking about Absinthe. This is the veritable BAD BOY of the cocktail world. Absinthe is refreshing and delicious in the heat of the summer or spine heating savory in the cold. Most of the new brands of Absinthe are not intentionally ratcheting back the distillation strength by diluting them with water, quite the opposite with some brands approaching 150 proof! This is history in a glass personified. You can taste Tenneyson from France alongside Jade Nouvelle Orleans Absinthe Verte, or perhaps your tastes run towards the Basil heavy St. George from the left coast? How does Absinthe from Wisconsin the explosively flavorful Amerique 1912 stimulate your olfactory glands? There is great diversity in Absinthe, keep tasting them- each is unique and quite dreamy!
9. Dalmore 18
Think of an old, wet tweed jacket, soaked in seawater, then dried out in front of a smoky, peat fire. The inside of your body is shivering after that near fatal slip into the 40-degree ocean. You’re cold, soaked perhaps and very thirsty. Dalmore has handcrafted a lovely dram of Scotch- oily, peaty, smoky- it’s a trip to Scotland without leaving the warmth of your man cave or forcing you to wear wet tweed!
10. Caorunn Gin from Scotland
Sure, you may not have heard of Caorunn as of yet- but I have a feeling you will. This is part of a new style of the next wave of Botanical Gin, made in this case at a Whisky distillery. I detect apple in the nose and the fire driven punch of Juniper berries and Scottish herbs. It’s intriguing to taste- I recently did a highly unscientific tasting of Caorunn to St. George Gin and Nolet Gin, along with Bulldog Gin and the perennial favorite Hendrick’s Gin. They are part of a new style Gins- all of them. Not your grandfather’s G&T with a lime drinks. I’d dare say that the new wave of Gin should blow the tonic right out of your glass!
11. Royal Rose Simple Syrups
Made all by hand in Brooklyn, NY using natural and organic ingredients with flavors like Three Chiles, Lavender/Lemon, cardamom/clove and my personal favorite “Rose.” The seasonal specialty named Autumn Plum may be my contender for the most intriguing addition of sweetness to your cocktails this year. I also like them mixed simply with seltzer to become a very sophisticated, yet non-alcoholic- soda fountain drink!
12. Williams-Sonoma, Foodista
Number Twelve tied for four places on the WWW. Williams-Sonoma and Foodista who include me on their mastheads and allow me to create cocktails for their magazines. In a way they have done more for my education in the cocktalian arts than any one product. Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t include world renowned cocktalian-Gaz Regan who interviewed me for an interview in the San Francisco Chronicle on…Yup, you guessed it. Cocktails. I’d be more than remiss if I didn’t include Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail who awarded me a Media Pass for the 2011 event in New Orleans.
There are hundreds of new cocktails using all sorts of interesting ingredients
invented by extremely talented and creative cocktail chefs, mixologists and just
plain folk every year.
My goal is to throw my talent into the top shelf of this equation. Do you have a
favorite new drink that you’d like to share? Why not leave a comment and let us
Cheers and Happy New Year!