Favorite Drinks from the Seattle area Cocktail Scene

Seems apt to talk about what's being shaken or stirred behind the bar these days. The Seattle-area cocktail scene is vibrant; the drinks more sophisticated and inventive than ever.

Look at all the fuss around drinks. Some cocktail dens require reservations. Patrons scurry to grab bar stools as if they were front-row seats to a sporting event. Folks know bartenders' names like they do our big-name chefs.

And like chefs, bartenders talk about seasonal ingredients and hit farmers markets during spring and summer. Liberty, the cocktail bar on Capitol Hill, is even putting an herb garden on its rooftop.
Cocktail bars boast $10,000 ice machines, vintage glassware and oak barrels to age cocktails. This is all a way of saying our cocktail culture has evolved in the past five years, and I've experienced a lot of it covering the Happy Hour scene for The Times.

This list of my favorite cocktails focuses on original drinks, though some are updated or riffs on the classics.

I like balanced, spirit-forward drinks. I like them bitter and smoky. With big finishes, not subtle or wimpy. But I also varied the list with drinks that are fruity, sour, spicy and even savory. Cheers.

Charlie Don't Surf, at Liberty on Capitol Hill. For those who like fruity cocktails: Mango and ginger are the dominant flavors, with hints of lemon and apple from the Pommeau de Normandie in this gin drink. It's garnished with a Kaffir lime leaf. Goes down easy. 517 15th Ave. E., Seattle (206-323-9898 or libertybars.com).


Candy flavored Cocktail - 4th of July fun!

Milky Way

2 parts amaretto almond liqueur     
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine milk, amaretto and vanilla extract in a blender for 60 seconds. Pour over ice cubes in an old-fashioned glass, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir with a straw, and serve.


The Perfect Twelve Bottle Bar

Twelve bottles is a strict limit for a bar. What should be included? What should be excluded? What is going to give the best variety in drinks? Those questions have been revolving through my head since I first heard about this topic from Joseph Mailander at The Cocktail Circuit. It is a challenge to limit any bar to twelve spirits; it would be significantly easier if fifteen were allowed, unfortunately that luxury is not afforded.

Obviously the main spirits (vodka, gin, rum, brandy, whiskey) need to be included, the choice from there is the brand. Although whiskey did present a special challenge in deciding which type(s) of whiskey to include, the resulting decision has grown on me and become a whisky that has yet to fall in any drink.

The accent liqueurs were a challenge within themselves. My decision was primarily founded in how often is a certain liqueur used in the greatest number of cocktails or cocktails where the liqueur can act as a substitute for another. After that list, it’s back to choosing a brand. With a well-stocked supply of essential mixers this list can make at least 100 different cocktails.

The brands I finally decided on are on my personal top choice list. From that list of favorites the final brand choice was a matter of versatility and quality. Some brands are spectacular on their own but are not as mixable as others. I was looking for both qualities.

Charbay Clear Vodka- Wholesome and honest vodka that is true to its roots and enhances any cocktail with clean style. 

 Martin Miller's Gin- Features the crisp taste of refined gin without an overabundance of botanicals that can interfere in the flavors of a cocktail.


Corazon Reposado Tequila- Smooth and flavorful are the distinct qualities of this aged tequila. It adds the expected tequila kick to cocktails in a spicy flourish.


Jacques Cardin VSOP Cognac- A new personal discovery in the exploration of brandy. Notes of sweet vines fill this many-sided spirit, making it perfect in many classic brandy cocktails.


Dita Von Teese - Tribute to Cointreau

New Orleans, LA (June 2010) – Cointreau and Dita Von Teese brought a taste of Hollywood glamour to Tales of the Cocktail! The French spirits brand hosted the opening performance for the famed cocktail festival with Dita Von Teese performing her sultry “Be Cointreauversial” burlesque act as well as other notable performances at The House of Blues. 

For the first time ever, New Orleans natives and cocktail enthusiasts experienced Dita’s mesmerizing “Be Cointreauversial” performance, as well as her signature cocktail, the Cointreau Teese, and other classic cocktails such as the Cointreau Cosmopolitan and Cointreau Original Margarita.

While Dita Von Teese has served as muse and International Brand Ambassadress for Cointreau since 2007, this was the first time that the burlesque beauty performed the “Be Cointreauversial” show in New Orleans, and there was no better moment than the opening of Tales of the Cocktail. 

An International style icon, Dita Von Teese brought a new level of style and glamour to the country’s leading cocktail celebration. Itself the birthplace of burlesque, New Orleans, or more specifically, the French Quarter is was ideal location for the raven-haired beauty’s ”Be Cointreauversial” debut, and The House of Blues was the perfect venue to host this Cointreauversial performance.

"I'm was very excited to bring my "Be Cointreauversial" burlesque show to New Orleans for Tales of a Cocktail,” said Dita Von Teese, “New Orleans has a rich history in burlesque... it's a unique and sensual city that I've always loved, so I was thrilled to make a return at last with the New Orleans' debut of one of my favorite shows!"

On Monday, July 19th and Tuesday, July 20th, 2010, Dita Von Teese took New Orleans by storm with her thrilling “Be Cointreauversial” performance. Guests enjoyed Cointreau cocktails and waited in anticipation while being treated to a bevy of special guests, including Mr. Murray Hill, Selene Luna, Duke Lafayette, Perle Noir, and more! 

Following the opening performances, attendees were wowed as Dita Von Teese bathes in a life size Cointreau glass, embellished with Swarovski crystals. Dita Von Teese’s extraordinary performance certainly set the bar high for the rest of the week’s events at Tales of the Cocktail.

Dita Von Teese displays a certain irreverence, spiritedness and je-ne-sais-quoi that exemplify Cointreau’s “Be Cointreauversial” brand mantra. The paradoxes inherent in Cointreau: a soft edge that clouds upon contact with ice; a delicate taste that explodes in the mouth, followed by a well-tempered tone also reflect a spirit with “Cointreauversial” character.

We’re ecstatic that Cointreau brought Dita Von Teese’s “Be Cointreauversial” performance to Tales of the Cocktail this year,” said Ann Tuennerman, Founder of Tales of the Cocktail, “Her performance will be the perfect beginning to what is sure to be an exciting week; and what better way to start the festivities than with Cointreau cocktails?”

A Contrieaupolitain Lesson by Dita Von Teese - CLICK HERE

About Cointreau
Created more than 150 years ago in Angers, in the French Loire Valley, Cointreau is one of the world’s most famous crystal clear spirits. Cointreau’s distinctive amber square-shaped bottle is a global icon, and its subtle taste is a perfect balance of bitter and sweet orange peels grown and meticulously selected for their quality. An essential ingredient in the Cosmopolitan and other top shelf cocktails, such as the Sidecar and Cointreaupolitan, it is best known as being a key ingredient in the most popular cocktail in the US the Original Margarita. In 1948, socialite Margarita Sames combined Cointreau, tequila and lime to create the original margarita. Its versatility, defined by its capacity to combine the richness of its flavors and aroma, make it a perfect choice neat or on ice.
Today, more than 13 million Cointreau bottles are sold worldwide and Cointreau remains the authentic choice of many top bartenders in the smartest and most fashionable bars.

About Dita Von Teese
Renowned worldwide for her astounding performances featuring her elaborate signature props and opulent costumes, Dita Von Teese is the international queen of Burlesque and a muse to fashion designers worldwide. With the ability to bring pin-up imagery to life, Dita allows admirers to relive the golden age of femme fatales and glamour girls, while gracing the pages of fashion magazines and starring in events held around the world.

About Tales of the Cocktail 
Tales of the Cocktail is an internationally acclaimed festival of cocktails, cuisine and culture held annually in New Orleans, Louisiana. The event brings together the best and brightest of the cocktail community—awardwinning mixologists, authors, bartenders, chefs and designers—for a fiveday celebration of the history and artistry of making drinks. Each year offers a spirited series of dinners, demos, tastings, competitions, seminars, book signings, tours and parties all perfectly paired with some of the best cocktails ever made.


A surprising and mouth-watering cocktail with an incredibly attractive and glamorous pink colour; the perfect introduction to a new world of sensations…


Pour into a shaker with ice:

-    50ml (1.6 fl oz) Cointreau
-    30ml (1 fl oz) Cranberry juice
-    20ml (0.6 fl oz) Lemon juice

Shake and strain into a martini glass.


The bartender's tip: add the orange zest to your drink.

Live Cointreauversially. Drink Responsibly.
©2010 Cointreau Corp. COINTREAU® Liqueur. 40% alc./vol. Imported by Rémy Cointreau USA, Inc. New York, NY. BE COINTREAUVERSIAL®. www.cointreau.com


Long Live the Long Island Iced Tea!

A Long Island Iced Tea is a highball made with, among other ingredients, vodka, gin, tequila, and rum. A popular version mixes equal parts vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and triple sec with 1½ parts sour mix and a splash of cola.

Most variants use equal parts of the main liquors but include a smaller amount of triple sec (or other orange-flavored liqueur). Close variants often replace the sour mix with lemon juice, replace the cola with actual iced tea, or add white crème de menthe; however, most variants do not include any tea, despite the name of the drink. Some restaurants substitute brandy for the tequila. A true Long Island Iced Tea, as it was originally made, has always had tequila.

The drink has a much higher alcohol concentration (about 22 percent) than most highballs because of the proportionally small amount of mixer. Long islands can be ordered "extra long," which further increases the alcohol to mixer ratio.

Outside the United States, this highball is often altered, due to the unpopularity of sour mix. Long Island Iced Tea served outside the States is often made of liquors and cola alone (without sour mix), with lemon or lime juice, orange juice or with lime cordial

History of the Cocktail:

Long Island Iced Tea, a summer drink, was first served in the mid 1970s by Robert (Rosebud) Butts, a bartender at the Oak Beach Inn, in the Town of Babylon, Long Island, New York.  Robert “Rosebud” Butt began his bartending career at a Glen Cove bar. In 1972, he landed a job with the Oak Beach Inn (OBI) East in Hampton Bays, working for the infamous Bobby Matherson.

If you grew up on Long Island in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, odds are you had spent some time at one of the OBI’s. In 1969, Robert “Bobby” Matherson bought what was then a waterfront barrier island restaurant and converted it into a popular nightclub on Jones Beach Island. Matherson opened four more OBI night clubs: OBI North in Smithtown, two OBI West locations in Island Park and OBI East in Hampton Bays—where the famous Long Island Iced Tea was said to have been born.

Butt says he created the popular drink, the Long Island Iced Tea, in 1974. It was a cocktail-creating contest that “Rosebud” would never forget. Triple-sec had to be included in the concoction. The end result was a mix of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple-sec, lemon and a drop of Coke for color. Though “Rosebud” did not name the drink, he does claim the recipe to be his very own.

“Rosebud” left the OBI in 1979 and later left the bartending business altogether to pursue other things. He now lives in Del Ray Beach, Florida. Butt continues to visit Long Island and says whenever he does, he visits his favorite spot: Huntington Village. And the Long Island Iced Tea, too, remains a part of his life. Butt says, “Till this day wherever I go, people want me to make the drink for ‘em.”

“All of a sudden, the drink caught on and Bobby said to start making them,” says Butt.

 Popular Variations:
  • Peach Long Island: tequila is substituted with peach schnapps
  • Jersey Tea: cola is substituted with a shot of Jaegermeister
  • Pittsburgh Tea: tequila is substituted with Wild Turkey
  • Long Beach Iced Tea: cola is substituted with cranberry juice
  • California Iced Tea: cola is substituted with orange juice
  • Tokyo Iced Tea: tequila is substituted with Midori liqueur and cola with lemonade
  • Alaskan Iced Tea: cola is substituted with Blue Curaçao
  • Blue Motherfucker or Electric Iced Tea: triple sec is substituted with Blue Curaçao and cola with Sprite
  • Tennessee Iced Tea tequila is substituted with Jack Daniel's
  • Beverly Hills Iced Tea cola is substituted with Champagne


Biru - it's a Japanese thing!

This is an AMAZING Japanese commercial for Sapporo beer.  I know, I know, beer isn't technically a "Spirit" - but this commercial is remarkable marketing - take 2 minutes out of your day and WATCH it!


Kentucky Distillery BOOM!

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. (AP) — At the new Wild Turkey bourbon distillery in central Kentucky, the grainy smell of fermenting corn wafts from giant tubs as workers add a touch of grain or tweak the temperature, just as they had for decades at the now-mothballed plant nearby.

The difference? They can make more than twice as much bourbon at the new $50 million facility, with room to grow if sales keeps spiking. In a nod to the automation that took hold years ago, workers in a control room lined with computers can adjust their brew with a few keystrokes. It's among the most ambitious of projects for this industry clustered in central Kentucky's rolling hills, where distilleries have spent at least $150 million in one of the bourbon sector's biggest expansions since Prohibition, said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

The producers are aiming to quench a thirst for bourbon — especially premium brands — that is steady in the U.S. and rapidly expanding overseas, thanks in part to the comeback of cocktails appealing to younger adults, lower tariffs, robust marketing and a larger middle class in emerging markets.

"It used to be if you went West and crossed the Mississippi, it was hard to even find a bourbon," said Eddie Russell, Wild Turkey's associate distiller and son of longtime master distiller Jimmy Russell. Wild Turkey is showing off the new distillery at a ceremony Tuesday — though the bourbon aging there won't be ready for sipping until 2016.

Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world's bourbon, according to the state distillers' association. More than 5 million barrels of bourbon and other whiskeys are currently aging in the state, the highest inventory since the early 1980s. The 4.7 million barrels of aging bourbon even outnumbers the state's population of 4.3 million.

The proliferation of small-batch premium and super-premium products, which are aged longer and fetch higher retail prices, has helped propel sales and given bourbon a more cosmopolitan image.

Mike Ryan, head bartender at Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago, said fine bourbons are increasingly in the mix among consumers with a taste for classics like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned, as well as new concoctions popular with younger adults.

"It actually provides a much more interesting backdrop for flavors than does something neutral like vodka," he said.

A complex blend of flavors, especially in premium brands, can yield vanilla, citrus and fruit tastes, making bourbon an ideal mixer, he said.

Industry observer F. Paul Pacult, editor of the quarterly newsletter Spirit Journal, said bourbon makers are showing an adventurous side with premium offerings that reflect an "intramural competition."

"There's more innovation happening in Kentucky right now than any other place in the world," Pacult said.

Maker's Mark, known for its red wax seal, is in the midst of an estimated $50 million expansion that will boost production by about 50 percent and expand bottling capacity at its operations near Loretto in central Kentucky.

In the next six years, it plans to build 20 to 25 new warehouses needed for storing barrels of whiskey that will age no fewer than six years.

The brand, part of the spirits lineup for Deerfield, Ill.-based Fortune Brands Inc., surpassed 1 million cases bottled for the first time in 2010.

"I've witnessed a total transformation of the bourbon industry," said Bill Samuels Jr., chairman emeritus of Maker's Mark bourbon. "It's gone from a disrespected swill to the selection of connoisseurs and young trendsetters the world over."

Jim Beam, also owned by Fortune Brands, is the world's top-selling bourbon. Beam is pumping $18 million into upgrading its visitor center and making other improvements at its Clermont plant to accommodate growing numbers of tourists flocking to distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which features six distilleries that give tours. It is also spending $26 million to expand its bottling operation in the state capital, Frankfort.

Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc., whose brands include Evan Williams bourbon, added two storage warehouses earlier this year, boosting its capacity by about 40,000 barrels at a cost of about $5 million. The company is eyeing improvements to its bottling facilities to keep the momentum going.

The Four Roses, Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve distilleries also have put money into upgrading visitor centers.

One of Kentucky's most popular tourist destinations, the Bourbon Trail has averaged double-digit percentage growth in the past five years, with nearly 2 million people visiting at least one distillery during the period, Gregory said.

In the U.S., 15.4 million 9-liter cases of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey sold in 2010, generating $1.9 billion in revenues for distillers, according to statistics from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a national trade association. In 2003, 13.4 million cases sold, yielding $1.3 billion in revenues.

The industry's biggest boost, though, has come from exports.

Producers of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey reaped $768.2 million in export sales in 2010, up from $303.8 million in 2000, according to the spirits council, citing statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The biggest overseas customers include Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany, but the industry is looking at two seemingly bottomless markets — China and India — along with other emerging markets in Asia and Africa.

Russell, who has 30 years at Wild Turkey, has ambitious plans, with hopes the new distillery will need to be expanded in just a few years.

"This is a crucial time for all of us to put our product out there and put our best foot forward for the world," he said.


Grand Touring Vodka - Sip in STYLE!

Grand Touring Vodka began with a singular goal – create a classic vodka made right here in the United States. The journey commenced with a trip to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. There, tucked away in a little slice of heaven, we discovered a small glass column still trickling out the purest of vodkas – clean, crisp and smooth. This vodka was so smooth that when simply poured on ice, it was immediately evident that we had found what we were looking for – a vodka with true drinkability.

The next step was to tweak the formula so that we could repeat it. Relying on a team of degreed experts (with some self-proclaimed “expert palates” thrown in) we hit on an impeccable taste profile. Formula in hand, we set out on a grand tour – delivering the finest vodka to our closest friends and family. The response was overwhelming.

With the public’s affirmation and our founding team in tow, we decided to take the bounty of our labor to the masses with our grandest tour yet. No longer will slick marketing campaigns and high prices shape people’s opinions as to what is “the best” – let the vodka speak for itself.

Drink well.

Live grand.

Tour in style.


NEW! SlapTail and WebFoot Vodka!

Starting a new business can be a lonely undertaking. But building a new industry? That's a team sport.

That's the lesson Dawson Officer learned when he set out to launch his new venture, 4 Spirits Distillery. The 31-year-old Iraq War vet had a business degree, a desire to be his own boss and a yen to make his own liquor, but he really didn't know how to go about it. So he started asking people who did.
"I had lots of help from lots of people," Officer said. "In the Oregon distillery world, everybody helps everybody else."

Although better known for its Pinot noirs and microbrews, Oregon is emerging as a trailblazer in the craft distillery movement. With 44 licensed distilleries turning out everything from brandy and grappa to whiskey and gin, there's plenty of expertise out there,


The Drunkest States in America

Photo by wickenden

 Can YOUR State Hold it's Liquor??
 This fall, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) released a comprehensive study of alcohol consumption per capita for every state in the U.S. as of 2007. Essentially, the NIAAA gathered up data on alcohol sales for each state and then divided it by census population numbers, including any person 14 or older (can’t forget all those underage drinkers). The results are broken down into consumption of beer, wine and spirits, so you can learn if people in different states are more likely to be beer guzzlers or wine snobs.

Keep in mind that these numbers are based on alcohol sales in each state, so we can’t say for sure who is drinking what, just what people are buying. The original study listed alcohol consumption in terms of ethanol (or pure alcohol). So we crunched some numbers to get you data in terms you can drop in to cocktail party conversations. Here you’ll find how many gallons of alcohol are consumed by the average person in each state, and how many cans of beer (16 oz.) and bottles of wine (25 oz.) that translates to.

America Gets Its Drink On

In 2007, the average American bought 31.6 gallons of alcoholic beverages. This amount has been rising gradually since the start of the decade, with the biggest growth occurring in the amount of wine and spirits being purchased. In 2000, for example, the average American purchased just more than 12

bottles of wine, while in 2007, they purchased 15 bottles.

Still, the majority of alcohol consumption is from beer. The average Americans bought 26.9 gallons of beer in 2007, which works out to be about 215 cans (if each cans was 16 oz, or one pint).


10th Least Drunk State: Ohio

Ohioans may have one of the best party schools in their state and love their college football, but apparently they are better at moderating the amount of alcohol they drink than most other states in the country. Way to go, Ohio. You've got class.

Total Alcohol Consumed: 32.6 gallons per person

Beer: 236 cans per person

Wine: 9.9 bottles per person

Spirits: 1.1 gallons per person 


Grilled Gin Chicken Kabobs

What better way to liven up a cocktail party than to make foods with actual cocktails. Try this chicken kebab recipe the next time you have such a party. Make sure you don't let the chicken marinate longer than 20-30 minutes.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes

Yield: Serves 6
  • 6-8 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Marinade:
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup gin
  • 1/4 cup tonic
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Optional:  Assorted Green Pepper, Red Pepper, Whole Mushrooms, and Yellow Zucchini Slices 
Combine all marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken pieces and marinate for 20-30 minutes. Preheat grill. Removed chicken from marinade, but do not discard. Thread chicken onto skewers, alternating a chunk of chicken with a veggie chunk (if using veggies).  NOTE: If using bamboo skewers, remember to soak them for an hour before use!  Place kabobs on grill on medium high heat for 4-6 minutes per side, turning once. Take remaining marinade and simmer in saucepan. 
Once chicken has finished cooking, serve with sauce over top.


Seagram's Sweet Tea Vodka - Ya'll have a good time!

I used to live in Georgia.  I love ice tea. That is natural ice tea, fresh brewed tea leaves and cold filtered water over a tall glass of ice. Add a generous amount of sugar, a sprig of mint, maybe a slice of lime, orange or traditional lemon. Anyway, not long ago, at my local Liquor Emporium I found this Seagram’s flavored Sweet Tea vodka drink. It looked interesting and it was inexpensive, so I figured “Why not Y'all?”

I was hooked my very first sip. It tastes exactly how you would think a pitcher of down South sweet tea should taste, with of course a little kick. Not the kinda vodka that burns your pipes, but on the contrary it is very smooth and mellow and can sneak up on you "right quick." Women love sweet drinks and this baby makes some pretty darn good ones!

I may be partial from my days of Tea and NASCAR, but I think it pairs really well with Southern food, including of course BBQ, and is a very refreshing drink on ice. Seagram's Sweet Tea combines all the charm and refreshing sweetness of Southern sweet tea with five-times distilled premium vodka.  This is a highly mixable spirit that has the potential to turn any night into a hot Southern night.

Calories 66 Sodium 0 mg
Total Fat 0 g Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 0 g Total Carbs 0 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 0 g
Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 0 g
Trans 0 g Protein 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Vitamin A 0% Calcium 0%
Vitamin C 0% Iron 0%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Seagram's also makes a Sweet Tea Vodka with a Peach Flavor kicked in.

But Seagram’s Peach Tea is more than just another hot package. It has everything the Sweet Tea does, but with a mouthwatering tease of peach flavor for added extra sparkle. Seagram's added a squeeze of a special blend of genuine Summer White Pearl and Laurel peaches into their naturally-flavored sweet tea, for a taste of some true Southern soul. It's a bold 70-proof, it’s got all the buzz and none of the fuzz. Try it with good ole'soda and a squeeze of lemon - you will be HOOKED.



It's National Strawberry Shortcake Day! Here's a Strawberry Shortcake Cocktail!



Servings:  4
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lemon, zest of
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups apple juice, cold
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • fresh strawberries, sliced, to garnish


Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
  1. You need : 4 daiquiri glasses, put in the freezer (or martini glasses).


Top Shelf Spirits for Dad

This Father’s Day, get Pop that trophy bottle that he’ll sip and savor until next June. Or at least until the leaves change color.
Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix

Snow Phoenix is a limited-edition (12,000 bottles in all) scotch made in sherry, bourbon and whisky casks aged 13 to 30 years. All of its ingredients were exposed to sub-zero temperatures when the roofs of several Glenfiddich warehouses collapsed from record snowfall (hence the name). Golden in color, it starts off bright (think green apples) but also has an oaky, salty depth. This is one silky smooth scotch.
47.6% ABV, $90
Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel 2011

Aged for 12 years, this is the latest of Four Roses’s annual offering of its limited-edition single-barrel bourbon—the spirit in each of the 3,600 bottles comes from individual, cream-of-the-crop barrels rather than a blend of several different ones. It packs a lot of heat at first, but the more experienced bourbon drinker will appreciate the spicy rye flavors and a long finish full of ripe fruit.
59.3% ABV, $90
Hibiki 12 Years Old

This clean, smooth and incredibly balanced dram is a good introduction to Japanese whiskey, which favors subtlety and balance over more macho flavors. Aged for 2 to 3 years in casks seasoned with plum liqueur, it has a pleasant sweet and sour, slightly acidic taste. It’s easy to sip straight up. No ice necessary, and perfect for the flask.
43% ABV, $65
Ron Abuelo Centuria

Yes, rum is for sipping, too. Made to commemorate the company’s 100th anniversary, Centuria is a blend of Panamanian rums aged up to 30 years. At first you’re hit by its rich caramel flavors, then leather and tobacco and, finally, a little tropical spice. But mostly, you’ll be blown away by its smoothness.
40% ABV, $130
Herradura Seleccion Suprema

Aged for more than four years in American oak barrels, this Extra Añejo tequila is creamy, vanilla-y and has an ultra-long, oaky finish that’s practically whiskey-like but, with all of the agave notes, much more exotic.
40% ABV, $350

[Source: The Wall Street Journal, Photo: F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal]

Cocktail in a cupcake: Mojito

OK - many of you know that this blog originates in Portland, Oregon.  I love the Pacific Northwest - but it has been raining here - for - centuries - oops! I mean MONTHS!  Today is June 13, and it is about 60 degrees, overcast and raining - AGAIN.

The weekend wasn't much better.  My cure for the dooldrums?  Baking Mojito Cupcakes with a bit of extra Rum in them - for that rummy, rummy sunshine kick!  A girl can pretend can't she?

These cupcakes turned out very rummy (would you have expected anything less?), and very yummy – the glaze and added rum soaks right into their centres. 


Mojito cupcakes

Makes 16 cupcakes
Recipe from BakeSpace

Adding rum to the middle of each cupcake before the glaze is totally optional, but let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you?  

The recipe isn’t quite as time-consuming as it looks, mostly because the glaze can be prepared whilst the cupcakes are in the oven, and the icing whilst they are cooling.  I’m sure that if you used dark or spiced rum, the cupcakes would taste quite different, but equally rum-yummy!


For the cupcakes:
1 Cup real butter, softened
1 Cup dark brown sugar
2 Cups self-rising flour
¼ tsp baking powder
4 eggs


SEXY New Latin Liquors

SX-family-ChaChaCha-white_top story sizeSX Latin Liquors launches a line of premium Latin spirits infused with sensual and exotic ingredients in a distinctive contoured bottle. The company says the packaging is part of the SX brand's bold promise to discerning female consumers: Your Drink. Sexier!

 SX (the "S" stands for sensual and the "X" for exotic) is launching with three products. All are named for passionate Latin dances: SXchachacha (100 percent agave reposado tequila infused with lemon and honey, SXcalypso (aged rum and a hint of mint and lemon) and SXsamba (cachaca rum with a hint of vanilla and sweet limes).

"Packaging is key to driving trial at the point of purchase," SX founder and CEO David Knight says. "Our strategy when we started this business was to design a striking, memorable bottle and put premium product inside it." Knight identified tequila for SX's first product line because of its fast-growing popularity, but current lack of innovation in the category. "We wanted to introduce something that would grow the category and attract new users. Key to that proposition was to produce a bottle that breaks industry norms and stands out."

According to Stuart Leslie, president, 4sight inc., the New York-based design and innovation firm, "The curvaceous bottle exudes


Legendary Buffalo Trace Bourbon

We know many of you readers agree with us that good bourbon is best enjoyed with a good story. Most distilleries recognize this and present their whiskeys with a nostalgic label or grand tale. I’ve noticed the real story has to be in the taste. Buffalo Trace combines both of these in the right way. 

With a great aroma, nearly sugary taste even with water, and a smooth finish, we are highly appreciative of the care that goes into distilling this remarkable spirit.  No wonder this Distillery (also responsible for Blanton’s and Weller’s) were named Distiller of the Year for the


Experiments with Booze and Jello

What is the Ultimate Jell-O® Shot?

The Experiment

The purpose of this experiment was to determine the highest possible concentration of alcohol attainable in a Jell-O shot, while still maintaining the structural integrity (i.e., the gelling properties) of the gelatin. For the purposes of our study, structural integrity was defined as the ability of the gelatin to hold its shape when removed from its container. Recipes for Jell-O shots are often accompanied by the explanation that only a certain amount of liquor can be added to Jell-O shots, the reason being that a minimum amount of water is necessary to enable the gelatin to gel, and too much alcohol will prevent this. How much water is enough? Or more to the point, how much alcohol is too much? As you will see, too much is much, much more than we would have guessed. 


Portland, OR Pedicabs paired with it's Famous Distillery Row

By Hoke Harden

Portland's Famous Pedicabs      Photo:  Hoke Harden
There can’t be a better possible combination than a perfect day in Portland (for those who almost forgot, it’s called “Summer”), a Portland Pedicab and the DistilleryRowPDX Passport Program.

On the gorgeous serendipity of the finest day of the year, the DistilleryRowPDX Passport Program kicked off Sunday, June 5 with a special preview of all the conveniences and delights in store for tourists and locals to enjoy on Distillery Row, starting with a kick-off party at the Jupiter Hotel, complete with some tasty bar drinks using only Portland-made spirits, a dj spinning some tunes, and a shuttle bus to convey the partygoers to the different distilleries, along with plenty of PDX Pedicabs ferrying people around plein air.

Photo:  Hoke Harden
After listening to some up-tempo mixes that nodded to the young and the old among us (Hello, Bob Seger who never goes out of style!) and sipping a refreshing warm-day cocktail made with Stone Barn Brandyworks Un-Oaked Rye Whiskey, grapefruit juice and triple sec with a twist, we were ready to go on our free-wheeling journey. 

The PDX Pedicab Passport program is a real winner, and would be perfect for visitors to our fair city who want to see the sights in unhurried comfort very much in keeping with Portland’s attitude and image---but without all the sweating.  The pedicab drivers are happy to do that---as one said with a smile, “Hey, we’re getting paid to exercise and do what we love too.”---and they know the heart of the city better than anyone bound to four wheels could.

Stone Barn Brandyworks          Photo:  Hoke Harden
With the Passport you get so much more though.  You get the detailed and descriptive passport maps locating all the distilleries, restaurants and bars, coffee shops, shopping, entertainment, art exhibits, hotels---and to be particularly Portland a vegan place and a tattoo parlor—and other points of interest that partner with the program, with substantial discounts galore for drinkers, munchers and shoppers.

The Distilleries on DistilleryRowPDX are House Spirits, New Deal Distillery, Deco Distilling, Stone Barn Brandyworks, Integrity 
Spirits, Highball Distilling & Sub Rosa Spirits, and Bushwhacker Cider.

So if you can imagine yourself gliding along in old-style comfort, silently and slowly cruising through the streets of old Portland, stopping at some welcoming artisanal distillery or two along the way, this program’s for you.

Your pedicab awaits: what are you waiting for?


Moonshine - a celebrated way of life in Dawsonville, GA

Dawson County in the Northern foothills of Georgia, knows how to celebrate the seasons, its history and heritage. Running moonshine through the foothills of the Northeast Georgia Mountains was a way of life—and one that gave birth to NASCAR racing.  The town of Dawsonville celebrates every summer with it's annual "Moonshine Festival."  This annual celebration is to commemorate this long ago era in American history.

Dawsonville played a major part in the distribution of Moonshine during prohibition. Dawsonville served as a major pathway for 'Moonshine Runners'.

Dawsonville is located approximately 50 miles north of Atlanta.  In addition to the Moonshine Festival, it is also the home of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.

As any resident can tell you, hooch and hot cars are not unrelated. The stuff made in Dawson County and other rural communities found its way to Atlanta in modified, fast cars. Some of those early drivers went on to make a legal living on race tracks.

Dawsonville’s most famous native son is 
NASCAR great Bill Elliott, whose trophies would sink a yacht.

In Dawsonville, Cheryl Wood learned about moonshine on her granddaddy’s knee. Dwight Bearden learned about it on his knees, scrubbing out gallon jugs so his daddy could fill them with day-old liquor.

Now, these descendants of North Georgia businessmen


Single Malt Scotch & Cigars - a Match Made in Heaven

Like two peas in a pod of the luxury world, cigars and whiskey can often be found together. Both known as two of the finer things in life, when used jointly, they work to enhance the drinking and smoking experience. This is particularly true when the drink being consumed is single malt scotch. Known as the Cuban cigar of the whiskey world, single malt scotch is the perfect drink to take out for a smoke.

What is Single Malt Scotch?
While many people know what single malt scotch entails, some people may not be completely clear. But, in actuality, the concept of single malt scotch is singularly simple: single malt scotch is essentially barely-malt whiskey made in Scotland that comes from only one distillery,


Morning Coffee with a Kicker - Kahlua

     Here I sit at my desk - seeking inspiration for the day.  Ah, to write about liquor and spirits for a living - I am truly blessed!

     Today, it just isn't "hitt'in me," inspiration that is, so I reach for  my morning cup of Joe.  WHAM-O! It hits me!  WRITE ABOUT A COFFEE BASED SPIRIT!

Everyone knows the most famous of these is KAHLUA.  But do you REALLY know Kahlua?

Kahlua is a rich, dark brown coffee liqueur made from the finest Mexican coffee, with fine cane spirits and a hint of vanilla. It also contains sugar,