OLE SMOKY MOONSHINE AVAILABLE IN 49 STATES

OLE SMOKY MOONSHINE LANDS MAJOR DISTRIBUTION DEAL
NOW AVAILABLE IN 49 STATES

 

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Michael Hepworth

 

 

HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman)9/29/14/–Moonshine has now been legal for about 4 ½ years and of the handful of companies selling right now, OLE SMOKY out of Gatlingburg, Tennessee seems to have the upper hand.

About 750,000 cases of the stuff a year are now being shipped in the USA, and the international market is about to open up as the perception of what moonshine is becomes clearer. It is essentially unaged whisky to simplify with the prime ingredient being Tennessee corn and the higher quality Indiana corn. The new deal with Southern Wine & Spirits takes their product into eleven new states which according to CEO John Cochran took about four months of intense negotiations to secure. California is the biggest market for Moonshine Ole Smokey currently has thirteen different flavors of moonshine, and they are all available In the Mason jar instead of the traditional bottle, no doubt a throwback to the old bootlegging days.

In fact there are still literally hundreds of illegal stills in the woods of Tennessee, a
situation according to Cochran that is unlikely o change as long as people are unable or do not want to pay the taxes. The minimum investment to get the right equipment and facility would be at least $500,000 hence the continued presence of illegal stills.

The signature product from Ole Smoky is Original Moonshine (100 proof), White Lightning (100 proof), Lightning Line (80 proof), Strawberry Lightning, Lemon Drop Lightning and Hunch Punch Lightning. The remainder of the portfolio consists of 40 proof and tends to be fruit based drinks, a lot sweeter than the higher proof versions.
Business has been so brisk that Ole Smoky has opened up a 20,000 square feet bottling plant in Gatlinburg, and in the next few months will be opening a 6,000 square foot retail outlet not far away in Pigeon Forge.

This town also happens to be the location of Dollywood, the entertainment complex owned by Dolly Parton. I was not clear whether or not the moonshine tastings at the retail outlet are free to the public just like they are at the distillery, but I would not be surprised.

Moonshine is a versatile spirit, and with over 1,000 recipes on the web site to choose from,
the consumer is spoilt by choice. All the recipes come from families who have been making
Moonshine in the Tennessee mountains for a hundred years of more.

Selected Recipes :

Corn & Cola:
2 parts Original Ole Smoke Moonshine
2 parts cola

Moonshine Margarita:
2 parts Original Ole Smokey Moonshine
1 part Lime Juice
1 part simple syrup
1 part Triple sec,
Combine salt & sugar w/zest of lime for rim of glass.

The Slammer:
Equal parts Ole Smokey Apple Pie Moonshine
Lemon lime soda & cranberry juice

www.olesmokymoonshine.com

 

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Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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HIGHLAND PARK LAUNCHES DARK ORIGINS SINGLE MALT

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Michael Hepworth

 

HIGHLAND PARK LAUNCHES DARK ORIGINS SINGLE MALT

Can’t Beat It Scottish version of a ‘bootlegger”

HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman)9/13/14/–Highland Park Scotch Whisky has a rich heritage from its home base in Orkney where it is one of The few distilleries in the farthest Northern outpost of the British Isles. The new Dark Origins expression Is inspired by the tenacity and fortitude of the Highland Park founder Magnus Eunson. Legend Has it that the distiller was a Scottish version of a ‘bootlegger” over 216 years ago in Orkney avoiding the hated tax collector as he distilled his dark whisky for the people. During daylight hours he provided spiritual salvation in his church, and at night he was a secret distiller.

Today Highland Park is a respected brand worldwide, and the new DARK ORIGINS has an
ABV of 46.8%, and it uses twice as many first fill sherry casks than the Highland Park 12
Year old. Highland Park is one of the few distilleries not using distiller’s caramel and the
dark color derives from the interreaction between the cask and spirit.

Spiritsman got the chance to taste Dark Origins at a private preview event at the Varnish bar In downtown Los Angeles where brand ambassador Martin Daraz was present to launch the brand to a cache of the top spirits writers in Los Angeles. This stuff is strong as well as being extremely complex, and as the evening wore on some of the writers ha trouble understanding the thick Glaswegian accent of Daraz. Luckily they provided a ride to and from the event.

The distillery in Orkney is located at Kirkwall and was actually founded in 1798. It is the northern most distillery in Scotland and if you ever make it to the remote location, then a visit to the Highland Park set up is a must. Awards are commonplace for Highland Park, especially the 25 year single malt that won double gold at the San Francisco Spirits Competition in 2007 and 2009.

Whisky expert Michael Jackson was a huge fan of Highland Park, and in 1984 ‘The Scotsman’ newspaper gave it a rating of 100% at the ‘Ultimate Spirits Challenge.’ It is still one of the few distilleries in the world that malts its own barley, and the peat is collected from the nearby Hobbister Moor, which is then mixed with heather.

 

www.highlandpark.co.uk

www.distillery@highlandpark.co.uk

 

Nose: Sherried Spice and Ripe Bananas combined with Toasted Hazelnuts and Baked Apple
Palate: Well Balanced Dry Peat at first mellowing out to Maraschino Cherries and Warm
Dark Chocolate. tn-3

 

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Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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Napa Valley Wine Shaken–but not Stirred

 

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Michael Hepworth

 

Trefethen-Quake-01

Napa Valley,CA(Spiritsman)8/29/14/–The earthquake which hit the Napa Valley on Sunday, August 24th has left us feeling a little shaky, but also very lucky: lucky that none of our employees were hurt and we were able to save virtually all of the wine. As Hailey commented, “those barrels are dang tough!” Although our historic building suffered some major damage and is currently closed, our online store is open and we hope you are thirsty.

A team of top engineers and historical building architects are working hard on a plan to restore our cherished building. We are hopeful her grand doors will swing open again to welcome guests. Get a bird’s eye view of the earthquake damage to our historic building from this touching aerial video by Evan K. WATCH NOW

Over the last few days there have been moments when we wondered how much more cleaning up we could face, but all the support and outreach we have received from friends all over the world keeps us going. With every phone call, e-mail and Facebookpost, the smile returns to our faces, the warmth to our hearts and the energy to our arms and legs. Many, many thanks to all of you for your concern and good wishes. You have sustained us in a challenging time.

We hope to re-open a tasting room soon, in a temporary structure, and will invite you to visit and see vintage 2014 in the making.

Salude, Janet Trefethen for the entire Trefethen family and team.

 
800.556.4847 | 1160 Oak Knoll Avenue, Napa, CA 94558 | www.trefethen.com


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Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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GREY GOOSE LAUNCH NEW VX PRODUCT-RICH COMBINATION OF VODKA AND COGNAC

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Michael Hepworth

 

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West HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman)8/24/14/–September sees the release of the latest product in the Grey Goose empire, VX Grey Goose, A combination of their brand leader vodka and cognac. A soft launch of private tastings in select cities saw SPIRITSMAN treading the boards in West Hollywood this week for a very select gathering that included two of their brand ambassadors, bar owner David Kaplan and roving ambassador Guillaume Jobien.

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The potent combination will be priced at $74.99 and it comes in a beautiful opaque style Glass bottle sure to impress any of your house guests. Unfortunately the Grey Goose Maitre De Chai Francois Thibault could not be in attendance, but because he is the mastermind behind this classy concoction he was there in spirit, literally.

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The cognac used is young cognac that has likely been aged for only about two years. Since some cognac can be aged for up to sixty years, this younger type gives the drink an elegant floral flavor with hints of jasmine, apricot, peach, honey and plum. Even though the cognac is young, the grapes for the wheat based vodka are very mature. The breakdown for the 40% Alcohol by volume drinks is 95% vodka and 5% cognac.

What kind of food will go with this drink ? The dinner we had that was prepared by Matthew Chow started out with flight of ceviche on a bed of ice with oysters, snapper and uni. This was followed by a crab salad with Upland cress, Asian pear, sugar snap peas and walnuts. Main course was either a Crispy Duck Breast w/ a coconut risotto or a Pan Roasted Bass w/ Anson mills polenta, summer squash and New Zealand spinach. All this was concluded with a honey vodka peach, a peach scone crumble and a black pepper ice cream.

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A couple of Grey Goose cocktails rounded out the evening. The Grey Goose Le Blanc Fizz is a potent mixture of Vodka, Vergus blanc, St.Germain and Martini Bianco. These are not drinks to drink in abundance as the sweet taste deceives the drinker as to the strength.

These were prepared by Grey Goose ambassador David Kaplan, Los Angeles bar owner, one of them being Honeycut in downtown Los Angeles. A cocktail utilizing VX Vodka included cocoa nib pear liqueur and amontillado sherry. Needless to say, a good time was had by all involved. If you want to VX neat, use a chilled snifter.

 

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www.greygoose.com

 

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Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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CAMPO DE ENCANTO PISCO from PERU World’s Best happy to spread the word

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Michael Hepworth

 

CAMPO DE ENCANTO PISCO FROM PERU.

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POWERFUL SPIRIT MAKING INROADS INTO THE MARKET

HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman)8/12/14/—I know very little about this spirit from Peru, but the people behind it seem very nice and it is really a labor of love to spread the word about it in the USA.

The spirit is also very nice, although maybe a little too strong to drink neat, and lot more acceptable to use in a cocktail. However I was assured that you will never experience a hangover after drinking this stuff, and after trying a few fruity style cocktails at a recent tasting in Santa Monica with the San Francisco folks from Campo De Escanto I am more than happy to spread the word.

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‘Field of Enchantment.’

Today the grapes used to produce Pisco are the same used in the production of sherry in Jerez and these include Quebranta, the most planted vine in Peru and Palomino Negro, the first grape of sherry. In 1641 Spain banned the production and exportation of wine from Peru into the colonies, so some distillers decided to specialize in producing Aguardiente de Uva. The hub where all this took place was the Valley of Ica which happens to be just east of the Port of Pisco.

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Similar to tequila there are strict rules governing the production of Pisco in Peru, and here is an abbreviated breakdown: 1) It must be produced with five states/regions using only designated grapes-those not already mentioned are Mollar, Negro Corriente, Uvina, Albilla, Italia, Torontel & Moscatel. 2) Every harvest is by hand, crushed and used only once. 3) The fermentation process must begin with a natural-derived yeast. 4) After completion, Pisco must be distilled only once in a copper alembic pot still. 5) Resting time is three months before bottling 6) Must be bottled at 38* to 48* ABV and no water or any other finishing agents can be added.

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Pisco is now finally making a comeback in popularity in the United States and in 2011 sales grew 211% after a severe decline in the twentieth century due to wars and prohibition.

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www.encantopisco.com

In its inaugural year, Campo de Encanto won the Gran Medalla de Oro, the award for the Best Pisco of Perú. For Maestro Carlos Ruben Romero-Gamero and the nearly four hundred distillers in Perú, this is the highest honor to receive. Every September, the Comisión Nacional del Pisco combs the vast landscape of Perú visiting Pisco distilleries to secure samples of the pure grape brandy for analysis. Regional competitions ensued, followed by the Grand Championship which was held on Friday, November 5th, 2010. In front of thousands of his countrymen thirsty for their native drink, Master Distiller Romero and the brand he co-founded, Campo de Encanto was awarded this year’s World’s Best Pisco.

 

Cocktail recipes w/Pisco

FOGCUTTER :

1 oz Encanto, 2 oz Gold Rum, 2 oz Lemon Juice, 1 oz Orange Juice, 0.5 oz Gin, 0.5 oz Cream

Sherry, 0.5 oz Almond Syrup. SHAKE then strain into tall glass filled w/ice, garnish w/fresh Fruit and watch out.

CUSCO MULE :

Build in a tall glass. GINGER LOVERS ONLY

2 oz Encanto, 0.75 oz Lime Juice, 0.5 oz Ginger Syrup, STIR then add 1.5 oz Ginger Beer.

Fill glass w/ice, garnish w/diced ginger.

 

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Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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CABERNET SAUVIGNON FROM TANNER DAFOE WINERY

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Michael Hepworth

CABERNET SAUVIGNON FROM TANNER DAFOE WINERY

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BOUTIQUE OPERATION SETS A HIGH STANDARD

 

HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman(8/3/14/–Only 142 cases of the 2010 Tanner Dafoe 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon are produced and since this is a wine you can keep for up to 15 years we must assume that if you can force yourself not to drink it, it is a good investment. This full bodied and very rich wine builds on the 2009 release offering more in the high tone aromatics and just as elegant.

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The Santa Ynez based winery also has an excellent 2011 Rogues Blend that is as subtle and sharp as the very sleek and all black packaging of the product indicating something out of the ordinary and special to the consumer. Based out of a small and rocky vineyard at the eastern end of the valley in the Buellton area, Tanner Dafoe are determined to produce wines as good as those coming from Bordeaux and they seem to have captured the essential spirit of the wine. Grape breakdown for the Rogue’s Blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc.

The production notes for the wine indicate a lower yield because of high winds in the early flowering season when the grapes were pulled in staggered lots. This allows for management of the acidity in the master wine, leaving some of the lots time to naturally ferment and bring more refinement to the pallet. The wine is aged for 27 months in French Oak Barrels and comes with an alcohol percentage of 14.2%.

There re additional tips from the winemaker that insists you decant the wine for at least 45 minutes before drinking, although they also encourage small sips and tastes during that very difficult waiting time. In addition, they also advise that if your wine has been shipped over any kind of distance then you might also want to wait a few days before opening it up.

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Based on the pictures of the proprietors Rob Dafoe and Jeff Tanner, they look like very different personalities. However it turns out that aside from their passion or obsession with Cabernet Sauvignon, they also love surf and snow. These wines are so highly prized by Cabernet fanatics that you have to sign on to their website and hopefully get on their list. Opportunities on the secondary market to buy these wines also seem few and far between, although I did see the 2009 available for $99 at an online wine retailer.

As for food pairings with these wines you might want to focus on French cheeses for starters. I hear that they go particularly well with Camembert au Lait Cru on toast. Good luck on tracking down the wine and enjoy.

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www.tannerdafoe.com

 

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Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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THE ALCOVE CAFE CELEBRATES TEN YEARS IN LOS FELIZ

 

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THE ALCOVE CAFE CELEBRATES TEN YEARS IN LOS FELIZ

HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman)7/27/14/–The Alcove Cafe is a very popular spot in Los Feliz that is celebrating ten years in business, and it is in fact three separate ventures under one umbrella. There is the restaurant itself, the BIG BAR and a chocolate company that has recently been started by owner Tom Trellis. The restaurant is so busy that it is open as early as 6 am to serve breakfast, and keeps going strong until around 1 a.m. or even later. When it is closed it is still open however for the cleaning crew.

Los Feliz used to be one of the most under appreciated places to live in Los Angeles but now it is high rent and swinging singles territory, perfect fodder for a restaurant like the Alcove that has also doubled as a meeting spot for the 230 seat restaurant. Portions are large and the restaurant is located in two historic bungalows, one of them the oldest building in Los Feliz which is used for functions and private dinners.

The drink to sample is called ‘Thorn In My Side’ which is a potent combination of Rye Whiskey, Vermouth, Ginger Syrup and Lime Juice(recipe below).Others include the gin based Cockney Sparrow, the rare bourbon concoction called St. Anne’s Helper and the housemade coconut vodka and sherry treat known as the Mo Chi Chi.

Alcove Chocolate which was started in 2008 consists of a 12 flavor collection ranging from sweet & savory to dark and milk chocolate. All the range comes in 3 oz bars and have very distinctive packaging.

The menu at the Alcove is very eclectic and an example of some of the appetizers indicates what you can expect from the entire meal. To be more specific, I liked the chickpea and potato samosa with coconut curry sauce and the mini bluefin crab cakes w/chipotle chili. Unfortunately missed out on the black tiger shrimp tempura w/ginger soy glaze and the delicious sounding medjaal dates stuffed w/goat cheese wrapped in applewood smoked bacon.

A sampling of the main courses started out with a Nicoise style salad w/ahi tuna, haricot vert, olives, egg, tomato, red onion in a lemon vinaigrette. Hard to go wrong with a combination like that as with the blackened chicken salad w/strawberries, dried cranberries,feta,pine nuts and aragula in a strawberry vinaigrette.

Best main course was the Hanger Steak with a creative combination of portabello skewers w/ an avocado tomatillo salsa. However I was less enamored with a Canadian style dish called Hearty Pouline, a kind of mushy combination of cheese and French fries which seemed at odds with the overall savory flavor of the entire menu. However I do understand that it has been doing well as a comfort food with regulars since being recently introduced to the menu.

For those who are interested the wines served were a Dauvergne Ranvier 2010 from the

Cotes du Rhone and a 2011 Malbec from Andeluna 1300.

Thorn In My Side

1 oz Rye Whiskey

1 oz Bianca Vermouth

¾ oz Ginger Syrup

½ oz Fresh Lime Juice

shake/strain into Collins glass w/ice.

top w/dry english cider.

garnish w/ 4 dashes of angostura bitters & lime wheel.

Alcove Restaurant-

1927 Hillhurst Avenue, Los Angeles

323-644-0100

www.alcovecafe.com

www.alcovechocolate.com

Valet Parking. Street Parking hard to find.

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Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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Mari Vanna Los Angeles Hosts Star-Studded One Year Anniversary Party

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Michael Hepworth

 

Mari Vanna Los Angeles Hosts Star-Studded One Year Anniversary Party

Mari Vanna birthday cake

Mari Vanna birthday cake

Los Angeles, Calif.(Spiritsman)7/26/14/ - Last night, over 200 Angelenos and VIPs turned out for Mari Vanna LA’s one year anniversary party. Owner Tatiana Brunetti was joined by high profile attendees such as Alfred Molina, Omar Miller, Max Azria, Clifton Collins Jr., Leslie David Baker, Jeff Rice, Chris Williams and more to celebrate the restaurant’s first milestone. Guests were treated to authentic Russian bites, a vodka open bar, birthday cake and folk songs from the in-house accordionist and DJ. They also received signature Mari Vanna keys – distinguishable by their adorable nesting doll keychains – that are hand-distributed to regulars of the restaurant, VIPs, celebrities and other notable guests.

Chris Williams and Dannia Hakki

Chris Williams and Dannia Hakki

Mari Vanna Los Angeles is best known for serving homestyle Russian cuisine in a garden-tea-party-meets-Bubushka’s-house atmosphere. From Old World parlors to the Russian countryside, the sprawling eatery is rife with fine-tuned details inspired by a bygone era, half a world away.

Over 200 Angelenos and VIPs turned out for the celebration

Over 200 Angelenos and VIPs turned out for the celebration

Open only a year, Mari Vanna LA is a favorite among Los Angeles notables. Since last June, the eatery has already attracted celebrity fans such as: Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Clive Davis, Jamie Foxx, Jonah Hill, Melissa Leo, Mickey Rourke, Paul Reiser, Adam Lambert, Evan Handler, Tim Daly, Jay Sean, Danielle Panabaker and Andrea Bowen among others.

Robert Baruc - Robin Bronk - Evan Handler

Robert Baruc – Robin Bronk – Evan Handler

ABOUT MARI VANNA LOS ANGELES: 
Mari Vanna Los Angeles is located at 8475 Melrose Pl, West Hollywood, CA 90069. For reservations, please call: 323-655-1977.

 

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Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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Photo credit: Eric Reid.

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SCHRAMSBERG SPARKLING WINES AND THE POLITICAL CONNECTION

Schramsberg Winery

SCHRAMSBERG SPARKLING WINES AND THE POLITICAL CONNECTION

 

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Michael Hepworth

 Hail To the Chief 

HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman)7/16/14/–Schramsberg Wines are based in Calistoga, California, and the relatively high end.Winery has been family owned since 1965 at the original estate started by German Immigrant Jacob Schram in 1862. Interestingly at that time their were 21 wineries. In Napa Valley utilizing less than 50 acres of vineyards planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The winery ceased operations in 1912 seven years after the death of Jacob Schram, and re-opened in 1965 when the property and land was purchased by Jack and Jaimie Davis.

Today the winery is run by Hugh Davies, who was born a month after his family took over. There are nine sparkling wines in the collection and the winery uses the Methode Traditionnelle to produce the signature vintage of Reserve, J.Schram and J.Schram Rose along with the classic vintages of Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Brut Rose and Cremant, and the multi vintages of Mirabelle and Mirabelle Rose. Only 60,000 cases are produced annually in total, and the production of the two signature vintages totals only 2,500 cases between them.

The grapes are hand Harvested, wines are handcrafted and the bottles are stacked in underground caves. The caves were dug into the hills by Chinese laborers over 130 years ago and cover 34,000 square foot where up to 2.7 million bottles are aged up to a seven Year period. The winemakers draw from over 90 individual vineyards to create 200 base wines yearly which are then used to create the Schramsberg Wines.

This place has some serious history including a visit by my favorite author Robert Louis Stevenson who came in 1880 where he wrote about it in his book ‘Silverado Squatters.’ Talking of politics and the White House, the first Commander in Chief to taste them was President Harrison in 1891. Since then the wines came into prominence when several cases were shipped to China in 1972 for President Nixon’s ground breaking visit.

They have been present at many White House functions, and more recently President Obama’s White House Dinner for Bilateral Chairpersons of the Congressional Committees. The 2011 Blanc de Blancs ($38) is a dry and crisp wine that is extremely versatile Either served as an aperitif or with a variety of foods and especially see food and shellfish. All kinds of fruity flavors when you taste it, this wine can be kept for a long time and is exceptional value. The 2010 Brut Rose ($43) is influenced by 75% Pinot Noir grown in Marin/Sonoma and in Anderson Valley further north in Mendocino.

The remaining 25% of Chardonnay gives the sparkling wine spice and structure. Tasting notes indicate a wine full of strawberry, mandarin orange and red grapefruit. For those of us into citrus, this is a worthy purchase that can be brought out at birthdays, celebrations or any special event. www.schramsberg.com Visitors Center 707-942-4558 Open 10.00 am to 4 pm seven days\ a week Cellar Tours and Private tastings by appointment only.

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Michael Hepworth 287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

 

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A BEER DRINKERS GUIDE TO ENJOY KNOWING AND ENJOYING FINE WINE

A BEER DRINKERS GUIDE TO ENJOY KNOWING AND ENJOYING FINE WINE

WORLDS BEST COCKTAILS

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By Michael Hepworth

Hollywood(Spiritsman)7/12/14/–I always thought that beer drinkers were equally as fascinated with wine, but apparently
Many do not know the first thing about it. Hence the book by author Jim Laughren,
Certified Wine Educator and President of WineHead Consulting. “There’s an image
in popular culture of wine being complicated hard to understand, and that if you don’t
have a lot of ‘wine knowledge’ you’re somehow not entitled to enjoy or experience it
like insiders do,” explains Laughren.” That is untrue. Wine is simply a wonderfully
flavorful beverage. Whether you enjoy it with friends or food or just to relax, wine’s
highest calling is to provide pleasure.”

Yes Jim we already knew that, but apparently this book will help others who need it.
The paperback consists of 15 chapters and runs 199 pages, so a fairly easy read on
your next trip to Napa Valley or the Finger Lakes area. The focus is on tasting
wine, sniffing and wine insiders lingo and the difference between the Old World
and New World regions.

A Beer Drinkers Guide to knowing and enjoying fine wine.
Cross Town Publishing ISBN 978-0-9855336-1-8 $ 16.95

WORLDS BEST COCKTAILS
500 Signature drinks from the worlds best bars and bartenders
This book by Tom Sandham has been out a while, but it provides a comprehensive
look at the serious world of cocktails. Bartenders who offer personal tips include
Jim Meehan and Dale de Groff in New York and Tony Conigliaro and Salvatore
Calabrese in London.

This attractive hard cover book runs 304 pages with plenty of splashy photographs
and is close to being an invaluable reference guide to all things cocktail. Some
of the categories include the “Basic Kit” needed to make cocktails, a breakdown of
rum and the many varied uses it has and a push for people to use gin more than
vodka as the base for great cocktails.

Sandham leads the life many of us only dream of, flying the world to judge
Spirits competitions, writing a column for the Times of London and co-founder
of the drinks site Dwink.com. He is even smiling broadly when shaking up a
cocktail on the cover of the book, and why not indeed. He also edits the in-house
magazine for the ultra-trendy Soho House group of clubs, and he is also one of
the elite 99 people who can claim fingerprint recognition at the hidden 99 bar in
Manchester, England.

Worlds Best Cocktaila
Fair Winds Press ISBN 978-1-59233-527-5 $28

 

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Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

 

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A TALE OF TWO RUMS-PILAR AND PRIVATEER

 

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A TALE OF TWO RUMS-PILAR AND PRIVATEER

BOTH RUMS STEEPED IN HISTORY

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Michael Hepworth

HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman)7/7/14/–There are two new rums on the market called Pilar and Privateer, and both have an interesting tale to tell. First of all Pilar is actually called Papa’s Pilar, and is named after Ernest Hemmingway’s constant companion and muse, and also his boat that fueled many of his legendary fishing expeditions. Hemmingway also loved rum, in particular Papa Doble, and this product was developed in association with the Ernest Hemmingway Estate. Retail prices are $39.99 for the Dark, and $29.99 for the
Blonde.

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The new distillery will be located in one of Hemmingway’s old stomping ground
of Key West, Florida, and they are planning it to become a tourist destination in
the area.

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Pilar Rum is solera aged and blended in the United States using American Oak
Barrels, and the marketing material rather loosely tries to catch on to the Hemmingway spirit by saying “Papas Pilar was created to be near the same Hemingway adventure, accompanying rum enthusiasts as they sink their teeth into life.”

url

The Dark rum is 86 proof and did win a gold medal at the San Francisco Spirits Competition, and includes rums up to twenty-four years old, and it has a long and velvety finish. Papas Pilar Blonde is 84 proof and contains rums 3-7 years old, and it was
awarded a “Best in Class” at the Miami Rum festival held in April 2013.

Master blender for Pilar is Jay Maltby a former executive at Bacardi, Cruzan and
Mahalo Spirits. The Hemmingway Foundation will donate 100% of royalties to
organizations that represent adventure, literacy and environmental issues. This
already includes a $30,000 donation to the Game Fish Association.

Privateer Rum is the brainchild of Andrew Cabot, and if that name seems familiar,
then the original Andrew Cabot (1750-91) was a merchant and rum distiller who
had a fleet of twenty five ships who was clever enough to smuggle molasses past
British patrols or prizing British ships. In fact a hero of the revolution.

Privateer Rum is aged in the cool maritime climate of New England in Essex County, where the seasons expand and contract the barrels and then are finished up in used whiskey and brandy barrels.

 

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www.papaspilar.com
www.privateerrum.com

Papa’s Pilar Rum

The Artisan-Crafted Spirit that reflects Rum’s gutsy roots.

Rum was once a noble spirit. It was served aboard warships, rationed to visionary explorers, and used to sustain the Founding Fathers as they plotted revolution. Rum was consumed by men who understood that you only get one shot at life. Standing still, they’d say, was a waste of valuable time.

Ernest Hemingway was this type of man – an adventurer who lived life to the fullest. He indulged us with glimpses of a vibrant life by stitching together distant cultures, passions, and people using the power of the written word.

Inspired by his appetite for adventure, we’ve proudly created a super-premium rum: Papa’s Pilar.

It is a spirit born of multiple rums hand-selected from the Caribbean, Central America and Florida. The rums are then brought to the U.S.A. and married together in our unique Solera aging and blending process.

Papa’s Pilar represents the original spirit of rum.

http://www.ernesthemingwaycollection.com/

 

tn-3

 

Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

 

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Sage Restaurant in Las Vegas Serious Cocktail Culture

Michael Hepworth

 

 

SERIOUS COCKTAIL CULTURE AT THE SAGE IN LAS VEGAS

 

Las Vegas,NV(Spiritsman)5/27/14/–Sage Restaurant at the swanky Aria Hotel in Las Vegas is the signature restaurant from Chef Shawn McClain, and his elegant food pairs well with the classy cocktails available. The space itself is spectacular with lighting and décor to match the food and drink offerings, and a recent visit on a Sunday night saw the place about half full.

They have only recently started opening on the day of rest, but all the local guide books indicate that the place is closed that night. McClain himself is not on site, but by all accounts does stop by every three weeks or so to see that everything in the kitchen remains at the high standards a restaurant like this needs to maintain.

Guest dining at the bar will enjoy a complimentary amuse bouche cocktail-Pink Lemonade from the in house mixologists.The liquid is poured into an ice filled Absinthe balancier, and then flows through a see-saw mechanism. A couple of Aperitifs of note include the OPENING ACT, made with Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur, Campari, mint leaves and fresh lime juice topped off with a spritz of Angostura bitters. Also try the CAT WALK, a exotic mixture of orange flavored rooibos tea, passion fruit puree, Belvedere Lemon Tea, Aperol, St.Germain and Prosecco.

Also of note is the SMOKING BULLEIT which infuses fresh peaches with Bulleit Bourbon and the 20 To LIFE which consists of St.George Bontanivore Gin & Breaking & Entering Bourbon and spiced up with Marie Brizard Apry and Canton Ginger Liqueurs. This is all topped off with a garnish of gin-compressed blueberries with apricots sprinkled with elderflower dust The TVG has Hennessey Black Cognac with pomegranate and blood orange liqueurs, orange juice and sour adorned with a orange zest sugar rim.

Getting more into the recently legalized Absinthe, Sage has gone all the way in making it the place to go for this legendary libation. They have a comprehensive selection from France, Switzerland, Spain and selections from California, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Wisconsin. The most intriguing appears to be La Clandestine Superieure from Switzerland at $30 a shot, although there are several at $35.

Food wise Sage is also exceptional with a Tasting Menu at $150 with a wine pairing for an additional $100. This will include such treats as King Crab & Yellowtail Crudo, Citrus Cured Foie Gras, Poached Honey Mussels and a Bacon Wrapped Rabbit Loin w/ black dates, smoked polenta and a fried quail egg. This is an ingredient driven menu that will impress you no end with several stand out dishes not limited to the Scallops, Foie Gras or the Crème Brulee.

He also has a signature menu at $89 for four courses with wine pairings for an additional $44. Starters include Kushi Oysters, Wagyu Beef Tartare or Heirloom Baby Beets and from there you can move on to Spanish Octopus, Maine Scallops, Iberico Pork Loin or 48 hour beef belly.

Service is very slick, presentation is superb and the ambience is perfect for eithercasual or business dining despite the hip-hop/dance music being played at a very tolerable volume. I noticed that this restaurant is ranked at #105 out of about 3800 Las Vegas restaurants. I think it should be higher.

Sage

http://www.aria.com/dining/restaurants/sage

SAGE at ARIA HOTEL-3730 LAS VEGAS BLVD.

877-230-2742

 

Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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CITADELLE RESERVE SOLERA GIN 2013

Michael Hepworth

 

CITADELLE RESERVE SOLERA GIN 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIRST TO USE UNIQUE PROCESS

 

HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman)5/23/14/–I was pleased to get the chance to try out the new release of this Citadelle Gin Especially since it is the first solera aged gin in the world. The French company Cognac Ferrand based in Ars, have been producing limited edition aged gins since 2008, and this is the only gin in the world distilled in pot stills over an open flame This edition of the gin is aged in a combination of casks, ex-Cognac, ex-Pineau des Charente casks and American oak casks. Solera is predominately used to age sherry, Madeira, Spanish Brandy and select rums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tasting it with Fever Tree tonic is a real delight with a vibrant and mellow taste, and I get the feeling that bartenders are going to love this gin, and at a RRP of $34.99 so will consumers. The gin is made in small batches and infused with 19 botanicals, and brand owner Alexandre Gabriel loves experimenting with wooden casks to bring outthe true flavor of the gin. This combination of blending and aging is called solera, and the complicated process involves putting Citadelle in three different casks for up to five months.

The ex-cognac casks are rinsed in gin at first to make sure that the cognac does not overpower the gin, and the ex-Pineau des Charentes impart a full bodied feel along with some spiciness to the overall picture.After the gin has aged sufficiently inn the casks, it is poured into the solera vat and then bottled. At all times the mother solera vat remains half empty in order to maintain the consistency in the taste.

 

 

 

 

 

The 2012 version of the Citadelle Reserve Gin actially added three fresh botanicals to the mix in the form of yuzu, genepi and bleuet (cornflower) and the spirit was aged for six months in aok casks.

For those into history Citadelle dates back to 1775 when Louis XV1 authorized two enterprising distillers to open up in Dunkirk. Stills eventually became bigger to increase production as demand grew especially in England, but to some degree precision and taste became compromised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.citadellegin.com

 

 

Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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MASSOLINO WINES and THEIR PASSION FOR BAROLO

Michael Hepworth

MASSOLINO WINES and THEIR PASSION FOR BAROLO

 

HOLLYWOOD<(Spirtisman)5/8/14/–The history of this winery dates back to 1896 when Giovanni Massolino founded the estate, and his son Giuseppe founded the first wine cellar which is in the region of Serralunga d’Alba. They have recently been launched in the USA, and the classic Barolo wine is made with Nebbiolo grapes cultivated 360 meters above sea level.

The entire estate is twenty-three hectares in and around the village of Serralunga, and the portion dedicated to Barolo is 7 hectares. The soil is very calcerous, with variations from zone to zone, and it certainly helps that at least two of the family members Franco and Roberto are oenologists.

All these wines are being imported by the enterprising Vineyard Brands based in Birmingham, Alabama, and have recently hit the market. Production is fairly limited starting with the Barolo Vigna Rionda which produces only 8,000 750ml bottles and is a wine that goes with meat, especially lamb and game, and it has been released six years of harvesting. A good portion of the wine has been held back and will be put on the market in four years.

Barolo Perussi has a solid structure, long finish with hints of sweet spices, sandalwood, tobacco and leather. The grapes are grown outside of the Serralunga d’Alba area in Castigliano Falletto and is best served with stewed meats and medium-long matured cheeses. About 5,000 bottles of this wine are produced annually.

Barolo Parafada is more intense and complex wine than the other Barolo’s, and this robust wine is particularly good with rice and pasta dishes as well as roast meats. Production is limited to 4,500 bottles.

The flagship Barolo (38,000 bottles) is aged in large oak barrels for 30 months and left to mature in bottles placed in dark and cool cellars for about a year. A versatile wine that ages well the tasting notes indicate that this is a wine best served with red meats, truffles and game. It also goes well with egg pasta, risotto and goat’s milkcheeses.

Massolino also does a Moscato d’Asti (15,000 bottles) made from Moscato Bianco grapes in the same region as the Barolo production, and this straw yellow wine is best with desserts of any kind and spicy cheeses. This a fresh tasting wine that benefits from the fermentation process of large pressurized tanks known as autoclaves.

Sticking with the whites, Langhe Chardonnay (15,000 bottles), this wine is fermented for 6 months , and is released for sale after at least an additional 6 months in the bottle.

In a land that mainly produces red varieties, this white wine benefits from meticulous care in the vineyards, and goes very well with fresh fish, in particular trout. It tastesvery structured thanks to the soil of the area it is grown.

www.vineyardbrands.com

 

Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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DAMOISEAU RHUM & Aged VSOP from THE ISLAND OF GUADELOUPE

 

 

Michael Hepworth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman)5/2/14/–Damoiseau Rhum comes from Guadeloupe and I had the chance to try the Virgin Cane Rhum and the VSOP aged Rhum. The French island is not normally known for rhum, and the Virgin Cane version is produced from fresh pressed sugarcane juice and is only distilled once to capture the natural flavors and aromas of the region. Those aromas include meringue, toasty nut brittle, cane, pineapple cake and marinated sweet potato.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rhum Agricole is only produced at a certain time of the year during the dry season in the spring. I enjoyed these rums in what has been a bit of a rhum renaissance for me lately purely by chance and not design. Currently I believe the Rhum is available in the following states-NY,NJ,CT,MA,DC and FL, although by the time you read this probably in a few more.

Strict discipline is applied to the manufacture of this Rhum concerning the source and extraction of the sugarcane along with the distillation and aging. It follows on the heels of the successful development of Rhum Agricole from Martinique. It is also a Rhum inspired and influenced by Armagnac Brandy from southwestern France.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rum spends some time in stainless steel vats for mellowing out purposes, and then slowly reduced to bottle proof with the help of natural spring water to help the overall profile. The family has been producing rum since 1942, and the rum benefits from the natural terroir in the region known as Grand Terre, and the distillery which is well known throughout as Bellevue Distillery which is located in Le Moule.

The VSOP is aged for a minimum of four years in re-charred Bourbon casks giving it a rich mahogany color and a nice smooth finish. It is best served neat or in simple cocktails and the flavors of roasted dry fruits and peppery spices make it a treat to have in the liquor cabinet. The tasting notes also mention sweet chocolate toffee, mocha buttercream, fig and rubber sap.

Recipes:

Hemingway :

2 oz Damoiseau Virgin Cane Rhum

¾ oz Grapefruit Juice

½ oz Lime Juice

¼ oz  maraschino liqueur

Shake w/ice and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe

Cre Old Fashioned :

2 oz Damoiseau VSOP Rhum

¼ oz Clement Creole Shrub

2 dashes Orange or Angostura bitters

Garnish orange wheel and brandied cherry

Pour rum, shrubb and bitters into cracked ice-filled glass and stir.

Add garnish.

 

 

 

 

www.rhumclementusa.com

www.damoiseaurum.com

 

Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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140th Kentucky Derby Win, Place and Show A great collection of cocktail winners

Michael Hepworth

 

HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman)5/2/14/– A great collection of cocktails that are perfect for Kentucky Derby celebrations and spring mixes in general! – these cocktails are full of wonderful seasonal flavors with unique twists including blackberry, rhubarb tea with blood orange, whiskey with peach bitters, and lots of mint!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackberry Mint Julep Margarita

2 parts Milagro Anejo

1 part Lime Juice

1 part Honey Syrup

5 Blackberries

6 Mint Leaves

 Muddle berries and mint. Add rest, shake and strain over ice in julep glass. Garnish with blackberries and mint sprig.

 Tip from Gaston Martinez, Milagro Tequila Ambassador: Substituting the bourbon for Anejo tequila makes sense since we mature this tequila in used bourbon casks. The cask is a huge source of the flavor found in both spirits and will have many similarities. Salud!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Reviver

1 oz. Rhubarb Tea

1 oz. Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur

1 oz. Lillet Rosé

.75 oz. fresh lemon juice

3 dashes Absinthe

Glass: coupe

Garnish: strawberry slice and mint sprig or edible flower

Shake ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled coupe glass, garnish with a strawberry slice and a mint sprig or an edible flower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tullamore Dewlep

2 oz Tullamore D.E.W. Original

½ oz white vanilla sugar syrup

Dash peach bitters

12 mint leaves

 Pour all ingredients into a cup. Gently muddle mint, fill with crushed ice and stir gently to combine garnish with a sprig of mint and straw (Requires use of Julep cup for maximum impact)

 Kentucky and Ireland have a great deal in common. They both produce fine fiddlers, fine horses and fine whiskey. And, while musicians trade tunes and breeders trade horses, whiskey aficionados trade recipes – like this Irish twist on a Southern classic. – Tullamore D.E.W National Brand Ambassador, Tim Herlihy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Major Bailey (by Jon Santer)

2 oz Hendrick’s Gin

1 Sugar cube

¼ oz simple

8 Leaves Mint

 Muddle in julep glass. Top with crushed ice until a mountain peak of ice forms above the glass. Garnish with copious amounts of mint and a cucumber spear.

 

 

 

 

Fort Julep (by Joaquin Simo, Pouring Ribbons)

2 oz Lillet Rosé

1/2 oz Green Chartreuse

Glass: Julep (silver or pewter is traditional, but a steel cup will do nicely and a plain ole rocks glass works in a pinch)

Ice: Crushed

Garnish: Mint, lightly spanked before inserting.

 Rub 2-3 mint leaves inside of julep cup, then discard leaves. Add Chartreuse & Lillet Rosé, fill midway with crushed ice, swizzle or stir to agitate and incorporate, then add more Crushed Ice. Top with spanked mint sprigs.

http://www.kentuckyderby.com/watch

140th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

California Chrome
Hoppertunity
Wicked Strong
Intense Holiday
Danza
9-4
5-1
7-1
11-1
11-1
Samraat
Wildcat Red
Ride On Curlin
Tapiture
General A Rod
15-1
16-1
16-1
18-1
18-1

Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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WRATH WINES and THEIR CONNECTION TO ANCIENT ITALY

 

Michael Hepworth

 

WRATH WINES and THEIR CONNECTION TO ANCIENT ITALY

Evening Outside Winery

 

HOLLYWOOD(Spiritsman)4/22/14/–The Wrath Winery is located in North Monterey County in the area of the Santa Lucia Highlands, or to be more specific in Soledad. Wrath is a relative new company only created in 2007 by winemaker Michael Thomas who took over the San Saba Vineyard from his stepfather. The archeologist and art historian has produced some very nice wines in a price range of $19-$49 which include chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah. Incidentally the name Wrath originates from a Led Zeppelin tune, and I assume that Thomas must be a huge fan of the legendary rockers.

 

Wrath Tasting Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In fact there is an interesting storyline about Michael Thomas and his fascination with Italian wines. He plants Falanghina in his vineyard-one of the most ancient varieties in History. He and his archeological team have been exploring and appraising two Oplontis Villas near Pompeii, excavated several decades ago but never fully explored. This is all Part of his duties as Director of the Center for the Study of Ancient Italy at the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He discovered that the region had many individual vineyards in ancient times, and found evidence that wine was transported throughout the region by carts making or picking up deliveries in a big leather sack known as a culleus. Rome at the time had about 1 million citizens many very wealthy, so shipping wines up the coast at the time must have been a very profitable business venture.

Wine Spectator gave high scores in the nineties to three of the Wrath wines, the 2011 Syrah Monterey Ex Anima, the 2011 Syrah Monterey San Saba Vineyards and the 2011 Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands KW Ranch. The reason that the 2011 wines have such high ratings is that the Santa Lucia Highlands escaped the heavy rains in the region during harvest time. The overall impression after tasting these wines for several weeks is a strong fruity presence, nice balance and full bodied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This certainly applies to my favorite, the Wrath Ex-Anima 2011 Pinot Noir ($29) which is a stainless and neutral oak estate grown pinot. Top of the line at $49 is the San Saba Vineyard Pinot Noir, a limited production run from select barrels of the estate grown pinot. This wine offers Burgundian complexity combined with California richness and a combination of  Susan, 667, 828 and Pommard 4 clones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Syrah’s are particularly fruity and include a list of fruits embroiled in the overall taste such as exotic plum, blackberry, red berry, fig and cherries. Combine this with savory herb, game meat, rhubarb and tobacco leaf and the limited production of no more than 170 cases for each variety, it is amazing they can keep the prices so low.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are two Chardonay’s in the collection, with the Ex-Anima version which is unoaked at $19. The more expensive version at $35 is the 3 Clone Chardonnay that uses the 3 clones grown in the San Saba Vineyard.

www.wrathwines.com

Photography David Mellish, Design Inc

Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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The Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC) has joined the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

 

Michael Hepworth

 

MOTAC Proudly Announces Legacy Partnership with Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

 

 

 

 

 

NEW ORLEANS (Spiritsman)4/19/14/– – The Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC) has joined the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival (MRRF) as Legacy Partner. MOTAC, a division of the SoFAB Institute, celebrates the American cocktail and develops its craft, field, and market through exhibits, programming, and a range of media. MRRF The annual Miami Rum Festival is the largest gathering of rum producers and enthusiasts in the world and offers an opportunity to sample hundreds of fine rums from the Caribbean and beyond.

 

The Miami Rum Renaissance Festival 2014 takes place April 25-27 at the DoubleTree Miami Airport Convention Center. The three-day festival features rum seminars led by MOTAC Co-Founder Philip Greene, author of To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion. MRRF tickets range in price from $50 for general admission to $150 for a three-day pass and can be purchased at www.rumrenaissance.com/tickets or by calling 877-855-3378. Rum seminar ticket proceeds will benefit The Museum of the American Cocktail.

 

ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN COCKTAIL

The Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC) celebrates a singular cultural icon. Founded by craft cocktail pioneer Dale DeGroff and several of the world’s most passionate cocktail authorities and historians, MOTAC advances the profession and expands consumer knowledge of mixology, all while stressing the importance of responsible drinking. It preserves and develops a rich facet of American culture and provides educational resources to both professionals and enthusiasts in the fine art of crafting the cocktail through a series of mixology seminars conducted by the world’s foremost authorities and offered in locations across the country and the world, among them Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and Washington, DC. It also works to broaden career opportunities in the spirits industry and encourage greater participation by women and others under-represented in the field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOTAC is a division of the SoFAB Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit cultural enterprise that documents and celebrates the food and drink of all cultures through exhibits, programming, and a range of media. Because everyone eats, all aspects of food and drink—culture and geography, anthropology and history, economics and politics, law and policy, media and the arts, science and technology—reveal the state of the world. SoFAB, home to the SoFAB Center for Food Law, Policy & Culture, SoFAB Culinary Library & Archive, Southern Food & Beverage Museum, Museum of the American Cocktail, and SoFAB Media, is among the nation’s leading institutions studying food and drink.

 

For more information, visit sofabinstitute.org.

 

ABOUT MIAMI RUM RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL

Presenting the largest rum festival in the world — attracting rum experts, professionals and enthusiasts from more than 30 countries. The annual Miami Rum Festival offers an opportunity to sample hundreds of fine rums from the Caribbean and beyond during three days of Grand Tasting events at the DoubleTree Miami Airport Convention Center on April 25-27, 2014. Celebrity seminars, live entertainment, island lifestyle vendors and interactive cocktail demonstrations round out the activities associated with this unique celebration of the best rums in the world. General admission tickets begin at $50. VIP passes offering early admission are $75. For more information, visit rumrenaissance.com.

CONTACT

Philip M. Dobard, Vice President

SoFAB Institute, home of The Museum of the American Cocktail

M 504.251.4739

philip@sofabinstitute.org

Kelsey Parris

Operations Manager

SoFAB Institute

New Orleans, LA
www.southernfood.org
504-569-0405

 

Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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San Francisco World Spirits Competition Celebrates 14 Years, Biggest in History

Michael Hepworth

 

 

San Francisco World Spirits Competition Celebrates Biggest Event in 14 Year History
Spirited event showcases 1,474 entries from 64 countries

SAN FRANCISCO, California,(Spiritsman) 4/3/14/– – The San Francisco World Spirits Competition hosted its 14th annual competition on March 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th at the elegant Hotel Nikko in downtown San Francisco. Continuing its tradition of record-breaking entries annually, this year the number of submissions totaled 1,474 from 41 states,  64 countries covering 89 classifications. Many categories of spirits experienced a marked increase this year most notably American Craft Whiskey, Gin and Single Malt Scotch. Also of note this year was the increased entries of the Chinese spirit, Baijiu. Often a harbinger of trends in the marketplace, the competition is considered to be the rite of passage for top quality spirits as it has 39 of the world’s top professional palates serving as judges.

Anthony Dias Blue, Executive Director of the competition states, “Every year with this event we see the emerging trends in the spirits category, often our event is a launchpad for a burgeoning trend to be taken seriously. Prior to our event, smaller categories such as Pisco, Calvados, Cachaça and Mezcal were little known in this country, now bartenders and journalists worldwide turn their attention to our results to gauge the marketplace. Of particular note this year were the growing number of American distilled products, I’m particularly excited about the rise in quality American Whiskey,” stated Blue.

Top Awards
Best in Show Awards, which are the top five awards of the event, went to WAQAR Pisco ($36) from Pisquera Tulahuen in Chile, Best in Show Un-Aged White Spirit out of a 577 submissions.  Best in Show Aged White Spirit went to Bounty Over Proof (58% ABV) Rum ($47) from Lautoka, Fiji out of 179 submissions.  Best in Show Whisky went to Glencadam Highland Single Malt Aged 21 Years ($120) from Angus Dundee Distillers in the Highlands of Scotland out of 245 whisky submissions.  Best in Show Brandy was awarded to LeCompte 25 Year Old Calvados ($279) from the Calvados LeCompte Pays d’Auge in France out of 123 brandy submissions and finally Best in Show Liqueur went to Grand Marnier’s Cuvee du Centennaire, 100th Anniversary Liqueur ($200) out of 170 entries. Of special note this year was a first time category, specialty cocktail mixers, which was won by Ballast Point Mai Tai Mix ($6) for Best Cocktail Mixer.

Awarded annually, this year’s Tasting Panel Magazine Distillery of the Year went to Midleton Distillery of Ireland with both their Midleton Irish Whiskey and Redbreast Irish Whiskey receiving a total of 3 Double Gold Medals and 3 Gold Medals including Best Irish Whiskey for their Redbreast 15 Year Old.  Importer of the Year went to Pernod Ricard USA of New York, NY for the 2nd year in a row, and the Director’s Award of excellence went to Campari America, headquartered in San Francisco for its excellent portfolio of spirits.

A complete list of awards categorically will be posted to the San Francisco World Spirits Competition website on April 9th, please visit http://sfspiritscomp.com/ at that time for more information.

Judges
Thirty-nine international judges gathered this year with five new judges joining including: Erik Adkins, Beverage Director Slanted Door Group, San Francisco; Brian Bowden, VP Spirits, Beer, Tobacco, Beverages for BevMo!; Sean Bucalo Craft Spirits Specialist, Young’s Market Co; Tony Devencenzi, Director Beverage Academy, Bourbon & Branch, San Francisco; and Max Solano, Mixologist and Beverage Manager Emeril’s Restaurants, Las Vegas. Tony Abou-Ganim, aka the Modern Mixologist has directed the judging now for his 5th year and says of the event, “I’m flattered and humbled to be a part of a competition with some of the best palates in the world. I look forward to it all year and it is a great way for an established or unknown spirit to gain credibility in this business. The winners feel the impact of the competition’s results in significant ways and use the results to help build both their sales and reputations globally.”  For more information about the judges, please visit http://sfspiritscomp.com/about/judges.

About the Competition
Founded in the new millennium year of 2000 by noted wine & spirits critic and competition director Anthony Dias Blue, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition has gained a reputation as the leading gauge for spirits trends and top quality products in the country. Noted journalists, distillers, beverage directors, mixologists, restaurateurs, Master Sommeliers, hoteliers, consultants, educators comprise the august body of judges. The continued double-digit growth of entries annually points to an undeniable love affair with distillate products in the United States.

For interviews, images and media information, please contact Kimberly Charles at Charles Communications Associates at press@charlescomm.com or 415|701-9463. Please also Like our page at San Francisco World Spirits Competition on Facebook, and follow the competition on Twitter at #SFWSC.

 

Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

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RARE BY DRAI’S ADVANCES L.A.’S COCKTAIL CULTURE WITH MASTER MIXOLOGIST CHRIS HEWES AT THE HELM

The Victor-EE

Michael Hepworth

Victor Drai’s New West Hollywood Steakhouse Elevates the Bar & Lounge Experience with Sophisticated Design, DJ, Indoor/Outdoor Seating and the City’s Best Cocktails

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA.(Spiritsman)35/14/– – Feb. 2014 – Victor Drai’s new restaurant, Rare by Drai’s on Sunset Plaza, has quickly set a sexy, sophisticated tone for the new steakhouse by offering not only the best cuts of steak with sublime service, but also by re-imagining the entire experience, starting with the distinctive bar and lounge. The bar at Rare is a dynamic indoor/outdoor space led by acclaimed mixologist Chris Hewes. Unlike other steakhouses, the bar and lounge at Rare is not merely a waiting space before dinner; it is designed to be the social gathering spot on Sunset Blvd. with its 33 seats, DJ and access to the Rare patio.

Interview with the Vampire

 

Black Dahlia

Lifting the bar to new heights, Hewes (formerly of the Library Bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt), has created a cocktail menu that flows from savory to spicy to refreshing – blending the freshest ingredients with Hewes’ eclectic and artistic viewpoint. Hewes has earned a reputation as one of the most passionate and creative mixologists in the city, and he proves it again at Rare with a seasonally evolving menu that currently features: Interview with the Vampire (Akvinta Vodka, Arbol Chili-Infused St. Germain, Berries and Jalapeno); Black Dahlia (Black Mission Fig-Infused Pisco, Arugula and Ginger Beer) and The Victor-EE (Rambutan & Lychee-Infused Vodka Martini). 

Beyond his signature drinks, Hewes is focused on creating distinct infusions, fashioning cocktails and beverages that can only be found at Rare’s bar. “At Rare we have fig-infused Pisco, strawberry vodkas, Arbol chili-infused St. Germain and Mandarin Napoleon liqueur, persimmon-infused gins, chamomile-infused Jameson and pineapple-infused tequila with Creme de Violette,” explains Hewes.  “I love making infusions; they allow me to experiment with different flavors and find new and interesting ingredients that work well together.”

 

Following in the footsteps of his famous bartending father Jim, Hewes brings a knowledge and point-of-view that sets him apart in the world of crafting cocktails. “I learned the trade from my dad so I have a great understanding of the classics, but also bring my own spin to the bar with new concepts and modern interpretations of traditional drinks,” explains Hewes. “It’s been fun to create this program in a steakhouse setting.”

 

Rare by Drai’s is located at: 8720 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069. Rare by Drai’s hours: Monday – Wednesday: 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Thursday – Saturday: 6:00 p.m. to 11:30 a.m. For reservations and private events, call: 310-360-1525 or book at www.opentable.com. To follow online: visit www.rarebydrais.net, on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/rarebydrais and on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/rarebydrais. Rare by Drai’s is a partnership between Victor Drai and international restaurant and hospitality group ESquared Hospitality.

 

With his history of pouring the most interesting cocktails in Los Angeles, Hewes answers a few questions

on his concepts for Rare by Drai’s

 

Explain the single cube concept in your signature cocktails. Some of the drinks you created for Rare use herb-infused cubes? 

The one ice cube is to chill the cocktail without diluting it. It allows you to really enjoy the flavors of the cocktail. My goal is to have different flavors of ice cubes and infused ice cubes to change the cocktail as it is being consumed. I want the flavors of the drink to blend with the ice cube. Instead of just having a vodka and cranberry, why not have a Cranberry Liqueur, pomm juice and fresh cranberry cube combined with great vodka? We want to put fun twists on the standard drinks.

 

You don’t use simple syrup in any of your Rare drinks; what is your sweetening process? How does this enhance the drink?

 

I’m always looking for alternatives to the common “simple syrup.” Different honeys, agave nectar, stevia, rice nectars and other natural sweeteners are what I like to use in all of my drinks. I find the cocktails to be much more balanced when using these alternatives to “simple syrup.” Nobody wants a really ‘sugary’ cocktail.

 

What items used in your Rare cocktail menu are your own signature concoctions?

 

I would say that my infusions are the most distinctive drinks on the menu. I enjoy finding the right balance and mixture of fresh fruits and spices, and mashing them up with liqueurs and different alcohols. Most people haven’t had the combination of ingredients that I use in my infusions… from pineapple to jalapeno to persimmons mixed with tequilas, gins and vodkas. There is always an element of surprise and intrigue.

 

All the Rare cocktails seem to balance heat with sweet. Is that good for food pairing?

 

I feel as though each cocktail pairs well with at least two items on the food menu. I wanted to compliment the amazing food with properly made and well-balanced drinks. The spicy cocktails are perfect with steaks and the seafood; they put a little pep in your step and really get you thinking about food. When creating spicy cocktails the goal should not be to burn someone’s palate or shock them with too much heat. The goal is to have the heat as one aspect of the drink and to have other flavors come in to relax that spice. Each drink should have layers and take you on a trip from the first sip to the last.

 

Which of your Rare cocktails is your favorite?

 

To be honest I love all the drinks with respect to each of their alcohols. But the KGB and the Rare Manhattan are probably my two favorites to drink. Although it’s always hard to pick, I like these two because they feature a twist on well-known classics. For instance, the KGB stands out because of the chamomile-infused Jameson. It’s recognizable, yet feels new and bold.

 

Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

mrspiritsman@gmail.com

http://twitter.com/MrSpiritsman

http://spiritsman.blogspot.com

Follow Me on Pinterest

 

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