Archive for the ‘Spirits’ Category

Byrrh, An Apéritif From The South of France

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Byrrh (pronounced “beer”) is made from the bark of South American Quinquina and other plants and spices, from the original late 19th century recipe. It is sweetened with Muscat mistelles and created by two brothers Pallade and Simon Violoet in a small town called Thuir in the south of France. It is a vermouth with alcohol of 18%, now produced by Pernod Ricard.

Campari, The World’s Favorite Aperitif – Italy

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Campari has one of the best global marketing plans I have ever witnessed. From the largest city to the remotest island you will find Campari on the back bar. I have always been amazed at how they can accomplish this.  Annually they sell almost 3 million cases in 190 countries; this is unbelievable coverage. You may enjoy this alluring bitter-sweet concoction on the rocks with a slice of orange, in a tall glass with soda, or as a refreshing Americano (mixed with red & white sweet vermouth & soda) this could be an arguable point with some, but I have always mixed it with both red & white sweet vermouth, although equaling the same quantity. Then there is the famous Negroni cocktail (mixed with sweet vermouth & gin) and usually served straight up although, there are times that I prefer it on the rocks . Other bitter aperitifs are: Aperol, Byrrh from France, Fernet Branca, Cynar (whose main ingredient is artichoke) and the non-alcohol bitter aperitif Crodino, even though made in Italy its main market is Germany.

Glenrothes, Speyside, Scotland

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Drink it neat or with a little water. Previously, it was used as a blending whisky in Cutty Sark, a blend I find too light, and Famous Grouse a blend I really enjoy.

Old Pulteney From Wick, Scotland: World’s Best Whisky According to Jim Murray’s 2012 Whisky Bible

Monday, October 24th, 2011

A single malt whisky distilled in one of Scotland’s most remote areas, has been named the world’s best whisky by a leading expert.  According to Jim Murray’s 2012 Whisky Bible a single malt from Wick called Old Pulteney has won the title of the World’s Best Whisky.

Mr. Murray said: “The 21-year-old Old Pulteney absolutely exploded from the glass with vitality, charisma and class, and I hope that this award helps one of Scotland’s great unsung distilleries to become discovered around the world.”

Chopin Vodka

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Chopin is a Polish Vodka made from potatoes. This vodka is 4 times distilled and grown in the region of Podlasie. In 2001, Pernod Ricard purchased the maker of the vodka, Polmos Poznan, who also makes another fine vodka called Wyborowa. It is produced by Podlaska Wytwórnia Wódek. You will find it very smooth, with lots of flavor!

Patrón, Biggest Selling Premium Tequila in the U.S. – Mexico

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

PatrónPatrón was founded in 1989 in Jalisco, Mexico. It still uses the traditional stone wheel, called a “tahona,” to crush its agave, and is the leading premium Tequila in the U.S. You may drink it straight, in a cocktail such as a Margarita, or accompanied by a Sangrita.

Oban Scotch Whisky

Sunday, September 11th, 2011


Oban, Argyll, Scotland. Founded in 1794, it is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland with just two pot stills. Drink it with a bit of water, on the rocks or with soda if you must.

Talisker, Isle of Skye – Scotland

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Talisker, Isle of Skye

I visited the Isle of Skye a few years back and had the great pleasure of quaffing Talisker with only a splash of pure water. It is the only distillery on the Isle of Skye and founded in 1830. You should drink this single malt Scotch Whisky straight (neat) or with bit of water; no ice, no soda, please.

Martinique Rhum, Among the Finest in the World – France

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Rhum Martinique

Martinquaise Rhum is by far my favorite, after comparing it to scores of rums that I have tasted from all over the world. The Martinique chili pepper is also my number one choice of fiery chili peppers I have consumed, besides being very hot, which it has in common with many other peppers, it has a lovely floral aroma and flavor that other hot peppers do not. Trois Rivières I recall as being especially good although, you cannot complain about any of the rums produced on Martinique or to a lesser extent on the nearby island of Guadeloupe.

Rhum Blanc
While seated in the back seat of a car on my way to a party in the north of the island, I was surprised by a sudden attack without provocation by a centipede or “millepied” as they are called in French, which jumped out of a jacket pocket hanging on a window on the other side of my seat, it bit me and immediately disappeared under the seat. My longtime friend Gaetan de Lucy de Fossarieu, whose family have been in the rum business on the island for years, pulled the car alongside the entrance to a pharmacy at the next small village and they gave me some medicine for the bite, but Gaetan affirmed, “The best medicine is waiting at the party”. After drinking a couple of “petit punch”,  a drink made from local rum agricole, sugar cane syrup, with a twist of lime squeezed to release the oil from the skin, and finally an ice cube or two;  I almost forgot I was bitten!
Rhum agricole, which comes mostly from the French Caribbean island of Martinique, is made from fresh sugarcane juice. It has a lovely, lively flavor with a lingering mineral aftertaste provided by Martinique’s volcanic soil. Newly cut cane will begin to ferment within hours of being harvested, so the distillery is better to be as close as possible to the cane fields.



Mount Gay Rum & Casino Royale – Barbados

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Mount Gay Eclipse

The original “Casino Royale” (1967) was made as a satire instead of the usual formula of the James Bond film series due to complications in coming to terms with the original EON Producers. It had an amazing cast including: David Niven, Peter Sellers, John Huston, William Holden, Kurt Kaszner, Charles Boyer, Deborah Kerr, Barbara Bouchet, Mata Hari, Terence Cooper, Daliah Lavi, Ursula Andress, Orson Welles, Joanna Pettet, Jacqueline Bisset, Woody Allen, Jean-Paul Belmondo and George Raft.

In the second remake of the film “Casino Royale” (2006), James Bond orders a Mount Gay rum with soda instead of  his trademark Martini; this choice was not accidental or motivated by the desire for product placement gains either. Rather, it must have been Mount Gay’s reputation for producing premium rum in tandem with its distinguished pedigree. With records dating back to 1703, it’s the oldest continually operating rum distiller in the world. Produced on the island of Barbados, Mount Gay rum was originally named Mount Gilboa. When the plantation and distillery was inherited by John Sober in 1747, he appointed Sir John Gay Alleyne, as manager. When Alleyne died in 1801, Sober renamed it Mount Gay in his honor, as there was already a Mount Alleyne on the island. Although not the only rum produced on Barbados, Mount Gay is the only one produced in large enough quantites to be widely exported and well-known. Mount Gay rum is made from Barbados sugar cane at peak sweetness. Fermentation is begun by blending the molasses with the island’s naturally coral-filtered water and yeast. The rum is uniquely distilled using both single and continuous distillation. Single distillation is carried out twice for depth and richness, while continuous distillation yields a crisp, delicate rum. It is then aged in Kentucky white oak casks lightly charred to impart a smoky flavor and rich amber color. Master Blender Allen Smith creates the Extra Old from rums aged 8 to 15 years. It is a viscous rum that both tastes and smells of oak, balanced by hints of ripe banana. On the palate are caramel, vanilla and warm spice. It’s not very layered or sophisticated, but the premium rum is still best enjoyed on its own, either neat or on the rocks. For blending in cocktails or to mix with soda or tonic the Mount Gay Eclipse blend of rums aged 2 to 7 years is ideal for this purpose.

 Mount Gay Eclipse 750 ml $19  –  
Mount Gay Extra Old 750 ml $40 mount-gay-rum