Cana Brava is the work of The 86 Co. which is made up of Simon Ford, Dushan Zaric & Jason Kosmos (founders of Employees Only), Malte Barnekow, and Kris Roth. Cana Brava is a 3 year old aged rum from … Continue reading
Ron Fortuna 8 Year Old is a relatively new rum that comes from Nicaragua and is named after the Roman god of fortune. Currently it is the only expression that is being offered. Ron Fortuna is column-distilled five times from … Continue reading
Monkey Shoulder Whisky is a blend of 3 Speyside malts: Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Kinivie. First they are individually aged in bourbon casks. Once the casks reach the appropriate age of maturity, 27 are chosen to be blended to create Monkey … Continue reading
Pouring Ribbons is the home of Alchemy Consulting – Toby Maloney, Joaquín Simó (Tales of the Cocktail 2012 Bartender of the Year), Troy Sidle (Violet Hour), and Jason Cott. With this strong backing, its no wonder I had to check … Continue reading
Flor de Caña is a brand of rum distributed by Compañia Licorera de Nicaragua. It was founded in 1890 by Francisco Alfredo Pellas and is today headed by a fifth generation member of the Pellas family. From it’s humble roots it has grown into one of the most widely recognized rums along with holding one of the largest rum reserves in the world.
In this post we will be taking a look at the Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum.
On the nose there are is an initial intense alcohol aroma which assaults the nose and it is impossible to get any discernible aromas off the spirit. After it opens up there are aromas of caramel, tropical fruit (pineapple and banana), and a hint of freshly cut grass on a summer afternoon.
Upon tasting there are initial flavors of caramel and more tropical fruits. This is followed up by some earth tones, a touch of coconut and the just discernible presence of vanilla. This last subtle touch of vanilla is due to the 4 years that the rum spent in aging in oak barrels. There are hints of sweetness in the beginning but the rum has a dry finish. Not to be forgotten either, this rum is still rough around the edges and has a some alcohol burn. This is acceptable as this rum was not designed to be sipped on it’s own but rather as a wonderful additions to cocktails. Give it a try in your next Mojito or Daiquiri and it will be a rewarding experience. Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year retails for around $15/750ml. Sample provided by representatives of Flor de Caña.
The first drink this evening comes to us from Charles H. Baker
Daisy De Santiago
2 oz White Rum (Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year)
1 oz Lime Juice
.25 oz Simple Syrup
.75 Yellow Chartreuse
1 oz Club Soda
Shake first three ingredients with ice and pour into a chilled wine glass filled with cracked ice. Add club soda and then float chartreuse on the top. Serve with a straw and garnish with mint sprigs.
If you like daiquiris then you will enjoy this as it has the same flavor profile. It’s tart and refreshing with added herbal complexity and effervescence.
The next drink up is an original creation. I have been wanting to Bonal in a cocktail for some time. Bonal is a cross between an amaro and sweet vermouth. It has the bitterness of gentian and the sweetness of stone fruits.
Heads or Tails
2 oz White Rum (Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year)
.75 oz Bonal
.25 oz Amaretto (Disaronno)
Stir all ingredients together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Flame an orange coin over the drink and drape over the side of the glass
When you bring the drink up to your nose you are immediately enveloped in rich orange aromas. The amaretto adds a touch of nutty sweetness to the background.
The last drink is a a creation from Alex Day of the Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company in Philly.
1.5 oz White Rum (Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year)
.5 oz Cognac (Remy Martin VSOP)
.75 oz Lime Juice
.75 Cinnamon Syrup
Shake and strain all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
This is quite possibly one of my favorite rifts on the classic daiquiri. The addition of the cognac and the cinnamon adds richness and texture. This is one not to be missed and can be enjoyed year round.
Over the years Coca Cola has become synonymous with Cola. Now there is a new kid on the block. While it will never overtake the conglomerate that is Coke it is an infinitely better soda.
Q Kola is made using kola nut, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, lemon, lime, orange, and nutmeg with a touch of organic agave to sweeten the pot. Here the flavors are clearly prominent while Coke and Pepsi just lists “natural flavors”, whatever that is.
The first thing you notice is the color which is a dark caramel brown compared to the deep blackness of the Coke and Pepsi.
Q Kola has a nice carbonation that dances on your tongue. As it envelopes your taste buds there are initial notes of caramel and vanilla and then notes of warming spices like cinnamon and cloves. In the back end the citrus makes its acidic bite known. It is not overly sweet and is in fact well balanced.
Some individuals may find the flavor off putting at first because it does not taste like the Cola many of us are used to.
This has become my go to cola. Don’t get me wrong Coke will always have their place but given the option I would pick Q Kola every time. The only downside is the small 8 oz size which while the perfect size for responsible drinking is just too small for how good it is. Added to this is the price for a 4 pack but this is to expected for a well crafted organic product.
2 oz Rum
5 oz Q Kola
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 Dashes Angostura
After opening several successful bars including Milk & Honey and Little Branch, Sasha Petraske, has taken his show further uptown into Murray Hill.
Knowing what great reputations that his bars have and reading the article on Seriouseats.com I knew I had to give this place a try. So my wife and I decided to stop by during opening week to check it out.
I must say that unfortunately given the high hopes we had for the place we were sorely disappointed. My wife was so disappointed that she felt compelled to right up the majority of this review. Here are her thoughts and feelings:
“For starters I went with my husband and it took us a second to figure out where the place was. All we saw were two open windows and people sitting inside from what seemed to be a shut door to an apartment, and if it wasn’t for the woman coming out from some obscure basement door we might not have figured out our way in. Once inside there is a stair case leading upstairs and to the left some high tables no chairs and small menus on the table.
Okay so what do we do now? The only person here is the bartender behind the bar. Hmmmm maybe upstairs? We go upstairs and there is seating room only, a bartender behind the bar and a waiter running back and forth. Waiting….no one comes up to us so we go back downstairs, wait another 20 min, and decide that since we came all this way we might as well have at least one drink so we walk up behind 2 couples standing at the bar. After waiting maybe another 10mins a woman comes up to us and states that she will take our orders and we can wait at our table.
This was absolutely the wrong move because after taking our order it was another 20mins or so before we got our order. We stood at our table as the bartender continued to make the drinks of other people as they walked up to the bar as the waitress runs around providing water to everyone waiting.
In the meantime a waitress from upstairs comes down to collect some people to sit upstairs so I approach and ask him how long the wait is for seating upstairs. He states that its about 30 mins so we put our names down.
Finally our drinks arrive. I ordered a Queens Park Swizzle which looks appetizing and taste pretty good but not good enough for close to a 50min wait and utter confusion. My husband ordered the Island Old Fashion which was great.
Now that I have my drink I am taking in the ambiance. It has a very old school feel to it with the brick walls and the frosted glass and dim lights, but all that cool underground jazz feel is totaly overwhelmed by the loud music playing. I have to keep leaning in to hear my husband speak despite him standing right next to me.
It’s now our turn to move upstairs and have a seat as there are no seats downtairs and we have been standing now for more than an hour. Upstairs is just as cool and relaxed in its decor, with brick walls, a marble fire place, and two long open windows leading to a little balcony allowing a gentle breeze to float in.
The waiter comes to take my order and I go with the bartenders choice asking for something strong, complex, and sweet over crushed ice, any spirit will do. He says ok. I am not very picky normally but I will admit I have slightly higher expectations as far as drinks due to my husbands spirit blogging, my love of Death and Co. and the tequila shrine that is Mayheul.
In any case I watch the waiter go over and give my request to the bartender and his reaction is not promising. He rubs his hands over his face and grabs the top of his nose as if he was trying to warn off a headache from thinking to hard. REALLY?! I didnt even give you a spirit and your getting a headache. After this riveting performance our waiter returns with a, (insert drum roll)… a Whiskey Smash. Strong yes but defiantly not complex and clearly not crushed ice. At this point I am ready to go but my husband wants to give him another shot so he askes for a bartenders choice with rum, chartreuse, and crushed ice. The waiter replied stating something about the crushed ice but with the loud music and conversation it was impossible to hear what was actually said but it appeared he stated something to the affect the crushed ice was not possible. Nevertheless we saw and continued to see several people receiving and drinking long and short drinks over crushed ice.
So he returns with a Daisy de Santiago which is essentially a rum daisy with chartreuse. While it was light and refreshing it still wasn’t quite what we were looking for. Added to this, I can look around and see other people who are drinking more creative cocktails, one with orange and ginger another with muddled blueberries and sparkling soda (was suppose to be champagne but they were all out).
All in all the place looks great, although I don’t agree with the standing room only downstairs, but it does set a relaxed mood if you can block out the loud music downstairs and the loud people upstairs. The drinks we had did not live up to the expectations and skill that the establishment has the potential to distribute. The service, even once we had any, was lacking. Provided this is opening week I will go back in a month or two, because despite my totally lackluster experience I find myself wanting to believe in this place as it can be so much more but it currently falls short.”
My thoughts on the place:
My main problem with the place, at least so far, was its lack of direction/service and uninviting feel. While I have no problem with the faux speakeasy or underground feel, I at least want to have some direction upon entering the establishment. Its one thing if I am entering a dive bar and I am offered no direction but completely different for this type of bar. A simple sign on the wall or at the bottom of the menu would have been better than nothing. In fact during our time spent getting our bearings several (4-7) people walked in and walked out of the establishment after receiving no assistance. Now this lack of service could be due to the fact that they were short staffed or because the bar is new. Either way it is something that should be remedied.
Instead of the drinks that are currently on the menu, I think they should list the drinks that were featured in the article from serious eats like the Island Old Fashioned, the Gentle Persuasion, or even the simple Pisco Sour. Despite the much hyped interaction with the bartender or waiter this was severely lacking. As indicated by my wife above after she gave the waiter her order of, strong, complex, and slightly sweet, he didn’t ask any further questions. He didn’t try to understand the exact taste and drink she wanted, instead he returned with a simple Whiskey Smash. He also never returned to gauge our response to the drink and further learn our tastes. I personally come to a speakeasy to have my taste buds amazed, challenged, even perplexed and this simply did not happen. Only the Island Old Fashioned was truly worthy of mention as I always enjoy a fresh take on the Old Fashioned.
All in all, this is not the place I expected or hoped for, a place that prides itself on catering to the customer with skill and kindness. I am willing to give this place another chance and I will be back, I just hope that the service is vastly improved.
Middle Branch is located at 154 East 33rd St. in a nondescript brownstone. Walk down the short flight of steps behind the black gate. They are open daily from 5pm-2am. Despite the shortcomings that presented themselves during our visit it has great potential and is the easiest bar to get into out of the Sasha Petraske lineup.
Sample provided by represenatives of Pink Pigeon.
Menu – All Drinks $12
Gin, lime, simple syrup, Angostura bitters
Queen’s Park Swizzle
Rum, mint, lime, simple syrup, bitters, swizzled and served in a tall glass
Applejack, gin, curacao, lemon, shaken and served straight up with a dash of soda
Rye whiskey with dashes of Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe served neat
Bourbon, lemon and simple syrup served over crushed ice
Pink Pigeon is named after an endangered bird native to Mauritius. At one time there were only 10 left in the world. The rum is distilled in the oldest distillery still in operation today in Mauritius.The vanilla is then handpicked … Continue reading
Marco Polo commented on the production of arrack in his 13th century travelogue II Milione. It has remained essentially unchanged all these years. He wrote:
“Nor have they any wine except such as I shall now describe. You must know that they derive it from a certain kind of tree that they have. When they want wine they cut a branch of this, and attach a great pot to the stem of the tree at the place where the branch was cut; in a day and a night they will find the pot filled. This wine is excellent drink, and is got both white and red. It is of such surpassing virtue that it cures dropsy and sick and spleen.”
The Travels of Marco Polo, 1292
This spirit is not to be confused with Arak or Batavia Arrack as they are completely different spirits. Arak is from the Middle East, distilled from fermented grapes, and flavored with aniseed. Batavia Arrack is from Indonesia and is distilled from fermented sugar cane and rice. Lastly we have Coconut Arrack which is from Sri Lanka and is distilled from the naturally fermented nectar of coconut flowers. VSOA cannot be referred to arrack in the US. This is because in the US, the alcohol laws strictly define this word and related spellings (arak, arack, araka, raki, etc) to apply only to aniseed spirits.
VSOA is distilled from naturally fermented coconut nectar before being mellowed for 2 years in barrels of Halmilla Wood.
It is a rich golden amber color. It has a very sweet aroma that is slightly nutty with hints of vanilla and tropical fruits with a slight vegetal note in the background.
On the palate it reminds be of a sweeter rum and a fruiter whiskey all rolled into one with a slight vegetal funk (in a good way). The notes of vanilla and tropical fruits are present in the taste with a nutty finish.
Overall this is an excellent and unique product. Give it a try ad it’s one not to be missed.
White Lion VSOA retails for around $26/750ml and comes in at 36.8% alcohol per volume.
VSOA Old Fashioned
2 ozs White Lion VSOA
.25 oz All spice Dram (St. Elizabeth)
1 tsp of Simple Syrup
2 dashes of Fee’s Old Fashioned Bitters Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice filled old fashioned glass.
2 ozs White Lion VSOA
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Passion fruit Syrup
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
2 ozs White Lion VSOA
1 oz Ginger Liqueur (Domaine De Canton)
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Vanilla Simple Syrup
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice filled highball glass. Garnish with orange wheel. I prefer to garnish it with a lemon. Notes: The drink has a nice honeyed tropical taste to it. It was a touch sweet for my tastes and I would cut down on the simple syrup to .75 oz. Adding a couple dashes of orange flower water adds a subtle floral touch and is a nice match for the honey like notes in the drink.
Review sample was provided by White Lion VSOA.
Tequila Revolucion was established in 1994 by Juan Carlos Arav as a range of super-premium 100% Agave tequilas. The bottles are emblazoned with 2 pistols as a tribute to the Mexican revolution that began in 1910.
There are a full range of expressions available but I only received samples of the Silver and the Reposado. Up first for review is the Silver.
Tequila Revolucion Silver
On the nose there are strong aromas of agave and light floral notes, backed up by subtle hint of citrus. Upon tasting, agave is present throughout with hints of vanilla, a light floral touch, and a hint of pepper in the background. The silver retails for approximately $40/750ml.
Tequila Revolucion Reposado
The Reposado is aged for 10 months. On the nose there are still strong floral notes of agave. The agave is complemented by aromas of almonds, honey, vanilla, and oak. On the palate there is an oaky agave taste with a touch of herb and peppery spice. The Reposado retails for approximately $50/750ml.
And now some cocktails for your drinking pleasure:
The first drink is a wonderful take on the old fashioned offered at Mayheul in NYC. This is my reversed engineered version.
Oaxaca Old Fashioned #2
1.75 ozs Reposado Tequila (Tequila Revolucion Reposado)
.25 oz Mezcal (Del Maguey)
1 tsp Agave Nectar
3 Dashes of Peach Bitters
1 Dash of Orange Bitters
Shake all ingredients with the ice and strain into an ice filled low ball glass.
It is smooth, a touch fruity because of the bitters, and a hint of sweetness from the agave to make the cocktail extremely easy sipping. The Mezcal lingers in the background adding it’s trademarked smokiness.
My inspiration for this next drink was the Kama Sutra created by Ronalldo Colli which appeared in an article on Sfgate.com.
1.75 ozs Reposado Tequila
.25 oz Mezcal (Del Maguey)
.5 oz Green Chartreuse
Dash of creme de cacao
2 dashes of chocolate bitters
flamed orange peel for garnish
stir all ingredients with ice and garnish with flamed orange peel
Green Chartreuse and chocolate are a proven combination. For that reason I decided to take the original recipe and add touches of chocolate and replaced the flamed lemon peel with a flamed orange peel which I feel works better with the chartreuse and chocolate combo. The flamed orange peel is essential in opening and lightening this drink up.
The next drink is a take on the margarita created by me, in which the simple syrup is replaced with 2 liqueurs and a touch of egg white is added to create a silky smooth mouth feel. I named it the Slight Detour because it deviates from the classic margarita.
A Slight Detour
1.5 ozs Silver Tequila
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz Domaine De Canton
1 bar-spoon of St. Germaine
.5 oz egg white
It’s a smooth, florally and spicy cocktail. The egg white smooths over and harmonizes all the flavors.
The last drink was created by Robert Rowland that I came across in the book Left Coast Libations.
8 mint leaves
2 slices of Meyer Lemon
1.5 ox Silver Tequila
.5 oz Ginger Juice
.5 oz Agave Nectar Syrup (1:1)
.25 oz Lemon Juice
Very gently muddle the mint and the Meyer Lemon slices in the bottom of a double rocks glass. Fill the glass with ice. Add all the remaining ingredients except for the ginger beer. Stir and top with ginger beer.
Agave nectar syrup is a simple mix of a 1 part Agave nectar with 1 part water. A complex, refreshing, and spicy short drink. It is essential to get a high quality ginger beer, such as that offered by Fever Tree.
Disclosure: These were review samples that I received.