Pau Vodka Review

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Vodka is a neutral grain spirit that can be distilled from any starch or sugar rich product. There are the usual suspects like grain and potatoes which probably make up the largest share of the market. Then there are rarities like Comb Vodka which is distilled from honey. Pau Vodka is another addition to the unusual side by being distilled from pineapple.

The packaging is beautiful and engaging with a hefty bottle that will look great on the back bar with purple and gold accents. It is distilled in glass stills, which the distillers claim impart no additional flavors to the vodka before being cut with Hawaiian spring water and bottled. In fact the distiller made the glass stills himself.

On the nose it has a slight sweet note with a barely a trace of ethanol. In fact it is quite unremarkable and doesn’t smell like much of anything.

Pau Vodka is smooth but lacks substantial character and has a slight burn that betrays it’s presence on the way down.

Overall while a solid product, I was slightly disappointed in the final result. I was hoping for some of the pineapple essence to seep through if only subtly as a minor background note. I actually like vodka where the character of the distillate is present like with Comb Vodka.

I offer this simple take on a Moscow Mule adding some fresh pineapple to the mix which complements the zing of the ginger.
Hawaiian Mule
2 oz Vodka (Pau Vodka)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
5 oz Ginger Beer
4 1/2 inch cubes of fresh pineapple
Combine the vodka, lime juice, spent lime shell, and pineapple chunks in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, shake, and strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer, give a light stir, and garnish with a lime wheel.

Review sample provided by representatives of Pau Vodka.

Cana Brava Rum Review

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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 Rum Review

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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 Review

Monkey Shoulder Whiskey

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

Flor de Caña 4 Year Review & The Daisy de Santiago, Boukman Daiquiri

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.
Notes:
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
Notes:
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.
Boukman Daiquiri
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.
Notes:
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.

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Pink Pigeon Rum Review and the Smoked Pigeon

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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

White Lion VSOA Review and a Brief History of Arrack

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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.

Passion fruit Daiquiri

2 ozs White Lion VSOA
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Passion fruit Syrup
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass


Ceylon Swizzle
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.

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Tequila Revolucion (Silver y Reposado) Review and the Oaxaca Old Fashioned

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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.

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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.

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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.
Notes:
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.
Unbridled Fury
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
Notes:
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
Notes:
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.
St. Magnus
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
.25 Aperol
Ginger Beer
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.
Notes:
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.

For more drinks I’ve written about using tequila see my posts on the Mexican Squirrel, the El Diablo, and the Frostbite.

Disclosure: These were review samples that I received.

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Lucid Absinthe Review and the Absinthe Suissesse

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Absinthe continues to be a mystifying spirit, partly because of its scandalous history and the controversy surrounding its supposedly hallucinogenic properties.

Allegedly it was created as a medicinal elixir in the early 1790’s by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire. It gained popularity after it was given to French troops to combat malaria. When they returned they brought it back to cafes, bars, and other establishments and its popularity exploded.

Driven by the prohibition and temperance movement, absinthe was demonized and associated with violent crime, ultimately leading to its ban in 1912 by the US Dept. of Agriculture. After 95 years, the ban was ultimately lifted, and the genuine absinthe was once again reauthorized for sale in the United States. Lucid became the first genuine absinthe made with real Grande Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium).

Lucid was developed in France by absinthe historian and distiller T.A. Breaux. It is distilled in the historic Combier Distellery in Saumur, in France’s Loire Valley.

For the taste test I sampled it as it is traditionally prepared.

The aroma is powerful and enticing, with aromas of anise, indeterminate spices, a hint of mint and other herbs filling the air around the glass.

The taste is more subdued than the aroma would lead you to believe. The flavors of anise and fennel are the first to engulf your mouth. This is followed by notes of various herbs which are impossible to discern as they blend together in one herby and earthy flavor.

Lucid is available in 750 mL for $59.99 and 375 mL for $34.99.

I now offer some additional ways to enjoy absinthe besides the traditional method.

First up is the Asbinthe Frappe which is an easy method used to turn the classic drip method into a refreshing iced drink.
Absinthe Frappe
1.5 ozs Absinthe (Lucid)
.5 oz simple syrup
1.5 ozs club soda
1cup crushed ice
Build first 2 ingredients over crushed ice and top with club soda. Give a quick stir to incorporate.
Notes:
This drink slowly changes over time as the ice melts adding more dilution to the drink. It starts off strong and cold before mellowing into a sweet and bubbly drink, perfect for those warm nights.

This drink has similar components to both the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Absinthe Frappè
Absinthe Suissesse
1.5 ozs Absinthe (Lucid)
.5 oz Orgeat Syrup
1 egg white or 1 oz of Pasteurized Egg Whites
1 dash or about 4-6 drops Orange Flower Water
2 ozs Half and Half
.5 cup crushed ice
Shake and strain with crushed ice and pour unstrained into a highball glass.
Notes:
The egg white and cream give the drink a frothy milkshake like texture. The orgeat adds a sweet nutty flavor helping to round out the flavor of absinthe.

This upcoming drink is a wonderful introduction into the world of tiki drinks.
Test Pilot
1.5 ozs Jamaican Rum (Appleton Estate V/X)
.75 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (Cruzan)
3 tsps of Cointreau
1/8 tsp of Absinthe
.5 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Falernum
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 cup crushed ice
Blend all ingredients together for 5 seconds then pour unstrained into a low ball glass. Top with more crushed ice. Garnish with a cherry.
Notes:
I decided to use Cruzan rum instead of the light Puerto Rican Rum called for. Like most good tiki drinks, this drink is more than the sum of it’s parts. Nevertheless the bitters and the absinthe are noticeable in the background lending subtle spicy and herbal notes. It is an expertly balanced drink with the sweetness in wonderful harmony with bite of the citrus and ginger.

The last cocktail is a creation by Stew Ellington.
Felix Swizzle
1 oz Dark Rum Rhum Barbancourt
1 oz Jamaican Rum (Appleton Estate)
.5 oz Falernum
.25 oz Absinthe (Lucid)
1 tsp Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lime Juice
.25 Simple Syrup
Build in an ice filled tiki mug or high ball glass and swizzle. Garnish with a paper umbrella and a straw
Notes:
The original recipe does not call for the additional .25 oz of simple syrup but I felt that the drink needed because it was a little to tart for my taste. The absinthe adds a herbal depth with the maraschino adding a touch of it’s characteristic funk.

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Disclosure: This was a sample bottle that was shipped to me.

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