PaQui Silver Tequila Review

PaQui Blanco Tequila

Pacqui is produced in small batches in the town of Tequila in Mexico. In the Aztec tongue paQui means “to be happy” and indeed drinking this small batch tequila is a pleasant experience.

On the nose the sweet and sugary agave aromas waft up to your nose. This is quickly followed by fruity aromas with fresh green grass and subtle minty notes dancing in harmony. There is nary a trace of burn.

On the palate it is smooth and velvety with rich agave notes. The grassy and slight herbal notes make their presence known on the mid palate followed by a light peppery note with a hint of palate cleansing citrus.

PaQui retails for about $35 for 750/ml.

While PaQui can easily be sipped neat it makes a wonderful addition to cocktails.
The first cocktail is one created by me.

Bright Lights at Night
2 oz Blanco Tequila (PaQui)
1 oz Lillet Blanc
Rinse of St. Germain
2 Dashes of Grapefruit Bitters
Rinse the cocktail glass with St. Germain. Add the tequila, Lillet, and bitters to a mixing glass. Add ice, stir for approx 25 seconds, and strain into the prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

For a slight variation on the Margarita try this drink from the Jones Complete Bar Guide.
1.5 oz of Blanco Tequila
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 Egg White
1/2 Maraschino Liqueur
Combine all ingredients and dry shake to emulsify the egg white. Add ice and shake for another 10 seconds then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Note: Maraschino Liqueur is not the juice from a Maraschino cherry jar.

Or for your dessert fix try the Frostbite cocktail a mix of tequila, cream, and creme de cacao.

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

Tap 357 Maple Rye Whisky Review and the Bitter Awakening

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For full disclosure I received this sample bottle from Van Gogh Imports.

Tap 357 is a Canadian Rye Whisky crafted from cask-aged 3, 5, and 7 year old rye whiskies blended with pure Canadian maple syrup. It is distilled four times before being aged in used bourbon barrels. It is then combined with “Canada 1 Light” maple syrup and left to rest until it is deemed that it is ready for release. Finally it is bottled at 81 proof.

Tap 357 pours a light golden straw color.

On the nose it evokes memories of Sunday morning breakfast with pancakes, smothered in butter and syrup. There are notes of maple and grain, with the maple being dominante.

The sweet maple flavor helps to mellow the spiciness of the rye, without overpowering it. There are notes of maple, brown sugar, and just a hint of grain.

Overall its a nice product, that is smooth and approachable. Some may find the sweetness of the maple overwhelming especially when drunk neat, but I do think that it works well in cocktails.

Tap 357 has a suggested retail price of $29.99 for a standard 750ml bottle.

You can’t have a bottle of booze without something to mix with it, so I offer you the:
Bitter Awakening
1.5 oz Apple Brandy (Lairds 7 Year)
.75 oz Tap 357
.25 oz Simple Syrup
2 dashes Fees Orange Bitters
2 dashes Fees Old Fashioned Bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain over a large chunk of ice in an old fashioned glass

Notes:
The apple brandy and the sweet maple rye work well together creating a drink that evokes the aroma of baked apples. The bitters help to keep the drink from becoming overly sweet and unbalanced.

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Coole Swan Review and the Snow Blind Russian

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Picture Above Copyright of Coole Swan

Coole swan begins its life as fresh Irish cream. The cream is combined with the other ingredients within 2 hours of arriving from the dairy. Real Belgian chocolate is melted down and incorporated into the cream. No engineered chocolate flavorings are used thus helping maintain its rich and natural tasting chocolate flavor.

From here the creamy chocolatey blend is combined with Cocoa and Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla. This wonderful creamy mix is then completed with a Single Malt Irish whiskey which adds a layer of malted complexity.

The Coole Swan pours thick and silky. In contrast to other Irish Creams, Coole Swan, is a natural white creamy color with just a faint trace of tannish hue, more than likely due to the fresh chocolate and cocoa that is used in its production.

On the nose, Coole Swan does not have an overwhelming smell. It is soft an subtle and does not initially reach out and grab you. There are light notes of fresh cream with a faint whiff of cocoa and vanilla. This mild nose does not prepare you for the delight that is in store.

The taste is of fresh cream, delicious chocolate, bittersweet cocoa and the delicate touch of vanilla. The whiskey is not hidden and it does not burn, but rather induces a pleasant warming sensation.
This is quite simply the best Irish Cream on the market in my opinion. No matter what your normal Irish Cream of choice is, give this a shot. In the comments below, let me know how you think it compares to the other Irish Creams available.

This drink is a combination of the Blind Russian and the White Russian.
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Snow Blind Russian
1.5oz Vodka (Stoli)
.5 oz Coffee Liqueur (Stirrings Espresso)
.75 oz Irish Cream (Coole Swan)
.25 oz Half n Half
1 Dash of Chocolate Bitters (Bitter Truth Xocolatl Mole)
Build the vodka, Coffee Liqueur, and bitters into the bottom of an ice filled low ball glass. Give these 2 ingredients a quick stir to incorporate them. Float the Irish Cream and half and half on top. Stir to incorporate. Add a couple more cubes of fresh ice on top.
Notes:
Sweet creamy chocolate. The Coole Swan adds nuances to a simple and classic drink

Ron Diplomatico Reserva Review and The Hotel Nacional Special

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copyright Destilerias Unidas

Rum from the islands in the Caribbean often get the most attention. For most people, Venezuela probably is one of the last countries people thing of with regards to rum.

This offering from Destilerias Unidas hails from Venezuela. It is distilled in copper pot stills, then aged in oak casks for 8 years before being bottled.

The color is a beautiful clear copper gold. On the nose there is a warm smell of carmel and molasses combined with notes of dark fruits (figs, raisins, etc), spices (cinnamon,allspice, etc), and oak to round out the flavors.

The rum is spicy and wonderfully fruity all at the same time. The flavors meld together creating a harmonious spirit. There are also notes of vanilla and chocolate with orangey undertones.
I bought this rum on a whim figuring that for $20 how could I go wrong. I wasn’t ( wrong that is). This is a great rum which probably does not get the attention it deserves. At $20 for an 8 year old rum it is an excellent buy. It is rich and complex providing a smooth backbone for cocktails.

I decided to mix up a Hotel Nacional Special. I used the version of the recipe that is in the PDT cocktail book. It was invented by Will P. Taylor for the Hotel Nacional in Cuba while he was managing it . He also managed the Waldorf-Astoria before it was closed due to prohibition.

Hotel Nacional Special
2 oz 8 year old Rum (Ron Diplomatico Reserva)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
.5 oz Lime juice
.5 oz Simple syrup
.25 oz Apricot liqueur (Rothman and Winter Orchard Apricot)
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Notes:
The drink has a wonderful golden color. The rum provides a strong framework for which the tartness of the lime and the sweetness of the pineapple can hang from. The apricot lends a subtle sweet candied fruit note in the background.

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44 North Huckleberry Vodka Review and The Royal Bloodline

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44° North Huckleberry Vodka is produced by the 44° North Distillery in Idaho. According to their website, it is the first vodka approved to wear the Idaho Potato Commission’s official seal. It is distilled from 100% Idaho potatoes, blended with sweet Rocky Mountain water, and infused with mountain huckleberries.

It is sweet and fruity on the nose with a rich berry smell. It doesn’t smell artificial, in fact it has a fresh and natural smell that entices you to take a sip. The natural smell carries through on the taste filling your mouth with a burst of berry flavor. It is silky smooth and well balanced, finishing with a warming sensation rather than a harsh burn.

It is on par if not better than some of the other flavored vodkas available from many of the major and more well known distillers.
I used the Royal Toast as my inspiration for the drink below.
Royal Bloodline
1.5 oz 44° North Huckleberry Vodka
1 oz Lillet Blanc
.5 oz Cherry Brandy (Cherry Brandy)
1 dash of Orange Bitters
stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Notes:
The rich cherry brandy and light berry flavor of the vodka are balanced out by the complexity of the Lillet Blanc. The vodka also adds an alcoholic punch that helps to open up the other flavors and bring out the nuances of the Lillet.

The 2nd drink is called:
Black Magic
2 oz 44° North Huckleberry Vodka
.5 oz – .75 oz Coffee Liqueur (depends on the strength of your liqueur. the stronger the coffee flavor the less you need.)
1 tsp of lemon juice
shake and strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Notes:
This one tastes just as you would imagine. It has a strong coffee flavor with a fruity background provided by the vodka. The lemon juice helps to brighten and lighten both of the stronger flavors and bridge the gap between them. Try this in place of your next black or white russian and let me know what you think.

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Comb 9 Gin Review and The Love Turned Bitter

Comb 9 gin is unlike any other gin on the market. While most gins are made with a grain based alcohol, Comb 9 is made from distilled honey.

Orange blossom honey is made into a light and dry honey wine, then distilled into vodka. This vodka comes out flavorful with notes of orange blossom, combating the common belief that vodka must be odorless and tasteless. The vodka base is then redistilled with 9 botanicals including: juniper, licorice, coriander, rose petals, galangal, and lavender. The honey floral base plays a supportive role that helps to unite the botanicals together producing a smooth finish.

This is a well made spirit that is well worth the money considering the time and effort that went into it’s production. Added to this, its the only gin on the market that uses honey as its base.

The first cocktail is a simple refreshing libation created by me just in time for the summer season.
Love Turned Bitter
2 oz Gin (Comb 9)
1 oz Aperol
.75 oz Grapefruit Juice
2 dashes of Orange Bitters
1 dash of Grapefruit Bitters
5 oz Ting
Shake the first 5 ingredients with ice and strain into a ice filled highball glass. Top with Ting and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Notes:
The botanicals and orange blossom flavors of the gin combine well with the bittersweetness of the Aperol. The drink has a subtle candy like sweetness (reminds me of the original bubblegum flavor) that is kept in check by the Aperol and bitters. A great drink to sip on a warm summer day.

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The next cocktail was created by Kyle Davidson of the Violet Hour in Chicago.
Easy Out
1.5 oz Gin (Comb 9)
1 oz Grapefruit juice
.5 oz Raspberry syrup
.5 oz Aperol
.25 oz Campari
Combine all ingredients in mixing glass and stir. Strain over large ice chunk in rocks glass.
Notes:
Usually when you see a drink that contains citrus juice the instructions often call for shaking the drink. However, according to the creator he feels that stirring this drink creates a richer body. As always try it both ways to see which you prefer.
Campari and Aperol go great with grapefruit and combining this with fresh juice which helps to accentuate that flavor profile. The sweet and tart flavor of the raspberry syrup help to keep the bitter flavors from overpowering the drink. I tried subbing out the raspberry syrup for homemade hibiscus grenadine which adds sweet floral notes. Another refreshing cocktail.

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The Communist
1 oz Gin (Comb 9)
1 oz Orange Juice
.5 oz Cherry Brandy (Cherry Heering)
.75 oz Lemon Juice
Shake in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Notes:
I came across this cocktail in the book: Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh.
Depending on the sweetness of your orange I would experiment with adding a touch of simply syrup (.25oz) or cutting down on the lemon by about the same amount. The drink has an interesting tart cherry flavor with botanicals of the gin in the background.