Unusual Drinks (Part 1): Grand Teton Brewing Gose, Pisco Porton, La Caravedo Pisco, Fos Liqueur, and Stolen Smoked Rum

pisco-portonThere is something very satisfying about having a go-to drink. After a long day of work and kid care, a glass of whiskey is very welcome. The Kosar house bourbons include Four Roses Small BatchBuffalo Trace, Weller 12-year (and Special Reserve), and Woodford Reserve. Big bottles of Bulleit and Old Forester can be had for a song, and are oh-so worth it. My preferred Tennessee firewater is George Dickel — the 8-year, usually, and the 12-year if I feel like I’ve earned it.

And don’t get me started on the glories of gin. Plymouth martini’s, Beefeater gin and tonics… these are the drinks that make the gloaming bright. And we are in the golden age of gin.

Some days, however, I want something different, something that will throw a screwball at my palate and brain. So I roam, and crack open things that make my brain think “Whaaaat?” look or give me an unsettled, nervous feeling.

Starting this bibacious journey, I aim for something light — Gose (pronounced Goes-uh). This German-style of beer features can be hard to find in the U.S.A. It’s a strange brew, that is made with a lot of wheat and is both salty and tart. (Most beers tend toward the bitter side of the flavor spectrum, with America’s mega-IPA’s being the bitterest of them all.) Fortunately, Grand Teton Brewing of Idaho produces a delicious Gose. It is spiced with coriander, which tops off the riot of flavors.

Moving right along to the potent stuff, Pisco began pouring into America in the past decade. It is the South American cross between brandy and grappa. Like brandy, Pisco is wine distilled into spirit; like grappa, Pisco usually is not aged. Pisco Porton is very fine brand, that offers up slightly sweet and herbal heat. La Caravedo is another Pisco worth a look — it is lighter, dryer, and gentler than Porton.

Wandering further into white spirits, we come to Fos, a Greek liqueur made from the mastiha tree sap. This is one of the stranger drinks I have ever tasted, and I say that as a compliment. The nose is surreal — it smells like bark, and in the mouth the hooch has a light sweetness that is utterly dissonant from the aroma. A sip of Fos takes your taste into a whole new realm of possibility.

Closing out this trip into unusual drinks, we go dark. Flavored rums are plentiful these days, and Stolen Smoked Rum is a recent and wild addition to the bunch. Rum from the Caribbean (Trinidad?) is aged in whiskey casks, then injected with coffee, vanilla, and Moroccan fenugreek (a clover-like herb found in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Indian subcontinent. That fenugreek is used to increase maternal milk supply and constipation is a confounding discovery). This liquor floods the mouth and head with intense flavors, the Arabica coffee notes being the most intense. Mixed with lime and ginger beer, it makes a robust Dark and Stormy.

Variety is the spice of life, and thanks to globalism and the dynamism of capitalism tipplers have more drinks to explore than ever.

(This post first appeared on the American Spectator.)


Cockspur 12 Bajan Handcrafted Rum

Cockspur 12 RumIn short—we love it.

We love the color, and we love the rich vanilla, toffee, and molasses flavors. This is a rum you can sip straight from the bottle neat with nary a burn in your throat.

We also love that Cockspur 12 makes a terrific boilermaker—we suggest dropping a shot of it in a glass of Lagunitas IPA. (Rating: Very Good)

Cockspur 12 is 80 proof, and it retails for about $30 in the U.S.A.

Read more about Cockspur 12 Bajan handcrafted Rum at http://www.cockspurrum.com, or try to order a bottle via InternetWines.com.


Tonight’s Tipple: A Dark and Stormy

Source: HaleakalaDistillers.com

The last time we wrote of this cocktail (here), we encourage the use of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum.

While this is a splendid choice, there are other options. Maui Dark Rum, made by Haleakala Distillers, is a terrific option. (Rating ****1/2) It is inky black and shows hearty flavors that comport nicely with the cocktail’s crisp ginger and lime components.

Another intriguing way to go is to use Sea Wynde Rum. It is a BIG rum from Guyana and Jamaica that oozes charred barrel flavors and usually is best taken neat and in small sips. (Rating ****1/2)  Using it in a Dark and Stormy requires a small modification of the usual proportions. Instead of pouring 2 ounces of rum and 3 ounces of ginger beers (and 1/2 ounce of lime juice), one needs to dial back the rum to 1 ounce or dial up the ginger beer to 6 ounces.

You can shop for these rums and others at our preferred online retailer.



Interview with Richard Foss, Rum Historian

Source: RichardFoss.com

AlcoholReviews.com had the pleasure of sitting down with Richard Foss, author of Rum: A Global History (Reaktion, 2012). Naturally, we met in a bar, the classic Tune Inn on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Foss clearly enjoys tasting new rums, and he is learned in what rum is and how it has changed over the centuries.  But his real passion is the anthropological aspects of rum—in short, what do and did people think and feel about it?   How does and did it fit into their cultures?

His website, aptly named http://RumHistory.com, is a growing shrine to his rum discoveries. For example, Foss’s website carries a copy of the anti-rum tune, “Father’s a Drunkard, and Mother’s Dead.” (Such a happy ditty!)

Those who wish to learn more about Foss’s book can first listen to our interview, and learn more about the book here.

June 23, 2012 Update: We just completed reading this book and boy are we glad we did.

Rum: A Global History covers the who/what/when/where of rum with with wit and charm. The illustrations are terrific. We blew through this book in a few nights, and it easily earned a permanent place in our beverage book library.

Highly recommended for the rum lover or anyone with an interest in the history of drink.





Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum

Editor’s note: We’re republishing this review from June 2006 as part of a reorganization of the site’s content.

What a delicious rum! It’s a robust (92 proof), deep copper colored, and oozes flavor….Lots of vanilla and berries.  It is a wonderful product— it shows what rum can be.  Sip small amounts of this rum neat so that you can appreciate the viscosity and the full range of flavors.

Bourbon lovers may well enjoy this rum’s robust flavor and vanilla note.  And those with a taste for kitsch will dig the packaging. (Rating ****3/4)

To see if our retailer can sell you SAILOR JERRY, click SHOP FOR SAILOR JERRY RUM. Otherwise, surf to http://www.sailorjerry.com/.


Ron Matusalem Platino Rum


Really—this is a rum that blew us away and also impressed the judges at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2003. So flavorful! So silky! Absolutely delightful rum to sip straight- no fruit, no ice. And sold for only $15-20! Insanity! Without a doubt, this rum deserves a very rare PERFECT rating. (Rating *****)

See if our retailer can sell you Ron Matusalem (made in Dominican Republic) by clicking clicking here.  If not, then surf here and pester the Ron Matusalem folks to get you a bottle or three!