Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Martell Caractere

So I was in Los Angeles in October at the "W" doing a tasting and I ran into my good friend Benito. He was there for the launch Caractere by Martell. This is a new offering from Martell that's marketing concept has Benito's vision all over it and if you hear him talk about it the passion bubbles. I tasted a sip that night, it was quite nice, but I really wanted to sit down and dissect the flavors and here are some brief tasting notes:

The nose shows baked Apple, persimmon, cut timber, loquat, nutmeg, stewed stone fruits, sandalwood and Mexican cinnamon with a background of flowers and wax
The pallet follows the aroma with a decidedly more spicy deliberation. The fruit in the flavors are round, dried fig, orange zest and toffee in an easy warm delivery.

The finish is short, with the heat resolving to supple minor spices, evergreen 
characteristics, modest fruit and anise.

A nice cognac all in all; it is a young cognac, but it has a bevy of great flavors. There is a brashness that reminds me of bourbon that is interesting; this is fine as a sipper, especially on the rocks but it works great as a mixing brandy.

Martell even came up with some cocktail ideas, this one is very nice:

Agua Frances

Build in a Highball glass
1 1/2 - 2 Oz Martell Caractere
Squeeze a lemon wedge on the rocks
Drop in, top up with club soda

More info, click here...
But for a great classic beverage that goes great with Martell Caractere try a:

Blue Train Special:

1 - 1/2 Oz Martell Caractere
1 - 1/2 Oz Pineapple juice

Shake and strain into a Highball glass
with fresh ice, top up with sparkling wine

Perfect for any celebration, and tonight is New Years Eve!
Wherever you are Benito, I will toasting you!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tequila Tuesday: Tequila ArteNOM Seleccion 1580

Tequila ArteNOM Seleccion has a mission to present tequila aficionados with unique selections from artisan Tequila distillers. These are distinctive, limited releases that are chosen to emphasize the role that growth altitude, soil character and peak harvesting demonstrate on the Agave used in the expert distillation techniques utilized at each of the chosen distilleries to celebrate the peak 'Artistry' of each 'NOM'.

Tequila ArteNOM Seleccion 1580 (click the link for more info that I didn't want to repeat here) is from Destiladora El Paraiso, S.A. de C.V. one of the the highest altitude distillery in Tequila. The agave plants grown in the highlands achieve higher sugar levels as a self-preservation mechanism for the agave; what that means to tequila is more agave sugars for the fermentation and an elevation of fruit characteristics.

The aromas display a dazzling array of daedal fruit nuances (quince, persimmon, lime and citrus fruits along with white flowers, white pepper, minerals and green fennel).

The flavors show a crisp, clean and elegant demonstration of the aromas that are gorgeous, iterate and elongated, building to include luscious, delicate vegetal nuance, baked peppers, roasted marshmallow, olive oil, roasted nuts and baking spice. All of this is revealed in a light, lovely mouth feel.

The finish brings all of this back for a lovely, spiced, medium-length fade focusing on roasted nuts and clean minerals.

Try this tequila; it is pure, exceptional and of the highest caliber . . . made with no tricks or manipulation. You could easily enjoy this neat at room temperature . . . but it would be great with ice or in a spirit forward cocktail.

Drinkhacker has a great review of all the Tequila ArteNOM Seleccion  (click the link for more info that I didn't want to repeat here) (note: NOM 1580 used to be NOM 1079. It is the same distillery, but 1580 is the 2nd selection from that distillery--so similar, but different; a great review.)

Want to check out the other "Tequila Tuesday's" . .click here!

I would like to thank the importer Haas Brothers, follow them on facebook here . . ..

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mezcal Monday: Armadillo Toddy

 'Mixology Monday' 
This Mezcal Monday is another simulcast with Mixology Monday! This month 'Mixology Monday' is hosted by Nick of The Straight Up blog and the theme is anise:

So of course I was thinking mezcal and it is cooler outside so how about a nice toddy? To bring the anise component, I am utilizing a Colombian anise liqueur called 
Aguardiente (specifically Antioqueño Aguardiente); it is rum based, lightly sweet and richly flavored with clean anise--fits the bill perfectly. The name is referencing an animal that is indigenous and still prevalent in all of the countries represented in the ingredients, I give you the Armadillo Toddy, here is the recipe:

Armadillo Toddy

Build in a warmed mug
1 1/2 Oz Mezcal
 Don Amado-Rustico
3/4 oz Antioqueño Aguardiente
1/4 Lemon (squeeze it hard and drop the whole thing in)
4 Oz Strong Yerba Mate
1 Tablespoon of honey
Stir until fully integrated.

Start by boiling some water. Set the Yerba Mate to steep for at least 3 minute and fill the mug with boiling water to warm it up. Then just follow the direction above.

The smoke and anise flavors go fantastically together with the Yerba Mate, lemon and honey adding lovely and complimentary layers.

I want to thank our host for MxMo this month, Nick of The Straight Up blog and for this great idea.

Here is the roundup, go check them out!!

You can check out the other Mezcal Mondays here . .

You can also check out and follow Don Amado on Facebook here, and on twitter here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tequila Tuesday: Fuenteseca Tequila

OK I know it is Thursday, but I wanted to write about this as soon as it was unleashed and not a second earlier / later. This is very limited, very rare tequila, it is: Fuenteseca Tequila (seriously click the link, the details are worth the read). I have already been all over the interwebs talking about this tequila. 

So for my blog I will keep it succinct. First some photographic proof. Up close photos of these minis of Fuenteseca Tequila the 9, 12 and 18 year aged expressions. 

This picture is proof of my tasting methodology. Ideally, I use a specific measure, in a variety of glasses to try spirits, in a neutral room / space and I try them each over a variety of times next to & against each other for depth of experience. I say ideally because it does not always work out that way, but I think that if you put the time in, when you can, it still informs your observation when conditions are not optimal. A clean room, clean glasses and a clean palate, plus plenty of sniffing, time and as much attention as you can give.

To add another layer of 'depth' to this experience I have also poured a measure of Purasangre Añejo to use as a 'control'.

Full disclaimer: I did not think aging a tequila this long was possible. At the very least I thought it wasn't a great idea. I was wrong. Clearly Enrique Fonseca knows more about this sort of thing than I do.

Fuenteseca Tequila 9 Year:
Aromas of flint, under ripe citrus, minerals, apple, nutmeg, yam and canella build with air to include baking chocolate, Mahogany, roasted pecans and blossoms.

The flavors reveal the aromas with riper fruit and creamier mouth feel than the nose implied (still dry to medium) that carry the spice as layers.

The finish takes over with a seamlessly integrated transition to spice and oak that lingers voluptuously.

The key to this is enjoying the transition. It begins tight, deliberate and focused and builds to supple, sapid baked agave.

Fuenteseca Tequila 12 Year:
Aromas of fruit crates, straw, cut red apple,  jellied cinnamon drops, jicama, honeycomb with time it show these tones in a creamy melange.

The flavor displays the aromas but way more vibrant, engaging, awake and fruit forward with considerably more flowers; wow.

The finish is soft with creamy fruit blossoms and delicate spice that meanders in a peaceful fade.

Again the key to enjoying this is time. 

Fuenteseca Tequila 18 Year:
Aromas begin with complex eucalyptus, granny smith, hyssop and magnificent baking spices along with fruit leather, caraway, green fennel, caramel and fresh cut wood.

The flavors articulate the scents in a candied deliberation with elegant spices and unbelievable structure.

The finish is forever lip smacking goodness and vital layers of flavor that keep on going and going.

The reality of this is you will have to take the time. The flavor keeps coming and coming & going and going it is as if you are on a journey and it is driving.

It seems funny to me that the 9 Year aromas were tight and the flavors creamy and the 12 Years aromas were creamy and supple with the flavors being more vivacious, while the 18 Year just blew my mind.

Well if you can find it and afford it I recommend the Fuenteseca Tequila especially if you are a fan of 'aged' spirits or if you are looking for that perfect gift . . .
There are also some blends of different ages that are limited offerings at places like K & L and Binny's --I have tasted K & L's . . .it was outstanding, but they come and then go.

Want to check out the other"Tequila Tuesday's" . .click here!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mezcal Monday: Mezcal / Tea / Amargo Toddy

I am sorry, I love warm drinks in cold weather.
This, as is the case of most toddies, is a simple drink. Lovely, warming and invigorating...
I am using Mina Real Reposado in this . . . (Click for a review)

MTA Toddy

Build in a mug:
1/2 Oz Amargo VALLET
**Optional... 1/2-3/4 Oz of simple syrup

Add a tea bag and fill with boiling water

Let steep.

Sip, relax, enjoy . . . 

Oh yeah here is a link to see more Mezcal Mondays!

You can also check out and follow Mina Real on Facebook here, and on Twitter here . . . and Amargo VALLET is here on facebook and here on Twitter.

These are some perfect gifts . . .

So here is a lame holiday gift list . . what? These are links to things that I have already written up so click for details!...

Ron Navazos Palazzi
Do it, you'll thank me.

Navazos Palazzi Jerez Brandy
This will change the way you think about Spanish brandy... for the better!

Lapis Añejo
So friendly, supple and rich. Cool bottle too!

Rhum JM 97, or 94
I wrote up the 97, but the 94 is also AMAZING!

ArteNOM 1146
This is fantastic tequila, comes in a gift box already and it is a great value.

Cyrus Noble
What can I say... Easy drinking bourbon.

Don Amado Rustico
Awesome mezcal!

Hardy Nectar d'Or
Don't know what to get? Get them this and make sure they share it with you.

Breaker Bourbon
Tasty . . .

These are just ideas . . . get what you like for the ones you love and enjoy!

Mezcal Monday #1: Mina Real Silver

Mina Real Silver is from a traditional Oaxacan palenque with an 11 generation history of distillers creating mezcal with nothing but all natural ingredients and expert technique.
What makes Mina Real (check out the link, great info that I didn't want to repeat) different is a step in a new direction for mezcal; the agave has been steam roasted in low pressure Oaxacan cantera stone kilns to punctuate the intrinsic attributes of the agave itself, without the influence of smoke found in wood-fire roasted agave.
The ferment is long and occurs with the honey from the baked agave intact with the crushed agave fibers in wooden vats.
After the fermentation is complete the wash is double distilled in ceramic pots that are also produced locally for a classic earthiness and character.

The aroma shows light pepper, tight fruit (citrus, loquat and quince), fried bread, beeswax, nuts, green plantain, carnauba wax, bright minerals and kilned ceramics.
The flavors begin at the aromas, evolving to include tomatillo and bell pepper in a rounded, structured sweetness that is deliberate and vibrant.
The finish displays the flavors/aromas with white pepper lingering to a clean and crisp finale.

This is awesome to sip neat, especially with sangrita and it is amazing in cocktails.

Click the link to see more Mezcal Monday!

Tune in next week for Mezcal Monday and I will show you a few cocktails with Mina Real Silver.

You can also check out and follow Mina Real on Facebook here, and on twitter here . . .. Special thanks to their importer Haas Brothers.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Whiskey Wednesday: Cherry Noble Toddy

It is still chilly, so I can not help but think of toddy recipes. This is another straight forward and tasty toddy; tis' the season!

Here is the recipe:
Cherry Noble Toddy

Build in heated cup:
2 Luxardo Cherries [crush]
1 1/2 Oz Cyrus Noble Bourbon
1 Oz Amargo VALLET

Add 3-4 Oz Hot water
Garnish with an orange zest & cinnamon stick (if you have one).

I though the name was funny (Chernobyl . . . it will warm you up!) and evocatively descriptive.

Click here to check out other "Whiskey Wednesdays".

You can follow Cyrus Noble Bourbon on facebook here . . . or on Twitter here . . 
and Amargo VALLET is here on facebook and here on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tequila Tuesday: Black Rose

Well sometimes inspiration hits at the darnedest spot; I saw this post on twitter as a re-tweet from @FernetVallet of a conversation between @DocPop & @WestofPecos and I was immediately intrigued. But it slipped my mind and then poof! It appeared on the Fernet & Amargo VALLET facebook page just in time to peek my interest again.
Black Rose
Created and served at West of Pecos

2 oz Purasangre Añejo
3/4 oz apple shrub
1/4 oz Fernet VALLET
2 dash Fee Brothers black walnut bitters

This drink can be built in the glass and stirred, but shake it and then strain it over fresh ice.
Garnish with lemon twist.

** Quick, easy, delicious apple shrub:
1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Bragg)
1/3 Cup Clement Sirop de Canne
 (Maple or Honey Syrup also)
1 Apple (I used a Fuji, but whatever)
Dash allspice

Slice the apple to the core (discard core), drop all ingredients into a a food processor, puree till smooth and voila!

You can simmer it to integrate the flavors if desired--I don't.

This is a lovely cocktail with fun elegance and lingering depth, nice to sip with a meal or before.

Want to check out the other"Tequila Tuesday's" . .click here!

Follow Purasangre on Facebook here . . or on twitter here . . . and Amargo VALLET is here on facebook and here on Twitter.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mezcal Monday: A tale of 2 Mina Real's

Here is the story of 2 Mina Real's: First off, I wrote up Mina Real Silver here... and I wrote up Mina Real Reposado here..., click for more details on each.

This story depends a lot on those reviews, but I will try to encapsulate it into this post alone. The story begins like any other story, some adventurous type get an idea, starts to plan to execute it then a well meaning friend jumps into the middle and tries to help almost destroying everything. But, miraculously, it all works out in the end.

Nice concept, here is how it played out: My Bar Wizard friend Steve Garcia, the Bar Manager at Pie Society, had a little barrel that had recently been aging rye whiskey & cherries (yum!) and it was empty so he was going to fill it with Mina Real Silver+??. While he was trying to come up with the perfect combo the time for his family trip came up so he went to the mid-west to visit family still planning the next step in this exciting concept.

Upon returning, vision in hand, from an invigorating visit with his family he found that his barrel had been filled . . . with straight mezcal. What to do? Do you take some out and put the other in? Do you wait and see? Is it ruined? WHAT DO YOU DO?

***This is a definite problem for me. I would check those barrel so often that by the time it was perfect, it would be almost empty. Little barrels scare me; to much can happen so quick.

Steve, being a much more patient man than I decided to "Wait and see".

That is the back story, this is the story...

I went in to taste the Mina Real Silver aged in a little oak barrel that had previously had Rye & cherries in it after it had been resting 'around a month'. Also, as a control, I brought some of the bottled Mina Real Repsado as a 'control' to taste side by side. Here is my experience:

This side by side was accompanied by a couple of bartenders and a lucky customer. We were all completely impressed.
Between the 2 you could easily pick out the familial structure, but the Mina Real Repsado was quieter, more controlled, layered and creamy. While the Pie Society Mina Real was fresh, fruity, boldly spiced, intricate and evolved with the layers revealing something different at every stage of the experience. The Pie Society Mina Real really was a delectable adventure.

All of us tasters agreed that both were very lovely expressions, each of us loving both but preferring one over the other (as if they were our children...). This is all understandable and good, but Mina Real Repsado is not going away, Pie Society Mina Real is a limited offering. It may be replicated, but it will not be duplicated so if you are in or around Costa Mesa you stop in at 
Pie Society and try some before it is gone.

This tale is a testament to great products, in the hands of imaginative 
bartenders and establishments that trust them enough to let them try something new.

Click the link to see more Mezcal Monday!

You can also check out and follow Mina Real on Facebook here, and on twitter here.

Sexy Mexi . . .

Mixology Monday!
It is here. The 'Witches Garden' @ Cardiff Cocktails. . . .
Mark you are correct: "fresh herbs have always been at the forefront of mixology. So lets take influence from the bartenders that once ruled the world of mixology, raid your herb garden that too often gets neglected, and start mixing."

So I did. My new love affair is VALLET . . . It is Mexican Fernet and Amargo (the amargo is so delish, at 90 Proof-wow!).
2 part Mina Real Reposado
1 Part Amargo VALLET
added the mint leaves (that I cut from my neighbors mint plant - fresh) trimmed from the stalk
Put all of them together, shake with ice and double strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a 'slapped' mint rosette /crest on top (basically the top that was left from the stalk. . . ).
Unfortunately, I ate the mint before I took the picture (sorry, it smelled so yummy).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Whiskey Wednesday: Nor Cal Toddy

I was laying bed, it was chilly and I could not sleep; naturally I started thinking of toddy recipes.

This is super straight forward and very tasty, I call it the "Nor-Cal Toddy". I will explain after the recipe.

Nor-Cal Toddy

Build in heated cup:
1 1/2 Oz Cyrus Noble Bourbon
3/4 Oz Torani Amer

Add 2-3 Oz Hot water
Garnish with an orange zest, mint sprig, cinnamon-they all would be great. I just used an orange zest.

First off, Torani Amer is an aperitif made in the style of Amer Picon, a French style amaro with flavors of bitter orange, gentian, cinchona bark and a tiny twist of mint; all of these flavors play wonderfully with bourbon.

OK now to explain the name. . . Torani Amer is made in San Jose (Northern California) and Cyrus Noble Bourbon is "Born inKentucky and raised in San Francisco." (also in 
Northern California). Hilarious... two ingredients that are not normally associated with Northern California to make a 'Nor-Cal Toddy'.
When it gets a little warmer, I am got to try this out as a cocktail; it is good.

Click here to check out other "Whiskey Wednesdays".

You can follow Cyrus Noble Bourbon on facebook here . . . or on Twitter here . . 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tequila Tuesday: Lapis Platinum Tequila

For this Tequila Tuesday we are going to taste Lapis Platinum Tequila (click the link good info, no need to repeat). 

The aromas are earthy with scents of caramelized agave, blanched almonds, vanilla, mild citrus, flowers and a touch of pepper. These are evocative scents, but are very delicate and become more apparent after the first sip.
At first sip there is a pleasant warmth that is very cleansing. The flavors are also better understood after a second nosing. The tastes begin by restating the aromas in dry deliberation and build to include rice water, cardamon toasted nuts and honey water.

I said this when I wrote up the añejo: "When the first sipping is re-informed by another nosing and then turned into a full taste, not only were the tempting aromas amplified, but it seems that the palate is now attenuated to the delicate layers flavor." This delicate profile is obviously intend and well executed.

The finish is crisp and layered replaying the flavors with a nice warmth that stays with you a while. I say warmth, but it is more like a cooling warmth??? Which really doesn't make sense. There also a surprising bit minty-ness in the after taste. Which upon reading the añejo review I notices also.

Lapis Platinum is an outstanding tequila. You easily sip it or make a delectable, spirit forward beverage.

Try this tequila neat at room temperature.

Lapis Platinum also won a Gold at the 2013 Craft Spirits Award . . .

This is the facebook page for the distillery that makes Lapis . . .
Want to check out the other "Tequila Tuesday's" . .click here!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Whiskey Wednesday #2 Cyrus Noble Cocktail

If you missed last weeks Whiskey Wednesday #1 Cyrus Noble Bourbon (click link). As promised this Whiskey Wednesday, I am going to share a drinks I had made by Joseph Valdovinos (of Playground)! 

The Noble Jocose Julep

1 1/2 Oz Cyrus Noble Bourbon
3/4 Oz Lime Juice
1/2 Oz Turbinado Syrup

Lightly shake to chill and incorporate the ingredients

Strain into chilled Delmoninco(Sometimes referred to as a fizz, Ricky or a short Collins) that has been sprayed with 10 Sprays of St. George Absinthe

Pack with crushed ice till it mound on top.

Garnish with fresh cracked pepper,

1 Heaping Bar spoon of Raspberry preserve (not to Sweet)

And a mint Sprig.

(of Playground) whipped this up on the spot. As I was doing my due diligence, I came across The Joscoe Julep and I felt that the recipe was close enough to reference it and different enough to spin it. If you follow the link to the Joscoe Julep it is mentioned and completely plausible that Joscoe was a misspelling, and the original name was probably a typo and was supposed to be a " Jocose Julep". Jocose means, playful or humorous and I think this fits.

Thanks Joe and thanks (of Playground). If you in the area pop in and say hello.

Click here to check out other "Whiskey Wednesdays".

You can follow Cyrus Noble Bourbon on facebook here . . . or on Twitter here . . ..

Thanks again to Haas Brothers; check them out on facebook here . . .