Vermouth is back in vogue and it’s looking infinitely more stylish. The charmingly chic La Quintinye Vermouth Royal, caught our eye immediately. A collection of three vermouths, Extra Dry, Blanc, and Rouge, La Quintinye recently launched at London’s lavish Café Royal. Named after King Louis XIV’s botanist at the Palace of Versailles, the bottles bear fanciful images of the famed kitchen gardens he created, and an overall French sophistication. The base is Pineau des Charentes, a fortified wine made from grape juice and Cognac which is then blended with a mix of botanicals. One of the most interesting of these botanicals is Artemisia absinthium (better known in the UK as wormwood) which is a traditional ingredient in vermouth- but one that causes problems when exporting into the US. Which might explain why these beauties haven’t reached us yet. Available only in Europe for the time being, keep your eyes open at the most stylish bars you frequent. You’ll know them when you see them. *swoon.
Great Divide Brewing Company’s Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout is one of the brewery’s seasonal offerings, though chances are, you can hear fans clamouring for it year round. The brewery affectionately refers to it as Yeti Imperial Stout’s sophisticated sibling: “they may be from the same clan, but they have entirely different personalities.” Oak aging gives Imperial Stout a subtle vanilla character, rounding out intense roastiness and huge hoppy nature. Who says you can’t tame a Yeti?
Drink Me Magazine Review 95/100
“One of the most beautiful beers you can ever lay eyes on, with a rich, tan head atop an inky black body. Just what an imperial stout should be, too, with gobs of molasses, coffee, chocolate, brown sugar a hint of lemony tartness — all aged to perfection in oak barrels, but never overdone. We named our dog Yeti. ‘Nuf said.” -BJ
In the 19th century wine & spirits merchant Justerini & Brooks set up headquarters in Regent’s Park, London, with a vision to create a “house” blend Scotch Whisky (which would later become J&B Rare), after seeing the potential of blended whisky in the international market. During this same time in history, Royal Navy sailors were coming back from distant travels with ink art embellished on their skin, a trend that quickly reached British Royalty in 1862, before spreading all over Great Britain and throughout Europe. As a celebration of the brand’s origin, J&B France has collaborated with famed tattoo artist Sébastien Mathieu, owner of Le Sphinx a private tattoo room in Paris, to design and tattoo 25 limited edition bottles. The bottles, which are covered in latex skin to strengthen the tattoo perception & craftsmanship, each took 20 hours to complete and have resulted in something truly intriguing- pushing the boundaries of art and package design. There are no immediate plans to release more bottles, but those produced are numbered, signed and are exclusively available at Drugstore Publicis and L’Eclaireur Rue Herold in Paris. Watch the video for an in-depth look at the very real process.
Patience is a virtue. Cameron Hughes definitely knows the truth to this adage. The Cameron Hughes Lot 500 Cabernet Sauvignon ($29), released this month, marks the 500th wine produced under the Cameron Hughes Lot Series. More impressively though, it marks a milestone- the Napa Valley milestone. For 10 years his sights were set on Napa Valley, but as a negociant whose MO was to find exceptional juice at an approachable price, Napa always eluded him. Unwilling to compromise quality or price point, he waited. Until now. The 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the heart of Oakville, home of the first 100 point wine. After a decade of patiently waiting for the opportunity to buy fruit from this famed vineyard, it’s only fitting it happened at Lot 500. A perfectly proportioned wine, with elegant tannin structure and tremendous depth, and at $29, glorious.
From famous bagels to pizza dough, everyone knows it’s all in the water. New Yorkers have been touting the righteous qualities of their water since the city was built, and now small batch whiskey joins the rank of vocal adorers. Widow Jane Whiskey, a newcomer from Red Hook, Brooklyn, is one of these proud New York whiskies- a small batch bourbon made from water extracted directly from a limestone mine in upstate New York. In addition to paying tribute to the literal foundation that supports a city of skyscrapers, Widow Jane symbolically represents an enterprising spirit that has made Brooklyn an epicenter of the craft spirit movement. And like all New Yorkers, Widow Jane’s roots are a melting pot of cultures- grains from the Bluegrass state of Kentucky are shipped to New York for distillation, where the spirit is then aged in American Oak barrels and finally cut down to bottle proof with this mystical, local water. But in the end, it’s that water that gives the whiskey its name and its distinction.
In true Latino style, it was during a grand 150th Anniversary party in Puerto Rico that the decision was made to dip into Bacardi’s extensive and rare private rum reserve, to launch the ultra premium Facundo Rum Collection. The project has been under development secretly for the past few years and has resulted in four sipping rums under the Facundo name, each crafted from the family’s reserves of 300 variants of rums. Neo ($45) is one of the oldest light rums available in the market, aged up to eight years. Eximo ($60) is aged 10 years in oak barrels and is the only one of the collection that was blended before aging. Exquisito ($90), made with a blend of seven to 23 year-old rums, was stored in sherry casks and has a very limited quantity due to evaporation during extensive aging. Paraíso ($250) is a blend of the private reserves’ finest rums, aged 15 to 23 years. After aging, the rums are finished in French cognac barrels. Previously enjoyed only by family members, the limited release collection (1,500 cases total) is available in New York and Miami, and will likely disappear quickly and there’s no telling when the family will open its reserves again. Savor a sip of the good life, while you can.
While many of us struggle with our destined paths in life (and often drown those sorrows in craft beer) Captain Lawrence Brewing Company’s founder, Scott Vaccaro, knew his destiny before it was even legal to act on it. 100% certain of his passion for brewing at the ripe age of 17, he embarked on a humbling and wide-eyed brewing odyssey that took him across the country and back. From home brews in plastic gasoline canisters, to a Degree in Fermentation Science at UC Davis, to landing a job at the state-of-the art Sierra Nevada Brewery- each stop contributed a facet to the gripping, gutsy Captain Lawrence Brewing Company Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA. A salute to the ingenuity and creativity of the American craft brewers, this uniquely American style of beer has become the calling card of many craft brewers who aren’t afraid to push the limits of what hops can add to a beer. And just as the tasting notes warn, it’s not for the faint of heart. In the end, it took verve and adventure to realize a dream and bring a little West Coast style back to Elmsford, NY, where it all began.
Drink Me Magazine Review 95/100
A heavy-handed hop monster, Captain’s Reserve is exactly what you’d expect from a West Coast style double IPA. The only difference? It’s brewed 2500 miles away in New York State. 9% ABV
*Drink Me Magazine Elite 150 Beer
If the roar of the room was any indication, you might have guessed an important and impressive lot was up for auction- and indeed it was. This past weekend a Scarecrow Wine lot went for an astounding $260,000 at the 2014 Premier Napa Valley, more than doubling the previous record of $125,000 for single lot bid. The exclusive five case lot was sourced from the much lauded J.J. Cohn vineyard from nearly seventy-year-old vines, the celebrities of the vineyard. The 18th annual Premier Napa Valley reported more than 90 percent of the wines created for the event were from the 2012 vintage, confirming the sense of anticipation that has built around a vintage considered one of the best in recent years. Scarecrow has become an indomitable Napa cult favorite over the course of its past ten vintages, combining esteemed winemaking with the purest expression of its famous lineage. Congrats to The Wine House of Los Angeles, the new owners of the Scarecrow Toto’s Opium Dream: Scene III Cabernet Sauvignon.
When it comes to bourbon, the Booker’s name often evokes vivid memories of eye-opening revelations with small batch, cask strength bourbon. The only premium bourbon to be bottled uncut & unfiltered, Booker’s was created by Jim Beam’s grandson, the late distiller emeritus Booker Noe, who personally selected each barrel. In honor of 25 years since the original friends & family only bourbon became the famed Booker’s brand, a limited 1000 cases of Booker’s 25th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon will be released this month. The rare 10-year-old batch pays homage to its namesake, and contains some of the last Bourbon that Booker Noe put in barrels - making it a fitting tribute to an important character in the Bourbon industry. The special anniversary bottle is dipped in bronze wax and decorated with Noe’s familiar, but difficult-to-decipher, penmanship. Tucked inside, are 25 “Bookerisms,” sayings that offer a glimpse into Booker’s storied, homespun wisdom. In tribute to this special release, we recall his most famous quote, “A respectable amount of bourbon to pour in a glass is about two fingers’ worth. Lucky for me, I have big fingers.” Happy Anniversary, and thanks for your infinite wisdom.
Modern Times Beer, the San Diego-based craft brewery, was named after an experimental utopian community built in 1850 by a bunch of wild-eyed wingnuts who thought they could demonstrate what a more perfect society might look like: to live right now, in a world of enterprising, fulfilling hedonism. This ideology became not just the inspiration for the name, but the brand’s driving philosophy. Modern Times specializes in beers that buck traditional style guidelines, focusing on aroma-driven, complex, flavorful, sessionish beers. Often hybrid styles are brewed, combining the features from established categories to create “new, Island-Of-Doctor-Moreau-style mash-ups.” As a clever nod to its founding credo, the beers are named after real utopian experiments and mythological utopias. Visually however, the clean, cool packaging in 16 oz tall boys offers a double entendre to the modern name, appealing to a very current audience of SoCal brew fans. The brand was able to launch after founder Jacob McKean leveraged a Kickstarter campaign to fund his utopian dream. “I don’t just want Modern Times to be functional. I want Modern Times to be a magical little kingdom filled with amazeballs.” A beer born from the people, for the people. Doesn’t get more modern than that.