The Gonzalez Byass winery’s La Copa vermouth brand originally dates back to the late 1800s, but only recently has the brand been revived, with the original recipes and label design as a guide.

These two vermouths — one dry, one sweet — are definitively designed for the high end. The Rojo bottling is made from 75% palomino, 25% Pedro Ximénez soleras (more than 8 years old); and the Extra Seco blanco is 100% palomino (aged in solera an average of 3 years). Botanicals are of course a secret, but the principals include wormwood, savory, clove, orange peel, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Let’s give both a try.

Gonzalez Byass Vermouth La Copa Extra Seco – From the start, there’s a considerable sherry character here, that ultra-dry fino coming through clearly, well ahead of any botanical influence. Slightly briny and heavy with that iconic old wine character, the botanical influence is extremely mild here, with a spray of green herbs, a hint of clove, and quite mild bitterness. It’s unexpected and the botanicals are much too dialed back for my taste, but fans of straight, dry sherry may gravitate more to this bottling. B-

Gonzalez Byass Vermouth La Copa Rojo – Cola brown in color instead of the more typical bright red, this too showcases its sherry underpinnings, only instead of fino it’s that rich, sultry PX sherry that dominates. Nutty and redolent with that oxidized “old wine” note, the botanicals are clearer on the palate of this version, which makes for a more balanced, versatile vermouth. Cinnamon notes are prominent, with gentle waves of bitterness emerging on the long, nutty finish. Good stuff. A-

each $25 /

The post Review: Gonzalez Byass Vermouth La Copa – Extra Seco and Rojo appeared first on Drinkhacker: The Insider's Guide to Good Drinking.

* This article was originally published here

If you’re looking for artisanal liqueurs made in the U.S., Washington, D.C.-based Don Ciccio & Figli distillery should be at the top of your list. The company traces its roots to Italy’s Amalfi Coast, where in 1852 the original Don Ciccio, Vincenzo, began making liqueurs using his family recipes, “from bitter amaro to sweet limoncello.”

The business went away after awhile, but in 1951, the then-Don Ciccio, Francesco Amodeo, brought the liqueurs back to life using those ancestral recipes as his guide (reportedly sticking to them exactly). In 1980 a terrible earthquake leveled the distillery and stopped production once again… but in 2012 Amodeo’s grandson relaunched the company some 5000 miles away in Washington, D.C., again relying on history to guide the company’s production.

We’ve looked at other Ciccio products in the past (namely Cerasum), and today we look at two members of its old-guard lineup, a nocino (walnut liqueur) and finocchietto (fennel liqueur). Note that both include a recommendation that they remain refrigerated “for best quality.”

Thoughts follow.

Don Ciccio & Figli Nocino – While the nose is modest — nutty, but rather restrained — the palate is surprisingly spicy, with a big slug of cinnamon, chocolate, cola, and coffee bean all layered on top of a nutty body. It’s not immediately obvious that it’s walnut at the core — pecans and hazelnuts both come to mind when sipping on it — but the finish of brown butter, more cocoa, and some cherry notes are all so enticing that it’s easy to forget. Quite versatile in cocktails. 58 proof. A- / $38

Don Ciccio & Figli Finocchietto – Unlike the more vague nocino, this finocchietto offers a clear and immediate nose that is fully redolent of fennel. Side notes of spearmint and some lemon add a touch of nuance, but it’s primarily a licorice bomb from the get-go. The palate is quite sweet but sticks closely to the licorice/fennel theme. Almost juicy with syrup, it’s a sugar overload from the start, with less pungent fennel than you’d expect from the nose. The body is more akin to licorice candy, with a lasting sweetness clinging to the mouth on the finish — fine, but frankly unchallenging. While sweet/herbal liqueurs may have a place, there’s plenty of good pastis and absinthe around that is simply more versatile. Perhaps this could be a shortcut to a Sazerac if simple syrup isn’t around? 50 proof. B / $33

The post Review: Don Ciccio & Figli Nocino and Finocchietto appeared first on Drinkhacker: The Insider's Guide to Good Drinking.

* This article was originally published here

Bottle of St George Spirits Dry Rye Gin

Rye is far from being a common base for gin, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. Rye was used in early recipes for the drink that became genever, and much Polish vodka has traditionally been made from rye. As gin is made from a neutral spirit, i.e. vodka, rye is a perfectly legitimate base from which to make the spirit. It’s just that not many people do.

St. George Spirits from California first made some exceptionally fine vodkas, including a powerful Chile Vodka, and later branched out into other spirits, including two previous gins. This is the first made from rye, however, one of only a handful of rye gins available.

It’s a delicate balancing act, as juniper has to be predominant, of course, but rye provides an equally dominant aroma and flavor. The distillery gets around that by adding 50% more juniper than goes into their other gins, along with black peppercorn, caraway, coriander, grapefruit peel, and lime peel.

The result is a pleasingly complex nose, especially those of us who don’t like gins that are overwhelmed by juniper. The rye and black peppercorn provide an obviously peppery counterpart to the juniper, while there are pleasing citrus aromas in the mix, with a dash of salt and some vanilla sweetness. Overall the effect is of an intriguing and unusual blend of gin and whiskey.

The effect is repeated, and then some, on the palate. The juniper seems to step back even more, and the flavor of rye whiskey steps forward. The lime and grapefruit are both evident, as is the fact that it’s 90 proof rather than the more usual 80. This extra-strength is especially evident on the finish, which is where the eastern spiciness comes more to the fore as well.

Gins aren’t typically made for sipping, but this one certainly offers plenty to savor. It’s even better in a cocktail, making a top-notch gin and tonic and a remarkably good twist on a Bloody Mary.

90 proof.

A / $35 /

The post Review: St. George Spirits Dry Rye Gin appeared first on Drinkhacker: The Insider's Guide to Good Drinking.

* This article was originally published here

Don’t let the transparent green bottle confuse you: This is not gin. Italicus is rather a new Italian citrus liqueur made from Bergamot oranges, created by barman Giuseppe Gallo, who is attempting to revive the rosolio category (a liqueur derived from rose petals) by updating a classic 19th century recipe with his family’s own recipes. (The color and column is inspired by the Amalfi Coast.)

Bergamot oranges are the key ingredient here, these coming from Calabria. Some details on how they’re used:

The process includes macerating its botanicals for about ten days. Calabrian bergamot oranges from a protected area of origin (IGP) extending from the Tyrrhenian Coast to the shores of the Ionian Sea, together with Sicilian citrons, are gently pressed in cold water. This is a long-lost process called sfumatura, which releases their essential oils. The mixture is then fortified with natural beet sugar, Italian neutral grain spirit and pure water. It is produced at Torino Distillati in Moncalieri, led by the Vergnano family of craft distillers since its founding in 1906.

So, let’s give it a try.

First, be clear that this may be made with oranges, but it’s still a rose-petal-based liqueur, with a distinctly floral nose that evokes both roses and orange blossoms. There’s a rosemary-like herbal quality beneath that, but the flowers do most of the talking here. The palate of the pale gold liqueur is lighter on the orange than I was expecting, offering a quite sweet but gently oily body that provides notes of tea leaf and an herbal component — more rosemary, thyme — that builds over time. There’s a very gentle bitterness on the finish that hints at Italian amari, but it’s not a primary focus of the spirit. As it stands, think of it more as a lower-alcohol, much more floral version of a triple sec — and my suggestion would be to use it in a similar fashion.

Italicus does suggest using the spirit in a type of spritz, mixing it 50:50 with Prosecco and serving over ice. For what its worth, I didn’t care for this construction at all, which ended up much too sweet for my tastes.

40 proof.

B / $44 /

The post Review: Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto Liqueur appeared first on Drinkhacker: The Insider's Guide to Good Drinking.

* This article was originally published here

Review: Allagash Brett IPA

Drinkhacker: The Insider’s Guide to Good Drinking
Review: Allagash Brett IPA

Allagash continues to experiment with beer recipes, creating innovative brews that sometimes provide new takes on traditional styles and other times go in bold new directions (for recent examples, look here, here, here, and here). The beer we’re reviewing today, Brett, is a new take on IPA. For this beer, Allagash once again used Brettanomyces, a type of wild yeast, and coupled it with a variety of hops. Allagash previously employed this yeast for its Little Brett (reviewed here), but for the “big” Brett, the brewery brought a range of hops to bear and pushed the flavor and alcohol content from session beer to full throttle IPA.

Poured aggressively into a glass, Brett presents a small white head that quickly dissipates. The beer is golden in color and has medium carbonation. The bottle provides a description of the beer, and it’s spot on: “Tropical fruit and citrusy hop notes.” The nose on Brett fairly bursts out of the glass with bold mango, pineapple, and orange notes as well as a sweet, yeasty funkiness that resembles Smarties candies. The flavor follows suit on all three counts, but there’s no cloying sweetness at the end. Instead, there is some wild, yeasty funkiness followed by a light, crisp, hoppy bitterness. Brett IPA is all at once bright, fruity, funky, refreshing, and dry. It offers an exciting, brash blend of farmhouse ale and IPA and should be sought out by those who enjoy both. Be careful with this one however: the high alcohol content is very well hidden, and it is easy to reach for another without realizing how strong the beer actually is.

7.0% abv.

A- / $14 per 4 pack /

The post Review: Allagash Brett IPA appeared first on Drinkhacker: The Insider's Guide to Good Drinking.

Simply Recipes
Pressure Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Pressure Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Perfectly cooked steel cut oats in the pressure cooker? Yes, please! Cooked with apples and cinnamon, this recipe is a great breakfast for chilly fall days.

Continue reading “Pressure Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal” »

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread! Made with pumpkin puree and warm fall spices, sprinkled with chocolate chips. Great for an afternoon snack with coffee!

Continue reading “Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread” »

Oh My Veggies
Meatless Sausage Stuffed Bread
I love bread and I keep trying recipes of all kinds. But what I love most about making bread is the delicious smell in the house while the bread is cooking in the oven. Today I give you a quick recipe that anyone can make because it doesn’t require a robot or a bread machine! After making the dough, you can embellish the ingredients as you wish. This recipe will give you simple and tasty buns. Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes Servings: 20 Ingredients 1 tablespoon yeast 1 1/2 cups warm milk 4 1/2 cups flour 4 tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons butter, very soft or melted pinch of salt and pepper 5 vegan sausages of your choice 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar Instructions Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Finely chop the sausage. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and set aside. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and milk with the yeast. Stir the mixture to form dough. Knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes. Transfer the kneaded dough to an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel and leave the dough to rise in a warm […]


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