In life there are certain accomplishments that are sometimes quantified by the quality of the spirits that you sip. If you doubt the words of a rum expert, all you need to do is look at the groaning shelves at your favorite package store. Rum has just about exploded in popularity in recent decades after a hundred or so year slumber. Sure you could count on a booze-cruise rum punch while sailing with your friends in the islands- you probably want to forget what highly manipulated rum can do to your gut and your aching head. But this is not a piece about what happens when you drink manipulated, (read: lousy) rum on a stern of a pitching sailboat. This is about drinking some of the very best rum that money can buy. And while you’re learning about what is special about Foursquare Rum, the suggestion is first and foremost, that you are worth it. This is not booze-cruise rum, nor is it rum that deserves a place on the very top shelf of your bar, never to be opened. Why? Fear perhaps has much to do with it. You do deserve to drink Foursquare. Recognize this fear of the unknown and you’ll come to a magical place where quality and cost become a misnomer. Where success is not measured by expense, but by quality. Where experience matters, like that picnic boat you ogled over in your youth, or the first time you experienced a glass or two of really well aged wine, or slurped some really rare Scotch Whisky. It’s important to note that while Foursquare is not inexpensive, there are rums on the market that far exceed it in cost. Many of these pretty label and fancy bottle rums are manipulated in some manner. Why is that? Because they can, it’s because they are permitted, because no one really cares to know. From caramel coloring to sugar being re-added for a sweet mouth-feel, to globs of thick glycerin to even out the creaminess across the palate- to all sorts of things that would get a rum judge in trouble, just by mentioning that so-and so’s rum is being manipulated.
The Reformed Spirits Company, makers of the World Renowned, Martin Miller’s Gin has created a crystal clear, uncolored, ‘Irish Cream’ liqueur that is mesmerizing in mouthfeel, quality and overall finesse. What they have created, using Irish Malt Whiskey, is a bourbon, chocolate, milk punch without any caramel color added at all. In fact, what they have done is rectify an authentic spirit base with a plethora of marvelous flavors that say rich and creamy in the glass without a drop of artificial color to further confuse the consumer with layers of provenance that just doesn’t exist.
Around much of Pan America, rum offers a taste of place and a mini-history lesson in every sip. As U.S.-based rum expert and judge Warren Bobrow says, “There is a rum for every island, for every meal, and every dish. Rum is incredibly versatile: it speaks to Cognac and brandy lovers.” There’s infinitely more to explore than “the captain.” Here are some of the must-tries, should you be so lucky!
READ MORE @ Rum; Worldly Delights!
I’ve always admired the craft spirits entrepreneur. The person who does something with his or her hands that doesn’t involve pushing a pencil across a desk for their entire career. Distilling is one of those fine arts. It’s possible to be a great distiller but to lose focus on the art of business. A micro-distiller must be more than just a distiller- they must be focused on sales, marketing, science, art, customer service and of course, just putting the time in doing what they love.
Jersey Spirits Distilling Company, located in typically “Jersey-style” commercial office park set just a few miles from thundering routes 46 and 80. They are hand distilling tasty, award winning spirits one drop at a time. Founded in 2005 by a tight group of passionate Jersey residents, this Jersey-centric distillery may not be on everybody’s radar just yet. But don’t let that stop you from discovering something that is quite delicious and surprisingly well made. From the gleaming tasting room with a little history of distilling in New Jersey on the walls to the tenaciously designed distillery, this is an extremely impressive operation. They are a distillery mind you, their license says that no food is prepared here aside from some Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers-a cheese driven compliment to their communicative spirits.
Muddling brings out the soft and tender elements of fruit and vegetables by crushing the firmer flesh and revealing the sweet and aromatic inner flavors. Muddling is the hidden secret to blending together flavors without pureeing them, changing their texture. A mint julep is the perfect example of muddling, in this case mint with raw sugar to bring out the flavors instead of pulverizing them.
I’m so very honored!
Edibles are a fun, convenient and covert way to consume cannabis, whether for recreation or medical purposes. Edibles are yummy treats infused with marijuana, that deliver the medicinal and psychoactive ingredients to your system without having to smoke anything. They can take the form of anything from brownies to borscht, with the help of infused oils like cannabutter. You can make savory cannabis foods like spaghetti, sweet treats like cookies and candies, or even drinks like cocktails and marijuana tea. If you want to get started making your own edibles at home but do not know how, don’t worry – there is a cannabis cookbook out there for you! In this list we will go over our top 10 favorite edibles cookbooks, featuring recipes for all tastes, budgets, and skill levels. You will find omnivorous and vegan treats, sweet and savory, complex recipes and some that take as little as five minutes to prepare.
If you want a more in-depth look on how to make cannabutter and other cannabis oils, check out our How To Make Pot Brownies post where we cover all of the steps. Make sure to follow all local laws when growing, processing, or eating your cannabis!
1. ‘Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations’ by Warren Bobrow
One of the newest ways people are enjoying cannabis is by combining it with cocktails and mocktails. This is especially popular at dinner parties in the any states where cannabis has recently become legal for recreation. But, with a strong taste and a particular method of infusion necessary, beginners may not know how best to make cannabis cocktails. This book has a collection of 75 cannabis drink recipes by “The Cocktail Whisperer” Warren Bobrow. It also includes a full history of cannabis as a social and medicinal drug. You will find recipes not only for cocktails but for shrubs, bitters, butters, oils and even coffee, tea and milk-based drinks for the morning hours. This is a really fun book for anyone who loves drinks and cannabis.
Price: Kindle $2.99 Hardcover $17.57
2017 marks another successful year at the Books and Bitters Market, the annual event sponsored by Octavia Books. For eight years now, Tales of the Cocktail® has partnered with the local bookstore to showcase an impressive global selection of both cocktail books and bitters for Tales attendees to peruse through during the week of the cocktail festival.
This year, bitters were incredibly well-represented at the Bitters Market, which featured over 24 brands and sold over 600 bottles of bitters. The top five selling bitters at this year’s market were Peychaud’s, Mr. Bitters’ Variety Pack, Peychaud’s Barrel Aged, The Bittered Sling Gift Box, and Wild Hibiscus’s B’Lure Butterfly Pea Flower Extract.
The bookstore portion of the market offered close to 200 titles, representing some of the industry’s most well-respected authors and covering a wide variety of interests. The bookstore sold copies of nearly every title on offer this year, a sign of the continuing success of the partnership between Tales and Octavia Books. Not only were guests able to browse through the selection of books on offer, they also had the opportunity to meet the authors and get their book copies signed at the week-long “Shots of Inspiration” popup. Bitter makers were also present to discuss and offer tastings of their products.
“We were happy to to present nearly 200 cocktail titles – many fabulous new ones alongside some old favorites. And, they nearly all sold. The strong and continuing interest in the books – so many authors attending and the readers who purchased them in numbers – demonstrates a true commitment by mixologists and other Tales participants to understanding the art they practice.” – Tom Lowenburg of Octavia Books
The Top 10 Best-Sellers at the Books Market:
- Mezcal: The History, Craft, and Cocktails of the World’s Ultimate Artisanal Spirit – Emma Janzen
- Distilled Knowledge: The Science Behind Drinking’s Greatest Myths, Legends, and Unanswered Questions – Brian Hoefling
- Regarding Cocktails – Sasha Petraske
- Mr. Boston 75th Anniversary Official Bartenders Guide
- Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar Featuring the Original Formulae – David Wondrich
- Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters – Mark Bitterman
- Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits – Derek Sandhaus
- Zen & Tonic – Jules Aron
- The Craft Cocktail Compendium: Contemporary Interpretations and Inspired Twists on Time-Honored Classics – Warren Bobrow
- Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki – Martin & Rebecca Cate
Healers and Tipplers-
Bitters from the past and the present.
During the 1800’s immigrants came to the New World from far off lands. Some of these early settlers brought their primitive methods of healing with them in the form of root teas, bitters, tonics and elixirs. Root teas were already well established for healing from the Native Americans who lived in the New World and they taught the immigrants methods of healing, some of which still exist today.
Bitters are powerfully concentrated forms of herbal healing that date back to the dawn of man. They are still used for ailments that range from stomach disorders to the healing of circulatory systems in the body. Bitters also have a secondary purpose. Not only do they have medicinal purposes but their bitter flavor and concentrated aromatics that just happen to be delicious in cocktails.
It’s pretty well established that bitters have been used in the cocktail arts since Antoine Amédée Peychaud created his namesake bitters in the earliest concoctions that evolved into our modern day cocktails.
Peychaud’s Bitters were originally created to stave off dysentery and other debilitating afflictions of the digestive tract. Please remember that during the mid 1800’s, refrigeration and good sanitary practices were all but unknown so the use of bitters in healing was not just a trend, they were absolutely necessary!
Some of the oldest brands are still used today like Peychaud’s Aromatic Bitters. Indispensible in cocktails like the Sazerac, Peychaud’s distinctively red color seems to signify strength and power over illnesses of the belly. Angostura Bitters an equally venerable brand was also originally formulated to be effective for afflictions of the digestive tract. Angostura was invented by Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, a German doctor in the mid 1800’s, for use in curing stomach disorders. Tropical temperatures were not conducive for the preservation of food thus stomach ailments were prevalent during this pre-electricity period. Bitters such as Angostura and Peychaud’s, although still in use today in the concoction of cocktails, are rarely used for their original purpose. But if you have a hangover or a stomach ache there are scarcely any non-medicinal products available on the market today that work as effectively without synthetically produced, chemical ingredients.
The craft cocktail explosion in recent years has given creative mixologists and ardent cocktail enthusiasts the opportunity to introduce concentrated herbal and fruit driven flavors to their cocktails. But many modern day bartenders and mixologists may not be aware of the rich history of bitters. For both Classic Cocktails and the newer versions of the classics, bitters are a thing of the past in a very modern context. The original bitters developers in Sweden, France and Germany would scarcely have imagined the direction that the cocktail industry has taken towards flavor driven augmentations. What we have now in the cocktail world are creative mixologists unleashing flavor combinations that evoke the past, and through this past we have the present.
Today’s Cocktail and Speakeasy bars will have dozens of bitters on hand. Their purpose is to add an element of surprise– to unlock a secret only known to flavor. That is what high end drinking is all about. And the quality of your bitters are as important as the syrups, juices, tonics and liquors.
If you are thinking of opening a bottle of tonic water you should try Q-Tonic or perhaps some Fever Tree Tonic. I’m inclined to mix some Tomr’s Tonic or maybe some Jack Rudy with either Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water or Polar Sparkling Water.
The thoughts of bitter and sweet in a mixed drink acts like a metaphor for life itself. Bitters are not just for stomach aches any longer!
Here is a list of the best bitters that are available today:
The venerable Angostura Bitters is not only for healing the stomach, but it’s also gorgeous in a drink known simply as the Pink Gin. Just a few drops of Angostura Bitters in a cupful of gin will administer great healing!
The modern uses of Peychaud’s Bitters are not so far from the original uses, in the cocktail still known today as the Sazerac.
|The Bitter Truth-
From Germany, made with concentrated flavors that evoke fruits, herbs and spices. The name says it all!
Produced by hand, these bitters are created to add new dimensions to mixed drinks.
Decidedly antagonistic bitters for the most fevered dreams you can imagine. With bitters like Thai, Moroccan, Mexican Mole, Jamaican Jerk, Curry, Chesapeake Bay and Memphis Barbecue, these flavors are not for the meek. They shout, no, they scream in ancient languages not yet discovered. Their flavors exploit the fearful and reward the fearless. A mere drop of the Curry Bitters in a gin and tonic will take the drinker down the steamy path to a crocodile infested swamp. Someplace where the mosquitoes grow larger than your fist and your sunburned flesh is on the menu as the chef’s special of the day. Curry is a favored ingredient to cool the body. The turmeric element is a powerful curative against all forms of malaise. And the brooding alcohol level of Bitter End Bitters teaches us that all is not what it seems. Watch out for the Curry. They will pitch you over the edge if you’re not careful.
is an uncommon name for a most profoundly concentrated and friendly spirit augmentation from one of my favorite places on the globe, Vancouver, BC. And the owners are really cool too.
are aromatic and potent. Their Vanilla Bark is marvelous in a rum punch and the Bolivar Bitters unlock long gone spirits and bring flavor right into the present tense.
|Bitters, Old Men-
There are over a dozen concentrated bitters from this Brooklyn based bitters alchemist. With flavors like Smoke Gets in your Bitters and Krangostura, an aromatic bitters befitting Krang, the villainous anthropomorphic brain from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, these are not your grandmom’s bitters for healing a cold.
The venerable brand from New York State is just about the most historic brand on the market aside from Angostura and Peychaud’s. Recently the brand has branched out from the simply ravishing Whiskey Barrel Bitters to the aromatic and beguiling Cranberry Bitters along with their perennial favorites like Mint, West Indian Orange, Grapefruit and Celery.
|Dale DeGroff’s Pimento-
is a lush, aromatic and deeply sensual bitter from cocktail master, Dale DeGroff and Jade Alchemist Ted Breaux. This is not the typical “sock in the mouth” version of the spicy pimento, but a deeply layered experience that includes Caribbean spices, anise and aromatic healing herbs.
from Colorado are an apothecary lesson in each sip. They use aromatics like the other bitters on the market, yet take a devilish turn towards traditional ingredients such as chamomile, long known for restorative and healing elements.
|Dr. Adam Elmegirab-
The bluntly talented bitters manufacturer produces historically correct versions of bitters such as the Teapot Bitters and the luscious Boker’s Bitters.
makes a Chocolate Bitters that approaches otherworldly amongst other pure and concentrated flavors.
|AZ Bitters Lab-
Lush and pure with concentrated flavors gathered from ingredients including exotic Mexican chocolate and sumptuous orange peels. My favorite in iced tea (with bourbon) is the Mexican Mole bitters!
|Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6-
Citrus flavors mesh beautifully with brown liquors and white (clear) liquors. They add spark and an edge to a mixed drink. Woven with Asian spices, this hearty reminder of pre-prohibition cocktailian pleasures gives depth and a crisp sense of purity to many different types of mixed drinks. What is not said about bitters on the label may well be the most important of all. They are good for you! Originally bitters were used as powerful healing for all sorts of ailments from the digestive tract to general malaise. These are the hidden pleasures of bitters. If you have a bellyache, try adding about five splashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters to a glass of seltzer water, drink it down and then repeat after an hour or so. I think you will find your breath refreshed and your stomach calmed.
From the Tuthilltown Distillery in Gardiner, upstate New York, these bitters offer a slightly different approach to the creation of the typical cocktail bitters. The reworked recipe includes, rye whiskey, herbs, spices and maple syrup. These bitters are not your typical cocktail augmentation, but ones that offer a deeper and more concise trip into the darker side of a cocktail. They allow the drinker to find hidden meaning in every sip. The maple syrup is a favored ingredient in Minetta Tavern’s Maple Syrup Sazerac. This new classic cocktail based on the traditional Sazerac has the addition of a richly textured maple syrup in the mix of rye whiskey and absinthe. Basement Bitters have harnessed the maple syrup component in their sharply delineated bitters. A hit of sarsaparilla adds a perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the maple. These are thirst-slaking bitters that are absolutely at home in a mixture of brown liquor and sweet vermouth. Or they may be enjoyed simply in a glass of seltzer water with a peel of citrus.
from Brooklyn, NY is a crisp reminder that all in bitters are not the same. First of all the name is different than others on the market. They call the bitters Hella Bitter, offering “complexity and depth” to a drink. I see it very much the same way being a former cook. The world of Hella Bitter is a very familiar place in my life of harnessing flavor. The name is also different. Bitter not Bitters. I love the way the Hella Aromatic Bitter perks up a rum punch, or perhaps the citrus bitter in a very twisted drink with botanical gin as the primary intoxicant. Hella is about to shake up your palate, so make sure you bring an open mind to the bar.
Known as “bitter liquor”, is especially helpful when trying to vanquish a hangover or after a filling meal. It is also the ingredient in cocktails that adds depth and balance. The herbs and spices give great potency and balance to a number of cocktail experimentations. Personally speaking, I enjoy Fernet-Branca in a Rum and Coke. Other times Fernet-Branca is delicious with seltzer water and a pinwheel of lime as a powerful curative for what ails you. A couple drops in a Bloody Mary, for example, acts with as much intensity as a few drops of Angostura Bitters.
I’ve recently discovered a 100% fool-proof method for decarbing my Cannabis. The oven method fluctuated as much as 40 degrees (thanks PSEG here in NJ) and the toaster oven fluctuated in temperature about 20 degrees. The NOVA from Ardent up in Massachusetts is 100% Bio-availability and 100% Foolproof. If you are decarbing in the oven… STOP right now. I have a commercial oven thermometer. I was shocked. Burnt batches, under-decarbed batches.. a thing of the past. And no smell. NONE..
I have a THIRTY dollar discount code: Cannacocktails, give it a try.. it’s pretty f-kin amazing what looks like a European designed thermos.. ONE button decarb! No messing around.
Are you mystified by cheese? Do you see a cheese plate and instinctively think that it’s an expensive dessert? Have you ever taken a cheese class?
If your answers are yes, no and no, then you’ll probably be hungry – and thirsty by the time you finished reading. Why? Because cheese is not pretentious, nor is it only for dessert! In fact cheese is something that is made by hand in the same manner as it has for hundreds of years- by farmers! There are certainly machine-made cheeses, but for the intent of this article, all the cheeses are made by hand in the fashion of the cheese maker. So, you should not be mystified. Far from mystified, what is needed to truly TASTE cheese is to cut off your ability of smelling the cheese first. There are many taste receptors in our mouths that are incredibly sensitive, but unfortunately most cheese is tasted with our noses first.
Located in the trendy-eastern fringes of SoHo, where the old city collides with Nolita, the French Cheese Board in its handsome and sleek space. It is filled with ample sunlight and is a very friendly place indeed. This outpost of French culture in the Big City, seeks to demystify cheese by taking cheese out of its usually pretentious context completely. Instead of merely snacking on cheese, they suggest carefully tasting cheese, but not overwhelming the plate with superfluous parts. Instead of a grilled-cheese sandwich, serving a small cheese slice- served simply with dried fruit, plain crackers (so not to overpower the delicate flavors in the cheese) and perhaps some coins of slightly dry baguette will more than suffice.
Cheese in this manner is a compliment to food, not a means to an end after dinner when you are full.
Francois, the gregarious and ever-smiling “Professeur de Fromage” comes from a long line of cheese makers. His studied and conversational flair of instruction is filled with humorous narratives and beneficial hints. All of these made even more interesting because of the ultimate enjoyment of the finest cheeses available. He demystifies the different varieties, goat, sheep, cow- and breaks each one down into its unique components of flavor. Sour, sweet, tangy, umami- what? What is that? I think it’s the indescribable flavor. The one between here and there. Confusing? Perhaps it is- but after taking a most basic class at the French Cheese Board you’ll certainly be less confused, and considerably more knowledgeable in the art of cheese.
Getting back to how flavor is revealed, Francois covers your eyes with a black eye mask and closes off your nose with a kind of swimmer’s nose clip. This is to encourage feeling the texture of the cheese through your fingers, without smelling the cheese, nor viewing it.
Is the cheese dry, soft, grainy, crumbly, wet, sticky, polished…?
The list of textures goes on and on.
French cheese comes in all forms, from hard, used for grating, to liquefied and unctuous, meant to be spooned and savored. There are many varieties and no, cheese is not just for dessert. It makes for an incredible aperitif with hand cut slices of black footed Spanish Iberico Ham, meant to stimulate the appetite.
Sure, you can enjoy cheese without a blindfold on and certainly without a nose clip blocking your passage to the ability of scent. But isn’t it interesting to dismiss most French cheeses because they may be overly assertive in aromatics. That is certainly a fact of life when dealing with washed rind cheeses and still others that turn into liquefaction through aging and cannot be eaten without a spoon, it would just be too sloppy!
Cheese and the study of cheese is as easy as taking a walk down to the French Cheese Board, conveniently located at 41 Spring Street in Nolita. Bring an open mind and taste yourself into another way of being. One that embraces the passion for hand-made cheese!