No hard sell
Once upon a time it was the most popular drink in the Thirteen Colonies; now hard cider is making a comeback, thanks to many of the same factors fueling craft beer and classic cocktails. New York-based craft producer Original Sin Cider has just introduced two heirloom varietal ciders. Newtown Pippin Hard Cider is pressed from that single varietal apple much prized in Colonial times, a favorite of founding fathers Washington, Jefferson and Franklin. Cherry Tree Hard Cider is a blend of juices from heirloom apples and fresh cherries. Packaged in 750ml bottles, with 6.7 percent ABV, both artisanal ciders are lightly sparkling, dry, crisp and refreshing, with a tart acidity that complements a range of foods.
Genever is the forerunner of the familiar London dry gin. So-called Holland gin is pot-distilled from malted grains for a rich malty sweetness. Venerable spirits producer Lucas Bols B.V. reintroduced Bols Genever to the U.S. market in 2008, much to the delight of mixologists. Now the company is debuting a new expression—Bols Barrel Aged Genever. Using an archived 19th century recipe, this version is triple distilled from a malt wine of rye, wheat and corn, blended with juniper, hops, cloves, anise, licorice, ginger and other botanicals, and aged in French Limousin oak casks for a minimum of 18 months. The result is a heady spirit with a light golden color and spice and vanilla from the wood. Try substituting Barrel Aged Genever for bourbon in classics like a Manhattan, Julep or Whiskey Sour, for an unusual twist; the aged spirit also adds color and richness to gin standards like the Rickey, Negroni or Aviation. The gray earthenware bottle is eye-catching on the backbar, too.
Although technically Caorunn can be classified as London dry, this small-batch gin from Scotland has a distinct Scottish accent. Caorunn translates as “rowan” in Gaelic; rowan berries are a key component in this spirit, along with highland heather and bog myrtle, as well as more traditional botanicals such as juniper, citrus and angelica. In total, eleven berries, roots, herbs and spices are infused as vapors from the still pass through a “copper berry chamber.” The result is a floral, citrusy bouquet, and a slightly sweet, full-bodied gin with a dry finish.
Pie is the new cupcake
Pastry chefs around the country are taking a slice of the pie trend, baking up fancy new versions. And pie, crust and all, has found its way into ice cream; so milkshakes and other beverages are a natural next step. Of course, baking pie just for drinks is not always practical. Instead try one of Monin’s four new syrup flavors: Apple Pie, Blueberry Pie, Pecan Pie and Pumpkin Pie. These pure cane sugar-based syrups encompass the sweetness of the fruit and the savory flavors of pie crust. Monin offers a number of drink recipes for each of the pie flavors, including lattes, sodas, shakes and even Pie-tinis.
Dark yet refreshing
Guinness’ new Black Lager will appeal to the American beer drinker who is looking for something a little different from domestic pilsners. Unlike its famous stout ale, Guinness’ new beer brand is lighter in character but unlike most pale lagers, Guinness Black Lager sports an opaque black color with a tan head, thanks to the dark roasted malts used in brewing. The dark malts and Saaz and Cascade hops add complexity and coffee notes to the flavor.
A unique beer dispenser from GrinOn Industries claims to be nine times faster than standard taps. The company’s Bottoms Up Draft Beer Dispenser can dispense 56 pints in just one minute. The system fills through a hole in the bottom of proprietary glasses. The filling hole is stopped up by a round magnet sealed to a metal rim in the bottom of the glass. When the glass is pressed onto the dispenser nozzle, the magnet flips up to allow beer in; as the rising volume of liquid weighs down the magnet, it seals. Anheuser-Busch signed a deal with the GrinOn to put its beer logos on the magnets, so beer lovers can decorate their refrigerators.