By Emma Krasov. Photography by Yuri Krasov.
Medieval alchemists believed that distilled spirits, due to their unspoilable nature, were of divine origin! A 14th century French alchemist, John of Rupescissa, known for his highly successful experiments in distillation, considered alcohol the quintessence of life, studied its medicinal properties, and coined the term, aqua vitæ or “live water” that presumably cured all ills!
While failing to cure COVID-19 and its endless variants that still keep many a traveler confined to a proverbial armchair, international spirits definitely possess an ability to cure cabin fever, and induce imaginary travel to faraway lands via delicious sips, properly accompanied by bites.
Quintessential in popularity, Scotch whisky comes in a wide range of flavors and styles—from soft blends aged in wine casks to bold, smoky pot-distilled single malts. Irish whiskey, with its ancient history, becomes extremely popular with a current boom in new ways of distilling, and the arrival of contemporary triple-distilled and blended brands.
And then there’s American whiskey that can be distilled in the style of single malts or blends, and left aging in barrels and casks previously used for wine, sherry, rum, bourbon, and other spirits, where producer’s fantasy is the only limit.
Sans travel, is there a better Father’s Day gift than a noble bottle of a “divine” spirit?
12-year 2009 Pedro Ximénez Puncheon (Cask #3812) is 58.2% ABV. It has a complex nose of sweet brioche, chocolate and orange marmalade, and butterscotch with honey and lemon on the palate.
While only a few hundred bottles per cask are produced, and the total number of bottles for Pedro Ximénez Puncheon is 642, you can find it in the following U.S. states: CA, KY, OR, WA, GA, MA, NY.
23-year 1998 Marsala (Cask #10297) is 55.4% ABV. Its maple syrupy-sweet nose with layers of stone fruit yields to a soft honey-chocolate cake-apricot palate.
Only 264 bottles in the following states: AZ, CO, IL, DE, DC, FL, MD, MN, NV, PA, SC, WI.
24-year 1997 Oloroso Puncheon (Cask #15058) is 55.4% ABV, with cedar wood, toasted vanilla, and old leather on the nose, and chocolate and raisin sweetness on the palate.
641 bottles from a single cask, available in the following states: GA, MA, NY and additional major metro markets.
In addition to the pure whisky tasting, Laszlo bartenders created Friends of Benriach cocktails—Penicillin (10-year single malt, honey ginger syrup, lemon juice) and Smoke and Whisper (10-year single malt, limoncello, fresh lemon, ginger, honey). The kitchen provided an array of sophisticated food-pairing dishes, like warm mixed olives, homemade bread with butter, lavender-scented goat cheese, antipasti and seafood platters, arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, and beef carpaccio.
Find out more about Benriach at: www.benriachdistillery.com.
Teeling Irish Whiskey
From unconventional cask maturation techniques when grain and malt is aged first in bourbon barrels, then in rum casks for up to 12 months, comes a uniquely layered tasting profile of Teeling Whiskey.
Fragrant dried fruit, subtle tastes of vanilla, clove, cinnamon and anise, and smooth sweetness of honey, influenced by hand-selected casks, makes Teeling, crafted in Ireland since 1782, perfectly fitting for neat consumption as well as for creating versatile and delicious cocktails.
These days, coming from a first new distillery in the last 125 years opened in Dublin in 2015, the Teeling is true to its ancestral roots, and is known for its entrepreneurial spirit and a perfected over time small batch maturation process.
A pop-up experience of Phoenix Parlor at the San Francisco’s Casements Bar for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities, presented Teeling Small Batch whiskeys, like The Spirit of Dublin Teeling Whiskey Single Malt, and a lineup of creative cocktails, mixed with beer, soda, and coffee, and accompanied by bar bites—to satisfy any taste and preference:
Boilermaker (Teeling Small Batch, pint of Guinness); Dublin Mule (Teeling Small Batch, ginger beer, lime, bitters); Irish Espresso Martini (Teeling Small Batch, Andytown cold brew, Five Farms Irish cream, NOLA coffee liqueur, splash of Guinness); Phoenix Highball (Teeling Small Batch, soda water, lemon).
There’s also an array of amazing cocktails created by the Teeling Whiskey Distillery’s bar team—shaken, stirred, poured and built. Let the descriptions of these wonderful libations inspire you to create your own mixed drinks for Father’s Day—and for any day when Teeling is gracing your table.
Apple of My Eye—smoothness and sweetness of apple juice and honey complemented by cinnamon and nutmeg.
Blood Orange Whiskey Smash has a sharply tart style of classic sours, plus the refreshing blood orange juice.
Caramel Cold Brew is a cold version of the famous Irish Coffee, and a variation on the popular espresso martini. Spice of the whiskey and the bitterness of the stout are softened by the sweetness of salted caramel.
Elderflowers of Meath islengthened with soda water and balanced with vermouth. Better than your ol’ gin and tonic.
Red Leg Rebellion is atake on the classic Mai-Tai, with rum substituted for Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey.
Ruby Manhattan has rum finish notes of stone fruit—plums and apricots.
Teeling Irish Coffee uses Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey and spiced stout syrup that gives this classic drink a unique Teeling touch.
Tropical Teeling uses pineapple syrup to accentuate the sweet notes in small batch whiskey.
Old Potrero American Whiskey
A San Francisco native, Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey has been relaunched by Hotaling & Co. (est. 1993) in a clear sign of renewed popularity of pot-distilled spirits among the American consumers. Distilled in a small copper pot still at the Hotaling & Co. Distillery on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill Farm from a mash of 100% rye malt, Old Potrero is a super-premium artisanal spirits, dedicated to America’s pioneer distillers who preferred rye as the grain of choice for creating their first whiskeys.
The glorious return of the legendary whiskey brand—allegedly the first American craft whiskey arriving on the market since Prohibition, is also marked by a new packaging, bottle, logo, and label design inspired by San Francisco’s landmarks—historic cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Fog City Gothic font, used on the embossed street signs back in the 1940s and 50s.
A recent relaunch event, hosted by Old Potrero Master Distiller Bruce Joseph at San Francisco’s High Horse Bar, celebrated not only the award-winning whiskey, but also the legacy of Fritz Maytag, the founder of Hotaling & Co., (formerly Anchor Distilling Co.), who started the now-world-famous craft beer movement in San Francisco back in 1965.
Joseph, who’s been with the company since the early 1990’s, working alongside Fritz, and then leading the brand since 2010, had this to say about the praised 100% malted rye whiskey (now aged longer for added smoothness and complexity), “We are thrilled to usher Old Potrero into a new era. With the same bold liquid within, the new packaging and bottle embody the boldness of its home-base, San Francisco. A city that’s resilient, creative and richly historic, just like Old Potrero.”
Introduced at the relaunch was the 6-year Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey distilled from a 100% malted rye mash, and then matured in new charred 24-month air-dried, extra fine grain American white oak barrels for a minimum of six years, withtasting notes of brown sugar, black cherry, spice, and maple with a nutty finish.
Besides tasting neat Old Potrero of beautiful amber color, the relaunch event attendees tasted various bar bites, and some interesting cocktails, created by the San Francisco Bay Area mixologists:
Black Manhattan by Todd Smith, Bourbon & Branch (Old Potrero Straight Rye, Luxardo Amaro Abano, orange bitters, Angostura bitters)
High Horse by Will Herrera, High Horse (Old Potrero Straight Rye, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, apple ginger shrub, honey lemon cordial)
Jaspers Hill by Nick Madden, Elixir Saloon (Old Potrero Straight Rye, Luxardo Amaretto Sweet Vermouth, Angostura bitters, stout beer
Rye Cherry Rye by Simone Mims, Preservation Hospitality Consulting (Old Potrero Straight Rye, Luxardo Sangue Morlacco, Simone’s orgeat, fresh lemon juice).
Mulholland Distilling Spirits
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mulholland Distilling was co-founded in 2016 by cinematographer Matthew Alper and Emmy-nominated actor Walton Goggins, and named after William Mulholland, a turn-of-the-century civil engineer credited for building the infrastructure that provided the city with water supply, making it the largest metropolis in California.
Old friends and avid collectors of high-end spirits, Mulholland Distilling founder Alper and his partner Goggins dedicate their enterprise to the city of Los Angeles, “a place to come and recreate yourself.”
Their mission is “to create artisanal spirits that reflect and celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of our great city. We’ve traveled the entire country in search of the finest spirits available. We are working with master distillers to bring those spirits here for all to enjoy.”
With the emphasis on friendship and creativity, “Mulholland is built on character, hard work, tenacity and the joy of life.”
“The Spirit of Los Angeles” distillery has a diverse portfolio of spirits that include 86-proof 100% corn Vodka (gluten-free, non-GMO), 100-proof American Whiskey, and 96-proof New World Gin. These spirits are aromatic and delicious, beautifully bottled and suitable for any occasion.
Mulholland Vodka is distilled six times. It delivers silky texture and sweetness of corn, and carries subtle notes of warm spice and vanilla with minty peppery finish.
Mulholland American Whiskey with vanilla bean and maple syrup aroma has a palate of dried fruit and herbal rye, and a smooth finish of caramel and toffy. Its mash bill is 94% corn, 4% rye, and 2% malted barley.
Mulholland New World Gin, a double gold medalist, is distilled six times from 100% non-GMO corn. It’s invigorating and refreshing with the tastes of cucumber and juniper that give way to lime and lavender, and finishes with citrus and vanilla notes.
The brand creators pride themselves on their spirits’ high quality. “We are not a celebrity brand,” states their website. “You don’t pay for the celebrity story…you pay for what’s in the bottle. We created Mulholland’s Spirits to bring you what we love to drink…and maybe, if we’re lucky, you’ll let Mulholland’s Spirits raise yours.”
More than 500 retailers and grocers in California carry Mulholland spirits, including Bristol Farms, Hi-Lo Liquor Market, BevMo!, Gelson’s, and Whole Foods. The company’s online store ships to 31 states.
In San Francisco, Mulholland Distilling spirits are available at some popular restaurants and bars, like Pabu, The Cavalier, Wildhawk, and Park Tavern.
To find out more, go to https://www.mulhollanddistilling.com/.
Hercules Mulligan Rum & Rye
Delivered with great panache in a red velvet-lined gift box, with an intricate logo depicting tailor’s tools of trade on the bottle and on the special glass, Hercules Mulligan Rum & Rye is a festive tribute to a hero of the American Revolution—an Irish immigrant tailor, who became a great American patriot, a member of the Sons of Liberty, a friend of Alexander Hamilton, and an official clothier of George Washington before and during his presidency.
A tailor by day, and a spy by night, Hercules Mulligan, who often made outfits for British officers in his Lower Manhattan shop, allegedly treated his customers to the popular at the time Caribbean rum and newly appreciated whiskey, and thus helped them to loosen their tongues, and chat freely about their military plans that he used to create intelligence dispatches for the American side during the Revolutionary War.
Thus, Hercules Mulligan Rum & Rye replicates an original period recipe in a ready to enjoy craft cocktail made with three Caribbean aged rums, three American aged whiskeys, infused with ginger, and topped with bitters and simple syrup. It’s a 50:50 blend of rum and whiskey. A macerated fresh organic ginger root is added to this Irish-style Old Fashioned, best enjoyed simply on the rocks.
Learn more at https://www.herculesmulligancompany.com/.
Dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the American natural treasure and the world’s first national park—Yellowstone National Park, a Kirby distillery, a.k.a. the “Whiskey of the West” created a limited edition of small batch Wyoming Whiskey National Parks No. 2 straight bourbon.
Producedin collaboration with Yellowstone Forever—the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park, this is Wyoming Whiskey’s second annual release of the National Parks series on a mission to support and protect America’s great outdoors.
Located on the doorstep of Yellowstone, the distillery uses 100% Wyoming raw material to produce its spirits—corn, winter wheat, winter rye, barley, and water from the Big Horn Basin.
National Parks No. 2 has a light amber color, a sweet nose of sandalwood, cane sugar, orange cream, peach and lemon peel, and a palate of marzipan, carrot cake, hints of toffee, and salted caramel. Its lingering finish brings about oaky notes, orange and lemon zest, black pepper, and leather.
Find out more at http://www.wyomingwhiskey.com.