Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History
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Over the past decade, the cocktail culture has exploded across America. Bars and lounges have become the Broadway theater of mixology, with bartenders resurrecting classic pre-Prohibition cocktails and dazzling customers with their creations. Consumers, in turn, are recreating these cocktails at home, and spending unprecedented amounts on upscale bar gear. With more and more emphasis on quality ingredients, the number of small-batch spirits is increasing all the time, and craft distilling has become popular as an offshoot of the locavore movement. In Iconic Spirits, Mark Spivak, wine and spirits guru and host of the NPR show Uncorked!, explores the history and cultural significance of twelve iconic spirits and reveals how moonshine invented NASCAR; how gin almost toppled the British Empire; how a drink that tastes like castor oil flavored with tree bark became one of the sexiest things on earth; how cognac became the "it" drink of hip-hop culture, and much more. To top it all off, Spivak then offers the most tantalizing cocktail recipes from the era in which each spirit was invented.
a meal, as an agent that supposedly sharpens the appetite, or as a digestif to settle the stomach after eating. Either way, our taste buds are telling us that it’s not a good idea. “Once bitters get established in a population, people keep drinking them,” says Bartoshuk. “The taste of bitters becomes associated in their minds with the effects of alcohol, and they then regard it as pleasant.” This is true as far as it goes; it’s not likely that most of us would be drinking even a beverage as
influenced than spirits by oak aging, and only the better vintages are capable of standing up to a prolonged period of time in barrels. With Cognac, the producer is not starting with a substantially structured wine, but the process of distillation gives the spirit more durability to withstand extended aging, as well as a greater likelihood that it will improve during that process. Even so, we can’t say with any authority that prolonged barrel aging gives us a wine or spirit that is necessarily
times, it seems that almost everyone who starts a new spirits brand wants to channel Frank’s entrepreneurial drive; Joe Michalek of Midnight Moon has a picture of Frank on his office wall for inspiration. By any standard, Frank’s story represented an astonishing achievement: the creation of an entirely new category of spirits using nothing more than energy, charisma, and chutzpah. But Grey Goose was vodka, after all, a spirit that nearly one-fifth of all Americans over the age of twenty-one
since the launch of Crown Royal in 1939. Hall uses a completely different approach than most other distilleries, particularly Canadian Club and their patented technique of prebarrel blending. “Because I was a winemaker,” he says, “I decided to make varietal whiskey. I wanted to capture the essence of each grain, the spiciness of the rye or the sweetness of the corn. So I distilled each grain separately in pot stills and aged them separately, using different toast levels on each barrel. When
Juice of ½ lemon ½ teaspoon simple syrup 1 maraschino cherry (for garnish) 1 slice of orange (for garnish) Place ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice and shake well; strain into chilled cocktail glass, or pour into rocks glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice. Manhattan The legend of the Manhattan was that it was invented at New York City’s Manhattan Club in the 1870s at a dinner for politician Samuel Tilden, at the request of Jennie Jerome (otherwise known as