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Curious & Unfiltered

A Great Cocktail Gin & Simple Ways to Showcase It

Every bar cart needs a perfect cocktail making gin, a low-key approachable spirit to mix and match with whatever is on hand. Currently, we're loving Bulrush Gin.

Bulrush was created to be warm, welcoming, delicious, and versatile. The spirit is unabashedly made for cocktails. It's juniper-forward (yet somehow manages to please even those who aren't already all in for gin) and was one of Beverage Testing Institute's highest rated gins in 2019. The bottle hails from Lowcountry, South Carolina, and it's perfect for an afternoon cocktail. A drink to be enjoyed on a front porch swing. On the backyard patio. As a pre-dinner refresher. As a post-swimming hole thirst quencher.

Here are a few relaxed and classic cocktails we'd recommend enjoying with Bulrush Gin.

Spanish Gin Tonic

2 oz Bulrush Gin
4 oz Premium Tonic

 

Fill a large wine glass with ice, add gin, add tonic. Your choice of fresh garnish, but try out a cinnamon stick (trust us).

Classic Martini

2.5 oz Bulrush Gin
1 oz Vermouth

 

Pour gin and vermouth into a shaker filled partway with ice. Stir gently with a long-handled cocktail spoon for at least 30 seconds. Strain liquid into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or olives.

 

 

 

 

 

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Green Chile Vodka & Other Inspired Bottles: A Chat with Lance Winters, Master Distiller at St. George Spirits

Green Chile Vodka & Other Inspired Bottles: A Chat with Lance Winters, Master Distiller at St. George Spirits

A vodka for those in-the-know, St. George Green Chile Vodka is the perfect summer bottle - bringing some heat that amps up the refreshment of cocktails whether for brunch, for a bit of day drinking, or for kicking off a night of grilling out.

So far, Curiada Insiders have been enjoying this spicy-in-a-good-way spirit in all sorts of ways:

  • As an augment to the kick of ginger in a Moscow Mule
  • Adding some verve to the spice of a Bloody Mary
  • Classic style, yes, even in a martini

With unanimous five star ratings amongst our buyers, we cannot stop recommending it as the perfect bottle to switch up your bar cart, or gift to spirits-adventurous family and friends. 

In true Curiada fashion, we’re featuring St. George Green Chile Vodka as part of our commitment to supporting outstanding distiller-entrepreneurs. And there's more!  We've also just brought on their glorious Botanivore Gin and their excellent All Purpose Vodka (does what it says on the tin, which is what we love about it).

St. George Spirits is a special distillery, founded in 1982 in Alameda, CA. Founder Jörg Rupf is credited with kicking off the craft spirits movement, and Master Distiller Lance Winters has been at the helm of the still since 1996. 

Curiada recently had the opportunity to ask Lance a few questions:

Curiada: It's probably not an exaggeration to say that you are a world-renowned craftsman. You've been nominated for a James Beard award at least half a dozen times and you must have tasted literally thousands of really amazing spirits over the course of your career. Tell us, how can a regular person know if they're drinking a good spirit?

Lance: Every single one of us has a palate that is the product of millions of years of evolution. You don't need to train as a master somm[elier] to know what's good and what's not. It's helpful to have someone in the know curate a selection of great quality spirits to help establish a baseline. After that, your eyes are wide open.

Curiada: When did you know you wanted to begin distilling spirits?

Lance: An old high school friend gave me a bottle of Lagavulin. It was the first spirit that I'd ever tasted that made me think about what I was drinking. It wasn't challenging, but it had layers to explore, and a story to tell. I started reading about how whiskey was made, and I was hooked.

Curiada: What do you wish people understood about distilling?

Lance: I wish people understood everything about distillation. The more people know, the better equipped they are to sniff out marketing BS and appreciate the things that are truly important.

Curiada: How do you personally choose a drink?

Lance: The way I choose a drink varies with my mood, sometimes with the weather, and by where I am. For brunch, a Bloody Mary with our Green Chile Vodka is where it’s at. On cooler evenings I'm more likely to go for a spirit-forward, whiskey-based drink. And if I'm having oysters, I'm going to have a Terroir Gin martini.

Curiada: What distillers out there do you admire and why?

Lance: I have a deep admiration for Todd Leopold [of Leopold Bros.]. He's talented, and is built from integrity from the ground up. The distillers at Gracias a Dios distillery in Oaxaca are incredible as well. They make single varietal expressions of mezcal that illustrate the beauty and potential diversity of their native spirit.

 
Image credit: Andria Lo
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Pisco: Bringing The Wide World Back Home

Pisco: Bringing The Wide World Back Home
by Eric DiSanto, Curiada Correspondent-at-Large

When I think of Peru I think of hot sandy beaches and surfing long left hand breaks.  I think of the attitudinally punishing, something-out-of-a-movie, otherworldly breath-taking mountains.  I think of purple, red and other exotic, rainbow-colored potato varieties and of the freshest, tastiest ceviche that by my estimation could possibly exist in the world. I picture dreadlocked alpacas —the chillest of the llama breeds— and corridors of tables and walls covered with the colorful and intricately designed textiles their crazy-soft fur is painstakingly crafted into.  It’s a wonderful country with a rich and vibrant culture deeply connected to its ancient past.

Reminiscing about Peru, it’s hard to not also think of Pisco. It’s everywhere. Often served in cocktail form, the classic Pisco Sour can be found at every local watering hole and is the pride of amateur and professional bartenders alike.  Lunch time cocktail, Pisco Sour.  Happy hour drink, Pisco Sour.  You get the picture.  It’s a great cocktail that can be sipped, or sipped quickly, and pairs nicely I found, with a hot evening by the sea, or a cool starlit night in the mountains.

For those not in the know, Pisco, Peru’s national beverage, is a brandy.  Often compared to the Italian Grappa, Pisco, too, is a grape based spirit, however where Grappa is crafted with the post-harvest detritus of wine-making: grape skins, seeds, and stalks, Pisco grapes are grown specifically for making this clear, light, delicious spirit. The grapes for Pisco are juiced and the pomace discarded before then fermenting somewhere within the five Pisco producing regions of Peru. It then rests a minimum of three months. The end result is a delicately balanced, high proof spirit with generally bright, and citrusy flavor profiles.  Brandy’s “South American cousin” as it has been dubbed.

While I won’t pretend to have developed an expertly nuanced palate during my Peruvian tenure, it doesn’t take a Pisco aficionado to notice the sly smile-inducing quality in a bottle of Barsol’s Supremo Mosto Verde Italia.  This particular spirit comes from Ica, the small desert city five minutes by tuk-tuk from the Huacachina Oasis (literally an oasis, look it up).  “Mosto Verde Italia” moniker tells us that it is made from aromatic Italia grapes which haven’t been fully fermented, giving the spirit a touch of sweetness.  It’s one of the smoothest, subtly fruity, not-too-much-not-too-little spirits I’ve had in some time, and it does a good job at resurrecting the nostalgia of my year in South America cut short by, well…

As it doesn’t look like exploration via travel will be on the table anytime soon, I think we owe it to ourselves to bring the some of that big wide world back home when we can.  After all, there is a lot to learn and experience from a country that was home to the oldest civilization in the Americas.

If grappa is a little bite-heavy for you, if you’re looking to expand your worldly alcohol repertoire, if you’re a Pisco connoisseur and need to bolster your home collection, if you’re having a six-foot radius porch gathering next weekend and want to mix it up a little, whatever the case, this bottle should make it to your home-bar.  It really is top-shelf.

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An afternoon with the Jalisco crew

An afternoon with the Jalisco crew

Joey, one of our co-founders, recently joined the virtual Tequila Fortaleza tour via Zoom.

It’s what you wish every work call could be. Starting with a margarita, you spend 60 minutes with about 100 others learning about Fortaleza Tequila from the friendliest people on Zoom. It’s not a Hollywood production, it’s six enthusiastic people (and a yellow lab) sharing their passion with you. Be warned, some of the viewers are seriously smart tequila drinkers - you’ll learn just as much from their intelligent questions as you do from the well-done presentation and team at Fortaleza. All in all, it’s the perfect amount of time and information, you’ll be happy you learned something new and got to know the people behind this iconic tequila, and even more - you’ll be planning a trip to see it in person as soon as you can.

There's another tour taking place Saturday, July 25, at 2pm EST.  Register here.

 

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Taking it From Day to Night

Forget what you know about all those other coffee liqueurs.  Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur is the real deal.

It packs a caffeinated punch, and delivers exceptionally tasty, cut-above-the-rest flavor.

Ten times the caffeine and half the sugar of what you're used to.

Which makes it an entirely different liqueur.

Dress it up or dress it down, whichever way you like it.

p.s. it's also already one of our bestsellers, despite launching just last week

From Day.



DALGONA DOUBLE COFFEE
2 tbsp instant coffee or espresso
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp hot water
3 tbsp Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
milk of your choice

1. Whip the sugar, water and instant coffee or espresso with an electric mixer - it will start smooth and shiny, then thicken, become foamy, and hold its shape
2. Add the Mr. Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur to a glass with ice and milk
3. Pour the whipped coffee over the milk

recipe modified from Bustle

 

 

 

 To Night. 

ESPRESSO MARTINI
2 parts Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
1 part espresso

1. Combine ingredients in a shaker
2. Give it a hard shake
3. Strain into a coupe

Drinkware recommendation: an Urban Bar Crystal Coupe from our friends at KegWorks.

Recipe courtesy of Mr Black
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Experience Something New

Experience Something New

There's magic to be found when tooling around a new city, region, or island. 

But far away vacations seem, well, far away right now. 

Here's one way to scratch the itch: get experimental with a new spirit that you've never tasted beforefrom a far away place.

And we have just the bottle.

Roots mastic mastiha liqueur on backdrop of pine needles & sky

Roots Mastic Liqueur

Very similar to its appearance, the taste of this liquor is clean and crisp. It has an elegant aroma that is soft and refreshing. The taste is undeniably clean with subtle hints of lavender, coconut and finally a minty freshness that lingers on the palate with a nutty finish.

 

Sip this spirit for a taste of island life, the Greek way. Here's one (delicious) way we recommend trying it:

Here are a few words from Nikolas Smyrlakis, Finest Roots founder, which we hope will help you further enjoy the authenticity, depth, and character of this exceptional liqueur:

This is what Roots is about: craft liqueurs with true heritage, 100% natural ingredients from unique terroirs with an amazing history. We hope that when you enjoy Roots in a small digestive shot or in a nice light long drink, the distinctive flavors will take you back to some of your own memories and stories, and you will connect your roots with our Roots.

Let us know how you like it!

 
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Midsummer Sipping Suggestions

It's mid-summer, so we asked a few Curiada Insiders what they're sipping or stirring right about now.

Here's what they had to say:

Ali F. IL "I'm out in Denver, sipping All Points West Grain and Malt Whiskey with some friends. It's so damn good, I wish I'd ordered more bottles of it."

Jeff K. PA "I've been slowly sipping on Chinaco Anejo Tequila. We break it out on the weekends with family and friends."

Michelle C. NJ "I've been making recipes with Haku Japanese Vodka. On a warm day I mix Haku with simple syrup, grapefruit juice, soda water and fresh mint... After work with my parents I've been making classic vodka martinis garnished with an olive."

Owen S. MA "In my backyard in Central New York, an old friend and I caught up about life, work, and the world today while sipping on Gosling's Family Reserve Old Rum, I pour a little Q Ginger Beer in mine, Gosling's Ginger Beer is great too. Cheers!"

Danielle C. NY "I was looking for a unique gin and came across, Ransom Old Tom Gin, it's perfect. Ordering was easy too!"

Kelsey S. AK "We mix Crop Organic Harvest Earth Vodka with soda water, add in a healthy amount of cucumber slices and enjoy on our balcony. It's a super refreshing summer drink!"

Eric D. NY "I've been sipping the Izalco all week, it's perfect on these hot summer nights." 

Tyler K. NY "I'm sipping Mezcal Vago Cuixe neat."

Staff Pick: This is a real staff pick, not a we-want-to-sell-this-bottle-because-we-make-a lot-of-money-selling-it staff pick (trust us, we definitely do not).  The Martell Cognac Blue Swift is a winner, and it's perfect for that "chilly" summer night. 

 

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A New Way to Be a (Virtual) Regular

A New Way to Be a (Virtual) Regular

By Eric DiSanto, Curiada (Virtual) Correspondent-at-Large

For many of us, there will be no ponying up to a bar-top to share a fizzy, flat, fruity, creative or classic cocktail with friends or strangers alike anytime soon.  While our rented pint glasses and tumblers collect dust by the well-worn barstools we’ve all come to know and favor, the next best thing has got to be the Dealer’s Choice Virtual Happy Hour with Amanda Sasser.

Tucked away in the cozy and comfortable confines of my own personal dive bar (basement), Amanda lead a brief yet insightful cocktail how-to crash course; this week’s elixir was a Whiskey Sour. 

For the Whiskey Sour Her Way, Amanda used Old 49 California Whiskey, Buttermilk No. 3 Syrup Mixer, and Whiskey Barrel Bitters; we went the classic route and added egg white, too. 

Well- versed in her knowledge of spirits, she was happy to offer suggestions regarding replacements and substitutions to make the drink accessible and enjoyable for everyone.  “Hopefully,” she says, “by learning more about the ingredients and their qualities, and the preparation and execution of actually making the cocktail, we will be able to find a new appreciation for the drinks we have come to know and love over the years.”

We were about a dozen, cameras on and sound unmuted, and it really did feel like ours was a group just getting together for a happy-hour cocktail after work.

It was a good time. 

After the 30-ish minute creation and enjoyment of our Whiskey Sours we all stuck around and talked about new, hard-to-find, favorite, and just plain cool bottles of spirits we’ve come across or are looking for.  We reminisced about favorite cocktails we’ve enjoyed, and bars we miss chilling at. 

If you’re nostalgic for a well-made drink in that hanging-around atmosphere, looking to expand your knowledge on what we use and why we make cocktails the way we do, or even just trying to break up your 5-9, you should swing by next week!

Amanda in real life: Though limited by everyone’s favorite pandemic, Amanda is still behind the stick at a Sunday night pop-up in the Valley at Buvette.  Mask on, she builds a couple featured cocktails for the evening that you can enjoy while sitting on the patio. If you’re out in L.A. stop by; I intend to next time I’m on the left coast.

If you'd like to join the July 22 session (featuring gin! Though you can sub tequila or vodka, too!), RSVP here and we'll send through the details!

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The Other Side of the Story: our new collection

We've launched a new collection that celebrates brands, distillers, producers, and companies who are doing things different to the expected way.  Read on for more about how each of these fascinating spirits speak to the creativity, innovation, and courage of those who have the self-confidence to forge their own path! Want to know when the next collection drops? Join our email list

This Italian aperitivo, an aromatized wine, is for everyone who loves a spritz. Forget those other more commonly found orange brands. Those in the know know that this is the better and more authentic essential spritz ingredient.   This blended malt scotch whisky very nearly couldn't be called a scotch at all, despite being a huge crowd favorite. Determination and passion helped bring it back to the market. It may just change how you think about blended Scotch!

 

Japanese vodka with an exceptionally smooth taste and bright flavors owed to the use of a Coffey still in distillation, imported from Scotland in 1963. The Coffey still produces a purer, stronger distillate with a lighter body and more delicate flavor profile, for a refined difference you can taste.  

Finally there's a coffee liqueur that actually tastes like the good stuff. Ten times the caffeine and half the sugar of standard coffee liqueurs. Authentically Aussie. Authentically coffee. You're never going back.

 

Tequila from a resurrected tequila distillery being given new life by the great great grandson of the original distiller, Don Cenobia Sauza.  Yes, that Sauza, the actual OG when it comes to tequila production and its importation into the US. Ask any tequila enthusiast out there, and Fortaleza will be on the shortlist. The most awarded American whiskey or bourbon of 2019. It honors the first Black Master Distiller on record in the US, Nathan Green, known as "Uncle Nearest." It was actually Uncle Nearest who taught Jack Daniels about distilling. This fact was nearly lost to time before a determined and inspired author sought to cement his legacy as one of the true forefathers of American whiskey.

 

Truly a departure on all fronts. A rum from Central America, not the Caribbean, from a spirits enthusiast turned expert who, with a well-respected team of master blenders, spent years crafting this rum. It's meant to be savored and sipped, not mixed. Taste for yourself why the whole of the Paris Rhum Festival was lining up at Ron Izalco's tiny booth.  A resolutely modern expression of a cherished Greek liqueur which has been in existence since the fifth century BC.  It's key ingredient -- mastic -- is only grown on the tiny island of Chios. An exciting experience that will broaden your palate in discovering something new.
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Transforming how we think of rum

Transforming how we think of rum

Most people tend to think of rum as great for mixing.  It’s the go-to base liquor for spiked punch, and nearly every other batched cocktail.  Buy a bottle of the cheap stuff, add a bunch of fruit juice and other flavors, and bottoms up.

Unlike whisky, scotch, and cognac, the average person doesn’t think of rum as a premium spirit.

Karthik Sudhir set out to change that.

Ron Izalco is a super-premium rum.  It has a fruity aroma that calls to mind apricots, prunes, honey, caramel and freshly-squeezed cane juice.  It starts smooth and mellow, and then builds to a wonderful complexity, with undertones of American oak, toasted nuts, and sweet pipe tobacco. It’s expressly designed for sipping. No daiquiri mix, no Hawaiian Punch, no E.J. Gallo & a cup of sugar.  And definitely, no coke.

Ron Izalco was conceived and created by a passionate and committed individual totally devoted to creating a new-to-world best-quality rum. Through a careful and painstaking years-long process, Karthik and his  blending team sampled rums from all over the world, assessing them against the strictest standards. They also used this process to identify where these best-quality rums are being produced. With that hands-on knowledge, and through relationships with industry experts, they then set out to craft a rum that would be as refined, exceptional, and sip-worthy as any super-premium cognac or scotch. 

Their care and dedication paid off.  Ron Izalco is a double-gold award-winning rum, the breakout star of the 2018 Paris Rhum Festival, and has been released across Europe to great acclaim.

And now, for the first time, it’s being made widely available to spirits enthusiasts in more than 28 states through Curiada.com

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