Twelve Tasty Sips
Our Mixed Case series serves up an eclectic mix of recent ‘adult beverage’ discoveries by the dozen.
Whether you’re perusing a bar menu while traveling or stirring up a cocktail at home, let our guide lead to new taste destinations.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Yes, in summer’s hottest heat you should drink plenty of water. But we suspect that isn’t all you’ll be drinking the summer of 2016. Here’s a round-up of 11 alcoholic options plus one mixer, all of which taste best when served chilled and/or poured over ice.
Perhaps nothing suits summer sipping better than a French rosé wine. Crisp and dry, thoroughly enjoyable on its own yet uber-food-friendly, you really can’t go wrong with a rosé from France whether you’re sitting on a porch swing on a lazy afternoon or firing up the grill for a festive party.
The Provence region, located on the Mediterranean coast, has 650 wineries (roughly 130 currently export to the U.S.) and has produced rosé wine for more than 2,600 years! Among the options… 2015 Grande Récolte Rosé, a blend of Cinsault and Grenache, opens with whiffs of apricot, peach and orange blossom and pleases the palate with delicate, round flavors of melon, stone fruit, white cherries and limestone. Retails for approx. $20. 2015 MIP Rosé is a blend of 60% Cinsault, 20% Grenache and 20% Syrah. Light and pleasant, it opens with floral and fruity notes and tastes of gooseberry, lemon blossom, raspberry, pear and clay. Retails for approx. $22.
Pierre Sparr Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé, produced in the heart of France’s Alsace region, dances with notes of strawberry, raspberry and peach. Delightfully refreshing, this sparkler is smooth, clean and dry with lively acidity and delicate bubbles. Retails for approx. $23.
Bellion Vodka sniffs and sips clean and sophisticated. Its soft vanilla flavors build to caramel on the finish. This is a vodka that can be savored on its own over ice (or straight out of the freezer) or in cocktails (including these suggested recipes). It’s produced using a proprietary NTX technology that has lots of patents pending. Details about what NTX entails are vague at best; but the stuff tastes like an upscale vodka which is the main thing, right? Retails for approx. $30.
Cruzan Single Barrel Premium Extra Aged Rum is a blend of vintage rums that have been aged for at least 5 and up to 12 years. Well-rounded, mellow and full-bodied, this is lip-licking yummy and enjoyable sipped on its own as well as shaken or stirred into cocktails. It smells and tastes of crème brûlée, creamy vanilla caramel, and spiced orange peel with a hint of oak. It lingers on warm butter and sweet bread notes. Retails for approx. $30.
Nevada’s first commercial estate distillery, Frey Ranch in Fallon, Nev., is committed to controlling its production process “from ground to glass.” All of the grains used to make the spirits are grown on the property; seed varieties are selected for the flavors they will produce not quantity yields. The distillery even malts its own barley. Fifth-generation farmer Colby Frey is the distiller and winemaker—his family has grown grains in Nevada before it became a state! The Vodka is a blend of four grains (corn, rye, barley and wheat) and passes through three separate stills. Creamy in texture, it whiffs of spiced citrus while sugar, citrus and vegetal flavors hit the tongue building heat on the finish. The Gin is made of rye, barley and corn with botanicals of juniper berries and wild sagebrush (sourced on the ranch) with coriander, Angelica root, cardamom pod, lemon and orange peels sourced globally. Unique and bold, this is a dominating gin that gives cocktails a new spin you won’t soon forget. Both spirits retail for approx. $40.
Speyburn produces single malt whisky and ranks fifth in single malt sales in the U.S. The distillery is nestled in Scotland among the world’s largest cluster of distilleries. You may tend to reach for scotch more often when heading toward your favorite chair near the fireplace, but these two expressions would be equally appealing by the poolside at dusk. Arranta Casks Single Malt is crafted using first-fill ex-bourbon casks. It’s soft on the palate with notes of vanilla, lemon, honey and coconut building to gentle peat on the finish. This limited release is available exclusively in the U.S. and retails for approx. $40. Speyburn 10 Year Old is fresh, clean and medium-bodied. Notes of lemon, butterscotch and hay are balanced and linger into a finish that balances sweet caramel and spicy peat flavors. Retails for approx. $29.
Stella Rosa semi-sweet sparkling wines are now available packaged in 250ml single-serve aluminum bottles, safe for poolside sipping. (Just don’t drink and dive!) “We wanted to create something special in advance of our 100th Anniversary,” said fourth generation winemaker Anthony Riboli in a press release. “We’re excited to introduce a whole new way to enjoy Stella Rosa,” the No. 1 imported Italian wine brand in the U.S. Stella Rosa Black bubbles with blackberry, strawberry and raspberry flavors. Stella Rosa Platinum tickles the tongue with green apple, elderflower and butter notes. Retails for approx. $5/250ml.
Legendary Sunshine Ginger Berry is a non-alcoholic, delicately-carbonated beverage made in Winston-Salem, N.C. The ginger-berry flavor is so lip-licking yummy we suspect the two new flavors—Clementine Twist and Blueberry Lemonade—are worth a try, too. Sunshine boasts the caffeine of a soda without the sugar, electrolytes of a sports drink without the sodium and Vitamin B12. The 8.4 oz.-portion seems to cry out to be poured over ice in a highball and splashed with vodka, gin, rum, elderflower liqueur, or whatever spirit you prefer. (Find cocktail recipes here.) 24 cans retail for $45 on Amazon.com.
Unless otherwise noted, all suggested retail prices are for a 750ml bottle.
Be a responsible grownup: Never drink and drive.
Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.
– Frey Ranch Vodka and Gin photos by Jeff Dow; others courtesy of the producer. Click on individual images for details.