EZdrinking

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

Filtering by Tag: Campari

Negroni Variations with Aged Gin

In preparation for the upcoming Negroni Week (June  5-11, 2017) I decided to create a few Negroni variations  with some of the gin in my liquor cabinet and see how the drink changed. The classic negroni is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. For these variations I used Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso, Campari and three different aged gins. 

Negroni #1: This was made using  FEW Spirits Barrel Gin (46.5% ABV) which is an aged gin distilled with an undisclosed number of botanicals which includes juniper, bitter orange and lemon peel, cassia and angelica. As a negroni the noise was woody, with fruity bubble gum notes. The Negroni tasted of sweet berries and orange with a strong whiskey character. The finish started sweet, dried out from the wood tannins and closed with notes of black pepper grapefruit zest, charcoal and menthol.

Negroni #2: This was made using High Wire Distilling Hat Trick Barrel Rested Gin (44% ABV) which is an aged gin distilled with crushed juniper berries, fresh lemon and orange peel. As a negroni, the sweet vermouth came through on nose with bright citrus from the Campari. The flavor was a dance of sweet spicy and bitter. The finish started strong with juniper and faded into bitter grapefruit and sweetness. Really nice.

Negroni #3: This was made using Old World Spirits Rusty Blade Single Barrel-Aged Gin (60% ABV) which is an aged gin distilled with 11 botanicals including cilantro, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, orange, lemon, tangerine and steamed juniper. As a negroni the nose had notes of sweet cherry and fresh orange. The cocktail tasted of maraschino cherry, sweet grapefruit, and mid palate spice notes of clove and cinnamon explode with slight bitterness. The finish was spicy dry and mildly bitter with notes of juniper and grapefruit zest.

Negroni Variations with Classic and Contemporary Gin

In preparation for the upcoming Negroni Week (June  5-11, 2017) I decided to create a few Negroni variations  with some of the gin in my liquor cabinet and see how the drink changed. The classic negroni is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. For my variations I used Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso, Campari and three different gins. 

Negroni #1: This was made using Bombay London Dry Gin (43% ABV) which is a classic gin vapor distilled with Juniper, Coriander, Liquorice Root, Almonds, Lemon Peel, Cassia Bark, Orris Root,  and Angelica. As a negroni, sweet and bitter  notes were well balanced but the gin got lost under the vermouth. It had lots of herbal complexity from the wormwood and citrus, with a nice juniper finish.

Negroni #2: This was made using St. George Spirits Botanivore Gin (45% ABV) which is a contemporary gin with juniper, bay laurel and fresh cilantro in a vapor basket and angelica, bergamot peel, black peppercorn, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, citra hops, coriander, dill seed, fennel seed, ginger, lemon peel, lime peel, orris root, Seville orange peel, and star anise macerated in the pot. As a negroni it had a strong citrus aroma on the nose, sweetness from vermouth was still very strong however the finish had a slight spicy character from the gin. Made with equal parts the negroni was slightly out of balance however, adding a touch more gin does the trick.

Negroni #3: This was made using The Spirits Guild Astral Pacific Gin (43% ABV)  which is a contemporary gin pot distilled with Juniper, coriander, angelica, cinnamon, grapefruit peel, clementine peel, orange tree leaves, pink peppercorn, pistachio, sage, and orris root in a neutral brandy made from clementines. As a negroni bright floral notes came through on the nose with a light fruity aroma almost like bubble gum. The flavors were well balanced between sweet and bitter with juniper and citrus coming through clear on the finish.

Review: Russell's Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon

Owned By Gruppo Campari, Russell's Reserve Small Batch 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is distilled at the WIld Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and bottled at 45% ABV.

Price: $28-$44

In 1942, Austin Nichols, a wine and spirits importer began buying bulk bourbon from the Old Hickory Distillery in Tyrone, Kentucky. For about 30 years Nichols bought and bottled this bourbon under the Wild Turkey brand. Then in 1971, Nichols purchased the Old Hickory Distillery from the Ripy family and renamed it the Wild Turkey Distillery. At the time Nichols bought the distillery a native Kentuckian, Jimmy Russell, served as the Master Distiller overseeing the distillation and aging of all their whiskey. Russell began working working at the distillery sweeping floors and worked his way up, learning the tradition and practice of making bourbon from Bill Hughes and Ernest W. Ripy, Jr. 

Fast forward to 2000, Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie worked together to create Russell's Reserve Small Batch 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Russell's Reserve stands as a testament to the dedication and skill the Russell family has demonstrated in making some of the finest American whiskey over the past 60 years. One bourbon (75/13/12 corn/rye/barley)

Lastly, Russell's Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon  was one of nine bourbons I selected in a blind tasting of bourbons less than $50. Out of a group of 25 non-professional tasters Russell's Reserve received the highest average score making it our highest ranked bourbon of the night.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose has notes of butterscotch with soft warm aromas of oak logs burning, ripe pears, and light tannins.

Palate: The palate is silky smooth with very light heat and notes of sweet vanilla are balanced with oak and tobacco. The bourbon has a slightly fruity character similar to some brandies.

Finish: The bourbon has a long finish with notes of oak and bright Chardonnay.

Conclusion: Russell's Reserve is an excellent bourbon that is a delight to drink. This is the epitome of a well balanced bourbon and very impressive for a 10 year old 90 proof bourbon. Most bourbons of this age I find are over oaked but this is a great testiment to the Russell legacy. 

Nocino Cocktails

In my last post I described how I began the process of making my own nocino. But for those who are less interested in making their own, or are curious to try nocino before making a batch, there are a number of great commercial versions for sale. I particularly like the Black Walnut Liqueur made by Davorin Kuchan of Old World Spirits in Belmont, CA and the Nocino made by Ryan Hembree of Skip Rock Distillers in Snohomish, WA.

Once you have a bottle of nocino at home, using it in cocktail is a great way to enjoy its complex flavors. Nocico pairs very nicely with brown spirits like whiskey, Scotch or brandy, and it can be used as a creative substitute for sweet vermouths like Carpano Antica. Below are a couple of nocino cocktail idea that are quite tasty and fun to try.

Black Walnut Old Fashioned
(from Liberty Bar, Seattle)
Bourbon
Nocino
Black Walnut bitters
Angostura bitters
Served on a large ice cube.

Midnight Manhattan
2 oz Bourbon
1 oz Nocino
Dash of orange bitters
Stirred with ice
Served up with brandied cherry garnish.

Raincoat
(Absinthe, San Francisco)
1 oz Nocino
1 oz Bourbon
Splash of almond syrup
Stirred with ice Served in chilled Martini glass with freshly grated cinnamon floater.

The Boutonniere 
(The Alembic, San Francisco
Scotch
Nocino
Dash of orange bitters 
Served up

The Italian Sidecar
1.5 oz Brandy
3/4 oz Nocino
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Lemon juice
Served up with a lemon wheel garnish.

Negroni Umbria
(from Angele, Napa
1oz Nocino
1oz Gin
1 oz Campari 
Stirred with ice 
Served up or on rocks with orange twist.

Cheers!