The Iconic Spirits Blog

Casa Noble Tequila

January 30, 2013

Tags: casa noble tequila

Three decades ago, the concept of premium tequila was unknown in this country. In fact, it probably would have been considered laughable. Tequila in America was the drink of frat boys, bikers and bums. It was what you drank if you wanted to get obliterated as quickly as possible. It smelled like rotting compost, and tasted worse. In fact, the standard method of ingesting it---downing a shot quickly, along with a dose of salt and lime---had been developed specifically to mask the aroma and flavor of the stuff. (more…)

Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon 2002

January 23, 2013

Tags: evan williams, elijah craig, heaven hill

Evan Williams was supposedly Kentucky’s first distiller. This may or may not be true, but it’s a good story. Williams migrated to Kentucky, which was then part of Virginia, in the early 1780s, lured by the prospect of cheap and fertile land. Both promises turned out to be correct, but there was no way to transport his crops from the wilderness to a place where they could be sold. Williams decided to turn his corn into whiskey, which took up less space and could be shipped more easily. By the time he was granted the first commercial distilling license in 1783, there were likely dozens or hundreds of other farmers who had been visited by the same inspiration. (more…)

Cachaca

January 16, 2013

Tags: cachaca, leblon

Many Americans are unaware of cachaça even though it is the most popular distilled spirit in Brazil. An astonishing 175 million cases are produced each year, but most of it is consumed within the country; while no more than 10% is exported, the better versions are starting to turn up regularly in our bars and restaurants.

Cachaça is sometimes described as Brazilian rum. This is roughly true, since it is made from the juice of fresh sugar cane that is first fermented and then distilled. Some rums are made that way, but the majority are produced from molasses, a process which is cheaper and quicker. In both cases a clear distillate comes off the still, and may then be put into oak barrels for aging. Like rum, most cachaça is mass-produced in column stills, and the more interesting ones are hand-crafted in copper pot stills. (more…)

Classic American Bars: Cafe Zuzu in the Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale

January 9, 2013

Tags: hotel valley ho, cafe zuzu

Were the 1950s really happier, more peaceful and prosperous than the present day, or do things simply look rosier in retrospect? We’ll never know for sure, but the reality is that retro is one of the fads of the moment. In reconstructing the past, we have the opportunity to ignore some of the era’s more unpleasant aspects (the Communist witch hunts of the McCarthy period, or the relentless stifling of certain types of individual expression) and recreate those years in the way we’d prefer to see them. (more…)

Hot Toddies

January 2, 2013

Tags: hot toddy, hot buttered rum, schotch toddy

Hypochondria has its unsung benefits: There are people who pretend to be sick just to have an excuse to drink hot toddies. I suspect there are also individuals who visit ski resorts for the same reason, although this seems to be an expensive and unnecessary course; better to just take to your bed and feign a hacking cough. While there’s no evidence that Baron Munchhausen was a fan of the drink, these concoctions have been around for a very long time. (more…)