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Spirits of Spring

March 29, 2013

It’s been over two months since my last post on cocktails, so perhaps it would be wise to quickly summarize some long held notions I have about drinking distilled spirits.

A long long time ago I had an extensive home bar. At its peak it contained enough bottles to make any cocktail that any guest might possibly desire. Since then my approach towards cocktails has simplified.

Now I have just one small liquor cabinet. There isn’t room for much. I no longer stock multiple varieties of rum, tequila and gin. Hard choices have to be made. One thing that helps is the seasons of the year.

Yes, I try to drink seasonally. Spicy ginger liqueur in the fall. Warming brandy in the winter. Tequila in the summer. Whiskey and gin have a slot on my shelf all year long. But now it’s spring, and I may be jumping the gun on this latest bottle. However, it’s also Pesach, so that really sealed the deal.

Before I could add my newest bottle, one had to be emptied. There were just a couple ounces left in a tragically old bottle of Delaware Phoenix’s Meadows of Love Absinthe. That stuff was amazing. And I’m looking forward to getting more absinthe from this distillery down the road.

One could make a fantastic argument that absinthe is actually one of the better spring spirits. It’s green and made from herbs and flowers after all. If you have never seen grand wormwood, it’s quite delicate, with pretty yellow buds.

However, my old friend Raf sent me a small bottle of St. George Spirits’ Absinthe Verte and it fits nicely on the small shelf in the cabinet with all the cocktail bitters. So Delaware Phoenix will just have to wait until that runs out.

Along similar lines, you could make a good argument for Bison Grass Vodka as a spring libation. You know, because it has something green in the bottle too.

My choice, however, was something that’s traditionally saved for summer, but I wasn’t sure if the Albany Distilling Company’s Quackenbush Still House Original Albany Rum would be available then.

Frankly, I’m not sure it’s still available now. Their products have a bad habit of selling out.

To honor the tradition of distilling in Albany, our newest local distillery wanted to make a rum like they did in the old days. So they found a source for fancy Caribbean molasses, fermented it, distilled it, and put it in bottles.

White rum gets a bad rap, primarily because the best unaged rum most people have tried is Bacardi. That’s like saying you don’t like beer when the best brew you’ve ever sipped is a Budweiser.

The Albany Distilling Company’s rum is quite nice. On the nose it has a bit of vanilla and brûléed pineapple. I’m serious. There is definitely a sweet core to this rum at mid-palate, but its long finish is dry and tinged with minerality.

Over the past couple of days I’ve just been sipping it straight to get a better sense of the spirit. But I’m convinced that this will play great with lime and maraschino liqueur for a classic daiquiri. And because a daiquiri contains lime juice, this cocktail is indeed shaken and not stirred.

But if my bottle of rum survives the spring and makes it into summer, I’m going to experiment with Peach Jack and a squeeze of lemon. Maybe a little bit of Fee Brothers orange bitters too, for a very upstate cocktail.

The Quackenbush Still House rum isn’t easy to find. It’s the only product you can’t buy or even taste at the distillery itself. But here is a list of bars and stores where it should be available. As with anything in the Capital Region, it’s always best to call ahead. Just to make sure before you go.

Just in case you think I’m some kind of craft spirits ideologue, I think my next bottle for the warmer seasons will be a replacement for the long-empty Cointreau. Large international conglomerates can make some amazing things too. But it’s kind of amazing how much of my bar right now is composed of local products.

These are exciting times for cocktail enthusiasts. The only problem is that there is too much good stuff out there, and not enough time to enjoy it all.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Welf permalink
    April 3, 2013 2:19 pm

    Im not refined at all but Its rum that taste like Tequilla.. i dont get it

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