Category Archives: Cocktails

El Diablo – An Easy Late-Summer Cocktail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re not entirely sure why this iconic tequila-based cocktail isn’t more popular among the general drinks-lovin’ public. After all, it’s easy to make, distinctive, delicious and a perennial bartender favorite.

To right that wrong we’ve teamed up with our friends at The East End to concoct an updated spicy take on the classic El Diablo. Bar Manager Kayleigh Speck swapped out tequila for mezcal, and amp’d up the spice with the addition of a habanero shrub. She shakes it with creme de cassis, and lime juice, adds ginger beer and presto: the  iconic cocktail gets the attention it deserves.

More on that mezcal: We’ve chosen the Mezcales de Leyenda given its superior taste and its commitment to quality and the environment: its business practices are responsible straight through farming to bottling. For this recipe we’re using the Oaxaca Blanco for its lemongrass aromas and flavors of lemons, herbs and cooked agave.

Head to the store to pick up your bottle — $5 off through August 2017 — for this cocktail (or just for sipping – it’s that good) then head to The East End to taste their El Diablo on tap!

The East End’s El Diablo

1½ oz Mezcales de Leyenda Oaxaca
½ oz Merlet Creme de Cassis
½ oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 Dashes Habanero Shrub (Bittermens Hellfire is a good one)
Approx. 4oz Ginger Beer
Lime wedge for garnish

Combine all ingredients, except ginger beer, to a shaker with ice and shake. Fine-strain into highball or Collins glass with fresh ice, top with ginger beer and garnish.

Cheers!

How To Tap A Watermelon

watermelon8If you’re looking for a way to amp up your summer get-together that requires minimal effort but delights even the most cynical New Englander, look no further. For some unknown reason, filling a non-conventional vessel with fresh juice and booze provokes giddiness and pure joy. I should know – I’ve tapped countless pumpkins and pineapples and still get excited to see fresh cocktails come out of the spout.

Below are some tips and instructions on how to tap a summer classic – the watermelon. With a couple of simple tools and about 20 minutes of effort (tops), you (and your watermelon) will be the hit of the summer.

I used our June Spirit of the Month, Square One Cucumber Vodka (on sale now!), to spike our juice, but feel free to get creative and mix it up with other spirits. Whether you want to tap a watermelon (or a cantaloupe)! you can follow these instructions. Add gin, vodka, tequila – whatever your heart desires, and feel free to garnish with fresh herbs for extra flair!

You will need:

1 watermelon (or fruit vessel of your choice)
1 keg spout (Amazon is your friend – it shouldn’t cost more than $15)
A cutting board
A chef’s knife
A paring knife
A large, sturdy spoon or ice cream scoop
A large bowl
A small bowl (to rest the melon on)
A blender
Booze of your choice (a 750ml bottle is plenty for average sized melons), such as Square One Cucumber Vodka, on sale thru July 2017!

When selecting your melon, look for one that can stand upright on its own and has somewhat of a flat-sided surface (that’s where you’ll put your tap). For a juicy watermelon, be sure to select one with a yellow base or side. It may not be pretty to look at, but it’s a sign that the melon is ripe, as the yellow spot is where it sat during the ripening process.

Using the chef’s knife, level the bottom of your melon (if it doesn’t stand totally straight on its own). Cut slowly, taking off just a little at a time. The exposed fruit should be mostly pith and rind, with little to no pink showing.
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Next, cut 1/4 off of the top of the melon, giving yourself enough room to scoop out the flesh and plenty of space to insert the spout. Scoop out the insides, reserving them in your large bowl. Be careful not to scoop too close to the bottom. Save the top as a lid for the finished watermelon “keg.”
watermelon3Place the small bowl upside down and rest your melon on it. From there you can gauge where you’d like to insert the spout. Keep in mind that it will have to be submerged low within in the cocktail for it to work, but not so low that your guests will have a hard time pouring into their drink. I’ve always had luck cutting about two inches below the middle of the melon.

Once you have your designated spot, make an indentation by carefully putting medium pressure on the pourer, and twisting it lightly into the fruit. Once you have an outline, carefully use your paring knife to cut the hole out, starting out small and cutting away slowly, stopping now and then to test and see if your pourer fits.
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Once your spout is inserted, assemble the washers inside the melon according to the manufacturer’s instructions. These washers will hold the spout in place.

Next, put the fruit you’ve carved out of the melon into a blender, and liquify.

Now you’re ready to assemble your cocktail. I recommend using a 3:1 ratio of juice to booze. This keeps the cocktail fairly light if you’re out soaking up the New England sun on a hot day. The ratio will change, though, based on the size of your melon. If it’s on the larger size, you’ll want to use a touch more spirit.
watermelon7Once you have your liquids measured, add them to your melon, stir, and get to drinking! If you plan on putting the top of the melon back on to cover the juice, keep it slightly ajar, as some air circulation is needed to ensure a robust cocktail stream.

Serve over ice, and garnish with fresh mint, basil or cucumber.
watermelon9I’ll be serving our Watermelon Cucumber Vodka Cooler from a watermelon in store on Saturday, July 1st, from 2-4pm. Come on by and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Cheers – have fun with this, and Happy Summer!
-Alex

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A Cocktail To Cure Hangovers?

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In researching South American cocktails to serve at the book signing we just co-hosted for local author Peter Andreas’s “thoroughly engrossing”** memoir
Rebel Mother: My Childhood Chasing The Revolution, we came across the Chilcano. Its base is pisco, the grape brandy that originated in either Peru or Chile, depending on where you happen to be, and is traditionally mixed with lime juice, ginger ale, and bitters.

Much like the history of pisco, the backstory on the Chicano cocktail itself is up for debate. One theory holds that it was named after the chilcano de pescado, a concentrated fish soup that Peruvians consume after a long night of celebrating to restore their energy: The fresh, kicky aftertaste left by the copious amounts of lemon and fragrant herbs used in the soup is said to “raise the dead.” And like its namesake, the Chilcano cocktail accents its base with loads of citrus (lime juice) and aromatics (in this case, ginger), flavors that are said to slough off the effects of too much partying.

Whether or not you choose to believe this convenient tale, know that the Chilcano is an incredibly popular drink in Peru to this day. So much so, the country devotes an entire week to celebrating the drink in its many forms.

We had fun serving our version of the Chilcano, which amps up the aromatics with the addition of fresh mint, and an extra splash of ginger via Domain de Canton liqueur. We also added a touch of simple syrup to even out pisco’s inherent flavors, which some pisco-newbies consider too earthy. Omit the syrup if you’re already among the converted.

It’s an incredibly easy drink to make, and is perfect for hot summer nights (and the painful mornings that follow).

The Chilcano de Bottles

2 oz pisco
¼ oz fresh lime juice
¼ oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
½ oz simple syrup, or to taste
4 oz ginger ale
At least 2 mint, plus more for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Pour into a glass, ice and all, and garnish with more mint. Enjoy!

**That’s what The New York Times had to say about Peter’s book. And we agree. Which is why you should hop down to Books on the Square to purchase your signed copy today.

Cheers!
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A Boozy Play List For Brandy Cocktails

Brandy’s dandy whether sipped after dinner, or when mixed into a cocktail, as we like to do. The classic Brandy Alexander, a creamy treat made popular in the early 20th century, still holds its own today, but for simpler, less-sweet brandy beverages consider the Brave & Strong, and Glory Days.

Both cocktails are from Copper & Kings, the Kentucky distiller that fashions its American brandies on American whiskey and American music. Yes, music: the distillery has five major sub-woofers in their maturation cellar through which they pulse music (a bass note in particular). This pulsation causes the brandy-filled barrels in the cellar to jostle, which increases the contact time between the brandy and the charred barrels. And if you remember your Aging 101 class, increased contact time = more complex flavor. Cool, right?

Don’t believe us? Visit the Copper & Kings website, scroll down to “Brandy Rocks” and listen to what the booze is boogie-ing to today. (As of this writing, it’s pulsing to blues guitarist Lightin’ Hopkins. Great stuff.)

And while you’re listening to what they’re spinning, mix up a few cocktails with — what else — Copper & King’s American Craft Brandy. (Which just happens to be $5 off at Bottles through March 31st.) We’ve got two for you today: one hot to usher out old-man winter and the other, a cold, refreshing version to welcome spring’s warmer days. Enjoy, and rock on.

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Brave & Strong
Add 1.5 oz. Copper & Kings American Craft Brandy and .5 oz. vanilla cream to a mug. (Homemade vanilla cream –  cream with a drop or two of pure vanilla extract – is best, though vanilla-flavored coffee creamer is a passable substitute. If you’re feeling decadent, use a scoop of all-natural vanilla ice-cream instead.) Top with freshly-brewed hot coffee. Stir, sip, and watch the ice melt away.

brandy1Glory Days
2 oz. Copper & Kings American Craft Brandy
1 12oz. Bottle of Hard Apple Cider (such as Stormalong Legendary Dry Cider or Shacksbury Classic).

Take a sip of brandy. Add a touch of cider to the brandy. Repeat at own pace and taste until glass is empty. Refill glass with more brandy. Repeat.

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How to Spike Store Bought Eggnog

If it isn’t the most asked question at Bottles this time of year, it’s the second for sure: “How do I spike the carton of eggnog that I just bought at Eastside Marketplace?” Here’s where we come down on the matter:

What To Use to Spike:
Brandy is the most traditional, but we love a mixture of dark rum and Cognac. Some folks will add to that duo a third spirit: bourbon. We find that the trio is a bit too boozy – the ‘nog gets lost. But if you like that sort of thing, go for it.

Because you’re using the spirit as a mixer, there’s no need to break out the most expensive bottles on your bar (unless of course you want to – it is the holidays after all). Dark rums we like include The Real McCoy 5 Year, Privateer Amber, and Ed Hamilton 86 Proof. Great Cognacs that would work well, and won’t break the bank are: Pierre Ferrand Ambre, Germain-Robin Craft Method and the Marie Duffau Napoleon (an Armagnac). 

How to Spike:
We recommend a ratio of 1 part spirit to 5 parts prepared eggnog. Which means if you buy a one-quart container of ‘nog, use 6.5oz of spirit, total. We top each glass with a grating of orange peel, which adds a vibrancy to all of that creamy richness, as well as a short dash of freshly grated or powdered nutmeg.

Enjoy your eggnog – and Happy Holidays!

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DIY Gifts: Homemade Hooch

pineapple5Peperoncini Vodka, Pineapple Vodka, and Coffee Bean Bourbon, ready to gift

DIY infused booze. It’s the perfect gift, whether you’re the type that likes to have your gifting done pre-Thanksgiving, or the guy who’s scouring the mall on December 23rd.

It’s simple, really. All you need is a neutral spirit, an empty jar or bottle, spices, produce, or herbs of your choice, a ribbon (or not) and a gift tag (or not). The hardest part is creating the perfect combination of flavors for your recipient (and that’s what we’re here for), and letting time do its thing.

Because the formula is vague (booze + flavor = infusion!) it can be easy to get overwhelmed. My advice is to keep it simple and stick to your gut. That’s what I did when I first made Pineapple Vodka many years ago. And though I’ve made more intricate infusions over the years, the original Pineapple is the one most requested by my family members. I get the evil eye if I don’t gift it each season. Not only is it delicious, but also has the added benefits for our purposes here, of being virtually foolproof, and quick. Which means even if you find yourself needing gifts on December 23rd, this recipe will deliver.

solopineappejarDIY Pineapple Vodka (makes 750ml of infused spirit)
Trim and cut one fresh pineapple. (If you don’t have a pineapple coring apparatus, just use a sharp chef’s knife or a serrated knife to trim off the top, then trim straight across the bottom so it will stand up straight. Slice down the sides, cutting off the tough outer skin and inner spikes. You can now slice the pineapple into rings or chunks. For rings, cut the pineapple widthwise into slices. Using a small, round cookie cutter, stamp out the inner core and discard. For chunks, slice the pineapple lengthwise around the core to desired thickness. Cut each piece lengthwise again. Finally, dice crosswise to create chunks.) If you’re using a bottle as your gifting container, be sure to cut the fruit into pieces small enough to fit inside the neck of the bottle.

cutting-pineapple-rind
chunk-closeupSelect a glass container with a tight fitting lid. Fill it ¾ of the way with the cut pineapple, and add enough vodka to fill.

pineapple4Seal the container, and shake for about 40 seconds. For optimum infused flavor, let sit for at least 1 hour and up to 2 weeks. If you find yourself short of time, simply indicate an “open” date on your gift tag. One of the best parts about this particular infusion? The fruit is edible (some say even better) once it’s soaked. Don’t forget to tell the recipient to eat the booze-infused pineapple – it’s amazing.

Bottling Your Infused Gift
This recipe yields 750ml of liquid, enough to fill a standard wine bottle. Swing-top bottles (we sell both the 750ml and 8oz sizes) are really great for this, as are wide-mouth mason jars, which lend a truly homemade feel.

Writing Your Bottle Notes
A handwritten note or tag to accompany your handmade hooch is a lovely, thoughtful touch.
-consider including your suggestions for how best to enjoy the spirit, or a recipe for a cocktail that has as its main ingredient your infusion.
-if your infusion contains ingredients that may be considered allergens, include that info on your tag.
peperoncini

 

Below are additional combinations I’ve used for years. Some require weeks of steeping and contact time, others only 24 hours. Visit our handy Infused Booze Infographic for instructions, then play with the combos below. I’d love to hear about infusions you’ve done or are trying this season. Tag @bottlesfinewine on Instagram and we’ll share your creations!

Bourbons (I like Bulleit or Maker’s Mark)
Hearty, warm aromatics will enhance the spirit’s warm, oaky notes. Consider:
Apple Cinnamon Bourbon
Coffee Bean Bourbon

Vodka (Prairie & Tito’s are my go-tos)
These neutral spirits are the most versatile, and play nicely with just about any fruit, herb or vegetable. Try:
Peperoncini Vodka
Ginger Lime Vodka
Blackberry Thyme Vodka

Gin (Prairie or Farmer’s work best here)
Herb and citrus flavors are a natural partner for gin. Consider:
Cucumber Basil Gin
Rosemary Gin

Tequila (Altos or Camarena)
Bring out the big guns to match tequila’s punch. Try:
Mango Tequila
Strawberry Tequila (so great for strawberry margaritas!)
Jalapeno Tequila

I hope you have fun infusing your booze!

Happy Holidays,
Alex

Bottles’ Hot Spiked Cider

Cider Drinking. It’s a rite of passage for us New Englanders. It pairs well with football watching, apple picking, pumpkin carving and post leaf-raking relaxing. Bottles’ go-to version is a grown-up affair, made strong with a slightly-boozy cider and a few drops of allspice dram*. Fill a thermos of the warm concoction before heading to the game, or let it simmer in a crockpot when your house is full of friends.

We’ll be making a great big batch of it in-store on Saturday, October 15th for you to enjoy, alongside crazy good cider donuts from Greenville RI’s Appleland Orchard. We hope you can make it in, between 1-3pm, for a Bottles’ taste of fall!

*Allspice dram is a slightly bitter, strongly spiced rum-based liqueur. It’s infused with the allspice berry, which lends the spirit warm, winter-spice nutmeg-y/cinnamon-y flavors. St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram is a Bottles’ best seller.

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Bottles’ Hot Spiked Cider
Yields ~ 4 cups

1 btl (22 oz.) Doc’s Original Apple Cider
1/4 cup (2 oz.) St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
1 cup (8 oz.) apple cider (non-alcoholic)
1/2 cup (4 oz.) water
1 diced apple
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
Have fun with these ingredients, and adjust to taste. You could add maple syrup or brown sugar for sweetness, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom for pumped-up spice, or more dram for a more bitter-herbal flavor.

Stovetop method:
Simmer the chopped apple in allspice dram until the dram begins to reduce and thicken. Add Doc’s (or another hard cider of your choice), non-alcoholic cider, cinnamon stick, and water. Turn heat to high, stirring often, until liquid is just about to boil. Set to a simmer and cook uncovered for at least 15 minutes. The longer it simmers, the richer the flavor!

Crockpot method:
All of the ingredients can go in at once with your crockpot set to low for 3 hours or high for 1.5 hours.

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Old Forester’s Enduring Appeal

By now, most of us know that Bourbon, as American as Jazz or Apple Pie (with a slice of melty Vermont Cheddar, thank you very much), has reached a new and unprecedented heyday.

Basically unsellable throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, when bottles of Pappy Van Winkle gathered dust on store shelves, we now can’t seem to find (or drink) enough of our favorites. New brands show up every day, while stalwarts continue to grow almost unchecked in popularity each year.

Throughout Bourbon’s rocky history, through the boom times and the bust, through prohibition and the current craze for anything brown, there is one brand that has somehow weathered the storm intact: Old Forester.

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The first Bourbon to be exclusively sold in bottles (as opposed to being dispensed from a barrel) to ensure authenticity and quality, Old Forester is also the oldest continuously produced brand in America. During prohibition, it was one of 10 brands allowed to produce whiskey for ‘medicinal’ purposes – probably due to its claims of superior quality from their sealed bottles, which were usually sold out of pharmacies. There aren’t many brands with that claim to fame, and it’s a testament to Old Forester’s flavor and broad appeal.  

The best part is Old Forester remains an affordable option on our shelves. Each of its five offerings over-deliver for the price of admission, and all of them can be enjoyed equally neat, on the rocks, or in your favorite cocktails. If you’ve never tried one of their Bourbons, come by Bottles and pick one up. We’d love to chat and get you safely home with an affordable, approachable, delicious bottle of pure Americana.

Old Forester 86 Proof
The workhorse. Simple & dependable, Old Forester 86 is at home on a Tuesday night over a handful of ice. A little fruity, with a short and clean finish, it won’t get in the way of all the heady aroma in a classic Mint Julep.

Old Forester Signature 100 Proof
The stalwart. The difference, as the name would suggest, is in the proof – but what a difference. The extra oomph adds a layer of complexity and nuance to the whiskey, bringing out bright spicy rye notes and hints of brown butter and leather. That heat balances perfectly in a Manhattan, especially with floral Peychaud’s bitters and fruity Alessio vermouths.

Old Forester 1870 Original Batch
The throwback. A tribute to George Brown’s original recipe, sourced from three different distilleries and blended to his specifications. Today’s 90 proof release is comprised of whiskey from three distinct warehouses at three separate proofs. The result is a soft Bourbon, full of subtle clove, cinnamon and citrus flavors. This is the Bourbon for a night with good company and the lingering sunset of one of the season’s last grill sessions.  

Old Forester 1897 Bottled in Bond
The powerhouse. Minimally filtered, and bottled at 100 proof, it’s a robust, intense, spicy kick to the palate. A splash of water, a big honkin’ orange peel, a giant ice cube, and you’re in heaven. Pairs best with Saturday nights and subsequent lazy Sunday mornings.   

Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style
The Bedeviler. Old Forester was one of only 10 brands allowed to distill and sell whiskey during prohibition for ‘medicinal purposes’. In a tribute to the style of the time, Old Forester 1920 is bottled at 115 proof (!), just as it would have come out of the barrel a hundred years ago. Bright and hot, with spicy rye flavors, this Bourbon wants a splash of water to temper the heat. Enjoy in small, lingering sips…

Old Forester Cocktails

By now everyone knows how to make a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or Mint Julep, right? Here are a few fun, different, and interesting recipes to try with Old Forester:

The Old Forester Prospector:
2 oz. Old Forester 86 Proof
¾ Oz. Honey Syrup (mix 2 parts honey to 1 part hot water. Let it cool & use in cocktails, tea, water, coffee, glazes, sauces, etc…)
¾ Oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

Shake everything over ice & strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a big lemon peel.

Modified Toronto
2 Oz. Old Forester 100 Proof
¼ Oz. Fernet Branca
¼ Oz. Simple Syrup (or the honey syrup you just made!)
2 Dash Angostura Bitters
(optional) – pinch of sea salt

Stir all ingredients over ice & strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with orange slice.

Bourbon & Ginger
Make it as spicy or sweet as you want with your choice of Ginger Ale. For the daring, try this:
1 Oz. Old Forester 86 Proof
4 Oz. Farmer Willie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer
2 Dash Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters

Drop bitters, then Bourbon, & finally Ginger Beer over crushed ice in a big glass. Drink deeply, my friends.

-Liam

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How To Make Simple Cocktails That Taste Anything But

No muss no fuss.

That’s our mantra in these torrid times, which is why we’re crushing hard on locally-owned and operated Bootblack Brand’s line of all natural cocktail/soda syrups. They’re made by Paul Kubiski out of Hope & Main, the culinary incubator in Warren. His roster currently consists of two killer flavors, both of which are deeply layered with sweet, savory and citrus ingredients that meld into one complex cocktail or mocktail when mixed with a beverage of your choice.
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Paul launched Bootblack Brand with the super popular Ginger, Cardamom & Lime syrup, which is great when mixed with bourbon or rum. With vodka it’s a heady Moscow Mule. When splashed into tequila it makes a spicy riff on the basic margarita. We also love it plainly mixed with iced-tea, and with selzer, it makes an outrageous ginger ale.

He recently released his second flavor: Cranberry, Jalapeno & Lime, which is a true treat with tequila and/or mezcal. It also sings beautifully with whiskey, vodka and gin. At its most simple, we love splashing it into a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade.

Both make quick work of a Monday night cocktail at home, and really shine when used in a welcome/signature cocktail for gatherings of a handful or more of friends.

For a truly simple, one-minute cocktail/mocktail, Paul suggests mixing 3 parts spirit or seltzer to 1 part syrup, and adjusting amounts to suit your taste.

And for the days when you have a touch more ambition, Paul recommends the following two recipes (both of which are included on their respective bottles).

3 Compadres
2oz bourbon
.75oz Ginger Cardamom Lime syrup
.5oz Ferent-Branca
3 dashes orange bitters
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Orange twist

Add bourbon, syrup & Fernet to a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a double old fashioned glass over a large cube. Float with the bitters and the twist.

Smokey Summer
1.5oz Tequila Reposado
.5oz Mezcal
1oz Cranberry Jalapeno Lime syrup
.5oz Lime Juice
Splash of seltzer
Salted lime wheel

Add tequila, mezcal, syrup and lime juice to a shaker filled with ice and shake well. Strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with ice. Add seltzer, stir gently, then add lime wheel.

Cheers to another local Rhody success story!

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Rhum With A “Rh?”

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J.M Rhum Agricole Gold. On sale through September 5th, 2016.

Type-o or marketing gimmick? Neither. Rhum with a “Rh” is a thing.

Rhum Agricole is as style of rum made with cane sugar that’s been cut, ground and pressed into juice, unlike rums without the “Rh,” which are distilled from molasses. Many consider Rhum Agricole – the term is french for cane juice rum – the purest expression of the spirit.

We love the J.M Gold because of its smooth elegance and multi-layered flavors of cinnamon, warm gingerbread, grass and hazelnut. J.M, the smallest rhumerie on the island of Martinique, makes its golden elixir from from plants cultivated on the steep slope of Mt. Pelée, the island’s active volcano. Hot stuff.

Given its beautiful, complex flavor it’s really best enjoyed on the rocks, while watching the sunset over the Atlantic.

When that’s not possible, consider using it in place of light rum in a riff on the classic Hemingway Daiquiri. The J.M and the maraschino liqueur dance beautifully together.

What’s even better? It’s on sale at Bottles thru September 5th.

Rhum J.M Agricole Daiquiri

Ingredients
2 oz Rhum J.M Agricole Gold
¾ oz freshly-squeezed lime juice
½ oz grapefruit juice
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp maraschino liqueur

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a goblet of coupé filled with crushed ice (you can make crushed ice with a blender or food processor if you don’t own a fancy frozen drink/shaved ice gizmo).

Santé!

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