Category Archives: Learn About Spirits

The Caprese Cocktail

Listen, we were skeptical at first, too. Really skeptical.

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But then we remembered how much we love James Beard’s Drunken Cherry Tomatoes*, and just how much basil is in the garden already this season.

And that we can’t really resist cheese. Really fresh, really good mozzarella cheese.

And then we tried it. And loved it. And drank pitchers full of it on Father’s Day with la familia.

Don’t think we have to say much more.

Oh, except that our Square One Basil Vodka – ideal for this drink – is on sale through July 4th. And that you may want to double or triple up on the garnish. We did.

Cent’ anni!

The Caprese Cocktail

2oz Square One Basil Vodka
1/2oz tomato juice
1/2oz lime juice
1/2oz lemon juice
3/4oz agave nectar or simple syrup
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
Garnish: fresh, sweet cherry tomato, small mozzarella ball, salt & basil leaf

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Serve with a “Caprese Pick” or two: dredge the tomato and mozzarella ball in coarse salt. Skewer with basil leaf, and serve.

*aka an Adult Crudite: spear a fresh sweet cherry tomato, dip it in good vodka, run it through coarse salt and pop it in your mouth. Also serve it, as Mr. Beard reportedly did, with gin, and perhaps small bowls of other seasonings, such as cumin or hot pepper, ground or flaked.

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Bottled-in-Bond: What it Means and Why it’s Important

What does “Bottled-in-Bond” mean and why should we care? Whiskey Professor and two-time Whiskey Man of the Year Bernie Lubbers visited Bottles recently to let us know just why. And we believe him. If you’re getting your dad a Bottled-in-Bond bottle of whiskey for Father’s Day, why not learn what makes it so special!

The Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 laid out a set of regulations and standards for distilled spirits; more specifically it made the government the authenticator of a spirit’s quality. At the time, some whiskies were adulterated out of greed — things like iodine and tobacco were used for coloring or as flavoring agents. Folks wanted to trust that they were drinking the real deal, so the government stepped in.

When you purchase a “Bottled-in-Bond or “Bonded” bottle, you can rest assured that what’s in the bottle is just good old USA-made whiskey and time.

In order to be labeled “Bottled in Bond” or “Bonded” the whiskey must:

  • be the product of a single distillation season
  • be from one distiller at one distillery
  • be aged in a federally-bonded warehouse for at least 4 years
  • be bottled at 100 proof
  • identify the distillery in which it was made or the location where it was bottled

We have several Bottled-in-Bond bottles at Bottles – come by and let us help select the right one for you!

Here’s to Bottled-in-Bond!

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What to Pair with Oklahoma!

If you haven’t yet moseyed on over to see Trinity Repertory Company’s  widely-praised production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!”, do it now. Mosey now.

And while you’re there, sip on “The Farmer and the Cowman,” a cocktail we created with Curt Columbus, Trinity’s Richard L. Bready Artistic Director, to pair with this quintessentially American show.

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“The Farmer and the Cowman”
Fill a tall glass with ice, add 1.5 oz Bulleit Bourbon and 5-8 dashes Fee Brother’s Rhubarb Bitters. Top with soda water and garnish with a wagon wheel of lemon.

And If bourbon’s not your thing, try one of “Curt’s Picks.” They’re the bottles that Curt – a true wine lover with an experienced (and wonderful) palate – chose to pair with the show.

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Said Curt:

Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc is dry and crisp, without being overly sharp. Some sauvignons can be too grassy, and this one has really nice round fruit to it.  We had it last night with Asian food, and it was terrific, although it is a really great Spring sipping wine!”

The Charles & Charles is a stylish American rosé, crisp and fruity, with notes of ripe apple.  LIke all of the rosés I enjoy, it is not sweet, but is great with seafood, chicken and spring pastas.  Of course, it’s also fun to sit and sip on your porch!”

Enjoy the show – and if you enjoy the wine – visit Bottles, as 20% of each bottle purchased in store will be donated back to Trinity Rep through the duration of the production.

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Shanghai-Inspired Liqueurs

Made by the couple who own Cranston’s popular Cha Bai ramen house, the Cheongsam Tea Liqueurs had us at hello.

oolong2The two versions – currently produced in China but available only in Rhode Island – are hand-crafted with natural extractions of exotic whole leaf teas. They’re captivating and nuanced. And they’re really delicious.

Named after the traditional “Cheongsam” dress that was created in Shanghai in the 1920s, the liqueurs are meant to evoke the mystery and elegance of that time and place.

The Jade Oolong, made from jade green Ti-Kuan Yin oolong tea, has delicate notes of honey and orchid, and tastes like a grown up, elegant version of the hot tea Chinese restaurants in America have been serving for decades.

The Smokey Mist’s proprietary blend of black teas produces a complex though delicate slightly-sweet liqueur that is redolent of smoked pine needles, plums and apricots.

Both are excellent additions to a well-stocked home bar given their affinity with most spirits: they play well with vodka, rum and tequila, as well as with sparkling wine or soda water. We also recommend serving them just as they are, at home, after a dinner from your favorite Asian take-out.

For our cocktails, our drinks guru Lily Rogers chose to pair the Cheongsam liqueurs with gin in a simple yet versatile recipe. The combination of the herbaceous Sons of Liberty True Born gin with the slightly sweet tea liqueur and tart & minty lemon lends these Shanghai-inspired cocktails the feel of a sultry summer evening.

The two drinks below are identical, save for the liqueurs. The simple base allows these magical liqueurs to take center stage.

oolong1Shanghai, RI

10 lemon balm leaves
1.5oz True Born Gin
1oz Cheongsam Jade Oolong liqueur
1oz simple syrup
.75oz freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Lemon balm leaf for garnish

Tear the 10 lemon balm leaves and add them to a shaker. Add liquid ingredients, fill with ice and shake. Double strain into a chilled coupe. Smack the remaining whole lemon balm leaf between palms to release oils and float on top of drink.

Shanghai Summer

10 lemon balm leaves
1.5oz True Born Gin
1oz Cheongsam Smokey Mist liqueur
1oz simple syrup
.75oz freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Lemon balm leaf for garnish

Tear the 10 lemon balm leaves and add them to a shaker. Add liquid ingredients, fill with ice and shake. Double strain into a chilled coupe. Smack the remaining whole lemon balm leaf between palms to release oils and float on top of drink.

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THE GRUMPY CUP

In our role as the Official Sommelier of Trinity Repertory Company we are reviving our very own “Grumpy Cup” cocktail to pair with theater’s world premier of Arnie Louis and Bob. The drink is a riff on the classic British “Pimm’s Cup” cocktail with the addition of Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer and St. Germain elderflower liqueur. Be sure to catch a performance of the show to see why we think the Grumpy Cup is the appropriate cocktail pairing.

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THE GRUMPY CUP
Our own recipe!

Ingredients:
– 2 oz Pimm’s
– ½ btl. Crabbie’s Ginger Beer (or any other non-flavored, alcoholic ginger beer)
– Lemon Juice
Garnish: Lemon Wedge
Directions: Fill a glass with ice, pour over with Pimm’s, and top off with Crabbie’s. Stir. Squeeze lemon wedge.
*A bottle of Pimm’s makes about 15 Grumpy Cup servings.

Enjoy the show!

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The Irish Mountain Marma

We loved the Irish Whiskey-based cocktail that Lily created for us last week so much so we asked her to do another.

To complement the whiskey, Lily used a pantry staple – marmalade. The drink is sweet & tart, with wonderful aromatics from rosemary and a slightly bitter finish thanks to the addition of Montenegro amaro. It’s delightful anytime of the year, not just on St. Patty’s Day.

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The Irish Mountain Marma
makes 1 cocktail

2 oz Powers whiskey

3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Montenegro
1 tbsp marmalade*
1 small, 1″ sprig of rosemary
1 larger sprig (for garnish)

*For this recipe, orange marmalade was used but lemon grapefruit marmalade is also quite nice.

Place small sprig in shaker, add Montenegro and gently muddle once with a muddler or wooden spoon to release the rosemary flavor.
Add whiskey, lemon, and marmalade.
Fill shaker with ice and shake until frost forms on the outside of the tin.
Double-strain into a tumbler, garnish with remaining sprig of rosemary and ice.

Enjoy!

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9 Great Irish Whiskeys, Part Two

Last week we presented 6 Irish Whiskeys that we think hold their own against the world’s best spirits. Today we share 3 additional very special bottles that are worth their weight in gold. (A good ole’ Irish pot-of-gold, that is.)

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Midleton Very Rare
Created in 1984 and released annually since, this special bottling of hand selected Midleton whiskey has aromas of cane sugar, vanilla, milk chocolate and ripe green apples. It’s very soft and mellow, with a “confectionary” sweetness. The charred oak and barley lend a wonderful complexity on the finish.


Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy
Named for Midleton’s Master Distiller, this bottle expresses his taste and is comprised of his personal selection of Single Pot Still whiskeys aged in bourbon barrels. It’s quite delicate, with notes of lime, pear, and sweet green pepper, and has flavors of vanilla, pepper, and citrus. It finishes with an oaky, mandarin orange sweetness.

greendotGreenspot
Only small quantities of this very special spirit are produced each year. It’s comprised of Pot Still Whiskeys aged between 7-10 years & matured in bourbon and sherry casks. It has aromas of spiced apples and pears and toasted wood; it’s full-flavored with spice, citrus, green apples and oak. It’s harder to find than a leprechaun, so be sure to grab it while you can!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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9 Great Irish Whiskeys, Part One

Last week we gave you the who, what, where, when and hows of Irish Whiskey, and presented our case for why we believe many can stand up to many of the best bourbons and single malts on the market today. Here’s further proof.

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Powes Gold Label
A complex blended whiskey matured in American oak, full of spice and honeyed notes. Aromas of cinnamon, apples, pears and charred oak lead to flavors of pepper, nutmeg, orchard fruits and toasted wood.


Powers Single Pot Still “Signature Release”
This “Signature Release” is intense, rich and complex thanks to its aging in American oak and first-fill Oloroso sherry casks. It’s redolent of herbs, nutmeg, figs and black pepper, and is round with flavors of vanilla, black licorice, fresh melon and green apple.

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Powers John’s Lane
A special whiskey whose distillate is matured for no less than 12 years in American & Iberian oak. It’s earthy, with aromas of leather, tobacco, dark chocolate and toffee and is thick with full-bodied flavors of spice, vanilla, honey and dried apples.


Redbreast 12-year
A favorite of whiskey lovers everywhere, the 12-year is getting harder and harder to come by, unfortunately. It garners its trademark full-bodied fruitcake character and robust flavor from the distillate, which is matured in Oloroso casks.

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Redbreast 15-year
This full-bodied, mellow and succulent whiskey, aged in Oloroso sherry casks & bourbon barrels, has a rich, spiced flavor, with notes of toasted wood.

redbreast_21
Redbreast 21-year
A beautiful example of the signature sherry style of whiskey with aromas of fresh, lush tropical fruits, and notes of vanilla, toasted oak and licorice. Flavors of luscious fruit round out the creamy mouthfeel. One of a kind.

Stay tuned. Next week we’ll reveal the three remaining whiskeys we think are among Ireland’s best.

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The Irish Butter Cup (of Coffee)

This delicious recipe, reminiscent of the classic Irish Coffee drink, is the latest from Bottles’ in-house cocktail guru, Lily. It relies on iced coffee, rather than hot-from-the-pot joe, which means it’s not just for brunch or after dinner. The less conventional choices of butterscotch and sea salt combine to make a delightful iced Irish Coffee with a satisfying creamy texture.

powers_buttercup
The Irish Butter Cup (of Coffee)
makes 1 cocktail

1oz Powers whiskey
1 1/4 oz butterscotch schnapps
3 1/2 oz cold brew medium or dark roast iced coffee
3/4 oz light cream
1 small pinch of sea salt

Add ingredients into shaker, and top with ice.
Shake until frost forms on the outside of the shaker.
Pour over ice into a highball, and spoon the remaining whipped cream froth atop the ice.
Garnish with a straw and add a few additional grains of salt over the top if desired.

Enjoy!

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Irish Whiskey 101

Irish Whiskey is surging in popularity across the globe and no wonder, says us: we believe that a well-made Irish Whiskey is delicious, and stands on it’s own against the best Bourbons & Single Malts the world has to offer.
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Irish Whiskey has been around forever. It’s a widely held belief (among all except the Scots), that it was the Irish who were most likely to have started distilling whiskey, as the Bushmill’s Distillery in Northern Ireland is the oldest licensed distillery in the world, dating back to 1608.

And since then, up until only the past few years, all of the Irish Whiskey available, no matter the brand name, came from one of only three distilleries on the island: Bushmill’s, Midleton, & Cooley. Today, to the joy of Irish Whiskey lovers everywhere, that number has expanded to 12, with nine new distilleries that have been built, or will soon be completed: Echlinville, Kilbeggan, Teeling, Glendalough, Tullamore, Alltech, Blackwater, Dingle, & West Cork.

Many today find it hard to believe that Irish Whiskey was once the hottest style of whiskey in the world, with a popularity that dwarfed other styles. In the early 20th century it began its decline, in two main waves:

1) The Easter Rising & the Irish War for Independence. As punishment, England levied trade embargoes on the Irish, which kept their whiskey from entering England, and therefore much of the rest of Europe.

2) Prohibition. (Oops.)

At the start of this century, a resurgence in interest for Irish whiskey came about, presumably as a result of several factors including its price (Irish is usually cheaper that it’s Scottish counterparts), a resurgence in the popularity of Bourbon (which shares many similar flavor profiles), a market of curious consumers eager to try something “new,” and the wider availability of quality-made whiskeys from Ireland.

Here are our favorites:
Power’s Gold Label
Power’s John’s Lane (limited importation – get it when & if you can)
Green Spot (if you can find it – extremely limited importation)
Glendalough Triple Barrel
Knappogue Castle 12 Year Single Malt
Redbreast 15 Year

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, and Slainte!