Bacardi buys St.Germain Elderflower Liqueur

In an effort to "internationalize", Bacardi has purchased the 6-year old Elderflower liqueur company St.Germain. Bacardi now owns or partially owns Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire, PatrĂ³n, and St.Germain.

Absolut launches new floral Vodka flavor.

By Spring 2013, Absolut will add yet another unique flavor to its arsenal. I am looking forward to reviewing this soon.

Tito's heads toward the 1 million case mark!

The winner of four consecutive "Hot Brand" awards, Tito's vodka, sold 850,000 cases in 2012. I love this vodka so I am glad to see them growing. Click the title for the full article.

Fris Vodka wins the 2012 Clear Choice Award.

Fris vodka was awarded first place in the distilled spirits category for innovative glass packaging and shelf impact. It's a pretty bottle, but I am not so sure about the spirit.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Highland Oatmeal Porter Review

For my first Proof of Spirits beer review I chose Highland’s Oatmeal Porter. Highland Brewing opened a 6,500 barrel brewing house in 1994 in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. It took four years for them to expand enough to start distributing 12 ounce bottles in 6 packs. Today, they can brew 50,000 barrels a year and distribute to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington D.C. Their Oatmeal Porter is one of their flagship beers and a year-round offering that holds a special place in my heart. This is one of the first beers that I really enjoyed when I was getting into craft beer. I can’t say it’s a regular in my beer fridge any more, but it is still a quality offering that I would highly recommend to anyone new to craft beer.

Appearance: Pours on the lighter side for a porter with hints of red around the edges on the glass and toward the bottom. The head is thin and frothy and clings to the sides to the glass.

Smell: Lots of dark and sweet malt aroma almost like a bittersweet chocolate. Very small oatmeal smell coming through with light smokiness.

Mouthfeel: On the fuller side of medium thanks to the flaked oats they used while brewing. Not viscous like an imperial stout and very drinkable without feeling weighed down.

Taste: Nice balance of sweet and roast throughout and just the slightest hint of a hop twinge in the finish. The porter feels creamy from the oatmeal so it ends up tasting a bit like mocha coffee. Finish doesn’t linger but there is some dryness in the end.

Overall: Like I said, I will always be fond of this beer, and I cannot say anything bad about it. At 6% ABV and 35 IBUs, you can drink a couple of these in one sitting and not feel full. It will hit you with about 30 more calories than your standard Budweiser, but the exponentially richer flavor is worth the extra workout time. Give this one a try next time you are feeling adventurous.

Verdict: 89/100

2 Row Brewers Malt, Munich, Caramel 40, Caramel 60, Chocolate, Black & Flaked Oats
Chinook, Willamette, & Cascade
Package Styles
1/2bbl, 1/6bbl, 6pk

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Black Apple

  • 1 ounce Blackberry Liqueur 
  • 1 ounce Sour Apple Schnapps 
  • 3 ounces of Cranberry Juice 
  • Blackberries
How to Make the Black Apple:
  1. Combine blackberry liqueur, sour apple schnapps, and cranberry juice in a shaker tin filled with ice.
  2. Shake the drink until the tin develops frost or condensation on the outside.
  3. Strain the mix into an old-fashioned glass over ice.
  4. Garnish with a set of blackberries on a toothpick or drop them into the drink.
The Black Apple is another deceptive drink. While it only comes in at a light 3 on the scale, it goes down very easily and very quickly. Depending on the blackberry liqueur you use, this drink can either be a sugary bomb or a deadly assassin. I used Black Haus for this version, which comes in at 100 proof. Each one of these will deliver about the same amount of alcohol as a single shot but in a much more diluted form (the overall proof on the drink is only 38). Watch out with this guy.
Tasting Notes: 
I don't know that I have featured a better drink on this blog to date. This quickly became one of my personal favorites because of the mix of tartness from the cranberry juice, sourness from the apple schnapps, and sweetness from the blackberry liqueur. The liqueur is so sweet that it even balances the excessive dryness that cranberry juice causes in most cocktails. The flavors come in waves over your palate and each sip is enjoyable without becoming overbearing. It is light and refreshing while packing a solid alcohol punch for those occasions where a little social lubricant is required. Definitely give this one a try if you can get the ingredients. I recommend using a strong blackberry liqueur to tone down the sugar content and boost the overall alcohol content.

Source: BarMeister

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Blog Comeback

It has been too long since I have revisted the world of custom cocktails. In truth, I have been away
expanding my beer palate for the past several months. Craft beer has been part of my life for the last several years, but only in the last year or so have I really started to develop an appreciation for the craft. After thinking it over I want to expand this blog to include beer, beer cocktails  and all things drink related (sorry, I know absolutely nothing about wine). I think the addition will help me generate more content than before and hopefully open more people up to the world of craft beer. Make no mistake though, this space will always be about custom cocktails so look for more drinks, home made recipes, reviews, and spirit infusions very soon. Cheers!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blue Ocean Water

  • 2 ounces Blue Raspberry Vodka
  • 2 ounces Blue Curacao
  • 2 ounces Hpnotiq
  • Lemon-Lime Soda
How to Make the Blue Ocean Water:
  1. Mix all the ingredients other than the soda over ice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake the drink until the tin develops frost or condensation on the outside.
  3. Strain the mix into an old-fashioned glass over ice.
  4. Top the glass with lemon-lime soda
There is no good way to follow the strongest drink featured on this blog so I decided to go with one that is in between your run-of-the-mill 3 and the firewater of 7 (on the POS scale) and above. The blue ocean water cocktail puts up a respectable 4 on the POS, or Proof of Spirit, scale. It has some alcohol, but the tropical flavors of the curacao and the hpnotiq mask it well so you may be in trouble after a couple if you aren't paying attention to how much you are drinking.
Tasting Notes:
I have made no secret of the fact that I am not very fond of Hpnotiq on this blog. There are very few drinks where I think the flavors can blend well and accent the drink instead of drowning it out with weird tropical grapefruit. This is one of those drinks where I think the bite is just a little too overpowering. The mixture of the orange from the blue curacao and hpnotiq's tropical fruit really dries out your mouth and brings a lot of citrus. The soda and blue raspberry vodka do serve to balance the citrus with sweetness and alcohol, but my experience leads me to believe this is largely a sour drink. You could easily offset it by adding more soda or lowering the measures of citrus ingredients, but taken as it is this is not the drink for me. I don't mean to make it sound terrible. If you like Hpnotiq and citrus/sour drinks this one may be right up your alley. I would suggest garnishing it with an orange or pineapple so that you have a sweeter fruit to eat with your drink. The mixture of sweet and sour should enhance the cocktail. The bright orange or yellow from the two fruits will help throw off the deep blue of the cocktail as well.

Source: Garnish Bar

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Laserbeam


  • 0.5 ounce bourbon
  • 0.5 ounce 100 proof peppermint schnapps
  • 0.5 ounce over proof rum
How to Make the Laserbeam:
  1. Mix the ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake the drink until the tin develops frost or condensation on the outside.
  3. Strain the mix into a shot glass and slam it back.
At last we have a drink that will put some hair on your chest. Coming at a 7 on the POS, or Proof of Spirit, scale, this concoction is the strongest drink ever featured on this blog. With an overall proof of 111, a couple of these and you will be off to a great night or a deep sleep (possibly both). If you can find it, you can up the proof even more with a 100+ proof bourbon like Knob Creek.

Tasting Notes:
The thing about shots is that they are not really intended to be appreciated for their nuances and flavor....they are meant to be downed in an instant. That said, this shot doesn't bring as much fire from alcohol as you might expect. Instead you get a lot of peppermint that washes out the harsh bite of 151. The finish extends the peppermint flavor and brings a little bit of oak from the bourbon. Right at the transition between the two flavors you start to taste and feel the alcohol. It burns from deep within your chest all the way down to your stomach to remind you that you just ingested nearly an ounce of pure alcohol. If you are looking for something to lighten the mood early and peppermint is up your alley, this drink will serve you well.

Source: Bar Meister

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Treehouse

  • 1 ounce Melon Liqueur
  • 1 ounce Southern Comfort
  • 1 ounce Triple Sec
  • Lemon-Lime Soda
How to Make the Treehouse:
  1. Mix the liqueurs over ice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake the drink until the tin develops frost or condensation on the outside.
  3. Strain the mix over ice into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice (of your choice).
  4. Top the mix with a splash of Lemon-Lime soda.
We have yet another 3 here on Proof of Spirits. This drink is mostly comprised of liqueurs that have a higher sugar content than base spirits. The most potent ingredient is the Southern Comfort. You could boost the potency using 100 proof SoCo if you are looking for a drink with more fire. Most people who want those types of cocktails, though, will go after pre-prohibition classics like the old-fashioned or a traditional martini. I chose to use the large ice ball in this drink to reduce the dilution of the drink so I could pick up on some of the more subtle nuances in the alcohol.
Tasting Notes:
I have made and sampled several melon drinks in my time, but few have offered such a dynamic taste profile as this cocktail. Usually with melon drinks I get a blast of sweetness followed by more sweetness and a sweet finish. While this one doesn't lack in the sugar, it offers up a tangy spice in the mid- palate from the SoCo and the citrus of the triple sec.
The first sip and the finish are both dominated by sweet honeydew and a slight spice that lingers. Usually I find melon liqueur drinks to be a bit syrupy or syrupy sweet, but this one brings a light balance that is rare in my experience. Part of that may be due to the soda, which serves only to lighten up the drink and provide some carbonation that I think helps you better pick up the spices of the SoCo. Give this one a try if you find yourself with the ingredients on hand. It probably won't become your new go-to drink, but its visual appeal and complexity warrant at least a taste.

Source: Bar Meister

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Absolut Hibiskus Review

I decided to switch things up for this blog entry and do a review of a relatively new product – Absolut Hibiskus. Supposedly, 1 liter and 750 milliliter bottles won’t be in stores until early Spring of this year, but I managed to get my hands on a small sample before the shelves are stocked. This is one of the only reviews of Hibiskus that you will find anywhere on the web because of its relative scarcity.

Look: Clear

Strength: An 80 proof vodka with no added sugars despite the flavor. Absolut prides themselves on achieving natural flavors while maintaining a 40% ABV.

Nose: Strikingly sweet pomegranate with floral scents in the backend. Imagine a less artificially sweet fruit punch or red Kool-Aid smell. Definite ethanol that will burn your nose and dry out your eyes if you take a deep enough whiff.

Taste: The pomegranate flows from the nose into the front of the palate during the first sip. Sweet pomegranate gives way to an immediate alcohol burn drinking it neat. As the alcohol subsides there is a really light and subtle floral touch, almost lavender. The vodka finishes with more sweetness that reminds me of Juicy Fruit.

Summary: This is an interesting vodka flavor that goes beyond your standard citrus, fruit, or vanilla to capture a market that hasn’t existed until now. These types of ventures can ultimately end up being one time releases or company fixtures depending on sales. The flavored vodka market is so flooded these days that it will be hard for any new and original flavors to break in that are not immediately recognizable. I think many will have a hard time wrapping their heads around Hibiscus flavored vodka. That being said, this is a unique spirit that warrants a look. I have a hard time placing it in a cocktail at the moment, but I am sure there are plenty that will maintain its complex floral qualities. Give this one a try over ice and/or with some club soda for an even more flavorful drink.

Verdict: 6.5/10