The signature spirit of the Caribbean has a storied history. First as aguardiente de cana (an early form of rum), then in its more refined expressions, the history of rum is inseparable from the history of the Caribbean islands, with its highs (rum ignited island economies) and lows (it also fueled the slave trade). Mount Gay is the grandfather of rum dynasties, at least according to recorded evidence. The Barbados-based brand traces its heritage back to a historical document from 1703. Read More
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Martin Miller’s Gin
Newer gins seem to be taking a divergent path from the juniper-dominated London Dry style. It’s almost an “anything goes” attitude, responsible for turning out some interesting, feminine, floral gins like G’Vine, Hendrick’s, and now Martin Miller’s Gin. The first thing you notice about the latter is its fresh citrus notes (bitter orange peel, lemon, lime). On the palate, there’s some boozy heat and spiciness from the cinnamon and coriander, with a great, long finish of lemon, lime, and licorice.
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These days, many versed imbibers have never even heard of pisco. But that wasn’t the case during the San Francisco Gold Rush of the mid 1800s. Chilean and Peruvian miners introduced the city to the spirit, which caught on and was often served up as a Pisco Punch (pisco, pineapple syrup, water, and lemon juice). A description of the “new” spirit that I adore comes from a Salt Lake City newspaper in 1903, which described it to the uninitiated. “‘Pisco,’ though a most innocent looking beverage, being colorless as water, contains more intoxication to the cubic inch than any other known liquor unless it may be the mescal [sic] of Mexico.” I can just imagine early 20th century teetotalers reading that account and shaking their heads in outrage as the country cascaded towards Prohibition. Those evil spirits!