4 Ways to Beat the Winter Doldrums

You know exactly where your favorite gin is located on the shelves. You inadvertently make a beeline to your tried-and-true brandy as soon as you come in the store. You get flustered when your staple vodka has relocated to a different section. But there’s another part of you that’s always looking out for something new, different, and a little off the well-worn path. Liquor Tom is the perfect guy for this job, and he’s unearthed a few hidden gems to bring some pizzazz into these dreary winter doldrums!

Letherbee Autumnal Gin | $34.99 750ML

A France 44 favorite, Letherbee Distillers out of Chicago releases two Letherbee Fall Autumnal Gin 2016one-off seasonal gins per year, one in the spring and one in the fall—and they never release the same one again. This year’s Autumnal prominently features earthy flavors of dill, cumin, beets, caraway, and black pepper on top of their already-floral original gin. These fall flavors make for a hybrid gin verging on aquavit, the Scandinavian staple Minnesotans love oh-so-much. We’ve already sold out of Minnesota’s allocation and have now received a slice of California’s allocation. This earthy gin is perfect for a Bloody Mary, Hanky Panky or a Dirty Martini!

dirtymartiniCocktail: Classic Dirty Martini

Stir and strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with 3 Filthy Bleu Cheese Olives.

Copper & Kings Craftwerks Sierra Nevada Smoked Porter Finished | $49.99 750MLCopper & Kings Craftwerk Brandy Sierra Nevada

Copper & Kings has been producing high-quality craft brandy out of
Louisville, Kentucky for nearly a decade, and have started to create some of the most unique spirits on the market today. Last year they started to release collaborations with breweries around the country, where they send each brewery brandy barrels for them to age beer in. The breweries then send the barrels back to Copper & Kings, who then finish their brandy in the now-twice-used barrels for a whole calendar year. Our favorite was their brandy finished in Imperial Smoked Porter barrels from Sierra Nevada. It shows creamy malted vanilla tones, a slight hint of hoppiness and a lingering smoky note. It’s a brandy with scotch and bourbon tones that’s a beer drinker’s delight!

Cocktail: Stick it in a glass on the rocks and drink it!

Image result for manhattan drinkOr a Brandy Manhattan

Stir and strain into a coupe glass

Glenfiddich 14 Year Old U.S. Exclusive | $44.99 750MLGlenfiddich 14 Year Bourbon Barrel Reserve

Great Single Malt Scotch at a good price is becoming harder and harder to come by. That’s why it was a breath of fresh air for Glenfiddich to come out with a 14 year Single Malt, aged exclusively in bourbon barrels and finished in newly charred American oak as an homage to our bourbon culture. What’s more, this delicious Scotch retails for the awesome price point of $44.99! This single malt is brimming with brown sugar, honey, vanilla, toasted oak spice, coconut, green apple, pear, and orange zest. Perfect for the bourbon drinker who would like to try out scotch!

godfatherCocktail: Stick it in a glass and drink it neat!
Or in a Godfather:

Drink in a lowball glass with an ice ball

Amarula Cream Liqueur | $18.99 750MLAmarula Fruit Cream Liqueur

For anyone who’s always on the search for a quality replacement for Bailey’s at a lower price point, look no further than Amarula Cream! Made in South Africa with a blend of their native marula fruit and fresh dairy cream, Amarula shows bright caramel and butterscotch notes and a faint tropical fruitiness. The marula plant is unique to Africa and is in the same family as mangos, pistachios, and cashews. It holds a special place socioeconomically in South Africa due to the high amount of nutrients found in it. Some proceeds from each bottle purchased go to protecting elephants (closely tied to the marula tree) from being poached across Africa.

Image result for amarula drink
Cocktail:
Amarula Spiced Dram

Drink in a lowball glass on the rocks

Winter Warmers

With the cold finally upon us and Christmas around the corner, we definitely need some cold weather liqueurs to warm us up, right? Read on to discover a few delicious holiday libations that are sure to heat up any occasion!

Tattersall Cranberry

Tattersall Cranberry 750ML $32.99

What’s screams holiday season more than cranberry? Coming fresh out of the red-hot Tattersall Distillery in Northeast Minneapolis, this beautiful liqueur is the perfect balance of sweet, sour and tart. Made from Great Lakes Cranberries and a subtle botanical blend to enhance the berries themselves, this is the perfect addition to your holiday festivities!

Ways to drink it: Add a splash to a cosmo, top off sparkling wine or gin and tonic, or Tom’s favorite: add it to hard cider!

Cocktail: Tattersall Cran-Apple Cider

1.5oz Tattersall Cranberry Liqueur

6oz Sociable Ciderworks Freewheeler Cider

On ice in a high ball Collins glass

Art in the Age Root Beer

Art in the Age ROOT 750ML $29.99

Made from a 1700’s recipe for traditional pre-temperance alcoholic root tea, this is a beautifully sweet, herbal version of what we now call root beer schnapps. An herbal remedy made from sarsaparilla, birch bark, sassafras, cinnamon, clove, spearmint, and more, this is an old-school classic root beer lovers’ delight.

Ways to drink it: Sip it on its own or over ice, with root beer or ginger beer, on top of ice cream is always a favorite.

Cocktail: Super-Sized Root Beer

2 Parts ROOT

4oz Maine Root Root Beer

3 Dashes Black Walnut Bitters

On ice in a lowball

Lazzaroni Amaretto

Lazzaroni Amaretto 750ML $21.99

This classic amaretto has been produced and bottled in the Italian town of Saronno since 1851. If the package looks familiar with its old-school cookie tin it’s because this spirit is actually infused with the Italian cookies themselves instead of an artificial essence, giving it a true-to-form amaretto flavor.

Ways to drink it: On its own or on the rocks, with bourbon, scotch, or vodka, drizzled on top of cookies or ice cream.

Cocktail: Godfather/Godmother

Godfather: 1oz Lazzaroni Amaretto & 1oz Bank Note Blended Scotch or Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon on the rocks.

Godmother: 1oz Lazzaroni Amaretto & 1oz Skaalven Vodka from Brooklyn Park, MN

High West Barreled Manhattan - The 36th Vote

High West 36th Vote Barreled Manhattan

Who wants to actually make all the cocktails at your holiday party, am I right? A France 44 favorite, High West Distillery, has you covered. They’ve created a pre-made Manhattan out of their High West Double Rye, Vya Sweet Vermouth, and Angostura Bitters. It’s aged in an old rye barrel for 120 days before bottling it. They also make a Barrel Aged Boulevardier made with Bourbon, bitter orange liqueur and sweet vermouth–perfect for a dessert drink!

Cocktail: The Easiest Manhattan Ever

Pour straight from a chilled bottle in the fridge, or stir with ice, strain into a coup glass, and garnish with a Maraschino cherry and enjoy!

 

4 Autumnal Liqueurs That Need A Home On Your Bar This Fall

There’s nothing wrong with being a seasonal drinker. We love to match our cocktail, beer, and wine choices to fit the weather, and it’s around this time of year that we start craving those toasty, warm, comforting flavors that mirror the sights and smells that come along with autumn. Our liquor lad Tom has compiled a handful of liqueurs—along with some delectable ways to use each of them—that absolutely need a place on your bar this fall and winter. They’re perfect for any holiday gathering, as well as for a comforting treat at the end of any chilly day. Cheers!

Art in the Age Ginger Snap

Art in the Age Ginger Snap 

Inspired by a medieval German Monk recipe, this USDA organic spirit tastes just like a ginger snap cookie. Made with blackstrap molasses, fresh ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, and other baking spices, this is the perfect interpretation of sweet delicious ginger.

Ways to drink it: On its own, in rye, bourbon, or rum; in apple cider, or use it to make a boozy icing for your gingerbread cookies.

Cocktail: Dark and Snappy

1oz Ginger Snap Liqueur

1oz Myers Dark Rum

4oz Fever Tree Ginger Beer

 

St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur 

St George Spiced Pear Liqueur

In 1982 St. George opened its doors in Alameda, California as the first small craft distillery in America since Prohibition. While they make four award-winning gins, three pear based vodkas and a plethora of liqueurs, the one that stands out during the fall season is their Spiced Pear. Made from a pear brandy base with luscious Bartlett Pear juice added, this low alcohol spirit is spiced with cinnamon and clove to make it a warm and cozy autumn tipple.

Ways to drink it: On its own, in apple cider, with bourbon or dry scotch, or glaze a ham with it.

Cocktail: The Scottish Pear

2oz Bank Note Blended Scotch

¾oz St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur

2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Serve in a coupe glass

 

Sortilege Maple Rye

Sortilege Maple Rye Liqueur 

Consisting of two parts Canadian Rye Whiskey and one part Grade A maple syrup, this delicious spirit comes straight from the maple syrup heartland: Quebec. Its slightly spicy rye base is balanced out by the sweet, luscious maple.

Ways to drink it: on its own, as a simple syrup in any cocktail, with bourbon, or drizzled on pancakes.

Cocktail: Breakfast Old Fashioned

2oz Evan Williams Single Barrel

1oz Sortilege Maple

5 dashes of Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters

 

Du Nord Du Nord Spiced Apple SpiritApple

Du Nord Apple is made right here in Minneapolis’s Seward neighborhood, with apples from a 66 acre orchard in Lake City, Minnesota. The result is a sweet but subtle apple flavor, fresh from the fields of the north to your glass.

Ways to drink it: on its own, in bourbon, warm mulled apple cider, with ginger ale, or with sautéed apples drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

Cocktail: A La Mode

2oz Apple Du Nord

1oz Heavy Whipping Cream

Drop or two of Vanilla Extract

A pinch of Nutmeg

 

Go High West, Young Man

As the old proverb says, “Go High West, young man.” This cutting-edge spirits producer has been a France44 favorite for as many years as they’ve been around. They’ve continually impressed with their forward-thinking, innovative products while still retaining the classic American spirit in their bourbon and rye whiskeys.

High West France 44 Double Rye Manhattan Finish

We’ve worked with High West to select our very own single barrel of Double Rye! Whiskey, complete with the France44 exclusive sticker and brand new bottle. One of just three single barrels to come to the state each year, this is definitely a rare and fleeting bottling. The whiskey itself is a blend of two-year 95% rye whiskey and 16-year 53% rye. But what makes this unicorn bottling so special is that it’s finished in Manhattan barrel.

That’s right—High West takes an old rye barrel, fills it up with rHigh West Barreled Manhattan - The 36th Voteye whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters to make a gigantic 55-gallon Manhattan. After letting it mellow and age together for 120 days, the concoction is bottled and sent to us to sell to you so you don’t have to go through the struggle of making your own Manhattans! Check out the High West 36th Vote Barreled Manhattan to see the finished product.

After bottling up this giant Manhattan they take that cocktail-soaked barrel and finish the France44 Single Barrel in it for 15 long months before bottling it up at a busty 101.4 proof. This super spicy rye is boasting voluptuous notes of mint, clove, and cinnamon up front with the Manhattan barrel imprinting candied orange rind, cocktail glazed cherry, and vanilla notes. This beauty is perfect neat or in a cocktail.

Come get this rare bottling while you can—after all, fall is bourbon season!

Talisker Storm and the Rebirth of NAS Whisky

talisker_email

In recent years people worldwide have been drinking whisky of all types at a nearly exponential rate, so much so that distilleries are having a hard time keeping up with production. One thing people have clung to for the last few decades when purchasing, drinking, describing, and recommending high-end whisky is the age statement on the bottle. 10, 12, 18, and 21 year single malt scotch have become household staples when evaluating how special a whisky is. However, to meet demand, many new types of single malt are void of age statements of any kind. We call these NAS (Non Age Statement) Whiskies. Around 90% of all whiskies around the world are NAS and single malts are the new frontier. An age statement on a bottle is indicative of the youngest whisky in the blend. Take Glenlivet 12 year for example: all the malt in the blend is at least 12 years old. This is why most countries and some U.S. markets now have Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, their new NAS version (soon to hit the Minnesota market). Products like this allow for more shelf stability, but also give the distillers and blenders more room to explore and create unique takes on their signature malts, blending the old with the young.

Talisker Storm

Talisker Storm hit the U.S. market in the spring of 2013. It was greeted with a mix of excitement from fans and skepticism from traditionalists, marketed as a bolder version of Talisker’s signature 10 year with more maritime sea salt, smoke, and sweetness. There are many aspects besides age statements that affect the end product. Two major elements are the types of casks (ex-bourbon, sherry, port, rum, etc.) and the land from which the malt is distilled and aged. Talisker Storm definitely falls into the latter category as this is the perfect example of an island scotch with almost spicy sea salt, billowing smoke, and light toffee sweetness: classic Talisker in profile, only much bigger. In the winter of 2013, Talisker Storm won Highland/Island Single Malt of the Year, as successful a debut as possible. Priced at $60 (equal to its classic 10 year counterpart), the whisky did not seem to catch anyone’s attention, so now, to prove to everyone Talisker Storm’s quality, we have it at the low price of $37.99. With the overall price of scotch as high as it is right now, there is no better deal out there. Come on in and try this beautifully complex single malt on the tasting bar, perfect for the fall season!

Gin-nesota: Winning Big in San Francisco

With Minnesota gins on fire as of late, the accolades have started to pile up. Our great state landed two golds, three silvers, and one bronze medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition! Out of more than 1850 entrants, our very own Loon Liquors, Tattersall and Vikre all hit the podium.

Loon Liquors may not have the recognition yet, but their new Metropoligin took home silver.  This eclectic gin has a mix of woodland flowers, bright citrus, cardamom, rosemary and black currant. It’s unlike any other on the market, local or otherwise. All of its botanicals mingle together effortlessly, keeping one another in check without any one dominating.

 

Tattersall took home a silver and a bronze for their Barrel Gin and flagship Gin, respectively. Their classic gin boasts a blend of 22 botanicals that toe the line between citrus and juniper with hints of mint, earth, and spice. It’s a versatile gin for making all sorts of refreshing cocktails. Their silver medal winning Barreled Gin is aged in French oak Chardonnay barrels, giving it a much more floral and herbaceous tone than their flagship. Meant to be drunk in martinis, negronis, or just neat, this gin is the perfect dry base for any drink!

Our friends up in Duluth at Vikre Distillery nabbed a gold for their Boreal Juniper and a pair of silver medals for their Cedar and Spruce! All three are malt-based, giving them pronounced viscosity. Their Juniper (which also has 94 points from Wine Enthusiast) has a very distinctive note of rhubarb on the midpalate and is perfect for gin and tonics. Vikre’s Boreal Spruce lets a unique note of spruce dominate the classic juniper, a spin on the old classic. The Cedar, on the other hand, has a hint of sumac, anise, and toasted wood, making it perfect for the colder months. As a bonus, their Aquavits (the Norwegian cousin of gin), took home a pair of silver medals as well!

Here at France 44 we are very proud to support local distillers. Try one, try them all; the end of summer is coming fast! Then again, gin season is year-round, isn’t it?

FullSizeRender (3)