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Cocktail 101: Let's Talk Proof

Cocktail 101 Michael Dietsch 3 comments

When someone talks about the proof of a spirit or liqueur, what's that person talking about? The proof of a spirit is measured by taking the percentage of volume of alcohol in the spirit, and doubling it. So a spirit with 44% alcohol by volume (or ABV) is an 88-proof spirit. Why does proof matter? Read on, friends. More

Serious Beer: This Year's Oktoberfest Brews

Maggie Hoffman 22 comments

I set out this year to try some of America's best märzens. These beers are just the ticket for getting you into a fall mood. They're rich and crisp, reminiscent of cool fall breezes and rustling autumn leaves. Check out our recommendations—but also keep in mind that freshness is king. If your local brewery makes a märzen, check it out now. If they've got one on tap, order a steinful straightaway. More

Serious Beer: Tasting Belgian Fruit Lambic

Beer Reviews Maggie Hoffman 13 comments

If you haven't tasted a traditional Kriek or Framboise before, you're in for a surprise. They're funky and acidic, with hints of shoe leather and wet dog. These days, you'll frequently see fruit beers with added sweeteners and fruit juices—lots of folks love them, but we encourage you to try the real thing sometime. Traditionally sour fruit lambics may not be beers for beginners, but they're a palate-expanding experience we highly recommend. More

Serious Grape: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Under $17

Maggie Hoffman 5 comments

The New Zealand government is funding research into "new flavours" in Sauvignon Blanc, but we'd prefer to just let the flavors be. We recently tasted ten New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs that sell for $10 to $17, and were pleased with the results. For the most part these wines are enjoyable, with bright, refreshing flavors that are perfect for summer. They're a great accompaniment to grilled shrimp or rich curries, or just a giant bowl of chips and guacamole. More

Bartenders Rediscover 'Fun' at Tales of the Cocktail

Paul Clarke 3 comments

While there were many new spirits and other products to discover at this year's Tales of the Cocktail, one of the most intriguing developments was the renewed emphasis placed by bartenders on service and hospitality—the very elements of the bar world ignored by so many frowning, arm-gartered bartenders during the recent speakeasy trend. More

Serious Beer: Mostly Sour American Fruit Beers

Beer Reviews Maggie Hoffman 18 comments

While we're not really all that interested in who can make the sourest beer imaginable, we're thrilled at all the great, creative fruit beers coming out of American breweries. Some of these delectable examples are juicy, zippy, and full of real fruit flavor; others are funky and horsey, quite challenging for the beginner—and sometimes thrilling to the nerdiest among us. These aren't beers for chugging in front of a game; they're complex sips that demand your full attention. We consider ourselves very lucky to have gotten a taste. More

Serious Beer: Hefeweizen from Germany

Beer Reviews Maggie Hoffman 24 comments

Hefeweizen is a wheat beer, but for lovers of serious beer, what makes it exciting is the yeast. (Hefe actually means yeast in German, so this shouldn't be a huge surprise.) The special ale yeasts that are used to make traditional German Hefeweizen produce crazy flavors and aromas during fermentation—you can taste cloves and banana, spice and smoke, even traces of vanilla and bubblegum. More

Craft-Distilled Whiskies Start to Catch On

Paul Clarke 17 comments

Until recently, the only choices for an American-whiskey drinker were bourbon, rye or Tennessee whiskey. With the growth of a craft-distilling movement, new styles of whiskey are beginning to emerge, and the profile of American whiskey is starting to look somewhat different from before. More

Serious Beer: Summer Seasonals

Maggie Hoffman 34 comments

We rounded up 24 specially-released-for-summer beers, but more are showing up in the stores every day. The best of the bunch are refreshing, flavorful and fun. Good summer beers aren't just light beers to keep you company while you're mowing the lawn; they're food-friendly options to pair with curry and sushi, barbecue and burritos. More

Serious Beer: Colorado IPA

Beer Reviews Maggie Hoffman 9 comments

Many consider Colorado to be the epicenter of the craft brewing scene. There are over a hundred craft breweries in the state, and it's the home of the Brewers Association and the Great American Beer Festival. So even though we could only get our hands on fifteen examples, we weren't surprised to taste some truly awesome IPAs from the Centennial State. Check out our reviews and let us know your favorites! More

Five Great Tequilas to Drink on Cinco de Mayo

Paul Clarke 32 comments

The difference in quality between a cheap mixto tequila and a well-made 100-percent agave spirit can be as wide as the Mar de Cortes, making it worthwhile to do a little research before reaching for your wallet. Here are five brands of the spirit, each of them 100-percent agave tequilas, worth checking out this Cinco de Mayo. More

Serious Beer: 9 IPAs from Washington State

Beer Reviews Maggie Hoffman 15 comments

We continue our IPA explorations in the state of Washington. If you have a chance to visit The Evergreen State, be sure to seek out IPA on tap—many of the great ones never see a bottle. Keep reading to see if any Washington beers get included in our new Serious Beer Best IPAs list. More

Serious Beer: Tasting North American Stouts

Beer Reviews Maggie Hoffman 18 comments

Oatmeal? Check. Lactose? Yep. Espresso? Why not? You can add all kinds of ingredients to a stout. This week, your Serious Beer team tasted a wide variety of stouts from American and Canadian craft brewers so we could let you know which ones are delicious. More

Serious Beer: American Porters

Beer Reviews Maggie Hoffman 28 comments

American breweries have put their own stamp on the style, experimenting with dark roasted (or even smoked) barley, helpings of piney hops, and extra ingredients such as coffee and chocolate. While some of these beers could still be good for a long drinking session, American porters are often stronger and more intensely flavored than their English cousins. More

Aquavit Primer: the Scandinavian Spirit

Paul Clarke 8 comments

Derived from the Latin aqua vitae, or water of life, aquavit has been made throughout northern Europe for centuries. Typically made from grain or potato spirits, aquavit may be flavored with a number of different botanicals, giving the spirit a savory, herbaceous character. Caraway is one defining example, though aquavit may also include dill, fennel, clove, cardamom and other herbs and spices. More

Maker's Mark Announces a New Bourbon

Paul Clarke 14 comments

"If the new Maker's Mark bourbon is a success, it may prompt other American distillers to release more 'what-if' experiments." [Flickr: drp] Dedicated fans of American whiskey received some interesting news last week. As reported on What Does John Know?... More

Serious Beer: English Porter

Beer Reviews Maggie Hoffman 21 comments

Though dark in color, English porters aren't very high in alcohol. They have a hint of coffee-like bitterness from black, chocolate, or smoked brown malted barley, but not as much big roasted flavor as most stouts. A good porter is creamy and drinkable—if you think you don't like dark beers, you should give porters a chance. More

Serious Beer: Winter Warmers and Christmas Beers

Beer Reviews Maggie Hoffman 36 comments

'Tis the season for warming beers—for velvety barrel-aged stouts and serious brews from Belgium. Over the last few weeks, we've also been sampling winter warmers and other winter seasonals: beers released specifically for Christmas and for sipping over the cold months ahead. More

Gift Guide: For the Cocktail Enthusiast

Paul Clarke 4 comments

Don't know a cocktail fan? See our other gift guides. —Ed. Nothing puts you in the holiday spirit like some holiday spirits. If someone on your list appreciates a decent drink now and then, here are a few gift ideas... More

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: Barrels and Booze

Paul Clarke 2 comments

In the world of spirits, age and the maturation process are major factors in the character of spirits such as whiskies, brandies, and rum, and longer-aged and creatively matured spirits are becoming a more common sight on liquor store shelves. More

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