Local Wine Co's Blog

Sign our Petition for American Dry Gin by cdbakunas
January 28, 2014, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Libations, Word on the Street | Tags: , , , ,

America needs its own category of gin which is why we are working on legally amending gin law to include “American Dry” as a bona fide category. With this first step we can be proud to make our own unique American version of gin and this will not only educate the consumer at a much higher level of what they are drinking, it will be the tip of the spear in moving towards greater appellation in our craft spirits. We can envision the day when regional gins like Sonoma Coast Gin, Rocky Mountain Gin, Southwest Chaparral Gin all exist and create a tapestry of style that is as unique as the people are who live in various regions of our country.

Send us an email, post a comment and we will include you on our petition.

Petition for Chapter 4, Class and Type Designation for Spirits Requested Amendment of gin


We propose an amendment to the TTB Class and Type Designation under spirits for the category of gin under Title 27–Alcohol, Tobacco Products and Firearms (gin standard of identity is below) for the two reasons:

#1 historical categories of gin (ie. London Dry, Old Tom and Geneva gins) are not given legal definition for their historical styles. This is an egregious disservice to the consumer. Consumers have the right to know what style of spirit it is they are consuming. Current gin definitions are vague and ambiguous such that a Geneva gin or an Old Tom gin could be labeled a London Dry gin creating confusion for the consumer.

#2 request an amendment to the standards of identity to foster appellations for spirits within the United States. This will give greater regional specificity to American spirits and define more precisely the style and quality of each spirit (eg. Bourbon Whiskey). Consumers deserve to have stronger over site on distilled spirits much as we have a robust appellation process for vineyard land and wines in America. Local Wine & Spirits, and the other listed distillers, are actively educating the public about the emerging category of “American Dry Gin” which is defined as batch distilled gins made from 100% American grown grain, distilled and bottled within the United States using juniper as the predominant botanical. American made and proud of it.

Current definition

Subpart C—Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits

§ 5.22   The standards of identity.

(c) Class 3; gin. “Gin” is a product obtained by original distillation from mash, or by redistillation of distilled spirits, or by mixing neutral spirits, with or over juniper berries and other aromatics, or with or over extracts derived from infusions, percolations, or maceration of such materials, and includes mixtures of gin and neutral spirits. It shall derive its main characteristic flavor from juniper berries and be bottled at not less than 80° proof. Gin produced exclusively by original distillation or by redistillation may be further designated as “distilled”. “Dry gin” (London dry gin), “Geneva gin” (Hollands gin), and “Old Tom gin” (Tom gin) are types of gin known under such designations.

Participating Distillers/Distilleries

Local Wine & Spirits

Ransom Spirits

Bull Run Distillery, Portland

Peach Street Distillers, Palisades, CO

Letherbee Distillers, Chicago IL


Reasons Why We Drink by cdbakunas
April 10, 2013, 8:20 am
Filed under: Libations, Reasons Why We Drink | Tags:

Garden to Glass Cocktail at SanctuariaI was working with a friend who owns and produces Royal Rose simple syrups. They make perhaps the best, 100% organic, simple syrups in America. Truly fantastic quality and explosive flavors. After hanging out with Forrest Butler I realized that I had my alcohol/industry blinders on and had only thought of Royal Rose syrups as bar/cocktail accoutrements. Shame on me. We engaged in a wonderful conversation with Steve Carrow, of Chicago restaurant, Naha about “temperance cocktails.” Cocktails that had no alcohol in them. Everyone I know, work with, interact with, party with, dine with drinks wine, beer or spirits. It’s what we do being gastronomes and imbibers. It had not dawned on me that there is a woefully underserved segment of diners that want high quality drink options whilst dining at the finer establishments across America. Let’s face it, cranberry juice and soda water is not very exciting.

It got me thinking last night about why we drink? What are the myriad reasons for drinking? Yes, there are many, many reasons and I thought that this would be a good category to explore on our blog.

The obvious #1 (at least obvious to me) is that drinking brings pleasure. Of course feeling that tinge of inebriation or “buzz” is often wonderful, the act of sipping fine wines, excellent brew and superlative distillate is a pleasure in and of itself. To enjoy the aromatics, the complexities, the silky texture on the palate or the sparkling pop inside the mouth is a very physical experience and if you live well in your own skin it’s pleasure. Living in the flesh we were given five senses and in my opinion it would be a disastrous decision as a human to ignore the utter joy of tasting, feeling and smelling all the wonderful things that we can put into our bodies. Drinking is just one of those manifold experiences.

Our ancestors drank for thousands of years and though many of the prime motivations for drinking have ameliorated over generations (such as moderation leads to balance and longevity) the simple fact that drinking is pleasurable, and in community it is a way and time to bond with family and friends, is as potent today as it was 1000 years ago. Some people drink and become loud, laugh more, weep, become flustered or anger easily. Alcohol impairs judgment, period. That being said amongst friends can’t we let our guard down? Needing an outlet to explore feelings that are normally pent up is an utterly human desire and imbibing with friends offers exactly this outlet. Come on, if you can’t get a little stupid with your friends they’re probably not your friends. I’m not saying get hammered each weekend, act like an ass, start fights, scream, cry and punch and it will be alright. But feeling safe enough to open yourself to discourse that you normally do not have is a deep seated desire in humans and often moderate drinking gives us the motivation to do so. So be it. I’d rather have a few beers with pals then go to my doctor and spend money on pharmaceuticals to assuage my fears.

To explore the question of why we drink I encourage you to answer and post your own reasons and numbers. Here are the beginnings of mine.

#1 Reason Why We Drink: Because it feels good.

#2 Because someone discovered that grain and sugar made beer, and grapes made wine and god put all that right in front of our noses, so why not?

#3 To bring us together in community on cold, long winter nights…warming our bellies and our softening our hearts….

Spirited Dinner at Sanctuaria, St Louis by cdbakunas

Wed night, 6/6/2012, Christophe will host a spirited dinner at Sanctuaria in St Louis. Sanctuaria’s cocktail program is headed by Matt Seiter. Christophe and Matt met while Matt worked in Chicago at In Fine Spirits and Matt has since relocated to St Louis changing the face of the cocktail scene in Missouri. Matt’s menu of 150 cocktails from Sanctuaria’s Club Menu, was nominated for World’s Best Cocktail Menu at Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards in July of 2011. He is the founder of the St Louis USBG and is on the board of the National USBG Master Accreditation Program.

When you are in St Louis you need to stop in for a bite and lots of drinks. Or come by tomorrow and tipple a few with us.

A New Coffee Liqueur – Think Savory by cdbakunas
June 5, 2012, 9:00 am
Filed under: Libations, Word on the Street | Tags: , , ,

The Story of Firelit Coffee Liqueur

post image

Firelit started in 2007 when founder Jeff Kessinger, a wine and spirits salesman in San Francisco, noticed a need for a coffee-centric, lower sugar liqueur in the market. After making a few small batches at home he consulted with Lance Winters of St George Spirits, Huber German Robin and James Freeman of Blue Bottle coffee to find ways to refine the recipe he had created. Launching a passion project has its difficulties and Jeff encountered several obstacles.

With persistence, vision and support from two high school friends (now business partners) Marcus Urani and Label designer Tyler Warrender, Firelit Coffee Liqueur became a reality. 40 different trial versions of Firelit were made all with varying base spirits, proofs and coffee beans. The final recipe was refined and perfected with the help of some of San Francisco’s finest mixologists. Firelit approached St George spirits with renewed enthusiasm, and a complete vision. St George agreed to make the first batch of 1800 bottles in 2010.

Jeff along with Dave Smith, (Firelits’ distiller) put together batch one with Cold Brewed Yemen Coffee beans roasted by Blue Bottle in Oakland CA. The brandy base spirit was made from chardonnay and the coffee was distilled and finished with a modest amount of cane sugar.

Due to the quality of the ingredients Firelit was significantly pricier than any other coffee liqueur on the market at the time. The first batch, although intended to last about a year, sold out in four weeks.

When batch two was slated for production the Yemen beans were no longer available from Blue Bottle. Realizing this would be a common occurrence using high quality, local producers, the team at Firelit decided to make each batch unique sourcing different single origin beans.

About two months prior to each release coffee samples are gathered from a few different roasters, made into trial sized batches, blind tasted by a panel and then the coffee is selected. Each label is hand stamped with information on the roaster and single origin bean used in that particular batch. Although the nuances of the coffee bean in each batch are certainly discernible tasted side by side, they are much less apparent in cocktails due to the consistency of the recipe.

Firelit has been very well received by the critics including being listed in The Top Fifty Spirits of 2011 with 94 points by the Wine Enthusiast. Firelit was sold exclusively in CA until March 2012 when a few select out of state markets were launched. These markets were chosen based on where the Firelit guys liked to visit rather than any marketing strategy.

Firelit is producing three to four batches a year of approximately 350 six packs per batch.

Let’s hope they start making more!

The Poqueto Mojito Cocktail by cdbakunas
October 13, 2011, 11:31 am
Filed under: Libations, Making Cocktails | Tags: , , , ,

Direct from the heart of Greenwich Village, NYC comes this stellar gin riff on a classic cocktail.

Thank you Jack http://www.jackbistronyc.com/

Poqueto Mojito

4 oz  Small’s American Dry Gin
½ Lime
Mint Leaves
Fine Sugar
Splash of Seltzer/Club Soda

Muddle the lime, sugar, and mint leaves.
Add Small’s Gin and ice and shake.
Pour into an Old-Fashion glass (with ice) and add soda.

Tequila Cocktails – Fortaleza by cdbakunas
September 23, 2011, 9:12 am
Filed under: Libations, Making Cocktails | Tags: , ,

Fortaleza Tequila, known in Mexico as Los Abuelos, is one of the most storied and rich tequilas that you’ll encounter in this lifetime. Made by the fifth generation Los Abuelos producer, Guillermo Erickson Sauza. Guillermo is a pioneer in the sense that he has returned to his ancestral home to create classic tequila. I believe that Fortaleza is unparalleled in quality, sensuality and pure tequila pleasure.

Our friend Adam Stemmler of Industree Brands in San Diego was kind enough to mix and share these fantastic cocktails. Remember the Alamo should become a weekly tippler if you care about your cocktails.

Remember the Alamo
1.75 oz Fortaleza Reposado
.5 oz Cointreau
.375 oz Laphroaig 10 year
.5 oz honey syrup
.5 oz lime juice
2 orange wheels
4 dashes of angostura

Muddle 1 orange wheel with the bitters, build shake and strain over fresh ice and garnish with an orange wheel.

Agave Fresca Punch
1.5 oz Fortaleza Blanca
.5 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
.5 oz sage simple syrup
1 oz agua fresca
.75 oz lemon juice

Build Shake Strain (or made in a punch format)

El Centro
1.5 oz Fortaleza Anejo
.5 oz Rittenhouse Rye
.5 oz Dolin Rouge Vermouth
.5 oz Benedictine
1 dash of orange bitters

Stir, strain into a chilled cocktail glass or over rocks

Spirits, like Fortaleza, of this caliber, truly invigorate and excite and it’s a pleasure to share their story. http://www.facebook.com/tequila.fortaleza?sk=wall


More Classic Cocktails Explored by cdbakunas
June 24, 2011, 9:30 am
Filed under: Libations, Making Cocktails

I’m back at the cocktail lab and gainfully mixing more classic cocktails from Wondrich’s book “Imbibe!”

Today we sat down to take a look at Daisies, Fizzes and the Florodora. Right off the bat the group favorite was the Florodora. Wondrich tells of how this cocktail was invented in 1901 for one of the Florodora Sextettes by Jimmy O’Brien at a Columbus Avenue restaurant in New York. Not only is the cocktail delicious but the recipe is straightforward and the thing that I enjoy the most about the Florodora is that you can prepare the cocktail in the same glass that you’ll serve it in. So convenient.
Here’s the recipe and my notes on preparation.

Florodora (page 122)

Four dashes (2 tsp) Raspberry Syrup in the bottom of the cup

Juice from an entire lime

2 oz Gin (we used both Ransom Old Tom Gin and Small’s American Dry Gin to great, yet differing success)

Fill half the glass with crushed ice

Pour in the best ginger ale you can find. I had Barritts Bermuda Ginger Beer. And it worked great (the real deal for Barritts is in the glass bottle  and is still made with pure cane sugar, the Barritts in the can, not so good. Their recipe for ginger beer dates back to 1874)

Stir until very chilled and garnish with a slice of orange.

Fantastic. This is our entire staff’s new summertime cocktail.

Next we made the New School Rum Daisy with Old New Orleans 3 Year Rum and their Cajun Spiced Rum. Old New Orleans is the pinnacle of Louisiana micro distilleries making about 4,500 cases of their three rums a year. Up until last year this was not available outside of Louisiana and thus the Big Easy had coveted this rum for decades and decades. Slowly and surely it is creeping its way north so us Yankees can enjoy a bit of the good Southern life. And I am delighted to partake in the northward crawl.

I preferred the Cajun Spice Rum in this recipe.

New School Rum Daisy (you could substitute gin or whiskey)

2 oz Old New Orleans Cajun Spiced Rum

Juice of 1/4 lemon, 1/2 lime

1 tsp super fine sugar (we used fine organic can sugar since the rum is made with Louisiana sugar cane)

2 dashes grenadine (we tried grenadine and marischino liqueur – preferring the marischino liqueur)

1/2 oz of carbonated water

Garnish with mint and/or fresh fruit

More next week on the classic New Orleans Fizz, aka Ramos Gin Fizz and Sours.

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