Local Wine Co's Blog

Distilling – How old is this art? by cdbakunas
February 8, 2011, 5:31 pm
Filed under: Making Cocktails, Word on the Street | Tags: , , , ,

When did distilling begin? We are certain that a rudimentary distillation began approximately 3000BCE. As recorded records go our first glimpse into the technology of distilling (essential oils) can be found in written cuneiform in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Figure Drawing of an Ancient Still

In Babylon a technique was used placing a collection of herbs in a boiling cauldron, capturing the steam on the fluffy side of lamb skin, then wringing the solution from the fur to be caught in a bowl where the surface was skimmed for the essential oils: we have rudimentary distillation.

What a gorgeous thing to take a mash of herbs (or in our case nowadays fermented grains or fruits) bring it to a boiling point and make it disappear in a gossamer vapor, only to recapture this vapor from the grasp of the sky and distill it down to the essential ingredients of a pure, water like beverage. When you think of this it really is amazing.

This distillation technology is refined and begins to travel around the globe. By 500BCE the first signs of a distillation industry are evident in India in an area that was known as Taxila (now NW Pakistan). Large terra cotta pots filled with water were boiled, the steam filtered through a bed of fermented grains, thus picking up the essence of the grain and the alcohol,l then hits a second terra cotta pot that was filled with cold water (a condensation plate of sorts) and passed into a tube where the vapor would condense and be captured.  Amazing!  This technology spread rapidly through Asia and Africa. Finally by 1100 CE the Moors bring distilling to Spain and Italy on their conquests of Southern Europe and distillation begins to travel across Europe over the next several hundred years.

By 1600 CE texts are being written about distilling, and an industry springs forth during the Renaissance as the science of distillation is spread to the common man and no longer remains the domain of monks, scientists and the wealthy. This is a good thing for us today, otherwise we would never see the proliferation of styles and vast quantity of distilled elixir.  One bump in the road to the populist movement in distillation was that the church and the wealthy did not want to give up their perceived monopoly on this industry. Thus we see the beginning of restrictions and taxation. More on this heavy topic in a later blog.

America is experiencing a revitalization of micro distilling, done for the love and passion of the craft that we have not seen since before prohibition. I recommend that you walk, run or drive to your nearest bottle shop and begin asking questions about what new craft spirits are available in your city or county and begin a wonderful journey of exploration. This might just lead you to a new passion, or a profound hobby and five years from now you’ll be sitting in a distillery in Oregon, talking with the men and women that have made this revolution happen and be the happiest person on the planet, sipping fine barrel aged gin, white lightening or exquisite vodka, straight from the source.




Whiskey Recipe at Last! by cdbakunas
February 3, 2011, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Libations, Making Cocktails | Tags: ,

““My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky.” – William Faulkner

-In San Francisco last week the Exploratorium held the Science of Cocktails and Whipper Snapper Whiskey was in the Whiskey Mix-off and we have a winner!!!

This cocktail, the Suffering Barrister, was created by Ken Walczak, spirits blogger for DrinkingMadeEasy.com.

Here’s the recipe:
The Suffering Barrister

1 1/2 oz. Whipper Snapper Whiskey
1 oz. gin
1/2 oz. + ginger-apple syrup (recipe below)
1/2 oz. (slightly less) lime juice
2 dashes angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in ice-filled shaker.  Shake; serve up.

Ginger-Apple Syrup
Combine 3-4 oz. of ginger, sliced thin, 1 tsp. black peppercorns, the skins and cores of two apples, 2 cups sugar, and 3 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; simmer for about 40 minutes or until syrup has the desired flavor and consistency. Cool completely. Strain.

A whiskey recipe to relish. Thank you Ken!

Try this at home, you’ll be glad you did.

Cocktail Recipes for the Holidays by cdbakunas
December 8, 2010, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Libations | Tags: , , , , , , ,

If your holidays are anything like mine they require quite a bit of self-indulgence and perhaps a small measure of over serving (particularly to myself at the ubiquitous family get togethers). So in the spirit of sharing I bring you three amazingly tasty cocktails that our friend and bartender extraordinaire, Briar Bratkney, at Vincent Restaurant, turned out last week.

Grab some gin and whiskey and give these a whirl…they are balanced, delicious and unique and you’ll for sure be the hit of the party.

Hold Me For Ransom

2 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
8 dashes orange bitters
Muddled grape fruit wedge
Fresh tarragon
*muddle grapefruit in bottom of
a tall glass, add gin, lillet and
orange bitters. Add tarragon,
ice, stir and garnish with a
brandied cherry.

Bed of Roses

1 1/2 oz Small’s Gin
1/2 oz Koval Rose Hip Liqueur
2 rose petals
1 sprig of rosemary
*serve in a tall glass with ice,
splash of soda water and
garnish with sprig of rosemary.

One Hot Whip

2 oz Whipper Snapper
1 oz Tawny Port
1/2 squeezed lemon
2 1/2 oz hot cider
1 oz hot water
*serve in a clear coffee glass,
finish with sprinkled cinnamon,
lemon zest and a cinamon stick

Bar Stars by cdbakunas
September 22, 2010, 10:52 am
Filed under: Libations, Travel | Tags: , , , , , ,

Great article from Kansas City Star. Thanks to ANNE BROCKHOFF, McClatchy Newspapers.  And my rants on why craft spirits are superior to big brands.

Two excerpts:  “Spirits are also flowing from the country’s more than 200 craft distillers, which make small batches of everything from vodka and gin to whiskey, absinthe and eau de vie. Some bars are sporting bottles from Ransom Spirits of Oregon, producer of Ransom Old Tom and Small’s gins and WhipperSnapper whiskey.”

“The range of new bitters, too, is startling, especially since even the Peychaud’s required for a New Orleans-style Sazerac weren’t distributed in some areas until a couple of years ago. The list now includes everything from lemon, orange and grapefruit to celery, rhubarb and Xocolatl Mole Bitters, which delivers a hit of cacao, cinnamon and spice.

Bars don’t stop at what they can buy, though. Grunauer garnishes drinks with cherries macerated in bourbon, Demerara sugar, pomegranate juice and Fee Brothers Old Fashion bitters. North, in Leawood, roasts fennel seeds with orange and lemon zest and then steeps the results in hot water to make fennel syrup for its Succo di Bacca, a long drink with rum, strawberries, lemon juice and Moscato d’Asti.”

To read the full article: Kansas City Star Bar Stars

From our distillery and copper pot still in Oregon

I’m seeing excitement for cocktails spring up all over the country and in places that you would think are behind the curve. The internet and all the social media that we have access to is spreading trends and information across the country like wildfire, I’ve never seen anything like it in my nearly 20 years in the beverage industry. It is so fucking exciting to watch craft cocktails and spirits bloom and feel the enthusiasm from the street level percolate up. Consumers are in for an intense and mind-blowing decade as more and more high quality spirits spread across the corners of our beautiful country. The most amazing thing here is that the quality of product you can find from spirits, to liqueurs, to bitters is increasing so rapidly that the big companies are going to have to start looking over their shoulders. A movement is a foot by many savvy bartenders to eschew the large, mass-produced brands for the craft and local spirits because they frankly are better and cost the same.  When you can give your customer a superior product for the same price and also know that you support a real family (or families that you might even know personally) it does something inside of you that simply makes you feel good.

One of the major reasons why craft spirits are often superior is because artisan distillers don’t operate on the same business model as the Megalodon companies do. We take lower profit margins, work with the sweat of our brow to make something we are extremely proud of and travel coach and economy to get around the country.  We don’t have marketing budgets for TV, sexy show girls, full-page color adds in Sports Illustrated and radio plugs, thus we spend our money on raw ingredients and get the word out one person at a time.  That might be old school to some, but I know that the personal relationship and handshake means a helluva lot more than razzle dazzle glitz that costs millions.

Eat and drink large

%d bloggers like this: