Drinks

Don't Call It Napa 2.0

New York’s Finger Lakes Wine Finds Its Way

At long last, New York's Finger Lakes wine region is gaining recognition, both nationally and abroad. Can the community preserve its identity in the face of looming challenges?

Cocoa Goes Craft

Hot Chocolates to Try This Winter

Hot chocolate has an artisan niche that's on par with the craft beer scene. So next time you’re seeking a second wind, or a substitute for a post-ski IPA, consider one of these delicious cocoas.

Canada Hops on the Craft Bandwagon

Learning from the Small-Batch Bourbon Boom

Forty Creek's John K. Hall tells the tale of how American bourbon showed Canadian whiskey the way from counterfeit hooch to finely crafted whiskey.

Have Your Pappy and Your Dickel Too

10 Best Bourbons Not From Kentucky

The rise of craft American whiskey now extends beyond the bourbon belt. Here's the shortlist of major players nationwide.

Private barrel selection at Woodford Reserve and the drive back to Louisville

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Travelogue: Day Five

In day five of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we soak in the last rays of Kentucky sun, watch a group pick their own single barrel of Woodford Reserve, and more.

A Video Tour of the Process from 12 Bourbon Distilleries

How Bourbon is Made

We toured 12 distilleries in a five-day blitz, asking everyone we met to walk us through the bourbon-making process. Here, you'll find all of the steps that go into making America's unique take on whiskey.

Single barrel bourbon explained

Hand Selecting Barrels with Chris Morris of Woodford Reserve

“For liquor stores, whiskey bars, restaurants -- having a private barrel label is basically their way of saying ‘This is how we like our whiskey.’” Tom Fischer, the founder of BourbonBlog and a frequent judge at many spirits and cocktail competitions, told me over the phone after we got back from Kentucky. “So it allows them to put that bottle on a shelf and say, you know, ‘This is something we went to Kentucky and we picked up. This is how we like our whiskey, but it may not always be how you like it.’” We shadowed Seattle-based Duke's Chowder House as they selected their own personal barrel of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.

Town Branch, Buffalo Trace, Old Rip Van Winkle and more

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Travelogue: Day Four

In Day Four of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we visit Town Branch, learn from a true bourbon master, and Ben nerds out. (A lot.)

Gleaning the Importance of the Family Tree

Buffalo Trace’s Hunt for the Perfect Bourbon

"Buffalo Trace is already making the bourbons of the future”, said our guide Freddy Johnson. It sounded bold until we stopped to think about it. Whiskey has to age before it can qualify as bourbon, so technically, every distiller is making “the bourbons of the future” today. Still, after we spent an afternoon learning about the company’s quest to make the world’s perfect bourbon, his phrasing seemed prophetic.

Admiring the Selection at Lexington's Blue Grass Tavern

Rare Bourbons Not Named Pappy: A Budding Collector’s Guide

Call it the Pappy effect if you want, or just plain business savvy, but most distilleries saw an opportunity in limited, premium bourbons in the early 2000s. At one of Lexington's best bourbon bars, the Blue Grass Tavern, we laid eyes on some of the absolute best.

The Taste of a productive day

The Kentucky Sundowner

The Irish have Irish coffee, the Scotch have Highland Coffee, the Germans have Rüdesheimer Kaffee, and college students have vodka and red bull. Kentuckians have the Kentucky Sundowner. Here's how to make one.

Demystifying A Legend

The Complete Guide to Pappy Van Winkle

I'd say that Pappy Van Winkle is a brand that needs no introduction, except that it does. The truth is that most people don’t know anything about “Pappy”, other than that it’s supposed to be the best of its kind. So let’s set the record straight by getting a couple of basic facts out of the way.

Wilderness Trail, Four Roses, Wild Turkey and More

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Travelogue: Day Three

In day three of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we check out small (Wilderness Trail) and big (Four Roses, Wild Turkey) distilleries on the way to Lexington -- and get to taste something particularly special.

Maker's Mark, Willet, and More

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Travelogue: Day Two

In day two of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we get lost in the backwoods, explore the Willet Distillery, taste a few bourbon cocktails made by a pro, and more.

How a next-generation master distiller helped relight the stills

Willett’s Long Path Back to Bourbon

Willett Master Distiller Drew Kulsveen doesn't have time for bullshit. It's not something he has to tell anyone. The message shoots from his eyes like a railgun. Even at a relatively young age, it's clear he's heard it all before. He talks like someone who’s lost years listening to others dribble on, and worked hard to eradicate the behavior in himself; his speech is terse, verging on curt. You can't blame him for him ignoring the noise. A lot rides on his shoulders. He and his family worked for years to rebuild the family distillery, which reopened in 2012, and now he's determined to prove a point.

High proof cocktails in the bourbon capital

Three Bourbon Cocktails, Made By a Pro

Sometimes out of the bottle with a beer is the best way to have a bourbon", admits Chef Newman Miller, owner of Harrison Smith House in Bardstown, Kentucky. But not always. The three bourbon cocktails he showed us are truly made to meet the expectations of the local Kentuckians.

From Brunch Spot to Global Food Sensation

Louisville’s Hillbilly Tea Has a New Take on Soul Food

Hillbilly Tea sounds like an Urban Dictionary revelation -- or the latest product from the minds of White and Pinkman. For all we know, both of those statements are true. It’s also one of Louisville’s hottest brunch spots, and a burgeoning international brand. And if founders Karter Louis and Chef Arpad "Arpi” Lengyel realize their ultimate vision, that’s just the beginning.

Greetings from the Bluegrass State

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Travelogue: Day One

We figured the best way to get to the bottom of the recent bourbon boom was to head to the Bluegrass State with a few cameras, some notebooks and clean livers for five days of Kentucky scenery, friendly locals and distillery tours. Here's a play-by-play of day one of our investigation on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

A Roaming Journal of America's Spirit

5 Days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Bourbon is booming, but only decades ago, it was on a path toward failure. This was most evident in the 1980s, at the height of vodka and big hair, when distilleries in the Bluegrass State were shuttering their doors. They simply couldn’t give bottles away, the same bottles that just a generation before were lining executive conference rooms and hotel bars throughout America. It was by definition an all-American drink, and it was quickly fading. But then in the mid-2000s, distillers realized the atmosphere was changing. Bourbon started coming back. Fast. This explosion, which continues to grow to this day, raises plenty of questions. What's fueling the bourbon boom? Is it going to burst, like tech and housing? Are some bottles really worth $5,000, and more importantly, who’s buying them? What makes a bourbon good? The best way to get to the bottom of this was to head to the Bluegrass State, where 95 percent of the world's bourbon is made, equipped with a few cameras, some notebooks and clean livers for five days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail -- a triangle of distillery tours throughout the state with endpoints at Louisville, Lexington and Bardstown — for many early mornings and late nights drinking and talking with some of the foremost professionals in booze. We came back with five days of fear and loathing on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Americana in a bottle

The Spirit of Autumn: Best American Apple Brandies

If you're into vintage -- your dad's aviators, reclaimed wood counters, old military watches -- then it doesn’t get much more old school than apple brandy, a spirit distilled from the hard cider of fermented fresh apples and then aged in oak.

The Original Barrel Aged Beer

Tasting the Full 2014 Bourbon County Stout Line

If you heard Goose Island Beer Co. was coming into town with their upcoming Black Friday release of their Bourbon County Stout lineup, which features some of the most coveted beers brewed in the US, you’d expect a little fanfare. But when Mike Siegel, innovations manager for Goose Island, carried the lineup in for tasting, it was at room temperature and accompanied by little plastic cups, the sort any corner store would carry.

Don't Leave Home Without It

10 Flasks for Every Type of Sipper

Use a flask wisely and you'll have a great hint of lawless confidence; the look of wonder in your buddies' eyes as you swig your just-so-uncouth booze will be all the sweeter. (Smokier, if it's Balvenie 18.) These ones deserve a place in your coat pocket.

Your last iced coffee of the season

What We’re Drinking: Espresso and Tonic

The objective of most post-Starbucks coffee shops has been an almost authoritarian pursuit of purity. But it seems we're turning a corner. This summer the Kaffe Tonic, a mixture of espresso and Fever Tree tonic served over ice at Saint Frank Coffee in San Francisco, caught on.

Update your food pyramid

Cream of the Crop: The Best American Fruit Beers

Fruit beers have long been the redheaded stepchildren of the beer world. But now American brewers are using more complex bases -- stouts, brown ales, rye ales and barleywines among others -- and taking cues from the Belgians, those oldest of fruit beer brewers, to harness the nation’s harvest, from pumpkins to pluots. These are the best fruit beers of their labor.

Everyone Loves the Hefe

Drink Your Wheaties: The Best American Wheat Beers

If you associate wheat beer with Blue Moon and a slice of orange, this is your primer to the world of American brewers doing something more with their wheat malt. They’re adding aromatic hops. They’re open fermenting. They're cultivating a beer that’s front-palate friendly with a full finish. These ten are perfect examples.

Beware of the dark side

Highland Park’s Dark Offering Takes Aim at New Fans

We review Highland Park's latest edition to their core lineup of single malts, Dark Origins, which is defined by a high percentage of double first fill sherry casks and a peatiness yet unheard of from the brand.

Pat's Backcountry Beverages Supplies Passable Camp Beer and Excellent Soda

For Happy Hour in the Backcountry, Just Add Water

Leave it to an Alaskan to invent a new way to drink alcohol outdoors. Pat Tatera, the founder of Pat’s Backcountry Beverages, developed a system for carrying concentrated forms of both alcohol and soda into the wild for hikers to make their own carbonated beverages in minutes with the help of stream water and small carbonation pouches.

Some very old wine indeed

Tasting Notes: Taylor Fladgate 1964 Single Harvest

Taylor Fladgate, one of the council of elders in the Port world, released a 50-year-old tawny port in 2014. In honor of our other stories about Portugal, we raised a glass of it.

The slow creep of one wine collector's addiction

More Mature With Age

I come from a family of beer drinkers, firmly rooted in the blue-collar heritage of my grandfather’s construction and carpentry business. My father likes to say that it was his own skill at unskilled labor that paid his way through college. He whole-heartedly embraced the craft beer movement. My brothers share his taste for the malt, but my passion has been for wine.

A pocket-sized whiskey connoisseur

In Distiller, a Whiskey App Aimed at Educating the Masses

Brent Stiefel and Mikael Mossberg didn’t know much about whiskey when they met up for drinks in May of 2011. Like many people navigating an ocean of Scotch and bourbon, they "were intimidated by folks with mustaches", Stiefel says, but didn’t want to drain their bank accounts by buying every bottle to learn more about what they liked and what they didn't. Feeling a booze-filled higher calling to drink better (and more), the two began drawing up plans for the ideal whiskey resource they'd been searching for but never found.

Four Award-Winning Whiskies

Tasting Notes: Aberlour Full Line

On a recent visit to Aberlour distillery smack dab in the middle of the famed Speyside region, our task at hand was to gain an appreciation for the distiller's unique malting, mashing, blending and maturation processes, and of course, the tasting.

A Prime Spot in Scotland's Scotch Valley

Photo Essay: Walking the Grounds at Aberlour Distillery

Among the big names of the central Speyside region -- Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Ardmore -- Aberlour garners less recognition than most. And yet it's consistently produced one of the most decorated single malt whiskies, with more than 185 awards since the mid-1980s. We walked the grounds of their distillery, which has continuously produced since 1879.

Saison D'etre

Barnyard Brews: The Best Saison Beers

Originally brewed in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium, as a summer treat for farmers who spent hours under the hot sun, saisons often taste spicy, earthy and yeasty, and contain ABV levels that typically run between 4% and 8.5%. Other than a glass of ice water, they’re about as refreshing a drink as you can get on a hot summer day. Here are seven favorites.

two traditional drinks and a classic cocktail with a twist

How to Drink Absinthe Like a Gentleman

Will Elliott of NYC's Maison Premiere shows us the steps to making three types of absinthe drinks: a drip, a frappe and a Sazerac, with a twist.

5 Great Wines Escape their Bottles

White Wine? Just Can It

We got our hands on five canned white wines to find out if they're a clever packaging solution or just an excuse to drink more white wine.

Two Biologists teach Montreal how good craft brews can be

Dieu du Ciel and the Science of Good Beer

A little over two decades ago, Stephane Ostiguy and Jean-Francois Gravel met while studying science at McGill University. Neither got their degrees -- but they do make some of the best beer in the world at Dieu du Ciel, Montreal's best craft brewery.

Get Your Glass in Order

The GP Guide to Beer Glassware

There are serious benefits to matching your glass to your beer. Here's our guide to the different types of glasses and the brews you should sip out of them.

An afternoon with a surfer, winemaker, and philosopher

Viewfinder: Meant to Be

"Why do I surf, why do I make wine?" Johan Reyneke says, laughing to himself. "I don't know. It just happened. It's just meant to be." In this short film by The Perennial Plate, Reyneke surfs in False Bay and explains the way he makes wine. They're two disciplines that may seem quite different but are actually quite similar through the lens of his life's philosophy.