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In Search of Higher Grounds

Coffee Beans: Know Your Regions

Where did that coffee in your hand come from? We profile the major coffee growing regions of the world, helping you make an informed decision when it comes to Brazilian versus Indonesian, Colombian versus Monsoon beans from India. Grab a cup and study up.

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Knowledge, Caffeinated Lore and Tools of the Brew

Introducing: Fortnight of Coffee

It’s time to roll out the Fortnight of Coffee, two weeks of stories about our favorite morning drink. In our third issue (previously, Month of Beef and Bond Week) you can expect gear roundups, original storytelling, photo essays, videos and a few surprises. Hold on to your mugs. Coffee’s up.

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Down to a tea

Kickstand Cold-Brewed Black Tea Concentrate

Kickstand Black Tea Concentrate ($20) is a Brit’s wet dream. It’s the essence of your second or third favorite leaf, captured in its bitter, earthy, put-your-feet-up form, ready to be diluted to the desired strength and enjoyed hot or cold, black or with sugar, milk, honey or even some crumpets.

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Hop Hop, Hooray

Spiegelau IPA Glass

Quick, who do you want to make you the perfect IPA glass? An excellent German glass maker (Spiegelau), a West Coast brewery that was one of the earliest and most influential in craft beer making (Sierra Nevada) and an East Coast maker whose 60 Minute IPA is considered one of the most solid (Dogfish Head)? The resulting IPA Glass ($25 for two) looks awkward but is tailored just so for your drinking pleasure.

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Hooch hideaway

Design Spotlight: Prohibition Kit by Francesco Morackini

The Prohibition Kit by Francesco Morackini is provocative project that’s designed to help home hoochers mitigate the risk of discovery by “camouflaging” a small-scale still as everyday kitchen objects. Specifically, the all-copper setup splits into a watering can, fondue stove, cooking pot and fruit bowl while not in use for home-made lightning.

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For your best friend, meaning you

The Balvenie 50 Year Old

In celebration of the 50-year career of malt master David Stewart, who is the longest tenured master in all of Scotland, The Balvenie Distillery has released an extremely limited run of their half-century old single malt, aptly named The Balvenie 50 Year Old. Stewart, who started the long journey of becoming a malt master back in 1962, himself marvels at the uniqueness of Cask 5576.

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Tequila's lunatic cousin

Sombra Mezcal

It’s been a while since we rode the mezcal train, so let’s begin with a brief primer. Actually, let’s begin with a shot. Good. Now, on to the primer. Mezcal and tequila are sort of like langoustines and prawns: we’d bet a shiny nickel they’re different, but if pressed for an explanation we’d have to say they both basically taste like shrimp. Sombra Mezcal ($40) is made by baking the agave hearts in a conical pit lined with rocks that have been heated with an oak fire — and its earthy, spicy taste is a great one to throw back.

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Hop to it

For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops

Stan Hieronymus’s tome, For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops ($11), looks to be the required reading for a college course. An awesome college course, with pints, flights of adult beverages and a professor that’s eternally tipsy. This isn’t light reading. And that’s why it’s fantastic.

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A future king?

Budweiser Black Crown

Budweiser Black Crown isn’t another ploy from “the King of Beers” to rally the fratty faithful with higher alcohol content (though its 6% ABV is technically higher) or pointless packaging gimmicks (It turns red when you’re hammered!). Instead, it’s the result of a year-long skunky works initiative, dubbed “Project 12” in which the company asked…

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Tasty, tasty patriotism

5 Great American-Made London Dry Gins

In recent years, London Dry gin hasn’t done so hot. Looming in the shadows of vodka and whiskey, the juniper-tinged spirit has been cast aside as a singular-tasting alcohol of choice for a generation past its prime — dry gin is your father’s and grandfather’s drink, not yours. But with a new class of excellent brands in an “American” dry style — boasting a more balanced and widely ranging flavor profile — blossoming as we speak, you’d be wise to reconsider. We found 5 of the best on the market.

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Know the password

Secret Society: Modern Speakeasy Style and Design

Not much is secret anymore. We probe the strange, glorious depths of the world, wherever they be. Then we post them to Facebook. Secret Society: Modern Speakeasy Style and Design ($125) divulges with a bit more class. The hulking book bulges with the descendants of ’20s speakeasies — secret clubs that no longer hide illegal…

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Reload your bar

Bulleit 10 Year Bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon has long been an affordable favorite for lovers of the smokey libation. Bulleit 10 Year ($45) adds some age and flavor distinctions, at a price. The fine gentlemen over at Bourbon Blog have had the first crack at the new whiskey, and from what we can tell, it’s definitely worth a try. This…

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Go on Walkerabout

Johnnie Walker The Spice Road

How did one make his whisky known around the world in a time before big branding and Super Bowl commercials? Johnnie Walker and his associates walked. The Spice Road ($43) is the first release in JW’s Explorers’ Club Collection (followed soon by The Gold Route and The Royal Route), a series made with the traveler…

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Gardening was never so much fun

Art in the Age Sage

Art in the Age’s craft spirits line focuses on “remakes” of historical libations. Though we’re still waiting for the Spanish Fly-type beverage Benjamin Franklin fed to his ravenous young French groupies, Sage ($30), a take on classic backyard garden gin, strikes our fancy quite nicely in the meantime. Thomas Jefferson’s favorite botanist, Bernard McMahon, chronicled…

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Das Ist Different

Beck’s Sapphire

Can gimmickry was so two years ago. Today, it’s all about getting a better buzz from your brew. Beck’s Sapphire is the latest entry into the field, boasting 6 percent ABV and a sleek black glass bottle designed to blend seamlessly into the background of happening nightclubs, bars and restaurants — while also protecting the suds from light.

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Fill 'er up

Portland Growler Co.

It can be emitted by your stomach, your dog or your angry in-law, but the best form of the low rumble is the growler, beer drinkers’ response to the doggy bag. Portland Growler Co. knows their way around these 32- and 64-ounce jugs o’ joy better than just about anybody. The (you guessed it) Portland company proudly designs a range of growlers, which are then slip cast, trimmed and made to order by Mudshark Studios (also of Portland, of course).

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The green fairy, delivered

Absinthe Explore Kits

The mystery and mayhem surrounding absinthe’s sordid past have long been quashed. Heady hallucinations and impromptu surgical procedures were less likely caused by the green fairy than the timeless pen and brush strokes to come out of the Bohemian movement. The truth is that this delectable distillate is complex, varied and packs a punch —…

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Rye not?

10 Great Rye Whiskeys to Try

You’ve heard it before, but here’s another shot: Rye whiskey is on the comeback. We’ve long contented ourselves with corn-based bourbon, and we’re not ready (in the least) to change that habit — but to be sure, rye deserves some serious sipping. Long handcuffed to mixed drinks like the Manhattan, rye’s extra boldness and spice in comparison to corn-heavy whiskey is particularly pertinent after a long day of work. It’s simple, like good things should be, served straight up or over ice, and of course still works beautifully in cocktails.

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Bootlegger? What bootlegger?

EasyStill Water Distiller

If you like tasty water, or “Copperhead Road” is right up your alley, the EasyStill Distiller ($200) may be the perfect unit for you. This stainless steel electric water distillation unit, slightly tweaked with a different heating element, increased cooling and the removal of the chlorine release valve, works on both water and, ahem, more…

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Do Go Tipsy Into that Good Night

5 Drinks to Enjoy While Watching the World End

There are a number of different ways to use your final hours on this earth: You could scramble for last-minute supplies, or put the finishing touches on that coffin bunker in the backyard. Pack up and bug out to hopefully greener pastures, perhaps; visit with family and friends for some final goodbyes, if you’re the sentimental type. The way we figure, though, this final Friday affords you the perfect excuse to settle down, put your feet up and enjoy one last drink (or five) and enjoy the show.

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Worth jigging over

Jameson Select Reserve by Makers & Brothers

Handmade retailing specialist Makers & Brothers teamed up with Jameson on a limited edition-packaging worthy of the whiskey brand’s Select Reserve blend. Since the spirit itself is a combination of pot stilled whiskey and small batch grain whiskey matured in charred oak barrels, creating Irish oak tumblers with charred interiors designed by Irish wood turner…

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Beer is Coming

Ommegang Game of Thrones Iron Throne Blonde Ale

Chalk up another gimmick that we’re head over heels lusty after. In the beautiful marriage of fantasy, boobs, political intrigue and swordplay that is Game of Thrones, there’s a new player in town: brew. Ommegang’s Iron Throne Blonde Ale ($9), due out before the show’s season three debut on March 31st, is the first in…

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It is, so you don't have to be

Purity Vodka

Vodka: The purest spirit. Oddly enough, it causes some of the most unpure activity we know about. Purity Vodka won’t set the vice-ridden straight, but it will give them something to deeply enjoy as they go on their merry, sinning way. Boasting a talented master blender, an intense distilling process, a very unique home base and a whole bunch of awards, the Swedish-produced Vodka offers up a drink that bridges the gap between affordability and connoisseur-level quality.

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12 gifts for the booze lover

12 Guys of Christmas: The Mixologist

The Mixologist’s gotten you into plenty of blissful adventures, most of which ended without real long term damage to your record or your marriage. He’s a passionate guy, and he knows his craft: beer, that is. Malts, mash, wheat, barley, rye, and oh yes, sweet sweet delicious hops — he sucks them all down, grinning…

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12 gifts for the handyman

12 Guys of Christmas: The Do-It-Yourselfer

You lean on him all year-round to assist, assemble and install everything from kitchen cabinetry to those amazing Patagonian rosewood floors you love so much. He tirelessly tackles the disparate demands of Honey-Do lists and familial fixes without so much as a peep. And yet, of all the men featured in our 12 Guys of…

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Oh, Canada!

Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey

Our neighbors to the north, unjustly the target of crude jokes involving backwardness, snow and a strange dialect, have another reason for national pride. Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey ($70), though distributed by a Vermont label, uses 100% made-in-Canada rye whiskey. Whistlepig departs from the usual American experience of rye as the dominant but not sole…

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The best kind of warmth

Crown Royal Maple Finished

As thoughts of crackling fires, the laughter (and possibly screaming) of little children and more than your fair share of gingerbread descend upon you in the coming weeks, you might need some holiday cheer to get yourself through it all. What better time to start planning for the requisite imbibing by picking up some Crown…

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A sippin' beer

Samuel Adams 10th Anniversary Utopias

We’ve given you the Paul Harvey on the dethroning of the American King of Beers — now we bring you the heir apparent. This year’s Samuel Adams’s Utopias ($190), a special 10th Anniversary edition of their bi-annual offering, pushes the limits of beer brewing on three fronts: price, potency and flavor. A 29% ABV libation…

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Guess that whisky

Whisky Explorers Club Whisky Flights

What’s better than whisky? A flight of whisky. The liberally imbibing folks over at Whisky Explorers Club have the better side of vice figured out, and their Explorer Scout member Whisky Flights ($180) are the perfect example of their libationary genius. As an member of the Club, you’re eligible for a crystal Glencairn nosing &…

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Fostering your addiction

La Colombe Pure Black

If you sneer when people ask “cream and sugar?” you have two problems: a mean attitude and a nasty coffee addiction. La Colombe Pure Black ($6) coffee concentrate aims to abate the latter (which, fortunately, may also dismiss the former). The bottled java is steeped for 16 hours in stainless steel wine tanks — ah,…