Looking Back at the Year in Food and Drinks
This Year in Gear: 58 Notable Food & Drink Products Released in 2017
With a deluge of new products hitting store shelves and browser windows every day, it’s easy to lose track of everything that happens in a year. So, to jog our memories a bit as the year winds to a close, we combed through our Today in Gear archives and other news briefs to reflect back on all of the notable products we discovered in 2017. The result is a new series we’re calling This Year in Gear, and we hope you’ll enjoy reviewing this snapshot of the food and drink industry’s work as much as we have. Think we missed something, or just want to sound off on any trends you noticed? Let us know by dropping a comment on Facebook, Twitter or email.
Allen Brothers Dry-Aged Wagyu Tomahawk
These massive tomahawk steaks are the best of the best. This top-tier Wagyu will give you restaurant-quality taste and appearance for any holiday feast. And until December 23rd, when you spend over $249, you get four free USDA Prime boneless strip steaks and free Prime Delivery with the code JOY17. For meat lovers, this is a holiday dream.
Pappy Van Winkle 25
Pappy Van Winkle released the distillery’s oldest Bourbon yet this year. A mere 710 bottles of the 100 proof whiskey were available, with a suggested retail price of $1,800. The new release was culled from 11 barrels first distilled in 1989 at the original Stitzel-Weller Distillery, moved to Buffalo Trace in 2002 and transferred to stainless steel tanks in 2014 to prevent over-aging. In other words, Pappy 25 is original stock from the old distillery — a must-have among collectors. The elixir is bottled in handmade glass decanters from the iconic Glencairn Crystal Studio and packaged in handcrafted wooden boxes made from the staves of the oak barrels used to age the very whiskey it houses.
Honey Zepper Pepper
The shishito pepper has become a staple on bar and restaurants menus in recent years, promising a game of spice roulette and easy snackability. Brooklyn-based Ark Foods is largely responsible for the shishito’s rise to prominence, and now, thanks to some strategic cross-pollination, the specialty produce propagator has unveiled its newest novelty pepper, the Honey Zepper.
As first covered by Bon Appetit, the Honey Zepper is a cross between a rare heatless habanero and its traditional, spice-wallopping counterpart. The result is a pepper that’s mild, aromatic and slightly tangy, dialing up the flavor of the chili pepper while eliminating the heat. Previously available only at select farm-to-table restaurants, the Honey Zepper is now being distributed via FreshDirect and in Whole Foods stores nationwide.
W & P Design Host Key
Part wine key, part bottle opener — all elegant design. When it’s not being used, you can hang it on a bottleneck, or drop it on the accompanying wall-mount magnetic dock. Easy for those second, third and fourth bottles.
Halo Coffee Kopi Luwak Diamond Coffee Pods
You may have heard of Kopi Luwak coffee before, though probably not by name. It’s the rarest and most expensive coffee in the world. Why? The beans are harvested from the poop of an Indonesian raccoon-looking creature called the palm civet. So, technically, you might call it shit coffee, but figuratively, it’s the exact opposite. It tastes spectacular: buttery notes of dark chocolate, spice and toasted macadamia, with an otherworldly aftertaste. (Why else would people pay such prices for fermented nuggets plucked from animal dung?) Now, Kopi Luwak coffee comes in instant pod form. Shit yeah!
Maplewood Whiskey-Treated Wood Smoking and Grilling Chips
Infuse meat and veggies with smoky notes of whiskey, honey, chili jam and spice. Can your charcoal do that?
Alchema Home Cider-Making System
High-tech home brewing kits are on the rise, and for good reason: creating controlled environments and standardizing the fermentation process removes all guesswork, simplifying things by a factor of at least 10. Alchema, a cider-brewing kit, is one of the newest (and simplest) homebrewing gadgets to hit proverbial shelves. Capable of brewing 2.4 liters (the equivalent of three standard wine bottles) of cider in just one to two weeks, Alchema is as hands-off as it gets, keeping you apprised of your cider’s progress and alcohol content through a fermentation monitor that sends info to Alchema’s app.
Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Triple Grain American Oak 10 Year
This Johnnie Walker release isn’t made for sipping neat, but for mixing into cocktails. The Triple Grain American Oak 10 Year, part of its Blender’s Batch collection, blends malts from Mortlach and Cardhu. Each whisky is aged for at least 10 years in American oak casks.
KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker
There are simple ways to make cold brew at home. But the most popular methods — French press left in the fridge overnight, espresso poured over milk and ice — usually produce small batches and are not ideal for impatient coffee drinkers. This machine makes the whole process about as simple as gas station coffee. Simply dump in some grounds, pour in some water (it holds up to four cups of coffee), let it chill overnight, and pull the spigot before leaving for work.
Tommy’s Batch Bourbon, from Booker’s
Uncut whiskey, bottled at natural proof, is hard to come by — but it’s worth hunting down for its notably intense flavor. Tommy’s Batch, the first of four small-batch releases to come from Booker’s Bourbon this year, is just that. Inspired by Jim Beam’s personal whiskey preferences (aged 6 to 8 years), it’s robust, with a warm finish and subtle hints of caramel.
Basil Hayden’s Rye Whiskey
For the first time in its 25-year history, Basil Hayden’s, a Beam Suntory–owned brand known for its bourbon, released a rye whiskey. Though the bottle omits an age statement, the brand says that the whiskey contains a small amount of “re-barreled rye.” In this case, that means traditional rye whiskey that’s been aged in different barrels over an 11-year span. Now available at liquor stores nationwide.
Brooklyn BrewShop Gose Gone Wild Beer Making Kit
Everything you need to craft your first batch of sour German beer.
Bushwick Kitchen Trees Knees Coffee Maple Syrup
Coffee makes everything better. Especially organic maple syrup harvested in the Catskill Mountains. Each bottle is crafted by hand in Brooklyn, and contains just two simple ingredients: said Catskillian maple syrup and a Stumptown Coffee blend, creating “multidimensional” notes of dark chocolate, cherry, toffee and fudge.
Bruichladdich Wee Laddie Tasting Collection
From Bruichladdich, the generations-old whisky distillery on the Scottish island of Islay, comes three unconventional Scotch whiskies: one fruity, one earthy and one smoky. Perfect for your home bar, or for sipping as you gaze into your lover’s eyes. (Hint hint: Valentine’s Day is just a few short weeks away.)
Pitmaster: Recipes, Techniques, and Barbecue Wisdom
In parts of the American South, barbecue isn’t just a kind of backyard cuisine. It’s a gastronomical religion. Pitmaster: Recipes, Techniques, and Barbecue Wisdom is barbecue’s bible, encyclopedia, textbook and cookbook, all rolled into one photo-heavy tome.
Sea to Table Home Shipping
The best fish is one that you’ve caught yourself. But for the landlocked, or for those who don’t know how to cast a line (or care to), there’s now a better option. Since 2008, Sea to Table has served as an intermediary between commercial fishermen and restaurants, providing more than 1,000 kitchens across the country with wild-caught, domestic, sustainable seafood. Now, the company has announced nationwide home delivery, bringing its superlative seafood to the masses.
Traceable to the individual boat, landing point and ship’s captain, Sea to Table’s seafood is flash frozen immediately after being brought to shore in order to maintain the freshness, flavor and nutrients of each individual fillet.
Monfefo Turmeric Shot
Monfefo Turmeric Shot is a uniquely refreshing drink of organic Hawaiian turmeric juice that’s made in Brooklyn. This 12-pack is a great way to keep energized, at home or at the office. Monfefo even offers direct-to-office delivery so you and the team can start the workday with an aromatic bang.
Ben Milam Bourbon
The Ben Milam Distillery only opened its doors on March 2, but its spirits are already earning major accolades. At this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Ben Milam Bourbon was awarded an ultra-rare Double Gold medal, bestowed only upon spirits that are unanimously given Gold medal distinction during the competition’s blind tasting panel. The single-barrel bourbon is marked by brown sugar and caramel on the nose, with notes of vanilla and cinnamon.
Distribution is currently limited, with the award-winning whiskey available only at the label’s distillery in Blanco, Texas and select liquor stores in the Lone Star State. Ben Milam is also expected to introduce a rye whiskey in the coming weeks — aged in new American white oak charred barrels and marked by notes of vanilla, mint and dill.
Thrive Culinary Algae Cooking Oil
Whereas a jug of olive oil and a bottle of vegetable oil were once enough to carry a kitchen, it’s not uncommon for today’s cabinets to be stocked with a half dozen or more different cooking oils, each with a distinct smoke point and flavor. Now a new oil is drizzling its way into the limelight, bringing with it an abundance of healthy fats, a high smoke point and unmatched versatility. Based on a survey of over 10,000 consumers, algae oil, specifically Thrive Algae Oil, has been named the Best New Product of 2017 by marketing research firm BrandSpark International.
Algae oil cooks like a vegetable oil, with a smoke point of 485 degrees Fahrenheit (bested only by safflower and avocado oil, at 510 and 520 degrees, respectively) and a neutral taste that lends well to stir-frying and sautéing, as well as roasting. It’s healthy, too — richer in monounsaturated fat (90 percent per serving, compared to olive oil’s 74 percent) and lower in saturated fat than any other cooking oil. If the health perks alone aren’t compelling enough to warrant a purchase, Thrive Algae Oil’s glowing Amazon reviews — a 4.9 out of 5 stars — should seal the deal.
Crown Royal Noble Collection Wine Barrel Finished
Fine Canadian whiskey, given a royal pampering far beyond its iconic velvet cloak. Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels sourced from Paso Robles, California wine country, the limited edition expression carries notes of “heavy fruit and butterscotch: black currant, cove, with dried blueberry,” and “caramel and butterscotch with red grapes and fermented grape leaves.”
Alpine Start Premium Instant Coffee
Inveterate coffee drinkers may be dubious of an instant variety, but they have yet to try Alpine Start. A delicious brew — hot or iced — whenever you need it. Unlike your Nescafe-type instants, Alpine Start won’t turn into sandy glop in cold water or milk. They guarantee a fine cup of Colombian blend coffee at home or in the Alps.
Maille’s Limited Edition White Truffle Mustard
In celebration of its 270th anniversary, Maille has released a limited edition mustard, containing some of the finest ingredients in the world: white truffles from Alba, Italy, Chardonnay from Burgundy, France and, of course, Maille’s world-famous creamy dijon from southern France.
Dirty Lemon [energy]
Perhaps the healthiest energy drink ever. It contains just a handful of all-natural ingredients: green tea, ginseng, orange blossom honey essence, ashwagandha, lemon and lime juice. No added sweeteners, no scary chemicals. And that means sustained energy — not the jittery, quick-hit kind brought on by coffee.
Westland Distillery Garryana 2|1 American Single Malt
Westland Whiskey’s The Garryana Single Malt whiskey incorporates Garry oak, a tree species native to the Pacific Northwest, for a darkly complex and aromatic drink.
Keurig K-Select Coffee Maker
Keurig’s newest single-serve countertop coffee brewer remedies the long-bemoaned lack of control over resultant brews. The K-Select features a familiar push-button interface with the ability to brew cups ranging from 6 to 12 ounces, and the option to amp up flavor intensity with a new “Strong Brew” setting. Paired with Keurig’s My K-Cup Reusable Coffee Filter ($9), the K-Select meets dialed-in flavor with the convenience of a single-serve, 60-second brewer.
Discommon Lowball 2: The Pinch Whiskey Tumbler
Regular ol’ glass whiskey tumblers are fine, but that’s the thing — they’re regular. The Lowball 2, meanwhile, is milled from aerospace-grade aluminum into a pinchy hourglass shape, making it anything but regular. Will it make your whiskey taste better? Probably not. But it’ll certainly generate some conversation.
Tabasco Scorpion Sauce
Tabasco, the iconic red-bottled hot sauce brand, launched a limited-edition condiment that ranks a full 20 times hotter than its flagship offering, the already fiery Original Red. As noted by Bon Appetit, the new Tabasco Scorpion Sauce is made with scorpion peppers, a dash of Original Red hot sauce, guava and pineapple. Available online and at the company’s flagship store in Louisiana, Scorpion Sauce scores 50,000 heat units on the Scoville scale — a big step up from Tabasco Original Red’s 2,500–5,000, as well as Tabasco’s now second-hottest sauce, Habanero Pepper, which lands at 7,000 Scoville heat units.
Day Drinking: 50 Cocktails for a Mellow Buzz
Americans are finally catching on to what Italians have long known — that sipping low-alcohol cocktails, like aperitifs with soda, are the best way to imbibe on summer days. Kat Odell’s Day Drinking is filled with low-lift formulas that enable a sustained, mellow buzz, from (late) morning to night.
National brands charge a premium for their products simply because there’s a name brand attached to them. Generic labels, like Costco’s Kirkland, often work with the same factories that other large corporations do, but are able to slash costs because of the lack of royalties and brand clout. With this in mind, Brandless, a new direct-to-consumer grocery store, is selling pantry and household essentials for just $3 across the board.The company estimates that buying Brandless will save customers an average of 40 percent on groceries — and up to 370 percent on beauty products. Much of its wares are organic and many are non-GMO.
DRIPO Cold Brew Coffee Maker
DRIPO Cold Brew Coffee Maker is a much-needed device to quell caffeine jonesing in summer. A lightweight, portable 10-ounce drip can and built-in mug makes iced coffee drinks in as quickly as one and a half hours. Plus, the slow-drip style is of the Dutch/Japanese variety which extracts coffee flavor and leaves behind acidity.
W&P Design Water Bottle Ice Tray
This thing doesn’t make ice cubes or ice balls or ice trapezoids. It makes ice “spears” for dropping into small-mouth water bottles. (Or, if you’re a juvenile hellraiser, for firing in wrist rockets.)
Cosmik Freeze-Dried Ice Cream
Step aside, s’mores — there’s a new campsite dessert in town. Crowdfunded food startup Cosmik is updating nostalgic freeze-dried ice cream to appease the discerning palates of the present day. Available in flavors like Mexican Chocolate Chip and Cookies & Cream, the no-refrigeration-necessary bars are 100 percent organic and free of artificial colors and flavors. Developed with adventure in mind, they’re made to be eaten anywhere and everywhere — best as a follow-up to today’s best dehydrated campsite meals.
Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Series Blended Rye
Woodford Reserve is well-known for its grade-A Kentucky bourbon; its rye whiskey, however, is sadly underappreciated. This special batch of rye is finished in Woodford’s bourbon barrels, imbuing it with hints of pears, apples, graham cracker and cedar.
Jersey Italian Gravy The Only Original Alfredo Sauce
Historically, Alfredo sauce has come in two forms: store-bought jars of questionable, creamy glop, or a homemade emulsion. But Jersey Italian Gravy is changing the game. Its Only Original Alfredo Sauce packages the formula originally developed by Alfredo di Lelio in 1914 for his namesake Alfredo restaurant in Rome. Comprised of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, salted butter, olive oil and skim milk, the sauce is dense, indulgent and the next best thing to the real deal.
Milk & Honey Israeli Whisky Distillers
The global craft whiskey boom doesn’t observe borders of any sort, whether cultural, political or geographical. It’s even spread to Tel Aviv, where Milk & Honey, Israel’s first-ever whiskey distillery, has been crafting fine spirits since 2015. They offer several whiskeys; most notable is Israel’s First Single Malt Whiskey (no hiding behind that name), which is still being sold in highly limited quantities before it takes the global stage in 2019.
Good Cigar Co. Cigar Subscription
Inside each humidity-sealed pouch, which can be purchased individually or shipped monthly right to your door, are two expert-curated cigars, a cutter, matches and a pamphlet describing the cigars’ origins and tasting notes. Excellent for seasoned aficionados and curious newcomers alike.
Redemption Limited-Edition Wheated Bourbon
There’s no better way to celebrate National Bourbon Day than with a nip, a glass, or a bottle of premium rye — or in this case, wheat. The award-winning distillers at Redemption have amped up the wheat content to 45 percent of the mash bill for this limited batch of bourbon that’s been aged in charred oak barrels. Flavors of roasted coffee, hazelnut and cardamom mingle in this unique 96 proof spirit.
Teforia Leaf Tea Infuser
Sure, Keurig does tea. But it does it with the careless lack of ceremony you’d expect from a machine built solely to streamline your regular morning caffeine injection. The Teforia Leaf, on the other hand, has ritual at its core. The svelte machine is engineered with masterful tea knowledge that empowers it not to brew but to infuse Teforia’s proprietary teas, which include leaf blends such as Ancient Dragon and Genmaicha Blast. It’s still fast, but it’s also thoughtful.
Highland Park Valkyrie Single Malt Whisky
The first of a three-bottle limited release spanning just as many years, Highland Park’s Valkyrie is single malt Scotch that draws inspiration from both flanks of the North Sea. Spice and smoke are at play with notes of nutmeg, cloves, apples, mangos, and vanilla custard, as well as the signature heather peat exclusive to the Scottish archipelago of Orkney.
Knob Creek 25th Anniversary Cask-Strength Bourbon
Knob Creek celebrated 25 years of small-batch whiskey distilling with a limited edition, unfiltered single barrel bourbon that’s aged for half as many years. It’s the distillery’s first bourbon to be bottled at barrel strength, clocking in at 120-125 proof, and it’s described as having a deep and nutty vanilla flavor. Everyone wins when distilleries grow up.
Limited-Edition Marc Newson-Design Hennessey Bottle
Design tweaks to the signature X.O bottle are apparent, and it even comes in a special gift box. The perfect bottle to set alongside your surprisingly inexpensive favorite new whiskeys.
Herb & Lou’s Infused Cocktail Cubes
Making a cocktail often involves a lot of ingredients. Herb & Lou’s Infused Ice Cubes pares it down to just two: a frozen pre-made mixer — cucumber and watermelon with clover honey and thyme, for example — and as big a splash of your favorite spirit as you’d like.
OtterBox Elevation 64 Growler
The brand known for rugged phone cases is producing a growler simply constructed from copper-lined stainless steel and vacuum sealed to keep cold things cold and warm things warm. No fancy gimmicks or bright colors, either.
La Colombe Coffee Vault
La Colombe’s Coffee Vault exists somewhere between a k-cup and a 34-ounce jug of Folgers. Each vault (a sealed can) holds just enough pre-ground premium roasted beans for a pot of coffee. The pressure from the container preserves the grounds, extending their shelf life and ensuring a fresh cup. It’s for those who don’t want to deal with scoops and measurements but still enjoy the process of brewing at home.
And Union Unfiltered Lager
From And Union, a cutting-edge conglomerate of Bavarian breweries, comes a beautifully simple yet modern lager. It is unfiltered and unpasteurized, which affords a uniquely powerful taste. And the can itself is worthy of displaying on a shelf. (Even if you’re not a sentimental college student.)
Stone Ghost Hammer IPA
Past midnight at the Stone Brewery, the pipes and kettles rattle and thump as if being pounded on by an evil spirit’s phantom mallet. The late-night “Brew Crew,” which tends to Stone’s fermenting beer during these dark hours, calls this evil spirit the “Ghost Hammer.” To honor these brave brewers, Stone released an unfiltered IPA with notes of dark fruit, pepper and citrus.
Hirsch Small Batch 8-Year-Old High Rye Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, with spicy rye sourced from Northern Europe and sweet-tasting corn from Indiana and Ohio. It’s also exceptionally sippable, given its 120-proof rating.
Black Insomnia Coffee Black Hydro Workout Drink:
The world’s strongest coffee, now in mineral water form. The “most refreshing caffeinated kick in the face you’ve ever experienced,” as Black Insomnia describes it.
Nikka Coffey Gin and Vodka:
Nikka added a gin and vodka to its Coffey line in September — available in extremely limited quantities.
Patrón Extra Añejo
Patrón’s first new core-line tequila in 25 years.
Highland Park Magnus
Thie Highland Park expression is an homage to its founder, Magnus Eunson, who founded the distillery in 1798. It is matured in American oak sherry-seasoned and bourbon casks and has smokey, long-finish notes of sweet vanilla and citrus peel.
F*ck, That’s Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well
Even if you don’t like his music, it’s hard not to admire Action Bronson’s perpetually stoned brilliance and gangsta charisma. He’s also a phenomenal cook. This tome is a simmered reduction of Bronson’s enigma and his extensive memory bank of delicious recipes, seasoned with autobiographical flakes.
Federal Donuts: The (Partially) True Spectacular Story
It’s hard to say what James Beard award-winning chef Mike Solomonov is best known for. His Philadelphia-based restaurants encompass pita and hummus, waste-conscious soup, and Israeli comfort food. But it’s donuts and fried chicken, which Solomonov churns out at Federal Donuts, that his latest cookbook, Federal Donuts: The (Partially) True Spectacular Story, centers on. It begins with the basics and works up to wonderfully unexpected flavors, like salted tehina donuts and honey ginger-glazed fried chicken.
Little Book ‘The Easy’ Blended Straight Whiskey
Freddie Noe, the son of current Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe, released his first whiskey through a new annual bottle series called Little Book. The inaugural blend, “The Easy,” mixes four-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, 13-year-old corn whiskey, and six-year-old malt and high-rye whiskies. Notes include caramel, oak and toasted nuts. Bottles shipped in early October with a suggested retail price of $80 for 750mL.
Norlan Glass VAILD — Black Edition
The original Norlan glass was a sensational reimagining of the whiskey-drinking experience. Using scientifically derived shapes and contours, the glass amplified scents and flavors far beyond the capabilities of an ordinary tumbler. Norlan has further refined its original glass with the VAILD, a matte black double-walled tumbler that radiates a brilliant golden color from within when your favorite whiskey is added.
Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
Jim Murray’s “World Whisky of the Year,” as named in this year’s Whisky Bible.
Meehan’s Bartender Manual
As proprietor and lead bartender of New York’s renowned speakeasy Please Don’t Tell, Jim Meehan is a seminal figure in the craft cocktail movement. His latest opus, Meehan’s Bartender Manual, available today, goes beyond recipes and techniques and dives into menu development, bar design, bar tools and spirit production. It’s less a cocktail book, more a comprehensive guidebook to the bartending trade past and present.
Stocked Kitchens Quickles
Stocked Kitchens Quickles
Making pickles is a great way to flex your homesteading muscles — and make your entire house smell like vinegar. Stocked Kitchens’ “Quickles” are the solution: a concentrate of vinegar and spices made to be diluted with water, poured over chopped vegetables (or fruit; you do you) and refrigerated overnight. What remains is a jar of homemade pickles that require virtually no effort and still taste better than the store-bought stuff.
Additional editorial contributions were made by Emily Singer, Nick Caruso, Michael Finn, Dan Whalen and Jack Seemer