Friday Night Flights

May 01, 2018

If you are experiencing inner turmoil regarding choice of libation on a hot summer’s evening…

…rest assured, convincing your mind of the choice to go clear is far from glib.

Matured spirits like whisk(e)y, aged rums, brandy, and Añejo tequila all have their time and place (all the time, everywhere). However, there are some occasions when the mood begs for something lively, invigorating, and refreshing. Floral and herbaceous gins, crisp and clean vodkas, versatile unaged-brandies, fresh sugar cane distillates, and endorphin-inducing agave, all fit the bill for a spirit selection that can provide a fortifying reprieve from June gloom.

A tall glass of gin and tonic is a ubiquitous warm weather patio sipper for good reason. One gin du jour suggestion to pair with a nice tonic for the coming months is the D. George Benham’s Sonoma Dry Gin from Graton Distillery in Northern California.  At the Graton, they use 12 vapor-infused botanicals to craft a gin that is balanced, bright, and revitalizing. Local hand-peeled lemons and Buddha’s hand impart bracing citrus notes, while cardamom, galangal and star anise provide a nuanced backbone of spice, while soothing mint and chamomile serve as vehicles to carry therapeutic Tuscan juniper through the finish. Top this base spirit off with good ice, a bubbly Fentiman’s tonic, and a lemon twist, finished with a comfortable seat in the shade to fill a prescription for a relaxing time in the Summer of George!


It has a shimmery appearance, a medium-weight lushly textured body an enticing floral bouquet with light spicy notes. The smooth, warm entry quickly bathes the palate with dry, herbaceous flavors that soon give way to the long spicy fresh citrus fade.


Hand crafted from the purest mountain spring water and Idaho Russet Burbank potatoes, considered the finest potatoes in the world. Four-column distillation and five stage filtration. Certified Non-GMO and Gluten Free. 92pts Wine Enthusiast

If one were to belly up to the bar and order a classic Daiquiri on a hot night, your bartender may react with a respectful nod of envious approval. Fresh lime juice, sugar, and rum, form the holy trinity that will lead you on the righteous path toward spiritual enlightenment. Batiste Rhum Ecoist is a great white rum to tap as a sherpa on this quest. Batiste Rhum Ecoist begins its journey on the small Caribbean island of Marie Galant, where sugarcane is harvested from an organic farm that has been in operation since 1769.  The cane is then pressed at a solar-powered distillery, which is one cog in the wheel of a production scheme that is entirely eco-positive and sustainable. Once distilled, the juice is shipped to California for finishing and bottling. The resultant liquid is wonderfully aromatic, and complex with a slight pleasant funkiness inherent of French-style Agricole rums. Batiste Rum Ecoist completes a Daiquiri that is hard to move too far from your face before it’s gone.

Another suitable unaged cane-based distillate that is great for Daiquiri riffs and beyond is Espirito VXI Cachaça Classico. Cachaça, the beloved national spirit of Brazil, can be used for much more than the traditional Caipirinha. Espirito VXI Cachaça Classico is produced using Brazilian cane from fields that have not been scorched by flame burning practices. The cane is then quickly pressed and fermented following harvest to prevent the need for pasteurization. Combine that distillate of carefully sourced ingredients with pure mountain spring water and you have a refreshing take on Cachaça that is incredibly easy going, and can transport your state of being to the tile patterned walkways of Copacabana.

From the chill vibes of Ipanema to the brisk shores of Lake Titicaca, enter Singani 63, our next clear spirit of distinction. Singani, distilled at high elevations from the white Muscat de Alexandria grape, has been the national spirit of Bolivia for the last 500 years, but it took the obsession of filmmaker Steven Soderbergh to bring it to our attention. While filming Che in Bolivia, Sodebergh became infatuated with Singani for its citrus-tinged aromas, herbaceous flavors, and energetic buzz, thus embarking the director on a seven year battle to bring Singani 63 to our mouths in the USA. Singani 63’s potential for mixability is out of sight—it can fill in perfectly in classic gin and whiskey recipes in both aromatic and shaken applications. Beware, Singani 63 contributes to one of the deadliest daiquiri interpretations encountered by man, as it is impossible to have a responsible allotment of servings in one sitting. Before one realizes, they have become as equally transfixed with the powers of the clear spirit as Soderbergh, and will look like a buffoon dancing by their lonesome in a corner mimicking the infamous “traffic zebras” (Google it if you are unfamiliar) of La Paz.


Batiste Rhum Ecoiste is cleaner, more versatile, and pleasing than any rum you’ve ever tasted. It starts in the Caribbean on a farm that’s been growing sugar since 1769. The cane is pressed into juice and distilled at an Eco-Positive facility before coming to California for finishing and bottling. All natural, Non- GMO and gluten free.


An ultra premium Cachaca with double distillation in small batches from 100% fresh pressed Brazillian cane sugar and pure spring water from the mountains of Rio de Janeiro. Winner of Gold @2015 SF World Spirits Competition

Sometimes, the best remedy to unwind and refresh the events of the day is the simplest and most straightforward solution: a vodka soda. Blue Ice Vodka, a crisp, clean expression of potato vodka from Rigby, Idaho, benefits from sourcing water naturally filtered through volcanic rock from the Snake River Aquifer, at the base of the snow crested Grand Teton Mountains—one of the most prized natural water sources in the country. You couldn’t manufacture a more refreshing mental image than this setting if you were pitching a Davidoff Cool Water print ad. Additional perk: a serving of Blue Ice Vodka contains half the calories of another leading vodka that is handmade in the USA. So if you are looking to have a good time while keeping it light and tight this summer, follow these simple instructions: glass, Blue Ice Vodka, ice, club soda, squeeze of lime, drink, enjoy victory, repeat.

To round off our list of clear spirits to enhance your summer experience, try the perfect shot and a beer pairing. Del Maguey Santo Domingo Albarradas Single Village Mezcal is produced in the mountains of Oaxaca at an 8,500 foot elevation. This magical liquid instantly transports you to the palenque operated by Espiridion Morales Luis and family, surrounded by aromas of chile smoke from the neighboring village and a breathtaking tropical setting on top of a freakin’ mountain. Pair a copita of this mezcal with an ice-cold Stiegl Radler to enjoy a perfect dance-floor descanso in the form of a deconstructed Paloma –and you have surely reached the apex of human achievement. Salud.


Albarradas has a high light nose with lots of citrus overtones. A bit of roasted pear too. Lots of tropical fruit on the tongue, spicy and woody with a clean dry finish. Santo Domingo Albarradas is located in the Mixe (pronounced Mee-Hay) region south of Oaxaca. The Mixe is a high altitude tropical zone closely resembling parts of Hawaii. Tropical plants and fruits grow here beside rushing mountain streams. Cool gray mists blow through the valleys and pine trees also grow nearby.


Rich, ripe juniper is well-integrated and provides the framework. Citrus and exotic fruit flavors enhance and brighten the botanicals. On the nose, there’s the scent of warm cardamom, baking spices, truffle-like angelica earthiness and floral chamomile notes. On the palate, the full flavors are balanced by sweetness from star anise and creaminess from the orris root. The gin dances on the finish, with a touch of cool mint and peppery spice from the galangal and grains of paradise.

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