For this holiday weekend (and almost every other weekend this summer and beyond), cocktails can be a fun way to show off your skill at mixing things up and also exploring new spirit brands. That’s what I love to do– research the latest products and explore their cocktail potential.
CALI Distillery ( spirits) and Sukkah Hill Spirit (liqueurs) are artisanal companies based on family-derived recipes. The story behind how Cali Distillery is really powerful and shows how a passion project can change your life!
From the founders, Howard and Marn!
CALI Distillery, a local distilled spirits producer based here in LA. (Well, actually, the distillery is in Gardena, because it’s much easier to get the permits and find the space). We started with a homemade liqueur my wife was making in our kitchen. She made a few dozen bottles for friends and one ended up in the hands of the spirits buyer for Ralphs markets. He called us up and asked if we could make it for real so that Ralphs could carry it. Roll forward a few years and we have two liqueurs – named to the top 100 spirits in the world by Wine Enthusiast – and three gold medal-winning whiskeys.
(Find more about the founders and their powerful story HERE.
No one describes their business better than Marni and Howard, so I am excerpting descriptions and their commentary about each brand they have!
“They are all handcrafted with incredible and unique flavor profiles.
If you check out Instagram (@sukkahhillspirits and @calidistillery), you will get a sense of the tremendous support and following these two brands are picking up from creative mixologists all over the country.”
Cali Distillery is made up of 3 different spirits:
CALI Whiskey is a unique California twist on a classic American sipping whiskey. CALI is smoother than a frontier whiskey, but more complex and flavorful than a traditional Kentucky bourbon. So pour a glass to sip while reading a good book or laughing with friends.
Flavor is all about aroma and running a distillery is really about how to use raw high proof alcohol to pull the aromas and flavors out of cool stuff. The flavors of CALI Whiskey arise organically from the interaction of the rich corn mash bourbon and spicy rye, mellowed by clean oak and then finished with our own signature blends of herbs, spices and botanicals.
CALI starts with pure whiskey front notes and ends with subtle, complex, slightly sweet spice notes – just enough to have it finish with a delicious complexity.
When Samuel Maverick, a Texas rancher, refused to brand his herd, his cattle ran free on the range, independent, unclaimed and unbranded. Those “Mavericks” gave their name to a unique American archtype. A Maverick is an independent individualist, a strong non-conformist who doesn’t follow the crowd. When everyone else is branded with the mark of the herd, Mavericks stand alone.
When we set out to create our own one-of-a-kind small batch finished whiskeys, we just had to name them Mavericks. Each expression is a unique California Original. The Mavericks series is our chance to share our vision of what whiskey can be.
DoubleWood is our “high rye” bourbon shaped by exposure to two very different varieties of oak. CALI Mavericks DoubleWood Whiskey starts out in charred new American Oak barrels, and finishes with toasted French Oak.
The result of the “double wood” exposure is a whiskey that is ” Rich with coffee, caramel, and cocoa aromas, this is what Whiskey tastes like on the coast.”
Riptide Rye also known as Riptide Cask Strength Rye Whiskey
Rye Whiskey has deep roots in the story of American Whiskey. When the colonists pushed out British Rum they didn’t give up drinking, they just started making whiskey – Rye Whiskey. Even George Washington had his own still at Mount Vernon, and made a Rye Whiskey for sale. It was an unaged, unfiltered white lightning, but he double distilled it and sent it off to market.
Rye Whiskey remained popular until prohibition wiped out American Distilling. Americans got used to the milder, simpler, lighter Canadian whiskey smuggled in during Prohibition. After Repeal, Rye Whiskey never reestablished itself. Until now. As the community has re-embraced bourbon and rich American Whiskeys over the past few years they have rediscovered Rye. Rye is the fastest growing premium spirit in the world today. Its complex flavors are easy to drink straight and add tremendous depth to cocktails.
Riptide is CALI Distillery’s idea of a perfect small batch Rye Whiskey. It is 93% rye with just enough malted barley to drive the fermentation process. We are so enamored of this mash bill, that we do our best to bottle it as purely as it comes out of the single barrel. Cask Strength, this 118 proof spirit has a beautiful amber color and an earthy overtone. The rich butterscotch notes of oak complement the underlying spice of the Rye to make an incredibly smooth Rye Whiskey.
CALI and Riptide are both great bases for Manhattans and Old Fashioneds and whiskey sours.
Here are some cocktails featuring Cali and Riptide.
-1 ounce Riptide Rye
– 1 ounce Campari or Gran Classico
-1 ounce sweet vermouth
Pour all ingredients into a rocks glass and stir!
1 ounce Cali
2 ounce fresh pineapple
1 ounce oh
Pour all ingredients into a medium tall glass with ice and stir!
– 2.5 ounce Rye
– .5 of sweet Vermouth
– maraschino cherry
Pour all ingredients into a medium tall glass with ice and stir!
The Top Gun
3/4 ounce Maverick
3/4 ounce Aperol
3/4 ounce Amaro
3/4 ounce Lemon juice
Pour all ingredients into a shaker and shake well
Strain and pour into a rocks glass
Home Sweet Home
2 ounce Maverick
.5 ounce Besamim (part of the Sukkah Hill Spirits collection)
Shake liquids and ice sphere in a shaker for about 20-30 seconds.
Pour into a rocks glass and use the ice sphere in the glass too.
Use the orange peel on the rim of the glass.
This cocktail recipe is from @chenaholic
An Apple a Day
1.5 oz Riptide
.75 oz apple brandy
.5 oz maple syrup
2 dashes aromatic bitters
Mix all and stir with ice.
Strain into rocks glass over ice
Control and Surrender
2 oz CALI
.5 oz Suze (This is a French liqueur that is known for its gentian, citrus zest, and bitter finish. Find it here)
1 bar spoon of rosemary simple syrup
2 dashes DRAM Wild Mountain Sage Bitters
Add all to glass with one large cube, stir and garnish with lemon peel
I will be featuring the Sukkah Hill Spirits tomorrow as well as include a review on those liqueurs and also the Cali Whiskey, Mavericks Whiskey and also the Riptide Rye! I wanted to get the cocktails to you ASAP because that’s more critical than my review. The most I can tell you is that you should try at least one of these 3 spirits.
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