The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2013

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Page 85 of 152

The (Moon) Shining Culinary and Cocktail Crystals The cocktailian set is always looking for new products to bring their drinks from special to spectacular. Offering both form and function is the Fresh Origin Herb Crystals line, which combines natural fresh ingredients like fennel, rose, basil and mint with pure cane sugar. The result is a crunchy, colorful spice kernel that's just begging to be used as a pretty rim on a cocktail glass. The culinary crowd will also want to get into the game, as these mighty little crystals offer a powerful flavor punch. On the other side of the sweet-salty divide, Wild Hibiscus Flower Pyramid Salt Flakes offer another variety for signature seasonings. Blended from dried hibiscus flowers and pyramid salt flakes from the Australian Outback, these pretty purple pieces offer another garnish option or culinary confection, with a nice balance of flavors that will satisfy both fruity and savory cravings. Clear As Smoke While mezcal's signature smokiness has pumped up the power of agave, Montelobos Mezcal Joven brings a smooth take on the classic taste with fresh, unaged flavors. Made from 100% espadín agave, this crystal-clear smoky spirit is perfect for holiday cocktail recipes, and we love the idea of a smoky-sweet mezcal eggnog on these cold wintry nights. Made by world-renowned agave expert Dr. Iván Saldaña, who joined forces fifth-generation mezcalero Don Abel Lopez to artisanally produce this classic spirit, Montelobos is mezcal at its finest. Though the smoke in this product is limited to name alone, with one sip of Ole Smoky Strawberry Moonshine, you're whisked away to visions of misty evenings nestled in dark mountainous territory (perhaps with the sound of banjos in the background? —Ed.). Sweet with juicy strawberry flavors, this newly-released flavor extension straddles the best of both worlds, with a fruity flavor and a serious unaged whiskey punch. The 'shiners at Ole Smoky have also recently released a Lemon Drop variety, which is true to its name with a nicelybalanced sweettart freshness and is a sure way to brighten up these long wintry evenings. Bitten by Brew From its blood-red hue, to the snake dangerously weaving its way across the bottle, Enlightenment Wine's St. Crimson black mead offers the perfect look for a Halloween spookfest. But one sip of this sweet, crème de cassis–style sipper and things take a decidedly un-scary turn. With ripe currants, sour cherry and honeyed floral notes, this best-served-cold New York–produced sipper is enticing on its own as an aperitif, and we can see some serious mixing potential in the right hands. We love the contrast between dark and dreary and fresh and fruity, and think this is one snakey-sipper that's slithered its way into our hearts year round. november 2013  /  the tasting panel  /  85 TP1113_066-107.indd 85 10/24/13 9:24 AM

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