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K&L Staff Recommendations
2013 Ao Yun, China $299.99
From the official Angustura website: "Made with the same original secret recipe since 1824, the world famous Angostura aromatic bitters remains the quintessential and definitive ingredient for classic and contemporary cocktails. Its versatility, however, stretches way beyond the bar counter as it serves as a unique flavour enhancer with the ability to marry flavours in the preparation of all food dishes. Angostura aromatic bitters also adds its unmistakable flavour and aroma to 'soft' beverages and desserts."
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Best well chilled, this classic brand has a mild sweetness that hints at marshmallow and cocoa bean, plus flares of citrus peel, cassia bark and ginger on the clean finish. (KN)" (10/2013) K&L Notes: Ketel One is made in Holland. It is a family-owned business which has been carrying on the tradition of vodka-making for eleven generations. Their focus at Ketel One is quality, tradition and personal commitment to their customers. This shows in their vodka by offering only the heart of each distillate, tasted by a member of the family before it is released. One of the b... Read More »
We firmly believe that Belvedere is one of the best vodkas in the business and at this price it's a steal. An award-winning hand-crafted Polish Vodka, made according to centuries-old traditional methods, this is 100% Polish rye, distilled 4 times and charcoal filtered. The illustration on the back depicts the Belvedere House, the Polish equivalent to the White House, the official residence of the Polish president in Warsaw. Additive-free and diluted with water from Belvedere's own artesian well, it exhibits delicate aromas and flavors, with hints of vani... Read More »
Originally created in 1823 by James Pimm of Kent to be served as a digestif, Pimm's Original Gin Sling was the first "House Cup" at London's popular Oyster Bar, thus the spirit's name: Pimm's No. 1 Cup. A special blend of herbs, liqueurs and quinine were steeped in gin and paired with oysters on the half shell. As the brand's reputation grew, other Pimm's Cups were developed, each based on different spirits, including vodka and brandy, but only the gin-based cup is available in the US today. The iconic cocktail, appropriately named Pimm's Cup, has been a... Read More »
This is first-class Guatemalan rum is made from virgin sugar cane honey--the first press of the sugar cane that's boiled down to thicken--rather than molasses, which is a byproduct of the sugar-making process. This results in a finer, sweeter, smoother rum. Aged in the solera method, like sherry, the Zacapa Centenario is very dark--mahogany with coppery tints--and has a clove, cocoa, cinnamon and orange peel-scented nose. The palate is sweet and smooth, with cocoa, orange and honey flavors and a sensuous, viscous texture. It finishes long and smooth. It ... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "The bouquet offers integrated scents of roasted chestnut, dried tobacco leaf, maple, orange zest, brown sugar, cinnamon and egg cream. The palate entry is curiously medicinal; the midpalate improves as the taste includes bittersweet flavors of old oak, wood resin, molasses and tree sap. Concludes intensely sap- and maple-like." (5/2007) K&L Notes: *Best Premium Gold Rum - 2011 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition*
Specially bottled for Berry Bros & Rudd in London, this gin was created to exemplify the classic London Dry style. Unabashedly juniper-driven, the riveting No. 3 gets its name from the historic home of Berry Bros at No. 3 St. James Street in London, where they've been operating continuously since 1698. The No. 3 pushes tradition to the extreme using a simple 3 fruit and 3 spice recipe. The nose is all citrus and piney juniper. On the palate the juniper is balanced perfectly with spicy coriander and verdant cardamom. The finish brings the earthy telltale... Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "A classic Dickensian dissembler, Reverend Stiggins is a Pickwick Papers character who sermonized about temperance while indulging in constant sips of pineapple rum. His name graces this new rum, a project that Maison Ferrand took on, sparked by a suggestion from spirits writer David Wondrich (the two have collaborated in recent years on a Curaçao). Using a base of Plantation Original Dark Rum that’s been macerated with Queen Victoria pineapple flesh and a portion of white rum that’s been distilled with the rinds, they’ve created a barrel-aged rum that’s ...Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "A top pick for tiki and tropical drinks, this practically begs for lime juice. Scented with warm honey notes, the palate shows lots of brown sugar and spice, plus an enticingly untamed, funky finish (the fabled 'hogo'). Since it’s 'Navy Strength,' you might not want to sip it straight up—the producer wisely recommends exploring the profile first in a daiquiri—though it’s smooth and interesting enough if you want to try." (8/2014) K&L Notes: The original Jamaica rum is back. It's been 80 years and true Jamaica pot still rum has lived only in the imagination of cocktai... Read More »
Gin Mare is a product we discovered in Scotland, of all places, years ago while searching for single malt. The retailer across the street from our hotel in Edinburgh was featuring the gin in a tasting that evening and we went over to check it out. Distilled in Spain with olives, rosemary, basil, and thyme it's a savory and truly Mediterranean experience. The herbs never overpower the palate, however, as the balance between them is quite delicate and refined. It's definitely an ideal choice for martinis, paired with olives, of course.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* A syrupy textured mixer comprised of liquid sucrose, lime juice, almond and clove essences and water—not to be consumed neat. Clove and lime juice on the nose. Thick and sweet on the palate, but the lime juice acts as the perfect balance for the high-octane liquid sucrose. Scores of applications in cocktails." (6/2006) K&L Notes: Velvet Falernum is a longtime staple item of resorts and bars in Barbados, and today for its use in Tropical, Tiki and Caribbean drinks such as the Rum Swizzle, Mai Tai, Zombie, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and the Corn n’ Oil. It is ... Read More »
Just when you think you've tasted every type of booze known to man, you discover that there are yet more regionally-specific spirits being distilled in places you've never considered. Like Bolivia, for example. South America is generally rum country, but in Bolivia they make a pisco-like spirit called Singani, distilled from Muscat of Alexandria grapes grown high in the Andes mountains. Seeing that Muscat is an aromatic varietal, known for its fruity and floral character, the Singani spirit distilled from it takes on many of the perfume-like elements fou... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Made with 10 internationally sourced botanicals--Seville orange peel, Italian orris root, et al.--this gin rings with plenty of juniper and licorice upfront, followed by lavender and citrus peel. Finishes smooth and mellow. (KN)" (8/2015) K&L Notes: Sipsmith is the first new copper-distilled London gin to actually be made in London in the last 200 years--as most production has moved to Scotland for economic reasons. The boys at the distillery have awoken a new movement of pride in London distillates the term "London dry gin" is actually a type of gin that can be dist... Read More »
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. Having operated since the 1600s, it supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years, and the Diamond Estate Distillery still churns out a variety of spirits today. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries, are still in operation and produce a number of amazing flavors. The deliciously supple 12-year- old uses medium-bodied rums from the Savalle still (a very unique column still th... Read More »
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. Having operated since the 1600s, and supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years, the Diamond Estate Distillery still churns out a variety of spirits today. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries, are still in operation and produce a number of amazing flavors along with more than seven additional stills that create more traditional ones. The El Dorado 3 year uses light to me... Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The bouquet is subtle and alluring, with distant notes of buttered popcorn and escarole broth; aeration stimulates aromas of peanut butter, rye toast and damp cobblestone. Silky palate entry is slightly sweet, concentrated and grainy; at midpalate, the flavor turns drier, lightly spiced and almost fruity (as in dried fruit). Aftertaste is long and spicy. Well crafted and quality driven." (6/2004) K&L Notes: Made from 100% Polish rye, the Potocki vodka might be the best vodka we carry. It's the cleanest, most pure form of vodka I've ever had the chance to taste and I ... Read More »
From the brewery: "A few times in the history of craft beer it has happened that a highly praised beer rises beyond mortal stardom into a higher godly league. Usually the recipe to make such heavenly drops is thick fudge-like body, pitch black color, amazingly overwhelming aromas of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and muscovado sugar, obviously only made in limited amounts and most crucial of all - it must taste rare!"
Wine & Spirits: "*Year's Best Spirits 2016* Some of the world’s best rums are being made by a man who cut his teeth on Cognac, Alexandre Gabriel, owner of Maison Ferrand. Not long after reviving that brandy house, Gabriel turned his attention to rum, creating Plantation and endowing it with a Cognac distiller’s sense of balance, elegance and variety. OFTD (Old-Fashioned Traditional Dark), created with input from rum specialists including cocktail historian David Wondrich and tiki expert Martin Cate, is a blockbuster. Earlier Plantation dark rums had relied exclusively on ...Read More »
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. Having operated since the 1600s, it supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years. The Diamond Estate Distillery still churns out a variety of spirits today. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries, are still in operation and produce a number of amazing flavors. The 15 year old draws its core flavor from the use of the distillery's historic wooden pot stills -- the Port Mourant... Read More »
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. Having operated since the 1600s, it supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years. The Diamond Estate Distillery still churns out a variety of spirits today. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries and still in operation and produce a number of amazing flavors. The complex and ethereal 21 year uses heavy-bodied rums from the EHP Coffey still (a wooden column built in the 1800s)... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "A sooty initial aroma; following aeration, enticing, dry notes of palm oil, unsalted butter, grain mash and slate emerge. The palate entry is bone dry as soot and slate tastes meld, then turn delightfully oily and textured. Clean, medium-weight and nicely. (PP)" (4/2006)
*Gold Medal - 2007 San Francisco World Spirits Competition* Gosling Brothers Ltd. imported its first barrels of Caribbean rum into Bermuda in 1860. Numerous different blends were tried until one was formulated and deemed ideal. The result was a well-aged, extremely dark rum, which the firm dubbed "Old-Rum". For over 50 years the rum was sold only by draught, with local patrons bring in their own bottles to be filled. The rum continued to be sold exclusively out of the barrel until the First World War, when the company began filling champagne bottles re... Read More »
The exceptional rums from R.L. Seale & Co. Ltd are distilled at the Foursquare Rum Distillery in St Philip Barbados. This unique distillery is one of four on the island and produces some of the Caribbean's finest rums. The Master Blender/distiller over there is Richard Seale and while Mr. Seale seems to be quite a staunch purist when it comes to the addition of flavor additives and finishing sugars that are ubiquitous throughout the rum industry, he does believe that rum is a world class product that deserves to be aged in world class casks. The idea to ... Read More »
The exceptional Ford's Gin is one of the most versatile London Dries on the market. Distilled at the exceptional Thames Distillery by master distiller Charles Maxwell and the famous Simon Ford. Starting with a base of Italian juniper and coriander seed, the recipe is expanded thoughtfully to include bitter oranges, lemon and grapefruit peel. Subtle Jasmine and Orris add a soft floral quality, while spicy Angelica root and Cassia bark give it some structure. I've always noted a smidge of cucumber, but the distiller won't cop to it. Anyway, the mixture is ... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "The first sniffings unearth a soft, slightly sour and vegetal aroma; more time adds minor scents of ash and unsmoked cigarette. The bittersweet palate entry taste flashes on cocoa bean and sap; at midpalate toasty, sooty flavors of tobacco leaf, wood smoke, wood resin and vanilla are found. Ends up semisweet, succulent and roughly spirity." (6/2006) K&L Notes: Chopin Vodka, imported from Poland, is crafted from 100% hand-cultivated Stobrawa potatoes. It is four times distilled to create full flavored, smooth and clean vodka. This family owned distillery has operated ... Read More »
This is the best pisco that I have ever tasted - easily. It is creamy, clean, and beautiful. I could drink this straight out of the bottle. Made by San Francisco bartenders specifically for craft cocktails, this blows every other pisco out of the water. Paul Clarke from the Cocktail Chronicles agrees, calling it "Mind blowing stuff, absolutely the best pisco I've ever tasted." A blend of three different varietals: Quebranta (76%), Torontel (6%), and Italia (18%), Encanto Pisco is rested for nine months to refine its smooth texture, aroma and spice notes.... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Seductive nose is juicy, with ripe, fruity aromas of baked apple, baked pear, nutmeg, vanilla bean, cardamom and dried orange peel. Flavor is firm, bittersweet, focused and more maple-like than sugary. Ends moderately oily and keenly bittersweet. In that league of aged rums that begin to resemble brandies." (6/2006) K&L Notes: Gold Medal Winner 2009 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition. Silver Medal International Review of Spirits Award. Also **Highly Recommended** by the Beverage Testing Institute: "Rich copper brown color. Rich aromas of chocolate pudding and browni... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Distinctly fruity and floral on the palate, this has notes of rosewater and raspberry, braced by pepper and ginger flecks. This smooth and well-balanced gin is a good choice for making a berry-forward cocktail like the classic bramble. (KN)" (4/2013) K&L Notes: Eleventh generation heirs, Carl Jr. and Bob Nolet collaborated with their father, Carolus Nolet Sr., tenth generation distillery owner, to create a fresh take on gin that appeals to a new generation of gin drinkers. Floral and fruit-forward, the Silver uses some unique ingredients like Turkish rose, peach and ... Read More »
92 points "outstanding" Beer Advocate, and a championship ale many times over in national competitions. Time and again, "The Landlord" has proven worth the rent.
This spectacular single-blended rum is an example of everything that the rum industry should be doing but isn't. Foursquare is among the world's finest rum distilleries and home to one of the industry's great rum purists, Richard Seale--great great grandson of the founder Reginald Leon Seale. Richard is an important voice in rum today and, as master blender for R.L. Seale, he seems poised to be the savior that the rum category so desperately needs. He knows that rum will never attain its full potential while most of the producers rely on sugar and carame... Read More »
An American wild farmhouse ale brewed in Brooklyn, New York.
Inventory: Redwood City
A classic made from raw demerara sugar in Guyana, this bottling is historically relevant because Lemon Hart was the original supplier of rum to the British Royal Navy. It packs a hefty punch, but mix it up in an authentic punch and you'll be happy you did. Currently sold out everywhere, tiki bars like Smuggler's Cove in SF are buying dozens of cases to use as the foundation for their drinks. After this batch it may not be seen again for some time.
The Danish classic is making a come back with the craft cocktail set. Its fresh, tart cherry character is the perfect balance to add both sweetness and acidity to your cocktail. If you love cherries, this is the adulterant for you. You can also sip it chilled or throw it in a spritz without much issue.
An old-school elixir made by an old-school distiller. Praise from Luxist: "Lucas Bols, the world's oldest distilled spirits brand originally established in 1575 in Amsterdam, has relaunched its Dutch Genever gin, a white spirit created almost two centuries ago. The word 'gin' has disappeared from the new bottle in favor of 'grain neutral spirits,' as the old world Genever bears little resemblance to the dry London gins we're familiar with these days. Bols Genever is made by blending a unique distillate called maltwine with a carefully selected secret ble... Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "*Year's Best Spirits 2016* An eternally underrated spirit, pisco’s fortunes have been limited by a perceived lack of applications. None of its cocktails are casual a airs like a gin-and-tonic or a Margarita. That may change with Barkeep’s Whimsy Pisco. Much like the Plantation rum described below, Campo de Encanto has incorporated the input of bartenders to create this blend. After years of bringing bartenders to Peru to involve them in the distilling process, Duggan McDonnell and his team at Encanto have found that bartenders tend to be attracted to the ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "This complex, balanced gin has a citrusy, lightly sweet palate, hinting at grapefruit and delivering a faint, pleasing white floral note. The finish offers citrus and spicy zing. (KN)" (7/2016) K&L Notes: This exceptional gin distilled from eight fresh botanicals and 100% English Grain Spirit on a traditional english pot still is a modern version of the classic British style. Designed specifically for that most British of tipples, the Gin & Tonic, the freshness and balance of the botanicals is what sets this apart from the bevy of recent offerings in the category. Th... Read More »
Galaxy & Simcoe hopped. Brewed at Dorchester Brewing Co.
Inventory: Redwood City
To make this famous gin, Spanish almonds and Spanish lemon zest, Chinese licorice roots, Italian juniper berries, Italian Orris root, Angelica root, coriander seed, cassia bark, cubeb berries and grains of paradise from West Africa are processed and blended with a botanical recipe developed in 1761. Clean and light with herbaceous, earthy and light fruit qualities, Bombay Sapphire is distinctive on its own and in cocktails. Try: Berry Bombay 3 parts Bombay Sapphire 6 blueberries 2 strawberries Juice of ½ a lemon 1 tbsp sugar, plus extra for rim Chill a ... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America, and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. In operation since the 1600s, they've supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries, produce a number of amazing flavors. In addition, they have more than seven modern stills creating layers of flavor. The 8-year-old rum is the most ubiquitous of the line-up around Guyana, offering the best combination of maturity and value in one bottl... Read More »
One of the best known Quadrupels available on the market today, the St. Bernardus Abt 12 has earned its place in the spotlight. Based on one of the original recipes from the Trappist Monks of Westvleteren, which was given to the cheese-making abbey of St. Bernardus. (From WWII until 1992 the beer was sold under the names Trappist Westvleteren, St. Sixtus and Sixtus.) The beer is dark and full-bodied, with a fruity nose and complex palate striking the perfect balance between malty, bitter and sweet.
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "A muted aroma of brown sugar and milk chocolate with traces of peanut and black pepper. The elegant yet assertive palate entry is firm, peppery, moderately sweet, and cane-like; at midpalate the texture turns silky, semisweet and cocoa-like to the taste, and eminently elegant and sophisticated in style. Finishes sweet, honeyed, medium-bodied, svelte and utterly yummy." (8/2005)
96 points Wine Enthusiast: "#6 on top 25 beers of 2015"
Star & Levi Reserve hails from the birthplace of grain vodka, Ukraine. Distilled exclusively from August harvest grains that are cultivated in Ukraine's fertile Black Soil and using pure spring water from the protected waters of the remote Carpathian Mountains. This small batch vodka is distilled on traditional stills five times before a quadruple purification. Filtered through silver and crystal, the subtle flavors are clean and dry with absolutely no addition of sugar whatsoever. The body is medium to full with a slight spice rising in the finish. Trul... Read More »
Rhum Barbancourt is a superior premium dark rum distilled twice in copper pot stills. It is then barrel aged in white oak barrels. Unlike other island rums, Barbancourt is made directly from sugar cane juice, pressed from hand-cut locally grown cane. Aged 8 years. A full bodied premium "Reserve Speciale" dark rum with a velvety quality. Will enhance any rum drink.
Dancing pink elephants? No this beer is not like watching Dumbo under the influence of psychedelics, but it is intense. Made by Huyghe-Melle, the oldest still-active brewery in Ghent, Belgium. Their best known brew--and perhaps one of the best-known Belgian beers in all the U.S.--is the Delirium Tremens, a blonde ale with mouth-coating malt flavors, bitter peppery notes and bright, complementary fruit.
Special Order Only! Will take 3-7 days to receive this product before it can be shipped. This is the bottle of Rum that our staff takes home! It is the best spiced Rum on the market. Sailor Jerry Collins is the most famous tattoo artist of all time. Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum is based on Jerry's own personal recipe. It's higher in proof and spiced with a hint of cherry. Very full bodied, but goes down nice and smooth.
Inventory: Special Order
Made with "soft" water from Lake Bolmen in southern Sweden, known for its arctic purity, neutral corn spirits five-times distilled that lends sweetness to the gin and a blend of classic botanicals including juniper, coriander leaf and cardamom. The blend creates a gin with a warm, nutty spice punctuated by the addition of citrus (lemon, bergamot, lime and bitter orange) and sarawak black pepper, for a clean, refreshing gin with no funky aftertaste or astringency. Beautiful! Skip the tonic water with this gin; it's perfect unadulterated.
Inventory: Special Order
This craft gin from, yes, the center of London is distilled in a copper pot still. Producer note: "City of London is a one-shot connoisseur’s London Dry Gin, flavoured with a fine balance of juniper berries, angelica, liquorice and coriander seeds – with fresh orange, lemon and pink grapefruit added also to give the gin its distinctive zesty notes."
Berliner-style Weisse beer brewed with cherries.
Inventory: Redwood City