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Apr 19, 2012 11:33 PM

What's In California?

Let's say I live in the God-forsaken Midwest. No Boston/D.C. liquid frivolity for me. No Cali K&L either. Just endless farms and ennui aplenty.

Now let's say I've connected some dots and realized that I have friends on the West coast that will soon be returning to this armpit of the world. If I could request a handful of bottles for them to bring to me, what would those bottles be? Off the top of my head I would go with:
Cocchi Americano (the reason for this post),
Creole Shrub?,
The Bitter Truth?,
Anchor Distillery stuff? Is it cheaper out there?

These are speculative. I know I cannot get them (or have a damned difficult time getting them) here and I know a lot of the online liquor stores such as K&L are based out there. So I would assume that a handful of gems would be lounging about in the balmy Pacific weather, taunting me with their distance.

What suggestions might you lovely Hounds have to make?

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  1. I would suggest browsing online inventory for some of the large retailers such as Total Wine or Hi time wine to see what their selection and prices are like.

    Hi-time has Creole Shrubb for the nice price of $24, and carpano Antica for $29 for a liter, best price I have seen. I am placing an order from there soon and those are on my list.

    I noticed they recently dropped their prices on Anchor Junipero and Genevieve to $27, I believe they were $33 or 34 before.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ncyankee101

      Thanks! That Creole Shrubb price is incredibly attractive. I also like the selection of Marie Brizzard stuff. Can't find that here. And they've got a good price on Drambuie ($24.99 vs. the usual $30ish here).

    2. Looking through K&L's inventory, I see a lot of Armagnacs, so I guess I'll pose the question...

      What's everyone's favorite Armagnac? It's a road I have yet to head down but it does appeal to me and I'd like to start off on the right foot.

      2 Replies
      1. re: alphanumeric

        My favorite Armagnac is definitely Cles de Ducs VSOP. Of course, it's the only one I've tried so far ;-) I have had several cognacs though and for the money I quite like that Armagnac better than any comparably priced cognacs. (i paid $33.)

        I have heard Larresingle is a very good bargain brand and might be a good introduction without breaking the bank. I see the VSOP at some retailers for around $40.

        1. re: ncyankee101

          Frankly I find Larresingle to be very undistinguished as an armagnac. The best I ever had was a Ferte armagnac. The trouble with armagnac is it is very hard to find the particular one you want.

      2. I would turn that on its head. What interesting cocktails have you read about and not been able to make for lack of ingredient availability? Always wanted to try an Aviation with violette in it? Then R&W Violette or perhaps Creme Yvette. Been subbing B&B for Benedictine? Then get a bottle.

        And then maybe pepper that with some locally-unobtainable bottles of your favorite spirit categories. Great opportunity for single malts, for example.

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        4 Replies
        1. re: EvergreenDan

          Interesting. I did run through and come up with a couple list of things that struck my eye (Bittermen's Xocolatl would be nice).

          What are some categories that I should focus on for California beside single malts (crossing my fingers for rye)? I didn't realize single malts would be a good buy there. Do you know of a reason?

          And speaking of single malts, should I pick up a Lagavulin DE '94 for $70 or is it not special enough to merit that money?

          1. re: alphanumeric

            I've only had the Lagavulin 16, so I would definitely try the Distiller's Edition '94 for $70. I thought of single malts because the selection is often terrible away from large metro areas. I don't think there is any reason they would be particularly cheap in CA.

            I'm fold of mixing with fruit eau-de-vie. I don't often drink them neat, as I would usually have a glass of scotch, cognac, or rye. If you can't find things like apricot, pear, kirsch, etc, that would be a good area. Or stock up on quality liqueurs. For example, Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot goes into a lot of classic cocktails that call for Apricot Brandy.

            Speaking for myself, I'm fond of bitter, so I'd be looking for new-to-me amari, Suze, and the like.
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            1. re: EvergreenDan

              Ah, I see. Well I just made my cheap Scotch purchase for the year (HP 18 for $83), so I'm set on that front.

              Eau-de-vie is a field I'd like to familiarize myself with. There is a single bottle of R&W Apricot floating around at a Binny's near me that I'd like to get my hands on. Unfortunately, I've come up with a list of 'things to purchase' that covers the next few years and that's number three.

            2. re: alphanumeric

              Charbay Doubled & Twisted Whiskey (distilled from Russian River double IPA)

          2. Do you live in a state without access to online shipping?

            I would go with a good Pisco maybe Encanto - hard to get outside of cali
            Lemon Hart 151
            senior curaco of curaco over creole shrub IMO

            3 Replies
            1. re: Dapuma

              Senior curacao > creole shrubb? Ouch.

              Creole shrubb is bitter, but that's its charm.

              1. re: Dapuma

                I'm not sure if businesses ship here but my goal is to avoid S&H charges (I am poor.)

                Could you justify your Senior>Creole statement? From what I've read, it would appear that popular opinion is to the contrary.

                1. re: alphanumeric

                  Clement Creole Shrubb is full of complex, deep orange flavors over a rum base, and it adds a wonderful bitter element. Senior curacao is a much purer orange liqueur, adding primarily two elements -- orange and sweet. You can't use Creole Shrubb in every application, but when it is appropriate, I prefer it to Senior Curacao or Cointreau.

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