Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Miss Flighty's Indie Spirits Fest Faves

Our friend Alberta "Miss Flighty" Straub, hostess of On Networks' "Cocktails on the Fly," was on the ground at the Independent Spirits Fest in San Francisco on Saturday. There were a lot of great indie spirits to taste. Here, she reports on her five favorites of the fest:

Greetings Imbibers, Miss Flighty here, recovering from a super fun night at the first annual Independent Spirits Festival in San Francisco. Put on by world famous whisky maven Riannon Walsh, of Celtic Malts fame, this event was launched as a way for her to get back to her roots and reconnect with the independent bottlers and distillers that inspired her passion for spirits in the first place.

All Miss Flighty can say is the event was a rip roarin', taste testin' success. There were two rooms at the W Hotel filled with these artisan craftsmen and their wares, ticket holders were free to peruse and taste at will, talk to the distillers, enjoy a delicious buffet and pair their libations with delicious cheese and chocolate. What could be better? There were so very many amazing spirits. Some of the more established companies, like St. George Distillers, Square One Vodka, Damrak Gin, Charbay and Anchor Brewing Co. are, without question, leaders in the independent spirits industry and not to be missed. But there were so many smaller companies, with such amazing products its hard to single out my favorites, but here are five standouts that ya gotta watch out for!:

Del Maguey Mezcal
: Literally among the best spirits Miss Flighty has ever tasted. Del Maguey's single-village mezcals explode the mythology that once relegated mezcal to the basement of spirits. Tasting these amazing single-village offerings, truly organic in every sense, you can taste more than a spirit. You taste history.

Mae de Ouro Cachaça
: The only estate-bottled cachaça available in the U.S., this stuff is amazingly good. With no harsh alcohol flavor or cloying sweetness, this spirit is full, rich and complex, smooth yet full-flavored. It makes for a caipirinha that's not to be missed.

Monteverdi Spirits: Their Nocino Walnut Liqueur is rich, complex and full-bodied, with cinnamon and other spices on the finish, and no bitter walnut tannins. Perfect for adding to Manhattans and Negronis, and my mind goes crazy with other cocktail possibilities!

Modern Spirits: This company, the love child of a delightful husband and wife team, puts a whole new spin on flavored vodkas. It's the true flavors of whole ingredients (Black Truffle, Celery Peppercorn, Pear Lavender, Candied Ginger and Chocolate Orange). They're eclectic and unique, without being overly sweet or artificial tasting. Best of all, Modern Spirits' vodkas are perfect for a party. They're made to pair with food. (For pairing suggestions, visit the Modern Spirits site.)

Loft Liqueurs: These chicks are cool. And fun. And they make great all-organic liqueurs in fun flavors like basil, lemongrass, ginger and lavender. They're perfect as modifiers to other organic spirits and organic mixers. Loft Liqueurs, like all of the above, are truly a homespun operation. They fill a much needed hole in the market as we strive to live green. Look out for more from Loft in the future.

With so many delicious and intriguing spirits to be had, ya gotta come next year!


annie said...

I love your videos Miss Flighty!

Miss Flighty said...

Thanks so much Annie! Means a super lot xoxo..email me anytime so we can discuss yummy cocktail taste testin' n experimentin'

Geoff said...

Did you notice if Del Maguey has new mezcal out? A friend told me they thought they heard about one but wasn't sure. I'm a big mezcal fan, so I'm curious to know. Thanks, Geoff.

Alberta said...

Geoff, I am new to mezcal but boy am I glad I tried it! Don't know about anything new, but I do know that everything that I tried at ISF is available on the Del Maguey website...let me know if I missed out on something!

Anita said...

Hey Alberta --

I'm right there with you on the Modern Spirits vodkas. I usually don't care for commercial flavored vodkas, but these are true infusions and the flavor combos *work*. I can't wait to try the celery-black peppercorn in a bloody mary.

On the flip side (and I don't mean to be uncharitable -- 'cause I really want to love local, organic products) the Loft drinks that we sampled at ISF were undrinkable. And what is up with adding electrolytes? An oddball gimmick...

Miss Flighty said...

Anita, thanks for your input..the festival was fun wasn't it? Re: Loft Liqueurs-Have you ever tried making up an all organic drink menu with only spirits and no modifiers to work with? Loft fills an important hole in the market that will help the trend toward organics in the spirits industry. The girls are still workin' out the kinks...and like I said..I expect good things from them in the future.