Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Thirst Boston: Sacred Bond Pop-Up

The quality of the ingredients in your cocktail can make a significant difference in its taste. For example, if you're making a Manhattan and use a higher quality Vermouth, the cocktail is going to taste much better than if you use some cheap Vermouth which lacks in flavor. The problem is that too many people don't think much about secondary ingredients like Vermouth, feeling that only the quality of the Whiskey is important. However, you need to consider the quality all of the alcohols and mixers in your drink.

Brandy is another of those secondary ingredients which many people don't think much about. They buy the cheapest brandy they can find, thinking it won't matter much but it actually does. Sure, you don't need to spend $100 for some rare Brandy but you should be willing to pay a reasonable amount for a quality Brandy which will elevate the flavor profile of your cherished cocktail.

Let me offer you a Brandy recommendation.

At Thirst Boston, I checked out the Sacred Bond Pop-Up Bar, which was led by Lynn House, a master mixologist and the National Brand Educator for Heaven Hill Brands. Lynn was showcasing The Christian Brothers Sacred Bond Bottled-In-Bond Brandy (about $25) which will be released soon in about ten markets, including Boston. And this is a delicious Brandy that you should stock at your home for your cocktails.

The Christian Brothers, founded in 1882 in the San Joaquin Valley, California, was a religious order of monks who made wine and brandy. Still in San Joaquin, the company currently makes a line of different brandies and this new product was made to honor the original monks. The Sacred Bond is a grape brandy, made with California grapes, which is distilled in copper pot stills. Though this Brandy is produced and aged in San Joaquin Valley, the finished product is shipped to Kentucky where it is then bottled.

In accordance with the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, this brandy has been produced in a single distillation season, by one distiller, at one distillery. In addition, it has been aged for 4 years in American white oak bourbon barrels, in a federally bonded warehouse, and bottled at 100 proof. Very few spirits qualify to be bottled-in-bond.

I first tried some of this Brandy on its own and was very pleased with its smooth, flavorful taste. It is more full bodied, with delicious and bright flavors of red fruits and ripe plum, with mild spice notes and a vanilla backbone. There was even a hint of chocolate on the finish. Despite it being 100 proof, the alcohol was well integrated and there was only a mild heat at the finish, not what you might expect at all. With its full flavors and complexity, this would enhance any cocktail and Lynn mentioned that the Sacred Bond was created to enhance cocktails.

I tried the three cocktails they had for sampling, including a Ginger Sidecar, Brandy Smash and Temptress. In each cocktail, the Brandy took the dominant role, rather than as a supporting ingredient. And each cocktail worked well, providing a delicious and well-balanced drink. My favorite of the three was the Brandy Smash, made with 2 oz Sacred Bond, 1/2 oz Fresh lemon juice, 1/2 oz simple syrup, and 6 mint leaves destemmed. It was fresh and minty, with bright citrus and red berry flavors. Very refreshing, this would be an excellent summer cocktail. The Ginger Sidecar, made with 2 oz Sacred Bond, 1 oz de Domaine Canton, & 1/2 oz Fresh lemon juice, was also very good, with the clean taste of ginger, mild red berries, and bright citrus.  It too would work well for the summer.

The Sacred Bond Bottled-In-Bond Brandy will soon be on liquor store shelves and I recommend you pick up a bottle and try it out with your summer cocktails. I know that I'll be doing that.

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