Redhook Brewery is an interesting case study in the ever-shifting world of craft beer and microbreweries. A bit of an anomaly, Redhook was not started in Brooklyn but rather Seattle. It’s a microbrew, historically, yet the brand is almost 30 years old and owned partly by Anheuser-Busch. So, what does a slightly corporatized, ever-expanding beer company with a history of local tradition do when it wants to rebrand its product? Well, according to Seattle agency Hornall Anderson, choose an aesthetic rarely embraced by beer drinkers of any kind. With it’s tapered bottle reminiscent of a sports drink, brightly colored flavor-differentiating labels and clean, stylized mountain logo re-imagined, Redhook’s new brand is certainly a success visually. The question is, however, in a market where stark and modern design is rarely seen used successfully - how will the brewery’s fans react to the change? Personally, I like the look but am still dubious about how it fits into a sea of competitors touting van Gogh-style emblems (Blue Moon), tattoo-inspired inscriptions (Rogue) and heritage-driven no nonsense marketing (Blue Point), just to name a few.
With the cocktail revolution in full force, it makes sense that a line of artisanal bitters would pop up. Hand-manufactured in - where else? - Brooklyn, Leopards + Lions is leagues ahead of the rest of the Angostura-imitators. Why? Because with a product like bitters it all comes down to quality and packing, and Leopards + Lions has got both. Bottled in authentic 19th century apothecary jars, the NYC-based range of cocktail accessories are individually crafted with organic fruits and flowers, fresh herbs and a slew of exotic spices. Available in the enticing Cherry Burdock (sounds tailor-made for an Old Fashioned), savory Orange Cardamom (marvelous for a Sazerac) and refreshing Dandelion Lemongrass (which the brand deems “perfect for summer” and would be sure to spice up any old G & T), the bitters are available now for $18 over at End of Century. Despite the relatively high price, this stuff is potent and a little bit will go a long way. Plus, when you’re done with the product, you’ve got a unique, vintage cork-topped bottle to use as you see fit. Well done!
Although Hennessy Cognac is best known for being commissioned by Napoleon himself, the great Emperor shouldn’t get all the credit for Revolutionary-era drinking. Bastille Day approaches rapidly and, although most Americans couldn’t care less, I am a bit of a closeted Francophile and feel the need to honor the beginning of the great, bloody proletariat Revolution (the bourgeois Revolution technically occurred earlier when the clergy defected to the Third Estate, allowing it to seize control of the Estates General). Created especially for Lillet, a quintessentially French apertif, mixologists Nicole Cloutier and Jacqueline Patterson have crafted this recipe for the Liberté Cocktail (hopefully Egalité and Fraternité are not far behind). It’s simple, incredibly refreshing and no doubt something similar to any concoction the noble classes would find themselves sipping on the Riviera or at Versailles just moments before being dragged off to the guillotine. Here’s what you’ll need:
3 ounces Lillet Blanc
1 ounce Hendrick’s gin
2 dashes orange bitters (or more to taste)
1 orange peel
Combine all wet ingredients in a shaker full of ice, stir gently but vigorously (despite James Bond’s inclinations, vermouth shouldn’t be shaken as it bruises the delicate spirit) and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist the orange rind to release some essential oils, drag along the glass’ rim and drop into the cocktail to garnish. Sip slowly while thoughtfully pondering whether you’d be more of a Jacobin or a Dantonist.