A Spirited 2010 Ahead

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Photo by Nash Finley.

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Jerry Cooper owns Swirl on Castro, a wine/spirits retail store and wine bar in San Francisco’s Castro district, and is an active participant in the wine and spirits world. He judges for the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Panel, The SF International Wine Competition, and the SF World Spirits Competition.

A Spirited 2010 Ahead

Eff 2009. Global warming, recession, swine flu, health care diatribes, Kylie tour … I NEED A DRINK. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” is over, and I don’t know about you, but the only thing that could make January more depressing is to completely forgo my favorite adult beverages. A bit of moderation will do the trick. Quality, not quantity. Grab a good friend and head to your favorite bar stools and try something new to welcome in the New Year. Let’s call it the Spirit of 2010—greet the new Y2K with your heads held high. It’s going to be a good year.

DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND.

Every now and then a product comes along that catches our eye—and martini glass. Although wary of glitzy-glam packaging, I always keep an open mind. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to DIAMOND STANDARD VODKA from Poland. Each tall, slim, perfume-grade Saverglass bottle is appointed with a round-cut 25mm Swarovski crystal from the crystallized elements collection. This rye-based vodka is handmade to a high standard, and comes with the tagline, “This is what diamonds taste like.” One would assume this to be true, as Diamond Standard is distilled four times and filtered through thousands of De Beers diamonds. Really. Diamond Standard is produced by the master distiller from Chopin, who also happens to own Belvedere Vodka, so it comes with pretty good credentials. It certainly is uncommonly smooth, with ephemeral hints of citrus and grassiness, and finishes with the barest hint of thyme. Yes, it’s true, I like a little VEGAS with my vodka. Try it straight up or on the rocks with a twist. $78.00 btl (750ml)

GIN IS IN for 2010.

Gin has been an up-and-coming spirit for several years, and we are seeing some super high-quality gins hit the market. Peak Spirits is producing one of the most interesting gins we have had in ages. History shows that when I start talking about organics or biodynamics, people quickly slump into a doze. But it really is the true-to-the-earth-green way to produce anything that grows from soil. CapRock Organic Dry Gin is grown, fermented, and distilled at the Jack Rabbit Hill Biodynamic Farm in western Colorado’s North Fork Gunnison Valley, along with CapRock Vodka and a few brandies and eau de vies. This organic dry gin is a unique blend of fruits, buds, seeds, and spices infused and distilled in a base spirit made with organic Jonathon and Braeburn apples. Try it, it is uniquely delicious. And like it says right on the bottle, “This is not your grandmother’s gin.” $39.50 btl (750ml)

TRADITION IS BACK.

The Willett family distillers brought the age-old techniques from England in the early 1600s—and today’s Willett Single Barrel Estate Reserve Bourbon (okay, that’s a mouthful) sets the standard for all of you bourbon drinkers out there. This gift-worthy sleek, tall-necked bottle is hard to miss; a reproduction of a glass pot still decanter. More importantly, inside the bottle is balance and elegance—this toasted amber elixir is tinged with vanilla, cinnamon, soft mint, coconut, and crème brûlée. Try it neat, or with a splash of Vya Sweet Vermouth and a cherry. $55.50 btl (750 ml).

Let the good times roll in 2010—Happy New Year.