Jerry Cooper on Some New (Winning) Spirits


Photo by Stefanie Michejda

Jerry Cooper is a nationally recognized wine consultant, wine and spirits judge, lecturer, educator, and can be found wandering aimlessly around San Francisco with his various sommelier friends. He has recently established his own company, Swirl on Castro, a wine/spirits retail store and wine bar in the Castro district, and has received industry accolades. Jerry sits on the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Panel, and is a judge at The San Francisco International Wine Competition, and the SF World Spirits Competition.

Three New (Winning) Spirits to Taste

And the winner is… Envelope please! Last month 28 spirits judges (paid lushes all, I should know, I am one of them) descended on San Francisco for the annual World Spirits Competition Awards. We spent the weekend sampling and analyzing over 800 spirits, and categorizing them to various awards of excellence.

Top honor for Best In Show Liqueur went to the new Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur ($35/btl). This zingy antioxidant is a sublime handcrafted infusion of VSOP Cognac and baby ginger. The packaging is dramatic–creamy yellow bamboo in a glass slinky. This divine liquid is intense but subtle, with sweet ginger flavor and a touch of vanilla. It is rich, creamy, and dreamy. Tropical romance in a bottle. Mix up a Canton Ginger Mojito by adding equal parts Canton Liqueur to your favorite rum and muddle with fresh mint and a lemon wedge. Ibiza here I come.

Save the world one martini at a time! Can this really happen? Can we really drink ourselves silly (I know, no driving) and have new trees sprout up around the globe? Yes, Dorothy, it is TRU! When you order (or buy a bottle of) TRU Organic Vodka ($36/btl), the new release from the great people at Modern Spirits, makers of true artisan vodkas, not only will a tree be planted in one of the desperate tropical zones of the world, but you are also drinking 100% certified organic American wheat vodka, the first of its kind.

OK, so that is all very PC and green and all, but let me just say it is really, really tasty—both the “Straight” (you don’t have to be to drink it) and the “Lemon” (probably the most vivid citrus vodka I have ever tasted), made of course from organic California lemons. But wait, there’s more… Sourcing our spirits in the U.S. reduces transportation pollution, and TRU uses 25% less glass in their packaging. Remember Earth Day is April 22nd, be sure to toast appropriately.

Veloce has velocity. Being a lover of all thing Italian, I am hooked on the newly imported Liquore di Milano called Veloce. ($36/btl) This 100-year-old family recipe of orange bitters, apricot, peach, soft red wine grappa, herbs, and fruit flowers is the latest nectar of the gods. Wheat grains from Valle Padana are mixed with spring water from a source deep in the Italian Alps, distilled six times and filtered through quartz crystals before bottling. Say what?

This slightly sweet elixir is really intriguing and seductive, and the less-is-more packaging is pure Italian casual elegance and simplicity. Serve before dinner over the rocks with a squeeze of lemon, splash some in your after dinner coffee (my personalfavorite), and give a bottle to your mother. She will thank you. Grazie, mio bel figlio.

Swing by Swirl on Castro for these spirits and more, and ask for them to be served bar side at your local haunts.