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!