Patrón Extra Añejo 

The Jalisco, Mexico-based Patrón has introduced its first new addition to its core range of tequilas in 25 years: Patrón Extra Añejo. Crafted from Mexico’s highest-quality 100% Weber Blue Agave, it is distilled in small batches and aged in oak barrels for at least three years, giving the aged tequila notes of dry fruits, banana, honey and vanilla, together with a light distinctive flavor of agave. After sampling this 88 proof spirit, I can assure you this is a tequila worthy of sipping and savoring every last drop, and it would be a sin to pound shots of it or even (in my opinion) to mix it in a cocktail. For more info visit www.patrontequila.com/global-en/products/anejo-7-anos.html. Also, go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-patr%C3%B3n-experience/id1281347161?ls=1&mt=8 to download a free app allowing you to take a peek inside the Patrón Hacienda.

La Hechicera Solera 21

We all know about how aging whiskey in wood over long periods of time improves its goodness, but aged rum doesn’t always get the same notice. One worth taking note of is the La Hechicera Solera 21, a masterful blend of fine rums matured for 12-21 years in white oak casks that previously aged bourbon. Owned by the Riascos family, for more than 20 years three generations have been creating fine rums at its Casa Santana (nestled between the long-winding Magdalena River and the Caribbean Sea), the only privately-owned family rum producer in Columbia. I found the taste to be exquisite and without question one of the finest aged rums I have had the pleasure to experience. This fine sipping rum brings an aroma of prunes, vanilla and orange peel and on the palate notes of bitter sweet chocolate, tobacco and roasted coffee with a crisp and smooth finish. For more info, visit www.lahechicera.co where you can also view its extensive list of awards, including Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. 

Stirrings Simply Better Cocktails

If you want to fool your friends into thinking you are a master mixologist, you might want to consider the mixes from Stirrings Simply Better Cocktails. 12 varieties include Apple Martini, Lemon Drop, Peach Belini, Mojito and Bloody Mary; and for those watching calories, there are 5-Calorie Cosmopolitan and 5-Calorie Margarita mixers. Each of the creations is made with real juice and without artificial preservatives, and come with simple directions: just pour in the suggested amount, add the spirit, ice, shake, garnish and you’re all set. I sampled the Margarita and Peach Bellini and was impressed with the simplicity of making the drink as well as the quality, which to me equaled what I would expect at a bar. In addition to the mixers, a line of rimmer garnishes are available in flavors of Bloody Mary, Cosmopolitan, Lemon Drop, Margarita and Pomegranate; and bar ingredients of Blood Orange Bitters, Simple Syrup, Dirty Martini and Authentic Grenadine. Stirrings can be found nationwide at major grocery stores and retailers, including Walmart and Total Wine, as well as online at www.stirrings.com or at Amazon and Jet.com

Master of Mixes

Currently one of the most popular cocktails is the Bloody Mary, and many restaurants are offering Bloody Mary bars where customers can make their own concoctions. To help you do so at home there is the Chef-inspired Classic Gourmet Bloody Mary Mixers, which happens to be the #1 selling cocktail mixer brand in the U.S. Chef Anthony Lamas, three-time James Beard Award nominee hailing from Louisville’s Latin-inspired restaurant Seviche, works in collaboration with the brand to develop its recipes. Each contains 96% juice and varieties include Classic, Loaded, Michelada and 5 Pepper. I sampled all four and found them all to be outstanding, with my favorite being the quite spicy 5 Pepper (chipotle, ancho, red pepper, habanero and jalapeno), in which the heat was definitely turned up. And, being a beer guy, I appreciated the Michelada requiring 3 parts beer to 1 part mixer, which to me tasted just like a Bloody Mary beer. In addition to the Bloody Mary mixers, the company also offers several other mixers, such as Pina Colada, Mojito, Whiskey Sour and Sangria. For the whole lineup, visit http://mixologypro.com/.