Saturday, November 19, 2011

Discovering Spirits in Sin City

We had the fortune to visit Las Vegas for my parents 50th wedding anniversary last weekend and discovered that spirits are alive in Vegas. We are talking distilled spirits - not anything associated with our friendly MyJoog Kokopelli. We first stumbled upon Freakin' Frog when looking for some live music. Located near the university, the bar attracted us by their 1,000 beer cooler and 600 whiskey collection. We are talking Scotch, Irish Whisky, Bourbon, and Canadian Whiskey. Unbelievable. Black Maple Hill, Prichards' Distillery, Tuthilltown Spirits, and other small batch corn whiskeys unavailable in our market - right their in front of us. Didn't see Catoctin Creek Distilling, but we suggested this local rye. Good thing, taxis are the primary mode of transportation.

The next day, we found a Tequila haven, Hussong's Cantina, which only serves 100% Blue Agava Tequila. No cheap blends. The beauty, after hours of sipping half a dozen brands - no hangover the next day. Even after finishing the monster Margarita topped with a Pacifico beer. My favorite tequila was the Fortaleza Anejo - smooth and sweet with zero burn. Here are the tasting notes:

This is a beautiful artisan hand-crafted, stone milled tequila. Tequila Fortaleza is produced entirely within the walls of our estate, using centuries old traditional methods which although are very labor intensive, create a tequila which is unequaled in taste and smoothness. Using our old oven with its meter thick brick walls, we cook our agave for thirty-six hours. Then we crush or mill the agave as my Tatarabuelo did over 135 years ago in our stone mill called the Tahona. The crushed agave is then washed with the pure mountain water from the Volcán de Tequila to separate the pulp from the woody fibers to create an agave juice called mosto. The woody fibers of the agave, called bagazo, are removed at this time and taken to the fields to use as compost. The agave mosto is then fermented naturally for five days in small wood vats, and then double distilled using small, labor-intensive copper pot stills. Our glass bottle is hand-blown in Tonala, Jalisco by artisan glassmakers, and our bottle tops, designed by an artisan to represent the harvested agave, or Piña, and are hand-made by our workers.
Finally, while searching for presents we discovered Nevada Vodka crafted by the newly opened Las Vegas Distillery. Located in nearby Henderson, the distillery produces vodka, gin, and whiskey from two pot stills christened Swan and Rose - the Las Vegas Copper Angels. The Rácz family has distilling in their blood from their Transylvania heritage and palinka - homemade plum brandy. This brandy lead to the recommendation to be weary of liquids served from vessels that do not contain the original substance - usually liter water bottles. If their vodka resembles any of the home made palinka we've tasted over the years - we will be back to Vegas to tour the operation.
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