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Beard Gains Review & Giveaway

In Gear Reviews by Thomas FondanoLeave a Comment

As both Bourbon & Banter’s senior cocktail correspondent and a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I am legally obligated to maintain a mustache (handlebar optional) and beard at all times. This requirement is sometimes to my wife’s consternation as contact with another’s facial hair is less pleasant for those not bearing it. So when Beard Gains offered products “Made for A Man, Loved by Women,” I figured it was worth a shot.

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Hunter’s Select Barrel Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey

In Bourbon Whiskey Reviews by Thomas Fondano2 Comments

While the name Hunter’s Select Barrel Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey may be confusing, this is a bourbon made in Tennessee and NOT a Tennessee whiskey. It has not gone through the Lincoln County Process of charcoal filtering before aging. This bottle improves significantly with time and rewards patience. My tasting notes from when I first opened the bottle to my second try a couple of weeks later were very different. Take your time with the bottle and savor it. Colonel Hunter is watching you.

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Aged & Infused Review

In Cocktails, Food Stuff Reviews by Thomas FondanoLeave a Comment

Ever get tired of plain old delicious whiskey? Me neither. But around here the motto is “Drink Curious” or as I like to say, “Try all the drinks.” Aged & Infused makes whiskey infusion kits. Similar to those meal delivery kits you’ve seen ads for or heard about on podcasts, all of the ingredients are individually pre-packaged and designed for ease of use. The process is simple: Open the jar and remove the packages of ingredients, open packages and put ingredients back in the jar, fill the jar with bourbon, wait one week, enjoy.

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CALI Sipping Whiskey Review

In Flavored Whiskey Reviews by Thomas Fondano2 Comments

CALI is a unique California twist on a classic sipping whiskey. We are shooting for a spirit smoother than a frontier rye, but more complex and flavorful than a traditional Kentucky bourbon. We want CALI to be something that a real whiskey lover will be happy share with his friends, even his non-whiskey friends. If he wants to pour a glass to sip while reading a good book or laughing with friends while playing a board game – even better. We want a spirit that is a pleasure to drink. CALI is a whiskey with a California vibe: Come on over, relax, have a drink, check out the sunset.

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Reverse Manhattan – The Perfect Second & Third Drink

In Cocktails by Thomas Fondano5 Comments

I love cocktails. Happy hour is 5 pm daily at our house, usually two rounds. I love Old Fashioneds and Manhattans, but two high-proof cocktails before dinner can be a bit much. As I get older happy hour seems to get shorter.

I love sweet vermouth. (You can learn more about vermouth in Amaro, which I have reviewed for you or visit Some people say they don’t like sweet vermouth. These people are wrong. Vermouth is wine and you need to treat it that way. You wouldn’t leave an open bottle of wine in the back of your cupboard for a year and expect it to be good, would you? No. Refrigerate after opening and use within a couple weeks.

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Big O Ginger Liqueur Review & Cocktails

In Cocktails by Thomas FondanoLeave a Comment

“Big O is a premium ginger liqueur handcrafted from high-quality, all-natural ingredients and artisan-crafted spirits. Prepared with hand-chopped fresh ginger, whole spices, citrus, wine-based vodka, and brandy. Big O is a smooth, warming drink that’s both flavorful and pleasing to the palate. Big O is a superb after-dinner drink, but it is also a versatile base or modifier for creating craft cocktails, giving a fresh twist to classic concoctions or inspiring new creations sure to please any palate.”

Hmmm, no explanation there. Cheeky name aside, Big O is a tasty liqueur in a pretty bottle. Less sharp than other ginger liqueurs, it is also less sweet and more nuanced due to the addition of other spices to complement the ginger. To me, there is something reminiscent of Juicy Fruit gum in the aroma with a nice punch of ginger flavor. It’s very versatile. I recommend substituting it for sweet or fruity liqueurs like orange curaçao. Or combine Big O with club soda to make a hard ginger ale to use in a buck.

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Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon and the New Hampshire Liquor Commission

In Events by Thomas FondanoLeave a Comment

Spend enough time as a booze aficionado, and you realize everything bad can be blamed on Prohibition. Okay, maybe not everything, but certainly the patchwork liquor laws across the United States. There are 17 alcohol control states or jurisdictions in this country where a state agency regulates the sale of alcohol. About a quarter of Americans live in one of these states, myself included. We’re less likely to have a “honey hole, sq” and building relationships with store owners is not necessarily as valuable. If you’re a bourbon hunter searching for dusties, this is not ideal.

But living in these states isn’t without benefits. You can count on the fact that the liquor store in the sleepy beach downtown and the one in the big city will have the same prices. Some states have websites that let you check to see store inventories to help you find that bottle you’re looking for.