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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: George's Keep

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  George's Keep

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  George's Keep

Nick Kenna’s no stranger to the cocktail scene. Having opened Dorćol’s bar program in 2013, he’s no stranger to Kinsman either. A veteran of the Kinsman Brandy Alexander Cocktail tour he continues to raise the bar with his creative take on this classic libation.

Nick's imagination is front and center in this year’s version which boasts hints of spice and perfectly balanced notes of mint and vanilla.  Experiencing this cocktail is definitely worth the drive up north.  

 

GEORGE’S KEEP // YORK PEPPERMINT PAPI

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

3/4 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao

1/4 oz. orgeat

1 oz. mint and serrano pepper house-infused vanilla almond milk 

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice.  Shake. Double strain into a coup. Garnish with bakers chocolate shavings and a mint leaf.

Dorcol Distilling Co.:  George's Keep

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Rosella at the Rand

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  Rosella at the Rand

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  Rosella at the Rand

With barman Jesse Torres at the reins of this freshly minted Houston Street eatery's beverage program, the bar is poised for success in creativity and execution alike.

Rosella at the Rand's inaugural participation in this year's Kinsman Brandy Alexander Tour is presented with a berry twist - a refreshingly light and airy take on the classic. Equal parts a well built cocktail and a good ol' fashioned "adult" strawberry shake, this rendition with a cute name is a must on your Tour stop. 

 

ROSELLA AT THE RAND // APRICOT ME BY SURPRISE

1 1/2 oz. Kinsman Rakia

3/4 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao

1 oz. heavy cream

1 strawberry

Muddle a strawberry in a tin. Combine remaining ingredients in the tin and add ice.  Shake.  Double strain into a coupe lined with house-made chocolate ganache on the inside. Garnish with a fresh strawberry slice.

Dorcol Distilling Co.:  Rosella at the Rand

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Juniper Tar

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Juniper Tar

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Juniper Tar

The barman behind this swanky downtown cocktail lounge is well known for his fun and imaginative cocktails.  It's no surprise then that Benjamin Krick's take on this classic strays slightly off the beaten path. 

Served over crushed ice and including a spiced rum cream liqueur, the Kinsman Brandy Alexander has a nutty, butterscotch flavor that takes even the most avid Brandy Alexander enthusiast by surprise.  A trip downtown is well worth the smile this cocktail will put on your face.  

 

JUNIPER TAR // KINSMAN BRANDY ALEXANDER

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. Kringle Cream

1/2 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao

Combine all ingredients in a tin over ice.  Shake.  Strain into a rocks glass over crushed ice. Dust with Abuelita chocolate for garnish.

 

Dorcol Distilling Co.: Juniper Tar

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: The Hoppy Monk

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: The Hoppy Monk

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: The Hoppy Monk

While The Hoppy Monk is often recognized for a broad beer selection, their spirit offering is as creative and diverse. Brittany Dinhobl showcases her cocktail know-how with her take on this classic cocktail, which aptly includes a house-made coffee-porter liqueur. 

The King Alexander is a complex cocktail that combines subtle notes of coffee, chocolate and cardamom with a rich, creamy mouth-feel. Appreciate the creativity on display in The King Alexander and order yourself one (or two) on your next visit.  

 

THE HOPPY MONK // THE KING ALEXANDER

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. House-made Merit coffee and Deschutes Black Butte Porter liqueur

1 oz. heavy cream/St. Brendan's/China China "cream"

Combine all ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into a coupe. Sprinkle cocoa powder and nutmeg mix to garnish.  

Dorcol Distilling Co.: The Hoppy Monk

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Biga on the Banks

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Biga on the Banks

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Biga on the Banks

Biga on the Banks, a San Antonio staple owned by James Beard Award nominee Chef Bruce Auden, has long been celebrated for its culinary achievements. Barman Shane Clifford with his Alex-En-Rakia, a light and frothy cocktail with balanced notes of coconut and vanilla, is continuing Biga's history of excellence. It's not hard to imagine drinking more than one of these on your next visit.

 

BIGA ON THE BANKS // ALEX-EN-RAKIA

1 oz. House vanilla infused Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. coconut milk sweetened with palm sugar

1/2 oz. orgeat

1 egg white

4 dashes Aztec chocolate bitters

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake and strain back into tin removing the ice. "Dry" shake vigorously. Strain into a brandy snifter and freshly grate nutmeg for garnish.

 

Dorcol Distilling Co.: Biga on the Banks

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Liberty Bar

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Liberty Bar

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Liberty Bar

Liberty Bar's Ana Cabrera took her admiration of Kinsman and married it with her house-made ice cream for this decadent inspiration. Shaken without ice, and garnished with an orange zest, her Abuelita Alexander is an envy of even the savviest of grandmas.

Liberty Bar's Abuelita chocolate ice cream folded into Kinsman Apricot Rakia and Montenegro Amaro topped with milk chocolate shavings and orange oils is a humdinger of a cocktail with or without a meal. 

 

LIBERTY BAR //ABUELITA ALEXANDER

1 1/4 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1/2 oz. Montenegro Amaro

2 oz. scoop soft house-made Abuelita ice cream

Combine all ingredients in a tin. "Dry" shake combined ingredients. Pour into coupe. Garnish with an orange zest and freshly grated chocolate shavings. 

 

Dorcol Distilling Co.: Liberty Bar's Ana Cabrera 

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Signature

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Signature

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Signature

Signature's take on this classic dessert cocktail is equal parts culinary creativity and bar execution. Chef Andrew Weissman's bar team built this libation to be a perfect after meal addition, with a balanced build and a rich mouth-feel.

 

SIGNATURE // CREMOSA

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. crème de cacao

1 oz. heavy whipping cream

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake. Double strain into a coup. Top the cocktail with house-made whipped cream made by combining and "dry" shaking in a tin heavy whipping cream and simple syrup. Pour over cocktail, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. 

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Nov 23 - Dec 31

Join us in celebrating both the holiday season and the creativity of the San Antonio bar and culinary scene as we team up with the city's best chefs and barkeeps on the Kinsman Rakia 3rd Annual Brandy Alexander Cocktail Tour, November 23rd to December 31st. 

A select dozen bars and restaurants across San Antonio have each created a unique take on the holiday classic using Dorćol’s award winning Kinsman Rakia.  This year’s participants include Bar 1919, Biga on the Banks, Bite, Brooklynite, George’s Keep, Hoppy Monk, Juniper Tar, Liberty Bar, Piatti, Rosella at the Rand, and Signature. 

Biga On the Banks

Biga On the Banks

Biga on the Banks // Alex-en-Rakia

1 oz. House vanilla infused Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. coconut milk sweetened with palm sugar

1/2 oz. orgeat

1 egg white

4 dashes Aztec chocolate bitters

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake. Remove ice out of tin, and "dry" shake vigorously. Strain into a brandy snifter and freshly grate nutmeg for garnish.


Bite // Bite's Alexander Frappe

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. crème de cacao

1 pistachio gelato scoop

1 oz. heavy cream

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake. Double strain into a coup with a finely crushed pistachio rim


Brooklynite // BKSA Alexander

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1/4 oz. white chocolate macadamia nut liqueur

1 oz. house cereal milk (rice, almond, heavy cream infused with golden grahams)

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice.  Shake. Double strain into a coup


George's Keep

George's Keep

George’s Keep // York Peppermint Papi

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

3/4 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao

1/4 oz. orgeat

1 oz. mint and serrano pepper house-infused vanilla almond milk 

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice.  Shake. Double strain into a coup. Garnish with bakers chocolate shavings and a mint leaf.


Hoppy Monk

Hoppy Monk

Hoppy Monk // The King Alexander

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. House-made Merit coffee and Deschutes Black Butte Porter liqueur

1 oz. heavy cream / St. Brendan's/ China China "cream"

Combine all ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into a coupe. Sprinkle cocoa powder and nutmeg mix.


Juniper Tar

Juniper Tar

Juniper Tar // Kinsman Brandy Alexander

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. Kringle Cream

1/2 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao

Combine all ingredients in a tin over ice.  Shake.  Strain into a rocks glass over crushed ice. Dust with Abuelita chocolate for garnish.


Liberty Bar

Liberty Bar

Liberty Bar //Abuelita Alexander

1 1/4 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1/2 oz. Montenegro

2 oz. scoop soft house-made Abuelita ice cream

Combine all ingredients in a tin. "Dry" shake combined ingredients. Pour into coupe. Garnish with  an orange zest and freshly grated chocolate shavings. 


Piatti at the Eilan - Caffe Alexander

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. Caffe Broghetti

1 oz. heavy cream

1/2 oz. Lazzaroni Amaretto 

Combine all ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake. Strain into coupe and garnish with ground cinnamon dust


Piatti at the Quarry

Piatti at the Quarry

Piatti at the Quarry // Dandy Alexander

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 1/4 oz. Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur

1 1/4 oz. aromatized heavy cream (pink peppercorn, clove, cinnamon)

1 drop of tiki bitters

Rim coupe with chocolate ganache. Combine all ingredients in a tin over ice.  Shake.  Double strain into coupe and top with freshly-ground pink peppercorn.


Rosella

Rosella

Rosella at the Rand // Apricot me by Surprise

1 1/2 oz. Kinsman Rakia

3/4 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao

1 oz. heavy cream

Muddle a strawberry with Rakia in a tin. Combine all ingredients in the tin over ice.  Shake.  Double strain into a couple with house-made chocolate ganache on the inside. Garnish with a strawberry.


Signature

Signature

Signature // Cremosa

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. crème de cocoa

1 oz. heavy whipping cream

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake. Double strain into a coup. Top with house-made whipped cream made by combining and "dry" shaking in a tin heavy whipping cream and simple syrup. Pour over cocktail, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. 

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Dorćol Expanding Facility, Distilling and Brewing Capacity

Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co. (Door-chol) of San Antonio, Texas is a small craft spirits and beer maker on a quiet roll. Founded in December of 2013, the distillery’s inaugural spirit, Kinsman Rakia, an apricot brandy with Balkan origins, has been named both the highest rated American brandy (Gold - Chicago, 2014) as well as the world’s highest rated brandy, non-Cognac, (Gold, Best in Category - Los Angeles, 2016) in the three short years since its opening. Yet unless you are in the scene, or paying close attention, you’ve probably never heard of them, despite features in national publications like Playboy and Wine Enthusiast.

Inspired by one of the co-founder’s family’s countryside wine making and distilling tradition in his native Serbia and Croatia, Texas’ first post-Prohibition brandy distillery expanded its spirits production in 2015 to include a Texas-grown grape brandy, first aged in medium toast French-oak barrels and currently finishing in Sherry casks, as well as a single malt whisk(e)y, turning two in their used brandy barrels, similar to Scotch whiskies in the pre-Bourbon era which were often aged in Cognac barrels. This still young, but beautifully maturing single malt whiskey is showing signs of incredibly complex flavors and rich aromas.

Dorcol Distilling + Brewing Co - San Antonio, Texas (2013)

Dorcol Distilling + Brewing Co - San Antonio, Texas (2013)

The team’s old-World distillation philosophy of using only direct-heat copper pot stills and their choice of aging casks hasn’t helped them on the bottom-line, but it seems to be the right choice in standing out from the sea of mediocrity often found in today’s “craft” spirits.

Expanding into distilling grains, Dorćol introduced HighWheel beers at their two-year anniversary celebration in December 2015. Their four staples, a Kolsch, Saison, Porter and an IPA, are joined by their seasonally brewed Brewer’s Keep series, which has seen the return of the Dunkelweizen for Oktoberfest, along with an Irish Red Ale and a Hefeweizen as the spring and summer seasonals respectively.

“We think that the continued growth we experience comes down to two things,” says Boyan Kalusevic, one of Dorćol’s co-founders, “putting everything we have into making the finest spirits and beers possible, and building relationships with the very best barmen who love what we do.”

In a little more than three years since launch, Dorćol’s spirits and beers are now sold at over a hundred on- and off-premise outlets with the company looking to expand its footprint in each of the major Texas markets. Keeping up with current demand while preparing for expected growth in the number of on-premise outlets across the region is proving to be no easy task for the small team.

Architectural rendering of the tasting-room expansion project

Adding a Second Bar

All this growth required additional space and equipment. As if the production growth and investment weren’t enough for this Texas craft distillery and brewery, Dorćol continues its upward trajectory by doubling down on its arts-centric neighborhood and reinvesting in the Southtown facility by expanding the on-site tasting room and adding a second bar.

San Antonio’s building department recently approved plans and issued construction permits for the use of modified shipping containers for the second bar, as well as a roof structure over the patio; a much desired improvement if you’ve ever visited the downtown cocktail and beer bar on either a summer afternoon or a busy service night. Guests will appreciate both additions to this gem.

Tripling Distilling Capacity

The addition of a second still, a Serbian-made 750-liter direct-heat copper pot, is anticipated to be put on-line by the end of 2017, with their goals for 2018 to include both the introduction of their much-anticipated barrel aged spirits, as well as the ramped up production of new products.

Visiting our third generation copper-smiths, CUPRUM, in Serbia

100% Increase in Brewing Capacity

Dorćol is also adding a 21-barrel fermenter to their brewing capacity. The recently delivered fermenter is in the process of being installed, with the team hoping to have it fully integrated in the brewing operation over the next several weeks.

Arrival of Dorćol’s newest 21 barrel fermenter by BrewBuilt Mfg from California.

“A lot of moving parts come together over the last couple years, from the roll-out of our beer brand to the growing adoption of our spirit at the State’s finest bar programs. It’s been an impressive growth for Dorćol and the pace shows no signs of slowing into 2018,” adds Kalusevic. “We are doubling our fermentation capacity, adding a second custom still to ease the distilling bottleneck, and about to break ground on more on-site space in order to really prepare for the kind of business expansion that our investment in production will afford us. We are very excited, and can’t thank all our fans enough for the continued support.”

Dorćol’s Kinsman Rakia is available Texas-wide with more markets planned for 2018. Expanded distribution of HighWheel beer is planned for mid-2018. Dorćol is located in Southtown, a San Antonio, Texas arts neighborhood south of downtown.

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Farm Feast at Dorcol (Spring 2017)

Our goal is to scour the world for greatest ingredients possible. From the fruit we distill, to the yeast we ferment with, each is native to its style and brewing or distilling region.

So when we hooked up with Chefs John and Elise Russ, Truckin' Tomato, and Texas farmers, ranchers and purveyors of dry goods, we knew damn well we'd be in for a culinary farm-to-table treat; a true Farm Feast! 

If you think you'd enjoy joining us, be sure to sign up to receive invites for future events!

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Out of retirement, and back in the saddle.

Six months into her retirement, and after years at some of the most iconic restaurants in San Antonio, Katie McKee is bringing her energy and talents to another Southtown staple, Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co.

Many know her as the gray-haired gal that helped manage Liberty Bar for years. After retiring late last year, and unwilling to sit still for long, we wanted to get her back into the industry that shaped so much of her life. With her boisterous personality, genuine affinity for hospitality and love of community and the people who shape it, we are excited to announce that Katie is out of retirement and back in the saddle....at Dorćol.   

"I believe it's the people in the neighborhood that make it what it is," Katie said. "There is a lot of incredible stuff going on around town, and Dorćol plays an integral part in making Southtown a vibrant and interesting part of San Antonio with its own unique identity." 

As Dorćol's brands, Kinsman and HighWheel, continue to grow, the Kentucky native will be called on to help in various capacities, meaning you'll probably see her behind the bar slinging drinks from time to time. Still, her focus will be on special projects at our South Flores shop and peddling Kinsman and HighWheel to area establishments. 

"We're so excited to welcome a friend to the team, it was love at first email" said Chris Mobley, co-founder and distiller. "She brings such a wealth of knowledge and will be a great addition to help further our efforts and grow our reach." 

So when you see Katie making the rounds around town, feel free to celebrate her new venture by saluting her with her drink of choice: Kinsman neat.

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Behind the bar with Justin Elliott

How did you get into bartending? 

I've been tending bar for about 15 years. I started tending bar as a senior in college at UT Austin. I moved to New York City and spent about nine years up there, mostly working in dive bars, neighborhood bars. I didn't really start doing the craft stuff until I moved back to Austin in 2011. I had my bachelor's in Theater Writing but when I got back to Austin I realized that I had been bartending, at that point, a third of my life. It certainly seemed that I should try to take it more seriously and make a career out of it. I didn't want to be 40-something, 50-something slinging drinks in a beer and shot bar, dealing with a bunch of rowdy assholes. I had to elevate my game. 

What are your thoughts on the idea of craft? 

It's complicated. I actually really don't like the word 'craft' that much. I feel like we haven't found a better word for it. The word is tough in general. It just seems to come with a certain amount of pretentiousness. I'm not calling myself an artisan. I'm a bartender who takes his work pretty seriously. I'm glad I spent 10 years working in neighborhood dives because those are institutions that really matter. With that said, I'm glad people are pursuing drinks that are nicer and balanced. To me, really nice cocktails are like a really nicely curated jukebox.  It's part of the experience but ideally it's not the only reason to hang out. If you find yourself going to a bar you don't like because they make a cocktail really well, I'm sad for you and I think your priorities are all messed up. 

What's your approach to bartending? 

The space is the most important thing. The space dictates the type of cocktails I'm going to prepare. The Townsend has a very classical feel to it. There's not a lot of odd-ball compound syrups being made. You're not seeing a whole lot of culinary shrubs or tinctures. I want this to be the least cerebral cocktail bar you can possibly go to in Austin.  

What makes Kinsman Rakia an interesting spirit to use in cocktails? 

The fact that it's bone dry but has bright fruit to it as well makes it weirdly and wonderfully versatile. I've had a lot of fun using it in split-spirit cocktails to help reinforce the fruitiness in a bourbon or a scotch. It's a great spirit. It's well structured. It has depth. Honestly, it's just well made. It's not that it excites me because I've never tasted an apricot before. It excites me because it's honest to God, solid craftsmanship. I like working with it because you can make delicious cocktails with it.

What ingredients play well with the spirit? 

It' delightful with all your citrus. It's great because there's a lot you can layer on top of it. It's fun to use in spirit forward cocktails. It can support hard spice, herbaceous notes. You can mind fuck people with it. You can hit a drink with a bunch of fruit but with the Rakia it stays a super dry cocktail. I love hitting it with absinthe. I just love it. Don't get me wrong, I like hitting everything with absinthe but with this spirit, it's screaming for it.

 

Photos by Sara Ellis/Dorćol Distilling Company

Gypsy Marching Band

1 1/2 ounces Kinsman Rakia

1 ounce Benedictine

1/2 ounce lemon juice

One bar spoon absinthe

Instructions: Combine ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with lemon zest. 

Cocktail by Justin Elliott of The Townsend in Austin, Texas

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Behind the bar with Travis Tober

Before Travis Tober was old enough to drive he was already pouring beer at a pub his parents owned in Buffalo, New York. After high school, he intended to become a cop but realized the Police Academy wasn't his cup of tea. Instead, he continued to pursue bartending, a profession that led him to do stints in West Palm Beach and Las Vegas. In 2011, he made his way to Austin, becoming one of the top bartenders in the state. He's garnered several accolades, including being named the People's Choice winner in the Official Drink of Austin competition and the People's Choice winner at Bacardi's Hand Shaken Daiquiri at Tales of the Cocktail in 2012. Tober, who also has served as the vice president for the U.S. Bartenders Guild Austin Chapter, is the beverage director at Vox Table. There, he has cultivated a thoughtful, fun cocktail program that features Kinsman Rakia, a spirit he calls "the most beautiful spirit distilled in Texas."

How did you get into bartending? 

I grew up in Buffalo, New York. My parents owned this dive bar, sort of like a cafe and pool hall, so I literally poured my first beer when I was 13 or 14. I basically grew up in restaurants and pubs. My very first job was as a dishwasher and bar back. I worked my way up from there and started bartending when I was 18. At that time I was also going to college and thinking about going to the Police Academy but decide that wasn't for me. I made good money as a bartender, and I really enjoyed what I did and had a great time. 

What's your approach to bartending? 

My whole ideal is to give the restaurant, bar and cocktails their own identity.  You can come to get great food but you can also get great cocktails. For many places, you're known for one or the other. Consistency is the main thing. It's got to be fun and taste great.  If you order a Negroni, it has to be the same down the line. I like fun names and great, fresh ingredients. You know, things that really stand out.

What makes Kinsman Rakia an interesting spirit to use in cocktails? 

Seriously, me and all my bartenders say that it's the most beautiful spirit distilled in Texas. It's amazing. It's super clean and crisp.  I've had other people taste it and say it's one of the best apricot brandies out there and it's made, of all places, in San Antonio, Texas. It's subtle. It doesn't overpower and it doesn't have a fake taste to it. I say it's beautiful because that's exactly what it is.  I think it's definitely one of the best spirits out there. 

What ingredients play well with the spirit? 

I really like to use fresh citrus. Peach goes really well. Anything herbaceous, too. Like Chartreuse will make it pop. 

Photos by Sara Ellis/Dorćol Distilling Company

All the Kins Man

1 ounces Kinsman Rakia

3/4 ounce Germain-Robin brandy

3/4 ounce lemon juice

3/4 ounce simple syrup

Egg white

Peychaud's bitters

Instructions: Combine ingredients except bitters into a cocktail shaker. Dry shake without ice. Add ice and shake vigorously to further emulsify egg white. Strain into a chilled coupe. Top with bitters. 

Cocktail by Travis Tober of Vox Table in Austin

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Wine Enthusiast Magazine gives nod to Kinsman Rakia

The report card is in! Wine Enthusiast gave Kinsman Rakia a grade of 89, naming it among some of the world's top new fruit brandies.

In a recent article, Kara Newman, Wine Enthusiast spirits editor, said the “fruit-forward spirit” was a “pleasant surprise.” She goes on to tip her hat to Kinsman’s use in cocktails, particularly the classic Fitzgerald (recipe below).

Here’s what she wrote about the San Antonio-made spirit in Wine Enthusiast:

“This unusual small-batch apricot brandy is made in Texas. It has a bold, delicious apricot aroma. On the palate, the stone fruit flavor is more subdued, with almond richness taking center stage and finishing with a floral touch. Pair with almond or vanilla desserts.

"Since many fruit brandies skew traditional, hailing from the Old World, a distinctly new-world apricot brandy from Texas was a particularly pleasant surprise. Made in San Antonio by Dorćol Distilling and based on Serbian rakia, this fruit-forward spirit seems to be made with cocktails in mind. Indeed, their take on the classic Fitzgerald seems like an ideal sour-style template to try with other fruit brandies too. Word has it they’re working on a barrel-aged version as well; we can’t wait to test-drive it when it’s ready."

In July, Newman, in an article for NYC-based Tasting Table, named Kinsman Rakia among the five best U.S.-made spirits with roots from the Old World. Check out our post here.

And, yes, we started our barrel-aging program. Earlier this year we filled a Texas sherry barrel full of Kinsman Rakia and it’s already smelling wonderful. We expect it to age for a bit so stay tuned. 

The Fitzgerald

1 ½ ounces Kinsman Rakia

½ ounce lemon juice

½ ounce Simple Syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients except bitters in cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake. Strain into a coupe and top with bitters. 

Cheers!

Valentino

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Art at the distillery: Tami Kegley and Page Graham

For 10 days this summer, local artists Tami Kegley and Page Graham captured a glimpse of Old-World Cuba, a corner of the globe that hasn't changed much since the 1950's. 

The couple, along with other local artists, invaded the Caribbean island for Havana Biennial, a contemporary art festival that features artists from around the globe. But their sightseeing didn't end there. The two explored the land, soaking in the culture in an attempt to capture its spirit. With cameras in hand, they snapped more than 1,000 photos, taking shots of the people, landscape and architecture. 

Their work, titled "Under Construction: Havana 2015" will be on display at Dorćol Distilling Co., starting this week. The opening reception is set for Thursday from 7-10 pm. The pair will exhibit dozens of framed photos  and Henry Brun and The Latin Playerz Trio will provide jams. 

Check out the article the pair wrote about their Cuba trip for the Rivard Report

Admission to the official FotoSeptiembre event is free with a portion of the proceeds from art sales at Thursday's event to benefit Contemporary Art Month. A portion of the Second Saturday, Sept. 12, proceeds will benefit the Artist Foundation of SA, Kegley and Graham said. Their exhibit, which was curated by Roberta Hassele, will run through Oct. 3. 

Oh, and if you see the pair at the distillery and want to buy them a drink, they prefer their Rakia neat. Just sayin'. 

Here are the details for Under Construction: Havana 2015

Opening show is from 7-10 pm on Thursday Sept. 10 at Dorćol Distilling Co., 1902 South Flores St. 

The Second Saturday Show at Dorćol is from 7 pm-1 am on Saturday Sept. 12. 

Here's a sneak peek: 


Cheers! 

Valentino

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Behind the bar with Nick Kenna

 

For Dorćol, Nick was there from the very beginning. He joined the team for the opening night and for a year and a half brought an imaginative, playful approach to the bar program.  With a single spirit, the Roosevelt High and UTSA graduate of architecture cultivated a robust craft cocktail menu that continues to captivate guests. After a year and a half working at the Southtown distillery, the once-aspiring architect now runs the bar program at Blue Box at Pearl. While the number of spirits in his arsenal has grown, the long-time barman continues to give love to Kinsman, which he calls "vodka's much better looking sister." 

How'd you get into bartending? 

I started at PF Chang's as a busser. Then I got the opportunity to bar back. I had a good friend behind the bar who started teaching me, and slowly but surely I learned quite a bit. Eventually, I moved on to Lion & Rose where I bartended for four years, my longest stint at any place. In bartender years, that’s like 30 years. From there I transitioned over to Silo, and continued bartending throughout college. I was making good money and enjoying what I was doing. In 2007, I got my architecture degree from UTSA.  Life and serendipity introduced me to Don Marsh who was getting ready to open Bar 1919. I eventually met with Don and took his bar test, which I’m sure I did horrible at but still managed to land a job behind the bar.   

What was it about bartending that made you choose it over architecture? 

It’s the everyday exchange. One minute you can talk to a plumber who’s hard on his luck. Thirty minutes later you're talking to a lawyer who just won a major trial and is on cloud nine. There’s a personal aspect that you get with bartending that you don’t necessarily get with architecture. Behind the bar you’re everybody’s friend. I don’t wake up a day and think, ‘Oh crap, I have to go to work.'

What was it like to go from playing with hundreds of spirits at Bar 1919 to using just one? 

After my experience with Don, I was pretty well versed in flavor profiles. He introduced me to a book called “The Flavor Bible,” which is a great start if you’re going to develop cocktails. Kinsman Rakia is a beautiful, beautiful spirit. It’s got a delicacy to it that most spirits simply don’t have, almost gin-like. I like to describe it as vodka’s much better looking sister. I originally feared that it'd be hard to keep the audience captivated with one spirit on the shelf, but we've had great success with it. To get different flavor profiles, we played around by adding smoke to Rakia to get the smokey notes you typically find in Scotch or mezcal. Also having knowledge of classics and how they’re built allowed us to put our own special twists on cocktails people are familiar with. I loved pushing guest's expectations. 

What makes Kinsman an interesting spirit to use in cocktails? 

It’s a great product with a beautiful mouth feel. It has a soft way about it. It adds to a cocktail without trumping other ingredients. You have the aromatics of a gin, and the mouthfeel of a great whiskey. It’s hard to mess it up. If you know your proportions and know what each ingredient is bringing to the table, it’s fool proof.   

What ingredients play well with the spirit? 

Fortified wine. In the winter I want to play around with tea that has chocolaty tones because chocolate and apricots just sounds delicious. Things that are very subtle in nature and allow the spirit to still speak. Sometimes people aren’t used to Kinsman all by its lonesome, but that's the best way to have it. But if you put it with something beautiful and delicate like fortified wine and a sweetening agent or apricot, Pamplemousse, vanilla, or violet liqueur, you can't go wrong. I don’t know if there is anything that it doesn’t go well with, honestly.    

What's your favorite way to drink Kinsman? 

Neat most definitely.  As a cocktail, I really like the way the old fashioned turned out. With the brown sugar, cinnamon and star anise added in there.  It's been widely popular at the distillery year round even with all those fall-like tones.  It just works well.  If you don't like cinnamon, I think you might be a terrorist.  

Photos by Sara Ellis/Dorćol Distilling Company

NKOTB

1 ounce Kinsman Rakia

1/2 ounce Broker's gin

1/2 ounce lemon juice

1/2 ounce lavender simple syrup (see Note)

1/2 ounce Cocchi Americano

1/4 Crème de violette

Vanilla mist (see Note) 

Instructions: Combine ingredients except vanilla mist into a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice. Spray chilled coupe with vanilla mist. Double strain into coupe and garnish with a brandied cherry. 

Note: To make lavender simple syrup, bring 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar to a simmer in a pot. Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add 1/2 ounce lavender buds. Steep until desired taste is reached and strain lavender. Let cool before use. Will store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Note: To make vanilla spray, butterfly two vanilla beans and steep at room temperature in 100 proof vodka for three days. Strain before use. 

Cocktail by Nick Kenna of Blue Box

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Behind the bar with Cathy Bartlett

 

Nowadays, you won't find Cathy Bartlett behind the bar every night. That's because the skilled bartender quickly rose the ranks to become the general manager at one of the city's top restaurants, Lüke San Antonio. She started at the riverfront restaurant in late 2011 and it was there that Cathy honed her skills as a bartender, crafting inspired cocktails to present "happiness in a glass." 

How'd you get into bartending? 

So Lüke is the second job I've ever had. My first job was with Chili's and it started as an after-college job. I started off in serving and moved up to the bar. It was very basic bartending, pouring beer, making margaritas. While I was working one day I actually got recruited to work here at Lüke. When I came to interview, I thought I was interviewing for a hostess job. When I was hired, I got here and they put me behind the bar. I thought, 'wow, cool, this is awesome.' It was here at Lüke that I really started getting into craft cocktails and I learned about spirits, craft beer, wine. It wasn't just about pouring a drink but about creating something.

What makes Kinsman an interesting spirit to use in cocktails? 

It has different personalities. It's a great spirit to drink neat because it's approachable yet bold. But it's also great to mix with because of its pronounced aromatics and bright flavors. It's refined so you don't want to do anything crazy and mask it. You want to highlight the spirit. That's why it's really fun because you can use it to make awesome, flavorful cocktails.   

What ingredients play well with the spirit? 

Spirits wise, I've used whiskey and it came out great. We did a spin off of a Vieux Carré using a rye whiskey and it paired incredibly well. I like to use fresh ingredients. I don't like to use a whole lot of different spirits with it because I want the Rakia to shine. Ingredients like fresh honey, seasonal fruits, fresh herbs and citrus work well. It's about keeping it really simple. 

 

Photos by Sara Ellis/Dorćol Distilling Company

The Eye of the Beholder

2 ounces Kinsman Rakia

1/2 ounce Cherry Heering

1/2 ounce Carpano Antica vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Instructions: Combine ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and stir. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a brandied cherry. 

Cocktail by Cathy Bartlett of Lüke San Antonio

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Behind the bar with Olaf Harmel

 

When Olaf Harmel arrived to San Antonio, he got here at a time when the craft cocktail revival was in its infancy. All these years later, the longtime barman is gearing up to relocate from his modest upstairs bar at Bluebox to Brigid, a modern American restaurant expected to open soon in Southtown, where Harmel will run a more culinary-driven cocktail menu. At the bar, Harmel said he wants to circulate spirits regularly to accommodate the always-changing food menu. Still, the one bottle he always wants to have on hand is Kinsman Rakia. 

How did you get into bartending? 

I didn't do it intentionally. A friend of mine opened a bar in Corpus Christi and I helped run the bar for awhile. But I needed to learn how to bartend. So I read a lot and applied myself. When I came to San Antonio I had to be full on focused. You can't be a bar manager without knowing how to bartend. 

What makes Kinsman Rakia an interesting spirit to use in cocktails? 

It's one of those spirits that elevates people. It's just so unique that it broadens people's drinking perspective. It has a unique flavor and texture but still has some heat to it. I love products that have a full-flavor profile. As a bartender I enjoy being in a position of introducing people to new things they haven't had before. 

What ingredients play well with the spirit? 

Gin, citrus go well with it. Raspberries, plums, grapefruit, mandarin, ginger. It blends really well with almonds, basil, pretty much anything that goes well with apricots. Just a small amount of Kinsman will enhance the cocktail. It's very supple. It's a year-round spirit you can use to make refreshing, luscious cocktails. 

Photos by Sara Ellis/Dorćol Distilling Company

Sunshine Daydream

1 1/4 ounces Kinsman Rakia

1/4 ounce apricot liqueur

1/4 ounce Amaretto

1 ounce cranberry juice

1/4 ounce lemon juice

Peach, quartered

Instructions: Lightly muddle peach quarter in the bottom of a rocks glass. Set aside. Assemble remaining ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Strain cocktail into the rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with peach slices and blackberry. 

Cocktail by Olaf Harmel of Blue Box

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Behind the bar with Don Marsh

 

Don Marsh is one of San Antonio's well-versed and creative barmen. Over the past two decades, Marsh has worked his way from an aspiring bartender at Bennigan's  to becoming the proprietor of Bar 1919. The San Antonio native was at the forefront of the craft cocktail renaissance, educating tipplers at time when they couldn't tell the difference between a Negroni and an Old Fashioned. Visit his South Town haunt and you'll quickly see his love for whiskey. Still, always behind the bar is Kinsman Rakia, one of the few Texas-made spirits he has on hand. 

How'd you get into bartending? 

One of my best friends who worked at Chili's told me that they were looking for people to wait tables at Bennigan's. I eventually was promoted to bartending. I just started studying. I sucked. I was horrible. They say you learn the most when you get thrown to the wolves. Back then Bennigan's would get packed as shit. I would get my ass kicked. One day I was by myself because they thought I was good enough to do it and I wasn't. This guy orders a Dewars White Label 10 Year and soda. So I'm looking for this bottle and I couldn't find it. So I grabbed some bottle of scotch and poured it fast and put some soda in it and handed it to the guy. He looked at me, pays his tab, shook his head and walked off. I was so embarrassed. I'm extremely competitive so I went out and bought the Bartender's Bible by Gary Regan. It was the very first cocktail book I ever bought and it's still behind this bar. It changed my life. It got me started.

What makes Kinsman an interesting spirit to use in cocktails? 

I love it. It's a great spirit. We use it and it's a spirit we like to play around with. I think it's well made and if it wasn't I wouldn't use it.

What ingredients play well with the spirit? 

Juices, lemon go very well with it. You can do riffs on Aviations, Sidecars. It plays well with cordials. I like to use it with spice: ginger syrups, habaneros, serranos. We like to offset the sweetness in the brandy. We talk about the spice and the bitters, which help make the drink more approachable. 

Photos by Sara Ellis/Dorćol Distilling Company

River Romance

1 1/2 ounces Kinsman Rakia

1/2 ounce orange liqueur

1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur

1/2 ounce lemon juice

2-3 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Instructions: Assemble ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Double strain into the cocktail glass rimmed with sugar and garnish with a lemon zest.

Cocktail by Don Marsh of Bar 1919

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NYC-based culinary website gives nod to San Antonio's Kinsman Rakia

Via Tasting Table

Via Tasting Table

In 2013, Dorćol Distilling Co. introduced the South Side of San Antonio and the Lone Star State to a spirit with roots half a world away in the farms of Eastern Europe. 

Nearly two years later, Kinsman Rakia has become one of the premier spirits made in Texas. Sure the apricot brandy is unfamiliar to many folks but once they try it they find it has more body and depth than vodka while displaying all the complexity found in whiskey and gin. 

Last week, Tasting Table, a culinary website based in New York City, mentioned Dorćol's Kinsman Rakia in an article that looked at a handful of other U.S.-made spirits with roots from all over the word. After dinner, before dinner or whenever, at Dorćol we craft a traditional, old-world spirit for us all to enjoy. 

Here's what Kara Newman, spirits editor for Wine Enthusiast and New York-based writer, had to say about our award-winning brandy in her post: 

Kinsman Rakia: San Antonio, Texas
This small-batch apricot brandy is made by Dorćol Distillery; co-owner Boyan Kalusevic grew up in Serbia, where the spirit is sometimes referred to as "Serbian moonshine." This Lone Star version mingles stone fruit with almond for an after-dinner sipper that's nothing like firewater.

After dinner, before dinner or whenever, at Dorćol we craft a traditional, old-world spirit for us all to enjoy. 

Cheers. 

Valentino 

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