Published on January 26th, 2020 | by Darren Paltrowitz


10 Fun, Innovative And/Or Delicious Brands You Should Be Adding To Your Home Bar

Within the colder months of the calendar year, you are likely to find wine and spirits a recurring part of your social calendar. Whether you are hosting a gathering at home, celebrating New Year’s, partaking in an NFL Sunday or attending a holiday party, odds are that alcohol will be a part of that event’s equation. With craft spirits and specialized vineyards being more popular than ever these days, it is not always easy to keep up with the latest and greatest brands out there on the market.

As a frequent reader of industry trades, a prolific interviewer of brand ambassadors and a follower of key developments within the world of wine, beer and spirits, I regularly take note of new products and developments. Below are 10 brands you ought to stock your home bar with the wines of this season.

Blue Marble Cocktails

Have you heard of Blue Marble Cocktails? If you haven’t, simply put: Blue Marble makes all-natural, pre-mixed, ready-to-drink premium cocktails that are likely to be perfect for any occasion.

Offering nine different mixed drinks — including classics like the Mojito, Moscow Mule and Greyhound — Blue Marble’s cocktails use ultra-premium distilled spirits, all-natural juices and handmade syrups. For a light refreshment, Blue Marble offers premium spiked seltzers, using vodka instead of beer malt, for a delicious beverage that has only 95 calories. Last year, the World Premix Awards recognized Blue Marble’s Bloody Mary drink as the “best ready-to-drink cocktail in the world.”

As an added bonus, when you drink Blue Marble, you are also giving back to the Earth. Drawing its name from the iconic photo taken in 1972 by NASA’s Apollo 17 crew, Blue Marble is committed to ensuring the products are both high quality and earth-friendly. Blue Marble honors their ethos by using recyclable packaging and working with organizations dedicated to ocean conservation.

Slane Irish Whiskey

Slane Irish Whiskey is a bold take on Ireland’s legendary spirit. It was created by Brown-Forman — the great folks behind Old Forester, Woodford Reserv, Korbel, Tequila Herradura and other top brands — working with the Conyngham family, which has three centuries of ties to the village of Slane. In turn, Slane Irish Whiskey marries traditional Irish craftsmanship with innovations like its signature Triple Casked maturation process. Using virgin, seasoned and sherry casks, the resulting spirit is bold, yet smooth and more robust and complex than a traditional blended Irish whiskey. Its striking black bottle calls out its distinctive flavor and unconventional approach that embodies the pride of Slane.

Interestingly, Slane and Dough Doughnuts recently collaborated on January 14th to celebrate National Irish Coffee Day. This partnership led to the creation of three whiskey-infused donuts, and dare I say the best tasting donuts I have ever tasted. Either way, it proved that Slane’s spicy and woody taste can be enjoyed neat, in cocktails and in kitchen recipes alike.

Beaulieu Vineyard

In 1900, when Georges de Latour’s wife Fernande first laid eyes on the land that would become the original Rutherford vineyard, she named it “beau lieu,” or “beautiful place.” Shortly thereafter, de Latour sold his thriving cream of tartar business, bought the four-acre ranch and founded Beaulieu Vineyard with the vision of making Napa Valley wines that would rival those of his native France. In 1940, Beaulieu Vineyard released its first vintage of Private Reserve, Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that was destined to become Napa Valley’s first “cult” Cabernet. And in 2008, the vineyard opened a new state-of-the-art winery within one of its original buildings.

New and notable from Beaulieu Vineyard is its 2016 BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. The latest vintage from BV is bursting with a bouquet of cassis, blueberry, blackberry, violet and wild sage, simultaneously carrying lingering flavors of dark blackberry, root spice, chocolate and molasses.

Also worthwhile from the popular Napa label is its 2016 BV Tapestry Reserve Red Blend Napa Valley. A Bordeaux-style blend, its Cabernet Sauvignon contents impact a generous core of brambly blackberry, cassis, and macerated blueberry. while its Merlot brings a vibrant, riper dark cherry fruit character, the Malbec contributes a dark plum and briary blackberry notes, and the Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot complete the blend with delicate floral nuances of violet and wild sage.

Stone Brewing

Founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner in 1996, the groundbreaking San Diego-based Stone Brewing is the 9th largest craft brewer in the United States. Recognized as an award-winning industry leader, Stone has been listed on the “Fastest Growing Private Companies” list of Inc. 12 times and has been called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate twice.

The multi-faceted company operates brewing facilities in Escondido, California and Richmond, Virginia, in addition to tap room locations throughout the U.S., Germany and China. Known for its bold, flavorful and largely hop-centric beers, Stone has earned a reputation for brewing outstanding, unique beers while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sustainability, business ethics, philanthropy and the art of brewing… and pledging to never, ever, sell out to “the man.”

Late last month, the freshest nationally-distributed beer launched Stone Neverending Haze IPA, a low-ABV IPA delivering a triumphantly bold hit of flavor. Visibly hazy and golden orange, Stone Neverending Haze IPA lets off dank aromas of orange peel along with floral notes. Citrus flavors of orange and lime are intense up front, followed by oats, pineapple, star fruit and sweet strawberry preserves. It is available in 12-ounce six-pack cans, 12-ounce 12-pack cans and on draft.

Tequila Partida

The story of Tequila Partida began in the fields of the late Enrique Partida, a well-respected blue agave farmer. Founded in 2001 by branding expert Gary Shansby, Tequila Partida continues to be distilled in Providencia, Jalisco, Mexico. Per an aggregate score from the Tequila Regulatory Council Of Mexico, Partida is reportedly the top-ranked tequila, as only made from blue agave grown in the Tequila Valley.

Recently, Tequila Partida announced the limited release of its first nationally-available Single Barrel Reserve bottling, showcasing 30 unique barrels of the world’s highest-rated Tequila Reposado. Just prior to that, in December 2019, Tequila Partida Reposado was awarded the highest score for all Reposados in Ultimate Spirits Challenge’s “Top 100 Spirits Of 2019,” claiming ninth overall spirit in the world. As available beginning this month, the Single Barrel exemplifies Partida’s commitment to honor 100 percent Blue Weber Agave and crafting an award-winning agave-forward tequila.


The history of Diplomático began in Venezuela in 1959, with the establishment of the distillery where all of its rums are produced. In 2002 the company became 100 percent Venezuelan and privately-owned, with its parent company adopting its current name: Destilerías Unidas S.A. (“DUSA,” for short). Today, the company is one of the largest rum producers in Venezuela and Diplomático is distributed in over 80 countries. It holds the “Ron de Venezuela” DOC (Protected Denomination of Origin) and is recognized as one of the finest rums in the world.

Quality rum aside, protecting the environment is one of the company’s core values. In 2009, DUSA received the ISO 14001 certification for environmental awareness. One of the main achievements was the creation of an ecological treatment process, which transforms residual water into a sugar cane organic fertiliser. The distillery has also developed the capacity to recycle 100 percent of its solid waste. Other notable corporate initiatives include beach cleaning and tree planting.

Stags’ Leap Winery

An intimate valley within the greater Napa Valley, Stags’ Leap is a place of natural beauty, storied buildings and gardens, a lively history, and a reputation for elegant wines showing finesse and intensity. Estate Founder Horace Chase partnered with his uncle W. W. Thompson on land where grapes had been planted in the 1880s by T.L. Grigsby. The construction of the Manor House in 1890 was followed by the blasting of the Historic Wine Cave and first vintage in 1893. By 1895 production on the estate was up to 40,000 gallons of wine.

Stags’ Leap Winery’s 2018 SLW Chardonnay Napa Valley offers opening aromas of fragrant citrus, white peach and floral honeysuckle, as paired with subtle hints of Tarte Tatin and brioche toast, to make this a lively Chardonnay. Nuances of lemon meringue, green apple, guava and Asian pear are found alongside notes of vanilla and caramel oak.

Also notable is its 2018 SLW Viognier Napa Valley. This wine has racing acidity and a steely minerality which add to its overall crispness and complexity. Layers of white peach, hints of lemongrass and raw almond are plentiful on the palate, leading to an elegant, delicately floral-spiced finish.

Croft Pink

Established in 1588, Croft is the oldest firm still active today as a port wine producer, and it remains one of the most distinguished of the original founding port houses. Despite its rich heritage and history, Croft has never been constrained by tradition, and it launched Croft Pink in 2008. The first ever rosé Port, Croft Pink carries vibrant flavours of ripe cherry and raspberry with lovely nuances of honey and grapefruit, as paired with a dry, very attractive finish. In turn, it can be ideal for summer settings, a spring picnic, a chilled evening setting and/or as a cocktail on its own right.

Known for the smooth and intensely fruity style of its wines, Croft offers a wide range of high-quality ports beyond Croft Pink. This includes vintage ports and wood-aged reserves alike.

Tanteo Tequila

Tanteo Tequila is made in the only distillery owned by its cooperative of agave farmers. Recently the brand unveiled Tanteo Blanco Tequila, as bottled at 85 proof and joining its existing line of all-natural infused expressions including Jalapeño, Chipotle and Habanero. On the nose, Tanteo Blanco Tequila is floral and sweet with a hint of tropical fruits including mango, pineapple and guava. The entry is bright and zippy, revealing notes of black pepper and minerality on the palate to balance the sweetness of the agave. With a bold yet silky mouthfeel, Tanteo Blanco Tequila departs with a long and vibrant finish, offering notes of tropical fruit.

All Tanteo Tequilas are made from fair trade, 100 percent Blue Weber agave, then distilled utilizing traditional fermentation and distillation methods. With an emphasis on fair labor practices, the Tanteo Tequila distillery is credited with revitalizing the small town of Juanacatlán where it is located. In turn, the result is an award-winning artisanal product that is anything but ordinary.


Flaviar is a club for fine spirits enthusiasts. Launched in 2012 in Europe, the New York-based company’s mission is to help everyday people build their dream home bar. Both an online-based and a real-world community, Flaviar currently ships to 35 states, offering free shipping. Participating brands include Glenfarclas, Patron, The Macallan, Lagavulin, Yamazaki, Bulleit Bourbon, Sipsmith, and Woodford Reserve. Flaviar membership is currently priced at $300 per year, or $95 a quarter.

Co-founder Grisa Soba was born and raised in Slovenia and has an extensive background in the beverage industry. With a father who worked in Slovenia’s largest brewery, Grisa was immersed from an early age to the world of brewing and distilling. His passion for spirits developed as he trained himself in distilling and created his own absinthe and vodka. He later started a boutique advertising agency which worked with multinational spirits companies such as Pernod Ricard in Europe and also owned a cocktail bar in Slovenia. Soba shared the Flaviar concept with his friend Jugoslav Petkovic, whose experience in e-commerce and technology startups led to Flaviar’s founding in 2012. Soba spoke with The Hype in December 2019 about the successful company’s past, present and future.

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of the bi-weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with V13 (formerly He has also co-authored two published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), with a second podcast set for a June 2020 launch.

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