Published on April 4th, 2021 | by Darren Paltrowitz


15 Recommended Brands To Add To Your Home Bar In April 2021

Spring 2021 is now upon us. No matter whether you are still quarantining or regularly socializing in small groups, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy your home bar and imbibe. As someone regularly following trends within the food and beverage worlds, I can tell you that there is no shortage of interesting new offerings from top producers of wine, spirits and even non-alcoholic beverages.

In turn, below are 15 recommendations for readers of The Hype Magazine seeking some possible, quality-oriented — yet all of which cost-effective — additions to their home bar.

Old Forester 117 Series

Old Forester recently launched a new expression series, The 117 Series, as available exclusively via the Old Forester Distilling Co. and select Kentucky retailers. The 117 Series, which is the first Old Forester bourbon to feature a woman’s signature on the bottle, kicked off with a high angel’s share release. A true passion project of Old Forester Master Taster Jackie Zykan, this limited-edition release is currently sold in 357mL bottles and pays homage to Old Forester’s homeplace located on Whiskey Row. I have had the pleasure of interviewing Zykan several times, including this 2018 Q&A for The Hype.

Traverse City Whiskey Co.

Known by many as “The Whiskey Of The North,” the Traverse City Whiskey Co. is an award-winning craft whiskey brand located in upstate Michigan, as recently recognized for its “Best Small Batch Bourbon” at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The brand’s American Cherry Edition, as produced right in “the Cherry Capital of the World,” is also reportedly the best-selling craft spirit in the state of Michigan. The upstart brand also recently acquired Cocktail Crate, a line of craft mixers. I highly recommend the TCWC’s Premium Cocktail Cherries, which come jarred.

Mythology Distillery

Mythology Distillery, which has been named “Best Colorado distillery,” launched Best Friend Bourbon with a community giveback program. Enjoyable neat, on the rocks or in whiskey forward cocktails like an old-fashioned or Manhattan, the inspiration to produce Best Friend Bourbon was reportedly to craft a uniquely-layered bourbon by blending straight bourbons with different mash bills and maturities. By sourcing a 15 Year Kentucky Bourbon, Mythology is able to incorporate a lasting richness of vanilla and tobacco that is a rare find in craft whiskey. The 15 Year Bourbon compliments younger high-rye bourbons aged 2 to 5 years that provide wildflower honey and warm cornbread on the nose, giving way to honeycomb upfront on the pallet that transitions gentle cinnamon and toasted almonds. Mythology Distillery also produces acclaimed gin and vodka in small batches.

Tequila Don Julio x Barry’s Cocktail Kit

The old adage of “work hard, play hard” need not always apply. Tequila Don Julio and Barry’s have teamed up to show exactly how “Barry’s Does Tequila” — B.D.T., for short — with its first-ever Cocktail Kit collaboration, coming with everything you need to create a simple and delicious-tasting drink. The Tequila Don Julio x Barry’s Cocktail Kit includes a bottle of Tequila Don Julio Blanco, Vita Coco Coconut Water, agave syrup, cayenne pepper and glassware, so you can find balance while enjoying life in the process. The B.D.T. is a simple and delicious-tasting cocktail featuring Tequila Don Julio Blanco — a sugar-free and gluten-free choice with just 98 calories per 1.5 ounce serving — and Vita Coco Coconut Water, which is rich with nutrients such as electrolytes and potassium to replenish, rehydrate and recharge after a workout. The Tequila Don Julio x Barry’s Cocktail Kit is available for purchase at liquor stores nationwide.

Finlandia Vodka

Per Earth Day — coming up on April 22, 2021 — Finlandia Vodka remains committed to sustainability. Finlandia has an on-going partnership with the nonprofit Living Lands and Waters. I will be attending an attending later this month, to be hosted by Finlandia Vodka Global Master Mixologist Pekka Pellinen, with relation to Finlandia’s sustainable initiatives and some related cocktails that can be made from Finlandia’s top-notch vodka. More to follow on that later this month.

Heineken 0.0

In late 2020, I covered Heineken’s “Bestie Gift Ever.” Within that promotion, Awkwafina was seen arriving on an unsuspecting people’s doorsteps. Around that same time, Heineken Original’s limited-edition holiday bottles were unvilved, as printed using a smart algorithm and innovative digital printing technology to create 100 million different festive patterns. Bringing things up to speed in 2021, National Beer Day is coming on April 7th, and Heineken Lager remains a great choice via its nicely-blended bitterness and clean finish. Those seeking lighter fair can check out Heineken Light — only 99 calories and 7g of carbs per bottle — or the similarly-tasting, alcohol-free alternative that is Heineken 0.0.

Angry Orchard Hard Cider

Angry Orchard Hard Cider has already kicked off summer 2021 as the new official hard cider of The Concacaf Gold Cup. In turn, Angry Orchard has launched a limited-edition Gold Cup-inspired variety pack: the Kickin’ It Mix. Available nationwide through August 2021, each pack will include long-time fan favorites Crisp Apple and Unfiltered, as well as 2 new fruit ciders, Peach Mango and Strawberry. In addition to the Kickin’ It Mix, Angry Orchard and The Concacaf Gold Cup will celebrate the road to the Gold Cup through media integrations, experiential activations at games, and even a sweepstakes offering drinkers a chance to win a trip to the Gold Cup finals. In other words, keep watching Angry Orchard on social media and you will know why the brand is an industry-leader.

Luck Springs

Luck Springs is a new line of 100-calorie sparkling hard lemonade and teas born from the tradition of Texan outdoor adventures. Brought to you by the team at Austin Eastciders, Luck Springs is a homegrown development as the Austin Eastciders team’s answer to overly-sweet and less-natural approaches to hard lemonade and tea. The collection’s 4 flavors include Lemonade, Half & Half, Peach Tea and Raspberry Tea, and all 4 are ideal for sipping during a lazy afternoon by the water, campfire or on the front porch. My favorite of the 4 is the Raspberry Tea, which features undertones of black tea married with raspberry, providing a perfectly balanced but complex light raspberry tea.

Dogfish Head Distilling Co.

One of America’s earliest craft distilleries, Dogfish Head Distilling Co. recently announced the “coast-to-coast launch” of its scratch-made, ready-to-drink Canned Cocktails. The distillery’s lineup of Canned Cocktails includes 3 off-centered recipes: Blueberry Shrub Vodka Soda, Strawberry & Honeyberry Vodka Lemonade and Cherry Bergamot Whiskey Sour. Each recipe was crafted using Dogfish Head Distilling Co.’s house-made spirits, combined with all-natural, high-quality culinary ingredients, to create a liquid masterpiece that tastes as if it was poured straight from a bartender’s shaker tin. Dogfish Head Distilling Co.’s scratch-made Canned Cocktails have hit shelves in 4 packs of 355ml slim cans. My favorite is the Blueberry Shrub Vodka Soda, as reportedly inspired by the James Beard Award-nominated bar program at Dogfish Head’s geographically-enamored seafood restaurant Chesapeake & Maine in Rehoboth, Delaware.

Elysian Brewing’s Salt & Seed

3-time “Large Brewpub Of The Year” at the Great American Beer Festival, the Elysian Brewing Company operates 3 locations and a production brewery in Seattle, Washington. Known both for classic styles and for flexibility and innovation, Elysian has brewed over 500 different recipes since opening in 1996. While Elysian’s brewers use a variety of unusual ingredients, they are seasonally-notorious for their pumpkin beers. Last year I had the pleasure of trying out its new Salute The Sun. A seasonal beer that is perfect for summer, the Salute The Sun pale ale is conditioned on sun-dried black limes and vibrates with a ridiculous amount of Citra hops. It is slightly-tart, highly-citrusy, and — for lack of a better term — “super-chill.” More recently, I tried out the Full Contact Imperial Hazy IPA from Elysian, which features 8.8 percent ABV. Just in time for Summer 2021 comes Elysian’s newest seasonal release, Salt & Seed, which is made with 100 percent natural watermelon and kosher salt. Offering easy drinking — 4 percent ABV — with lemon-lime tartness, herbal characteristics, and mild saltiness, it is made with an even split of pale and malted white wheat and a dash of acid malt, most likely creating a flavor unlike any other beer you have tasted before.

SunSmash Seltzer

Unlike other seltzers on the market which offer little to no real fruit ingredients, SunSmash Fruited Hard Seltzer includes 25 percent real fruit juice. These new seltzers are lightly-bubbled, aiming to leave drinkers refreshed without the belly full of air that comes from overly carbonated seltzers. In turn, SunSmash is a blend of carbonated water, alcohol from cane sugar, fruit juice concentrates, and natural flavors. Each can comes in at 150 calories, bridging the gap between tasteless hard seltzers and more indulgent high-calorie beverages. SunSmash Fruited Hard Seltzer is available in 4 premium flavors: Black Currant, Prickly Pear Lime, Mango Peach and Pineapple Passionfruit. Its 12-ounce slim cans are available in 2 package sizes: a single-flavor 6-pack retailing for $10.49 and a 12-count variety pack at a $19.99 suggested retail price. SunSmash Fruited Hard Seltzer is available now in select Washington retailers, including Total Wine & More, BevMo! and select independent retailers, with expanded distribution to follow soon.

Cool Cat Wine Spritzers

Cool Cat has launched a pair of naturally-flavored wine spritzers: Original (Elderflower Mint Lime) and Citrus, with 2 more on the way this Summer (Berry and Grapefruit). They feature a base of California Pinot Grigio, cane sugar, and are naturally gluten-free. Containing just 150 calories and 2 carbs per 12-ounce can — the equivalent of 2 glasses of wine — these canned cocktails are portable, recyclable, and great on-the-go. Cool Cat will be participating in Seltzerland in multiple cities, having already hit Tampa and Atlanta.

Stone Brewing’s Buenavida Hard Seltzer

Stone Brewing recently announced the upcoming release of Buenavida Hard Seltzer, reportedly the result of the company’s internal challenge put forth from their talented brewing team who asked of themselves “Can we make a hard seltzer, and can we make it actually taste… good?” Buenavida Hard Seltzer is brewed with high-quality cane sugar and natural flavors, and the offering will be the first hard seltzer to go to market exclusively in glass. 12-packs of custom molded glass bottles will hit stores as early as July in Southern California. National distribution may follow in January 2022, providing Stone is able to keep up with SoCal consumer demand. But beginning immediately, visitors to Stone Brewing’s locations can enjoy all 4 flavors on draft.

Bacardi Lime & Soda

In 1862, in the city of Santiago de Cuba, Don Facundo Bacardí Massó revolutionized the spirits industry when he created a light-bodied rum with a particularly smooth taste: BACARDÍ. The unique taste of BACARDÍ rum inspired cocktail pioneers to invent some of the world’s most famous recipes including the BACARDÍ Mojito, the BACARDÍ Daiquirí, the BACARDÍ Cuba Libre, the BACARDÍ Piña Colada, and the BACARDÍ El Presidente. In turn, BACARDÍ’s rum is arguably the world’s most awarded spirit of all-time, with more than 800 awards for quality, taste and innovation to its credit. BACARDÍ’s new-ish Real Rum Cocktails are simply convenient, full of flavor, and carry an ABV of 5.9 percent. These ready-to-drink cans are made with a base of award-winning BACARDÍ White Rum and available in 3 delicious flavors: BACARDÍ Lime & Soda, BACARDÍ Limon & Lemonade and BACARDÍ Rum Punch. Priced at $12.99 per 4-pack, you can purchase these cans for at-home consumption via Drizly, Minibar and Instacart alike.

PaQuí Tequila

PaQuí Tequila is an ultra-premium tequila of unparalleled flavor made with 100 percent Blue Agave, as created to express the best parts of the blue agave fruit’s more than 600 aroma and flavor compounds. Now available in Silvera, Reposado and Añejo offerings, PaQuí recently earned a rave review from Cocktail Bandits, as embedded above. One of the smoothest and most flavorful tequilas you will taste.

Archer Roose

As the story goes, Archer Roose scours the best wine regions in the world to find partners who produce varietals every bit as luxurious as they are respectful to the environment. All of its wines are made from sustainably-grown grapes and are both gluten-free and vegan-friendly. Its canned offerings currently come in 4 varieties: Rose (from Provence, France), Bubbly (from Veneto, Italy), Sauvignon Blanc (from Casablanca Valley, Chile) and Malbec (from Mendoza, Argentina). My personal favorite of the 4 is the Malbec.

Chicken Cock Whiskey

A product of Grain & Barrel Spirits, Chicken Cock Whiskey was originally established in 1856 in Paris, Kentucky. The brand rose to fame as “the house whiskey” at the Cotton Club, one of the most legendary speakeasies, during Prohibition. Today, the company continues its quest to resurrect the historic pre-prohibition favorite with its signature KY Straight Bourbon & Rye, as led by Master Distiller and 40+ year industry veteran Gregg Snyder. Sister brands from Grain & Barrel Spirits include Dixie, High Goal and Virgil Kaine.

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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 weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."

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