California's Wine Country is a big place: some contestants in this year's Wine Country Cocktail Competition drove an hour and a half to get there. I helped judge the competition along with a panel that included Brian Kropf of Mutineer Magazine and radio host and party person Ziggy the Wine Gal. The competition was sponsored by the Perfect Puree of Napa Valley, Charbay Distillery & Winery, and Glace Luxury Ice. It was run Iron Chef style, with a secret ingredient announced at the competition. That ingredient was a selection of summer berries. Each contestant also had to include a Charbay...
Over at ShakeStir.com I write the New Booze blog, keeping track of new spirits products hitting the market and spirits reaching distribution into new states. In July 2012, the new products I wrote about were: Ardbeg Day scotch Dad's Hat Aged Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey D'USSE' Cognac Greenhook Ginsmiths Beach Plum Gin Liqueur Agua Libre relaunch WhistlePig TripleOne Rye Early Times Fire Eater Jefferson's Ocean Aged Bourbon Punzone' Vodka Dale DeGroff's Pimento Aromatic Bitters Spodee Check them all out at ShakeStir.com.
In last week's post for FineCooking.com, I used Antoine's Cocktail, a drink from Liberty in Seattle, as an example of how to create a sour. Antoine's Cocktail includes vodka, lemon, lemon peel, rosemary, and simple syrup, but it's served on a big cube like an Old Fashioned rather than up like a Margarita. The recipe is here. Antoine's Cocktail. Photo by Andrew Friedman
Sometimes sake is just too savory for me to enjoy much of on its own, yet most sake cocktails are usually so.. meh. So I made a spritzer by adding some grapefruit juice and soda water. It was really, really good. Go make one.- here's the recipe You can drink 'em by the gallon.
This spring I visited 8 American whiskey distilleries, including Buffalo Trace. Buffalo Trace is owned by the Sazerac company. They make Buffalo Trace, Blanton's, Elmer T. Lee, Eagle Rare, Van Winkle, and other whiskey brands, plus the make/own/import other spirits including Rain vodka, Puebla Viejo tequila, and Glenfarclass scotch. Unlike most of the other American whiskey distilleries I visited, Buffalo Trace feels like a campus or a mini factory town. Other distilleries have just the central distillery and bottling line, but the aging warehouses are spread further afield. They're closer by at Buffalo Trace. The name Buffalo Trace comes from...
In a post on FineCooking.com, I put up a recipe for the House of Balloons, an excellently-named cocktail created by Sean Hoard of Portland's Teardrop Lounge. It contains vodka, Aperol, grapefruit juice, honey syrup, and soda water. I tried the drink and it's delicious- and probably a good way to get your unadventurous friends into better cocktails. Get the recipe here.
I'm helping judge the Wine Country Cocktail Competition in Napa Valley on Monday, August 6th. Tickets are still available to the event, which is sponsored by Charbay Distillery & Winery and Perfect Puree of Napa Valley. Tickets are available here. Come say hello!