LIFESTYLE BEYOND THE GLASS
LIFESTYLE BEYOND THE GLASS
LIFESTYLE BEYOND THE GLASS
LIFESTYLE BEYOND THE GLASS
one drink at a time
Issue 11 drink me DEC 2010/JAN 2011
[heal the world]
Note from the Editor 6 Design: Wine Racks 9 Thirsting for More
An insider’s look into corporate responsibility By Corey Hill
13 Profile Page: Rick Lyke
By Corey Hill
The cure for what ales you By Molly Freedenberg
A sweet and savory wine-soaked meal By Denise Sakaki
What people really want By Stephanie Henry
26 New Booze: Nolet’s Dry Gin
By Dominic Venegas
28 Nogs, Flips, Fizzes & Possets
Drinks yule love By Paul Ross
32 Ale the World: Make it a Beery Place
Our Michael Jackson By Brian Yeager
35 Book Review: Boozehound 36 Good Grapes
Eco-friendly wines By Alan Goldfarb
to Drink to 43 Libation Laureate 44 Featured Recipes
LIFESTYLE BEYOND THE GLASS
Editor In Chief: Daniel Yaffe TRAVEL Editor: Paul Ross Art DIrector: Lance Jackson Web Developer: Aman Ahuja Copy Editor: Sam Devine
Director of Operations: Pablo Perez BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: Stephanie Henry InTERN: Miranda Jilka Advisory Board: Jeremy Cowan, H. Ehrmann, Cornelius Geary, Hondo Lewis, David Nepove, Debbie Rizzo, Genevieve Robertson, Carrie Steinberg, Gus Vahlkamp, Dominic Venegas
Craig Edelman, Molly Freedenberg, Alan Goldfarb, Corey Hill, Stephanie Henry, Lance Jackson â€“ www.LanceJackson.net, Paul Ross, Denise Sakaki, Joe Shoulak, Brian Yeager, Dominic Venegas, Sierra Zimei
Thank you: Sangita Devaskar, Sacha Ferguson, Sonia Meyer, Reliable Distribution, Skylar Werde Publisher: Open Content www.opencontent.tv Eriq Wities & Daniel Yaffe
More than 50,000 people read Drink Me Interested in advertising? email@example.com
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The entire contents of Drink Me magazine are ÂŠ 2010 and may not be reproduced or transmitted in any manner without written permission. All rights reserved.
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Please drink responsibly
Perhaps the one time your wife wonâ€™t mind if you go out for a couple of beers.
Visit our website, come to an event, follow our Twitter feed, check out our Facebook page. But join us. Because all men over 40 should be aware, and get tested. The life you save may be your own. Cheers. twitter@pints4prostates
ÂŠ2010 Pints for Prostates Inc. Creative design donated as a public service by Eric Mower and Associates.
Note from the Editor
crafted with blue agave from the highland ranches of don josé pilar contreras 100%
hat are you going to cheers for this winter? While you’re keeping toasty, you’ll most likely toast to... a better/more/future ________ (fill in the blank). Over here at Drink Me, we’re raising our glass to a better world. Cliché as it might seem, it’s important to remember that each decision we make — particularly as consumers — may have widespread impacts, and every decision we make can be a positive step: even each drink you swill. That being said, we’re covering all of your toasts this winter. Cheers to good health: we’re educating you on why booze is just what the doctor ordered. Cheers to ending poverty: we’re covering corporate responsibility and what large alcohol companies are doing to give back. Cheers to caring for the earth: we’re serving you an article on “good” wine and booze that is good for the environment (as well as your taste buds). We’ve taken on “heal the world” to bring back the “other” Michael Jackson and chronicle his life as the world’s most prolific beer writer. Served up with some winter cheer and articles to keep you happy through the holidays (including one about the good ‘ole nog), we wish you and yours a happy, boozy holiday! Stay warm. Cheers, Daniel Yaffe
www.drinkmemag.com gold medal spirits of mexico tasting competition
Spicy. Unexpected. Full of potential. Just like your plans tonight.
Basil Hayden’s® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 40% Alc./Vol. ©2010 Kentucky Springs Distilling Co., Clermont, KY.
Design: Wine Racks
Designed by Deger Cengiz, this rack is made from recycled corks from the wine cork industry. It sits flush against your wall and shows off the labels while securing the bottles for you to drink later. There are even really nifty corks that cover up the wall mounting screws. I suppose if you really wanted, you could even use it as a bulletin board for reminders...”drink me tonight.”
Wine racks are useful ways to keep your corks wet and wine aging well. We set out to find some cool wine racks that reuse materials for this issue. Here’s what we found:
< Ski Wine Rack
Not sure you can take this one on the slope, but it might make a great fixture in your lodge. Or you could pull it out for the winter at home. It’s made from a reclaimed ski and handmade by artisans. Bring on the icewine! SterlingWineOnline.com
Thirsting for More An insider’s look into corporate responsibility By Corey Hill
It’s early morning in a village in Ghana, and a small group has gathered, some kneeling in the red dirt, others seated atop the plastic buckets that are the unofficial trademark of the continent. The topic of the day is water. You probably don’t worry much about water, unless you’re in the last mile of a marathon and you don’t have any. In Africa, the story is different. In this part of the world, two out of five people lack access to hygienic water. In this part of the world, there is an emergency. But this particular morning, there is hope.
A big idea, for sure. And it wasn’t the United Nations, the U.S. government, or a large, international aid organization behind the effort. Nope, it was the folks from Diageo, worldwide purveyors of Johnnie Walker, Don Julio, and Bailey’s Irish Cream. (You were probably wondering for a while there how this
was going to come back around to booze, weren’t you?) The name of the game is corporate responsibility. In its simplest terms, corporate responsibility is the idea that corporations owe something to the communities in which they operate. It may translate into donating money, making a business more environmentally friendly, or taking time for educational outreach. In the United States, making nice is big business for businesses — corporate-giving in 2009 totaled over fourteen billion dollars. Alcohol manufacturers, distributors, and retailers have long worked in concert to do their part. The most obvious implication for the alcohol industry is in educating consumers about their product. In the United States, Anheuser-Busch has created Beeresponsible, which provides educational materials on drinking
Photos by Craig Edelman
man and a woman stand in the center of the group and offer a solution: water filtration equipment, technical assistance and even instruction in sustainable agricultural techniques. Across the continent, this scene is replayed: in Nigeria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and more — a wide-reaching plan to drastically improve access to clean water. The ambitious goal is to provide safe drinking water to one million more people each year. It’s called Water of Life.
responsibly and underage drinking prevention. Most other companies have similar programs, although I have yet to find another with a name that measures up to Beeresponsible. “Sure,” you say. “Of course people want to take care of their customers. All businesses do that. Nothing special.” And you are right, but perhaps somewhat cynical. Most businesses do take care of their customers. But not all businesses take the time to make sure that everyone tangentially associated with the end product is taken care of, especially if it ends up costing them more in production costs and cuts into profit margins and presents logistical challenges.
hen you think of wine or vodka, you probably don’t imagine a sweatshop. More than likely, you imagine the ridiculously serene hills of Sonoma County or the surreal beauty of an Italian countryside. But for manufacturers and producers in developing countries, life is not always one big box of aged brie. Enter Fair Trade. Fair Trade certification ensures that the people providing a commodity are paid a fair price and guarantees tolerable working conditions. The move toward Fair Trade started with coffee and chocolate, but as the demand for ethical goods have grown, so have the number of goods being certified.
In the U.S., that certification is done right here in Oakland, by Fair Trade USA. Here’s what Kazuko Golden, spirits category manager, had to say about the process:
“The Fair Trade Certified label on wine empowers consumers the opportunity to vote with their dollars for quality wines that are improving lives and protecting the environment. For every bottle of Fair Trade Certified wine purchased,
vineyard workers in the global south are one step closer to equitable working standards and social development funds to invest in the quality of life for themselves and their communities.” What that means is that money from the purchase of these spirits funds things like healthcare and education. FAIR vodka, available throughout San Francisco and quickly spreading across the country, provides a way for you to enjoy quinoa (an Andean grain similar to rice) more than you’ve probably ever enjoyed quinoa in your life — both by virtue of the fact that it’s in a drink and not part of a spring leaf salad, and that you can make a legitimate claim that your White Russian is making the world a better place. And we can all agree the world needs some betterment, especially if we happen to spend a little time on a city bus at four in the morning. We tend to think of the philanthropic world and the business world as having completely separate aims. One does
good. One makes money. But these two aims aren’t mutually exclusive.
ee, for example: the planet. Until NASA gets their act together, this is pretty much the only home we’ve got. And according to some people (i.e. scientists who study these things and people who understand science) it’s getting a bit toasty. In fact, the challenge of climate change has become so obvious that most business leaders realize that their long-term planning has to deal with the reality of the problem we’re facing. So the planet ... we all agree it needs to be treated with respect. You’ve stopped pouring used motor oil down the drain and you finally put out the tire fire in your back yard. Thank you. But what are the drink-makers doing? Pretty much everything you can think of. Coors turns spent grains from making beer into ethanol, while Maker’s Mark and New Belgium convert their spent grain into energy. Reyka Vodka is distilled in a facility operated by geothermal heat and 4 Copas Organic Tequila uses local, hand-blown glass and supports conservation with every purchase. Green is the new tint du jour for the industry. And then there’s VeeV and the illustrious Treetini. VeeV is the world’s first carbon-neutral spirits company, and they’re serious about taking care of the planet. Partnering with Live It Green, VeeV has pioneered an inventive program to enjoy (eco)responsibly. They are working with local bars and making creative cocktails with VeeV, which is a spirit made with the Brazilian açai berry, (the one your hippie neighbor keeps chastising you for mispronouncing) and a seasonally varying selection of ingredients chosen to ensure local
production and sustainability. For every Treetini you buy, VeeV and Live It Green plant a tree. That ought to shut your hippie neighbor up. And for the record, you can tell him it’s pronounced “ah-sai-ee.” Whether it’s self-interest or something more, the power of corporate responsibility is huge. Cynics might declare that these are nothing more than multi-level marketing ploys, but the impact is undeniable. Just ask the folks who’ve tasted the Water of Life, which was started in 2007. In just three years, more than 3.2 million people have been provided with access to clean drinking water. That’s a lot of people whose lives have been changed for the better by a huge reduction in waterborne illness. So next time you tilt back a tumbler of Johnnie Walker, be proud and stand tall. You’re saving the world.
Because moderate drinking actually makes you live longer.
10 REASONS is the
PERFECT WINE FOR SKI SEASON: 1
It FITS EASILY in your BACKPACK
WHY WAIT for APRÈS SKI?
PERFECT for the CHAIRLIFT
Bandit FLOATS in a HOT TUB
It’s NOT GOOFY if you DRINK IT with your LEFT HAND!
NO GLASS necessary
Weighs NOTHING on the WAY DOWN (when empty!)
It’s EASY to see in THE SNOW
Your TONGUE WON’T STICK to BANDIT if it freezes
WON’T HURT if you BAIL
Profile: Rick Lyke
By Corey Hill
eer can save your life. Got your attention? I thought so. Rick Lyke of Charlotte, North Carolina, is the head of an organization called Pints for Prostates, and he’s using beer to bring guys to the table to talk to them about their prostates.
With beer? I asked. You’re reaching them with beer? Yes, he said. Rick explained that he didn’t know much about prostate cancer until he was diagnosed with the disease at the age of forty seven. Thankfully, the disease was in the early stages, and doctors were able to remove the cancer. During his recovery, Rick started thinking about what a close call he had experienced, and how his survival had all come down to a single friend getting through to him: “One guy, just by talking to me, saved my life. I’m trying to reach guys to repay the favor,” Rick said. Rick had been writing about beer for over thirty years, and he knew that the world of beer was as good an entry point as any into men’s attention sphere. This pragmatism would crop up throughout our talk. “The approach is designed to be non-threatening,” he said. And it is non-threatening. Beer is the opposite of threatening. It’s inviting. And the ads I’ve seen are actually pretty funny — they certainly get your attention. There’s something inherently fascinating about the contrast of themes presented, much like talking to Rick himself. The entire conversation I couldn’t help notice the stark juxtaposition of humor and grim reality, men’s favorite fermented beverage and a disease which affects one in six men. Rick is all business, except when he’s joking. Favorite beer? I asked. The one in my hand. From a locally based fundraising effort, Pints for Prostates has grown into an international brew-based outreach machine, with a presence at the World Beer Festival, the Great American Beer Festival, and countless others. Folks everywhere are pitching in, from the ad agency where Rick works to brewers around the country. In just two years, Pints for Prostates has reached over one hundred million people. But Rick isn’t satisfied. He won’t be, he says, until every last man is presented with the facts, armed with the information they need. “I want to change the game, to get that blue ribbon on more beers — to raise prostate cancer awareness the same way, the same level they’re doing for breast cancer. With Pints for Prostates, we’re really trying to use the universal language of beer to reach guys with this message.” The core message is one of optimism and hope. When I asked if Rick had any parting words, he told me he wanted to share the message that is printed on the back of Pints for Prostates T-shirts: Prostrate cancer is no joke Get tested Live longer Drink More Beer
Your Health! By Molly Freedenberg
The Cure For What Ales You “Stay busy, get plenty of exercise, and don’t drink too much. Then again, don’t drink too little.” — Herman “Jackrabbit” Smith-Johannsen (born June 15, 1875 – died January 5, 1987)
e’ve all heard the dangers of drinking too much. And even though cultures around the world tout a nightly glass of vino, or a daily dose of vodka, Americans don’t talk enough about the benefits of alcohol. Beyond the obvious anecdotal advantages – from establishing camaraderie with coworkers at happy hour to taking the edge off of stage fright – there is actual scientific evidence that alcohol is beneficial to the human animal.
The healthcare and nutrition community now agrees that a glass or two of red wine as part of a daily diet can help prevent a range of diseases, from strokes and heart attacks to mental illness. But Charles Bamforth, a professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology (and beer expert) at University of California, Davis, says many of these benefits also apply to other types of tipple. “Most scientists globally now are convinced that the active ingredient is alcohol and not some trace component of the grape,” he says. According to a paper he co-authored, moderate beer consumption leads to a lower risk of heart disease and favorably impacts the balance of good and bad cholesterol in the body. Beer also contains a range of antioxidants, B-vitamins, and assimilable silicon (particularly ales), which helps counter osteoporosis. (In other words: milk isn’t the only beverage that will help you grow strong bones.) It
drink me 15
seems that beer, which is more diuretic than water, can even lessen the risk of kidney stones. And several professors of pharmacology from the Loyola University of Chicago Stritch School of Medicine wrote a letter to the “New York Times” pointing out epidemiological studies that show moderate drinkers have a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s compared to nondrinkers, regardless of what type of alcohol they imbibed.
And it isn’t just long-term diseases that alcohol can help stave off. A 1993 Carnegie Mellon study demonstrated that moderate drinkers of wine, beer, or spirits had an increased resistance to catching colds. In fact, while occasional drinkers were thirty percent less likely to catch colds than teetotalers, those who consumed two to three drinks per day were eighty-five percent less likely to get sick.
But what about the folk wisdom that suggests alcohol can actually cure colds? Many professional singers swear by gargling whiskey to keep their throats smooth and pain free. And grandmothers for generations have suggested soothing cocktails like a Hot Toddy (heated whiskey, honey, lemon, and sometimes water) as home remedies for colds and the flu. It turns out that science hasn’t proven that alcohol can cure illnesses, but most agree that it can make you feel better – at least temporarily. Thomas Gossel, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Ohio Northern University, often gargles with a spoonful of bourbon in a large glass of warm water when he doesn’t feel well. “It’s just enough alcohol to help numb a sore throat,” he says. As for the Hot Toddy, most scientists say that any hot, steamy drink will have similar effects on a stuffy nose or congested chest, and that adding alcohol might help you get to sleep faster
— therefore relieving your experience of cold symptoms if not the symptoms themselves. There have been claims that certain alcohols are better for particular symptoms — bourbon for congestion, or Irish whiskey for persistent coughs — but those claims are unproven.
Drinkers Digest Another favorite bit of folk medicine says that alcohol can help with digestion. Bitter alcohols like Aperol, Campari, Underberg, and — San Francisco’s favorite — Fernet Branca, get lots of hype as digestive aids, particularly in South America and in Mediterranean countries like Italy and Greece. But can a shot of Jäeger or a grappa cocktail really help your body break down your dinner? Scientists say yes, but not for the reasons you expect. Many herbalists agree that the activation of bitter taste buds on the tongue can trigger the secretion of gastrin and cue the liver to produce bile, both of which support healthy digestion. But there’s no evidence that bitter booze works any better than non-alcoholic concentrations of bitter herbs like dandelion root or ginger.
owever, Bamforth says that alcohol can inhibit the formation of gastric ulcers and gallstones. And an experimental study conducted by the University of Moscow found that a shot of vodka per day can help prevent colon cancer by helping the stomach and colon absorb vital nutrients, minerals, carbs, calories, and proteins into intestinal lining and dispel waste. Even more surprising, a thirteen-year study conducted at the Women’s Hospital in Boston and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that moderate drinkers were less likely to gain weight and were at a lower risk for obesity than nondrinkers.
Pour One for My Home Remedies There’s plenty of folk wisdom about non-drinking uses of colorless alcohols. Some hairdressers swear by a Q-Tip dipped in vodka as the best way to remove hair dye from your skin or a bit of vodka added to your shampoo to help curls separate perfectly. Mythbusters took on some of these beliefs and finally confirmed that vodka can be used as a solvent for removing adhesives — most often used to painlessly remove bandages (particularly from hairy spots). They also found that a spritz of vodka and water helps remove odors like smoke from clothing better than dry cleaning alone, and that a bath of vodka removes foot odor just as well as a water and soap bath. When it comes to alcohol as an antiseptic, though, folk wisdom is only part right. Historically, alcohol was often used in place of water because of its antiseptic qualities (no pathogens can grow in beer, for example) and because it was more likely to be hygienic than the local water source. In most cases we encounter, though, clean water, rubbing alcohol, or iodine would be better options than liquor. As for drinking beer out of a dirty glass, Bamforth doesn’t recommend it — mostly because it’ll kill the foam.
Truth and Consequences All in all, it seems encouraging that scientists are starting to examine the uses and benefits of alcohol without bias, proving what moderate drinkers in other cultures have known intuitively for centuries. Unfortunately, though, this doesn’t mean that you get four times as many health benefits from last weekend’s binge-drinking session as you would if you’d stuck to two glasses of wine at dinner. In fact, most scientists agree that moderate drinking (usually defined as one drink a day for women and two for men) is better than abstaining, but drinking more than a couple drinks a day is worse that having none at all. What it does mean, though, is that the next time you overdo it on the happy hour specials, you can say with scientific accuracy that you’ve had too much of a good thing. Salud!
WHAT IF YOU COULD SHOP AT A GLOBAL FARMERS’ MARKET?
FIND OUT. www.ligamasiva.com
Eat your booze
A Sweet and Savory Wine-Soaked Meal Article and recipe by Denise Sakaki
here’s nothing more comforting than the rich flavor of caramelized onions or the warmth of a spiced, mulled wine. Marsala is a fortified wine that adds a sweet depth of flavor, matching nicely with the buttery richness of the caramelized onions baked in a quiche. The time it takes to get the onions slowly browned and
candy-sweet through constant stirring and controlled heat is worth it — you’ll be amazed at the incredible richness it adds to a basic quiche. For dessert, the spicy-sweet mulled wine flavor is a perfect poaching liquid for the fresh and creamy Bosc pears, and made even more indulgent when served with a scoop of vanilla or caramel ice cream. These dishes will keep winter’s chill off your shoulders, whether they are served separately or together as a brunch or light dinner.
Caramelized Marsala Onion Quiche (serves 4-6 people)
3 large yellow onions, sliced thin 1 cup marsala wine 6 eggs 1/4 cup half and half or whole milk 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage 1 tablespoon canola oil 1 tsp salt 1 tsp pepper 1 pie crust (store-bought crust is fine)
Heat a large skillet over the stove to medium-high and add the canola oil when it comes to temperature. Add the sliced onions and constantly mix the onions until they give off most of their liquid and turn translucent. Mix constantly and lower the heat if the edges begin to char — you want
the onions to release their liquid and caramelize slowly, not burn. Once the onions are fully translucent and starting to darken to a light, tea-stained color, lower the heat to medium-low and continue to stir. Over the next fifteen to twenty minutes, the onions should start to darken and eventually turn to a
rich, uniform brown color. Keep stirring and resist the urge to turn the heat up to high to speed this process up, you will only burn them. Once theyâ€™ve become the color of gravy, carefully add in the marsala wine and stir until it mostly evaporates off and leaves a thick, pudding-like consistency of caramelized onions and sauce. Remove from heat and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, crack in the six eggs and whisk with the half and
half or milk. Whisk in the salt, pepper, and sage and set bowl aside. Take your prepared pie dough crust and evenly spread the caramelized onion mixture along the bottom. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the top, making sure not to overfill, as the custard will rise as it bakes. Place the quiche into the oven and bake for fifteen to twenty minutes, or until center is slightly wobbly and not liquid. Once baked, remove immediately from the oven and let it sit for about five to eight minutes to let it set before slicing it. Serve by itself or with a green salad.
Spiced Wine Poached Pears (serves 4 people, or 8 if halved and served with ice cream)
4 Bosc pears, skin peeled and bottoms sliced flat so they can sit upright 1 bottle of Syrah or Shiraz wine 1 cup of brown sugar 3 pods of whole cardamom seeds 1 star anise 1 stick of cinnamon 1 tsp grated fresh nutmeg
Remove the whole spices from the spiced wine and turn heat back up to medium-high, bringing the liquid to a boil. Stir and let it reduce to half. Add more sugar to taste. The finished liquid should be syrup-like. When serving the pears, serve whole in a small pool of the warmed syrup, or slice lengthwise and scoop out the core, topping with a creamy ice cream.
Take a pot or high-sided pan and heat to medium-high with the full bottle of wine poured in, the cardamom, star anise and stick of cinnamon. As it starts to simmer, add in the brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Grate in the fresh nutmeg and continue to stir until spiced wine mixture comes to a low boil. Lower the temperature to low and carefully place the peeled pears into the wine. Place the pears on their sides and carefully rotate them periodically to ensure they soak in the poaching liquid. Use a small ladle to pour the
wine over the exposed tops to ensure they get an even stain of the wine. When the pears are fork-tender, let them sit in the liquid until cooled and remove. Refrigerate pears until ready to serve.
Bartenders are very giving people. They serve you the delicious drinks you ordered in a timely manner,
they lend an ear to listen to your stories and a shoulder to cry on if you need it, and they might even reward you with a free beverage every once in a while for being faithful and kind. But did you know that bartenders have been donating to help
each other for the past two years?
Currently there are small communities of bar staff in every neighborhood and small town of the world that truly rely on and support each other, to share stories about difficult guests, new cocktails, or mutual friends with a fellow bartender that truly understands their situation. After all, bartenders need an ear to bend, too. So it was only natural that this family of outsiders help each other in times of need.
The Bartender Relief Fund was unofficially started around January of 2007 in San Francisco to help out a few bartenders who were in terrible accidents,
didn’t have health insurance or large savings accounts, and needed help getting back on their feet. It was H. Joseph Ehrmann that was first inspired to hold a small fundraiser at his San Francisco lounge, Elixir. A couple of weeks later, Tony Devencenzi was in a life-threatening accident and the necessity for a fund was realized. After a few more fundraising events, a collaboration with mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, and blessings from the United States Bartenders Guild, Ehrmann continued the ball rolling by creating the official non-profit with a fully recovered Devencenzi as president. While currently focused on the San Francisco Bay Area, the national reach of the BRF will be slowly increased as outposts are established in major markets with other strong bartending communities such as Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Miami.
The BRF is designed to relieve the “traumatic events” that we can all suffer and aims to provide some relief. As such, each case will be evaluated on a case-bycase basis, with a final gift being awarded based upon the BRF Council’s findings of the case through the direct payment of needs like medical bills and rent. Through individual donations and by holding regular fundraisers, bartenders and their friends are building a balance in reserve to fund these awards.
If you feel that your life has been positively affected by a friend or loved one who works in the service industry, please visit Bartender-Relief.org to donate now. Stay tuned for many upcoming exciting BRF events!
Here are two award-winning cocktails from members of the BRF Board:
Fresas de Dulcenia by Tony Devencenzi
(President of the Bartender Relief Fund) 2 oz 1/2 oz 2
Don Q Anejo Rum Amaro Nonio Barspoon Strawberry Eau de Vie Dashes Peach Bitters Orange Oil (spritz and discarded orange peel) Garnish
Preparation: Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir and strain into a chilled small cocktail glass. Garnish by squeezing the oils from a large orange peel on the surface of the cocktail, discarding the rind.
The Secret Garden by Sierra Zimei
(Secretary of the Bartender Relief Fund) 1 3/4 oz 3/4 oz 1/2 oz 4
Hendricks Gin Pink Grapefruit Juice Cilantro-Infused Simple Syrup Splash of Fresh Lime Juice Cucumber Quarters
Preparation: Shake with ice and strain all ingredients into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with floating cucumber wheel.
Holiday Gift G By Stephanie Henry
Magazines have been doling out gift-giving advice since the beginning of the printing press. But is it ever that useful? This year we’ve decided to offer up what everyone on your list is really wishing for: booze.
Laird’s Bonded Straight Apple Brandy With budget cuts and a classroom stocked to the brim with disaffected youth, perhaps no one needs a stiff drink more than your child’s teacher. Instead of the age-old fruit gift, opt for this spicy apple brandy that’ll take the chill out of even the most menacing student.
Death’s Door Unaged White Whiskey Aww, the joys of a budding romance: longing glances, elated moods and an abounding optimism untarnished by the realities of a relationship. Sounds like our love affair with white dog whiskey, a yet-to-age spirit that’s transparent and unaffected. Toast to years of good, um, health.
Not that you would actually gift your ex, but if you’re feeling generous or nostalgic or lonely this holiday season, we recommend Campari. Bitter and a beautiful red hue from afar, it’s the perfect spirit to represent the conflicting feelings of lost love and resentment. (Note: If the goal is rekindling an old flame, we’d suggest two bottles of this 42 proof liqueur.)
Guide 2010 Butcher: 21-Year-Old Cousin:
Flor de Caña Centenario 21 Rum Your young cousin is probably used to six-packs of Keystone Light and liter bottles of pre-made Long Island Iced Tea. Which means it’s time to introduce him/her to the finer spirits in life. Flor de Caña is the perfect gateway rum — smooth and complex with a caramel sweetness any newbie could appreciate (without the cartooned Captain).
Bunnahabhain 18-Year-Old Scotch
Unfortunately, it’s not 1953. But if it were we could all rejoice in buying booze for casual acquaintances NOT relegated to Facebook, like our butcher. We bet he’d find Bakon Vodka amusing, if not for the obvious meat reference but for the fact that in 2010 someone is making baconflavored vodka.
We’re not sure who first decided a fine Scotch was the ideal gift for a boss, but we’re not going to argue. This particular single Islay malt Scotch whisky is both revered by critics — moderately smoky, velvety and gentle — and appropriately expensive. The latter, of course, is the point.
Black Rock Spirits Bakon Vodka
George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey #12 Grandpa is old. Really old. He’d rather drink turpentine than any newage flavored vodka on the market, so it’s best to stick to classics like George Dickel. Unlike most American whiskies, Dickel still fires its aged maple charcoal the old-fashioned way: in the open air. Just how you like it, right Gramps?
Environmental Activist Friend:
Wondering what to get the discriminate foodie on your list who preaches freerange, farm-fresh, organic, soy, vegan butter churned using wind power? Look no further than 360, the world’s first ecofriendly flavored vodka that uses an energy efficient process and one hundred percent recycled packaging.
You’ve spent the entire year confiding your innermost delinquencies to a near stranger. Kudos. But wouldn’t it be fun, just this once, to be the sane one? With a gift of (often believed) hallucinationinducing absinthe*, you’ll be on the opposite couch in no time. (*Ok, we know absinthe’s green fairy powers are a myth, but does your therapist?)
St. George Spirits Absinthe Verte
No. 209 Gin You’ve been meaning to bake up a delicious Jell-O mold or tuna casserole to welcome a new neighbor to the ’hood. But who has the time? A much better gift is, you guessed it, booze. We recommend No. 209 gin, a local San Francisco spirit that’ll be refreshing mixed with tonic and shared on the patio come summer — and you’ll be sure to be invited over.
New Booze: Nolet’s Dry Gin
Nolet’s Dry Gin By Dominic Venegas
oes the name Nolet sound familiar? They happen to be the family that produces a little vodka called Ketel One. But before they made vodka, they were known for their genever (the precurser to gin). The Nolet’s have been producing genever for more than three hundred years and now have the tenth and eleventh generations producing a modern gin. Nolet’s Silver Gin is sure to take the cocktail world by storm. With vibrant floral notes of lavender and fruit that come out in the nose, to a light peach, juniper, and herbal finish on the palate, this gin is one of few that you can enjoy on the rocks with a twist. I’ve also found that it rocks in a classic martini and other variants on classic gin cocktails (I did the Casino cocktail and it blew my mind — yes I know it calls for Old Tom, but it’s MY drink). There are three proprietary ingredients that Nolet’s has: Turkish rose, white peach and raspberry. This sounds like summer in a bottle. Which I don’t think is a bad thing, especially because it’s bottled at an abv of 47.6 percent (95.2 proof). This will definitely keep you warm. Already being heralded as the perfect gin by many of the industry rock stars, make sure to get your hands on a bottle. Oh, but wait, the Nolet’s have also released a second gin. Yes, this is their “highend” release. Aptly named the Reserve, it’s the “world’s first limited-edition sipping gin.” This bottle, which comes numbered and in a gift box, is going to be bottled at 52.3 percent abv (104.6 proof). Yes, I said sipping gin. What’s different? Obviously a little warmer, but it will also have the sexy saffron and delicate verbena. If you grab a bottle of it, it’ll put you back $650. Remember to sip.
2 oz Nolet’s Gin 1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur 1/4 oz fresh lemon juice 2 dashes orange bitters Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon zest twist.
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Nogs, Flips, Fiz Drinks ‘Yule’ Love! By Paul Ross
Year-end holiday libations are as American as eggnog. If, like most, you thought that it came from the jolly ol’ world, you’d only be partially right. Eggnog as we know and love it today is an American invention (just like chop suey, pizza and over half the menu at Taco Bell).
he name “eggnog,” while neither shrouded in mystery nor clouded by alcohol, is certainly of debated origin. Europe had wine and milk punches, but, according to one story of derivation, the prevalence of rum in colonial America and the easy access to agricultural products gave birth to a concoction dubbed “egg ‘n grog (rum)” which — even in the pre-tweet days — was shortened just to “eggnog.” Another legend has it that the name derived from “noggin,” a small wooden mug that the drink was served in. Or perhaps it came from an archaic East Anglian dialect and referred to eggs in a small cup.
Where and however it originated, the milk and sherry beverage was quickly amended with egg and fortified with rum and brandy. The stronger the rich mix got, the more popular it became.
Its association with Christmas and New Year’s is a direct outcome of some of its ingredients being most plentiful at year-end (hard cider, in particular), its inherent sociability and the fact that it was customarily served up in copious, party-sized quantities. Eggnog was wellestablished by Washington’s time and, according to some historians, the first president’s recipe included “rye whiskey, rum AND sherry,” by George. Next to the nog is the flip. In fact, their relationship is so close as to be zygotic. (Brits use the names interchangeably ... when not driving on the wrong side of the road.) But nog — by either name — took off in the USA with England’s help, as heavy taxes on imported alcohol drove up the demand for home-brew (bourbon, hard cider or beer), which, in turn, was poured into the mix. And thus was birthed modern noggery.
But the name was not the only difference in similar drinks at opposite sides of “the pond.” The British flip (aka “egg hot” — just to add to the confusion) was boiled up in a saucepan while its superior American cousin was a much more complicated, and tasty, affair.
In 1862, the bar guide “How to Mix Drinks: or, the Bon-Vivant’s Companion” advised repeated cup-tocup pouring to guarantee smoothness (even today some cocktails are better served by this method than by mechanical mixers) and later guides demarked the nog/flip difference by the presence or absence of cream (some flips are made with water) — though, subsequently, this niggling definition disappeared. By 1887, Jerry Thomas’ bar tenders guide book listed fifteen flip recipes, which called for everything from gin to vodka to advocaat (a Dutch,
Photo by Paul Ross
tateside, the compounding commenced with milk, cream, or both, laced with molasses and, when available and affordable, sugar. Then eggs were added as was the alcohol of choice. Optional ingredients included dried grated citrus peel, nutmeg, and ginger. A large mug (ceramic or pewter) was filled twothirds with beer or ale, the prepped egg mixture was ladled-in and a fresh-fromthe-fire, glowing poker (or flip-dog) was thrust in. This caused the whole to froth (flip) while imparting a burnt edge to
the flavor. Having smelled burnt milk, I don’t see how this became popular, but, by the mid 1700s, flips were so much in favor that a tavern bill surviving from that time has them costing more than a full meal and three times the price of a room!
almost noggy liqueur itself, with its blend of egg yolks, sweetener, vanilla and honey; Bols and De Kuyper sell it). And since the nineteenth century, the list has grown to embrace cognac, crème liqueurs and schnapps. So whatever you call it: eggnog, flip, egg-hot or posset (oh yeah, there’s that term, too), I doubt that anyone has ever come to blows over the definitions — if any, especially when proffered at the terminal season. Which brings our little tour to our last festive port of crawl: the fizz. Although not as limited to the winter holidays, fizzes are fun and contain eggs, so they fit right in. Fizzes are categorized under “sours,” despite the heavy inclusion of sugar, which renders some of them as teethitchingly sweet as Southern-style lemonade. And that’s appropriate, as they are most often associated with New Orleans, where, in 1888, Henry C. Ramos created his eponymously monickered version, the Ramos Gin Fizz. Basically a combination of gin, lemon, lime, sugar, cream, and egg, the cocktail quickly garnered fans. Infamous Governor Huey Long brought the drink from “the Big Easy” to “the Big Apple,” from whence it went to the rest of the world. In 1935, the Roosevelt Hotel group trademarked the name “Ramos Gin Fizz.”
[Much of this is documented — there’s even newsreel footage — at The Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans or, online, at MuseumOfTheAmericanCocktail.org]
Just like with the nog/flip identity issue, the fizz gets confused with the Tom Collins. The differentiation emanates from the type of gin used, with the fizz opting for the “sweeter” Holland or
Jenever style. Again, nowadays, such confining distinctions have all but vanished under the creative onslaught of mixologists who have fizzed champagne, port wine, Scotch and whiskey. Recently, while at Scotland’s Flodigarry Country House Hotel, my dinner was nightcapped with a posset. I anticipated a drink but was surprisingly served a pudding and ‘twas yummy! Post repast, I asked Chef Des Dillon about his culinary creation. He replied that the ingredients in a nog/flip/egg-hot/don’tget-me-started-on-that-again were basically those of custard and that he’d even dredged bread in a similar mixture to make a nog-out version of French toast! Now that sounds like a great way to start New Year’s Day after a previous night of noggery. But, for the evening of my visit, he had turned a basic posset mixture into a cool, creamy and memorable dessert.
Chef Des Dillon’s LEMON POSSET 600ml double cream 150 grams caster sugar 2 large lemons, zested and juiced 200ml light rum or vodka
Combine all ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Once boiled, remove from the heat and pass liquid though a fine sieve to retrieve zest and pips, etc.
Allow to cool slightly before pouring into glasses. Chill for four hours (serves four). Note: He’d topped it with a clear lemon, sugar and gelatin float which was nice but not necessary.
There are also edible entries under the headings: lattes, cakes, pies, and cheesecake. But, when it comes to eggnog, I’m a purist, so let’s move on to imbibables.
EGGNOG There are just too many recipes out there to know where to begin and they’re easily available. I heartily recommend trying several, as many of the readymades seem to exist solely to prove that you can do better. There’s even a low-fat, vegan, sugar, fat and alcoholfree eggnog. BUT WHAT’S THE POINT!? Should you want to get exotic, foreign nogs include Rompope (Mexico),Coquito (Puerto Rico, including coconut milk), Biblia con Pisco (Peru), and Eierlikor (Germany, which also has Biersuppe — just in case you do want an egg in your beer). Addendum: While on my recent Scotland sojourn, I picked up a copy of a trendy U.K. pub (as in pub-lication) called “The List,” which was just too much fun to exclude. It had the following potent potion
from mixologician Nick Reed of The Raconteur in Edinburgh . . .
THE DEATH FLIP . . . of which Nick wrote: “It’s a mixture of Chartreuse, Jagermeister, and Tequila with a whole egg . . . a couple of spoons sugar, a couple of ounces of cognac, an ounce of Jamaican rum, a small touch of cranberry. Shake and pour. It’s topped off with some grated nutmeg.” “The List” commented: “Tiramisu in a glass.” And: “Surprisingly festive even for Brits not versed in the ways of the yuletide eggnog.” Now let’s get FIZZICAL – The basic Gin Fizz contains the alcohol specified plus citrus juice, carbonated water, and powdered sugar and is customarily served in a highball glass with a couple of ice cubes. Variations: Silver Fizz (add egg white); Golden Fizz (with egg yolk); Royal Fizz (a whole egg); and the Diamond Fizz (sub sparkling wine for charged aqua).
RAMOS (New Orleans) FIZZ 2 oz gin (some recipes prefer Old Tom) 1 oz heavy cream 1 egg white (or equivalent powdered substitute) ½ oz lemon juice (fresh-squeezed is best) ½ oz lime juice (fresh-squeezed is best) 2 tsp powdered or superfine sugar 3 drops orange flower water
Combine all in a hand-shaker filled with cracked ice and shake it up baby for a couple of minutes. (The aerobics will help burn off the calories!) Strain/pour into a Collins glass and add a shpritz of cold seltzer to taste.
Ale the World: Make it a Beery Place Our own Michael Jackson By Brian Yaeger
It’s good to be the king. But would you rather be the king of pop or the king of beer? Not just in Bud’s marketing sense of being the “king of beers,” but the earned and undisputed sense of being the monarch of all beer scribes. That man was also named Michael Jackson.
y name really is Michael Jackson, but I don’t sing and I don’t drink Pepsi. I drink beer. That’s what I do for a living.” So begins the selfintroduction for the six-part series The Beer Hunter that aired on the Discovery Channel in the U.S. in 1990. Michael’s journeys revealed the beer culture and heritage from Bavaria, to Bohemia, to Belgium, to Britain, to the Bay Area. It is no exaggeration to say that, were it not for this bard of beer, the knowledge and respect beer enjoys today would be greatly reduced and embryonic. Jackson (1942-2007) made his life’s work preaching the gospel of authentic ales and lagers in an era when beer — most noticeably in the U.S. — was little more than a commodity that consumers drank for one of three reasons: it allegedly tasted great, it was less filling, and it was sure to make you sexy to your attractions.
His book “The World Guide to Beer,” published in 1977, was the first tome on the subject that categorized beers. Variety and style were reemerging as concepts. Were it not for his diligent study, the roughly eighty styles of beers recognized by the Brewers Association and judged at the annual Great American Beer Festival may have perished into obscurity. Daniel Bradford, publisher of “All About Beer Magazine,” said, “MJ’s single contribution to beer media is the creation of a vocabulary. It actually did not exist before him.” Today, budding beer connoisseurs are able to discuss an IPA’s citrusy nose and piney aftertaste — or a foreign stout’s roastiness and dry finish. But without Jackson, many people wouldn’t even ascertain the difference between the two despite their polarities in color, hop aroma, malt bills, and mouthfeel.
A man walks into a bar From his father, a truck driver of Lithuanian Jewish heritage, Jackson
Having said that, Jackson doesn’t singlehandedly deserve credit for reversing negative brewing and marketing trends following World War II. Agents of change sprouted up on both sides of the Atlantic. In Jackson’s native England, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) kicked off in 1971 when four blokes tried enjoying some pints in a pub but decided they were mad as hell and weren’t going to take “fake” beer anymore (CAMRA has grown into a consumer advocacy group that’s over 100,000 volunteers strong). By this time, Anchor Brewing in San Francisco
had six years under Fritz Maytag’s new ownership and started bottling the revamped Anchor Steam with other elegant styles such as Anchor Porter, Liberty Ale, and Old Foghorn on the verge of debuting. Instead, Jackson deserves credit for giving the brewing revolution a voice, giving beer the respect it deserved long before beer journalism had taken hold.
developed his workingman’s sensibilities. But from his mother, he developed a resolute respect for the English language. He was already a reporter when he noticed that wine received its due respect in the media, but not beer. His first book, titled “The English Pub,” was published in 1976.
e quickly realized that real ale — brewed with traditional ingredients and both matured and served from the original cask — wasn’t just found in local pubs but that there was a whole world of good beer out there. Perhaps the brewing culture nearest and dearest to his heart hailed from Belgium. “No other country has among its native styles of beer such diversity, individuality, idiosyncrasy and colour,” he wrote. “Winey-tasting Lambics, some with whole fruit added; ‘white’ beers in the vein of the popular Hoegaarden, typically spiced; sour-ish red and brown beers; strong ales from Trappist monasteries; powerful golden brews like the famous Duvel; plus endless local and seasonal specialities.”
Belgian ales may be prevalent among beer geeks today, but a large part of their popularization stems from Jackson’s 1991 book, “Great Beers of Belgium.” Ask any stateside producer of Belgian-style ales — from the exotically spiced, to the playfully fruited, to those richly enhanced with candi sugar — and said brewmaster will almost assuredly point to reading this book as the wellspring of interest. If not, it’s only because he or she is unaware that the craft brews that were inspirational had actually been formulated by a Jackson fan and reader a generation earlier. In this capacity, Michael Jackson has had nearly as great an impact on the homebrewing community as author Charlie Papazian (whose pioneering
book, “The Joy of Homebrewing,” is said to have launched a thousand microbreweries). Between Jackson’s most popular books, he is partially responsible for the other six-hundred-plus craft breweries in this country. Jackson was the first recipient of the F.X. Matt Award (so named for F.X. Matt Brewing in Utica, NY, one of the oldest surviving breweries in the US). Bestowed by the Brewers Association in 1987, Jackson was awarded his ahead of industry legends and pioneers such as Anchor’s Fritz Maytag and Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease and diabetes but died from a heart attack at the age of sixty five after thirty years as the world’s first professional beer critic. Steve Hindy, owner of the Brooklyn Brewery and a former Associated Press correspondent said on August 30, 2007, the day Jackson died, “Michael was the first serious writer and reporter to focus on the wonderful, mysterious history of brewing. For millions of readers and viewers, he unlocked the secrets of ale, lager and lambic, of Oktoberfest, India Pale Ale, and the myriad of beer styles. His books and articles saved many breweries from extinction and inspired a new generation of brewers in America and abroad . . . He elevated the status of beer in the world. “ Though he also enjoyed whisky (he also did for whisky what he did for beer with his 1987 book, “The World of Whisky”) and wine, there’s no doubt he took the most pleasure and pride in spotlighting fine ales and lagers. He said, “Beer is by far the more extensively consumed, but less adequately honored. In a small way, I want to help put right that injustice.”
Book Review: Swallow Your Words
Boozehound On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits Author: Jason Wilson Subject: Spirits
Synopsis & Review: Let’s get one thing
straight: author and “Washington Post” cocktail journalist Jason Wilson would rather be caught dead than with a vodka martini in hand. No, make that a flavored vodka martini. Sure it may sound snobby (he’s a self-described spirits geek, after all), but his discerning taste for quality cocktails — stirred, not shaken — is what makes this book worthwhile. From the rare (crème de violette, a violet-andvanilla liqueur) to the obscure (a smoky 1928 rum from Fidel Castro’s cellar), Wilson scours the globe for liquors found behind the bars of the world’s best speakeasies. And while he knows more about complex spirits than our brains — and livers — could handle, one central theme remains: simple classics like the Manhattan and gin fizz reign supreme. A collection of turn-of-the-20th-century recipes can be found at the end of each chapter.
Why We Recommend It: What isn’t overly highbrow, however, is Wilson’s
writing style, which is refreshingly down-to-earth and entertaining. In between relatable tales of college-age drinking faux pas (think shots of Jägermeister) and nights spent imbibing with friends, Wilson infuses historical facts and interesting tidbits about each and every spirit. Want to impress the mustachioed, monocle-sporting mixologist at that hip throwback bar? Any one of Wilson’s stories about Campari or genever or Flor de Caña should do the trick. Just don’t order bubblegum-flavored vodka.
About the Author: There are few jobs as cool as Wilson’s. While most of the
world is drinking lattes at 10 a.m., he’s busy tasting some of the world’s most expensive spirits with distillers and fellow cocktail connoisseurs. Sounds rough. Before landing the dream job at the “Washington Post,” Wilson was a world-weary travel writer and restaurant critic at “Philadelphia Magazine.” drink me
Find this stocking stuffer on Amazon.com or BarnesAndNoble.com
Good Grapes: ECO-FRIENDLY WINES By Alan Goldfarb
Supposition: Organic wines don’t age well. Supposition: Organic wines don’t contain sulfites. Supposition: Organic wines are better for you. Supposition: Organic wines are better than non-green wines.
ll of the above may or may not be true – to a certain extent. Proving any or all of the above is akin to proving the existence of God. In the end, all of the above are bubbe meises (grandma’s tales to you) because, do we really know, really? But one thing I wish to make clear, green wine or natural wine, organic wine or biodynamic wine is most likely better for every one and every thing. We’ve seen a proliferation of these “bio” wines in the last ten years and many are made with the notion of improving the environment. But I know some producers who’ve actually told me that they produce them not necessarily for altruistic reasons. They make them for the pragmatic reason that the elimination of chemicals likely results in better health for vineyard workers (which, of course, is a good thing), which costs vintners and winery owners less for healthcare (which is good for the producers). But in the end, and in the words of my grandmother, “It couldn’t hurt.” (Which she pronounced “hoit.”)
I can’t prove unequivocally that these new-age wines taste better than non-biologic wines. Nor can I testify that these wines last as long as conventionally produced wines. Conventional wisdom as a matter of fact, points to organic wines not aging well. One reasonable theory holds that this is because so-called organic grapes are not subjected to sulfur in the vineyard. And sulfur plays a preservative role in winemaking. However, sulfites (the esters of sulfur) are a natural by-product in the fermentation process. It’s unavoidable. When yeasts eat the sugars in grapes, converting the latter to alcohol (the process by which one converts grape juice to wine), the little buggers excrete sulfites. (Sulfur and sulfites, please note, are organic products. It’s just that some people may or may not be susceptible to sulfur, manifesting headaches.) But so far as whether or not organic wines age well or not, many winemakers (most of whom I suspect eschew bothering with organic wines) strongly believe that organic wine ages poorly, if at all. Listen to Barb Spelletich, an iconoclastic winemaker in her own right (despite not making iconoclastically perceived organic wine for her family’s tiny Napa Valley winery, Spelletich Cellars): “The lack of SO2 (sulfur dioxide) in wine production is the difference between stability and instability for organ-
I want you to know right off the bat that I welcome organic wine, just as I welcome anything organic. I’ve been eating organically for well over thirty years – long before it became a fad and now a trend, and reaching critical mass. And I’m still here to write these words to you, still sentient, as well as crazy
after all these years.
ics. Also, with the requirements for organic winemaking, in addition to grape growing, the wines lack a lot of nutrition necessary for clean ferments and this is also why the wines develop off odors and flavors over time.”
hat said, I’ll say: so what does it really matter? What does it matter if organic wine doesn’t do well in the cellar? (Keep in mind that a properly temperature-controlled space is the only way a wine can age well at all.) Because, at the start of the twenty-first century, most younger people who are the ones who are drinking wine like never before in American history, couldn’t give a fig about putting a wine down or aging it beyond, let’s say, tomorrow. They couldn’t care less whether or not their wine can go the distance. They seem instead to want it now. Aged or old wine they seem to believe is your grandpa’s wine. I’m thrilled to no end that the demographic of twenty five to forty five years of age are experimenting with wine more than ever. It’s fantastic. Restaurant wine lists (some of which are now written to iPads) are larded with some of the most idiosyncratic wines such as orange wine (mostly European, whose white grapes have been left to dry in the sun), and green wine, which includes organic, biodynamic, and “natural wine.” So-called “orange” wine are bio wines, which is what you can say about most any type of wine. They are perhaps the most idiosyncratic wines being produced today. These are treated similarly to red wine in that they are often fermented in barrels and given some wood aging. The most discernible difference is that orange wines are naturally light to medium orange in tinge, and are full of nuance
and texture. And in a blind tasting they can readily be taken for a light red.
Green wines include organic wines, which are not always what they may seem. In most cases, when a wine is designated as “organic,” only the grapes might be such, but the process in the cellar and during time of crush may not be. Additionally, many wineries are loath to place the word “organic” on their labels for fear of turning away some of their customers, which means that there’s still a stigma attached to organic.
urthermore, a large portion of California grape growers and wine producers are now eschewing chemicals. But they are not officially certified as organic because the process to get to organic is wrought with regulation. For instance, a vineyard must sit fallow for three years in order to leach out any impurities in the soil. That’s a long time – without revenue – for most wineries to wait for certification. Most wineries then choose the term “sustainable,” which, for purists, is obfuscation at worst or meaningless at best. Organically grown grapes are becoming a fast-growing segment of the wine industry. According to a survey published by Business Society, of more than 13,000 wines that are certified “eco” (wines that meet regulated standards of organic, etc.), seven per cent command somewhat higher prices and higher scores. But by highlighting on labels that eco-practices were used, often prices were reduced by an average twenty per cent. But only about one-third of those wineries actually mention on their labels that they are eco-certified. Further, the average price for a wine with an eco-friendly label was $37.65. Wines without mention of that fact, sold for an average of $40.54.
Regarding “eco” wines, Magali Delmas, associate professor of management at UCLA concludes, “Consumers buy it for the benefits they get. Very few people do it for the environment . . . Quality and health are the two main reasons people buy eco-labels. I think it’s a little difficult to make this connection with health and wine because of the alcohol. If you want a healthy drink, you probably go for wheatgrass before organic wine, unless you’re French.” Then there’s “biodynamic wine,” which stemmed from a theory that Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner brought forth in the 1920s. It was first adopted in the 1980s by the Europeans (the Euros are far ahead of us in eco-wine making), and first adopted by the Californians in the late ’90s. Utilized in winemaking, the hypothesis is gaining a foothold among true agrarians, and spiritualists. But on the face of it, biodynamic farming seems of the netherworld or just plain kooky.
The point is to be “at one with nature.” By doing so, one practically buys into the notion of stuffing a cow horn (from a cow that has had at least one calf ) with a mixture of eye of newt (place happy-face emoticon here). Actually, it’s a mixture of organic matter, including dung that is buried in the vineyard for months, and then when the moon is in its right place, the tincture is sprayed on the vineyard. Thus, eliminating pesticides and all that bad stuff, but adding a great story, and perhaps creating an even better, healthier wine to drink. Do biodynamics make the wine better? Who the hell really knows?
It’s another green wine, “natural wine,” that is the latest fad amongst winemakers — who, like many chefs these days, don’t know what the heck to do with themselves. And to stay ahead of the competition, these producers are going against the grain.
These sorcerers, who are attempting to foment a movement, use only wild or indigenous yeast naturally hanging around the vineyard and the cellar,
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as opposed to utilizing inoculated yeasts. The latter can offer the winemaker an amazing array of flavors, but with wild yeast, one gets what one is handed. It’s a risky business to be sure, but one which these tightrope walkers and iconoclasts are willing to play. They say, with a philosophy to which I adhere, that using native yeasts give a wine the taste of the place from where the grapes were grown. But wild yeasts demand careful attention for fear they may run rampant.
owever, this philosophy is without regulation (as with so much in this business of wine, e.g., what’s an “old vine?”), which suits these independent thinkers. But it may leave the marketplace fraught with wines that the consumer has to approach with caveat emptor (in other words: buyer beware). As with most any product, the buyer must pay heed. The story is no different with eco or green wines. In the end, it’s got to be better for everyone and anything in the world to eliminate herbicides, pesticides, and all other cides.
A partial list of eco-wines to look for: Benziger, California Arianna Occhipinti, Sicily Natural Process Alliance, California Scholium Project, California Unti, Dry Creek Valley Serge Faust, Champagne Vouette et Sorbee, Champagne Eugene Meyer, France Vieux Télégraphe, France Bonny Doon, California Haut Garrigue, France Zind-Humbrecht, France Alma Rosa, California Sokol Blosser, Oregon Retief Goosen, South Africa Montinore, Oregon Domaine Leflaive, France Quintessa, California Chapoutier, France Alois Lageder, France Araujo, California Domaine Marcoux, France Raymond, California Movia, Slovenia
Websites to Drink to
ring on the whisky! This site is completely devoted to single malts and whisky. It’s your one-stop shop for up-to-date releases, trends, and more than you ever really wanted to know about whisky. It is here that we learned about the Macallan Estate, a “greener” Scotch that Macallan was making that required planting a tree for every bottle sold. The website is well rounded, complete with an entire section on how to store your Scotch, plus highlights of the bottle designs. The only thing the website is really missing is smell-ovision so we can dive right into our sniffers. WhiskyGrotto.com
...walks into a bar A woman walks into a bar and asks for a double entendre, so the bartender gave her one! This is a QR code. You can scan it with your smart phone and link directly to us. Want to find out more? Download the Red Laser App for your smartphone. RedLaser.com
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Lines on ale By Edgar Allan Poe
Fill with mingled cream and amber, I will drain that glass again. Such hilarious visions clamber Through the chamber of my brain —Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies Come to life and fade away; What care I how time advances? I am drinking ale today.
Featured Recipes Winter Sour H. Joseph Ehrmann 1oz Campari 1 1/2 oz Meyer lemon juice 1 1/2 oz clover honey syrup 2 inches of fresh rosemary 1 oz of egg white Technique: In a mixing glass, strip the leaves of 2 inches of rosemary and muddle lightly. Add the Meyer lemon juice and egg white and dry shake for 5 seconds. Add the Campari and honey syrup and fill with ice. Shake well for 10 seconds and strain up.
Garnish: With a few petals of rosemary or a short stem.
The Great Pumpkin by David Nepove
1 1/2 oz Makerâ€™s Mark bourbon 3/4 oz Stirring Ginger Liqueur 2 oz pumpkin mix (see below) Technique: Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with whipped cream and nutmeg. Garnish: Whipped cream and nutmeg. Pumpkin Mix for the Cocktail: 12 oz canned pumpkin 12 oz cloudy/unfiltered apple juice 5 tablespoons of pumpkin spice 12 oz simple syrup (50/50 water to sugar)
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HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION - F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal, March 2010
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