LIFESTYLE BEYOND THE GLASS
LIFESTYLE BEYOND THE GLASS
Issue 9 AUG/SEPT 2010
[SOUTH OF THE BORDER]
Note from the Editor Design: Tequila Bottles
Barbados-Style Bottle Service 6
Going bartender-less in the Caribbean By Camper English
Tequila: Myth, Magic & Spirited Recipes
Drinking rituals of South American civilizations By Corey Hill
Eat Your Booze
Viva la Vine
An adventurer’s guide to the wineries of the Baja Coast By Alan Goldfarb
By Guillermo L. Toro-Lira
28 Messing with Mezcal
Discovering tequila’s lesser-known sibling By Jessica Maria
A history of fiery, chile-infused cocktails By Kara Newman
Cheesy fondue with tequila
22 The Surreal Story of Pisco’s Resurgence in San Francisco
Latin American Craft Beers By Sayre Piotrkowski
to Drink to 43 Libation Laureaute
By Ale Gasso
44 Featured Recipes
Campo de Encanto Pisco drink me 1
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 Advisory Board: Jeremy Cowan, H. Ehrmann, Cornelius Geary, Hondo Lewis, David Nepove, Debbie Rizzo, Genevieve Robertson, Carrie Steinberg, Gus Vahlkamp, Dominic Venegas contributOrs: Camper English, Alcademics.com, Alan Goldfarb, Ale Gasso, Corey Hill, Lance Jackson (Cover Art) lancejackson.net, Ben Kopke, alldayivebeenthinking.com, Nicholas Liebrecht, Guillermo Toro-Lira, Jessica Maria, Ian Mursell, mexicolore.co.uk/index. php?one=azt&two=aaa, Sonia Meyer, Kara Newman, Sayre Piotrkowski, Aaron Rutten, surrealpixelstudio.com, Denise Sakaki Thank you: Sangita Devaskar, Sacha Ferguson, Sonia Meyer, Reliable Distribution, Skylar Werde Publisher: Open Content www.opencontent.tv Eriq Wities & Daniel Yaffe
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Please drink responsibly
Note from the Editor
ears ago, long before I knew what I should be drinking, I took a trip with my brother through Guatemala to Tijuana by land. We wound our way between jungles and the winding roads through southern Mexico, we eventually found ourselves in Oaxaca — a charming town of delicious food, chocolate shops, and the birthplace of mezcal. We spent our days eating succulent chicken mole and carne asada tacos while sipping on the world’s best mezcal. This of course, would be my first foray into the delicacies of this Mexican spirit, starting me on a “spiritual” journey that would blossom into a profound love. With great excitement, we’re celebrating things from south of the border just in time for Mexico’s 200-year independence day (September 16) and during Hispanic Heritage History month (September). We’re looking far south of our border into the Caribbean’s watering holes, pisco’s historic journey from Peru to San Francisco, and the emerging craft beers of South America. We bring it back to Mexico with spicy cocktails and explore burgeoning wineries along the Baja coast before venturing to Oaxaca for one of issue’s largest inspirations: mezcal. We’ve also got a fantastic article about the alcohol of indigenous Latin American cultures, a testament to the rich, age-old traditions that remain south of the border. We want to show you that there is more to Latin America than just your poolside Margarita. We’ll also be celebrating cocktails in our hometown for San Francisco Cocktail Week in September and stirring up the old with the new … we hope you’ll come join. ¡Felicidades! Daniel Yaffe
Design: Bottles Miracle in a Bottle Put aside your ship in a bottle. Milagro is selling their higher-end tequila in individually numbered crystal bottles with hand-blown agave plants made by a Mexican artist. This is one bottle that won’t find its way to your recycling bin. And we’re not the only ones who think so – the bottle won a double gold in package design at the San Francisco Spirits Competition. Of course it’s not just the bottle that counts in the competition. Their single Barrel Reserve reposado also won a double gold for being amazing tequila. milagrotequila.com
Decant Touch This
Thanks to that dude who blows a whistle while pouring shots down your throat in Tijuana, tequila sometimes gets a bad rap. They obviously haven’t seen the beauty that contains the award-winning Clase Azul Ultra Tequila. Each black ceramic decanter is handpainted with platinum and includes a 24k-gold label and pure silver medallion. (Plus there are only 100 bottles made per production.) The company makes three different tequilas, each coming in iconic, ceramic bottles, but this one may be harder to find since it comes in at around $1,500 per bottle. tequilaultra.com
Tour de Fat
SEPT 25, 2010 LINDLEY MEADOW IN GOLDEN GATE PARK newBelgium.com
Barbados-Style Bottle service Article and Photos by Camper English
Going bartender-less in the Caribbean
Damn, I was thirsty. We’d hit the Mount Gay visitors’ center, tasted through the product line, interviewed the distiller, and stopped into the gift shop. We’d spent the morning of the trip driving inland and uphill to Barbados’ rainy highlands, where sugar cane fields and broken windmills still litter the landscape, though the island now produces so much rum they have to import molasses from other countries to meet the demand. We tried local apple juice, saw monkey feeding time at the zoo, and drove from coast to coast.
he island is only just 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, but you can build up a good thirst crossing it. Then again, I build up thirst traversing the street. Finally, it was time to do some real drinking. Like most of the tourists who come to Barbados, I had tried the tropical awfulness that are the cocktails served at the hotel resorts – the typical island drinks of two kinds of juice and one kind of rum. Not good enough. The selections of drinks at hotel and beach bars were not up to my standards, but others scattered throughout the island proved impressive.
Rum shops work like bottle service, only without the ridiculous upcharge. You purchase rum by the flask-sized bottle and bring it back to the table, along with plastic cups, a small bucket of ice, and mixers like Coke, Sprite, and tonic water. You mix your own drinks at whatever strength and pace you like. For the regulars, a bottle at the table ensures that old and new friends keep you company while there’s rum left in the bottle, then hopefully someone else will pick up the next round. I love real cocktails made by great bartenders, but sometimes it takes getting out of your zone (in this case, 4,000 miles out of my zone) to remind a drink snob that all you need for a good time is some good company and a bottle of good rum.
Barbados is home to about 1,400 “rum shops.” These are not liquor stores but something closer to small, usually outdoor cafes that may or may not serve food – just rum and beer. They’re corner bars and social centers for the locals. Some look only slightly more sophisticated than a lemonade stand, while others have full
restaurants and televisions where both locals and expats in the know gather to watch cricket matches. None that I saw had bartenders.
Book Review: Swallow your Words
Tequila: Myth, Magic & Spirited Recipes Author: Karl Petzke Subject: History & Recipes By Sonia Meyer
Taken from “Tequila,” published by Chronicle Books ©2009
Synopsis: “Tequila” starts out on author Karl Petzke’s road to …
you guessed it, Tequila, Mexico, home of the agave plant – a member of the lily family.
The town of Tequila in a high valley midway between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarata, (if you were ever thinking about visiting) is not a place to write home about with disguised distilleries and taco trucks. Tequila, although small, is completely devoted to what gave it its “bar-hold” name. Petzke discusses tequila’s history: the myth’s, the process of producing it, the pride behind it, and the different varieties.
Review: The history and informative sections of the book – although interesting and sprinkled with photographs of Tequila, harvesting the agave plant, and producing the liquor, were not my favorite parts of the book. I was more intrigued by the recipes, also paired with photographs good enough to drink! One drink recipe that stood out was the Watermelon-Tequila Agua Fresca, perfect for summer and gorgeous. If you prefer to eat your tequila instead, there is Raw Oysters with Grapfruit-Tequila Granita. Yum. This is one of the few great reference books completely dedicated to tequila to keep near your bar at home or on the coffee table. It’s also a great gift for someone just beginning to experiment with mixing drinks at home or for someone who just returned from a south-of-the-border vacation. One sip will likely take them back to white sands and street tacos.
About the Author: Petzke is a James Beard Award-winning photographer who works in advertising and design in San Francisco and lives in Napa Valley with his family. He’s not someone you would typically think to be a tequila specialist, but one of the few who really took the time to give the liquor the recognition it rightfully deserves.
Ancient brews By Corey Hill
Investigating the drinking rituals of storied South American civilizations The inhabitants of Central and South America arrived around forty thousand years ago, crossing over from Asia on a land bridge at the Bering Strait and settling into their new homelands. They built temples, created number systems, and developed agricultural techniques. And, like all people throughout history, they figured out how to make alcohol from whatever was available.
he landscape was varied, and the results were a dizzying array of drinks â€“ from beer made from corn and a drink made from the maguey
plant, to a mead-like concoction fermented in a canoe. One thing is for sure: the ancient civilizations of the Americas knew how to booze.
Chicha The Incans presided over the largest empire in the pre-Colombian Americas, nearly eight hundred thousand square miles in what are now Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina. The secret to their success? A strong central government, efficient administration, and an advanced military. Also, they had a special school where women learned how to make chicha, or “corn beer.” The brew was systematically produced in the Acclahuasis – specialized schools for women in the Incan empire where young ladies were taught “feminine skills” like weaving, spinning, and administrative tasks. The position offered some upward mobility for members of the Incan lower classes, with the possibility of marriage and a better livelihood. However, there was a hell of a catch: The most attractive women were set aside for human sacrifice.
ost chicha was made from maize, which was chewed up, spit out, rolled into balls, and then flattened. Natural enzymes in the saliva catalyzed the breakdown of the corn’s starch into maltose – jumpstarting the fermentation process. The fermented corn (jora) was then boiled over a heat source and poured into an earthen vessel or gourd. On day two, the previous day’s corn pulp was removed and boiled again in a separate vessel. On day three, the contents of both vessels were mixed, and the beverage was ready for consumption.
The modern variation doesn’t rely on the mouths of upwardly mobile Incan peasants, either. It is much more common for the maize to be germinated, the maltose extracted, and the whole thing to be fermented in a giant earthenware container for a few days. Major holidays throughout the region are still marked by the dutiful consumption of chicha, though a human sacrifice is significantly less likely to be the reason for the party. Balché Nothing says good times like a honeyinfused intoxicant made in a canoe. Though they may be better known for their ridiculously accurate calendars or their advanced written language, the Mayans also had a well developed methodology for getting in touch with the divine nature of the universe through dance and drink. Mayan society saw humankind as moving through space within a cyclical universe. In order to make sense of this place, it was necessary to feed some blood to the gods from time to time. And to accompany the sacred bloodletting, they made a sacred drink. Usually, both the people doing the sacrifice and the person on the business end of the knife got to enjoy a drink before the deed was done. The ones holding the knives, no doubt, were able to savor the flavor a bit more. Enter balché, an intoxicant made from the bark of balché trees (Lonchocarpus longistilus) thirty-to-forty-foot-tall members of the legume family – unique in that their legumes typically contain only one bean. To make the ritual drink, the bark was
Photo by Daniel Yaffe
Though the Incan empire no longer exists, the tradition of drinking chicha carries on in the region where the mighty empire once stood, with some variation: in Bolivia, chicha is made with maize; in Chile, primarily grapes; in Colombia, quinoa or pineapple. If you’re travelling through the region, you can still find
“chicharias” – stores selling the traditional beverage. Look for a red or white flag hanging from the corner of a shop, and you know you’re in the right place.
The grandest ceremonies took place in the Mayan urban centers, which are perhaps the bestknown examples of Mayan civilization. Hundreds of thousands of people may have gathered for the largest rituals, events marking the arrival of the solstice or a victory in battle.
Image courtesy of mexicolore.co.uk
removed from the sacred trees and then boiled to remove the bitter taste. It was then boiled again with virgin water from a sacred river and the honey of stingless bees known as meliponines, which the Mayans kept as pets. The mixture was then left to ferment in a trough or canoe, its contents covered with palm leaves. When ritual time rolled around, the balché was enjoyed in cups made from the shell of a fruit, like a coconut.
Women drinking pulque. From the Codex Tudela, a 16th–century Aztec pictorial book.
However, despite constructing some of the most impressive cities of antiquity, Mayans were primarily a rural people. The smaller ceremonies and rituals that marked everyday life were also flanked by copious consumption of balché. So the sacred water, the bees, and the bark of the balche tree all came together, providing Mayans a tasty avenue with which to approach the divine mystery of the universe.
that their saliva would make the drink taste bad. Further, they weren’t permitted to serve the beverage. All of it was considered strictly women’s work.
Caium was most commonly served at large gatherings, such as when a nearby tribe would pay a call and hundreds of people would gather around the fire for an exercise in neighborly love.
Cauim The natives of what is now Brazil have been consuming cauim for thousands of years. The drink, made from the fermented manioc (a starchy root) shares production methods with many early cultures. After the root is boiled, it is chewed up and spit into a second bowl to ferment. The result is a thick, sour– milk tasting concoction that is sometimes flavored with fruit.
Accounts from the Tupinamba (of Brazil) tribe show that they did not screw around when it came to their ceremonial drink. Caium was served in large bowls (one or two quarts), while participants danced around a fire – often for two or three days straight. And here you thought your 24-hour binge in Cancún was something special. Despite the endurance-testing nature of these gatherings, it was considered a great shame for any member of the tribe to leave the party early. In fact, men would often force themselves to throw up in order to continue drinking.
Men were not permitted to take part in the production of caium; it was believed
Pulque (or octli) Pulque production dates back to the
time of the Aztecs, when the drink was storied to come from the blood of the Mayahuel, the multi-armed Aztec goddess of the maguey – a group of plants that includes the famous agave. Maguey have been considered sacred throughout history, probably because they are so damn tricky to care for. The plants require twelve years of maturation before the aguamiel (sap) can be harvested. When it has reached maturity, the heart of the plant is removed, at which point the aguamiel begins to fill the cavity at a rate of one to two quarts a day for up to six months before the plant dies from the wound. Pulque’s other, more famous cousins include mezcal and tequila – both made from the maguey plant. Both tequila and mezcal, however, are distilled, where as pulque is not. The highly stratified society of the Aztecs, it seemed, even stratified their access to booze. Pulque was off-limits to commoners. While the elites of society were free to down the drink as they pleased, the common folk were only permitted to imbibe on special occasions, or if they were elderly (over the age of 52) or ill. One such special occasion was when victims of human sacrifice were allowed a bit of pulque to ease their transition into the afterlife.
Renewed interest in all things ancient has led to the development of “pulque tourism.” In Tlaxcala, the Federal Secretariat of Tourism has organized a two-day tour of haciendas still making the drink. Descendants of the gods The arrival of Europeans on the continent marked a sea change in the way alcohol was prepared. Distillation spelled doom (or close to it) for many traditional drinks of Central and South America’s indigenous people – providing a purer, stronger alcohol and a longer shelf life. Now beer is much better known than chicha and tequila a national namesake while pulque is almost unknown. Gods don’t go down easily, though. Sometimes, they assimilate, as is the case of Chilean pisco old methods mingle with the new, producing a wine drink swum with both the ancient and the modern. Sometimes, they fight – chicha, pulque, caium and other traditional drinks still hold a special place in the societies of the indigenous people of the continent, and their advocates continue to battle to preserve these unique connections to a storied past. Perhaps Mayahuel’s many arms can manage to hold onto mescal and tequila, and still find a free hand to keep pulque from slipping away forever.
ulque enjoyed a long, sturdy run in the continent, developing an elaborate and intricate culture over hundreds of years, with ancient Mayan tradition continuing into the modern era. The sap is collected in special 50-liter barrels called “tinas.” The building where they are to ferment is called, naturally, a “tinacal.” The structures are commonly a rectangular shed of stone with a wood roof, with walls adorned by murals – some explaining the mythical origin of pulque.
But all good runs have to come to an end. Following a concerted effort by European brewers to muscle into the Mexican market, pulque consumption fell out of favor by the 20th century, when the drink’s commercial foes effectively slandered pulque as a peasant drink, and its consumption dropped off precipitously among most segments of Mexican society.
Eat your booze
Fondue Takes a Southwestern Holiday and a Shot of Tequila Article and recipe by Denise Sakaki
istilled from the sugary pulp of the round-bottom piña of the spiny-topped agave plant, tequila is a spirit whose flavor develops with time. Depending on the aging process and what kind of cask it sits in, its taste can mellow into a pleasantly smooth and complex flavor, of a especially when aged in oak barrels. I particularly like the clean sweetness to a reposado or “rested” tequila, where there’s only a couple of months worth of aging in oak barrels. I thought its flavor would would lend a nice south-of-the-border kick to the European fondue dish.
ost people have a fondue set lurking somewhere in a junk closet in their house — a random wedding gift or hand-me-down. Instead of the familiar sauce made up of traditional cheeses, seasonings and wine, this version uses the creamy spice of shredded pepper jack cheese and sharp cheddar, along with a bit of tequila for a dry sweetness. When making any cheese sauce, it’s all about maintaining the low heat to slowly melt the cheese for a smooth consistency. Constant stirring ensures the sauce won’t separate. The tequila serves as a flavor element to balance out the creaminess of the cheese, but it won’t overwhelm the sauce with a burning liquor taste. Having a bit of milk or half and half on reserve to keep the sauce loose will ensure a good consistency while dipping finger foods such as raw bell peppers, cauliflower florets, jicama and carrots or crispy things like tortilla chips and taquitos (small rolled-up tortillas filled with meat). Just remember not to double dip!
Tequila Fondue Serves 2 – 4 people
4 oz. shredded pepper jack cheese 2 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese 3 cups whole milk or half and half, reserving a cup to maintain the sauce’s consistency 1 cup tequila, preferably a reposado or jovenyoung tequila with a blend of aged tequila 2 tablespoons of fresh salsa 1 tablespoon of butter 1 tablespoon of flour For garnish on finished sauce: Finely chopped, fresh cilantro Special equipment: 1 fondue pot with a Sterno burner Prepare the fondue sauce on the stove to have better heat control. Set a pot on a burner set to medium, and melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the
melted butter and mix with a whisk to ensure the flour absorbs the butter. With the whisk still mixing the butter and flour, slowly stream in the milk or half and half, one half cup at a time, making sure it’s fully incorporated with the butter and flour, whisking away all lumps. You should have a creamy sauce with a smooth finish. Taking handfuls of the pepper jack and cheddar cheeses, slowly sprinkle the shreds of cheese into the sauce, whisking constantly and making sure it melts slowly and uniformly. After the cheese, slowly add in the tequila and whisk to incorporate. The sauce should maintain the consistency of thick gravy, enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it’s thickening too much, add in the reserve of milk or half and half to loosen. Before serving in the fondue set (which will keep it warm), mix in the fresh salsa and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
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Viva la Vine An adventurer’s guide to the wineries of the Baja Coast By Alan Goldfarb
The din from the incessant honking of the cars — like so many vuvuzelas — mixed with the sweat on my forehead from the scorching heat and my nerves made me even more anxious to cross the border. I pawed the dust with my Sketchers as I waited and waited for a sign from my own personal “coyote.”
hen he finally did show, I saw that my driver was well equipped for the less than two-hour drive in a suitably outfitted, black Land Rover (read: air conditioning). Of course, there was plenty of aqua fría. Not so astonishing — for where we were heading — he had, strapped around his shoulder, a bota bag of vino meant to wet our appetites on the way. The wine tasted strangely of plastic — likely from the lining of the bota — but when a drive is as dangerous and hot as this one, who’s quibbling? From San Ysidro we slipped in — unceremoniously — headed to Baja Norte and down into the Valle de Guadalupe. I took the giant leap to cross into Mexico and some would say an even larger leap of faith to do so for the sole purpose of seeking out Mexican wine. Wine is not synonymous with Mexico — when one thinks of Mexico, one never ever thinks Photo by Ben Kopke
of wine —– not with Norte Americanos, nor even with the Mexicanos themselves, who have a well-established beverage culture of cerveza, tequila, mezcal, and to us gringos, margaritas. In Mexico, wine is but a blister on a tortilla. Despite that, Mexican wines truly are on the come in terms of quality in spite of the fact that most aren’t exactly synergistic with much of the cuisine. And to a lesser extent, some — especially those whose grapes are over cropped — have a weird, salty quality due to the salinity of the soils (generally, the smaller the yield, the lesser amount of water has been applied). And in spite of all that, Mexico’s wines have improved so much in only the last five years. They also aren’t close to reaching critical mass in the U.S. because so little is produced and even less makes it north of the border. That’s due in part to the Mexo-centric fact that the industry down there is feeling the pinch of encroaching regulation from the federales. And so it’s becoming clear that those in the wine industry in Mexico — which is going through some kind of “silent revolution,” as one expat American down there observed — will rebuke recently suggested government regulation. Of course they will. Consider the penchant
of the Mexican citizenry for fending off government control of most sorts with such anarchistic verve as though it was a fútbol game that really, really mattered. As illustration, remember Alfonso Bedoya’s clichéd bandito character in “The Treasure of Sierra Madre” when he uttered to the gringos, in a very bad English/Mexican dialect, “I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ bah-jes.” If you haven’t seen the 1948 film, do, because it’s one of Humphrey Bogart’s best.
he timing is important. At the precise moment when Baja California’s wine industry is emerging, strict government regulations would hamstring it — to say nothing of the brutal drug cartels. There is a growing push against any type of enforcement, as the Guadalupe Valley’s winemakers are trying to figure out what kind of wines they are going to make, and what types of varieties are best suited to their climate. Additionally, when visiting the Guadalupe Valley, 14 miles north of the municipality of Ensenada (famous for papas and beer and not wine), one has to be of the right frame of mind to traverse its rocky roads. This led Hugo d’Acosta, a Bordeaux-trained oenologist, who owns two of the region’s two and a half dozen
drink me 17
wineries (Casa de Piedra and Paralelo) to allegedly proclaim: “Good roads, bad tourists, bad roads, good tourists.”
t best, having a wine region is only added value to those turistas who venture across the border in spite of the very real or perceived violence. Those intrepid norteños, particularly those who don’t load up on Negra Modelo and/or margaritas first, are certain to be rewarded in serendipitous ways that have never crossed their ken before. It must be noted: Buying wine at a restaurant in Mexico is a hairraising proposition. So high are the taxes that a simple bottle of Valle de Guadalupe Chenin Blanc, for instance, will run you about fifty bucks. Not conducive to the propagation of the local product. Added to the combinación is what I’ll call the Napa Envy syndrome that af-
flicts most Norte Californians, which goes something like: “If it ain’t Napa, it ain’t nothin’.” Which is a cryin’ shame, because one would be missing out on some mighty fine wines. The Guadalupe Valley might be threescore years behind Napa in terms of development, but it isn’t Napa in any sense either, despite the (easy) comparison. It more resembles California’s Central Coast from Paso Robles down to Santa Barbara and perhaps more specifically, its terrain — arid plains and hilly perimeters with cactus — is more like Santa Maria Valley (think Au Bon Climat, Rancho Sisquoc, Bien Nacido Vineyard). Its three main valleys and four subappellations run east to west and perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean, thereby benefiting from a similar maritime climate — cool nights and mornings,
and warm afternoons. It’s the precise formula for making world-class wines, luring many from California, France, and South America down the notas-yet-well-worn path to Baja. But the road is trod more frequently now than it was in the past.
ineries such as the aforementioned Mr. d’Acosta’s properties (he’s a consultant for most of the others, too) and the modern Monte Xanic (zhan-EEK), Chateau Camou, Rancho Mogor-Badan, Roganto, and Vinisterra, are making terrific wines and getting good notices. Antonio Badan, proprietor of a Mogor-Badan, was quite adamant less than two years ago when he told me in an e-mail: “… I think there are much more pressing questions (than government regulation) that need to be tackled.… the very poor management of water resources, the lack of proper land zonings that endanger the industry by allowing development to encroach on agricultural lands and the discriminatory U.S. laws that prevent our wines from crossing into America (one bottle from Mexico vs. 60 bottles from elsewhere). “Fortunately, we have few problems selling our wines (mostly within Mexico and in Europe), so marketing is not a strong issue at the moment. Maybe, once we have consolidated … clearly, we need at least another 10 years to achieve that.” Two years from now, I predict that European red varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Nebbiolo and Tempranillo, as well as Sauvignon Blanc, will soon begin to take their places among the pantheon of well made, delicious, new-world wines of Mexico.
For a good taste of Baja’s wines, visit the Fiestas de la Vendimia, the wine country’s annual harvest festival held in August. This event takes place over several weeks and offers a variety of special events, dinners, concerts, and wine tastings.
New Booze: Pisco
Campo de Encanto Pisco Get your certificate in just 2 weeks! Free Intro Classes Free Refresher Classes Free Job Placement Assistance Financing Available
For more information 415.362.1116 www.sfbartending.com
f you read our article about pisco and its connection to San Francisco (page 22), you’ll understand pisco’s significance in this town. Until recently, it was stuff of history textbook lore, but a resurgence is happing in our very own backyard. Campo de Encanto—informally known as Encanto— is just hitting the shelves and is a masterful creation of Duggan McDonnell (mixologist and the brainchild of Cantina in San Francisco), sommelier Walter Moore, and Carlos Romero, (a Peruvian master distiller). It self-proclaims to be “blended for bartenders by bartenders.” Harvested from old vines, Encanto is a single distilled mix of three grapes. It has a smooth and somewhat complex flavor profile that can be sipped, shot, or shaken up into some original cocktails. And it makes a damn good pisco punch. If you’re looking for a homegrown original in San FranPisco, we’re sure this spirit will enchant your night.
The Sandwich Place Brick Oven Baked Bread
2029 Mission Street
(between 16th St & 17th St)
San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 431-3811
The Surrea Pisco’s Re By Guillermo L. Toro-Lira, Pisco Historian, images ©2010, G. Toro-Lira
My three sons gave me the most incredible Fa get. They made an appointment for me to see mythical Bank Exchange and Billiard Saloon is brandy, pisco, famous all over San Francisco down Columbus Avenue toward the corne where it once stood.
First depiction of SF ever. Painting done in the mid 1830s by Swiss Jean Jacques Vioget, the first barkeeper of San Francisco.
B drink me
ack in 2000, I decided to take a long sabbatical from the electrons that absorbed my life ever since 1981 in Silicon Valley. Something more “spiritual” attracted my attention: the story of Pisco Punch, the Bank Exchange’s banner concoction and San Francisco’s pre-prohibition mystery cocktail.
Being Peruvian-born and a fan of pisco ever since I can remember, I was shocked when I first heard about the existence of a pisco-based drink in the
City by the Bay. So many questions popped into my head that I decided to solve them the way any engineer contaminated by experience would do: using a fine-toothed comb. There was very little information of value posted on the Internet in ‘00, so I had to research the old-fashioned way. By mid 2001, it became clear that several deemed-historical “facts” were mere misinterpretations, some bordering in fantasy. Some of my initial suspicions turned into pure baloney and others into
al Story of esurgence
ather’s Day present any “piscophile” could ever e the original Bank Exchange’s bar fixtures. The s the bar that made the ancient Peruvian grape o, and whose memory I honor every time I drive er of the Transamerica Pyramid, the exact place
facts — some of which were shared very enthusiastically with friends in Lima, where a literal frenzy started.
The Bank Exchange stood where the Transamerica building is today.
Pisco spread as wild fire across all the Pacific Ocean and beyond after the Peruvian Independence from Spain in 1821, when Callao – the port of Lima – and other Peruvian ports opened to the international commerce. Before that, all pisco exportations needed the personal approval of Lima’s viceroy on a rare and individual basis following Spain’s strict monopolistic policies.
Photo taken inside the Bank Exchange bar, Duncan Nicol in the center.
ne of those lucky ones was Lima-born navigator Don Francisco de la Bodega y Cuadra, who in 1777, was permitted to load his ship with 140 botijas (15- gallon ceramic jars) of pisco before sailing north to San Blas, Mexico — the naval center of Spain in the northern Pacific. Two years later he co-commanded an expedition to Alaska, reaching as far as the Aleutian Range. He had six barrels of pisco on board, which must have served him well with fresh Kenai salmon.
On his way back, Bodega y Cuadra entered San Francisco Bay and stayed for more than over a month in the threeyear-old Presidio, earning the honorable distinction of being the first person to drink pisco in San Francisco. Additionally, Bodega Bay, which he discovered in 1775, perpetuates his name.
In the midst of the Peruvian Independence War, Englishman William P. Hartnell received an unusual permission from Lima’s viceroy to export large quantities of sugar and pisco to
Alta California. He and his partner Hugh McCulloch established the firm Macala y Arnel — the hispanic version of both their names — to trade with the Mission Padres. Hartnell became the first known commercial importer of pisco in California and a singular figure in the history of the Golden State. A street and a park in Monterey carry his name, as well as a college in Salinas.
n 1830, Captain Henry Fitch from Boston, and a merchant of San Diego, eloped to South America to get married. He dropped anchor in Callao and loaded his ship with large quantities of pisco from Ica — the prime grape-producing region of Peru. The Peruvian born customs agent of San Diego happily approved the importation. William H. Davis described in his memoirs what is the first recorded importation of pisco to San Francisco. It occurred in 1839 when the small village was called Yerba Buena Cove and was
just four years old. Davis wrote that the English ship Daniel O’Connell anchored was packed with a “considerable quantity” of pisco of the Italia varietal. Nathan Spear distributed this shipment, some of it going to the bar of Swiss Captain Jean Jacques Vioget — the first barkeeper of San Francisco. Today, both Davis and Spear have downtown streets named after them, but the name of Vioget — who also drew the first painting and the first street layout of the city — was unfortunately forgotten. May this note help raise his memory! Then came the Gold Rush of 18481849. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world rushed to San Francisco in the span of a few months, making it the fastest-growing city the world has ever seen. The importation of pisco increased significantly, and bars didn’t have to
think long about how to take gold dust away from thirsty miners. Many a miner tasted pisco for the first time shortly after sailing through the Golden Gate. They imported both types of pisco: the standard, made with Quebranta grapes, and the exclusive Italia made with the aromatic grape of the same name. The most expensive liquor available in town during those days, pisco was in San Francisco to stay.
ifty years later, Scotsman Duncan Nicol concocted Pisco Punch in the Bank Exchange Saloon. A delectable mix of pisco Italia, gum arabic syrup (a sweetener and emulsifier), pineapple, lime juice and distilled water, it is undoubtedly an evolution of an old Peruvian punch brought by seamen from Callao. The potent but subtle concoction soon became a San Francisco staple, associ-
T I R I P S E H T R E V O C S DI OF THE SNAKE
Nicol even built a special door for them. The saloon permanently closed its doors in 1919 due to the infamous Prohibition Act of the same year. Pisco Punch vanished from the scene until 1933, when prohibition was repealed and attempts were made to resurrect it in a bottled form by several San Franciscan firms.
ated with the city as much as a cable car. Its fame crossed international borders, even back to Lima, where a barkeeper from Utah concocted Pisco Sour — today Peru’s national drink — in an attempt to duplicate it.
The Bank Exchange and Billiard Saloon was an exclusive establishment founded in 1853 by John G. Meiggs and Patrick Kilduff. The first stock market of the city traded inside its premises — hence the “Exchange” name — and it served the exclusive aromatic pisco Italia since its opening. The saloon had a long succession of owners culminating in 1892 with Duncan Nicol. The fame of the punch peaked in the 1910s, to the point of Nicol being nicknamed “Pisco John” and the saloon “Pisco John’s.” The Bank Exchange had the distinction of being the first cocktail lounge in the world. Ladies could have a Pisco Punch whenever they wanted — no questions asked or reputations compromised.
Unfortunately its mystique had died with Nicol and the second world war didn’t help things much either. Pisco Punch vanished from memory until relatively recently, when its history was rediscovered by a new generation of cocktail enthusiasts, including myself.
oday local Pisco Punch is being served in several watering holes and has triggered a trend to resurface several other pre-prohibition cocktails — as well as the invention of other pisco-based cocktails and an awareness of the well known Pisco Sour, the grandson of the San Franciscan punch. On a personal note: In 1855, John Meiggs and his brother sailed to South America to build railroads. Over the years, Henry Meiggs amassed a considerable fortune and lived in Peru where he died in the 1870s. Before that he had seen the birth of his granddaughter, who was the great, great, great grandmother of my sons and the reason for them being accepted into the Society of California Pioneers — which only accepts people with a direct descendant of a 49er — and thus being able to give me the best Father’s Day present ever!
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Messing with Mezcal Spit out the worm and take a sip of this south-of-the-border specialty. By Jessica Maria, Proprietor, Hotsy Totsy Club
Let’s face it: mezcal isn’t taken seriously. Thanks to legions of pimply-faced 21-year-olds and overweight tourists wearing tshirts that proudly proclaim that they “ate the worm,” many people think of mezcal — and its country cousin tequila — as rot-gut with a grub. It’s a joke, a frat party dare, a south-of-theborder rite of passage for spring breakers. And that’s a shame.
ecause once you look past that pesky little larva, you’ll find that mezcal is a surprisingly smooth, terribly tasty, and amazingly adaptable spirit. This misunderstood spirit is often mistaken for tequila, but isn’t. Mezcal can be made from several different varieties of the maguey (agave) plant in and around the state of Oaxaca. Tequila can only be distilled from the blue agave in the state of Jalisco. These are the rules, and while they seem arbitrary, they’re anything but.
Artwork by Nicholas Liebrecht
And of course there is a worm in the bottle. Technically that worm is the larvae of one or two kinds of insects: the agave snout weevil or the caterpillar of the Hypopta Agavis moth. Mmm, snout weevil. The man behind the popular Gusano Rojo mezcal, Jacobo Lozano Páez, is more than just the marketing genius who came up with the idea to put a worm inside a bottle. As the owner of a small bottling company and self-proclaimed mezcal production con-
There are even rules governing that troublesome worm. Unlike tequila, which will never be distributed with a worm as Mexican law strongly prohibits it, mezcal can have a squiggly little guy floating around in it. Take for example
Gusano Rojo, or red worm, the top-selling mezcal in Mexico; the label of which features the image of a cartoon-like red worm, standing upright, wearing sandals and carrying a small sack of salt. This is most people’s introduction to mezcal: the bottle brought home from Tijuana and given as a gift (probably with that cursed t-shirt) more than any other.
noisseur, he discovered that the agave plants that had been infested with the larvae — typically a bad sign for the plant — produced a different flavor than the plants that had not been infested. Instead of tossing out the batch, he turned his find into an opportunity to set himself apart from the other mezcals on the market by dropping worms inside his mezcal bottles and including a small sack of salt that had been flavored with the dried, ground-up grubs. Lemons, meet lemonade. It was a great success. But that was more than 60 years ago, and these days, there is much more to mezcal than worms.
piñas are then placed into a massive earthen pit and roasted for up to five days, allowing them to naturally absorb the aroma of smoke and earth that is synonymous with mezcal.
fter they’re cooked, the piñas are left to rest in the shade for up to a week where some natural fermentation will begin. They are then relocated to a ring of stone or concrete to be mashed. Some distillers still use the traditional method of crushing the roasted piñas using a large stone wheel attached to a post that is pulled by horse. The hands-on folks at popular mezcal producer Del Maguey are even less mechanical; men brandishing wooden bats painstakingly smash the piñas to a pulp for their Minero mezcal. But using more modern methods is an option as well. Large producers of mezcal will roast the piñas in large stainless steel ovens and use mechanical mashers to get the job done.
This is really just the beginning. Once the mash is amassed, it’s left to ferment in large wooden vats or barrels with some water, sugar and yeasts — as well as spices spices, fruits, and other secret ingredients to help give each mezcal its own distinctive flavor. Most mezcal produced today is made in small batches in rural villages; the plants, village water and altitude vary greatly. As goes the terroir, so goes the flavor of each particular mezcal. Location, location, location.
The smaller, village-style mezcals that are available today are still produced in much the same way as they were hundreds of years ago. The maguey plant takes six to eight years to mature, at which point it is skillfully cut by jimadores to reveal the heart or, “piña.” Those
While mezcal production remains small, the flavors are anything but. Singlevillage and small-batched mezcals bring a variety of nuances to the table (smoke, citrus, olive, vanilla, juicy, sweet, wood, earth, char) that open up a world of opportunity when creating agave-based cocktails. It’s being done right now across America by passionate bartenders who take this spirit seriously, and cock-
tail enthusiasts now have more opportunities to experience the sophisticated side of mezcal. This flexible spirit is taking the place of whisky in Manhattan cocktails and standing in for gin in The Last Word drink recipe. It blends wonderfully with fresh citrus, strawberry and pineapple. It’s trickier than vodka — don’t just swirl it up with OJ — because mezcal begs you to be creative. While you might be hard pressed to find a recipe containing mezcal in a vintage cocktail book (or even on CocktailDB.com), it doesn’t mean they are not out there or that you shouldn’t try mixing one up for yourself. And, of course, you can always just drink it as was intended — on its own. Replace that bottle of Islay scotch with a bottle of Mezcalero or Del Maguey’s Chichicapa and savor the nuances of each sip.
Unlike tequila, mezcal does not enjoy the cocktail ambassadorship of the Margarita, and you’re not likely to find it gracing celebrity circles like the Cosmopolitan. That’s okay — it’s perfect, really — because it means that, for now, it’s our little secret. Still, I encourage you to spread the word.Just don’t do it with a t-shirt.
Similar to tequila, mezcal has aging categories: Abacado (also “Blanco” or “Joven”): Bottled immediately after distillation. Reposado: Aged no less than two months, but no more than eleven. Añejo: Aged in oak barrels for at least twelve months. Barrels can be no larger than 200 liters (52 gallons). Añejos may be aged longer than one year, although the “extra añejo” category has not been introduced just yet.
A history of fiery, chile-infused cocktails
Aguardiente is the Spanish word for “fire water,” an especially apt euphemism for booze when we’re talking about chile pepper-spiked libations.
By Kara Newman
his is a great time to be writing about (and drinking) spicy cocktails. The past few years, it seems that every great bar has added a tingly pepper-accented cocktail to their drink menu. But those peppers traveled a long way to end up in our cocktail glasses today. Although hot peppers of all shapes, sizes, colors, and heat levels imaginable grow all over the world, it wasn’t always this way. For centuries, they grew wild and only in South and Central America. In fact, the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University has figured out more precisely where the “nuclear area” is in South America: near the mountains of southern Brazil. Chile peppers have been a part of the human diet since roughly 7500 B.C. – including in drinks. In fact, chocolate and the chile pepper were two of the culinary treasures that the explorer Hernan Cortes found in the 1500s when he invaded the Aztec empire of Mexico. Chiles and cacao pods were paid as tributes or taxes to the emperor Montezuma, who was quite fond of consuming the two. In other words, Mexican Hot Chocolate was the world’s first spicy potable. For a very long time, chilies were largely restricted to parts of South and Central America. And then, in 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and changed (among other things) culinary and cocktail history. In what’s now referred to as “The Columbian Exchange,” in addition to importing cattle, pigs, and more to the new world, Columbus and his crew exported plants indigenous to the Americas: tomatoes, potatoes, maize (corn), and those curious, fiery chile peppers.
Artwork by Aaron Rutten
That’s right, before Columbus, there were no chile peppers in Thailand, India, Korea, or any of the other Asian countries so renowned for their delectably hot cuisines. And many of the chile pepper cultivars (varieties) hadn’t yet propagated, so I can thank Columbus for my favorite Thai bird’s eye chile-infused lychee cocktail. Let’s start with Sangrita. There’s little documentation on the birth of the drink, which means “little blood” and its origin is widely accepted as sometime in the 1920s. Not to be confused with the wine-based sangria, Sangrita is a spicy, non-alcoholic accompaniment to Tequila. Sometimes it’s referred to as “Tequila con Sangrita.” So just as America was in the dark days of prohibition and bathtub gin, alcoholic creativity was flourishing south of the border. While a wide variety of Sangrita recipes exist, the basic recipe usually involves a sweet-and-savory mix of orange juice, tomato juice, lime juice, and hot sauce. I’ve also seen many modern gazpacholike adaptations involving pureed fresh tomatoes and chile peppers, and sometimes kicky extras like radishes or lemongrass, in addition to the citrus juices. In addition to presenting side-by-side shot glasses of straight tequila and rosy-red Sangrita, adding a third glass filled with lime wedges makes a presentation called “bandera” (flag), because it echoes the green, white, and red of the Mexican flag. There’s some debate as to the proper way to consume Tequila con Sangrita. Purists insist that both are meant to be sipped intermittently: first a little tequila (often blanco, though I’ve also tried this with
By the time the Spanish conquerors arrived in what is now Mexico, chile peppers of all sizes and shapes were available in the marketplaces, as recorded by his-
torians such as Bernardino de Sahagun, who described “hot green chiles, smoked chiles, water chiles, tree chiles, beetle chiles, and sharp-pointed red chiles.”
Photo by Daniel Yaffe
reposado and liked it very much), then a little Sangrita as a palate cleanser, interchanged as desired. Others like nothing better than to pound back the tequila, and then use Sangrita as a chaser.
Michelada was named for its presumed inventor, Michel Esper, who supposedly concocted the spicier incarnation of this drink on a hot day at the Club Deportivo in San Luis Potosi.
nother beloved south-of-theborder spicy cocktail is based not on tequila, but on beer. The Michelada’s history is also a little fuzzy (why is cocktail history constantly obscured by a hazy veil of booze and barside yarn-spinning?), but it can be traced back to the 1950s with some conviction.
Regional and other variations further confuse the issue. In Mexico City, where I first tried a Michelada, the most common form involves beer, lime, salt, and hot sauce. Other variations include a Clamato (tomato juice and oysters); a Cubana (Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, chile and salt), and the very basic Chelada (simply beer, lime and salt). Personally, I like ancho powder and salt mixed together to rim the glass of my Michelada (and it is, after all, “mi” chelada, isn’t it?).
The drink itself is a bracing mix of chilled beer, lime, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce (“salsa inglese”), Tabasco, soy sauce, and pinches of salt and black pepper. In Mexico, where it was created, Micheladas are considered a good remedy for hangovers, aka “the tequila flu.”
As for the drink’s name, one prominent theory is that it roughly translates to “my cold brewsky”— the “mi” meaning “my,” and “chelada,” which sounds similar to “helado,” the Spanish word for popsicle, referring to a frosty beverage. Another less-propagated explanation, for which I have Mexico-born writer Carolyn Carreno to thank, is that the
So we can say thank you to all the explorers behind south-of-the-border bars for the Michelada, Sangrita shots, and many other fine chile pepperinfused cocktails now filling out drink lists across the Northern Hemisphere. Muchas gracias for giving us drinks with a fine fiery finish! Kara Newman is the author of “Spice & Ice: 60 Tongue-Tingling Cocktails.” Like it spicy? Visit the Spice & Ice blog at karanewman.wordpress.com.
Expand your musical horizons at Davies After Hours. Davies After Hours offers concertgoers the unique opportunity to enjoy music groups of other genres responding to that eveningâ€™s concert. Enjoy a signature cocktail and views of the sparkling City in the Second Tier lobbyturned-lounge at Davies Symphony Hall. Discover parallels between classical music and the other music styles that thrive in the Bay Area. Each event will feature different musicians and art installations drawn from the diverse and vibrant Bay Area music and visual arts scene. Free to all ticketholders to the following Friday concerts October 15, March 11 and April 15.
sfsymphony.org/daviesafterhours C E N T E N N I A L PA R T N E R S
S E A S O N PA R T N E R S
Official Wine of the San Francisco Symphony
What’s Brewing Below
Latin American Craft Beers By Sayre Piotrkowski
One of the main distinctions between wine making and beer brewing is that one’s geographic location is not as unconquerable for a brewer as it is with an ethical wine-maker.
hile place and time factor into brewing, they do not dominate it. Rather than leaving things to nature, a brewer has his hand in every step of the process: selecting malt, hop and yeast varieties that could be native to any part of the world, and personally deciding when and how he will use them.
Even water chemistry is often manipulated to produce a desired mouth-feel or flavor. One local brewery actually de-ionizes their North California wellwater before brewing their pilsner in order make it more like the remarkably soft water found in Pilsen, the region that gives the style its name. This does not refute the general statement that the best weizens don’t still come from Bavaria, and the best spontaneously fermented beers from the Senne Valley. It is to say that nearly every style of beer can be attempted, and executed well, most anywhere in the world.
Today beer styles seem to be fairly nomadic, springing up all over the world
at a brewer’s whim. It is a chaotic and unpredictable process, full of cross-cultural collaboration, innovation and misunderstandings that can produce disastrous, delicious, and fascinating results. Look no further than your local brewpub; chances are you’ll see German styles alongside English ales like ESBs and IPAs, and even some Belgians. This same phenomenon is taking place all over the globe. In South America, for example, where an anthropologist might point to post-war migration and the resulting development of several expatriate enclaves with a taste for Germanic food and drink, there is a burgeoning beer scene that is taking inspiration from all
over the world. Some of the most ambitious South American craft brewers have even begun to produce beers specifically for export to the risk-rewarding, nicheobsessed American craft beer market. With this in mind, we have gone ahead and given you our first impressions of a few of the most intriguing South American imports we’ve come across so far:
Eisenbahn Lust and Eisenbahn Defumada from Cervejaria Sudbrack in Blumenau, Brazil, located in the southern part of Brazil, Cervejaria Sudbrack, displays an obvious German influence. The brewery operates in accordance with the “Reinheitsgebot,” the centuries-old German Purity Law. This means that their beers may contain only the four basic ingredients: water, malt, yeast, and hops. Cervejaria Sudbrack’s brewmaster was trained at one of the world’s oldest breweries, “Weihenstephan” in Bavaria. T he two beers we have selected from Cervejaria Sudbrack illustrate how, when it comes to brewing, strict adherence to tradition and innovation can often come together under the same roof: Defumada is a dead-on interpretation of German Rauchbier (smoked beer). These beers often include a very high percentage of malt that is smoked rather than roasted. Dominated by a wonderful nose and the mild, yet unmistakable flavor of bacon, rauchbiers are a food-pairing homerun. Cheddar and Muenster cheeses go nicely, smoked and cured meats are an obvious match, and the alcohol is low enough that even super-spicy BBQ sauces are no problem. Defumada is a great choice if you want to be the cool “outof-the-box girl or guy” at your next BYOB, backyard BBQ.
Barrel-Aged Red Ale from Barba Roja Cerveza Artesnal (Red Beard Craft Brewery) in Escobar, Argentina The husband and wife team behind Barba Roja, Antonio and Viviana Mastrioni, specialize in dark lagers when brewing for their countrymen. However, in 2007 the couple developed their Barrel-Aged Red Ale for legendary beer writer Michael Jackson’s rare beer club. This “Strong Red” as it is referred to in its homeland, spends sixty days in wood barrels. There is a touch of German-style, “rauch”(smoked) malt used. The combination of smoke and oak is something that immediately references Bamberg, Germany where the “rauchbiers” are often poured directly from oak casks into your glass. The Barba Roja Barrel-Aged Ale is significantly less smoky than any traditional rauchbier. What ends up in the glass is somewhere between a more spry and lively Southern German-
style doppelbock (think Celebrator) and an under-carbonated Belgian Style abbey ale (think Chimay Red). Though the sweet heat of Southern BBQ would make for a very natural companion, we think dessert (specifically a spiced honey or rum cake) would make for the best time to enjoy this unique beer.
t the other extreme, Cervejaria Sudbrack offers the pricey and elegant biere de champagne, Eisenbahn Lust. This beer follows its initial fermentation at the brewery with a trip to a nearby winery to undergo the methode champenoise. This painstaking process, supposedly developed by Dom (Pierre) Perignon himself, involves an in-bottle re-fermentation and the removal of spent yeast cells. Sending a beer through the methode champenoise is very much considered to be on the craft-brewing cutting edge. Despite the cavalier spirit of today’s brewers, the number of bieres de champagne on the market can be counted on one hand. While Lust is by no means the best biere de champagne I have ever come across, it is still an elegant and poignant illustration of how the prizing of ambition over tradition has made beer brewing so geographically agile.
Antares Simpatico barley wine from Cer-
veza Artesanal Antares in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, another selection brought to our attention by Michael Jackson’s rare beer club. It seems that the term “barley wine” may be getting somewhat lost in translation here. The high carbonation, licorice and apparent fruity flavors of Simpatico are a far cry from the syrupy, biting, malt-dominated style that barley wine has become. Our suspicion is that the term is used only due to the high-alcohol content, (10 per cent ABV) of “Simpatico.” However we don’t really care whether a beer is what it says it is, we care whether it is delicious, and in that regard, Simpatico is a winner. With its high ABV and flavors akin to a Bananas Foster, this beer strikes us as an ideal candidate for cellaring. We anticipate that, with a touch of oxidation, this big sweet badass might dry out a bit, making it a great partner for a Hawaiian styled pork dish, or a fruity dessert.
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Websites to Drink to
here’s been a lot of buzz about Argentine wines, and rightfully so. We find that a lot of people still have a lot to learn. Check out WinesofArgentina.org, a fine resource for everything wine in the land of Eva Perón. The website tracks Argentine wines around the world and serves as a one-stop-shop for curious consumers and discerning professionals. They aggregate news, reviews, and beautiful multimedia that make us want to hop on a plane and tango around the wineries of Mendoza. winesofargentina.org
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DROP in to your local bar for a plug of tequila and you might be in for a surprise. With so
many new tequilas on the market, there's much more than just the aging process that goes into a tasty tequila now. You might say that it starts at the root of the production, or where the actual agave was grown.
TRUE TEQUILA can only come from five specific regions in Mexico similar to a true cognac coming from one region in France. The soil and climate are so different in these agave-growing regions that they make distinctive impacts on the flavor of the tequila.
agaves grow in a red volcanic soil that gets plenty of sun but also holds the water, helping the agave grow for the full six to eight years of maturity. This rich dirt is full of flavor and ultimately gives the pinas a fruitier, more floral flavor. The plants can also become more fragrant and maintain more vegetal notes throughout the aging process. Highlands distilleries include Patron, Cazadores, Don Julio, and Tesoro.
LOWLAND tequilas have strong earthy and woody notes. Often these tequilas will have a
peppery finish and hints of fresh herbs and cut grass. Some of the lowland distilleries include Herradura, Jose Cuervo, and Partida. The agave plants typically don't grow as large as the highlands agave. The distinction between these growing regions has become a little blurry due to a lowland agave shortage that began in 1999 at which point some of the larger lowland producers began incorporating agaves from both regions. We look forward to even more regional distinction as the shortage corrects over the next couple of years.
the Fresh Paloma
Rim a collins glass with salt. Add ice and 2 oz of a lowlands silver tequila, such as 4 Copas Blanco. Top with 4 oz fresh grapefruit juice, .5 oz fresh lime juice and 2 oz of soda water. Give a slight stir with a barspoon and enjoy!
In a pint glass combine 2 oz Gran Centenario Roseangel Tequila, 1 oz chilled green tea, .5 oz Lillet Blanc, and .5 oz â€œafternoon syrupâ€? (simple syrup infused with lime peel, lavender, cucumber and mint.) Gently stir until cold and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with lime peel.
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.
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Drink responsibly. EFFEN Vodka, 100% neutral spirits distilled wheat grain, 40% alc./vol. (80 proof). © 2010 EFFEN Import Company. Deerfield, IL.
As I Wipe My Chin by Ale Gasso
A loud rush of confused fists and words mostly missed quick chaos marked by a shattering random wetness and scraping of old chair legs over wood
crafted with blue agave from the highland ranches of don josé pilar contreras 100%
erupts and barrels out the door in one sloppy sip.
2010 ultimate spirits challenge “Excellent. Highly recommended.” 94/100 points
Featured Recipes Occidental
by Olivia Alabaster - Wax Jambu, London 6 Slices red chili 5 Fresh cilantro leaves 1 1/2 oz Beefeater 24 Top up with soda. Technique: Muddle first two ingredients. Add Beefeater 24 and swizzle with crushed ice. Garnish: Red chili and cilantro leaves
byÂ 15 Romolo, San Francisco 1 oz 1 1/2 oz 1/4 oz 1/2 oz 1 oz 2 drops
Mezcal Yellow Chartreuse Aperol Lime Grapefruit juice Rosewater
Technique: Shake. Strain over ice into rocks glass.
drink me 44
Photo by Daniel Yaffe
Garnish: Grapefruit twist.