Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wines for the 4th of July

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Great wines to enjoy, hopefully on a blanket in the park in the sun, for this country's anniversary should have fizz, spice and substance. My family used to have a lobster salad-based picnic in Central Park near where I grew up on the Upper West Side and everyone brought something to eat and drink.

There were bubbles, big muscular reds and unusual Croatian wines that had been sitting in people's basements for way too long. However we always had fun with the pairings: joked about them and always voted on what worked best with that super mayonnaise-infused lobster salad.

Start Fresh and Clean
Fizzy and acidic whites are great to start a meal. It might also be reverent to drink a few domestic sparklers here. Some beautiful ones are coming out of Washington State, some of which are off-dry crowd-pleasers. They are also supremely affordable.

California is also producing some lovely sparkling wine, both from smaller producers, as well as the siblings of Champagne houses. Spanish Cavas and Italian proseccos are also great on their own and even fun with a slash of tonic water or Martini Bianco.

Crisp white from everywhere from the Central Coast of California to the Northern parts of Spain are also likely to work well with salads, hard cheeses and olives with which you might start off a meal. Sauvignon Blanc is always a great bet as are many of the Iberian varietals--hello Verdelho--that are being grown with lots of success in places as diverse as Lodi and tk.

White Rhône varitals are also refreshing, although generally richer in style and taste profile. Regions such as Paso Robles on the Central Coast of California and producers in mid and Eastern Washington are also producing some great wines from Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier such as the Magnificent Wine Company's House Wine which is primarily Chardonnay with a touch of white Rhône grapes.

Go Spicy
Not everyone wants the lobster salad so bring on the BBQ, or get take from your neighborhood Korean! Rich, charred meat flavors call for sustainable reds with lots of tannins and intense fruit and sometimes earthy notes. Rhone reds can be among the most animal-flavored--yes I do meant hat in a good way--of the bunch. They those tar and mineral, umami notes that can stand up to beautifully cooked meat even with a somewhat spicy marinade.

For simple preparations of meat, maybe just a strip stake made on the grill, a fruit-juicy California Cabernet Sauvignon might do the trick. Or a lower alcohol Zinfandel, once they get over 14.5+ percent of alcohol they may seem too candied to work with food.

Syrah from Walla Walla can also take on those great meal flavors, as can peppery and spicy Spanish blends based on Grenache. Argentine Malbecs are also classics, but generally for steaks with a lot of smoky charr on them and a simple marinade.

With pork loin or ribs, you could you go lighter and fruitier, maybe even uncorking a little sparkling Lambrusco from Italy or stepping back into a sustainable white from Northeastern Italy or the Rhone.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A bit Asian Influenced: Roasted Chicken

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer


Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare 2013 (California) is one of those wines that get into your brain deeply, especially with roasted white meats and fish.

Last night was no exception for this wine.  I had roasted a Murray’s Chicken, a perfect little Pennsylvania bird, stuffed it with whole shallots and ginger with some fresh tarragon, sage and thyme thrown in for good measure.  All tightly knit flavors that are steeped in nostalgia for me.  The combination of these ingredients makes this roast free-range bird sing with possibilities.

For those who don’t know Bonny Doon wines- none other than extreme-garragist, Randall Grahm, creates each one of his conceptions with passionate care.  

Randall is the very personification of doing less to the soil and more for the soul of his drinkers.  The wines consistently impress me as they emerge from his larder, as they speak volumes to those of us who are looking for something different and therefore inimitable in the marketplace.   I like Randall’s wines for their independence and their charisma.  They speak clearly of the place where they are made and they call out to drinkers because of their originality. 

Bonny Doon wines don’t try to be like any other wines from California, or anyplace for that matter, so drawing a correlation to the much better known (read advertised brands) make it difficult at best. 

I could go so far as to say that Bonny Doon wines remind me of the handmade, Shinn wines from the North Fork of Long Island, certainly for their unique Biodynamic approach and they also speak a language that says the Languedoc in France, a region misunderstood throughout history for their individuality of flavor.   There is really nothing wrong with originality, right?

Of course, Bonny Doon wines have their own specific Terroir that can only read: California. 

The Vin Gris de Cigare is a lithe and playfully amusing wine, tightly wound around a core of stone fruits and minerals.  Each sip bursts with grapefruit zest and sea salt dusted hazelnuts.  Coming into view on each sip are wet stones, crushed green apples and freshly cut French herbs.  There is a hint of white pepper and a whiff of strawberries drizzled in white balsamic vinegar on the finish.  This wine finishes crisp and dry.  It begs you to take another sip. (Sip me!)

As a day-drinking wine in the hot sun, I can think of none better.  And with an Asian influenced roasted chicken, well this wine is just brilliant to wash down the succulent herb crusted bird.   The wine is under twenty dollars and should do very well with about a year or two of bottle age, but “drink up” because it’s too good to forget about in your cellar. 

A bit Asian Influenced: Roasted Chicken
Preheat your oven to 420 degrees…
4-5 pound Free Range chicken-washed and dried inside and out
Fresh herbs like thyme, tarragon, and sage
2-3 whole shallots, ends cut off but not peeled
1- 3-inch piece of ginger root, again- not peeled
Freshly cracked pepper
Sea salt
Garlic bulb- top cut off with knife and the small cloves stuffed into the bird, the remainder set beside the bird to caramelize

Preparation:
Rub the chicken inside and out with salt/pepper
Chop herbs finely and rub inside and out
Stuff cavity with shallots, garlic cloves and ginger root
Set the garlic bulb (with the top cut off) next to the bird to soak up the cooking juices
Roast at 420 Degrees for 45 minutes
Drop Temperature down to 300 for another hour or so
Turn oven off and let rest in the oven for 20 minutes or so
Slice as desired and serve with well-chilled glasses of the Vin Gris

Makes a heck-of-a chicken salad sandwich!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Warren Bobrow is the creator of the popular blog The Cocktail Whisperer and the author of nearly half a dozen books, including Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktail and Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails- his most recent book.

He's also written about cocktails for Saveur and Whole Foods/Dark Rye, Total Food Service, Eater, Serious Eats, Foodista, Distiller and Beverage Media among other outlets.  He’s taught the fine art of social media and food writing at the New School in New York and at the Institute for Culinary Education. Warren has also taught at Stonewall Kitchen in Maine.

Bobrow was a 2010 Ministry of Rum judge and was the only American food journalist asked to participate in Fête de la Gastronomie, a nationwide celebration of French cuisine in Burgundy. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wines for Father's Day

By Liza B. Zimmerman

My dad only drinks Champagne. And a touch of sparkling wine. So I might fête him with a classic bottle Gosset Brut. If we were going to go domestic he might enjoy a California sparkler or delicious bottle of Gruet, that he might even think was Champagne.

While my father is not much on rosé sparklers, yours might be and there are plenty of good ones being made everywhere from New Mexico to Cavas in Spain and Proseccos in Italy. Rosé sparkling wines also tend to be very food friendly and can pair with all kinds of flavors from spice to sweetness and umami flavors.

Some fathers like to celebrate with big reds for Father's Day. The Sobon Estate "Fiddletown" Zinfandel is big and muscular but soft and luscious. Other big, meaty red worthy of the BBQ you might help him make to celebrate would include some inky Cabernet Sauvignons, intense peppery Malbecs from Argentina or a mysterious red blend such as the Spanish Cims del Monstant, which has rich layers of Grenache and Carignan.

Wines for a Sunny Day
If you want to take your dad for a picnic in Central Park, to the beach or for a ride on the Cyclone at Coney Island. Beautiful summer weather would call for lighter wines: perhaps a little Sancerre if your dad likes oysters and other fresh, shelled delights from the sea. Bright and crisp Sauvignon Blancs are also favorites of mine to sip outside. South Africa and Chile are some to some of the world's best versions of these wines, and often among the most affordable. Regions all over California are also distinguishing themselves by producing some stellar and balanced bottlings of Sauvignon Blanc as well.

In France truckers drink pink wines in the summer and they are no less macho. So why not toast dad with a little rosé? Mulderbosch from South Africa is a rich and intense wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon. Bordeaux and Spain's Navarra region also make some luscious, fruit-forward roses. If dad is adventurous have him try the Di Giovanna "Gerbino" Rosato di Nerello Mascalese. This is a rosé made from one of Sicily's truly great cool climate grapes.

For An Old-School Dad
To wrap up his day you dad might enjoy a little fortified wine. A Cognac, such as Pierre Ferrand's "1840 Original Formula" from Grande Champagne in Cognac is a classic. A touch of sherry is as nice after a meal as before. Savoring the layers of a vintage or Tawny Port is a another great way to conclude the celebration. Calem is a great producer.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Recipe: Salade Nicoise

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Back in the early part of the 1990’s I had a chance to travel to Europe for a month.  The trip started like many of my trips to Europe have in the past- with the idea of eating well and drinking even better throughout the trip while visiting some lovely countries.

Europe, to the neophyte is not at all like visiting the international food court at the Plaza Hotel in NYC or visiting the Epcot Center International Dining Pavilion when at Disney in Florida. 

There is a certain authenticity that comes from actually visiting a place, and tasting their culinary history, not by opening a four-color travelogue on the web and hoping for inspiration to come from all the appealing pictures.  To experience authentic European food and wine you must go to the source.  That place can be found by making airline reservations and flying across the pond to eat and drink wine like the locals!

During my halcyon, month-long sojourn, I found my way to the southern part of France, near the Riviera.  This region is long known for its relaxed way of life.  The air is hotter there, both dry and tropical in temperature.    Viniculture reflects the ambient temperatures and the terroir (taste of the place) from the growing medium.  This makes for wines that speak clearly of hot winds that seem to suck all the moisture out of your body.  Fortunately for the thirst-driven traveler, there are many choices for the adventurous palate.

Chateau Beaulieu Coteaux D'Aix-En-Provence Rose 2014 is a perfect introduction to the expressive wines from the South of France, sip by thirst quenching sip.  This wine in particular compliments the food that comes from the South of France.  It was specifically created to make you feel cooler inside when the outside air is over 100 degrees, the wind is blowing forty knots and the air is dry, dry, dry....

The rose wines of this region are defined by the cuisine of the place and no other dish says Aix more than the classic Salade Nicoise.

This singular experience is the framework for wines that say crisp, aromatic and refreshing.  Rose wine like the brilliantly made Chateau Beaulieu, speaks the language of the Garrigue. Garrigue is quite simply the sum of the parts- of the flavors found in herbs that live in the scrub brush. 

This flavor of Garrigue defines the rose wines of Provence. 

When I got off the TGV train from Paris to Nice, the first thing I wanted to do was find a café where hopefully I could get a perfectly delicious glass of the local wine and a Salade Nicoise.  The Salade Nicoise is the quintessential experience of Aix en Provence.  The historic square is surrounded by cheerfully adorned tables, each turning out perfectly delicious versions of the classic salad comprised of butter lettuces, green beans, olives (cured in oil), tuna (cured in oil-NEVER water), ripe tomatoes (or substitute roasted tomatoes should yours resemble the color of khaki pants)…  There should be anchovies in there along with capers and freshly torn parsley.   Your vinaigrette should be made with finely minced shallots along with tarragon vinegar  (or Champagne Vinegar if you wish) and smashed garlic.  There are also boiling potatoes in there along with perfectly (would they be anything else but?) hard-boiled eggs. 

The social thread of this ancient town passes through each bite and each sip that you take of a Salade Nicoise.  It is, quite frankly, France in every taste and scent. 

Recipe for the Salade Nicoise
2-3 small heads of Boston Lettuce- well washed and dried
1 pound French Green beans, steamed to just done with a pinch of baking soda in the water (makes the green color come out vividly)
2 Tablespoons shallot, minced finely
Sea Salt (Like Maldon) and Freshly Cracked Pepper (a must!)
4 very ripe tomatoes (or roast less than perfect- but ok, plum tomatoes in a 350 degree oven for an hour until they melt into themselves.  Let cool and use in your recipe)

My basic vinaigrette is:
¼ cup of the best French Extra Virgin Olive oil that you can buy…
¼ cup Tarragon or Champagne Vinegar
Freshly chopped rosemary and thyme
1 tablespoon shallot (minced fine)
1 garlic clove (boiled for 20 seconds – this takes the bitterness out)

mash garlic clove into the side of a wooden bowl, with a wooden spoon
mash shallot into the bowl –along with the garlic
add the olive oil, salt and pepper and begin to mash that into the garlic and shallot
add the fresh herbs- continue mashing
add the vinegar to finish…
Hard boiled eggs cook for 7 minutes at a boil, started cold- then to boil.. remove from heat, cool with lid on.. cool
Potatoes are easy, simmer with skin on until done, ½ hour or so, let cool
Green beans, steamed (pinch baking soda) cool
Lettuce washed and dried..

It’s really a very simple salad.. toss the greens with the vinaigrette, add the eggs, green beans, the potatoes, the oil cured- tuna and the tangy capers and serve with your well iced bottle of Chateau Beaulieu Coteaux D'Aix-En-Provence Rose 2014…

It’s a trip to France in the summer-time in every bite! 

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Warren Bobrow is the creator of the popular blog The Cocktail Whisperer and the author of nearly half a dozen books, including Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktail and Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails- his most recent book.

He's also written about cocktails for Saveur and Whole Foods/Dark Rye, Total Food Service, Eater, Serious Eats, Foodista, Distiller and Beverage Media among other outlets.  He’s taught the fine art of social media and food writing at the New School in New York and at the Institute for Culinary Education. Warren has also taught at Stonewall Kitchen in Maine.

Bobrow was a 2010 Ministry of Rum judge and was the only American food journalist asked to participate in Fête de la Gastronomie, a nationwide celebration of French cuisine in Burgundy. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Steven Soderbergh & Singani 63 (Part 3 of a 3-part series)

By Antonia Fattizzi, Founder/President, Cork and Tin

You may know Steven Soderbergh as an Academy Award-winning producer, director and filmmaker.  Add to that: spirit importer.  Singani, produced solely in the Bolivian Andes since 1530, is a pomace brandy based in white Muscat of Alexandria grapes. Considered to be the national liquor of Bolivia, it is twice distilled and its water is sourced from the highlands of Tarija. First introduced to Singani while filming in Bolivia, Steven was so taken with the spirit that he selected a premium version, Singani 63 (www.Singani63.com) and imported it into the U.S. mainly for his own enjoyment and that of his friends.  Seven years after taking his first sip of Singani 63, Steven has learned quite a bit about the beverage alcohol industry in the United States. Here is the conclusion of a 3-part series, focusing on his views and experiences launching a spirit brand from a Hollywood perspective.

Parallels of Launching Films & Spirits
Perhaps not surprisingly, introducing films and spirits share a similar methodology. “Key to this is the story of the brand, having a narrative hook that people can grab. If it’s an indie film it could be a combo of subject matter, the buzz coming out of a festival or an actor or actress that people are talking about; there’s some clutter-busting aspect that separates it from all the other noise of what’s out there.  The ways in which people pay attention to the physical presentation.  It doesn’t cost money to have good ideas. Ideas don’t cost anything, but you have to have them. 

I half-jokingly say that when you’re making a movie, you’ve got 15-20 minutes to fuck around before you’ve got to settle in and show people what you’re doing or else they will just get up and leave.  Similarly, when putting something in your mouth – there’s no ‘oh maybe later I won’t gag.’  Taste is such a primal thing - you either like it or don’t.” As the old adage goes, you have only one chance to make a first impression.

When I started importing Singani 63, I met with Scott Gerber, who I know.  We talked about the industry and he said ‘it’s really hard, it’s really competitive BUT you do know people, you’ve got a good story with the brand/history about you singlehandedly getting this thing here and the product is good. That’s not always a given in this business. People have brought stuff over for a while even though it wasn’t great but that takes a lot of money.’ ”

Heeding this insight, Steven plans to expand his distribution into different markets across the U.S. slowly and thoughtfully. “We’re going to go city by city. It’s worked for us twice (NY & LA) and I think that’s the way to go. Pick a city as you would an opening for an indie film, one that is conducive to the kind of product/attitudes—go to the core and just start there.”

A Little Help from his Friends:
“It’s been interesting because some people want to know what I can get my (celebrity) friends to do for the brand.  And that’s tricky, because if I’m déclassé, then they’re not really my friends anymore.  I’m not going to jeopardize those relationships. The point being that this is something that will evolve over time. David Fincher putting Singani 63 in the movie Gone Girl was done because he’s a friend of mine.  He approached me about it. That was a great thing, but I didn’t pay them and because of that, I can’t use a shot of Ben Affleck sitting at a table with Singani 63.  Yes, it’s in there forever, but it could be a copyright issue.  There’s no deal. He just did it to do it. I like that he’s a total renegade. David said ‘I’m just gonna do it’.

Here’s a huge growth opportunity: as a filmmaker I’m constantly bumping up against this issue with real product. Every filmmaker wants to use real products to make it look like their movie is taking place in the real world and it’s not a bunch of made up brands, but a lot of companies, especially spirit companies, are very sensitive about how it’s being used (which characters, etc. that are using it). Because people don’t want to see a character do something and be drinking their product. I’m not. I’m starting to spread the word around my filmmaker friends that I don’t care how awful the character is and I don’t care what they do with that bottle. If you want a real brand in your movie, come to me. Because I don’t care. “

Which of your characters would have Singani in their home bar?
“Any of the Ocean’s guys; it would be up their alley because they like the hard stuff but they’re not the kind of characters that follow what everyone else is doing. They want to find their own thing that they like and stick with that. The ethos of those characters is right in line with this product.”

Standing Out From The Pack
With so many celebrity-owned spirit brands on the market, how does Steven plan to stand apart? “I think the question you have to ask yourself is, how and why did I get involved? If you’re positioning yourself as someone authentic, I think it’s relevant for people to know how and why you’ve become attached to this product. I don’t know all the stories as to how various celebrities have gotten involved with their spirits. I think it probably runs the gamut between people who are just being paid to do this - be the face of this, drink it, go out and get it for your friends and that’s that.  And that’s clearly worked in a lot of cases. It would never work in my case. That’s not what I’m known for.  Even if someone came to me and asked me to be the face of something and I said, “yes,” it would never work.  It would be a disaster. People would be like, ‘you’re not that guy. You’re not that guy who gets paid to say shit. You’re the opposite of that.’”

What To Expect From Steven
As a filmmaker, Steven is inherently known for being deeply involved in every part of the creative process. As a spirit importer, he is engaged in the same fashion. “From a trade standpoint, I’ll argue that I’m more involved than anybody else who’s attached themselves to a brand. I don’t think that there’s anybody else who’s creating all of the content for their brand. Currently, I generate all the ideas, the copy. I don’t know if that’s always going to be the case, but the volume of content I want to create will exceed my ability to create it.

And from a consumer side, I sort of say this jokingly but there are 2 things: 1) I’m a professional drinker 2) my day job all day, every day, is to be able to separate the ordinary from the exceptional.  All I do every day is filter out what’s average and identify what’s above average, or distinctive.  That’s it. That’s my job. In every direction. I found my desert island spirit totally by accident – if I wasn’t making that movie and my Bolivian casting director hadn’t given me a bottle as a gift at a party, none of this ever would have happened. Again, my name recognition is very narrow and very specific. There’s a certain kind of person who will recognize me. It’s a very specialized, disturbed niche of people who have any sort of – the point being that’s where the narrative of how this all happened becomes critical because I have built my whole career out of always going out of my way doing things the way I want to do them. If I suddenly throw that out, chasing money to promote a spirit, then that’s like 25 years of stuff - that’s like none of that mattered, I was kidding.”

Steven Soderbergh: The Anti-Brand
As a longtime producer/director, Steven is fully aware of moviegoer’s fickle tastes and therefore chooses to stay in the background when a film or show he’s associated with is released. “I’m very wary of the director as a story apart from the film, the director as a brand, because people do change brands and tastes and even though I’m a filmmaker who tends to jump from one type of movie to another, the idea of becoming part of the story always felt like a mistake. That’s why I don’t do any TV here. I talk to Charlie Rose because I grandfathered him in. I don’t do any TV here because I don’t want people knowing me by my face. I don’t want to be to stopped on the street. I don’t want to lose the ability to eavesdrop and be in the world. I think that again, conversely, that attitude in a weird sort of way helps with Singani 63 because while I’ve done a couple of pieces of artwork where I appear but I’ll never be in a situation like Sean Combs – you won’t see me in a commercial.”

Booze Buddies
Given his close relationships with some celebrities, one wonders whether Steven has reached out to other famous spirit brand owners for guidance. “I talked to George (Clooney) about Casamigos, and I think part of the reason it’s working as well as it’s working is the story.  Nobody came to them and said, ‘be the face of this.’ They don’t need to be any richer so they didn’t look around the landscape and ask ‘what other business can we make a lot of money in?’ It started out of a sense of ‘wow, we haven’t found the “thing’’ – why haven’t we found the tequila that’s just what WE want?’  Now, they had the resources to answer that question, which is, ‘can we make the ultimate tequila that we would like and what would that involve?’ And they just started down that road to see if they could make something that they think is great. So I think that, perceptually, that kind of narrative is stickier than, ‘we have a brand that’s been around for a long time and this year, we’re paying so-and-so to be that person.’ The bottom line is that it can work and it has worked, but boy you’ve got to find the right person and you’ve got to pay them a lot of money.

I haven’t had an opportunity to find out how George sees his continual and ultimate involvement in that brand. I’d be curious to talk to him and ask, ‘so what do you feel you owe the brand? What do you feel like you have to do? What ARE you doing? How is it all working?’ I’ve seen their trade ads and George did some funny spots for them, but I’d be curious to talk about the business model.

When we were making Behind the Candelabra, I had lunch with Dan Akroyd, and said, ‘Tell me about Crystal Head. Give me the whole narrative.’ And he did, and what he said, was ‘I’ll help you in any way I can’.  He offered to put me in touch all the people he works with, and that’s a huge brand.  But he said, ‘look, if you’re not willing to do the work, if you’re not willing to travel, if you’re not willing to go to stuff and go meet people one on one or meet the people who are going to be out there representing your brand, if you’re not willing to put the time in then DON’T DO IT. DON’T DO IT. That’s all I can tell you.’ He WORKS that.  Because he’s invested, he believes in it, he liked it, he drinks it, and he said that’s the main thing. If you’re not going to put your feet where your mouth is, then don’t do it.  Because nobody will care. It’s a big business, but in the beginning it’s NOT a big business, it’s a grass-roots business.  And you’ve got to WORK it. So just ask yourself, am I willing to do that?

So, the good news is that I’ve not reached the point where I feel like I’m in a sort of sunk-cost fallacy, where I’ve got so much money invested that I’ve gotta keep going just to see if I can get my money out. That’s not how I feel.  I’m very excited about what’s happened and what’s happening, and just for my own edification, I want to see where it’s going to go. What’s the move? We zig when other people zag, because we don’t have a corporate “thing” hanging over us. We can do whatever we want to do.”

Someone once said: "At the edge of reality...at the beginning of your dreams...it's never too late to forget all you know." OR, if you live on EARTH, you can go to singani63.com to enter Steven Soderbergh's Singani 63 video contest and have an adventure instead of living the life of a bad movie tagline. IT'S TOTALLY UP TO YOU. And, by the way, that "someone" was Steven Soderbergh, so what else is there to think about?

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Since 2003, Antonia Fattizzi has managed, marketed and sold boutique wines and spirits in the US market. Her passion for artisinal products propelled her to found Cork and Tin, which serves as a voice and a strategic partner for small and emerging brands.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rosés for Summer Sipping

By Liza B. Zimmerman

When the weather gets warm I just want to sit on the front porch--I wish I had one--and drink rosé. Those pale, salmon-colored rosés have never been my favorites. The intense, fruit-forward flavors of the rosés from Navarra, Bordeaux and even Piedmonte are what I crave.

While is it unusual to see a rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon, as producers can charge much more for a red from the same grape. Mulderbosch, from South Africa, is indeed a Cabernet and delicious one at that. It is full of rich, red fruits and is refreshingly low alcohol at 12.5 percent. Another favorite of mine is the Bodegas Nekeas "Vega Sindoa," made from Grenache in Navarra. It also isn't afraid to show its big fruit structure and has ribbons of refreshing acidity.

Pairing Choices
Rosés, much like Pinot Noir, can be fallback wines that go with everything and total crowd pleasers if your friends can't decide on a color. They have the ability to stand up to a meat dish and won't overwhelm certain preparations of fish.

I love to eat meat and these are perfect wines with a rare hamburger, steak salad or tartare (of either lamb or beef). They have the tannins and structure to work with slightly fatty meats. A big plate of prosciutto would also be a great way to start a meal with a glass of one of these rosés, again those layers of fat will play nicely with cured meats of almost any kind.

Vegetables are notoriously hard to pair with wine, as many of them can make reds taste metallic and whites taste acerbic. If you put a little fruit in your salad it will also build a flavor bridge to the wine. I had a delicious watermelon and tomato one yesterday on Celebrity Cruises before the ship sailed off to Alaska.

Now that peaches are in season, I often add them to salads, along with maybe a little ripe melon or berries. Having the actual fruits in the mix will make the fruit juicy nature of the wines even more delicious.

Raw fish, particularly tuna, can also be sensational with certain rosés. You won't want the dish swimming in sesame seed oil, as you wouldn't taste the wine. Also you might avoid intensely spicy dishes, such as Asian-influenced ceviche, as the chilies will throw off the balance of the wine.

To wrap up a meal desserts with fruits, hunks of melon of any kind or stone fruits, will be delicious with these wines. You might even choose a rosé with a hint more residual sugar--many of these are pretty dry--so it can match the sweet notes in the cake or ice cream that might accompany the fruit.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Aromatic Bitters Chicken

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Summertime and the living is easy should be the metaphor for dining al fresco.  And summertime dining doesn’t have to be drudgery.  What it should be is casual and carefree.

The foods that you choose to grill and the drinks you choose to imbibe should all resonate with each other.  That’s why I like to pair cocktails with foods that include one or more of the same ingredients.   And summer is the best time to mix it up for your guests and stimulate their appetites at the same time.

Chicken is an inexpensive way to show your guests that your fancy culinary degree actually tastes good!  Most people try to hard in their summertime menus and lose track of how delicious simple foods like chicken can be in the right hands. 

You should know that the secret ingredient for the chicken and this cocktail is no other than Aromatic Bitters.  The very style of bitters that was originally invented to stave off the horrible tropical disease called dysentery is the exact ingredient that is essential in my chicken dish.  Another essential ingredient is ginger syrup.  In this case the ginger syrup is from Pickett’s in Brooklyn, NY.  I used the Hot n’ Spicy Jamaican style ginger beer syrup.  There is a less spicy version for the fearful, but really, have no fear- use the hot n’ spicy because it really rocks the boat.  You will also use a portion of the ginger beer syrup along with the Angostura Bitters in the chicken- but I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit. 

The genesis of Bitters and Ginger Syrup Chicken – along with the companion cocktail goes back to my early twenties.  I spent some time down in the British Virgin Islands on my family yacht.  She was a magnificent vessel, completely hand built for my mom and step-dad.  Weighing in at 65 tons, she more than made a statement in heavy winds and pounding waves.  Sometimes these heavy winds brought seasickness, you would know if you’ve ever been out at sea, a mere speck of life in an otherwise forlorn place.  For that pleasure there was always ginger simple syrup on board.  My stepdad knew that this was the miracle cure for the kind of seasickness that included the good, the bad and the very awful…  He knew from being an old salt that ginger (and Aromatic Bitters) healed just about everything known to his crew, including seasickness.  It mostly healed hangovers- but once the rum started flowing (at 7 in the morning, another lousy day in paradise) it didn’t stop until late at night.  Hence, there was the need for powerful restoratives/purgatives. 

Sailing is hard work and when it is your watch, there really is no excuse- like “I’m not feeling well, or I’m not hungry…”

Hopefully by enjoying these recipes they will stimulate your thirst along with your hunger!

Aromatic Bitters Chicken
(adapted from my third book, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  Released: May, 2015.) 

1 chicken 3-4 pounds in weight cut into eighths
½ cup Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
¼ cup Pickett’s Hot n’ Spicy Ginger Syrup
Salt and Pepper to taste – although you won’t need much- the bitters have it all!

In a non-reactive bowl, place the chicken inside
Cover with Aromatic Bitters and the Pickett’s Syrup
Toss well
Cover and Refrigerate Overnight

Grill over charcoal off the stern of your Little Harbor Yacht- or in cast iron (in the oven at 400 degrees to start and reduce to 270 after ½ hour
Cook until juices run clear when pricked
Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes in a just warm oven before serving
Also makes an incredible chicken salad sandwich on Brioche with mayo and Dijon…

2 oz. Barrell Whiskey –you’ve got to find this stuff- amazing!!!  (Barrel Strength, 122.5 Proof)
1 oz. Pickett’s Ginger Beer  (Hot n’ Spicy is preferred)
6 oz. Seltzer Water (I used Saratoga)
Ice Spear
Bitter Truth Orange Bitters

To a tall glass, add a spear of ice and then add the Barrell Whiskey
Add the Pickett’s Ginger Beer Syrup
Add the Seltzer Water- and stir
Dot with the Bitter Truth Bitters

Fresh and refreshing, this drink has it all over you in a hurry. 
Garnish with a chunk of fresh lime pinched over the top of the glass! ! !

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Warren Bobrow is the creator of the popular blog The Cocktail Whisperer and the author of nearly half a dozen books, including Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktail and Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails- his most recent book.

He's also written about cocktails for Saveur and Whole Foods/Dark Rye, Total Food Service, Eater, Serious Eats, Foodista, Distiller and Beverage Media among other outlets.  He’s taught the fine art of social media and food writing at the New School in New York and at the Institute for Culinary Education. Warren has also taught at Stonewall Kitchen in Maine.

Bobrow was a 2010 Ministry of Rum judge and was the only American food journalist asked to participate in Fête de la Gastronomie, a nationwide celebration of French cuisine in Burgundy.