Friday, May 30, 2014

A Spring Punch to whet your whistle!

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I’ve been playing around with Shrubs as of late.  No, not the ones growing out in the garden, but Shrub Cocktails, lip smacking bursts of flavor that stimulate hunger. 

Maybe it’s the change of season that does it.  My palate needs something quenching, bold and exciting to break it out of the doldrums of winter.  Enter the Shrubb.  You may note that I spelled Shrubb with two B’s instead of the usual one.  That answer is quite simple.  When a Shrubb is created from ingredients that hail from Martinique or Guadeloupe, French protectorates, they add an extra B.  When the Shrub is from anyplace else- the USA or Europe for example- there is only one B.  Other than that I cannot explain why there are two B’s and one B.  It’s just unexplainable.

The Shrubb punch that I created is slightly tangy from the use of vinegar.  In the days before refrigeration, vinegar and sugar were combined with the conjunction of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes to become sweet syrup.  This syrup that is little more than equal parts of citrus, sweetener and vinegar acts as a powerful preservative against decay.

When a sailor wants to stave off scurvy, he will make a liquid combination of lime juice, vinegar (apple cider works really nicely) and cane sugar.  The cane sugar preserves the lime and the vinegar acts as a suspension- allowing the Shrub to last for months upon end.

But why go through the long process of making a Shrubb from scratch when you can just open a bottle of Clement Creole Shrubb.  This gorgeous and aromatic product is a combination of opulent citrus fruits and cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and nutmeg.  Wine vinegar or your choice of vinegar from Balsamic to Sherry to plain old cider vinegar plays into a Shrubb (also Shrubs, but I’m getting ahead of myself here) by offering the cleansing abilities of vinegar on the entire digestive system.  As distilled white vinegar is brilliant against a pipe blockage in your home’s plumbing system, drinking vinegar is equally effective in keeping the drinker regular.  The Asians have been drinking vinegar for thousands of years for the their digestive tract.  Shrubbs or drinking vinegars are incredibly versatile in many different kinds of cocktails and in punch. 

When you visit places like St. Barts in the French West Indies, nearly every home, restaurant and shop makes their own “Ponch” or punch- liberally treated to these Shrubbs.  And when the imbiber makes his Ponch with both Creole Shrubb and Rhum Agricole like the Neisson Blanc Rhum Agricole.  Neisson is mostly unknown in America and that’s too bad because it’s so distinctive in flavor.  The sugar cane is grown up on Mount Pelée in Martinique in the black colored soil from thousands of years of volcanic activity.  The freshly cut sugarcane harvested by hand and then crushed immediately before the cane sours in the extremely hot temperatures. 

And in keeping with my desire to make my punch as memorable as possible, I’ve included what I consider to be one of the best all natural grapefruit syrups on the market, the Fruitations Rio Red Grapefruit Soda and Cocktail Syrup.  This hand made product is so lip smacking that it’s even perfect with plain seltzer water instead of liquor in a gorgeous mock-tail.  

I want to share my secret for punch.  That is always add a healthy pinch of either fleur de sel or Kosher salt over the top of your citrus juices to bring out the flavors and give a bit of spark to the cocktails.  A chef finishes a sauce with a bit of salt for balance so you should try and experiment with this technique as well!

 Isle de France Ponch (Punch)
1 liter bottle of Neisson Rhum Agricole Blanche
1 750 ml Bottle of Creole Shrubb from Clement
2 bottles Fruitations Rio Red Grapefruit Soda and Cocktail Syrup
10 or so shakes of Bitter Truth Creole Bitters (essential!)
2 liter bottles of unflavored seltzer water
Large cube of ice
Fleur de Sel
Cut oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes

Add all the ingredients over the large ice cube and stir well
Finish with the bitters over the top and stir some more
Add the cut fruit over the top
Sprinkle about a tablespoon of Fleur de Sel (or Kosher Salt) over the top to finish…


Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bubbles for Spring

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Summer is almost upon us. That is good reason to celebrate and bubbles—and rosé sparkling or still—for me are always the perfect way to fête its arrival. While I love Champagne, there are plenty of great values out there that hail from other parts of the globe.

I always have had a soft spot for Prosecco, Lambrusco and Franciacorta: potentially the Lini is one of the best Lambrusco producers out there and was in great part responsible for helping consumers on the U.S. market understand just how great and balanced this wine can be. Sparkling Shiraz from Australia didn’t always put its best foot forward, as many of the first brands on the U.S. market were cloyingly sweet. However there’s hope for the category and great Italian producers are putting Italian red sparklers on the road to being hip, refreshing and great choices with meals once again.
grand dame of Italian sparkling wine.

Emilia-Romagna in central Italy is beloved for its rich foods: meat-filled tortellini and fantastic prosciutto but it hardly gets the respect it deserves wine wise. The beauty of these wines is that they have a fat and rich flavor profile that can stand up to hearty food, much more than many other bubbles.
Pink for the Summer

The other super food friendly and crowd-pleasing sparkler is generally rosé that can be made in any region. I love rosés made from unusual grapes: Marzemino is a case in point. I am a huge devote of the well-balanced wines made in this Northeastern Italian region. I also love big, juicy rosés, such as many of the Grenache-based ones from Navarra, Spain. There are a handful of amazing rosés made from Nebbiolo—the great grape in play with Barolo and Barbaresco—from Piedmonte as well, but they are hard to find.

In terms of French rosés I have always loved some of the bigger, more fruit-forward styles from Bordeaux and the Rhône. They may pack more of a punch in terms of alcohol levels, but they work so well with food. The Loire Valley also makes beautiful rosés, many from Cabernet Franc.

California producers, such as Bonny Doon, are also making some stellar wines. Some are focused on Rhône varietals, others Italian grapes and a handful are made from Pinot Noir.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza 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.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Exploring Solbeso the cacao spirit.

By Catherine L Luke

Chocolate comes from the seeds of cacao.  What most of us don’t realize is that, beyond its seeds, cacao has so much more to offer.  Cacao grows in a sort of pod with a tough outer rind.  Inside the rind, as in a melon or a squash, is a soft and citrusy fruit.  Tom Higbee, the energetic innovator behind a new spirit called Solbeso, compares cacao’s fruit to a creamy sorbet.  Solbeso is a spirit distilled from this fruit.

Higbee’s delicious idea was inspired by a visit to a friend’s family cacao farm where he spent some time exploring and learning about cacao.  Higbee was struck by the sight of farmers removing and disposing of fruit simply because their sole focus was on harvesting the bean.   This was done because the flesh of the fruit oxidizes and browns a few hours after being exposed to air, not allowing enough time for transport to market.  Higbee saw all of this beautiful fruit being thrown into the river and dreamt up a way to capture its essence.  And so the idea for what would become Solbeso, which translates to “sun kissed”, was born.

The process of figuring out how to do this wasn’t simple.  Southern Peru has a number of distilleries dedicated to Pisco production.  Higbee happened to be in the north and, as far as distilleries go, there is no culture of distillation in northern Peru.  To try out his idea, Higbee rigged up an old moonshine still and boiled off a pilot bottle of what would become Solbeso.  It tasted pretty good.  He brought his product to a lab in Oregon.  It came in at 80 proof, and was even found to contain a trace amount of natural caffeine as well as theobromine, the component in chocolate that makes people happy.

Higbee assembled a team of local Pisco producers and horticulturalists and, with a little consultation, developed a system that would create a quality product.  It took about four years of “blood, sweat, and mosquito bites”.  Good things take time.

Unlike many chocolate producers who run large plantation-like cacao farms, Solbeso’s cacao fruit is harvested by family farms in agricultural areas of northern Peru, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.  The term family farm here, for the most part, means people going into lush forests behind their homes to pluck fruit from their trees- an, obviously, organic operation.   There are hundreds of variations of cacao fruit categorized into 12 basic varietals.  The more aromatic the varietal, the better it is for Solbeso, but also the more rare it is to find.  Terrior- seasonality, soil, elevation, climate and micro-climate- play an important role in the flavor and productivity of the cacao fruit.  Since there are so many factors that contribute to consistency and quality,  Solbeso blends the cacao of various farms to achieve the result they are looking for.

At the distillery, fruit is slow-cooked in little batches in specially-designed facilities close to the cacao farms.  This step must happen soon after harvest to preserve freshness.  Because of the delicacy of the fruit, every step of the process- from collection, to fermentation, to distillation- required a pioneering new approach to production.

And how about the final product?  It is not going through a supply chain.  It’s simply ingredients to product, product to market; providing much needed income to small agricultural communities along the way.  Most importantly, it’s delicious!  Smooth with a playful hint of tangerine.   The taste is interesting.  But it’s not just interesting, it’s good.  How could anything coming from cacao not be?  There is really nothing to compare Solbeso to as it seems to be creating a new category all its own.  In cocktails it can perform like a classic brown spirit, though also jives with something light and citrusy.  Like any good spirit, it is completely lovely on its own. 

Try it the rocks or in a fun cocktail.  New World Spirits, the company behind Solbeso, has shared a few ideas here:

Solbeso & Iced Tea:

Solbeso                                     1.5 Parts
Iced Tea                                     4 Parts

Build on ice, stir to incorporate ingredients and garnish with a lemon wheel.

El Conquistador:
Solbeso                2 Parts
Sweet Vermouth  1 Part
bitters                   2 Dashes

Build all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, stir and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a cherry, twist, or both. 

The Bird & The Bees:

Solbeso                            2 Parts
Honey Syrup (2:1)              .5 Part
Fresh Lemon Juice             .5 Part

Build all ingredients in a mixing glass or tin. Add ice, shake and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an optional lemon twist or sugar rim.

Picante No. 2:

Solbeso                      2 parts
Fresh Lemon Juice      1 part
Simple Syrup (1:1)      .75 parts
Jalapeño                     2 slices

Muddle Jalapeño in a mixing tin or glass. Add all other ingredients, shake, and double strain into a glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a Jalapeño slice.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Catherine lives in Brooklyn, and has worked in the wine industry in Napa Valley and NYC. She is certified by the WSET, as well as the school of "wine in real life".  Understanding the patchwork of little-known Italian regional wines, dishes, and customs excites her most of all. She (sometimes) muses on her blog GrapesofCath.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Heart of Darkness Swizzle

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I remember vividly the first time that I tasted the unmistakable flavor of Thai food.  It just was electrifying.  The flavors were intensely spicy and they crackled over my tongue in a way that Americanized Chinese food was incapable of doing. 

I was living out in California in Venice Beach and seemingly overnight a new wave of brightly flavored and textured cooking erupted on the scene.  The usually gloppy, overly sweetened and excessively oily pan-Asian style foods were suddenly replaced by crisp, aromatic and intensely spicy flavors that I’d never experienced prior.  This occurred around 1980 so the phrase “California Cuisine” had not been invented yet.  But Thai food had just arrived on the West Coast and it blew open my palate like nothing ever had prior.

What I enjoy most about Thai food is the depth of the spice, the clarity of the heat and the intense simplicity of the spices and herbs used in the cooking.

One strikingly potent ingredient is called the Kaffir Lime leaf.  This leaf, used in Thai and Laotian curry pastes gives foods an sour, astringent and bitter flavor that works perfectly against the sweeter elements of palm sugar and the heat of the spices. 

I love Kaffir Lime leaf in my food and my drink.  Sometimes I cut a Kaffir Lime leaf in half and drop it into a glass of seltzer water.  It’s drinking a trip to Thailand without the expensive plane ticket.  

This would stand to reason from my passion for spicy Thai food, that I would enjoy Kaffir Lime leaf in my vodka as well.   Not an insipidly sweet chemical plant, processed liqueur, but a richly flavored, lush and intensely elegant vodka that is remarkably restrained and aromatic.  Hanger 1 is producing something so unusual that I would say safely that I’ve tasted nothing so mesmeric in my life- other than Thai curry.  And I’ve just learned that the Kaffir Lime leaf when sprayed on a bug makes an excellent insecticide.  But I don’t recommend rooting out bugs infestations with such rare and lovely vodka. 

What I recommend doing with it is mixing with it! 

Recently I received a gorgeous bottle of vermouth from Italy by way of a friend in NYC.  Carpano Bianco is
the name of the vermouth.  If you love the traditionally red Carpano Antica Formula and couldn’t imagine using anything else in a Negroni, please indulge my sense of balance in a cocktail.  You should try the new Bianco (white) version.  Carpano Bianco is opulent across the tongue, velvety and packed full of aromatic herbs, secret spices and roots.  In a tip of the hat to the Negroni cocktail, I would suggest using the Bianco, instead of the deeply red colored Antica for a lighter, change of pace.  To describe the opulence of Carpano you must first throw out those bottle of vermouth that are over a few years old.  You haven’t been refrigerating them?  Shame! Do you store them in a cool cellar? No???

If you have been stashing your vermouth on top of the fridge or in a hot closet- throw your bottles out immediately!  Vermouth needs care- not too much care, but it should be treated like Port or Sherry.  (Both fortified wines)  Eventually vermouth will turn vinegary and will fail to please you- and that’s the rub because most people are still drinking the less expensive brands that start off sour or vinegary, like Martini and Rossi or Cinzano.  These are industrial brands with venerable, historic names- that’s about it.  So if vermouth has injected a bad taste in your cocktail- it is not necessarily the quality that is bringing your drink down, it’s because your vermouth has soured!

As with all great things in life, the quality of a product is not necessarily dictated by the price, but I do think an artisanal product such as Carpano is not going to come inexpensively.  That is a fact of life in a consumer driven society.  Where there is high demand and limited supply comes price and Carpano Bianco is not inexpensive.  But what you have of it is truly gorgeous and you need to buy a bottle from DrinkupNY and try it with the Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf vodka. 

To make this cocktail really sing, I stumbled across a bottle of Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters.  To me, the addition of the unrestrainedly bitter oils of the grapefruit zest encapsulated in the bitters, added to this craft cocktail with both Carpano Bianco and Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf just says the heart of darkness.

Mysterious, beguiling and very sensual is just the beginning of this drink that I call, the Heart of Darkness Swizzle.

(You do have a Swizzle Stick, right?)

The Heart of Darkness Swizzle

2 oz. Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf Vodka
½ oz. Carpano Bianco Vermouth
2-3 shakes Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters
1 oz. Seltzer Water
Fresh mint

Add all ingredients except for your seltzer- to a tall Collins glass with crushed ice
Insert the Swizzle Stick and move it between your palms and with an up and down motion- like a Mixmaster Blender!

Add the seltzer and the bitters with a bit more ice and garnish with the mint…

YUM and simple!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The New Value Wines

By Liza B. Zimmerman

While the economy is recovering, somewhat, wine spending for everyday drinking may never go back to the go-go levels of the 1980s. Whereas a Tuesday night, pizza wine might have once cost $20 to $25 dollars, now everyone is looking for the next best sensation for $15 or under: maybe even $8.99 a bottle on a good day.

Few regions of the world provide as much value as many of those in Portugal. From crisp, acidic whites from the north to the slightly fizzy but totally quaffable Vinho Verde, the country’s whites pair well with a range of foods. They are also great sipping wines for front porches and poolside on hot days. Portugal’s reds, particularly from the Douro, up the ante in quality at a fantastic price point. The Doural red, a blend of indigenous varietals, is a standout at the under $10 price point and Esporão is also a great producer. White Port is also a fun summer drink on the rocks, or mix it up in a cocktail. It is rarely seen in the States and is the light, less formal cousin to the region’s vaunted, red fortified wines.

Spain’s Tempranillos and Grenache-based wines, from a handful of regions, also represent great value.Navarra and a handful of crisp Albariño are still value priced.Their often lush fruit structure is jammy and appealing and they pair very well with simple, grilled foods and meat. The country also produces great rowdy rosés from

Last but not least, Sicily is home to great wines at superb prices. Many are made from native varietals and this island excels at blends. Volcanic soils and cool breezes tend to give this region’s wines great balance and sometimes bracing acidity. Experiment with grapes such as Nerello Mascalese and Inzolia, Grecanico and Catarratto and you won’t be disappointed.

The Southern Hemisphere
Chile has fought an uphill marketing battle with its neighbor Argentina. The country has no famous meat culture or gaucho legends on which to waive its marketing banner. However wow do these guys know how to make wine. However Chile is blessed by incredibly diverse, and often cool, growing conditions that contribute to appealing food-friendly acidity in the wine. The Sauvignon Blancs are classic, well-balanced wines made in many regions. I also love the red blends and single varietals of almost every type besides Pinot Noir.

South African winemakers are emerging from many decades of relative political isolation and doing so in grand style. Many of this country’s red blends are stunning, particularly those with a touch of Syrah, which grows so well in many regions of this country. Rupert & Rothschild’s “Classique,” is a $20 wine that tastes like it costs $50. It is elegant, supple and worthy of aging. I hand carried a half case of this wine back from Cape Town before it was readily available on the U.S. market. Vergelegen is another top producer whose blends drink like significantly more costly wines. Don’t miss some of South Africa’s bright Sauvignon Blancs and its Chenin Blancs if you like a touch of sweetness in your wines.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza 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.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sæmundur: The Knowledgeable

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I was poking around in the liquor cabinet the other day finding some nearly forgotten gems like the American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial that was lurking in the periphery.  I hadn’t worked with this fabulous, flavor packed product in some time and upon discovering the slender bottle hiding behind some Rhum Agricole- it brought an immediate smile to my face.  I smiled because the tart, sumptuous flavors encapsulated in the bottle would be “just what the doctor ordered” for the combination of sweet to the savory in my glass.

Usually I serve the Sour Cherry Cordial over crushed ice with a mint simple syrup and seltzer but today I’ve discovered something altogether unexpected.  Today is different because of the product named Aquavit. 

What is Aquavit?  Aside from the literal translation of Aqua Vit or water of life, Aquavit is distilled from either grain or potatoes and the predominant flavor is that of caraway seeds along with lemon peel, fennel cardamom, cumin, anise and other fruit oils depending on the region and style desired.  Some Aquavit is aged in the barrel but most Aquavit is bottled after blending down to 40% ABV. 

It is still a very potent slurp. 

I chose Brennivin Icelandic Aquavit because it is from Iceland.  Icelandic water is one of the purest sources of water on the planet.  Martin Miller Gin is also made with this soft, lightly mineral water source. 

I think that the spirits that use Icelandic water are absolutely smashing and you should taste them just as soon as you are able. 
When you mix this grain and potato based Aquavit with Sour Cherry Cordial everything tastes better around you.  Especially if you are eating foods like pickled herring or smoked salmon, Aquavit is just a natural with the sugar, salt and spicy flavors from the northern part of Europe.

You see, foods from the Scandinavian countries are just perfectly pared with Aquavit and strangely enough with American Sour Cherry Cordial. 

This combination of flavors reminds me of a visit to Amsterdam about twenty years ago.  I was just mesmerized by Belgian beer; especially the tart varieties of Cherry infused Lambic Ales.  I’ve grown to crave the warm aromatics of aged cherries in my glass and on the plate.  There is nothing more alluring than a roasted pork loin cooked with sour cherries or a medallion of Brook Trout enrobed in brown butter, hazelnuts and finished with Lambic-soaked cherry flavored Ale. 

Mixing Sour Cherries and Aquavit is perhaps the most interesting recipe in my current toolkit of cocktail whisperer inspired recipes.  Aquavit was certainly used as a curative in the early apothecary so it becomes an essential ingredient in the struggle to determine the fine line of good health over intoxication!  

I say drink what you like and all will be well.

The American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial makes for a perfect “Day Drink” because you can decide exactly how mind numbing you want this cocktail to be. If you want to numb your entire body, use more Aquavit.  If you want a perfectly lovely day drink, use more Sour Cherry Cordial and some more mint simple syrup.  Whichever way you choose to make it, I offer the stronger of the two ways for your perusal and hopefully your whole-hearted approval. 

Sæmundur: The Knowledgeable
You can make this strong like an Icelandic warrior. 
This is the way that I think you should have it. 

2 oz.  Brennivin Icelandic Aquavit
½ oz. American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial
1 oz. Mint Simple Syrup
1 oz. seltzer water
Lemon Bitters from Bitter Truth
Hand cut ice (essential!)

To a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with bar ice, add the Aquavit, the Sour Cherry Cordial and the mint simple syrup

Shake hard for 15 seconds
Pour over the hand cut ice into a tall Collins glass
Add a splash of seltzer water and 2-3 drops of the lemon bitters
Garnish with a sour cherry pierced by a long straw 

Mint Simple Syrup:
(Crush 1-cup spearmint and add to 1 cup Demerara Sugar and 1 cup spring water, bring to a simmer in a non reactive saucepan for at least 20 minutes and reduce to desired thickness, strain out the mint with a cheesecloth. Reduce some more for extra good luck in battle)

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sexy Dresses and Wines for Spring

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Have you ever tried to pair a dress with a mood, a season or a wine? It is a little bit of a challenge. Carrie Bradshaw, of Sex and the City fame, once pitched a story to Vogue on a story comparing men to purses that her fictional editors weren’t crazy about. However when you love a certain designer it is fun to equate the lines and styles of various dresses to wines and the seasons that they show best in.

I asked one of my favorite designers in New York to pair some of her fantastic work with wines and here is some of what we came up with. Janice Huminska shuttered her beloved Mott St. shop a few months ago and now is only doing mail order business. However ladies the $99 bin still exists (however only online). I have always loved her curve-hugging designs as they move so well from day to evening, steam out in two seconds in the shower and can be cold water washed in a machine.

Dress for Spring
Festive tones of pink and red are sunny and fruit-forward like many rosés. The intensity of her floral prints makes me think of big, luscious rosés that are made in California, fruit-driven ones from Navarra and those from the Rhône and nearby areas such as Côtes du Ventoux.

Other thirst-quenching and food-friendly rosé producers to pair with these designs include South African wines such as Mulderbosch that makes a divine and affordable rosé from Cabernet Sauvignon. In Sicily, in the cooler climatic zones, great producers even make impressive rosés from cool-climate grapes such as Nerello Mascalese. Keep your eyes open to even more value-focused wine discoveries from this island. The high-attitude regions of Sicily will continue to produce some amazing and impressive wines: for all seasons and dresses.

Intense Dresses and Wines
Sometimes the wines you drink, as well as the outfits you may want to wear, may be both serious and worthy of contemplation. Cool-blue tones generally command respect in the arena of both dresses and wines. Check out Humiska’s sleek blue dresses for fall, all of which are pretty divine and flattering to a lot of figures. 

A deep blue wine veering on brown or purple invites the drinker to analyze and pay attention to what is in the
glass. Think about those pallid, almost bruise-colored tones of young Bordeaux or Barolo. They can heat up the night as much as those dresses or perhaps, even more, given the time to mature and show well.

Champagne and Dresses
A woman can wear practically anything when drinking Champagne. Beige and pink tones aren’t necessary but they do look festive in hot weather. Bubbles, from all over France and elsewhere, can be used to fête many occasions. Everything from simple Cava to spicy Lambrusco can suit almost any kind of attire and occasion.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza 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.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Galician Rendezvous Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

The Galician Rendezvous is not what you’re thinking, although the circumstances for this decision to write about a cocktail did take many turns.  The Rendezvous in this case is the rye whiskey from High West and I just cannot wait for the next time to meet up with a glass of this really authentic whiskey.  

Rendezvous in flavor profile is not for the meek.  If you drink Maker’s Mark, you are not going to like this, but maybe you should drink it just for your edification.  High West Rendezvous is not wimpy whiskey.  This is not for beginners, unless you are of the school of thought involving nostalgia and authenticity.

High West Rendezvous will put some bristle in your throat and that’s not from swallowing this gorgeous elixir, it’s from the aromatics. I would compare High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey with enjoying a Ruben Sandwich made on really good rye bread. 

You see, rye bread is not for everyone.  If everyone liked rye bread, there would be no diversity in flavor.  Everything would taste the same.  The same holds true for rye whiskey.  I think through having a culinary background, that whiskey and food brings people together at the table.  Yeah, I know that drinking is a highly personal thing, and I’d never tell you that you have to do anything you don’t want to do. 

All that I’m saying is that Rendezvous rye is a trip to the Old West, without the saddle sores.   This is how whiskey used to be made before it got all merlot-like with sweet vanilla this and opulent, juicy notes of salted caramels and port wine barrel, that…  I like my whiskey to be robust in the glass, yet kind.  Does that make sense?

You could say I like rye whiskey as a genre and you’d be correct.  But I must stress, rye is just not for everyone.

With that said I could free up my pen and get down to the next ingredient in this drink, the Galician Rendezvous gets Atsby Vermouth for the base.  I could have chosen Carpano Antica Vermouth– and you still can should you only have that venerable brand in the house.  But for this illustration and for my palate, I chose the Armadillo Cake version made in New York State.  I LOVE the Armadillo Cake for what it is not.  It is not from Italy.  It is not made from Muscat and it doesn’t overpower a cocktail like many other Euro-centric types of vermouth from across the Atlantic Ocean.  The Armadillo Cake is stylish, like an Armani suit on a handsome gentleman. 

Armadillo Cake is made with only the best ingredients.  The best local honey, apple brandy from New York State and the best Chardonnay wine from an undisclosed source on Long Island.  I know everything that goes into Armadillo Cake must be the very best, because I know who makes it.  And this person likes only the best, so when you crack open a bottle of Atsby, it’s not just marketing that makes it delicious!  This is delectable stuff.  It’s got a rich texture that reminds me of European models that cost twice as much.  The Armadillo Cake is a dream to drink on its own with just a twist of lemon and a splash of seltzer water. 

Just like the High West Rendezvous Rye- the Atsby Armadillo Cake is a most memorable slurp of history.  This is a history that reinvents itself every time you pour some into your favorite glass. 

Treat these liquors with reverence and they will reward you. 

Taking all of what I’ve told you into account, I’ve concocted a drink served in an old fashioned glass that is most beguiling.  It involves a Rendezvous of sorts.  On a train in Spain, surrounded … Of course.

Did you know that the Spaghetti Westerns were shot in Spain? 

Hmmmm.  What does that have to do with rye whiskey?  Probably nothing, but the name of the cocktail does have a region of Spain in the title, right?

It’s a stretch but the Galician Rendezvous is a most elegant beast and you must use the Rendezvous rye to make it.  Otherwise it just won’t be the same.

I also must stress that you always used freshly squeezed juices.  It is essential and your drinks know it.  In fact your friends know it too, so if you have been using bottled juices- they’re just being nice to you.  So please, don’t do it!

Get on an ice program as well.  If you are using high end spirits, why ruin your perfectly good drink by using that ice that tastes like last week’s garlic pasta, or that salmon filet that went south a few days ago.  Doesn’t it make sense to treat your ice like the basis of your cocktail?  I think so and you should too!

Not enough is said about the quality of the ice in a drink.  That is too bad because the more I drink out, the more I see that just isn’t pretty.  There is nothing exemplary about making a drink with quarter cube ice.  I’m not impressed. 

Get yourself a silicone ice tray. Skip the ones that feature ducks or lobsters- although up in Maine, this could be fun. You’ll need one that makes 2-inch squares or 1-inch squares.  The large ones seem to work the best and dilute your drink the slowest.  Double boil some spring water or better yet, distilled water.

Freeze overnight.  Sure you can infuse your ice with bitters.  I do it.  I also make ice from coconut water and distilled water.  It’s a bit cloudy, but the flavor with Rhum Agricole is something to be relished.   But that’s another recipe for another day.

And make yourself a Reuben sandwich to go with your High West Rendezvous Rye.  If you are in the NY/Metro area, get yourself down to Hobby’s in Newark and let them know I sent you.  

This is not a candy sweet cocktail.  It requires careful examination.  I suggest for you to have at least two. 

The Galician Rendezvous Cocktail
1 ½ oz. High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey
¾ oz. Atsby Armadillo Cake Vermouth
¼ oz. Freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ oz. Freshly squeezed orange juice
3 drops Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters
1 large cube of handmade ice

On a bamboo pick, place and green olive (stuffed with an anchovy) and a ½ round of orange (like they do in Spain!)

Fill a Boston Shaker ¾ with ice
Pour over the High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey
And the Atsby Armadillo Cake Vermouth
The Juices and cap… Shake hard for 20 seconds
Place large ice in an old-fashioned glass

Strain into an old-fashioned glass
Dot with the Jerry Thomas Bitters
Garnish of the ½ orange round and anchovy stuffed olive on top 

Yum.. Spain meets New York in the High West… Just like a Spaghetti Western!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.