Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

No Password Required

I'm not a Prohibition expert. I’ve read about bathtub gin and subterranean speakeasies and I love Prohibition-era cocktails, but when the topic of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act comes up in conversation, things get fuzzier. Fortunately, this week marks the launch of prohibitionrepeal.com, a thoughtful website started by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States in honor of the upcoming 75th anniversary of the re-legalization of alcohol. Easily navigated and chock-full of edifying details, this veritable encyclopedia of Prohibition-era info delves deep into the history and legacy of 1920s clandestine alcohol culture. You’re bound to learn something—like about the loopy law in Louisiana that allows any type of business to acquire a permit to sell alcohol except a doughnut shop, or which bars across the country surreptitiously served spirits almost 75 years ago and are still pouring drinks today. Also, be sure to check out the page of Prohibition-era cocktails, masterfully compiled by David Wondrich, for a taste of what moonshiners and mobsters were drinking back then. —Tracy Howard

Colony Cocktail
(From prohibitionrepeal.com)

New York's Colony was no ordinary speakeasy. It was where Vanderbilts and Windsors went to dine in a civilized manner, and if that included a drink or two, then bartender Marco Hattem would provide one, no questions asked.

1 1/2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. grapefruit juice
2 tsp. Maraschino liqueur
Cracked ice
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: cocktail

Combine ingredients in shaker. Shake well and strain into chilled glass.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Great American Distillers Festival

August in Portland means it's time for the Great American Distiller's Festival, a yearly gathering of artisan distillers from around the country who converge on the Rose City to display their wares and let sprits enthusiasts taste some of the amazing products being produced across the U.S. This year's event takes place August 23 and 24 at the Gerding Theater in Portland's Pearl District. Admission is only $10 for one day and includes a taster glass and three taster tickets. A two-day pass is just $16.

We're especially looking forward to the Bartender Mix-Off happening on-site both days. This competition is always a blast and a terrific showcase of some of the most talented bartenders in the area. Last year's winner, Suzanne Allard, now with the new 50 Plates, wowed judges with her delicious cocktails and entertaining presentation. We can't wait to see who takes home top honors this year, with a grand prize of $1000! If you're interested in competing, click here.

For more info on the festival, click here. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, Aug 23, 1-9 p.m. | Sunday, Aug 24, 1-7 p.m.
$10 per person for 3 pours; $1 per pour thereafter
Mixology Competition: Saturday, 2 p.m. | Sunday 2 p.m.
Gerding Theater: 128 NW 11th Ave. (at Davis), Portland, Ore.

See a full list of the participating distillers (not to mention Bill Owens, keynote speaker and president of the Distilling Institute)

List of participating distillers, as of 8/1/08:
Artisan Spirits, OR
Bardenay, ID
Bendistillery, OR
Cascade Peak Spirits, OR
Celebration Distillation Corp, LA
Dolmen, OR
Dry Fly, WA
Flag Hill Distillery, NH
Hangar One, CA
High West Distillery, UT
Highball Distillery, OR
House Spirits, OR
Indio Spirits, OR
Integrity Spirits, OR
McMenamin's Edgefield, OR
Modern Spirits, CA
New Deal, OR
Peach Street, CO
Philadelphia Distilling, PA
Prichards, TN
Ransom Spirits, OR
Rogue Spirits, OR
Sarticious, CA
Stranahan's, CO
Stringer Orchard, CA
Sub Rosa, OR
Woodstone Creek, OH

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Swimming in Rum

We just returned from Tales of the Cocktail, which was another great year of celebrating good drinking in the Big Easy. There were lots of interesting seminars and tastings, and the Spirited Dinner we attended at Palace Cafe was a definite highlight (see the menu in the post below). But for all of you rum geeks out there, we thought we'd make special mention of the results of one of the more notable tastings from the event, the Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition. Organized by rum guru Edward Hamilton and held at Arnaud's, this is a marathon tasting of rums from around the world. Check out the results here. Any surprises?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Twenty-First Birthday!

Talk about a total kegger! Next weekend a minimum of 1,100 beer barrels will be tapped to celebrate the 21st Annual Oregon Brewers Festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland. Much has changed for the craft beer movement since the inauguration of this West Coast beer extravaganza. Back then, a mere 124 craft breweries operated in the U.S., only 13 of which came to that first festival; today our country boasts over 1,400 such breweries, and 73 of them will be pouring amber, porter and pale ale samples next weekend in the City of Roses. This year’s participants run the gamut in style and flavor, but all share a dedication to quality: One third of them hold medals from the 2007 Great American Beer Festival. You’ll also have the chance to try out some never-before-exhibited brews from 10 brand-new breweries. This years festival promises a bit of everything, from West Coast favorites like Green Flash and Great Divide to the lesser-known Electric Brewing out of Bisbee, Ariz. and Four + Brewing from Salt Lake City. There’s even a root beer garden! Taste craft brewing at its best while getting a peek at home-brewing demonstrations and mingling with the 60,000-plus beer aficionados expected to attend.

Oregon Brewers Festival
Where: Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Ore.
When: July 24-27

Other brew fests happening this month:
Michigan Summer Beer Festival
Where: Riverside Park Depot Town, Ypsilanti
When: July 25-26

Vermont Brewers Festival
Where: Waterfront Park, Burlington
When: July 18-19

Monday, July 14, 2008

Joyeux Quatorze Juillet!

Happy Bastille Day! We couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Monday afternoon than helping our friends in France celebrate their own national day of independence. For those fortunate enough to join the festivities in France, be sure to pick up a copy of The Best Wine Bars & Shops of Paris, Pierrick Jégu’s fun and informative journey through some of the oldest, smallest and most convivial cavistes in the City of Lights.

If you’re celebrating stateside with the rest of us, here are a few French summer sippers that are sure to spark a revolution all their own. Pop the cork and take a sip. Soon, you’ll be singing La Marseillaise like a native.

The Reds:
2004 Château Pineraie Cahors
The dark and earthy Côt (Malbec) grape lends itself beautifully to this bold and fruity favorite of Southwestern France. At $12 a bottle, this inky-red wine with notes of plum and leather is perfect with a steak or burger.

2006 Maison Joseph Drouhin Vero Pinot Noir
Wes Marshall, author of our summer wine story in the May/June issue, recommends this inexpensive (about $22 a bottle) yet highly quaffable Burgundy from one of the region’s most widely respected producers. A blend from daughter Veronique’s favorite vineyards around the region, this Pinot is a “simple, straightforward wine with strawberry and raspberry aromas.”

The Pinks:
2007 Domaine Sorin Côtes de Provence Rosé
From a family-run estate in the heart of Provence comes this light-copper-hued rosé. Crisp and juicy with classic notes of strawberry, it’s a great bargain at about $12 a bottle and perfect with grilled salmon or rosemary chicken.

2006 Domaine Fontsainte Gris de Gris
A good bet for picnics or patio parties, this food-friendly Corbiéres rosé blend of Granache Gris, Granache Noir, Syrah and Mourvédre is not the least bit complicated or stuffy, and available for just under $15 a bottle.

The Whites:
2007 Cazin Le Petit Chambord Cour-Cheverny
From one of the Loire Valley’s newest appellations comes the ancient—and almost extinct—Romorantin grape. Grown deep in limestone-rich soil, Cazin’s Cour-Cheverny boasts notes of roasted nuts, ripe apricots and bright acidity. About $16 a bottle and a great match with spicy Asian food and nutty cheeses.

2007 Les Grandes Vignes du Roy Côtes du Rhône Blanc
This sustainably grown blend of Clairette, Marsanne and Roussanne is crisp and dry with subtle notes of peach and citrus. $16 a bottle and a touch of minerality makes this Côtes du Rhône Blanc a perfect pairing for fried chicken or grilled halibut.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Spirited Dinners

In less than two weeks, drink enthusiasts from across the country will be converging on New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail. We can't wait for all of the festivities, the first of which for us will be the Spirited Dinners on Thursday night (July 17th). If you haven't already, be sure to snag a ticket for one of these fantastic dinners. They bring together a veritable who's who of bartenders from across the country collaborating with the best chefs in New Orleans for unforgettable pairing dinners. We'll be attending the dinner at Palace Cafe, dreamed up by the incredibly talented Jim Meehan of PDT and Imbibe contributor Paul Clarke in partnership with Chef Ben Thibodeaux. Here's a sneak peek of the menu, and for the rest of the line-ups, click here:

Greeting Cocktail
Canton Collins (Pisco, Canton Ginger Liqueur, Lemon Juice, Club Soda)

Hors d’oeuvre
Silver Cilantro Gin Fizz - recipe below - (Gin, Lemon Juice, Cilantro Syrup, Organic Egg White, Club Soda, Green Chartreuse)
Grilled Lobster in a Cilantro and Lime Crema on congree cakes

First Course
Cafe Colada (10 Cane Rum, Lime Juice, Banana Sorbet)
Sweet Potato and Blue Crab Sopa with chili-buttered black grouper baked in a banana leaf

Second Course
Brennan’s Buck (Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Navan Vanilla Liqueur, Lemon Juice, Aromatic Bitters and Ginger Ale)
Vanilla and Black Pepper Crusted Lacquered Duck Salad

Third Course
Three Leaf Julep (Cuervo Traditional Tequila, Agave Nectar, Parsley, Cilantro and Mint)
Cumin-Crusted Wild Boar with caramelized plantain relleno, chicharrones and chimichurri

Dickie’s Derby (Toasted Pecan Infused Bulleit Bourbon, Clover Honey, Grapefruit Juice)
Nanny’s Persimmon Cake with spiced honey, toasted pecans and chèvre ice cream

Recipe: Silver Cilantro Gin Fizz
created by James Meehan
1 1/2 oz. Plymouth gin
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. Cilantro syrup (recipe follows)
1 fresh organic egg white
2 oz. club soda
1/4 oz. green chartreuse
Glass: fizz or small highball
Garnish: cilantro leaf

Add the gin, lemon, cilantro syrup and egg white to a mixing glass. Dry shake (without ice), then add ice and shake again. Strain into the glass (no ice) and top with club soda. Float the Green Chartreuse over the top of a bar spoon into the glass. Garnish with one cilantro leaf in the center of the foam.

Cilantro Syrup
Heat 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved and remove from heat. Add 7 - 8 sprigs of cilantro to the pan and infuse for approximately 10 minutes or long enough for the syrup be flavorful, but not bitter. Allow to cool, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A Sip of History

Visiting my family in Philadelphia this week, it seemed appropriate to take in some history leading up to July 4th. With the signing place of our Declaration of Independence just minutes away from my childhood home, it's easy to scratch that itch.

Take the Tippler's Tour, Philadelphia's nod to the drinking culture of Colonial times. Thursdays at 5:30 from April through October, the tour leads thirsty travelers on a journey through history, visiting places like the City Tavern, established 1773, which served as the unofficial first meeting place of the Continental Congress. Here, the likes of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington washed back their dinner with low-alcohol small beers and seasonal shrub cocktails (fruit, vinegar, sugar, and spices paired with spirits).

One fun fact I learned was that Ben Franklin, ever the inventor and wordsmith, created over 200 phrases to describe someone who'd had a lot to drink. The crowd favorite seems to be "nimptopsical."

A Tippler's Tour ticket will set you back only $30, which includes a drink at each of the tour's four stops, plus snacks and gratuity. You may even make a few new friends along the way. For tickets and information, visit Historic Philadelphia website. —Siobhan Crosby

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Cocktails on the Radio

There was an interesting show that aired this morning on San Francisco's KQED about the cocktail renaissance. The segment mainly focused on San Francisco, of course, but there was some lively discussion about general cocktail history and culture, courtesy of the great panel—Dale DeGroff, H Ehrmann of Elixir and our own dear Dr. Cocktail, Ted Haigh—so we thought we'd share the link. Listen in here.