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.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Drink of the Week: Isastegi Cider

As summer starts to wind down, we find ourselves wanting to make the most of the warm weather we have left, not to mention the summertime offerings that go with it, like fresh tomatoes, sweet corn—and Spanish hard cider. If you’re used to English or American versions of this drink, prepare for a shock: Spanish cider has hardly any sweetness to it, veering instead into the realm of mouth-puckering acidity and yeasty notes that are slightly reminiscent of a gueuze beer. It can be hard to find in the U.S., but thankfully De Maison Selections imports the Isastegi brand from the Basque region of Spain.

With its nose full of sour apples and brilliant golden color, Isastegi isn’t about subtlety. Your first taste may seem overpoweringly sour with super-tart apple and grassy notes, followed by a quick scrub of tiny, sharp bubbles. But pair this with a fresh green salad, fried chicken or traditional Basque fried cod cakes, and that acidity suddenly mellows and helps freshen the palate between bites. And, at 6 percent ABV, it’s light enough to enjoy all evening long. Isastegi releases its new vintage of cider in March, and supplies generally run out by the autumn, so take advantage of remaining supplies of this refreshingly tart cider—and that summer sunshine—while you still can. $8.99/750 ml., klwines.com.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bittermens Bitters from The Boston Shaker

In the new Sept/Oct 09 issue of Imbibe, which is hitting mailboxes and newsstands as we write, we feature the incredibly delicious Bittermens Bitters as "What We're Drinking Now" in our Uncorked department. Unfortunately, we incorrectly printed the website for The Boston Shaker, the retail source we included for purchasing the bitters. Sorry, Boston Shaker! The correct site for ordering the bitters is thebostonshaker.com. So, go visit Adam at the Boston Shaker, order some of the highly anticipated Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters and mix up a Slight Detour Cocktail by Philip Ward of Mayahuel in New York City using the recipe in your new issue.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Poll: Cast Your Vote!

We all know the feeling of entering a wine shop or grocery store and not knowing what bottle to buy. Maybe we know we want a Riesling, but how do we choose from the array of brands lining the shelves? Did a friend recommend a particular bottle, is the label especially intriguing, did you just read a review that piqued your interest, are you loyal to a certain brand, or does it all come down to price? Our latest web poll ask the question, What impacts your wine-buying decisions the most? Cast your vote, and see how others are responding: imbibemagazine.com/#poll

Friday, August 21, 2009

Drink of the Week: 2008 Etude Pinot Gris, Carneros

With the end of summer in sight, we’re on the lookout for white wines that are bright and refreshing enough to cut through the lingering warm weather, but rich and nuanced enough to carry us into fall. Etude’s 2008 Pinot Gris does the trick. Sophisticated and complex with aromas of tangy citrus and a touch of chamomile, this Alsatian-clone Pinot Gris boasts stone minerality and flavors of apricot up front with loads of lime juice on the finish. A perfect food wine, pair this Pinot Gris with roasted halibut or chicken or a charcuterie plate. $24, etudewines.com

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Today's the Day for Lemonade

Did you know August 20 is National Lemonade Day? Yep, there really is a holiday for everything. But, hey, with the sweltering heat we've been enduring lately, a big ole glass of ice-cold lemonade sounds perfect right now. One of our favorites is this Blueberry Lavender Lemonade recipe, which takes advantage of all the sweet blueberries and fragrant lavender in season these days—you'll love it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2 Event Ticket Giveaways + Your Chance to Become a Bar Star

We just made these announcements in the latest edition of our Tasting Notes newsletter, but for those of you who don't receive the newsletter (click here to sign up), we thought we'd relay the details here as well. First comes an amazing opportunity to become the star of a Fernet-Branca commercial. Remember the first time you experienced the dark and alluring flavor of Fernet? Become a fan of Fernet-Branca US on Facebook and share the story of your first encounter and what you love most about this mysteriously potent Italian spirit. Upload a short video telling your story, tag it “Fernet-Branca US,” and you may be chosen to appear in the next Fernet-Branca TV commercial! Visit www.facebook.com/fernetbranca for more details.

Next, we're excited to announce a couple of fantastic event ticket giveaways for a couple of lucky Imbibe readers. First, for all of you tequila enthusiasts living in or near San Diego, here’s your chance to win 4 full-access passes to Spirits of Mexico, happening September 11–12, 2009. This annual festival is a world-class showcase of Mexico’s best tequilas and mezcals, and these tickets, valued at $400, will give you full access to the grand tasting event and seminars and will also include VIP gift bags filled with goodies. To be eligible to win, all you have to do is email us here to tell us what your favorite tequila of the moment is and why.

Our second giveaway is for Euphoria, a terrific wine and food festival that takes place every year in beautiful downtown Greenville, South Carolina. This event, happening September 18–20, 2009, brings together talented winemakers, sommeliers and chefs from across the country for 3 days of tastings, seminars, demos, dinners, parties and more. Now’s your chance to win 2 “Euphoria Experience” All-Events Inclusive Ticket Packages. Valued at over $2,000, these tickets will provide access to the BMW Driving Experience, the Taste of the South, the Friday Exclusive VIP Party, the Saturday Tasting Showcase, the Lazy Goat Guest Chef & Winemaker Dinner with Guest Chefs, the Sunday Jazz Brunch & Culinary Cook-off and VIP Gift Bags—wow! To be eligible to win these tickets, simply email here to tell us what your favorite summer wine is and why.

Entries for both giveaways must be received by 11:59 PM Pacific Time Friday, 8/21 in order to be eligible. Winners will be randomly selected and will be notified by Monday 8/24. You must be 21 years old and a US citizen to be eligible to win these tickets. Good luck!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Drink of the Week: The Produce Stand

Writer Kara Newman has a busy November coming up. Not only will her first article for Imbibe appear in our holiday issue, but she’ll also see the release of her first book, Spice & Ice: 60 Tongue-Tingling Cocktails (Chronicle 2009). We nabbed a sneak peek at her beautiful book and couldn't pass up her Produce Stand cocktail—one more way to savor all of the deliciously fresh tomatoes and basil available right now.

The Produce Stand
3-4 cherry tomatoes
2 lime wedges
2-4 fresh basil leaves
2 1/2 oz. tomato juice
2 oz. cachaça
Worcestershire Sauce
Hot sauce
Salt
Ice cubes
Tools: muddler, shaker
Glass: Collins
Garnish: tomato cherries and fresh basil leaves

Muddle the tomatoes and lime in shaker. Add the basil, tomato juice and cachaça. Season to taste with Worcestershire, hot sauce and salt. Add ice cubes. Shake well and pour into glass. Garnish.

Photo by Antonis Achilleos/Chronicle Books

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Drink of the Week: Counter Culture Finca Nueva Armenia

We start every day with plenty of coffee here at the Imbibe office, so we’re always looking for a new cup to get excited about. Counter Culture’s Finca Nueva Armenia fits the bill perfectly. Farmed in the Huehuetenango (pronounced “way-way-ten-ang-go”) region of western Guatemala, Finca Nueva Armenia is intriguingly delicious. The estate was founded in the 1940s and today is co-managed by twin brothers and environmental engineers Jorge and Javier Recinos. Their bourbon and typica varietal coffee is certified-organic and shade-grown and packs a chocolaty aroma backed by notes of cinnamon and flavors of devil’s food cake, silky cocoa and a hint of roasted walnuts. As the coffee cools in your cup, a lively but balanced acidity comes forward on the finish, drawing you in for another sip. And if you’re feeling like hot liquids just don’t belong in your body during these hot summer days, this coffee is equally delicious served cold. Try this simple Japanese brewing method:

Ingredients: 4.25 oz. (1 1/2 cups) medium-fine coffee grounds; enough ice to fill about three fourths of a 64-oz. carafe (1 standard ice cube tray); at least 32 oz. (4 cups) of boiling water

Tools: 64-oz. (8-cup) carafe; pour-over filter basket and filter; kettle or another source of boiling water with a capacity of at least 32 oz.; ice-filled tall glasses

Servings: 8–12

1. Transfer ice cubes from a standard-size freezer tray into the carafe, loosely filling about three fourths of the carafe.

2. Place filter basket on top of the carafe. Place a filter inside the basket. Fill with 4.25 oz. (1 1/2 cups) of medium-fine ground coffee.

3. Pour boiling water slowly over grounds in a circular motion, just enough to wet the grounds, then stop. Wait about 20 seconds, then continue to pour boiling water slowly over the grounds, watching the brewed coffee as it drips into the carafe and melts the ice. You may need to pause pouring occasionally when filtering slows. When the level of the brewed coffee and ice nears 64 oz., pause as needed, stopping brewing when the total output reaches 64 oz., including ice. The brewing and filtering process should take 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Pour the brewed coffee into ice-filled tall glasses. Drink it black or add milk, cream or simple syrup to taste. Cover the carafe and refrigerate any unused portion for up to 24 hours.

For more on making perfect iced coffee with a variety of brewing methods, check out “Cool Beans” from our May/June 2008 issue.

Finca Nueva Armenia, $11.95/12 oz., counterculturecoffee.com

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

August’s Where to Drink Now: Anvil Bar & Refuge

Texas may be known for longhorns, Tex-Mex cuisine and former presidents, but it rarely gets called out for its craft cocktail scene. That’s changing with the opening of Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston. Launched in March by five self-professed cocktail geeks, Anvil’s cocktail menu highlights fresh-squeezed juices, house-made tinctures and Kold-Draft ice in drinks, such as the Peruvian Riddle (made with chamomile-infused pisco) and the Border Storm (made with chili pepper-spiked homemade ginger beer).

And while the cocktails are deliciously inventive, the beer list—with its constantly rotating taps and cask selections featuring the likes of Victory, Stone and a variety of Belgian brews—is also worth checking out. And just so those iconic longhorn cattle can still make an appearance somehow, the small but delectable food menu offers locally sourced cheeses, meats and pâtés.

1424 Westheimer Rd., Houston; 713-523-1622; anvilhouston.com; also check out drinkdogma.com, the bar’s companion blog.

Peruvian Riddle
2 oz. chamomile-infused pisco (Heugel uses Barsol Quebranta)
1 oz. Dolin Blanc vermouth (Martini & Rossi Bianco will work too)
2 dashes orange bitters
Ice cubes
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: cocktail
Garnish: lemon twist

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, shake well, strain into a chilled glass and garnish.

To infuse the pisco, steep one cup of dried chamomile flowers into one 750 ml bottle of pisco for four days. Double strain into a clean glass bottle.

Robert Heugel, Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston