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, December 31, 2009

Bring on the Bubbles

New Year’s Eve means it’s time to break out the bubbly, and while Champagne is the old-school standby, why not get creative this year with some unique sparkling alternatives? From a Belgian beer made in the Champagne method to sparkling sake and an elegant sans-alcohol option, these bottles of bubbly will impress your friends and save you some dough—the perfect way to ring in the new year.

Avinyó Cava Brut Reserve NV
Produced just north of Barcelona by a family-run estate from vines planted about 50 years ago, this lively Cava shows bright flavors of fleshy white pears and nectarines with a touch of toast on the finish. Zero dosage means this bubbly is bone dry, making it a perfect wine to mix with crème de cassis for a Kir Royale. $19, astorwines.com

Deus Brut des Flanders
It’s no surprise that this Belgian strong ale is named after the Latin term for god—to deem it heavenly would be an understatement. With its wire cage enclosure, creamy bubbles and tangy acidity, it’s perfect for those beer-only guests on your invite list (although don’t be surprised if Champagne-lovers come back for a second glass too). $30/750 ml., kahnsfinewines.com

Scaldis Prestige
This barrel-aged beer is double-fermented and bottle-conditioned, making it superbly elegant and complex. Creamy and nutty with toasty malt flavors, Champagne-like bubbles and vanilla on the finish, it's a delicious way for Belgian beer fans and sparkling wine enthusiasts to ring in the new year.
$39, boozebros.com

Poochi-Poochi “Sound of Bubbles Popping” Sparkling Sake
If you’re looking for something a little more offbeat to pour at your New Year’s fête, try this sparkling sake. Lightly filtered and off-dry, the effervescent Poochi-Poochi is rich and velvety with creamy notes of tapioca and melons.
$13, astorwines.com

Antech “Cuvee Eugenie” Cremant de Limoux 2007
The area surrounding the city of Limoux in southwestern France has been producing deliciously inexpensive bubbly for generations. This bottle is no exception—made in the traditional methode champenoise, and kept on its lees for 12 months before bottling, the Cuvee Eugenie is pleasantly yeasty with bright citrus notes and a kiss of honey on the finish. Sip it solo or add gin and fresh lemon juice for a classic French 75. $14, klwines.com

Belvoir Elderflower Pressè
Nuanced, yet alcohol-free, this subtle sparkler is a mix of fresh-pressed elderflower juice, squeezed lemons and sparkling water. Light and floral with a trace of sweet citrus, it’s a great sans-alcohol option for adults and kids alike.
$4, worldmarket.com

Dry Soda Juniper Berry
This grown-up soda is about as close as you’ll ever get to an alcohol-free gin and tonic. It’s floral and herbal with a touch of sweetness and vibrant carbonation, making it a perfectly festive alcohol-free bubbly. $19 for 12 pack, drysoda.com

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Drink of the Week: Misa de Gallo Punch

Tomorrow is Christmas, and no doubt many of you will be hosting celebrations with family and friends all in the mood for festive food and drink. Nothing spreads holiday cheer like a seasonal punch, and the beauty of punches is that they can be easy to make and serve a lot of people at once. This one comes from the talented Eryn Reece of Louis 649 in New York City, who found inspiration for the recipe in the homeland of sherry. “I named it Misa de Gallo Punch because in Spain they have a holiday tradition where midnight mass, or ‘rooster's mass,’ became a long and elaborate celebration that stretched until dawn, and they claim that the rooster was the first to witness the birth of Jesus."

This recipe serves 40 people, but you can increase or decrease the proportions to fit whatever size crowd you’re hosting.

Misa de Gallo Punch
10 cups bourbon
3 3/4 cups Pedro Ximenez sherry
3 3/4 cups fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 cups simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
5 oz. St. Elizabeth allspice dram
1 1/4 oz. Angostura bitters
10 cups soda water

The day before you’re ready to serve the punch, fill a couple of cake or bread tins or Tupperware containers with water and freeze. When you’re ready to make the punch, grab your ice molds, break off large chunks of ice and add those to your punch bowl. Add the bourbon, sherry, lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters and allspice dram. Stir to get the ingredients cold, and then right before you serve the punch, add the soda water to make it bright and festive.

Cheers and happy holidays from everyone at Imbibe!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We Have a Winner!

For the past few months, Imbibe and DRAMBUIE® have partnered to search for undiscovered bartenders in cities across America. From September through November, bartenders in seven U.S. cities (Portland, Denver, Columbus, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, New York and Austin) showcased their talents during a series of exclusive competitions and cocktail parties. The quality of the talent in these competitions was amazing, and we’re excited to announce that Chad Doll of Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been chosen as this year’s national winner of a trip to the 2010 Tales of the Cocktail festival!

Chad competed against nine other bartenders on October 13 at Decibel in Milwaukee, and then his recipe went on to be judged against the other regional winning recipes from across the U.S. His “Strange Weather” recipe combines DRAMBUIE with gin, Cherry Heering, orange and lemon juice, agave nectar, and a garnish of Angostura bitters. “My inspiration for the cocktail was the Singapore Sling,” he says. ”I knew I wanted to work with gin to help highlight the botanicals in the DRAMBUIE. Anise, being one of the most wonderful flavors on earth, is very forward in DRAMBUIE. Cherry Heering, full-flavored and aromatic, does a nice job by enhancing that anise flavor. I used agave nectar because I wanted a very flavorful sweetener, and I really like the maple syrup notes I pick up from agave nectar; it works well with the nutmeg in DRAMBUIE. And orange juice gives the cocktail a nice color and smooths out all the rich flavors in the drink.”

Check out Chad’s full recipe here, and be sure to make it for yourself—it's absolutely delicious. Congrats to Chad and to all of the competitors who participated in this year’s DRAMBUIE Den competitions! And to learn more about DRAMBUIE’s Pursuit of 1745, check out pursuitof1745.com.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Drink of the Week: Clear Creek Cranberry Liqueur

Clear Creek Distillery makes a range of amazing fruit liqueurs and brandies, and their latest release is another stand-out. Made from cranberries harvested along the Oregon Coast, their Cranberry Liqueur is packed with flavor and a delicious blend of tartness, sweetness and fruitiness. This is a perfect liqueur to have on hand throughout the holiday season, and it makes an excellent gift. Sip it on its own, use it in cocktails or drizzle it over some chocolate pound cake. $29, drinkupny.com

Monday, December 14, 2009

Attention San Francisco Imbibers!

For those of you cocktail and wine geeks living in the Bay Area, we're excited to announce a couple of upcoming events you won't want to miss.

First, on January 20, the folks at San Francisco's Exploratorium will be hosting an event called Science of the Cocktail. For one evening, the Exploratorium will transform into a cocktail laboratory with guest bartenders from 15 Romolo, 83 Proof, Orson, Alembic, Annabelle’s Bistro, and other local bars on hand to mix up cocktails while guests participate in hands-on science experiments about alcohol, cocktail creation and more. This fun event will celebrate the artistry of craft bartenders and the science behind their craft, taking a hands-on look at the physics, chemistry and biology of cocktails.

Then on January 28 comes the 19th Annual Zinfandel Festival. This is always a fantastic showcase of Zinfandels from around the world, and over the course of three days, you'll have the chance to sample wines, meet winemakers, and attend wine and food pairing dinners. This year's theme is Zin in Paradise, which means there will also be a raffle at the event to win a trip for four to Maui!

Tickets for both events can be purchased online, so check out zinfandel.org and visit.exploratorium.edu for details and information on attending.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Drink of the Week: Scaldis Noël

Brewed in Wallonia, Belgium by Brasserie Dubuisson, which has been in operation since 1769, this holiday ale is a big beer, weighing in at 12% ABV, but you'd never know it by taste. Warm and inviting, without being too sweet, Scaldis Noël offers flavors of malt, caramel and nuts with a touch of dry spice on the finish. Sip it with a slight chill (at about 60 degrees F) alongside cheeses before or after a rich, holiday meal—pure bliss. $15/750 ml., anconaswine.com

Friday, December 04, 2009

Drink of the Week: González Byass Tio Pepe Fino

Often referred to as the liquid sunshine of Andalusia, fino sherry is an enchanting option for whetting the appetites of holiday dinner guests. This particular fino from González Byass—one of the region’s oldest sherry producers—is a classic example of the bone-dry style with earthy aromas of minerals and stone fruit unfolding into delicate, layered flavors of salty sea air, tangy citrus and briny olives. Made from the palomino grape and aged in the solera system for four years, this slightly fortified wine finishes with creamy almond notes that draw you in for another sip. Try it with passed hors d’oeuvres and hard cheeses, or with seafood-rich main courses.$16, klwines.com

Thursday, December 03, 2009

December's Where to Drink Now: Lord Hobo

Don't let the name fool you; this Cambridge beer bar is no slouch. Lord Hobo’s beer list is impressive, which comes as no surprise considering that owner Daniel Lannigan also runs the lauded Moan & Dove and Dirty Truth Beer Hall. Hard-to-find rarities from Denmark, Belgium and the U.K. are interspersed with American craft favorites among 35 taps, 40 bottles and three cask lines. And the cocktail program is just as striking with a focus on ubiquitous classics as well as house-made concoctions. The food menu should also not be overlooked, offering an opulent take on American bistro fare. Future plans call for adding a brunch menu and more brews, but for now Kendall Square locals have more than enough to keep their inner beer, cocktail and foodie geeks satisfied.

Coordinates: 92 Hampshire St., Cambridge, Massachusetts; 617-250-8454; lordhobo.com

Get in the Spirit at the Holiday Booze Bazaar

The holiday season is here, which means it's time for the annual Booze Bazaar, held once again at House Spirits in Portland, Oregon. The Booze Bazaar is always a fun chance to taste some of the latest offerings from the folks at House Spirits, and this year, they'll be sampling three different whiskeys: a 60% (cask strength) straight malt whiskey, a 50% white dog (unaged) and a 45% straight malt whiskey. There will also be a number of other vendors on hand, including Imbibe, Chop Butchery, Garden State, Jacobs Creamery, Joyas de Panama Cigars, Rogue Creamery, Xocolatl de David, Koi Fusion, Cellar Door Coffee Roasters and Whiffies Fried Pies. This is always a fun event and a great opportunity to taste some amazing products and find some excellent holiday gifts. Hope to see you there!

What: 4th Annual Holiday Booze Bazaar
When: Saturday, December 12, 12–5 p.m.
Where: House Spirits Distillery, 2025 SE 7th Ave, Portland, OR
FREE admission, 21+ in age