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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

5 Things You Never Knew About … Randall Grahm

Self-professed “Rhône Deranger” and Bonny Doon founder Randall Grahm has a reputation as being a bit of a madcap winemaker, and he’s probably best known for his whimsically designed bottles of juicy, approachable Rhone-style blends and Italian varietals. But in addition to having an asteroid named in his honor, here are five other things you might be surprised to learn about Grahm.

1. “I’m in fact not crazy at all, not a ‘wild man’ in any real sense, nor do I possess a particularly outgoing personality. In fact, I’m rather preternaturally shy.”

2. “I drive a very old car—a 1972 Citroën DS-21.”

3. “I’m allergic to wheat, at least that's what my doc says.”

4. “The crazy number of Twitter followers I enjoy is a complete artifact, due to my somewhat accidentally ingratiating myself with the Twitterati.”

5. “If I see a clever wine label, my first impulse is to feel completely guilty for my own part in helping to popularize wine labels that were too clever.”

Image by Alex Krause

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring for Easter-Ready Cocktails

Sure, you could whip up a batch of Mimosas or Bloody Marys, but why not liven up this year’s Easter brunch celebration with something a little more unexpected? From garden-party punches to refreshing re-takes on old favorites, try these seven Easter-ready recipes.

Admiral’s Rum and Brandy Punch
This punch combines the bright favors of pineapple, apricot and grapefruit with a warming mix of white rum and brandy.

Castillan Cup
The memorable combo of red wine and ginger beer with muddled strawberries and cucumbers is sure to liven up any Easter brunch.

French 75
This crowd-pleasing classic is easy to assemble, especially when you make a batch ahead of time by combining the gin, citrus and syrup. Pour into flutes when guests arrive and top with sparkling wine for a no-fuss bubbly cocktail.

Homemade Pimm's
Combining gin with sweet vermouth and a dash of port and Cointreau, this delicious punch is served with sparkling, homemade lemonade and loads of fresh fruit, mint and cucumbers.

Lonsdale Lemonade
Perfect for an afternoon of bocce ball in the backyard, this is a bourbon-spiked, honey-sweetened lemonade for grown-ups.

Pretty Jessica
With a Harry Craddock classic as its inspiration, this springtime sipper balances the flavors of gin, Cognac and Cherry Heering with citrus and dry vermouth.

Queen's Park Swizzle
Add a little Caribbean flavor to your Easter feast with this refreshing, rum-rich sipper.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Upcoming Event: Sake Fest

Attention Philadelphia-area sake enthusiasts! Sake Fest is only a couple of weeks away, and this year's event looks to be better than ever. In addition to featuring an impressive array of rare and premium sakés, the festival will have local chefs on hand to cook up a delicious selection of appetizers and foods to pair with different types of saké. From the American-made sakes of SakeOne to a range of sakes, shochu and plum wines crafted in Japan, this event is always a fantastic imbibing experience. The event takes place on Wednesday, April 14 from 6–8:30 p.m. at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel in Center City. Tickets $59.50 per person in advance online and $69.50 at the door. For more event details and to purchase tickets, click here. Hope to see you there!

And to get you even more in the mood to taste some sake, read our article Zen and the Art of Sake.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Drink of the Week: Sierra Nevada Fritz and Ken’s Ale

To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Sierra Nevada tapped some of the foremost pioneers in the craft-brewing world to collaborate on four different brews that will be released throughout this year. For the series’ inaugural beer, Anchor Brewing Company’s founder Fritz Maytag joined with Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman to craft this rich, inky-black stout. Aromas of molasses and rum-soaked raisins quickly open into potent flavors of dark, roasted malts, black coffee and pronounced hop bitterness. Finishing with notes of pure bitter dark chocolate and a trace of smoke, this robust imperial stout is a great candidate for cellaring and is best sipped only with a slight chill. Released earlier this month, Fritz and Ken’s Ale is currently making its way into all 50 states, and be sure to keep an eye out for the other beers in this series in the coming months, which highlight Sierra Nevada’s collaborations with Charlie Papazian, Fred Eckhart and Jack McAuliffe.
$10 for 750 ml., sierra30.com

For more on beer collaborations, check out “All Together Now” in the March/April issue.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

5 Things You Never Knew About … Sam Calagione

As the founder of Dogfish Head brewery and the guy behind cult beer favorites like the 60- and 90-Minute IPAs and Raison D’Etre, Sam Calagione has spent more than 15 years crafting brews that continually garner him legions of fans around the world. He’s been profiled in everything from The New Yorker to Inc., but here (in his own words) are five things you might still be surprised to learn about one of America’s most unabashed brewers.

1. “I graduated from college but never graduated from high school because I got kicked out in March of my senior year.”

2. “My favorite imported beer is Saison DuPont.”

3. “I take a bath pretty much every night and sleep like crap unless I do.”

4. “I’m brewing a beer on Thursday with African tree bark.”

5. “I once man-hugged Adam Avery (of Avery Brewing) and he tried to tongue kiss me.”

For more on Sam Calagione and his beer collaborations with Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman, check out “All Together Now” in the March/April issue, and keep an eye out here every week for the latest Character in our new “Five Things You Never Knew About” blog series.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Copacetic Koshers

Does the memory of Manischewitz have you wanting to bypass kosher wine forever? Maybe it's time you gave them a second look—kosher wines have come a long way, and many are deliciously delicate and nuanced, the product of talented winemakers experimenting with different varietals and techniques. From inexpensive bubbly to a graceful Bordeaux blend, here are 10 bottles that make us say l’chaim!

Baron Herzog Lodi Syrah 2005
From the California Lodi region comes this fruit-forward, food-friendly wine with notes of boysenberry and a soft finish of leather and smoke. Try it with anything from marinara and goat-cheese pasta to grilled Portobello mushrooms. $12, varmax.com

Domaine du Castel “Petit Castel” 2006
Aged 16 months in part new, part used French oak barrels, this Israel-produced Bordeaux blend is dark and brooding with aromas of blackberries and cassis, flavors of dark plums and a subtle finish of roasted cocoa. Try it with a New York strip, lamb or brisket. $47, klwines.com

Galil Mountain Barbera 2006
A taste of northern Italy makes its way to Israel with this ruby-red Barbera, where tart, sour cherries and ripe raspberries soften into a lingering finish of oak and vanilla. Try it with pizza or a meaty ragu. $17, kosherwine.com

Golan Heights “Gamla” Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
This cooler-climate Cab is aged in a mix of French and American oak, making it a great candidate for your cellar, while a healthy dose of Cabernet Franc and Malbec before bottling makes it deliciously approachable anytime. $19, drinkupny.com

Golan Heights Moscato 2009
The perfect brunch sipper, this sparkling and slightly sweet wine is low in alcohol and full of orange blossom aromas, tropical fruit flavors and a hint of marzipan on the finish. $12, klwines.com

Goose Bay Savignon Blanc 2008
New Zealand’s first kosher wine, this Sauv Blanc is bright and fruity with flavors of tart green apples and freshly cut grass. Bright acidity and good balance make this Marlborough District white perfect with mild, flaky fish. $18, klwines.com

Hagafen Zinfandel 2006
A great barbecue wine, this California Zin is rich with notes of currants, black cherries and firm tannins that shift to a finish of cloves and black licorice. $32, hagafen.com

Tishbi Pinot Noir 2006
This Pinot is the perfect party red with balanced fruit and approachable acidity and tannins. Sip alongside appetizers, burgers or take-out. $20, winelibrbary.com

Yarden Brut NV
Made in the méthode champenoise, this Golan Heights, Israel blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is rich and creamy with a subtle aroma of toast and vanilla and flavors of lemon zest and ripe peaches. Serve as an aperitif or pair it with a main course of roasted chicken. $23, wallywine.com

Yarden Heightswine Gewürtztraminer 2005
Unabashedly sweet, this dessert wine is crafted from frozen Gewürtztraminer grapes harvested in Israel’s northernmost appellation. Its rich flavors of candied pineapple, dried apricots and a hint of spice shines alongside shortbread or biscotti. $16, sfwtc.com

Wondering what makes a wine kosher? Click here to find out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sake Season

We love sake any time of the year, but earlier this month, a new season of sake was celebrated in New York at the Exhibition of Sake Nouveau, where more than 200 guests were invited to taste 87 brands of sake from 17 breweries. In addition to talks on pairing food with sake and how temperature affects the flavor of sake, guests were able to meet sake brewers one on one and try 14 kinds of sake nouveau, a freshly made sake brewed from the most recent rice crop. All the sake nouveau for the event had just been bottled and is currently only available in Japan, but there were plenty of other sakes there to keep an eye out for here in the U.S.

Each guest was asked to cast votes for their favorite sakes from the event, and among the favorites were Yuzu Omoi, a bright and citrusy low-alcohol sake flavored with yuzu and brewed by Yamamoto Honke Co. Ltd. in Kyoto; Goriki, a full-bodied, dry junmai ginjo from Chiyomusubi Sake Brewery of Tottori Prefecture; and Taiten Shiragiku, a fragrant and fruity daiginjo from Shiragiku Shuzo Co. of Okayama Prefecture.

The Exhibition of Sake Nouveau was presented by Kuramoto US, a subsidiary of JCTO in Japan. For more info about the breweries that were on hand at the event, check out www.kuramotous.com.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Whisky Live NYC

Whisky enthusiasts have another great event to look forward to next month in New York City. On April 7, more than 100 whiskies from the U.S., Canada, Scotland, Ireland and Japan will be available for tasting at Whisky Live, and Imbibe readers can save 20% on tickets! In addition to sampling whiskies, there will be food, entertainment, educational classes and an Iron Bartender competition to find the ultimate whisky cocktail in New York. Head to whiskylive.com/usa/newyork-2010 to get more event details and purchase tickets, and use the Imbibe discount code NY10web36 for to get the 20% discount when you check out.

Drink of the Week: Casamatta Rosso 2008

For those of us always on the lookout for a good wine bargain (and who isn’t?), second-label wines can be an excellent option. With that in mind, Bibi Graetz’s 100 percent Sangiovese recently caught our attention. While some of the wine from this famed Tuscan producer can fetch upwards of $100 a bottle, this ruby-red jewel will set you back a mere tenth of that. Inviting aromas of rich raspberry fruit and violets meet classic Sangiovese flavors of dried cherries and cranberries on the palate with just a hint of tannin and spice on the finish. Try it with a bowl of spaghetti bolognese or an Italian-inspired charcuterie plate. And to learn more about finding value in second-label wines, check out Double Take, from the January/February issue. $10, astorwines.com

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Tablehopper’s Guide

Whether you live in San Francisco and are looking for the best place to catch up with a friend or meet a client, or you’re visiting for the weekend and want to know where to get the best espresso, the Bay Area’s unofficial culinary concierge, Marcia Gagliardi (known to her e-newsletter readers as the Tablehopper), has you covered in her new book, The Tablehopper’s Guide to Eating and Drinking in San Francisco (Ten Speed, 2010). The Dear Abby of San Francisco’s food and drink scene, Gagliardi cleverly arranged the book by situation (i.e.: girls’ night out, dining with an ex, where to take the folks) based on real requests she’s received from people who are searching for personalized recommendations for life’s individual occasions. Candid and witty, with immeasurable insider tips on the city’s culinary scene, this guidebook will have locals rediscovering their own backyard and out-of-towners packing their bags (and stretchy pants) and booking the next flight to SFO.
$16, amazon.com

Friday, March 12, 2010

Drink of the Week: Serrano Cocktail

In a recent conversation with Tony Abou-Ganim, the cocktail legend revealed his affinity for Campari. Playing around with the bitter orange liqueur for several recipes in his new book, The Modern Mixologist, Abou-Ganim introduces the Serrano Cocktail (which is named for James Beard award-winning chef Julian Serrano, and not the piquant pepper). With vodka as its backbone, this drink combines Campari, limoncello and fresh orange juice for a vibrant sipper. Try it with a batch of homemade limoncello for extra citrusy brightness, and find more vodka-inspired cocktail recipes in “Clearing the Way” from Imbibe’s March/April issue.

Serrano Cocktail
1 1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Campari
1/2 oz. limoncello
1 1/2 oz. fresh orange juice
Ice cubes
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: coupe
Garnish: lime twist

Combine all ingredients and shake well. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish.

Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist (Agate Surrey, 2010)

Photo by Tim Turner

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Show & Tell

Imbibers are a crafty bunch—spend just a few minutes browsing the various virtual shops at etsy.com, the artsy online marketplace, and you’ll see what we mean. From dressing up a French press to repurposing old coffee sacks, Etsy’s talented artisans provide a treasure trove of handicrafts. Click here to 10 of our favorite items of the moment.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Drink of the Week: Olympia Coffee Roasting Co. Bolivia Café Golondrina

In our March/April issue, on newsstands now, we highlight 10 microroasters across the U.S. who are crafting small-batch coffees that are big on flavor. Olympia Coffee Roasting is among the 10 roasters we feature, and today’s Drink of the Week shows why they made the list. This Cup of Excellence-winning microlot combines organic caturra and typica beans to eye-opening results—bright floral aromas say hello from the get-go while flavors of sweet oranges and cream meet with vibrant acidity on the finish. It’s enough to wake up even the sleepiest of sleepyheads. $19.68, olycoffee.com

For more microroasters across the country, check out our

Thursday, March 04, 2010

March's Where to Drink Now: Beer Revolution

Soak up some Bay Area beer culture at this new bar and bottle shop near Oakland’s waterfront in Jack London Square. More than a dozen taps pour a rotating selection of cult California faves, while the coolers offer an impressive selection of Belgian brews. Weekly events include meet-the-brewer nights and themed tastings, and as a bonus, you can bring in takeout food from any number of the surrounding neighborhood restaurants to enjoy while you sip your suds.
Coordinates: 464 3rd St., Oakland; 510-452-2337; beer-revolution.com

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Drinking Lessons at the Sorrento Hotel

With Sundays being a traditional day of reverence it’s fitting that Seattle’s Sorrento Hotel has found its own spirited devotion with Drinking Lessons, master classes in cocktails held twice monthly on Sunday evenings in their Hunt Club Bar. Part of the hotel’s Night School series—which hosts intimate events ranging from quiet readings to chamber music performances—Drinking Lessons temporarily transforms the bar into a classroom with a rotating roster of bartenders and cocktail personalities as the visiting professors.

On a recent Sunday, we bellied up to the hotel’s 100-year-old bar and sat with 11 other spirited revelers while San Francisco bartenders Duggan McDonnell and Neyah White gave us a lesson in Peruvian pisco and single-village mezcals. Between stories of White’s recent visit with agave farmers in Mexico and McDonnell’s production of his soon-to-be released pisco, we watched as eggs were cracked and limes juiced for Pisco Sours, noshed on snacks prepared by hotel chef Matthew Mina and sipped a Mezcal Derby (recipe below), a smoky-herbal combo of mezcal and Benedictine.

Launched this past August by Seattle chef and cocktail geek Michael Hebb to commemorate the Sorrento’s 100-year anniversary, Drinking Lessons puts some of the nation’s top bartenders, distillers and cocktail personalities, behind the hotel bar for two-hour sessions of spirits and cocktail education based on the evening’s chosen theme. The interactive classes are $50 per person and typically include three cocktails, snacks and the chance to mingle with industry pros. Next up is an absinthe soiree on March 7 with cocktail author and video host Robert Hess, and absinthe distillers Gwydion Stone and Marc Bernhard. To reserve a spot and get a schedule for upcoming classes, email nightschool@sorrentohotel.com.

Mezcal Derby
2 oz. mezcal
1/2 oz. Benedictine
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Ice cubes
Tools: barspoon, mixing tin, strainer
Glass: cocktail
Garnish: orange zest

Stir ingredients gently over ice, strained into a glass and garnish.

Neyah White, Nopa, San Francisco