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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Win a Premium Stirred Drink Set

Cocktail Kingdom Premium Stirred Drink Set
Retail Value: $114.00
Cocktail gear can sometimes mean the difference between a good and a great drink. So for our final giveaway, we've partnered with Cocktail Kingdom to bring you a Premium Stirred Drink Set that will take your bar to the next level in 2013. We have one beautiful Yarai mixing glass, a 1oz/2oz stainless steel Japanese-style jigger, the Hoffman stainless steel barspoon, a julep strainer and a set of six Leopold Coupe glasses.

You have until Friday, January 4, at midnight PST to enter to win. Enter here!

Happy New Year!

*USA shipping address required.

Sound Bites: Familiar Faces on Their New Years Resolutions

Give something up for New Years? Not these familiar faces! With the New Year upon us we wanted to see what a few of our favorite personalities are resolving to eat and drink more of this year. Here’s what they had to say:

“I’m planning to drink a lot more sumac next year. We’ve been playing with the fruit quite a bit, and when carbonated it’s nice and acidic. Over in R&D our guys have the “Aperol Test” where they basically mix all of our sodas with Aperol to see how it tastes. Sumac soda passed with flying colors—it’s delicious.”
Dave Arnold, centrifuging cocktail geek and partner in Booker and Dax, New York City

Photo: Adrienne Yee
“I’ll be seeking out flavors with a savory edge. Nebbiolo, Savagnin, orange wines, an Alpine amaro, Sherry—there’s a reason these are popular right now. They share what people are looking for—something they feel hasn't been prepackaged for every taste.”
Levi Dalton, sommelier and host of the popular podcast, I’ll Drink to That

Photo courtesy Atera
“This year, I'm planning to drink more London dry-style Gin & Tonics. Old Raj is a fun one, especially with its touch of saffron, and quality tonic is a must! As for food, I'm planning to eat more vegetables. Recently, it seems like meat has been god, and while I'm planning to utilize more unique cuts of meat, I’ll be making vegetables a more predominate part of the plate.”
Matt Lightner, rising star chef at Atera, New York City

Photo: Alex Farnum
“In 2013, I resolve to reacquaint myself with the California wine scene. I've delved deeply into the worlds of craft beer and spirits for the past few years, but that has been at the expense of my knowledge of local vino. In the New Year, I'd also love to explore all the amazing ethnic food markets in Southern California. I've passed many of these places as I've jetted to and from the airport, but never had the time to stop and smell the spices.”
Aida Mollenkamp, host of FoodCrafters on the Cooking Channel and author of the recently released Keys to the Kitchen (Chronicle Books)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Drink of the Week: Whiskey Barrel Punch

With 2012 drawing to a close, we’re toasting this year and next with today’s Drink of the Week—the Whiskey Barrel Punch from Los Angeles-area bartender Marcos Tello. This punch has a bold rye whiskey edge mellowed by a blend of citrus, grenadine and a splash of sparkling wine for an easy-to-mix (and easy-to-drink) cocktail—just the thing for ringing in the New Year.

Whiskey Barrel Punch
2 1/2 oz. superfine sugar
8 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 1/2 oz. grenadine (Tello uses Small Hand Foods)
375 ml. rye whiskey (Tello uses Russell Reserve 6-Year)
4 dashes Angostura bitters
Sparkling wine
Tools: pitcher, barspoon, punch bowl, ladle
Glass: Collins or punch
Garnish: fresh or brandied cherries (optional)

In a large pitcher, combine the sugar and lemon juice and stir until sugar has mostly dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients, except the sparkling wine, stir to combine and refrigerate until chilled. Pour over a large ice block into a punch bowl, ladle into ice-filled cups and top with sparkling wine, to taste. Garnish with cherries, if using.

Marcos Tello for Left Coast Libations

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What We’re Drinking Now: Post-Holiday Winter Beers

With the gifts unwrapped and a fridge full of leftovers, today we’re kicking back with family, friends and a few favorite seasonal brews—here’s a taste of what we’re drinking now:

7.9% ABV, San Francisco, California
Oysters and stout beer have long shared a history, and this new collaborative release from 21st Amendment updates the old English classic by combining a dense, chocolaty stout with crushed oyster shells from Bay Area Hog Island Oyster Company. It’s everything we’ve come to expect from the style with rich, roasted malt flavors followed by a crisp, clean, briny finish.

6.4% ABV, Bend, Oregon
The latest release in Deschutes’ rotating seasonal lineup, this sessionable winter ale combines peppery hops with tangerine zest and a touch of malt on the finish. 

Goose Island Mild Winter
5.6% ABV, Chicago, Illinois
This recent seasonal from Goose Island offers warming favors of toasted malts, caramel, dried fruits and a hint of rye spice.

9.2% ABV, Richmond, Virginia
Combining fresh baby ginger with a generous dose of Virginia-local honey, this hearty stout combines some of our favorite seasonal flavors—think gingersnaps, herbs and baking spice—into one brew. Those lucky enough to live in the Richmond, Virginia area can currently spy it on taps around town, and while it might be tough for those of us in other regions to get a taste, it’s worth the hunt.

6.8% ABV, San Diego, California
Yet another creative collaborative release from Stone, this tri-hopped black saison enlisted the brewing prowess of the minds behind Baltimore’s Stillwater Brewing and Denmark’s Evil Twin for rich, wintry flavors of smoky chocolate, dried figs and slight warming herbs on the finish.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Giveaway for the Kid in You

Did you spot the very fun Cocktail Dice (complete with a shaker) cocktail game and the Warm or Cool Face Mugs in our Holiday Gift Guide? Now's your chance to win both, courtesy of the folks at Uncommon Goods! This has a combined retail value of $69, and you have until Friday, December 28, at midnight PST to enter!

Click HERE to enter.

Merry Christmas!

NOTE: Shipping only available within the United States. Cannot ship to a PO Box.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Drink of the Week: Affligem 950 Cuvee

Trimming the tree, wrapping gifts, and prepping for a house full of family and friends is made even more enjoyable with a delicious beer in hand, and this weekend we’re putting the finishing touches on our holiday festivities with a celebratory bottle of today’s Drink of the Week—the newly released 950 Cuvee from celebrated Belgian brewer Affligem. A nod to the abbey’s 950th anniversary, this Belgian blonde starts out with the traditional creamy fruit notes but quickly gives way to a palate-sweeping bitterness thanks to a quadruple dose of hops. Coming in at 6.8% ABV, this frothy brew is drier and a touch more subtle than many Belgian brews, making it a perfect match for the flavors and festivities of the season. $13/750 ml., totalbeverage.net

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Time To Win The Imbibe Gift Pack

Today's giveaway is the perfect way to raise your beverage IQ and keep you equipped with fantastic recipes year-round. We're giving away a signed copy of Imbibe's book, The American Cocktail, plus a 1-year subscription for you or your favorite imbiber. 

You have until Sunday, December 23, at midnight PST to enter.  

Click HERE to enter!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits from Around the Web

A Christmas tree made entirely of porcelain teacups and dinner plates. The Atlantic

How some brewers are preparing for the Mayan apocalypse. NPR

What exactly defines a craft beer? Brews Association

Did diluted vodka help save two pachyderms from freezing? ABC News

Rumor has it one recently troubled wine start-up has a new head of operations. SF Gate

What our favorite wines have to say about our personalities. Huffington Post

Guess which new Hollywood blockbuster spent close to half a million dollars keeping their cast and crew caffeinated. Forbes

Monday, December 17, 2012

20 Under $20—Imbibe’s 2012 Holiday Wine Picks

We’re suckers for holiday festivities, and to help keep the wine flowing all season long, we’ve rounded up 20 of our favorite bottles under $20—so grab a glass and celebrate.

Sparkling, Aperitif & Dessert Wines

Teeny, supremely creamy bubbles sparkle in this Spanish cava from a well-regarded family estate in the Penedes region. Produced in the Champagne method with a blend of regional indigenous grapes, it’s one of our favorite fizzers in any price range with bright lemon acidity, chalky minerality and a bone-dry finish.

From France’s Champagne region to the desert of New Mexico, the Gruet family produces magnificent French-styled bubbly. One of our favorite domestic sparklers in its price range, this wine spends two years maturing before bottling, resulting in sophisticated flavors of green apple, grapefruit and almonds.

Hosting a holiday brunch this year? Then look no further than this sprightly, subtly sweet Italian offering with notes of fresh peaches and pears, orange blossoms and honeysuckle sweetness on the finish. And for more Moscatos we love, check out our Nov/Dec 2012 issue.

From grandma’s glass to the cocktail coupe, sherry has seen quite a resurgence over the past several years, and this palate-piquing offers is an exquisite example of Spain’s most famous fortified wine with brisk acidity, mouth-watering salinity and a hint of olives and almonds.
$16/500ml., drinkupny.com

Rich and figgy with note of toasted hazelnuts, dried fruits and dates, this tawny Port holds onto a bright acidity that helps keep the sweetness in check. A longtime favorite in our book, and at a price that’s hard to beat. Serve after dinner with dessert or cheese plates.

Whites & Rosés

Jakob Schneider Kabinett Riesling 2011
This off-dry Riesling from Germany’s Nahe region deliciously balances fresh fruit up front with stone-like minerality on the finish making it a great option both on the holiday table and off.

South American Sauv Blancs are picking up steam and this one from Chile’s Maipo region is a real stunner. It’s clean and green with tropical fruit flavors and a bright grassy zip.

Combining grapes harvested from some of Sonoma County’s top appellations—think Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Carneros—this barrel-fermented Chard offers flavors ranging from lush tropical fruits to Meyer lemon to almonds.

Light, bright and refreshing, this Greek offering finds fans for its fruit-forward and floral flavors. It has enough oomph to stand up to richer holiday dishes, but with a lower ABV that makes pouring a second glass easy.

The eye-catching label is what first attracted us, but one sip turned into two and we’re sold from the inside out. Crafted from the Syrah grape in France’s Languedoc region, expect food-friendly flavors of ripe red berries and just a hint of fresh mint.

This free-run, stainless steel rosé from one of South Africa’s most reputable estates offers richness and body from the Cabernet grape with a fruit-driven freshness and flavors of grapefruit zest, cherries and pomegranate.

An Italian wine with both German and Austrian influence, this bottle from Alto Adige wine industry super star Martin Foradori is brisk and lively with a nuanced bouquet of flavors that range from black currants to mushrooms to sweet tobacco. A great one to gift to wine geek friends—just be sure to pick up an extra bottle for yourself.

With so many different personalities around the holiday table it can be hard to please everyone, but a bottle of Barbera usually does the trick thanks to its easy-drinking balance of fruit, acidity and tannin, and this offering from the Oddero estate comes in at close to half the price of comparable bottles but with all the taste we’ve all come to love.

The Gamay grape often gets a bad rap no thanks to the mass-produced Beaujolais Nouveau wine released every November, but elsewhere in France’s Beaujolais region winemakers are getting serious about Gamay crafting ethereal expressions like this wallet-friendly bottle that boasts food-friendly acidity and notes of violets and truffles. And for more Beaujolais we love, check out our September/October 2012 issue.

When the holiday season just calls for a wintry bottle of Cab, this inexpensive offering does the job with its dense, fruit-and-spice palate and oaky tannins on the finish. Just be sure to stock up, as you’ll be ready to crack a second bottle before you know it.

Biodynamic-produced Pinot Noir for under $20? Believe it. Crafted in Oregon’s Willamette Valley just outside the coastal foothills, this unadulterated offering is ripe and elegant with flavors of crushed raspberries and subtle smoke.

Red berry fruit, green pepper and spice—this $10 Chilean Carmenere has it all. Casa Silva consistently produces some of the best wines of Colchagua Valley and this bottle remains among our go-to favorites any time of year.

A classic wine for the holiday table, this cool-climate Zin from California’s Sonoma Valley offers up all the traditional Zinfandel flavors (think robust red berries and peppery spice) but without the big-budget price tag. 

This oaked Shiraz from California’s Layer Cake offers juicy fruit flavors that are perfect for a holiday table.
$13, bevmo.com

More fleshy and fruit-forward than traditional, all dry-fruit-and-dust Riojas, this vibrant Tempranillo from the famed Gonzalez Byass sherry house (the family-owned company responsible for the beloved Tio Pepe fino, among others) offers a decidedly modernist take to winemaking, with flavors of bright cherry, fresh herbs, and even some cocoa and spice.

Holiday Giveaway: Allegro Coffee Lovers Gift Pack

Today's giveaway comes from the folks at Allegro Coffee and will keep you happily caffeinated during the holidays with two bags of coffee and a very cool limited-edition screenprint poster and T-shirt. Plus, you get to choose the coffee you'd like to receive, everything from seasonal single-origins to special blends!

The value of this giveaway is $75, and the deadline for entries is Wednesday, 12/19, at midnight PST. Click HERE to enter.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Drink of the Week: Nikka Whisky Taketsuru Pure Malt 12-Year

We’re feeling rather warm and fuzzy this holiday season, and we’re pretty sure today’s Drink of the Week—the Taketsuru 12-Year from Nikka Whisky—is partly to thank. Introduced on U.S. soil late last month, this spirit is already taking the drinks world by storm with its silky-smooth texture, flavors of caramelized apple and pear and hint of smoky vanilla on the finish. And even though this offering is new to the U.S., the company itself can trace its origins back centuries to a family-run 18th-century saké brewery that evolved in the early 1900s when family member Masataka Taketsuru decided to shift the focus to Scotch-styled whisky. The professionally trained chemist headed to Scotland to learn the ins and outs of distillation and returned to Japan in 1920 to help launch Yamazaki for the Suntory distillery before branching out with his own label a decade later. The resulting spirits are among some of the finest produced in Japan, and luckyily, we can all now have a taste. $60, klwines.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits from Around the Web

Big changes are in store for one of the wine world’s most polarizing publications. Wall St. Journal

Can cracking a brewsky help ward off a winter cold? NY Daily News

First civet-processed coffee, and now elephants? ABC

A brand new glass pitcher protector for bartenders on the go. Alcademics

The top-secret formula for one Seattle bar’s dreamy hot cocoa. Instagram

Could you be sued for posting a negative Yelp review? Harvard Business Review

Monday, December 10, 2012

Win a Holiday Entertaining Set from OXO!

Needing to fill out the gear in your home cocktail bar? Then this giveaway is for you! OXO compiled this Holiday Entertaining Set that's perfect for sprucing up a back bar. It includes a stainless steel cocktail shaker and ice bucket, twisting tea ball, no-spill ice cube tray, angled jigger and stainless steel winged corkscrew, with a retail value of $125.

You have until Friday (12/14) at midnight PST to enter to win. Click HERE to enter!

Friday, December 07, 2012

An Imbiber’s Guide to DIY Gifts

Photo: Martha Holmberg

This holiday season we’re taking a break from the malls and instead getting crafty behind the bar and in the kitchen with DIY gifts for our favorite imbibers. From spirited infusions and custom tea blends to a soothing hand salve, here are the drinks-inspired gifts we’ll be whipping up over the next couple of weeks.

Seasonal Spirits Infusions
Cranberry-infused rum, pomegranate-spiked vodka, fig-flavored gin—the holiday season offers ample ingredients to help flavor spirits of all sorts. Infuse a batch (like the ones featured here and here), gussy up in a decorative bottle (we especially love these) and attach a few cocktail recipe cards for instant holiday cheer. And be sure to check out our November/December issue for more great infusion ideas, including a DIY recipe for spiced rum.

Cocktail bitters are more popular than ever and surprisingly simple to make at home. We especially love this bright, botanical formula that combines winter citrus with rose petals and spice. Click here for the recipe. 

Festive Confections
Want to secure your invites to next year’s seasonal soirées now? Then forgo the cookies and arrive armed with a batch of one of our three favorite holiday confections—cocktail-ready candied citrus peel, addicting apple cider caramels, and boozy white chocolate fudge. Package in a festive holiday tin and wait for a second round of invites to roll in.

Adding a little Imbibe-inspired spin to a soothing salve we spied on the crafty Design Sponge site, this green tea-infused hand cream comes together in a matter of minutes, but it manages to make hands feel silky-smooth for hours. Click here for the recipe.

Custom Tea Blends
We love shopping bulk herbs and botanicals online and at our local grocer anytime of year, but when the holidays hit, you can bet we’re scooping overtime, culling ingredients for our crafty custom tea blends. What are some of your favorite flavors? Try experimenting with everything from spearmint to lavender to cacao nibs to build a blend perfectly suited for all your tea-loving pals. And check out “Blending In” from our September/October 2010 issue for more on creating your own custom tisanes.

Homemade Cocoa Kit
We’re in the midst of a cocoa renaissance, and though we’d never turn down a mug of decadent drinking chocolate, this super-simple malted mix may just make some of the best hot cocoa we’ve tasted. Pair it with a batch of our homemade marshmallows for an extra-delicious holiday treat.

Thirsty for more diy holiday treats? Check out these recipes for homemade vin d’orange, decadent eggnog and sugar and spice candied nuts.

Drink of the Week: Olympia Coffee Roasting Co. Holiday Blend

With daylight hours dwindling and a holiday to-do list growing by the second, we’re staying caffeinated (and productive) with today’s Drink of the Week—the Holiday Blend from Olympia Coffee Roasting Company. It’s no secret that we’re coffee geeks, and this holiday season we’re keeping our mugs filled with this bold blend. Combining two of the roastery’s top direct-trade and co-op lots—one from Ethiopia, the other from Colombia—into one seamless blend, expect loads of blueberries on the nose, followed by flavors of caramel apple and roasted hazelnuts on the finish. $17.25, olympiacoffee.com

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Win The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler's Set

You'll never be caught without bitters again thanks to this set of mini orange, celery, aromatic, Creole and Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter bitters. Courtesy of the folks at DrinkUp NY, now's your chance to win your very own Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler's Set just in time for the holidays!

Click HERE to enter to win. The deadline for entries is Sunday, December 9, at midnight PST.

Please note: You must be at least 21 years or older to win. DrinkUp NY is unable to deliver this prize to MA, NV, TX or WV. UPS/FedEx will not deliver to to PO BOX or APO/AE addresses.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Repeal Day Drinking: Where to Celebrate

It’s Repeal Day—where are you celebrating? This year marks the 79th anniversary of the end of Prohibition, and plenty of spots around the country are toasting the occasion—here are a few places to get a taste of the action.

San Francisco
The Cantina crew in San Francisco’s Union Square is turning their Repeal Day celebration into a full-on costume ball and dj dance party with all proceeds benefiting the Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail. Click here to purchase advance tickets.
Get there: 580 Sutter St., San Francisco; 415-398-0195; cantinasf.com

Olympia, Washington
Don your best flapper gear and dapper duds and head to one of the largest Repeal Day celebrations on the West Coast, complete with pre-Prohibition-era cocktails, live music and a photo booth.
Get there: 206 5th Ave., Olympia, Washington; facebook.com/repealprohibitiondayolympia

Brooklyn, New York
Julie Reiner’s cocktail bar stirs things up 1930s-style with a live orchestra, classic cocktails and a racy bit of burlesque.
Get there: 210 Smith St., Brooklyn, New York; 718-855-7939; cloverclubny.com

Portland, Oregon
The tiki craze hit soon after Prohibition came to a close, and this Portland tiki oasis offers a tropical twist on the evening’s festivities with special $9 swizzles, punches and slings.
Get there: 2733 NE Broadway, Portland, Oregon; 503-662-8454; halepele.com

At 6:31 p.m. (the precise time the first legal drink was served in Boston following the end of Prohibition), The Hawthorne bar kicks off its Repeal Day party with a special cocktail menu, food and a copy of Drinking Boston: A History of the City and Its Spirits for each attendee, with ticket proceeds supporting the USBG New York and industry folk affected by Sandy. Click here to purchase advance tickets.
Get there: 500A Commonwealth Ave., Boston; 617-532-9150; thehawthornebar.com

This midtown Sacramento cocktail bar plans to toast the occasion with a special firkin tapping while also raising funds for the Bartender’s Relief Fund.
Get there: 1910 q St., Sacramento; 916-706-2465; pourhousesacramento.com

Waterbury, Vermont
This Waterbury watering hole plans to extend its Repeal Day celebrations from today through Saturday with rare beers, special cocktail pairings and drinks on draft.
Get there: 23 S. Main St., Waterbury, Vermont; 802-244-4120; prohibitionpig.com

Santa Fe, New Mexico
New Mexico had the misfortune of entering the Union just as the temperance movement took hold of the nation, but those days are long gone, and this historic hotel bar will be toasting the end of the Noble Experiment with a celebration that kicks off at 5 p.m.
Get there: Inside the Hotel St. Francis, 210 Don Gaspar Santa Fe, New Mexico; 505-983-5700; hotelstfrancis.com

South Tampa, Florida
This South Tampa cocktail bar and restaurant has selected nine classics from the cocktail books and plans to serve each for just $5 a pop all night long.
Get there: 2208 W. Morrison Ave., South Tampa, Florida; 813-258-2233; sideberns.com

Seattle’s recently reopened Vessel promises to party like it’s 1933 with special drink menus and overall imbibing merriment going on until the wee hours of the morn.
Get there: 624 Olive Way, Seattle; 206-623-3325; vesselseattle.com

And for our roundup of Repeal Day-inspired cocktails, click here.

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits from Around the Web

Vandals drain the vats from one of Italy’s prized vintners. New York Times

Terry Gross chats with a well-known wine author about his latest release. NPR

Time names its top eating and drinking trends of the past year. Time

Things must be good for the world’s largest coffee chain—they just announced their expansion plans for the next five years. AP

Does steeping tea need to be simplified? Fast Co

An onging debate on food service. SF Gate

Monday, December 03, 2012

Imbibe's December Gift Giveaway Is On!

December gets us in the giving mood, so in honor of the holiday season, we've gathered some of our favorite gift items that might just be on your wish list this year for a December giveaway!

Matt Talbert's The Bitter Cube Print
Framed and matte
11" x 14" print and 19" x 22" framed
We're kicking things off with this beautiful framed print by Matt Talbert, aptly named "Bitter Cube," which you might recognize from our November/December issue. Talbert is a Southern California-based artist and drinks enthusiast whose current series of paintings depict his fascination with the growing cocktail movement.

Enter to win by clicking HERE! You have until December 5 at midnight PST to enter to win.

Don't forget! We'll be rolling our our gift items right here on the blog, Twitter and Facebook, so stay in touch. You don't want to miss your chance to enter to win.