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, July 30, 2007

Pisco Fever (And a Correction)

Everybody's talking about pisco, the Peruvian grape brandy. Last Saturday, San Francisco bar chef Duggan McDonnell celebrated Peru's independence day with a special pisco-centric menu at his cocktail bar Cantina SF. Among the day's special drinks were the Galapagos, which paired pisco with muddled kaffir lime leaves, black pepper syrup, and lime and grapefruit juices, and the Pisco, Love and Understanding, with pisco, muddled lime and cucumber, lemon bitters and Cooper Spirits' St. Germain Elderflower liqueur.

Travel writer Tim Leffel also writes about pisco and Peru's other zany drinks in our July/August issue, which is on newsstands now. The story includes this recipe for a classic Pisco Sour, plus other pisco recipes.

Pisco Sour

3 oz. pisco
3/4 oz. simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, dissolved) or 2 tsp. sugar
1 oz. lemon juice, fresh-squeezed
1 egg white
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Ice cubes
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: cocktail or goblet

In a shaker, combine pisco, simple syrup, lemon juice and egg white and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a glass and dash with bitters.

(photo by Olaf Hammelburg)

[Note: This recipe corrects an error in the version printed in our July/August issue. The proper amount of sugar for this drink is 3/4 oz. simple syrup (or 2 tsp. granulated sugar). As always, adjust sugar levels to taste. Thanks to subscriber Phil Varner for pointing it out!]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oregon Brewers Festival

Fresh off our New Orleans cocktail "convention," we're ready for some beer festivities in our own back yard. One of Northwest imbibers’ most highly anticipated events is the annual Oregon Brewers Festival, held this year Thursday, July 26 to Sunday, July 29 in Portland. OBF is the largest beer festival in North America with 55,000 annual guests and over 70 types of craft beer from Oregon and around the country, including many out-of-state brews not normally distributed locally, as well as beers made by local breweries specifically for the festival.

The festival is the culmination of Oregon Craft Beer Month (technically July, although it’s pretty much always Craft Beer Month around these parts), with special events at Oregon breweries throughout July. As part of the festival’s kick-off, we attended a beer tasting at Rock Bottom Brewery in Portland. The Oregon Brewers Guild director Brian Butenschoen talked about Oregon's phenomenally huge craft-brewing industry, then brewers Van Havig of Rock Bottom and Jamie Floyd of Ninkasi in Eugene, Ore., guided us through the fine points of a handful of Oregon brews, from the "cheesy" to the "catty." Beer can be evaluated in the same depth and detail as wine and spirits, and done properly, a close tasting reveals a wealth of flavors, feelings and aromas. One of our favorites from the tasting was Full Sail’s Vesuvius, a Belgian Tripel style with a deep aroma of fruit and cheese and a captivating burnt-sugar sweetness.

Also yesterday was the Brewers Dinner, where OBG members had a chance to sample beers, chow down on a barbecue dinner hosted by Rogue Brewery and talk shop with peers and idols from the craft brewing community. Much hobnobbing and good-natured ribbing occurred. The hordes began to arrive today for the festival proper, and tasting continues through Sunday, with live entertainment, bites and demos from hop producers, home brewers and the like all weekend long. For more info, check out oregonbrewfest.com.
—Shoshanna Cohen

Monday, July 23, 2007

Back from Tales of the Cocktail

We’re just back from five days of cocktail-centric festivities in New Orleans. The fifth annual Tales of the Cocktail was a great event, drawing mixologists, spirits pros and cocktail enthusiasts from around the world. It was great to see the city busy with tourists, and the French Quarter is beautiful as ever. The center of activity was the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, where everyone mingled at tastings, seminars and the Carousel Bar, a popular spot throughout the day. On Thursday we had an amazing dinner at Commanders Palace, with five custom courses paired with cocktails developed by Dale DeGroff and Audrey Saunders. We had another incredible dinner at Stella and did some exploring up and down Magazine Street, where new cafes and shops are popping up more and more.

From the conference, seminar highlights included topics like lost and forgotten cocktail ingredients (for details, see Paul Clarke’s story in our July/August issue); the trend of mixologists creating their own spirits; aromatics in cocktails; absinthe; and vermouth. There were loads of tastings covering rum, vodka, gin, rye, sake and more. The whole event was capped with the first annual Spirit Awards, where Seattle’s Zig Zag Café was the darling of the show, with two wins, three nominations and a couple of humble acceptance speeches. We’re a little exhausted but satisfied, and looking forward to another round next year. If you couldn't make it this year, start planning now for 2008.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Price of Gold

Apparently the cliché “You get what you pay for” doesn’t apply to the wine we’ve all come to know as Two Buck Chuck, at least not to the judges at the Commercial Wine Competition at the California State Fair. The dirt-cheap 2005 chard took top honors in a blind tasting at this year’s competition, beating out a few hundred other wines—the only other chardonnay to snag a double gold was from Wente Winery (goes for about $14/bottle). We’re all for uncovering a great value, but the last time we tasted Two Buck, it didn’t exactly leave us craving more. If you're curious, head to your local Trader Joe’s and see for yourself.