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, February 25, 2008

Free-flowing Coffee

Led by Coffee Klatch of Southern California,independent coffee shops around the country have decided to offer free coffee drinks while Starbucks closes its 7,100 corporate-owned stores for retraining tomorrow evening from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The retraining was announced in a February 11 press release from the coffee retailer. Time will be spent educating baristas to "provide a renewed focus on espresso standards," the company says.

If you’ve been curious about the little café around the corner but find it hard to turn down the comfort of your daily Vente Skinny Latte, now's the perfect time to try something different. Some participating shops include Coffee Klatch and Seattle's Caffé Vita, among others. Point your browser to delocator.net to find an independent café near you before your next cuppa.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

'Tis the Season

We always look forward to the many seasonal beers that make appearances throughout the year. One of our most anticipated winter seasonals is Widmer’s Bremaster’s Release, a seasonal whose recipes changes every year. This year’s release is called W '08 Crimson Wheat, and the name says it all. On top of being deliciously toasty and spicy, this is a gorgeous beer, a result of blending dark and red wheat. Try it with a steak or burger. Another winter seasonal we’ve enjoyed is New Belgium’s 2°Below, a dry-hopped ale with nice fruity, floral and spicy notes. And Goose Island’s Kilgubbin Red is yet another good bet. This malty beer is brewed with roasted barley and chocolate malts, and while it’s nice and smooth, it also has a spicy finish. This one goes down perfectly with a rueben. Spring is right around the corner, so keep a lookout for new releases from your favorite breweries. Photo from Widmer.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Music to Imbibe to: The Hot Toddies

Out to support the hubby and his bandmates at another Delightful Young Man show on Sunday, I heard the sweet sounds of a band worth mentioning: The Hot Toddies from Oakland, Calif. "The Hot Toddy is a whiskey drink we all really like," said member Erin Skidmore when I asked how the band's name came about. That's inspiration I can relate to.

The Hot Toddies' '60s pop-inspired melodies paired with angelic harmonies make for great listening; pay attention and their wise-cracking lyrics will have you laughing out loud. Case in point: their song HTML. You can check out songs from their album "Smell the Mitten" (I didn't get the story behind that one) on their web page at MySpace, or sample and buy them on iTunes.

— Siobhan Crosby

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sonoma County Pruning Contest

Expertly pruned grape vines are a critical ingredient of good wine. California vino heads can witness the skill and energy that goes into this process at the 9th Annual Sonoma County Pruning Contest Finals, held at 10 a.m. Friday, February 29, in Forestville, Calif., as part of the Sonoma in Spring series of events. Pruning contests are lively events, with fans and friends cheering on their favorite competitors. The Finals will also feature a mariachi band, fiesta lunch and wine tasting, with proceeds from the latter going to employee viticulture training. For more info on the pruning contest and other Sonoma in Spring events, check out sonomawinegrape.org.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Vino Tagz

Keeping the sniffles at bay this time of year is hard enough without accidentally sharing glassware. Colorful silicone Vino Tagz are the perfect solution, all while being refreshingly free of beads and dangly charms. Slip them around the stem of your wine or cocktail glass to keep track of who’s drinking what. You can even write on them with a ballpoint pen, and rub it right off later—a handy feature for home wine tastings. At $13 for 6, they're a great deal, and they even double as customizable napkin rings.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Coffee's Dr. Illy Dies

Sad news in the coffee world this week. Dr. Ernesto Illy died yesterday. He was 82. In addition to heading his family business, the successful Italian roaster Illycaffe, Illy was a well-respected coffee scientist, researcher and inventor. In 1997, he was honored with the Specialty Coffee Association of America's Lifetime Achievement Award for the advances he made in the realm of espresso and coffee. For more on Dr. Illy's achievements, visit this page on the SCAE site.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Interstate Grape Wars

In Wednesday's Required Eating column on SeriousEats.com, Imbibe writer and Cocktail Chronicles blogger Paul Clarke responds to Eric Asimov's New York Times article on the melée over Internet retailers and wine shipments. Wine.com is at the center of this controversy (see posts like this one from Good Grape wine blog) for ordering wine from other online retailers to expose practices that don't comply with interstate shipping laws.

The Times piece interviews Wine.com CEO Rich Bergsund and representatives from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America. Paul follows up with his reflections (and questions) on this murky topic.

What's your take on the controversy?