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.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Drink of the Week: Barrington Coffee Ethiopian Sidamo Korate Natural 2008

Sure, you could spend today immersed in the shopping frenzy of Black Friday, or you could spend it more peacefully, celebrating today’s other holiday, the National Day of Listening. Sponsored by StoryCorps, a nonprofit dedicated to recording American oral histories, the Day of Listening (the first of what StoryCorps hopes to make an annual event) is a chance to sit with a friend or family member while they tell you a story from their lives. And what better way to do that than over a good cup of joe? Which brings us to today’s Drink of the Week, a coffee that we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek taste of recently, and which will soon be available online through Barrington Coffee. Unlike many coffees imported into the U.S., which are wet-processed, Barrington's Sidamo is dry-processed, which means the coffee beans are dried while still inside the fruit. It’s a method that results in a bright, lush coffee with notes of sweet strawberries and tangy cherries. This medium-roasted coffee is great alone in a press pot, but for a deeper concentration of strawberries and cream, sip it as a single-origin espresso or with a dollop of milk foam in a macchiato. It’s perfect post-Turkey Day, whether you’re looking to rouse droopy eyelids or hone your listening skills, so the minute you see this coffee for sale online, be sure you get your share before it's gone for another year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Repeal Day Roundup

Tomorrow may be Thanksgiving, but for anyone who enjoys wine with dinner, beer with friends, or cocktails with, well, impunity, next week brings reason to count your blessings even more. Friday, December 5, is Repeal Day, and this year marks the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition, promptly sending bathtub gin down the drain and happy imbibers back into the bar. So check out the list of Repeal Day celebrations below and get together with some pals for a drink, because thanks to the 21st Amendment, you’re free to do so.

Eastern Standard
This Kenmore Square restaurant on the eve of Repeal Day celebrates with a 1920s-themed, six-course dinner—complete with vintage cocktail pairings and dancing into the wee hours of the morning.

Kirk Estopinal, former barman from The Violet Hour, will be pouring discounted cocktails at this historic bathhouse-turned-restaurant.

Memphis Taproom
This Philly beer institution offers $1 draft beers from 3-4 p.m.

Portland, Oregon
50 Plates
Try a flight of Manhattans—applejack, bourbon and rye—for $9, or sample one individually for $3. A variety of pre-Prohibition cocktails will also be available.

Teardrop Lounge
Send them an e-mail for the password that will grant you access to this bar’s top-secret Repeal Day cocktail menu.

San Francisco
Fans of single-barrel bourbon won’t want to miss out on this special tasting of Nopa’s house whiskey, Redhead Rye.

This Prohibition-era “soft drink parlour” reopened as a bar the day Roosevelt repealed Prohibition, and it will be celebrating this 75th anniversary with period cocktails at period pricing.

Washington, D.C.
City Tavern Club
D.C.’s Craft Bartender’s Guild is encouraging people to “party like it’s 1933” at its Repeal Day Ball, hosted in President John Adams’s former headquarters. Expect guest appearances from such bartenders as Jeffrey Morgenthaler (keeper of repealday.org) and Gina Chersevani, as well as a bevy of classic cocktails.

Temperance Tour
Garrett Peck, author of the soon-to-be released The Prohibition Hangover (Rutgers University Press 2009), leads curious imbibers on an afternoon tour of Prohibition-related sites through D.C.

Heard of any other events going on? Email us at info@imbibemagazine.com and let us know!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Drink(s) of the Week: Thanksgiving Edition

With the cornucopia of flavors that cover the Thanksgiving dinner table, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when choosing the perfect drink pairing. But don’t fret; we’ve done some homework for you. From a distiller to a winemaker, and from a brewmaster to a coffee buyer, we asked some folks from the drinks world what they’ll be imbibing next weekend and the foods they’ll be pairing alongside.

Lance Winters, distiller at St. George Spirits in Alameda, California, suggests starting the afternoon off with an apple toddy made by heating three ounces of fresh Gravenstein apple juice with one cinnamon stick and mixing a mug of the hot, spiced juice with one ounce of barrel-aged apple brandy. “I also use a bit of the apple brandy to deglaze the turkey pan,” he says. “It makes a fantastic base for the gravy, and complements the cider nicely.”

“I’m doing a whole roasted guinea hen with mustard and herbs,” says Greg Harrington, master sommelier and owner of Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla, Washington. “It’s a Daniel Boulud recipe and I’m serving it with a bottle of 2005 Tinto Pesquera Ribera del Duero.” Inky purple in color with brooding aromas of blackberries, roasted coffee and cedar, this Tempranillo shows layers of ripe black fruits and kirsch on the palate and finishes with deep tannins and a touch of plum jam. “This has become our house celebration wine,” says Harrington of the lusciously concentrated Tempranillo.

When it comes to beer, “sour is the new hoppy,” according to Greg Hall, brewmaster at Goose Island in Chicago, who will be toasting this Turkey Day with a few lambics. “ I have a Cantillon Iris from ’95 that I’ll probably pop open, but the Lou Pepes are great as well: a touch sweeter, but with a nice tartness,” he says. “And perfect with traditional turkey fixings.”

Scott Merle, green-coffee buyer for Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters, keeps a rotating selection of three or four different coffees in his pantry during the holiday season and says, “brewing a heavy-bodied, Indonesian coffee in a press pot after dinner is perfect to pair with rich desserts.”

As for us, a gathering isn’t really a celebration until you pop the cork on a big bottle of bubbles, and this Thanksgiving our dinner guests will be clinking together glasses of Domaine Renardat-Fâche Cerdon du Bugey. Pink and subtly sweet with flavors of strawberry marmalade on buttered toast, this Gamay and Poulsard sparkling blend is perfect with the traditional oven-roasted turkey, creamy mashed potatoes and homemade cranberry sauce I’ll be serving. Plus, at only 8 percent alcohol, party guests can sip it all night long without having to crash your spare room.

So, from our table to yours—whether you’re mixing up a round, popping a cork, cracking open a cold one or pressing a freshly ground pot—Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November's Where to Drink Now: Laurel Tavern

While facelifts are nothing new in Los Angeles, the recent renovation of Studio City’s Sapphire bar is definitely turning heads. Owners Will Shamlian and Mark Leddy exposed portions of the long brick walls, added a tin ceiling and built a butcher-block walnut bar in a four-month remodel that transformed the former cocktail lounge into Laurel Tavern, the now six-week-old gastropub. The beer list, designed by beer sommelier and consultant Christina Perozzi, features 16 rotating taps of California microbrews—Craftsman Heavenly Hefeweizen and Lost Coast Downtown Brown, to name just two—while the food menu offers pub-grub standards with a few gourmet twists: chorizo fondue, steak fries cooked in pork fat and a short-rib cheeseburger on a brioche bun. This is one makeover we’ll happily raise our glasses to.

Coordinates: 11938 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, California; 818-506-0777; laureltavern.net

Monday, November 17, 2008

Holiday Hosting Made Easy

”Let’s have the holidays at our house this year!” It sounded like such a good idea all the way back in September, but with Thanksgiving a little over a week away you’re beginning to wonder how to keep your dozen guests fed and happy. Don’t fret: Pick up any one of these helpful cookbooks and let the festivities begin.

The Christmas Table
Diane Morgan, Chronicle, $19.95
Celebrated food writer Diane Morgan proves that holiday entertaining can be delicious and seamless with the release of her newest cookbook. Dedicated to making the holidays fun, she offers up tasty recipes for yuletide entrées both traditional (bourbon-and-brown-sugar-crusted ham) and modern (whole roasted salmon). She devotes separate chapters to the “Great Cookie Exchange” and “Leftover Favorites,” and includes helpful menu and timetable guides in the back. Check out her recipe for Cranbeer-y Relish featured in the November/December 2008 issue of Imbibe.

The Paley’s Place Cookbook
Vitaly and Kimberly Paley, Ten Speed, $35
James Beard Award winner Vitaly Paley mixes his French-trained culinary artistry with wine notes and cocktail recipes in his first cookbook, out just in time for the holidays. Poignant farm-to-table stories are sure to warm your heart, while Paley’s recipes are guaranteed to warm your belly. Festive dishes like roast duck with cherries and huckleberry kuchen include helpful wine-pairing suggestions; a separate chapter dedicated to making your own bar mixers and juices will elevate just about any spirit this season.

Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover’s Treasury of Classics and Improvisations
Jayne Cohen, Wiley, $32.50
Traditional Jewish recipes meet new contemporary creations in this tome of Jewish cooking. Organized by holiday with inventive variations throughout, Jayne Cohen even provides tasty kosher alternatives for vegetarian and vegan guests while still maintaining the veracity of Jewish food culture and heritage.

A16 Food+Wine
Nate Appleman and Shelly Lindgen, Ten Speed, $35
Festive feasting just got a lot tastier with this deliciously informative cookbook and wine guide from San Francisco’s A16 restaurant. Take a journey through Southern Italian viticulture with wine director Shelly Lindgren’s wine resource guide and then follow executive chef Nate Appleman’s instructions for perfecting oven-cooked pizzas, house-cured meats and fresh pasta sauces. Thankfully, it’s out just in time to save you from all that leftover turkey.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Drink of the Week: Askinosie 75% Soconusco Sipping Chocolate

The directions for this chocolate seemed odd at first: Just 4 tablespoons of milk, really? Nevertheless, we dutifully heated the tiny portion of milk and stirred in the chocolate morsels until they blended into a thick, mahogany liquid.

First sip: Whoa, this is potent stuff!

Second sip: Hmm, this is much less sweet than a lot of drinking chocolates. You can really taste the …

Third sip: … pure chocolate, mmm, deep, dark, bittersweet chocolate.

By the time we’d finished half the serving, we realized why Askinosie suggests such a diminutive portion—this stuff is so rich and satisfying, you don’t need more than a demitasse to satisfy the strongest of cravings. We recommend drinking this grown-up drinking chocolate as a dessert after a spicy meal, and as you do, you can tell your guests the story behind Askinosie: The company was founded in 2006 by Shawn Askinosie, a criminal defense attorney who, after burning out on lawyering, decided to start making chocolate—and not just any chocolate, but single-origin chocolate sourced directly from small farmers. Askinosie presses his own cocoa butter and eschews typical additives like vanilla or lecithin. The result is chocolate that tastes like chocolate, period.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Harvest Report, Part Three: Dressed to Impress

As happens when your work is dictated by the elements, I missed the arrival of Boedecker’s Pinot Gris grapes: With rain showers predicted for a couple of days, Stewart decided to pick the Gris early. By the time I made it to the winery, the giant press was already full, its internal bladder extracting all of the Pinot Gris juice before the skin had time to impart any color on the wine. While I would have loved to witness the transformation of red grapes being crushed into white wine, I was still happy to arrive just in time for lunch. Daphna Kadim, assistant winemaker for Grochau Cellars, who shares the winery with Boedecker Cellars, had just ladled out bowls of her homemade lentil soup with duck confit, and there was a fresh green salad on the table. One bite of the bright and tangy dressing and I had to know what was in it. “Pinot Gris juice, straight from the press,” she said, also pleased with the delicate sweetness of her dressing. And while fresh-pressed, unfermented Pinot Gris juice is not exactly something you can add to your grocery list, Daphna says substituting an Auslese Riesling will impart similarly sweet, floral notes. —Tracy Howard

Daphna Kadim’s Fresh-Pressed Pinot Gris Salad Dressing
1/4 cup Pinot Gris juice, straight from the press (or sub with an Auslese Riesling)
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine first five ingredients. Slowly whisk in oil to emulsify. Toss with fresh, baby salad greens.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adventures in Homebrewing

Two months ago, I showed off my budding hop vines from my backyard garden. My husband Ben and I harvested the hops in late August, over the course of two weekends, and got about six pounds of fresh hops from three vines. We dried the hops using a method recommended by my home-brewing friend and guru, Dave Selden: fill paper grocery bags 1/5 full with hops, staple them shut and stored the in a warm, dry place for about a week, turning the bags over every other day. Once dry and measuring in at about 1/4 their original weight, we stuffed the hops into freezer bags, doing our best to vacuum seal them, and we stored the harvest in our freezer (hops should keep in the freezer for up to about a year).

Last weekend, we decided to brew our first batch of beer with the help of our fearless leader Dave and a trusty copy of The Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian. The recipe we used (below) may look a little complicated, but it was actually pretty simple with the book in hand, a little guidance and the reminder Papazian repeats like a mantra: "Don't worry, have a homebrew." Lucky for us, hanging with a home brewer, there was plenty of homemade beer available to keep us inspired, from a deliciously bright Saison to a Bourbon Spiced Mystery Ale.

With our abundance of hops, we opted to brew an IPA, and since we hadn't used any pesticides on our vines, and organic grains cost a mere 30 cents more per pound, the decision to brew organic was easy. During our party, another friend decided to use chocolate malt in a Scottish red ale, which inspired me to make an ESB for my next batch. But first, I'll have to see how our IPA turns out—I'll report back in a few weeks after we bottle.

In the meantime, I'll be building up my collection of empty bottles and pondering a name. Any ideas? —Siobhan Crosby

Palilalia India Pale Ale
7 lbs. malt extract-light
1 lb. crystal malt, cracked (most brewing supply stores have a grinder, or you can use a rolling pin to crack the grain)
1/2 lb. malted barley, toasted
2 tsp. gypsum (we didn't use gypsum, because our local water already has levels of the calcium that gypsum is intended to add)
1 1/2 oz. northern brewer hops for boiling (we used about 3 1/2 oz. of cascade hops)
3/4 oz. cascade hops for finishing
1 package ale yeast (we used American Ale II yeast)
3/4 cup corn sugar for bottling
Tools: Large 5-gallon pot, heating element, mesh bags for grains and hops, wort chiller (optional), glass carboy

Toast malted barley at 350 for 10 minutes. Add cracked crystal malt and malted barley, in bags, to 5 gallons of cold water and remove when boiling commences (about 160° F). Add the malt extract, Northern Brewer hops (we added the hops in small batches over time) and gypsum (if using), and boil for 45-60 min. Add finishing hops during final minute of boil. Sparge (rinse bags with cold water over pot) into fermenter and cool with wort chiller, stirring to aerate. Once cool, funnel into glass carboy, add water to the wort and add activated yeast. Should age 3 to 4 weeks before drinking for best results.

From The Complete Joy of Homebrewing

Monday, November 10, 2008

Get Ye to the 2009 Grand Marnier Mixology Summit!

This April, Grand Marnier and NAVAN will host their annual Mixology Summit, where 100 bartenders from across the U.S. will converge on Vail, Colo., to showcase their bartending skills while they learn from one another. The 2009 program will include labs, seminars, tastings and networking parties, and wine and spirits expert Steve Olson helped to develop the curriculum. All you have to do to make yourself eligible is submit an application, along with four original cocktail recipes of your own creation. All applications and recipes will be judged to narrow down the 100 people who will be invited to attend this year's event. Those invited will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the summit, so it's well worth the application process.

So to all of you professional bartenders out there, you have until November 30 to submit your application and recipes. For more info, including an application, visit mixologysummit.com. We look forward to seeing which 100 bartenders make it into this year's program—good luck to everyone!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Drink of the Week: Ullr Schnapps

Here in Portland, as in much of the country, the weather has finally and irrevocably changed for the season, and it’s time to put away the sandals and pull the boots and fuzzy socks out of storage. It shouldn’t surprise you to read that in Portland we’re hunkered down under a cold and steady drizzle. But are we complaining? Hardly! For one thing, we're happy to hear that snow flurries have been spotted on nearby Mt. Hood. Before long, we’ll be grabbing our skis and hitting the slopes—followed by hitting that big comfy chair by the ski lodge’s fireplace until we regain feeling in our toes. And this year, we’ll have some help with that last part: Ullr, a peppermint-cinammon schnapps made by Hood River Distillers, just a ski-pole’s throw away from the mighty Mt. Hood itself.

The aroma is exactly what the label describes: bracing peppermint and spicy cinnamon. On the palate, both flavors meld together in one tingly, warming sensation, followed by a slightly chocolatey finish. As befits a schnapps, there’s some sweetness and viscosity, but it’s not overbearing—just as the alcohol is warming but not burning. We recommend lacing your hot cocoa with it, sipping it straight (we expect the original Ullr, Norse god of snow, would approve of that), or making the Snowshoe Cocktail Ted Haigh writes about in the current issue (page 26). Regardless, we’re looking forward to enjoying ULLR's smooth heat after a day of sliding through snow. In fact, we might just skip the ski trip and head straight to the fireplace.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A toast to democracy!

Whether your preferred presidential candidate won or lost, last night proved that Americans still cherish their right to vote—as of this morning, news reports have ranked this election’s voter turnout as the largest our nation has ever seen, possibly topping 135 million. Of course, now that the returns are in and the confetti has been swept up, the real work begins for Barack Obama, as he readies himself to take the helm. Still, we hope he takes a moment to savor his victory, and how better to do so than with the appropriately named classic, El Presidente? As for John McCain, we imagine he’ll want some time to decompress, and we think the soothing Desert Healer (found in The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich) might help with that process.

El Presidente
1 ½ oz. white rum
¾ oz. dry vermouth
¾ oz. orange curaçao
1 dash grenadine
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: cocktail

Shake ingredients and strain into glass.

Desert Healer
1 ½ oz. gin
½ oz. cherry brandy
3 oz. fresh orange juice
3-5 oz. chilled ginger beer
Ice cubes
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: highball
Garnish: orange slice

Shake gin, cherry brandy and orange juice vigorously with ice, then strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with ginger beer and stir gently. Garnish.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Shop Talk: Buying vintage barware

“Oooh, pretty!” my friend gushed when seeing the cover of our new holiday issue. “Where’d that glass come from?” It’s a question that comes up regularly: Where do we find the glassware that we feature in the magazine? But the joke among Imbibe’s staff is, “Where don’t we find it?” The glasses (and mugs, shakers, teacups, etc.) you see in our pages come from any number of sources. We scour catalogs and websites for items that pique our interest—for those, you can find the source listed in the photo credit. But we also cruise boutiques and vintage shops, and we’ve even been known to borrow glassware from our staff’s personal collections.

As for the glass holding the cocktail featured on the Nov/Dec cover, that was one that I found during my own perusal in a vintage shop in Portland. In fact, several of the glasses in this holiday issue came from the same shopping spree. I like to boast that I don't actually have a single new glass in my barware collection, and I've shopped at thrift stores since I was kid. I like things that have a sense of history. When you put a classic cocktail in a 1940s glass, it really is like taking a little trip back in time. With that in mind, I thought I'd offers a few tips for scoring your own tiny time machines:

No need to match. You’re unlikely to find a full set of glasses at a thrift shop, anyway, and an eclectic collection of individual vintage pieces creates its own fun look. Stick to a particular color palette if you want—I've picked up a lot of aqua-blue over the years, inspired by the tile in my first house’s kitchen. Or, mix colors and shapes with abandon. That way, when all you have is individual pieces, you never have to worry about mistaking your drink for someone else’s.

Look twice before you buy. Hold each glass to the light and check for chips, stains, cracks and major scratches. Bring a clean handkerchief with you to rub at spots to check if they’re stains or just dirt (don't worry, it's not rude). This trick also works for testing for cloudiness, which sometimes affects glass that’s been through the dishwasher too often. If a glass is stained, cloudy, chipped or cracked, put it back, no matter how much you love the look—it can’t be fixed. Neither can discoloration, which happens when glass—especially older glass—is exposed to harsh sunlight or, again, the dishwasher. Discolored glass can be harder to spot, since it’s often only noticeable when held next to fresh, clean glass—it will look slightly yellow, brown or purplish-gray.

Remember what’s going in the glass. Colored glass is funky and fun, but not always a good choice for barware. You want glass that is clear and not too strongly patterned to show off the color and look of your drinks. Think about the kinds of drinks you like to make: If you’re a fan of classic cocktails, most of the new triangular martini glasses on the shelves today will be too big. You’re better off buying vintage cocktail glasses, champagne coupes or small wine glasses. Pick each glass up to feel its heft and to check for top-heaviness.

Be practical. Before you buy any piece, ask yourself some basic questions: What will I use this for? Will it fit on my shelves? Is it the right size for the kinds of drinks I like to make? Do I already have too many glasses of this general size or shape? It’s easy to get carried away by the thrill of the hunt while thrift-shopping, but don’t buy things you’ll regret. I’ve found some gorgeous crystal in thrift shops over the years, but I never buy it because I know how much I hate hand-washing stuff and there’s no point to buying things I’ll never use. I just tell myself I’m leaving it there for someone who will appreciate it more than I can.

Sometimes, you have to break the rules. One of my favorite thrift-store finds was, objectively, a horrible purchase. It broke almost all my rules for glassware: It was modern and kind of cheap-looking, like some sort of gift-with-purchase. It had gold-colored decals all over the outside, which I hate because they always wear off in the dishwasher. It was too big for a three-ounce cocktail. But it had these goofy martini glasses and pieces of cake printed all over it, along with the letter K repeated over and over. I bought it for my friend Kate as a present. She loves it. We call it her Special K glass, and people always comment on it when she pulls it out. It’s a classic case where having a dozen of those things would probably look tacky, but having one in a mix makes it fun.

—Hannah Feldman