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, January 30, 2009

Drink of the Week: Coney Island Lager

Whether you’re in it for the football or the ads, Super Bowl Sunday offers the perfect excuse to kick back for a few hours while enjoying some all-American beers. And while Vegas oddsmakers are calling the Arizona Cardinals as the easy-to-beat underdogs against the Pittsburgh Steelers this year, here at Imbibe we aren’t taking sides. Instead, we’ll toast last year’s champs, the New York Giants, with a beer from their home state: Coney Island Lager from Schmaltz Brewing. Coppery gold in color with aromas of floral hops and orange peel, this crowd-pleaser is blended from eight different malts and six types of hops. Complex and balanced layers of sweet, toasted malt and bright citrus unfold around a rich, creamy mouthfeel and finish with lingering orange rind and a palate-cleansing, hoppy bitterness. With a personality unlike many macro-lagers and a portion of the proceeds going toward Coney Island USA, a Brooklyn-based arts non-profit, this beer will go down perfectly with all the Super Bowl Sunday staples: nachos, chili, chicken wings, burgers and cheesy commercials.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SF Beer Week

Next Friday, February 6, marks the kick-off of San Francisco Beer Week, a 10-day celebration of the Bay Area's delicious and diverse beer culture. There will be about 150 events happening around the city, beginning with the Bistro Double IPA Festival and the Toronado Barleywine Festival and capping off with Celebrator's Best of the West Beer Fest. In between there will be beer dinners, cheese and beer pairing events, meet the brewer evenings, homebrewing demos and a museum exhibit showcasing the history of Bay Area brewing. We're planning to head down for the festivities and can't wait to participate in what will hopefully become an annual event. For more info, including a full schedule of events, check out the SF Beer Week website.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Drink of the Week: Cycles Gladiator 2006 Central Coast Syrah

While a label donning a naked woman gliding through the air with a winged bicycle was enough to convince a friend of mine to pluck this bottle of California Syrah from the grocery store shelf recently, what captivated me was the grace and suppleness of the wine inside the bottle. Softer and more delicate than the super-juicy, and sometimes over-extracted fruit-bombs typical of many California Syrahs, the grapes for this Monterey County red ripen slowly on the vine amid the fog and salty air of California’s Central Coast, creating a more subtle nose of ripe raspberries; round, sophisticated flavors of bright, red fruit; and a soft finish of delicate oak and vanilla. We paired this sinuous Syrah with a hearty veggie lasagna, but it’s versatile enough to open with just about any dish. And at about $10 a bottle, you can even afford to open a second bottle. cyclesgladiator.com —Tracy Howard

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Whiskies of the World 2009

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Whiskies of the World, a great event that now also includes the Artisan Spirits Fest. Recognizing the popularity of whisk(e)y around the country, this annual spirits gathering has now gone bi-coastal, with Whiskies of the World and Artisan Spirits Fest taking place March 28 in San Francisco and November 7 in Washington, DC. At both events, you can sample products from more than 50 producers and importers, enjoying everything from single-malt scotch to Kentucky bourbon. Plus, at the upcoming San Francisco event in March, bartenders from Bourbon and Branch—one of the speakeasies mentioned in our Jan/Feb 2009 issue—will be serving up cocktails while educating attendees about how to put these spirits to use in a mixed drink. Tickets are sold online only in advance, and they always go quickly, so be sure pick up yours early.

What: Whiskies of the World 2009 and Artisanal Spirits Fest
When: March 28, 2009
Where: aboard The San Francisco Belle, Pier 3 The Embarcadero, San Francisco [map]

Friday, January 16, 2009

Drink of the Week: Obama 44 Inaugural Blend

On January 20, when Barack Obama takes the oath of office to become America's 44th president, there will be plenty of spectators popping open bottles of Champagne, but the folks at SerendipiTea have come up with another way to mark the occasion: Obama 44 Inaugural Blend. “The idea was to capture a bit of the essence of the man Obama,” says SerendipiTea co-founder Linda Villano. “So Kenyan black tea (a nod to his Kenyan paternal side) provides the foundation and quiet strength of the cup; for a big dose of all-American patriotism, we have apples and cinnamon; and finally mango, to honor Obama’s maternal side, especially his late grandmother in Hawaii.” The result is a full-bodied tea that’s mellowed by the sweetness of fruit and cinnamon, and that manages to be both energizing and soothing at the same time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Homebrew Tasting Notes

The last time I reported on my first homebrewing experience, I was harvesting hops, and since then, I've bottled my own creation and christened it Swing Set Organic Ale (name credited to Imbibe art director, Kate Madden, in honor of the swing set-turned-pergola our hops grew on) and put all 450 or so ounces in the basement to get ready for tasting. Thanks to the holidays with a side of travel, our beer only recently debuted in the Imbibe test kitchen.

Even though we added more hops than the recipe called for, I wouldn't characterize this beer as the IPA we intended to make, but hops do shine through in the aroma and finish. Here's how Imbibe editor Hannah Feldman describes it: "A lovely, deep copper color. Chocolate notes, with a nice hoppy bitterness that's more playful than harsh. I could imagine drinking this with roasted pork and homemade applesauce, or with a creamy butternut-squash soup. It has the structure to handle such rich food, but isn’t so overbearing that it would drown out the dishes' sweetness."

Homebrewing is definitely worth the time for the results (especially if you have a seasoned homebrewer willing to guide you). Will I go pro like the homebrewers we profiled in the latest issue of Imbibe and online? Probably not; at least, I haven't had that moment... yet.

In the end, our cost to brew worked out to be about equal to what we might have spent on a similar quantity of beer at the store. But popping the cap to enjoy a beer you know came from your own backyard? That's priceless. —Siobhan Crosby

Friday, January 09, 2009

Drink of the Week: Ginger Toddy

I have mixed feelings about being sick—on one hand, the sore throat, sleepless nights and endless need for tissues make me curse the bug that infiltrated my immune system; on the other hand, having a cold is the perfect excuse to sip my way back to health (or at least to sleep) with a warming hot toddy. Enter Domaine de Canton, the baby-ginger and ginseng-infused VSOP Cognac handcrafted in Jarnac, France. When this soft yet spicy liqueur is mixed with brandy, tea and a touch of lemon, it’s worth a thousand sneezes. I’ve tried this toddy with both green and chamomile tea; while the green tea adds a nice grassy note to the ginger liqueur, the herbaceous chamomile harmonizes perfectly with the subtle ginger, brandy and lemon. For an added boost of spice, try steeping some fresh-chopped ginger root with the tea. —Tracy Howard

1 1/2 oz. Domaine de Canton
1/2 oz. brandy
6 oz. strong-brewed, hot chamomile tea
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Glass: toddy or mug
Garnish: lemon twist (optional)

Combine all ingredients in your favorite tea mug and enjoy.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Upcoming Event: ZAP Zinfandel Festival

In three weeks, San Francisco wine enthusiasts will be able to get their fill of Zinfandel at the annual ZAP Zinfandel Festival, happening January 28–31. The event will feature about 275 Zinfandels from around the world over the course of four days. The grand tasting happens at Fort Mason on January 31, and leading up to that is several days of special dinners, auctions and tastings. This is another terrific Bay Area event in a great location with seriously good wines—definitely worthy checking out! Click here for more info and to order tickets.

What: Zinfandel Festival
When: January 28–31
Where: Fort Mason in San Francisco

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

January’s Where to Drink Now: Woodbridge Pub


The party lives on in this former event-supply warehouse, where owner Jim Geary’s vision of opening a simple neighborhood bar manifested itself this past September in the form of the light and airy Woodbridge Pub. Situated across an athletic field from Detroit's Wayne State University, Geary’s 60-seat watering hole features floor-to-ceiling windows, gilded tin ceilings and a meat-locker men’s room door. Bespectacled academics, doting grandparents and local beer enthusiasts belly up to the reclaimed wood bar and order from the broad beer list, including Motor City’s Ghettoblaster, and from the “no microwave, no fryer” food menu, featuring a homemade black-bean burger with caramelized onions and a balsamic glaze. As if that’s not enough, weekly events, like “Irish Whiskey Appreciation” and “Michigan Beer” nights, mean there's always a reason to stop by. 5169 Trumbull St., Detroit, MI; 313-833-2701.

Friday, January 02, 2009

What the Doctor Orders

Happy New Year, Imbibers! We're a little late posting this, but last weekend our own dear Dr. Cocktail did a fun segment for NPR on—what else?—classic cocktails, so we want to give him a special shout-out. Doc was fascinating as usual, and he had a terrific suggestion for a classic cocktail to enjoy in the new year: The Ford. Here's a link to the full interview, and here's the recipe for this excellent cocktail:

1 oz. gin
1 oz. dry vermouth
3 dashes Benedictine
3 dashes orange bitters
Cracked ice
Tool: mixing glass, barspoon, strainer
Glass: cocktail

Stir ingredients in a mixing glass and strain into a chilled glass.