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, March 27, 2009

Drink of the Week: Chateau D’Oupia Les Hérétiques 2007

While it’s easy to find an inexpensive red table wine, it can sometimes be tricky to find an inexpensive red table wine that’s worth drinking. Fortunately, there’s Chateau D’Oupia’s Les Hérétiques 2007. We recently took note of this engaging and affordable French red at a Louis Dressner tasting, and we’ve been clamoring to get our hands on another bottle since (we just spotted it on sale at the Wine Library for $7.98). What makes this Vin de Pays stand out is estate owner André Iché’s careful tending of his vines (some of which were planted nearly a century ago) and a thoughtful blending of select vineyards. Iché’s Les Hérétiques blends Syrah with old-vine Carignan for ripe, clean flavors of cherries and plums, and it’s dotted on the finish with bright acidity and tannins typically found in bottles more than twice the price. It’s bold enough to pair with roasted pork or chicken skewers, but we especially like this Languedoc red with an pizza topped with mozzarella, peppery arugula and salty prosciutto.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March's Where to Drink Now: Barista

While most coffee shops brew and sell coffee from one roaster exclusively, recently opened Barista in Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District features a rotating selection of beans from top roasters around the country. Owner and champion barista Billy Wilson (profiled in our March/April 07 issue) crafts velvety cappuccinos and expertly pulled espressos while sleepy-eyed devotees check the chalkboard for a list of the day’s roasts. (We spotted Stumptown Hairbender, Intelligentsia Black Cat Blend and Ethiopia Beloya from Ecco Caffe on a recent visit.) House coffee is brewed every few minutes press-style, while those with a little extra time can opt for the equally delicious vacuum-pot coffee brewed atop a Hario beam heater. Barista also offers a small selection of breakfast pastries and sweet snacks from Two Tarts Bakery and is open from 7 a.m.–6 p.m. daily. 539 NW 13th Ave., Portland, Oregon; baristapdx.com

Friday, March 20, 2009

Drink of the Week: Serious Madness Black Ale

We can't think of a better way to commemorate March Madness than with a killer beer, and today's Drink of the Week is the perfect option. Serious Madness is Mad River Brewing Company’s first seasonal offering, released in honor of the Californian brewery’s 20th anniversary. This dark, powerful black ale (8.6 percent ABV) offers rich bursts of sweet brown bread and roasted coffee on the nose. In the glass, the coffee character holds its own, mellowed by dark toasty and chocolaty notes and a hint of fruity acidity. It goes down perilously easy, and paired with a sauerkraut-laden Reuben or grilled bratwurst, you’ve got yourself a slam dunk.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Upcoming Event: Saké Fest

Get ready saké fans, Sake Fest is only a few weeks away, and it looks to be another terrific showcase of premium sakés from Japan and America. This year's festival takes place on Tuesday, April 7, in the Millennium Ballroom at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. Festival goers will be treated to samples of premium and rare sakés, as will regionally microbrewed "jizake," (small, regional saké brewers). You'll also learn how to pair saké with a wide variety of foods, and local chefs will be on hand to partner a variety of foods with an array of sakés. This is always a great event and yet another example of Philadelphia's ever-expanding drinks scene. For more event details and to order tickets, check out the Saké Fest website. And if you want to study up on sake before you check out the event, read our saké feature from the Jan/Feb 09 issue.

Saké Fest
Tuesday, April 7
6–8:30 p.m.
Loews Philadelphia Hotel
$55 in advance online, $75 at the door

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Win A Full-Access Pass to the SCAA Conference & Expo

Every spring, coffee pros converge at the annual Specialty Coffee Association of America conference and expo. This year's event takes place April 16–19 in Atlanta, concurrent with the World Barista Championship, where America's Mike Phillips from Intelligentsia Coffee will take on competitors from around the world.

If you're in the coffee industry, you know how valuable a 3-day full-access pass is ($125 to be exact), including informative lectures, show floor access, opening and closing ceremonies, and the barista championship. Well, the folks at Café de El Salvador have generously offered up an all-access pass to one randomly drawn winner who responds to this blog post with an answer to the question: what are you most excited about in the coffee industry today? We reported on some highlights we discovered in our March/April cover story, "Around the World in 20 Cups." Now it's your turn. Simply e-mail us your thoughts (and your full name, the name of company you work for and your mailing address) by March 22 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time and we'll notify the winner via email by March 25.

We hope to see you in Atlanta!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Drink of the Week: Connemara Cask-Strength Peated Single-Malt Irish Whiskey

If you tend to think of Irish whiskies as soft, rounded blends for easy sipping, it’s time you tried a wee dram of Connemara. This unfiltered whiskey, made from malted barley smoked over peat collected on Ireland’s western coast, packs a powerful punch—and not just because it’s almost 60 percent alcohol. (Connemara offers a tamer, 80-proof bottling as well.) If you didn’t read the label, you’d swear this whiskey hailed from Scotland’s Islay region, home to such famously peaty powerhouses as Laphroaig and Lagavulin. Beneath that heavy blanket of Irish peat smoke, however, lie delicate nuances of heather, honey and oak. It’s a whiskey that offers something new with every sip, and lingers long after your glass is drained. Pair it with a pint of roasty Irish porter or stout for a traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebration, or just pull out the bottle anytime you want to share a little Irish pride with your friends. Available at drinkupny.com.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Event 3/28: Spring Craft Beer Festival

Join your fellow beer lovers at this year's Spring Craft Beer Festival in Uniondale, N.Y. for an afternoon filled with fun, music and quality beer from 25 breweries from around the country. Enjoy unlimited samples from local favorites such as Brooklyn Brewery, Blue Point Brewery and Southampton to tasty brews from farther away like like Stone, Redbridge and Sierra Nevada. The event benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund and the New York State Brewers Association, so you'll be supporting a good cause with every sip.

What: The Spring Craft Beer Festival
When: 12:30 – 4 p.m. (session 1) and 5:30 – 9 p.m. (session 2)
Where: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 1255 Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale, N.Y. [ map ]

Monday, March 09, 2009

An Intelly Sweep

The United States Barista Championships wrapped up on Sunday with an impressive showing of skill and creativity from six finalists—four of whom happened to hail from Intelligentsia Coffee. This included first-place winner Mike Phillips (from its Chicago home base) and second-place winner Nick Griffith (from its Los Angeles outpost). Scott Lucey of Alterra Coffee took third place, Ryan Willbur of Intelligentsia took fourth, Devin Pedde of Intelligentsia took fifth and Mike Marquard of Kaldi's Coffee took sixth. We're not sure how Intelligentsia prepares its baristas for competition, but whatever they're doing obviously works, as they were remarkably composed throughout the competition. Phillips’s winning presentation was graceful and confident, finishing off with a two-part signature drink that split each espresso shot into both a hot and an ice-cold drink, meant to be sipped alternately.

Another big winner at the event was single-origin espresso. While Phillips used blends for his drinks, a surprising number of competitors opted for S.O. espresso—Griffith even used the same bean for all three rounds, a high-altitude coffee from Huehuetenango, Guatemala.

Meanwhile, the line for the “fourth machine,” where spectators could sample some of the competitors' drinks, stretched to epic proportions as people waited for single shots, cappuccinos and signature drinks. Jay Caragay of The Spro Coffee in Towson, Maryland, amused the crowd with a surprisingly good cappuccino made with milk that had been soaked in Fruity Pebbles cereal.

Phillips now goes on to represent the U.S. next month at the World Barista Championships in Atlanta, where he'll be competing against the best baristas from around the world.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Coffee Face-Off

The US Barista Championship is happening this weekend in Portland, where baristas from across the country are converging to compete for the national title and the right to go on to represent the U.S. next month in Atlanta at the World Barista Championship. This is always a fun chance to see talented baristas show off some pretty impressive skills as they make espressos, cappuccinos and signature drinks, all under the watchful eyes of onlookers and judges. The event is free and open to the public, but if you can't make it in person, you can watch a live stream of the competition online by clicking here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Drink of the Week: Xanté

Making its U.S. debut last month, Xanté, a Swedish-produced pear liqueur, combines Cognac, vanilla and the essence of Flemish pears for a smooth, subtly sweet liqueur. Aged for four years in French oak barrels, Xanté offers an enticing nose of juicy pears and toasty vanilla, while smooth and creamy flavors of ripe anjous and warm Cognac give way to a rounded finish of marzipan, almonds and more fruit. Xanté is great sipped solo after a meal but versatile enough to drizzle over pound cake topped with Xanté-spiked whipped cream or to serve alongside a plate of creamy brie and aged cheddar. $40, drinkxante.com

Be still our hearts

The folks at Atria in New York have us swooning over their latest brainstorm. In an effort to draw people in on Monday evenings, they've created “On the Rocks,” a weekly special of unusual food-and-drink pairings. And throughout March, the theme is (wait for it, people): Scotch and doughnuts. Gourmet doughnuts (in flavors like butterscotch topped with bacon powder), three pours of premium Scotch (including the likes of Tomatin 30-year)—all for a mere $15. A cardiologist’s nightmare? Maybe. But to us, it sounds like the sweetest of dreams. Atria, 13-15 W. 54th St., New York, NY; 212-262-4600

Cast Your Vote

In the new issue of Imbibe, we explore Philadephia as our featured destination city for not only its topnotch beer culture, but also its noteworthy cocktail scene. Of course, that got us thinking about all of the other great cocktail cities across America, so we thought we'd put up a new poll on our website to see which city you think currently has the best cocktail culture. Just click here and cast your vote!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Czech Him Out!

Congratulations to Imbibe contributing writer Tim Leffel! His piece on Czech wines, which ran in our March/April 2008 issue, just won an honorable mention in the 2009 Solas Awards Best Travel Writing contest. We loved his account of bicycling through the Czech Republic’s rarely mentioned wine country, and we’re happy to see others recognize his talent.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Brewer's Plate

Philly Beer Week kicks off this Friday with lots of great events happening across the city. The Philly Craft Beer Festival is already sold out, but there's still time to snag tickets for what is sure to be one of the week's most delicious highlights: The Brewer's Plate. This unique event brings together the best of Philadelphia's food and beer for an evening of incredible culinary pairings. We've gotten a sneak peek of what's in store, and man, does it look good!

In what may be one of the most unlikely matches, Cantina Dos Segundos will be serving Gorditas conTinga de Res (crispy masa pockets filled with braised short ribs, chorizo, potato andchipotle peppers) paired with Triumph Brewing Co’s Jewish Rye Ale. Betty’s Speakeasy will be making a mouth-watering array of chocolate treats, including Blue Sue (dark chocolate fudge made with local Birchrun Hills Farm blue cheese), Brewed Cupcakes (beer cupcakes), Aw Snap! (milk chocolate fudge with Moroccan spices), and Fred (dark chocolate fudge with sea salt and pretzels). These heavenly treats will be paired with Dock Street Brewing's Prince Myshkin’s Russian Imperial Stout and Boaks Beer's Monster Mash Imperial Stout and Two Blind Monks Belgian-Style Dubbel.

We hear that tickets are going quickly, so be sure to head over to the Brewer's Plate website to get yours today. And for more on what's happening in the world of beer and food pairings, specifically beer-pairing dinners, check out the Look Who's Coming to Dinner feature in the current issue of Imbibe.

The Brewer's Plate
Sunday, March 8
General Admission: 4:30-7 p.m.
VIP Ticket Option: 4-7 p.m.
Penn Museum, 3260 South St.