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.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Sneak Peek at SF Cocktail Week

San Francisco Cocktail Week festivities begin in just over a week on May 11! We're so excited to be sponsoring cocktail education seminars on May 14 this year, as well as once again co-hosting the very fun Grand Finale Celebration with Jardiniere on May 18, and we'd love to see you there!

A full day of classes on Thursday, May 14, at legendary spots all over the city will help you become a better home bartender. Get schooled in everything from spirits and liqueurs to making your own cocktail ingredients, including syrups and bitters. Download a full schedule and get tickets here.

Once you’ve done your homework, celebrate by joining us for an evening of incredible cocktails at one of San Francisco’s best restaurants.

When: Monday, May 18, 6–9 p.m.
Where: Jardiniere, 300 Grove Street
What: An all-inclusive evening of
• Signature cocktails created by the amazing Jardiniere staff and surprise guest bartenders
• Classically prepared absinthe
• Delicious nibbles from Jardiniere's chef and co-owner Traci Des Jardins
• Special gift bags filled with lots of great take-home goodies, including absinthe spoons, cocktail books, artisan chocolates and much more.

Tickets are $45 and all-inclusive, and part of ticket proceeds will benefit the San Francisco Bartenders Guild, dedicated to education and overall support of the local community's cocktail culture. Space is limited, so be sure to secure your spot via SnagTickets.

Here's a sneak peek of one if the delicious cocktails you can expect to enjoy at the party.

Madame Ruby
1 1/2 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. Benedictine
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. egg white
Soda water
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: Collins

Dry shake first four ingredients for 20 seconds, then add ice and shake vigorously. Double strain into an ice-filled glass and top with soda.

Check out the full calendar of SF Cocktail Week events here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Metaxa Cocktails!

Earlier this month, we partnered with Metaxa for an online invitation-only cocktail competition to find the best cocktail using Metaxa, a Greek spirit that combines brandy and wine made from three types of Greek grape, which is then blended with an aged Muscat wine, aged in oak casks, and infused with rose petals and a secret blend of herbs.

The turnaround time for the submissions was short, about two weeks, so there was plenty of pressure, but we were blown away by the creativity of the entries, and it's always fun to see what bartenders can do with ingredients they may not regularly use. Recipes could use either the Metaxa 5-Star (aged for five years) or the 7-Star (aged for seven years), and the recipes were judged on use of Metaxa, flavor, creativity, appearance and process.

It was a tough decision, but after narrowing the field and testing the recipes, first place went to Jonathan Pogash of the World Bar in New York City, whose Aegean Fizz was not only beautiful, but also nuanced and balanced with a lovely texture and a marriage of spicy and fruity flavors that riffed perfectly off the Metaxa. "The inspiration came from the froth and freshness of the Aegean Sea, and the full-bodied cinnamon notes in Metaxa 7-star," says Jonathan. "I played up those notes in Metaxa 7-star by adding a homemade cinnamon bark syrup and countered that sweet and spice with fresh blood orange juice. The egg white adds a nice texture and froths the drink up, reminding me of the Aegean Sea crashing against the rocky shores of the Greek Islands."

Jonathan wins a trip for two to either Greece (including Athens and Mykonos) or to this year's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. There were also four runners up who all win American Express gift cards.

Lara Creasy, JCT Kitchen and Bar, Atlanta
Recipe: A Rose by Any Other Name

Leah Houghtaling, Felicia's Atomic Lounge, Ithaca, NY
Recipe: Greek Awake

Charles Joly, The Drawing Room, Chicago
Recipe: Three Times the Vine

Jackson Cannon, Eastern Standard, Boston
Recipe: Helena Sour

Congrats to all of the winners—we loved seeing so much thought and creativity put into these recipes. Hopefully you'll be seeing these cocktails in the near future on bar menus near you!

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Imbibe Sips Episode & Web Poll

For all of you following our new video series, Imbibe Sips, be sure to check out the latest episode with bartender Jeff Morgenthaler demonstrating three easy citrus garnishes, including the flamed orange peel we cover in the new May/June issue (demonstrated by Teardrop's talented Dave Shenaut in the magazine). Garnishes are one of those things that can seem a lot more difficult than they really are, but they can add to both the flavor and aesthetics of cocktail, so they're well worth the effort.

Also, be sure sure to cast your vote in our latest Web poll for your spirit of choice. Voting just opened, and so far gin is in the lead, with bourbon in a close second. And no brandy drinkers out there?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Drink of the Week: Kona Brewing Wailua Wheat

It’s the quintessential springtime pairing: lawn-mowing and beer. And we can’t imagine a brew better suited to the task of keeping you cool while you trim the grass than Kona Brewing’s Wailua Wheat. This seasonal beer, on shelves from March through September, is light and tangy and is brewed with Hawaiian passion fruit for a subtle tropical aroma and taste. Sun-soaked gold in color, Wailua Wheat is refreshing and exotic with a round, wheaty body and a crisp, hoppy finish. Bright flavors of orange citrus, juicy mango and passion fruit evoke that Hawaiian vacation you took oh-so-long ago (or maybe the one you’re finally taking this year) and make this summer beer the perfect match for citrusy ceviche, barbecued shrimp skewers and (sigh) yard maintenance.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recap: Grand Marnier and Navan 2009 Mixology Summit

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Grand Marnier and Navan 2009 Mixology Summit, held in Vail April 5–7. This annual event has become a favorite among bartenders who get to attend, a chance to talk shop with some of the best and brightest in their field. Unlike many such events, the Summit isn’t a competition—rather, the competition happens beforehand, when the 100 attendees are selected out of some 800 applicants who each entered two original cocktail recipes featuring Grand Marnier and/or Navan. Each bartender then got to make his or her recipes during a consulting lab at the summit, and there was plenty of talent and creativity on display.

The prize for Most Creative Garnish has to go to Surapong Sawadviphachai of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C. for a concoction of muddled ginger and lemongrass, along with lychee puree, lime juice, sake and Grand Marnier graced with a festive little fish carved out of a carrot round, with a clove pierced through to make an eye and a curve of lime peel serving as its dorsal fin. Meanwhile, Frankie Solarik of Toronto’s recently opened BarChef showed off his bar’s signature drink, which he calls a Smoked Manhattan. We could quibble with the drink’s name (it’s served on the rocks, and includes lemon juice, after all), but there was no denying its craftsmanship.

The consulting room filled with curious onlookers as word spread that Solarik’s drink was going to involve setting things on fire. “I hope we don’t set off the smoke alarm,” was all Solarik said as he began making the drink, which includes rye whiskey, Navan, lemon juice, housemade cherry-vanilla bitters and hickory-smoked syrup. Then came the finale: He threw a generous handful of hickory chips and a vanilla pod into a sauté pan and used a blowtorch to set them on fire, the same technique he uses at his bar. “Visually, it’s quite the show,” he commented mildly in what might have been the summit’s biggest understatement. When the chips were good and smoky, he poured them onto a raised glass stand, nestled the drink into the middle of them, and covered the whole thing with a glass dome to allow the smoke to infuse the drink. The result was a complex melding of sweet and smoky, tart and rich. Miraculously, the fire alarm remained untripped.

There were quieter triumphs, as well. I loved Jon Arroyo’s two entries. His “Grandma Deconstructed”—with Grand Marnier, absinthe, maraschino liqueur and bitters, served neat in a rocks glass with a smacked mint leaf—was simple, but wonderfully balanced and nuanced, while his “Grandma’s Blackberry Sour” was a stunner, emerging from the mixing glass a beautiful magenta.

At breakfast one morning, I got a chance to chat privately with Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle, the fourth generation of her family to work in its wine and liqueur business. She’s played a vital role in the family business since the 1990s, when she convinced her relatives to buy vineyards in what was then still an emerging winemaking region: Chile. “The Chilean people went to Bordeaux in the 1860s and brought back vines, and that was just before the crisis of phylloxera,” she explained. “And as phylloxera never got to Chile, it’s like you have a little bit of France in Chile, with vines that you cannot find anymore today in France.”

Marnier Lapostolle, who lives in Switzerland most of the time but oversees Grand Marnier’s operations in North America as well as the company’s Lapostolle wine label, has continued to be the family’s innovator. She’s a driving force behind the summit, which she sees as a way to create dialog between the company and bartenders. For instance, feedback from bartenders at last year’s summit went into the company’s changing the formula for its newly created vanilla liqueur, Navan, making it less sweet and more mixable. (Interesting side note: The Marnier Lapostolle family came up with the idea for Navan while chatting in the family botanical gardens in France, Les Cèdres, which is home to some 15,000 species of plants. “We started to say, ‘What could we find that’s really interesting?’ ” Marnier Lapostolle said. “And since we had this beautiful garden, and this vanilla coming from the orchids had this really interesting flavor, that’s how we started.”)

This year’s summit showed that today’s bartenders are ready to keep pushing the creative envelope. As one of the summit organizers Steve Olson said during his keynote speech, “Five years ago, we wouldn’t have anyone using sherry in a cocktail; this year we had bunches who did.”

Sherry was the least of it—I saw everything from edible cocktails to elaborate stencils that could be sprayed onto the tops of foamed cocktails with bitters. A team of top bartenders—including the likes of Contemporary Cocktails’ Aisha Sharpe, Tippling Brothers’ Tad Carducci and Leo (son of Dale) DeGroff—stirred and shook innovative cocktails for the thirsty throng, and you couldn’t walk three paces without overhearing a conversation about hazelnut infusions or passionfruit foam. We can’t wait to see what all this creative collaboration will produce, and we look forward to checking out next year’s gathering.

As a last note, if you’re interested in trying out some of the summit’s cocktail recipes, they’re all available in a free downloadable iPhone app—the name is GM Cocktails. For those living an iPhone-free existence, here’s a sample:

Grandma's Blackberry Sour
3 blackberries
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup
2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 ½ oz. Grand Marnier
¾ oz. rye whiskey (Arroyo uses Rittenhouse)
1 egg white
Ice cubes
Tools: muddler, shaker, fine-mesh strainer
Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: blackberry and half a lemon or orange wheel

Muddle blackberries, lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters in a mixing glass. Add Grand Marnier, rye and egg white. Shake vigorously with ice and fine-strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish.

Jon Arroyo, Founding Farmers, Washington, D.C.

—Hannah Feldman

Friday, April 17, 2009

Drink of the Week: Batdorf & Bronson Organic Mexico La Trinidad Peaberry

We just wrapped up our first day the Specialty Coffee Association of America Expo and, not surprisingly, there was plenty of great coffee to be had. But we were especially struck by Batdorf & Bronson's Organic Mexico Peaberry. Peaberries, which happen when a coffee cherry contains one seed rather than the usual two, often yield more concentrated flavors. This Mexico peaberry is lusciously smooth and offers up delicious notes of chocolate and spice, perfect for a morning cup or after dinner with a slice of decadent chocolate cake.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Forward With Rieslings

With tax day here, we thought it might be nice to unwind this evening with a good glass of wallet-friendly wine. In the March/April issue of Imbibe, writer Wes Marshall delves into the world of Riesling. This often-misunderstood wine is a perfect way to celebrate the flavors of spring, and it's also a category that offers some great values. So in addition to the suggestions we make in the magazine, here are a few more recommendations, which can all be found at DrinkUpForLess.com and DrinkUpNY.com:

2006 Dr. Konstantin Frank "Salmon Run" Riesling ($12.49)
This floral, fruity Riesling is incredibly versatile and a perfect match for chicken or fish.

2007 Josef Leitz Eins Zwei Dry Riesling ($12.99)
Enjoy this medium-bodied, peachy German Riesling with herb-roasted chicken.

2007 R Wines Marquis-Philips Roogle Riesling ($11.49)
This off-dry Aussie value offers plenty of tropical fruit on the finish, making it a great match for spicy Thai food, like a coconut curry.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Drink of the Week: Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo

If you're looking for something to pair with this weekend's Easter dinner, we recommend a bottle of saké, specifically Momokawa's oh-so-delicious Organic Junmai Ginjo. As a match for food, saké is incredibly versatile, and this one is sure to please even the fussiest palates. With nuanced and full layers of fruit and spice, it pairs perfectly with everything from salads and fruit to fish or chicken. And at about $12 a bottle, it's a fantastic value, so buying more than one bottle for your dinner doesn't have to leave you feeling pinched.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Upcoming Event: Absinthe in April

Abinsthe has been legal in the US for almost two years now, but it's still a mystery to many (for background and myth-busting facts, read our absinthe story from the Jan/Feb 2008 issue).

For people in the New York area, DrinkUpNY.com's Absinthe in April tasting on April 30th, will offer the opportunity to taste most of the absinthes available on the market today. Attendees will have the chance to meet a few of the producers themselves, including: Gwydion Stone of Marteau, Lance Winters of St. George Spirits, and Bryan Alex of Obsello. The event offers a great opportunity to taste many varieties of this unique spirit, compare them, and pick your favorites—all for the cost of less than one bottle. Check it out!

What: Absinthe in April tasting
When: April 30, 6–9 p.m.
Where: The Bourgeois Pig, 111 E 7th Street, New York City [map]

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Imbibe Sips: New Episode!

The latest episode of Imbibe's new video series, Imbibe Sips, is out today, and it's another great one, covering the Old Fashioned, a cocktail that has been utterly abused over the years with additions like soda water, various fruits and even crushed ice. Jeffrey Morgenthaler shares the secrets to crafting a perfect, classic Old Fashioned, demonstrating how a simple cocktail can sometimes be the most delicious. We've been getting a great response to our new video series, and we hope you're enjoying it too. There are plenty more episodes to come, and if you happened to miss the premiere episode on shaking versus stirring cocktails, you can check it out here. In the meantime, let us know if there are any topics you'd like to see covered in upcoming episodes.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Drink of the Week: Belvoir Organic Elderflower Pressé

The smell of daphne and daffodils is filling the air, and we're preparing for a sunny, warm weekend here in Portland (man, do we need it!), so today's Drink of the Week seem like a perfect way to celebrate the impending springtime weather. Belvoir Fruit Farms makes a range of cordials and pressés, but we especially like their Organic Elderflower Pressé. Made from organic elderflowers, it's blended with organic lemons and is lightly sparkling and sweet with a fresh, pure floral flavor. You can find it in small and large sizes in specialty grocery stores around the U.S., or online here.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

April Event: Coffee & Tea Fest 2009

The 4th Annual Coffee & Tea Festival in New York is coming soon and you don't want to miss the best in coffee, tea and even chocolate—all under one roof. Special main stage events bring experts to you, including topics like roasting coffee at home, teas from around the world, tea cocktails and more. The two-day event is a great way to get "Around the World in 20 Cups" (just like our current March/April 09 cover story), all in one place.

Imbibe readers can also save 50% on tickets (that's $10). Just enter the promo code "IMBIBE" when you purchase tickets online. Proceeds benefit Cup for Education, a non-profit dedicated to building schools in coffee growing communities in Central and Latin America.

We hope to see you there!

What: Coffee & Tea Festival NYC
When: April 18—19
Where: Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011 [map]

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Upcoming Event: Indie Wine Fest

We're so excited that it's almost time for one of our favorite wine events of the year, the Indie Wine Festival. This year's event, kicks off in exactly a month, May 1–2. It's always a great chance to meet winemakers and taste wines from some of Oregon's most exciting craft wineries, many of whom release their wines for the first time at the festival. The Portland Wine Project (and joint venture between Boedecker Cellars and Grochau Cellars) will be hosting the event, which will provide a fun opportunity for guests to see an independent winery operation firsthand. This is the signature event for the Indie Wine Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to promoting craft winemaking in Oregon, and all net proceeds from the festival benefit the foundation. Tickets are on sale now, so be sure to get yours soon, as they tend to sell out quickly. We hope to see you there!

Indie Wine Festival
May 1–2
Portland Wine Project
2621 NW 30th Ave.
Portland, OR 97210

Check out indie wine producers Athena Pappas and Stewart Boedecker talk about their experiences over the years at the Indie Wine Festival: