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, May 29, 2009

Drink of the Week: Thatcher’s Organic Cucumber Liqueur

Keep cool as a cucumber this summer with this new organic liqueur from Thatcher’s Distillery. Aromas of honeydew and cantaloupe give way to the refreshingly pure flavor of skin-on cucumbers, followed by a subtly sweet finish. Handcrafted in a Michigan town called (ironically enough) Temperance by Dave Racicot, these delicious liqueurs have already hit bars and specialty markets along the Eastern seaboard and the West Coast, with distribution set to expand into the South and Midwest in the next few weeks. The flavors are as versatile as they are refreshing—others include elderflower, dark chocolate, blueberry and apple spice ginger—and while interesting and complex, they also capture the purity of their primary ingredient. As for the cucumber, keep it chilled to sip solo before or after a meal, or enjoy it drizzled over a fresh fruit salad or mixed in a light, summery cocktail, like the one below. And almost as good as the liqueur itself is its cool, $20 price tag.

The Prospector
2 oz. Thatcher’s Cucumber
2 oz. premium silver tequila
1/2 oz. agave nectar
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
Ice cubes
Tools: barspoon
Glass: Collins
Garnish: fresh cucumber wheel

Combine all ingredients in a glass and stir to combine. Garnish.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Great West Coast Wine Events

Summertime brings wine festivals aplenty, but there a few events that we're really looking forward to this year. One is Pinot Days, which is a fantastic showcase of some of the world's best Pinots. That premise alone should make most wine enthusiasts swoon, but what also makes this event so appealing is its venue. It's held at San Francisco's Fort Mason, a big, open, airy space that provides lots of room for tasting and chatting up winemakers and fellow wine geeks without feeling crowded. This year's events will include the Grand Tasting featuring nearly 200 producers, as well as Winemakers Dinners, Focus Tastings and Pinot Legends Tastings. If you'll be in San Francisco June 24-28, you really should check out this event—it never disappoints.

Right on the heels of Pinot Days comes another terrific West Coast wine event, the Park City Food & Wine Classic. Park City is an absolutely beautiful town nestled in the mountains of Utah, so even if you don't happen to live in the area, this festival provides a great reason to visit. From July 9-12, the festival will present an array of seminars, dinners and tastings of everything from wine, spirits and beer to chocolate, cheese, and other artisan foods. With so much to do in and around Park City, this event offers the makings for a perfect summer vacation.

At the end of July, ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) is going on the road with two grand tasting events in Portland and Seattle. Dubbed "Zin & BBQ in the Park," the Seattle tasting takes place Sunday, July 26, from 4–7 p.m. and will feature more than 40 Zin producers and lip-smacking barbecue made by local culinary students. Similarly, the Portland event, which takes place Wednesday, July 29, from 6–8:30 p.m., will offer a range of Zins paired with plenty of delicious barbecue right in the heart of downtown. Visit the ZAP website for more details.

July will cap off with one more great festival in a gorgeous setting. The Wine Festival at Steamboat will take place July 30–August 2 in Steamboat, Colorado, and will combine lots of fun outdoor activities (i.e. guided fishing tours) with plenty of wine tasting and an interesting range of seminars and dinners. The grand tasting will feature more than 800 wines as well as cooking demos (featuring Hosea Rosenberg, winner of Bravo's Top Chef Season 5), music and other entertainment.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009 Spirited Dinner Series

It's hard to belive that in just two months, it will be time for Tales of the Cocktail, one of our favorite events of the year. Tales 2009 will once again be the place to be for cocktail enthusiasts the week of July 8–12 in New Orleans, and this year we're excited to be joining together with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur to sponsor the 2009 Spirited Dinner Series on Thursday, July 9, at 25 of the best restaurants around New Orleans. These dinners are always a highlight of Tales with acclaimed local chefs pairing up with some of the country's most talented bartenders, spirits experts and authors for an unforgettable drinking and dining experience. Tickets to these dinners tend to go fast, so be sure you check out the list of dinners and get your tickets early—this year's menus look fantastic! Here's a sneak peek of just a few of the pairings you can look forward to enjoying, and for a full list you can visit the Tales website.

Photo by Jennifer Mitchell

Friday, May 22, 2009

Drink of the Week: Numi’s Organic Moroccan Mint Puerh Green Tea

With warmer weather creeping in, there’s no better time to pick up a bottle of Numi’s new Organic Moroccan Mint Puerh tea for quick and easy thirst-quenching. Brewed with organic Moroccan mint and green pu-erh, a fermented Chinese tea prized for its purported healing properties, this tea, along with several other tasty flavors available from Numi, are the first pu-erhs to be bottled and certified organic (as well as kosher and gluten-free). Subtly sweetened with honey and cane sugar, this refreshing sipper is the perfect thing to cool you down as the summer heats up. $2.79 (SRP), available at Whole Foods.

Thirsty for more info on pu-erh tea? Check out “Bold & Beautiful”in the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of Imbibe.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

June Event: The Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor

In just over two weeks, The Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor in Washington, D.C. will kick off its second annual celebration of the best in food, wine, beer and spirits. Aside from the fantastic location right on the Potomac River, this events offers a terrific array of seminars and demos (even cooking classes for kids), a Belgian Beer Café, and a wide range of artisanal products, including salts, cheeses, breads, chocolates, coffees, teas, beers, wines, olive oils and ice cream. Countries from around the world will be represented, and there will be a strong emphasis on fresh, seasonal and responsibly sourced products and ingredients. If you'll be in DC on June 6 and 7, we highly recommend checking out this event—it will be a fantastic way to spend a gorgeous June weekend. For tickets and more details, visit the festival's website.

What: The Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor
When: Saturday, June 6: 12-8 p.m.; Sunday, June 7: 12–6 p.m.
Where: National Harbor, minutes from downtown Washington, D.C.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Think Rhubarb...

Rhubarb's unique, tart flavor and bright pink color make it a perfect ingredient for drinks. I've experimented before with rhubarb juice, but this year, I was looking to make something that takes up a little less space in my fridge. I discovered Carrie Floyd's recipe for rhubarb syrup on the food website Culinate, and it's great in both soda and cocktails (it's delicious with rum). This easy-to-make syrup is a fun way to put rhubarb to use while it's in season, but you can also enjoy it off-season. Just blanch and freeze leftover rhubarb from this season's harvest. Wash the stems (discard the leaves), chop into 1-inch pieces, plunge it in boiling water for a minute, quickly remove it to a bowl of ice water, drain and freeze. Then, whenever you're ready for a little taste of summer, open the freezer and whip up a batch of rhubarb syrup.
—Siobhan Crosby

Friday, May 15, 2009

Drink of the Week: Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen

It’s American Craft Beer Week, and what better way to celebrate than with a sneak peek of Sierra Nevada’s soon-to-be-released Kellerweis Hefeweizen? After getting their hands on a funky German yeast strain and visiting a number of Bavarian breweries, the folks at Sierra Nevada have hit the hefeweizen mark with this bold and yeasty brew, which will be available year-round once it hits shelves at the beginning of June (we were lucky to get an early taste). Partially brewed in open-top fermenters, Kellerweis is cloudy and complex and promises to be one of summer’s best beers. Aromas of ripe bananas and a rich, velvety mouthfeel come from yeast still suspended in the bottle, while a bold zing of citrus on the palate and subtle wheat finish keep this brew light and refreshing. Try it with fish and chips or grilled German sausage and sauerkraut. Trust us, this will soon be one of your new favorite beers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Top Tea Cocktails

We recently returned from the World Tea Expo, which presented a fantastic array of products, tastings, seminars and the first-ever tea cocktail competition, which we were happy to help judge. Tea has been making it's way into more and more cocktails lately, and it offers a lot of opportunity for experimentation. The cocktails in the Top Tea Cocktail Competition featured a range of teas and tisanes, and we saw lots of fresh herbs, fruits and everything from tequila to gin.

The winning recipe came from Max Solano of Table 10 in Las Vegas, whose herbaceous cocktail combined blackberry jasmine iced green tea with gin, Agwa coca leaf liqueur, lime juice, vanilla/clove syrup and egg white (click here for the full recipe). Max's cocktail was incredibly balanced and smooth, and the egg white gave it a great texture. "Tea as a cocktail ingredient is still an area that has not been well explored or utilized in the realm of modern mixology," Max told us recently. "It's not always seamless finding the right ingredients to go along with the right tea or vice versa. I would like to be one of the first in my field to really master tea and its implementation in cocktails."

We hope to see more interaction between tea and cocktails, as the results can be incredibly delicious—congrats to Max for offering such a perfect example of this!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Imbibe Sips Episode: The Corpse Reviver #2

Be sure to check out the latest installment of Imbibe Sips, where the talented Jeffrey Morgenthaler demonstrates how to make a classic Corpse Reviver #2. Like the name suggests, this cocktail, a popular drink in the 1930s, was designed to be a pick-me-up or hangover cure. While a little hair of the dog may not conjure up ideas of something that actually tastes good, this cocktail is deceptively delicious, with perfect balance and depth.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Drink(s) of the Week: The Renegade Wines of Indie Wine Fest

As a self-professed wine obsessive, I had been looking forward to the Indie Wine Festival for months: Nowhere else can you taste through Oregon’s best small-production wines in one place (and in one day). And last Saturday, the event proved to be better than ever, with 40 wineries pouring 64 different wines. Wine enthuusiasts packed the Portland Wine Project’s 10,000-square-foot winery and warehouse to taste expertly crafted, artisan wines all hand-selected by a panel of industry pros and wines experts.

Over the past three decades, Oregon has made its indelible mark on the wine world by producing first-class Pinot Noirs, and as to be expected, this year’s festival Pinots were fantastic: delicate and floral with soft yet vibrant fruit. Standouts included the 2007 McMinnville Pinot Noir from Kelley Fox and the 2007 Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir from 1789 Wines. But this year’s Indie Fest showed that Oregon is quickly becoming a serious contender in a number of different styles, varietals and blends.

Ribbon Ridge Vineyards Dewey Kelly Early Muscat 2006, $20/375 ml
Fortified with a Muscat Grappa from House Spirits Distillery, this aperitif’s inviting nose of orange blossoms and honeysuckle gives way to flavors of apricots and peaches with just a hint of minerality. Low residual sugar (3.5 percent) makes this wine perfect with shrimp skewers or grilled scallops.

Boedecker Cellars Rogue Valley Grenache 2007, $22
After working this past harvest with Stewart Boedecker and Athena Pappas, the husband-and-wife team behind Boedecker Cellars, I was excited to taste their organically farmed, single-vineyard Grenache. Fruit-forward and spicy (imagine ripe raspberries flecked with white pepper), with herbaceous undertones of basil and spearmint, this Southern Oregon-grown Grenache makes a great match to lamb burgers.

Zenas Wines Meritage 2006, $33
This Bordeaux-style blend of 60 percent Cabernet Franc and 40 percent Merlot is one serious wine. Aged for 15 months in both new and neutral French oak, look for flavors of dark berries laced with a touch of tobacco, and lots of vanilla and caramel on the finish. Perfect with grilled strip steak.

Gino Cuneo Cellars Columbia Valley Tre Nova Secopassa 2006, $40
Perhaps the most intriguing wine of the festival, this Italian-varietal blend of 50 percent Barbera and 50 percent Sangiovese is made in the passito method, a labor-intensive approach in which the wine grapes are first laid on racks and allowed to partially dry out before fermentation. Highly concentrated and intensely dark, this Amarone-like wine is a powerful one with rich, raisiny flavors on the palate and a finish of dark chocolate. Try it with soft, pungent cheeses or with a piece of bitter dark chocolate.

—Tracy Howard

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

May's Where to Drink Now: Brouwerij Lane

With almost three decades in the specialty beer industry as an importer and distributor, Ed Raven has recently added “shop owner” to his growing list of beery credentials. As its name suggests, the 700-square-foot space is brimming with European brands that Raven imports directly, as well as a mouth-watering selection of domestic microbrews—more than 200 bottles in all. Even better, Brouwerij Lane also offers $10 growlers from 10 rotating taps. Not too sure which lager, schwarzbier or kölsch to take home? Talk shop with Raven himself, or take advantage of $2 half-pint tastings.
Coordinates: 78 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn, New York; brouwerijlane.wordpress.com

(Image courtesy Michael Chatham)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Bebidas

Today is Cinco de Mayo, and while some in Mexico may be celebrating their army's triumph over French forces in 1862, many people here in the U.S. will be marking the day with a pitcher of margaritas. But if you're looking for something a little different to imbibe today, we suggest the equally light and refreshing Paloma, combining Mexican grapefruit soda and tequila (you can also try it with fresh grapefruit juice and soda water). Or, if you're more of a beer drinker, give the spicy Michelada a try—a perfect match for Mexican food!

Monday, May 04, 2009

May Event: New Orleans Wine and Food Experience

New Orleans knows how to throw a good party. From Mardi Gras to Tales of the Cocktail, there's always something to celebrate in The Big Easy. This month, help support many great local organizations by enjoying yourself at the 18th Annual New Orleans Wine and Food Experience.

Join 75 legendary local restaurants and 175 wineries from around the world for a 5-day festival of flavors, from the lively Royal Street Stroll to the Grand Tasting events over the weekend at the Louisiana Superdome. Take your pick of events or purchase an all-inclusive Grand Taster Package ticket for access to many of the main events.

What: New Orleans Wine and Food Experience
When: May 19 - 23, see full event schedule for details
Where: All around New Orleans

Friday, May 01, 2009

Drink of the Week: Mint Julep

May has arrived! Whether or not you'll be celebrating the annual tradition of Churchill Downs this year, there's no better time than Derby Day (May 2) to enjoy a classic Mint Julep. And to get prepped, check out our fun web-exclusive Q & A with New Orleans bartending legend Chris McMillian, who spoke with us about the origin, poetry and process of the perfect julep—right down to his no-nonsense ice-crushing technique. You can read more about Chris and what he's up to in New Orleans in our May/June 2009 issue, along with our ultimate home bar guide—from basic to advanced—arriving on newsstands just in time for some much-needed weekend reading.