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, July 30, 2010

Drink of the Week: Sweetbird Almond Syrup

It’s full-on cherry season, and we’ve been looking for as many ways as possible to put this sweet summer fruit to use. One of our favorite flavor combos is cherry and almond, a delicious match-up that takes center stage in our Almond Bing Fizz, mixing fresh Bing cherries with today’s Drink of the Week: almond syrup from Sweetbird. Sweetbird’s syrups are all-natural and great for cocktails, coffee drinks and sodas. Their almond syrup has a pure, concentrated almond flavor, adding milky marzipan notes to sweet and slightly tart cherries. A squeeze of lemon and a splash of soda water , and you’ve got the perfect summer refresher.
$9.25 for 1 liter, coffee-authority.com

Almond Bing Fizz

10 fresh Bing cherries, stems removed and pitted
1 1/4 oz. Sweetbird almond syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
Soda water
Ice cubes
Tools: cherry pitter, muddler, shaker, strainer
Glass: Collins
Garnish: lemon twist or skewered cherry

In a shaker, muddle pitted cherries to a pulp. Add remaining ingredients, except soda and shake. Strain into an ice-filled glass and top with soda water. Garnish.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

August Wine Events

Summer is the season of wine festivals, and over the next few weeks, several events will be happening across the country that are worth checking out. First off is the Wine Festival at Steamboat, happening August 5-8 in picturesque Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This year's event will have about 500 wines, spirits, beers available for tasting along with a range of seminars covering everything from South American wines to how to do a blind tasting.

Just outside of Portland, Oregon, the Best of Oregon Food & Wine Festival will kick off on August 14. This festival showcases the best of Oregon's wine and food. In addition to being able to sample wine and food from area producers, there will be cooking demos and live music—right during the peak of Oregon's amazing summer weather.

Across the country, New Yorkers have two great events to look forward to: the Finger Lakes Riesling Festival and the North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ and Wine Festival. The Finger Lakes have been earning a reputation for the impressive white wines coming out of the region, especially Riesling, and the Finger Lakes Riesling Festival, happening August 14 and 15, is a fun celebration of those efforts. In addition to lots of regional wines, there will be local foods, art and music, along with classes and demos.

Over the same weekend, the North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ and Wine Festival will kick off in Jamesport, NY. Admission to this event will get you delicious barbecue from Maple Tree BBQ, a tasting glass, and samples of craft beers and wines from across the country—well worth the $50 ticket price. VIP tickets are already sold out, so be sure to get your general admission tickets while you can.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tool Academy

In our July/August cover story on summer cocktails, bartender Elizabeth Markham (formerly of Beaker and Flask in Portland, Ore.) created a garden-fresh Julep with spearmint, genever and white Port. But aside from crafting cocktails, Markham and her bartending boyfriend, Pete Gugni (formerly of Cantina in San Francisco), recently moved to a 13-acre estate in Fletcher, North Carolina, where they spend their free time forging sterling silver barspoons for their Defaced line of bar tools.

The project began last winter as a casual hobby when the pair visited Gugni’s mom, who owns the property just outside of Asheville. There, in the on-site metal shop, Gugni forged a barspoon for he and Markham to use behind their bars at work. Word got out, and numerous inquiries and special requests for custom barware led the duo to pack their bags this past April and head to North Carolina full time. Today, they spend their free time in their metal shop hammering, twisting and torching thick sterling silver wire into spoons bedecked with vintage coins, hence the line’s name. Scavenging the coins from area antique shops, Markham focuses on finds from the 1920s to ’40s for their higher silver content (which makes for a cleaner solder), and the added significance of originating in the era when cocktails were just beginning their post-Prohibition resurgence.

The spoons are evenly balanced from base to tip and weightier than commercial barspoons, making for a more substantial feel. Plus, the high silver content transfers temperature to your hand, acting as the ideal indicator for when drinks reach their optimum temperature. For now, Markham and Gugni and filling orders as fast as they come in and are working on some custom pieces, like an ice pick forged from a reclaimed railroad spike. You can score your own Defaced spoon for about $125 by emailing Markham at: defacedbarware@gmail.com.

Photos by Ron Dollete, lushangeles.com

Friday, July 23, 2010

Drink of the Week: J. Hoffstätter Pinot Nero “Meczan” 2008

Summer temps are still climbing, and while whites and rosés get most of the warm-weather play, today’s Drink of the Week shows that sometimes a lively bottle of red can be just as refreshing as its sun-loving siblings. Less than an hour south of the Austrian border in Italy’s Alpine Alto Adige region, J. Hofstätter has been producing elegantly approachable wines since the estate was founded in 1907, and their “Meczan” Pinot Nero is a classic example of winegrower Martin Foradori’s clean, yet complex style. Notes of wild cherries and fresh herbs meet bright acidity on the finish, making this racy red a perfect match to everything from roasted white fish to sausages straight off the grill. $25, wallywine.com

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Frozen Assets

What's sweet and cool and will make you giddy as a kid? Spiked ice cream, of course! Boozy ice creams, gelatos and sorbets are the ultimate grownup treats, and crafty ice cream makers across the country are dreaming up enticing recipes that incorporate everything from bourbon to beer. This summer, keep your cool with this list of 10 spirited ice creams and sorbets as well as one icy granita.

Photo by Iain Bagwell from Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sherry’s Seeking the Ideal Mate

Calling all sherry-loving sommeliers: The Sherry Council of America is inviting chef-sommelier teams from restaurants all over the U.S. to submit their best food-and-sherry pairings for the chance to compete in the U.S. finals for Copa Jerez, the international food-and-sherry pairing competition held each year in Jerez, Spain. Three semifinalist teams will compete in a live cook-off and pairing in New York City, with the top team scoring a spot (and a trip) to the Copa Jerez finals this coming January. The deadline for recipes with pairings is August 15, so bust out the tapas and get tasting. Additional details can be found at sherrycouncil.org, and for more on Spain’s famously fortified wine, check out Sherry on Top from our November/December 2008 issue.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Drink of the Week: Rhubarb, Ginger & Star Anise Soda

Outdoor markets are in full swing for summer, and residents within greater New York City can spend their Saturdays perusing the Fort Greene Brooklyn Flea, a vintage, craft and food market where artisans and collectors sell their latest tastes and treasures. First-year vendor, Brooklyn Soda Works, has already found a loyal following for their artisanal sodas and sparkling juices, and those outside New York can still score a taste with their recipe for Rhubarb, Ginger and Star Anise soda. Perfectly balancing sweetness and spice, this unconventional but delicious summer sipper is refreshing on its own or mixed with a splash of gin.

Rhubarb, Ginger and Star Anise Soda

7 oz. of fresh rhubarb, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 liter water
1 whole star anise pod
3/8 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. fresh ginger juice (if you don’t have a ginger juicer use a clean garlic press)
Tools: saucepan, wooden spoon, chinois strainer, soda siphon

Bring rhubarb, star anise and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a chinois strainer or a double layer of cheesecloth, pushing the liquid from the cooked rhubarb mash through with a wooden spoon. Add sugar, stir to dissolve and let cool to room temperature. When cool, add fresh ginger juice. Stir and add enough cold water to return the liquid level to 1 liter. Pour into a soda siphon and carbonate. Serve over ice.

If you don't have a soda siphon, you can mix a more concentrated version of the rhubarb syrup with seltzer. Simply reduce the rhubarb mixture by simmering it uncovered for 1 hour (instead of the specified 30 minutes, covered), strain, combine with sugar and cool. Mix with seltzer, to taste, and enjoy!

Makes 1 liter and will keep refrigerated for up to one week.

Caroline Mak and Antonio Ramos, Brooklyn Soda Works

Monday, July 12, 2010

July’s Where to Drink Now: Water Avenue Coffee Company

Microroasters seem to be sprouting up everywhere these days, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where the newest kid on the block is Water Avenue Coffee in Portland’s Southeast Industrial district. Just a couple of weeks old, the shop has American Barista and Coffee School director Matt Milletto and former Stumptown Coffee roasting ace Brandon Smyth at the helm, and the coffee is a good as it gets. Their Swiss-imported, vintage French Samiac roasts a mix of seasonally changing single-origin beans for brewing by pour-over, Chemex or press pots, or try an expertly made espresso drink. Pick up a bag of fresh-roasted beans to go, or catch their refurbished 1973 Chevy van with mini-roaster and built-in coffee bar at area farmers’ markets throughout the summer.

Coordinates: 1028 SE Water Ave., Portland, Oregon; wateravenuecoffee.com

Check out our list of other microroasters making a splash.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Drink of the Week: The Sherry-Netherland

It’s been hard to escape the World Cup frenzy over the past few weeks, and this Sunday, all of that excitement will culminate with the tournament’s final game. We’re not taking sides, so today’s Drink of the Week honors both of the teams heading to that finale—the Netherlands and Spain. The Sherry-Netherland combines Dutch genever with Spanish sherry, curacao, orange bitters and raisins to delicious effect. Mix up one of these while you’re watching this weekend’s nail-biter of a game and you might just end up rooting for both teams.

The Sherry-Netherland

12 raisins
2 oz. genever
1 oz. Pedro Ximenez sherry
1/4 oz. orange curacao
2 dashes of orange bitters
Ice cubes
Tools: muddler, mixing glass, barspoon, strainer
Glass: coupe
Garnish: 3 raisins, skewered

Muddle the raisins in a mixing glass. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Double-strain into a chilled coupe and garnish.

From Mr. Boston’s Holiday Cocktails (Wiley, 2009)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Wine School, DC Style

In three weeks, wine pros from around the world will be converging on Washington, DC for the annual Society of Wine Educators Conference. This is a great event for anyone working in the wine industry, from sommeliers to writers to retailers. It's an opportunity to learn from your peers, sample rare wines, tour nearby wineries and learn about wines from around the world—you can even earn your wine specialist certification. The conference kicks off on Monday, July 28th and runs through the 30th, with a post-conference tour of Virginia's wine country on July 31st—the line-up this year looks really impressive. For more details on the conference and/or to register to attend, click here.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Drink of the Week: Beefeater Summer Gin

Summer is the perfect season for a classic Gin & Tonic, and over the holiday weekend, we’ll be mixing ours with the recently released Summer Gin from Beefeater. Lower in alcohol (this bottling clocks in at 80-proof versus the 94-proof classic Beefeater), master distiller Desmond Payne also toned down the juniper notes and added elderflower, black currant and hibiscus for a bright, floral flavor profile. Enjoy it as a sipping gin, mix it in a G&T or try it in the Tiberius Fizz from cocktail blogger Jacob Grier with hibiscus syrup, fresh cucumber and a splash of soda water. This limited-edition gin is available now in all major markets but will likely be gone by Labor Day, so get a bottle while you can.
$23, astorwines.com

For more about modern gin distillers, check out Ginning Things Up.