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.

Monday, August 30, 2010

San Francisco Cocktail Week

In just a few weeks, one of the country's most venerable cocktail cities will be kicking off a week-long celebration for its annual San Francisco Cocktail Week. This year's festivities will begin on Tuesday, September 21, with the inauguration of the Boothby Center, a new community center, conference room, event space, beverage lab and home to the Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail. This event will be followed up by several more days of cocktail parties, demos, classes and a Barbary Coast Bar Crawl.

If you're lucky enough to live in or near San Francisco (or plan to be traveling there), this is a great chance to soak up the best of San Francisco cocktail culture and enjoy drinks from some of the city's best bartenders. Plus, ticket proceeds benefit the Barbary Coast Conservancy, so you'll be helping to further a fantastic endeavor.

To check out a full schedule, head to the SF Cocktail Week website, and be sure to get your tickets before events sell out. We hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Seasonal Beers, Bitters, DC Cocktails, DIY Amaretto ... ooh la la!

The Sept/Oct issue is arriving in mailboxes and stores, and it's full of great articles and recipes. For our cover story, we compiled a list of our top 50 favorite seasonal bottled beers, including a number of reader picks. We always look forward to the beers that make an appearance with the onset of every new season, but sometimes it can be tough to figure out which ones are worth seeking out. With the help of dozens of beer pros and our trusted readers, we considered hundreds of brews before narrowing our final list to 50—think of it as your very own beer calendar to guide you through the year's best seasonal brews. And, not surprisingly, we couldn't stop there. While our list of 50 focuses on bottled beers, some seasonals only show up on draught. So here's a list of a handful of seasonal beers on tap that we think also deserve a shout-out.

This issue also includes another great feature by Paul Clarke, this time on bitters. There's been so much happening in the world of bitters recently, with more and more bartenders coming up with their own unique recipes behind the bar, and small commercial brands popping up around the world incorporating everything from chocolate to cardamom to cranberries. Here's a recipe for In Bloom Bitters, combining lavender, rose petals, sage, star anise and citrus.

We also take a look at DC's cocktail scene, where a new crop of bartenders is redefining the city's drink culture. Be sure to check out the full article in the magazine for beautiful photos and incredible recipes, and in the meantime, try a delicious Tabard Cocktail from the talented Chantal Tseng.

Rounding out this issue are stories on wine country bike tours, homemade amaretto and DIY tea blending, not to mention a fun Q&A with Anthony Bourdain, a sherry taste test, a guide to the best espresso tampers and a how-to on making your own bourbon and sage sausages. So if you're already a subscriber, these and other tasty morsels should already be arriving in your mailbox, and if you're not a subscriber, head to your local newsstand for your copy (and while you're at it, subscribe so you can start having all of this delivered right to your door). Cheers!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Drink of the Week: FAIR. Quinoa Vodka

No longer relegated to picnics and vegetarian menus, quinoa makes its mark in the spirits world with the U.S. launch of Fair Quinoa Vodka from the Fair Trade Spirits Company, the world’s first fair-trade spirits company. Made in France from fair-trade-certified Bolivian quinoa, this vodka offers up nuanced notes of white pepper, bitter orange peel and a smooth creaminess on the finish. Sip it solo over a large ice cube, or try it mixed with fresh strawberries and Meyer lemon juice in the Strawberry Cooler from Scott Baird at 15 Romolo in San Francisco. U.S. availability is currently limited to New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, with national distribution in the works. $31, drinkupny.com

Strawberry Cooler
2 oz. FAIR. Quinoa Vodka
3/4 oz. Dolin Blanc vermouth
1 1/2 oz. fresh strawberry puree
3/4 oz. fresh Meyer lemon juice
3/4 oz. rich simple syrup
1 dash rose water
1 1/2 oz. soda water
Ice cubes
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: Collins
Garnish: thinly sliced lemon wheel and mint floret

Combine all ingredients, except ice and soda water in a shaker, and shake briefly to incorporate. Add soda water to shaker and strain ingredients into an ice-filled Collins glass and garnish.

For the strawberry puree: Remove the tops from one pint of strawberries and puree in a blender until smooth. Push through a sieve to remove seeds and large particulates.

For the rich simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup evaporated cane sugar to 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Skim off any foam and cool to room temperature. Will keep refrigerated for two weeks. Romolo suggests adding the microplaned zest of one Meyer lemon to the rich simple syrup while simmering, and straining out the zest after the syrup cools to room temperature.

Scott Baird, 15 Romolo, San Francisco, CA

Monday, August 23, 2010

Listen Up

If your summer plans call for a cross-country road (or plane) trip, podcasts can be a great way to pass the time, and these days, there are plenty of drink-related shows to choose from. Whether you’re a home brewer, a wine drinker or just a little cocktail-curious, here are six podcasts to help you tune out the rest of the world while you enjoy your summer getaway.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Drink of the Week: Abita Save Our Shore

Abita Brewing Company is sending out an SOS after the Gulf Coast oil disaster with the recent release of its limited-edition Save Our Shore beer. The brewery is donating 75 cents from each bottle sold to community restoration projects for those directly affected by the disaster, and aside from aiding in the clean-up, this wheaty, unfiltered pilsner is a deliciously refreshing summertime sipper. Balanced hops and malt flavors meet with a creamy mouthfeel and a crisp finish, making this the perfect pairing to burgers right off the grill. Pick up a few bottles, invite over some friends and drink in the opportunity to help clean up the coast. sos.abita.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Talking beer with the brothers Alström

The September/October issue of Imbibe is hot off the press and arriving in mailboxes, and this issue’s cover story is all about beer. You’ll have to pick up your own copy for the details, but in the meantime, you can check out our interview with beer-loving brothers Jason and Todd Alström. The duo behind BeerAdvocate.com recently chatted with us about what’s it’s like to sample suds for a living, how much beer they drink in a day and how long they plan to keep it all going.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Drink of the Week: Grochau Cellars 2007 “Cuvee des Amis” Pinot Noir

Last night, we gathered with some friends for an informal blind tasting of Pinot Noir. The rules were simple: Bring a bottle of Pinot from anywhere around the globe to share, and don’t tell anyone anything about it. After a moderator sworn to secrecy transferred the wines into numbered bottles, we started tasting. Preconceived notions based on label design, growing region and vintage were immediately thrown out the window. We sipped through the 15-bottle lineup noting one clear favorite, which is today’s Drink of the Week: Grochau Cellars 2007 “Cuvee des Amis” Pinot Noir. Among the Old- and New-World Pinots at the blind tasting (including some inexpensive lesser-known bottles and other pricier heavyweights), this Oregon gem caught us from the get-go with its lush red-berry fruit, vibrant acidity and subtle minerality. A blend of four different Willamette Valley vineyard sites, this flagship wine from winemaker John Grochau stands up to richer dishes and grilled meats, but it’s equally delicious for sipping on its own. $32, northwest-wine.com

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

California Dreaming

In our July/August 2010 issue, Paul Clarke explores the cocktail renaissance of LA, where local bartenders have been making a name for themselves by showcasing fresh, seasonal fruits, veggies and herbs. There’s no better time to make the most of the flavors of summer, so here are a few summertime sippers that’ll give you a delicious taste of So Cal.

Dill Paloma
Garden-ripe cucumbers and fresh dill combine in this refreshing fizzy sipper.

The Blues Cocktail

This combination of gin, lime juice and fresh blueberries will clear up any case of the blues.

The Nice, Nice
It tastes so nice, he named it twice. Fresh basil and Aperol meet in cocktail heaven.

The Only Remedy
This blueberry cocktail might not be the only remedy, but it’s definitely a delicious one.

A Walk in the Garden
This breezy summer cocktail combines the garden-fresh combo of crunchy celery and crisp fennel.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Drink of the Week: The Sweet Taste of Victory

After three decades and perfectly timed with raspberry season, Chambord has freshened up the design of its iconic bottle (the recipe remains unchanged), and today’s Drink of the Week helps usher in the venerable liqueur’s new look.

Hal Wolin, keeper of the blog A Muddled Thought offers up The Sweet Taste of Victory, a richly flavored, yet refreshing summertime sipper. Chambord has long been popular for its blackberry-, raspberry- and vanilla-infused Cognac, and Wolin highlights each of those notes with the addition of bourbon, vanilla syrup and Peychaud’s bitters.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

August’s Where to Drink Now: Spoonbar

Bartender Scott Beattie infuses drinks with the regional flavors and spirits of Northern California’s Sonoma County at the recently opened Spoonbar. Housed on the ground floor of downtown Healdsburg’s H2 Hotel, Spoonbar offers a mix of reworked classics, like the Tempus Fugit Negroni, alongside modern concoctions, like the Cucumber Collins, that are available either as single-serving cocktails or in pitchers for groups. And while Beatty mixes at the bar, chef Rudy Mihal (who held positions at Gramercy Tavern and Fiamma before opening his own restaurant, Odyssey) finds Mediterranean and Moroccan influence in small plates and entrée dishes like Merguez sausage, Tunisian beef skewers and Sicilian meatballs. Get there early to snag a seat alongside the open accordion windows and settle in for a summery Sonoma night.
Coordinates: 2169 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, California; 707-922-5251; h2hotel.com