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, October 29, 2010

Drink of the Week: Campo de Encanto Pisco

Today’s Drink of the Week translates to “field of enchantment,” and after tasting this distinctive spirit, we can’t think of a more fitting name. Campo de Encanto pisco is the brainchild of San Francisco bar owner Duggan McDonnell, sommelier Walter Moore and distiller Carlos Romero, and the trio spent two-and-a-half years refining their recipe for their Peruvian brandy. A blend of three wine grapes that are vinified, once-distilled and aged for nine months, Encanto is incredibly smooth and balanced with full floral notes backed by hints of citrus and spice. It’s a perfect candidate for sipping solo, but it also mixes beautifully in a plethora of cocktails. Try it in the Encanto Equinox, which highlights the picso’s floral notes while playing up the flavors of fall. For now, Campo de Encanto is available online and in California, New York and Oregon with distribution expanding to Illinois, Texas, Nevada and Florida during the first half of 2011.
$35, caskstore.com

Encanto Equinox
2 oz. Campo de Encanto pisco
1/2 oz. pumpkin syrup (see below)
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
Pinch of sea salt
Ice cubes
Tools: mixing glass, barspoon, strainer
Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: lime wheel and fresh-grated nutmeg

Stir all ingredients for at least 20 seconds and strain over fresh ice cubes into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish.

For the pumpkin syrup, carefully combine equal parts honey, boiling water and pumpkin innards (only the stringy stuff and seeds, no meat) in a large glass jar. Stir until honey dissolves. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 24 hours. Double-strain into a clean glass jar and store refrigerated. Will keep refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Lydia Reissmueller, The tenderBAR, 3livingroombar@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Save on Tickets to Phiz Fest

With the holidays creeping up, the season for bubbly is approaching, and we don't know of a better way to prepare than by heading to Phiz Fest. This annual celebration of sparkling wines is a great way to figure out which bubblies you want to be imbibing this holiday season, and what types of food to pair with them. Happening on November 18 at the Hyatt in downtown Philadelphia, entrance to the festival gets you unlimited wine and food samples, and until November 8, Imbibe readers can save $5 on tickets by entering the code IMBIBE at the online checkout. Click here to get your special savings, and enjoy one of favorite events of the year—we promise you'll go home with a full and happy belly!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Drink of the Week: Bénédictine

Celebrating its 500th anniversary this year is today’s Drink of the Week, Bénédictine liqueur. Originally crafted by monk Dom Bernardo Vincelli in France’s Normandy region, the recipe for this herbal spirit could have been lost forever had it not been passed along to a local family during the French Revolution when the monks were extricated from their Abbey. Almost a half-century after the Abbey was destroyed, wine merchant Alexandre le Grande rediscovered the recipe gifted to his family and set about meticulously re-creating the secret elixir. Calling on 27 different herbs and spices, including angelica, hyssop, cinnamon and thyme, Bénédictine warms with its amber-y golden hue and sweet flavors of tangerine peel, fennel and honey. Its unique profile and timeless flavor have inspired bartenders for centuries, and it continues to play a role in classics like the Vieux Carré and Bobby Burns as well as more contemporary recipes, such as the Turmoil and Black Forest cocktails. $20/375 ml., drinkupny.com

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How 'Bout Them Apples?

In our Sept/Oct 2010 issue, we delve into the juicy trend of using apple cider in cocktails, but artisanal ciders—both hard and alcohol-free—have long been sipped solo. We recently tasted an array of hard ciders from around the globe and found some definite standouts. Check out a few of our favorites.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Drink of the Week: Sierra 30 Brewer's Reserve Grand Cru

For three decades, Sierra Nevada has been brewing some of the world’s finest craft beers, and to celebrate turning 30, the brewery has been celebrating all year with its 30th Anniversary Series, the fourth and final of which will be released this Monday. While the other three beers in the series were collaborative projects with craft brewing pioneers, such as Fritz Maytag, Fred Eckhardt and Charlie Papazian, this final release is a collaboration of three of Sierra Nevada’s most acclaimed brews—Oak-Aged Barefoot, Celebration and the flagship Pale Ale. Blended together, dry-hopped and then bottle-conditioned, the results are astoundingly familiar yet altogether unique, offering piney hop flavors, sweet caramel malts and a splash of vanilla on the finish. This is a great beer for cellaring, or enjoy it now alonside a rich fall stew. $10/750 ml., sierra30.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Flower Power

The September/October issue of Imbibe celebrates the seasonality of beer, and come fall, there are plenty of brews to get excited about, not the least of which are wet-hop beers. Unlike the bulk of the hops crop, which is dried and compressed into pellets for easy transport and year-round use, wet (aka fresh) hops are left out of the drying kiln and either picked up or shipped directly to a brewer to use within 24 hours of harvest. The result is beers that delicately highlight the herbal, grassy or citrusy characteristics of the specific hop varieties used. And while brewing with fresh hops requires many more hops due to their naturally high water content, ironically, the IBUs (units used to measure a beer’s hop bitterness) are typically lower, offering a nuanced, yet tempered hop profile. Sierra Nevada pioneered the wet-hop style in the mid-1990s, and since then, brewers across the country have showcased fresh hops in everything from pale ales to porters. Due to the seasonal nature of these beers, many don’t make it beyond a brewery’s own taps, but as demand grows, so does availability. Here are four bottled iterations that are currently available in most markets, but be sure to pick them up while you can, as they’ll disappear from store shelves as fast as the changing leaves fall.

Chatoe Rogue Wet Hop Ale
Newport, Ore., 6.4% ABV
Growing your own hops ensures optimum freshness, and that’s exactly what Rogue does for this wet-hopped ale, which is a part of the brewery’s aptly named GYO (or grow your own) series. Six different hop varieties from Rogue’s micro hop yard offer clean and approachable flavors of soft citrus and mellow hop spice. Restrained bitterness on the finish makes this ale a perfect toe-dip into the fresh-hop style.

Deschutes Hop Trip
Bend, Ore., 5.5% ABV
Nearly half a ton of farm-fresh Crystal hops from Salem, Ore., go into to this American pale ale, resulting in crisp floral flavors and a surprisingly sweet, honeyed finish. The somewhat restrained 38 IBUs make it an easy-drinking match for a burger.

Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale
Denver, Colo., 6.1% ABV
Great Divide gets whole cone hops overnighted from the Pacific Northwest for this American pale ale, which hits hoppy high notes of tangy citrus, fresh cut grass and resinous pine. Crisp and medium-bodied, fans of a big hop bite will love sinking their teeth into this once-a-year beer.

Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest
Chico, Calif., 6.7% ABV
Cascade and Centennial hops from Washington are picked and same-day-shipped to Sierra Nevada’s Chico brewery, where they immediately head to the brewing kettle, resulting in a beer with bright notes of grapefruit and pine and a hint of sweet biscuit malts on the finish.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Mix Your Way to Cocktail Heaven

The Bols Around Cocktail Competition is one of the cocktail competitions we look forward to most each year, and we're thrilled to announce the 2010 competition is open for entries. This year’s theme is “Mix Your Way to Cocktail Heaven”—in other words, who can create the most divine cocktail using Bols liqueurs.

Show off your cocktail creativity, and you might just be among the 2 North American finalists who will win a three-day trip to Amsterdam to compete in a live competition in February 2011 with 6 other bartenders from around the world. The grand-prize winner of the live competition will receive 2,500 Euros (about $3480 US), the 2nd-place winner will receive 750 Euros (about $1045 US) and the 3rd-place winner will receive 500 Euros (about $696 US).

All North American entries will be judged by award-winning bartender John Lermayer. A global panel of judges will then choose the 1st 2nd and 3rd-place winners at the live competition in Amsterdam in February. Cocktails will be judged on originality, use of product, taste, presentation, balance, aroma, technique and visual appeal.

The deadline for entries is October 31, 2010. You must be a working bartender to qualify for entry, and cocktails must contain at least 3/4 ounce of any Bols liqueur. For a full overview of rules and prizes, and to submit your winning recipe, visit bolsaroundtheworld.com.

We can't wait to see the entries for this competition—last year’s submissions were incredibly creative and diverse. Be sure to get your recipe in by October 31 for your chance to win, and best of luck!

And for a little inspiration, check out this video of Gary Regan at the Bols Academy talking about the art of cocktail-making and bartending, and this one of Rob Rademaker inviting you to join this year’s competition.

Drink of the Week: Clos Roche Blanche Touraine 2009

Now that we’re fully surrendering to the change in seasons, the cooler weather has us reaching for familiar comfort flavors, and today’s Drink of the Week, the 2009 Touraine from Clos Roche Blanche is one of those reliable favorites. Year after year, we fill our glasses with this organically farmed Cabernet Franc (the parent grape to Cabernet Sauvignon) for its savory and satisfying mix of fresh strawberry, green pepper and dried herb flavors. A vibrant match to hearty stews and pasta dishes, consider this wine your warm, wool sweater on a blustery fall day.
$19, astorwines.com

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Great American Distillers Festival & Portland Cocktail Invitational

Every fall, distiller from across the country converge on Portland for the Great American Distillers Festival. The 2010 event is set to kick off on October 23 at Portland's historic Tiffany Center, and we're very excited that this year's festival will also be happening in conjunction with the first annual Portland Cocktail Week, taking place October 21-24. The festival will bring together more than 30 craft distillers who will be sampling everything from small-batch bourbon to specialty liqueurs.

There will also be seminars covering a range of topics, such as Japanese whiskey and artisanal tequila, and once again, bartenders from around the country will be on hand to compete in the Portland Cocktail Invitational. The winner will be receiving $1000 cash from Tuthilltown Spirits, the 2nd-place runner up will receive $500 from House Spirits and the 3rd-place runner up will receive $250 from Bull Run Distillery. Competitors will be creating signature cocktails using spirits from the festival, and in the final round, they'll have to create an original cocktail using a secret "black box" ingredient. The competition is always a highlight of the Distillers Festival, and we can't wait to see who takes home top honors. Festival tickets include entry to the competition, which will be taking place during both days of the festival, October 23 and 24.

Tickets to the festival are $10 for a one-day pass, $16 for a two-day pass, and you can purchase them on site. For more details on this year's event, head to distillersfestival.com. And to get more information on Portland Cocktail Week, head to portlandcocktailweek.com.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

October’s Where to Drink Now: Cascade Brewing Barrel House

Just the thought of cracking a tart and tangy sour beer is enough to incite mouth-watering excitement from the biggest beer geeks, and Cascade Brewing is feeding that frenzy with its week-old Barrel House. Housed in a former produce warehouse, the space is divided into two sections—a temperature-controlled barrel room which houses 250 beer-filled French oak and Kentucky bourbon barrels, and a tap room where 14 of 18 draught lines pour Cascade Brewing’s barrel-aged sours like Vlad the Imp Aler and the Vine to sip alongside simple artisan snacks like locally sourced charcuterie, salads and sandwiches. In no way a newbie to the world of sours, Cascade Brewing began experimenting with barrel-aging its Belgian-inspired beers over five years ago and has since garnered numerous awards and a cult-like status for many of its Lactobacillus-flecked brews. And with a visit to their Barrel House, it’s easy to taste why.
Coordinates: 939 SE Belmont St., Portland, Ore.; 97214; 503-265-8603; cascadebrewingbarrelhouse.com

Photo: © Matt J. Wiater (portlandbeer.org)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Drink of the Week: Bitter End Jamaican Jerk Bitters

The culinary and cocktail worlds are intersecting more than ever, and bitters offer a prime example of that crossover, as evidenced by today’s Drink of the Week, the Bitter End’s Jamaican Jerk bitters. Adding a sweet heat to cocktails with notes of habanero peppers, cinnamon and allspice, these bitters are hand-ground, mixed and bottled by Bill York in Sante Fe, New Mexico. Try them in the Full Sail Cooler below, and then experiment with York’s other flavors, like Mexican Mole, Memphis Barbeque and Thai bitters. And for more on the history of cocktail bitters and their modern revival, check out Bittersweet Symphony in the September/October issue of Imbibe. $15, bitterendbitters.com

Full Sail Cooler
2 oz. Jamaican rum
3/4 oz. honey syrup (1:1)
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
2 oz. pineapple juice
8 fresh mint leaves
4 drops Bitter End Jamaican Jerk bitters
Ice cubes
Tools: shaker, muddler, strainer
Glass: Collins
Garnish: fresh pineapple wedge and mint slice

Muddle honey syrup, mint and lime in the bottom a shaker. Add all other ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into an ice-filled Collins glass and garnish.

Chris Milligan, SF Barman