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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What We’re Drinking Now: A New Crop of Premium Vodkas

Think that if you’ve tasted one vodka you’ve tried them all? Not anymore. Vodka is in the midst of a modern-day makeover thanks to a growing number of bartenders and distillers daring to revamp the spirit’s image. We recently tasted a number of newer premium vodkas that had made their way to our sample table here at Imbibe HQ—here are five of our favorites:

Has a vodka ever generated as much buzz as this recent release from Absolut? A big-brand entry into the “handcrafted” spirits category, this vodka is copper-pot-distilled from winter wheat grown on a single estate in southern Sweden, with an equally impressive flavor profile to match. It’s soft and subtly sweet up front, with a bit of black pepper spice and toasted grain mid-palate, followed by a clean, mellow finish. A vodka worth sipping and savoring? Definitely. ($50/1 liter SRP)

Texas is grapefruit territory, and perhaps no one knows that better than Austin-based distiller Deep Eddy. Fusing fresh-squeezed flavors of ruby reds with their supremely smooth classic vodka, this citrus-spiked sipper is plump and juicy from start to finish—we’re seriously impressed by how well they’ve preserved the freshness of the fruit flavor. A splash of soda and a squeeze of lime and our summertime porch sipping is set. ($18 SRP)

The Michigan-based spirits company beloved for its freshly flavored liqueurs (think blood orange, cucumber and even yumberry) recently launched its first plain vodka. Distilled from organic grains, it’s sweet and creamy (we found it reminiscent of ice cream and sweetened condensed milk) and left us with a hankering for a White Russian. ($20 SRP)

Bloody Mary, meet your vodka match. Made from distilled grains and soaked with a bouquet of bay seasonings (think crushed bay leaves, celery, paprika and loads of red pepper spice), each sip starts out salty as the sea, before the hit of mouthwatering spice. ($26 SRP)

What do you get when you combine potatoes, water and yeast? If you’re Colorado-based Woody Creek Distilleries, you end up with some delicious vodka. Three varieties of potatoes get washed and mashed at the distillery before a single fermentation, leaving lots of subtle nuances in tact. It’s sweet and creamy with a balance of fresh fruit flavors and a backbone of earthy spice. ($40 SRP)

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits from Around the Web

Want to try North Korean beer? Better ask the U.S. government for permission. NPR

A new coffee roasting collective opens in Brooklyn. New York Times

Beer sales may be in decline, but that’s not stopping craft brewers from doing what they do best. Houston Chronicle

A quick history on tangy sour beers. New Yorker

The divide between gender and booze. Huffington Post

Monday, July 29, 2013

The 4th Annual Pig & Punch at Tales of the Cocktail

Photo by Gabi Porter

On Sunday, July 21, Imbibe was proud to join the Bon Vivants in New Orleans for the 4th Annual Pig & Punch at Tales of the Cocktail. There was punch and pork aplenty, plus fantastic music from the Young Fellaz Brass Band—marking their third P&P appearance—and hundreds of bartenders, volunteers, KIPP families and employees, neighbors and Tales of the Cocktail attendees. The event was a huge success, and we're excited to announce that this year's Pig & Punch raised nearly $20,000 for New Orlean's KIPP Believe Primary and other local KIPP schools! 

More than 100 people came out to KIPP Believe Primary for Pig & Punch's volunteer day.

So, what does it take to throw Pig & Punch?

To eat? Three whole animals amounting to 400-500 pounds, 90 racks of ribs, 300 pounds of pork shoulder, 500 pounds of sausage, 500 pieces of chicken and 500 pounds of sides. Not to forget delicious Luxardo gelato from NOLA's La Divina Gelateria. There wasn't a bite or a scoop left.

To drink? A total of 7 punches amounting to 132 gallons, 6 kegs of Anchor Steam, 35 cases of Perrier and countless bottles of Shrub & Co. There wasn't a drop left.

Head to our Facebook page for a fun gallery of photos from this year's festivities and stay tuned for details about the Bon Vivant's upcoming Swig & Swine event at Portland Cocktail Week this October.

Special thanks to all the incredible sponsors who make this event possible: Templeton, Don Q, Don Julio, Beefeater 24, Absolut, Jameson, D'Ussé VSOP Cognac, Ancho Reyes, Solerno, Becherovka, Perrier Jouët, Mandarin Napolean, The Kings Ginger, Luxardo, Gekkeikan, Barenjager, Fernet Branca, Carpano Antica, Unicom Plum, Noilly Prat, St. Germain, Pernod, Shrub & Co, Fee Brothers, Jägermeister, Anchor Steam, Bin 27 and Perrier.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Imbibe’s Low Country Boil & Cocktail Smash With Son of a Gun & House Spirits Distillery

Imbibe is heading to Los Angeles!

On Saturday, August 10, join us for an incredible seafood brunch at Son of a Gun with bartender Daniel Warrilow (featured in our Summer Drinks Issue) and the folks at House Spirits Distillery.

Tickets are $85 and include seven dishes (we're talking oysters, lobster rolls, a Low Country seafood boil Son of a Gun-style and more) alongside three summery smashes. Gratuity is included.

Only 50 seats are available, so reserve quickly by clicking HERE. The event begins promptly at noon.

Low Country Boil & Cocktail Smash Menu 

$85 – all-inclusive

Oysters on the Half Shell with Traditional Accompaniments
Iceberg Wedge Salad with Creamy Italian, Bacon, Tomato & Chive
Yukon Gold Potato Salad with Grainy Mustard, Red Onion & Parsley

To drink: Chile-Nectarine Smash—House Spirits Limited-Release Rum, Lime Juice, Chile-Honey Syrup

Peel and Eat Shrimp, Mussels, Clams, Kielbasa, Corn on the Cobb & Red Bliss Potato
Lobster Roll, Brioche Bread, Old Bay Potato Chips
Cheddar Bay Biscuit, Whipped Butter

To drink: Pineapple-Basil Smash—Aviation American Gin, Lemon Juice, Pineapple, Basil

Peach and Berry Cobbler, Soft Cream

To drink: Raspberry-Coffee Smash—Westward Oregon Straight Malt Whiskey, Lemon Juice,
Raspberry, Coffee Cream

Son of a Gun is located at 8370 W 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA. Click HERE for reservations.

Questions? Email Katie Burnett at Katie@imbibemagazine.com.

Drink(s) of the Week: Best of the Oregon Brewers Festival

It’s that time of year again—beer under the big top at the 26th annual Oregon Brewers Festival. Held along Portland’s downtown waterfront every July, it’s one of the country’s largest and longest-running beer fests, bringing together more than 80 brewers from around the country to pour some of their best beers. Running though Sunday, there’s still plenty of time to head down for a pint (click here for event info). Not in the area? No problem—though many of the brewers use the fest as an opportunity to showcase some one-off suds, others instead opt to pour kegs of their most popular brews. Here are five of our favorites that make it beyond festival tents into bottles and cans across the country.

Boonville, CA, 5.5% ABV
If cream soda and a mellow pale made a beer baby it would taste like this golden cream ale from northern California’s Anderson Valley. Crisp yet creamy, expect clean notes of caramel followed by just a hint of hop spice. Available in cans, it’s a great go-to for summer. 

Kansas City, MO, 5.5% ABV
Love a hearty wheat beer and a hopped-up IPA? Thanks to this hybrid brew you don’t have to choose between the two. Combining a bouquet of hop varieties (including New World favorites Nelson Sauvin, Cascade and Summit) with malted, unmalted and pale malts, this American pale is bright and snappy, with a distinctive touch of toast.

Milton, DE, 5% ABV
A collaborative brew with Italy’s Birra del Borgo, this riff on the traditional Belgian-style wit bier is spiked with dried orange, fresh lemongrass and ground coriander. With a low ABV to boot, this is one summery refresher we could sip all season long.

Denver, CO, 7.3% ABV
Saisons are the traditional beer of summer, and this farmhouse ale from Denver’s Great Divide is a delicious example of the style. Brewed from a mix of wheat, barley and rice, and fermented with four different yeast strains, it’s got all the fruity, tart refreshment classic to the style, but with a little added oomph all its own.

Brooklyn Center, MN, 7.3% ABV
Its name may be poking fun at West Coast brewers’ affinity for über-hopped IPAs, but this brew from Minnesota’s Surly is no joke. Brace for a four-hop bite, followed by a quick palate-cleansing sweep of crystal malt sweetness.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits from Around the Web

An exclusive wine storage facility files for bankruptcy in Sandy’s wake, leaving its customers, and their wine, in the cold. New York Times

A recent storm ravages France’s Burgundy region … and its wine grapes. Bloomberg

Toasting a trio of New York’s favorite craft distilleries. NPR

Turning beer bottles and cans into oversized works of art. Bon Appetit

Can you stomach the world’s stinkiest fruit when turned into wine? Time

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Enter to win an iSi Flex~It Flexible Pitcher

There's no better time than summer to mix up pitchers full of your favorite drinks for easy outdoor entertaining. And today we're giving away 25 iSi Flex~It Flexible Pitchers to help you get started. The iSi Flex~It Pitcher features a flexible spout for a no-mess pour and a a snug-fit lid, and it holds up to 50 ounces. To make yourself eligible to win, simply click HERE and email to tell us what your favorite pitcher drink is for summertime sipping. The deadline is this Friday, July 26, at midnight Pacific time. Good luck!

Friday, July 19, 2013

6 Daiquiris for National Daiquiri Day

Photo: Katie Burnett

Calling to mind sun-bleached umbrellas, soft white sand and the turquoise waters of the tropics, the Daiquiri is the ultimate summer cocktail. Forget about those frozen, sticky-sweet variations and instead mix up a true classic. Here, in honor of National Daiquiri Day, are six of our favorite variations.

As simple a cocktail as they come, there’s a reason the Daiquiri is a classic. Fresh lime juice and a bit of simple syrup brighten and soften a good pour of white rum.

Ernest Hemingway loved his rum, and this version of the Daiquiri is how he liked to drink it.  Spiked with a bit of grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur, it’s a bit more complex than the classic, but just as reviving.

By swapping in an aged rum for the more traditional white and adding a dash of bitters and herbsaint,  the Portland, Ore. bar The Rum Club has created a true original inspired by the classic.

Juicy fresh watermelon is muddled with a Thai chile pepper in this vibrantly hued, spicy-cool adaptation.

This little-known Daiquiri adaptation comes from Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide and specifies Jamaican rum and a honey syrup in place of the more typical simple syrup. Slightly richer than the traditional, but just as enticing.

A sophisticated twist on the Hemingway Daiquiri, this cocktail from San Francisco's Jon Gasparini features rich Jamaican rum, maraschino and splash of grapefruit cordial. 

Drink of the Week: Carpano Bianco Vermouth

We can’t keep a secret. Because today’s Drink of the Week—the Carpano Bianco Vermouth is just too good to not share. Yesterday was our first official day on the ground in New Orleans for the 11th annual Tales of the Cocktail, and between seminars, tasting rooms and parties, we got the chance to sip this upcoming U.S. release from the Fratelli Branca family of spirits and fortified wines (and with Edoardo Branca, no less). Hello, delicious! Once an afterthought for many, vermouths are bigger than ever—though you don’t have to tell Branca that. Unchanged since its initial formulation more than 200 years ago, Europeans are already familiar with the Carpano Bianco Vermouth, though it hasn’t made its way stateside until now (make that this upcoming October when it officially launches in the U.S.). Branca stayed mostly mum on the formula, though we do know it’s a maceration of more than a dozen herbs and botanicals (including artemisia, fennel, thyme and coriander) in a white wine base with just a pinch of sugar. And the taste? Subtly sweet, it’s rich and velvety with fresh floral flavors met by smooth vanilla and a subtle tinge of bitterness on the finish. Crisp and refreshing over ice, mixed with soda, or splashed with Prosecco, it hit the spot in New Orleans’ humid heat, and we can’t wait until fall to take our next taste.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Minty Cocktails for Summer

Photo: Stuart Mullenberg
From the Mint Julep to the Mojito, mint is the herbal star of summertime sipping. Whether you’re plucking it fresh from the garden or grabbing it from the store, here are 6 recipes that’ll help you make the most of mint this summer.

Playing off the classic southern flavors of sweet tea and mint, this could be the ultimate breakfast cocktail.

An ideal cocktail for lounging in the backyard on a warm day, just pair with a hammock and a book, and you’ve got the perfect lazy afternoon.

Matcha powder combines with mint, lime and simple syrup over a tall glass full of ice. Sip and be revived.

This drink combines mint with a double dose of celery in the form of syrup and bitters. Just add genever and a generous mountain of crushed ice, and enjoy!

This refreshing combo of gin, mint, cucumber, citrus and simple syrup is a delicious riff on a Cucumber Collins.

Rum’s the word in this icy swizzle that calls for a handful of fresh mint. 

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits from Around the Web

Is one mega wine corp doomed to dump millions of dollars worth of “expired” vino? Wall Street Journal

Has one physicist finally found a way to drink coffee in outer space? Io9

Wine Spectator names its Top 100 Wine Restaurants—do you agree? Wine Spectator

Why the evolving coffee market has some growers upset. Economist

Are mosquitoes more attracted to beer drinkers? Washington Times

Monday, July 15, 2013

Win Weekend Passes to Tiki Oasis

Tiki Oasis is only a month away, and we're gearing up with a ticket giveaway to this year's event. If you plan to be in San Diego over the weekend of August 15–18 and you love tiki drinks and culture, then you won't want to miss this festival! We're offering the chance to win a pair of Full Weekend Wristbands—a pass that gets you access to the Thursday- through Sunday-night events.

To make yourself eligible to win these tickets, click here to email and tell us what your favorite tiki cocktail is and why. The deadline for entries is Sunday, July 28 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. We'll randomly select a winner on Monday, July 29. Good luck!

Keeping Tabs on Kickstarter

Photo: Paul Adams
In need of some inspiration? Take a quick browse through the latest projects on Kickstarter where there’s plenty of creativity flowing. Here are five drink-related projects we’re watching at the moment: 

Dave Arnold, founder and president of the new non-profit, not-yet brick-and-mortar Museum of Food and Drink, is looking to fund the museums’ first exhibit, BOOM!. The exhibit—which tells the story of the emergence of industrial food production through the lens of breakfast cereal—will begin as a pop-up in New York City and, if they can raise more than their $80,000 goal, it will tour around the country. Click here to learn more.

Portland writer and bartender Jacob Grier is looking to fund his next book, Cocktails on Tap. About three years ago, Grier and his friends hosted their first beer cocktails event in Portland and went on to produce similar events around the country, and he noticed that not only were people responding well to the drinks, but beer cocktails were popping up on lots of menus. The book will bring together Grier’s original beer-centric recipes as well as those of bartenders around the country. Click here to learn more. 

Creator Carey Bonn was inspired to create the Alaya brewer after a surfing trip to Costa Rica. Mornings spent chasing waves were followed by strong coffee brewed the local way—in a chorreador de café, a simple contraption involving a wooden stand and a cotton, sock-like filter. The Alaya brings modern, minimalistic design and a delicate organic cotton filter to this old-school brewing technique, and Bonn describes it as the “anti-automatic coffee machine.” Judgeing by the production quality of his video, the San Francisco-based project is sure to be carried out with style, should it reach its $25,000 goal. Click here to learn more.

Lee and Karen Cooper want to teach Bostonians about craft beer while cultivating community. Hopsters will be a brewery and pub, but it also has a larger mission. Lee, a Brit, hopes to build a sense of conviviality around the beer and brewery that reflects that of the pubs of his homeland. Guests will schedule times to stop by and, with the Cooper’s help, brew their own beer. They are still about $30,000 shy of their goal, but the project has until August 9. Click here to learn more.  

This already-operating non-profit coffee bar in Wahiawa, Hawaii, is seeking help with the purchase of a new espresso machine. They serve Stumptown coffee and want to be able to do justice to the single-origin beans, but their current system has neared the end of its life. As they put it, “We need a workhorse, and that means a La Marzocco Linea.” A water filtration system and a better grinder are also on the list—all to keep the coffee flowing at this beloved, volunteer-run, community café. Click here to learn more.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Drink of the Week: Kickstand Cold-Brew Tea

Cold-brew coffee is a summertime staple here at Imbibe (check out our current Summer Drinks Issue for six favorites), but thanks to today’s Drink of the Week—the new concentrate cold-brew tea from Kickstand—we’re adding tea to the mix. Brewed and bottled by Brooklyn-based Kickstand (the coffee company known for peddling its bottled cold-brew around town), this frosty refresher mixes Indian Assam tea from Sungarden with a squeeze of French plum for a bright, floral sipper with a summery fruit tang. Richly concentrated, each bottle dilutes into 10 servings, making it a great summertime go-to for everything from camping trips and cookouts. And they’ll ship direct to your door, which means more time made for the shade. $20/32 oz., kickstandglobal.com

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits from Around the Web

“Maybe Not Racked” by Syrah Mix-a-Lot—can you dig it? Been Doon So Long

Is cola-flavored wine becoming a thing? Time

Can’t find the bottle opener? This video offers up some newfangled cork-popping methods. (Don’t try this at home, kids.) CBS

SoCal industry insiders on what it means to be a female bartender in L.A. Los Angeles Magazine

Get us to the Greek! Greek wine, that is. Daily Herald

Are Texans the country’s biggest consumer of beer? Dallas Morning News

One motorcyle-riding good Samaritan saves a driver’s cup of joe. NY Daily News

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

5 to Follow—Levi Dalton’s Top Twitter Picks

In our current issue, we profile witty wine guy Levi Dalton. As the voice behind the popular podcast I’ll Drink to That!, Dalton has hosted countless wine industry luminaries, and at 1p.m. PST tomorrow he’ll be on Twitter to host our next Imbibe Twitter Session. In the meantime, curious to know who Dalton follows on Twitter these days? Here are his five favorite wine tweeters at the moment.

Be sure to join the conversation tomorrow! Our Twitter Session kicks off at 1 P.M. PST—tweet your questions live and follow along @imbibe #imbibechat.

Eric Asimov
“Sharp but never arch,” says Dalton of the New York Times wine personality. “Eric maintains engages wine and wider culture in a friendly, patient and enthusiast manner.”

Jon Bonne
Dalton calls San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonne, “A keen mind and a careful observer of the wine scene who is not at all afraid to rearrange the order of the canonical wines on any shelf.”

Talia Baiocchi
“She has a way of conversing with readers like they are in on a secret,” says Dalton of wine writer, editor and author Talia Baiocchi. “I always feel smarter and more hip having read her stuff.”

Patrick Cappiello
Managing partner and wine director at Manhattan’s Pearl & Ash, Patrick Cappiello is “old-school and fresh at the same time,” says Dalton. “Patrick is a sommelier with an appreciation of the classics and a still open mind.”

Tegan Passalacqua
“Following Tegan I feel like I’m in the vineyards with him as he engages them at a level of understanding that few other people in the world are able to verbalize as he does,” Dalton says of the Bay Area-based winemaker.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Monmousseau Cremant de Loire

Still celebrating the 4th? Then we suggest toasting the long weekend with today’s Drink of the Week—the non-vintage Cremant de Loire from Monmousseau. Our current Summer Drinks Issue celebrates some of summer’s best bubbly, and we’re planning to pop the cork on this blend of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay (with a bit of Pinot Noir and Cab Franc also in the mix) all summer. Made in the methode traditionnelle (a process akin to Champagne production) and aged nearly two years before heading to market, this stellar sparkler offers fresh, fruity aromas, a rich, creamy mouthfeel, zippy flavors of Granny Smith apples and lemon zest, and a chalky minerality with smooth honey on the finish—definitely a great bang for your buck. $16, flatiron-wines.com

Thirsty for more summer-ready sparklers? Click here for our guide to some of the best bubbly of the season.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

8 Recipes for a Festive 4th of July

Watermelon Cooler photo: Robert M. Peacock
Planning a cookout this 4th of July? Fire up the grill and shake up a round with these Independence Day-inspired eats and drinks.

Watermelon Cooler (pictured)
No 4th of July celebration is complete without some juicy watermelon, especially when it’s boozy and blended, like in this summery cooler. 

Deviled eggs are as Americana as apple pie, and this recipe from a James Beard Award-winning chef is as good as they get. 

Fruit waters help you stay cool and when entertaining outdoors, and this melony version hits the spot. 

Coconut water cocktails? Sign us up. We especially love this genever-spiked formula that can be easily multiplied for serving a crowd. 

Bolster your barbecue with this recipe for blue cheese burgers and an easy wine-soaked spread. 

Make the most of berry season with this DIY recipe for blackberry-herb soda. 

This decadent dessert gets a double dose of chocolate stout—both in the ice cream and cookies. The crunchy pretzels are a bonus. 

Crème de menthe-spiked grasshopper pie is a minty summertime classic, and this updated version takes the cake. 

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits from Around the Web

A new Beck’s bottle doubles as musical entertainment. Huffington Post

Love wine with popcorn? What about wine on popcorn. ABC 

17 sure signs you’re a cocktail snob. Food Republic 

Is there drama brewing at Wine.com? Venture Beat

Are socks made with coffee the new odor-eaters? Gizmodo