Friday, February 13, 2015

Romantic Wine, Spirits and Cocktails

It’s just before Valentine’s Day and my mind is wandering to wine and roses… and chocolate, spirits, and cocktails. I’m sure your Valentine would enjoy any of these treats.

Skinny Girl White Cherry Vodka
It’s been a while since I tried any new Skinny Girl products and I was anxious to taste the White Cherry Vodka. It did not disappoint. It has a hint of vanilla and just subtle cherry flavor, making it a fantastic low calorie cocktail just served with plain soda. If you’d like something a bit more festive, give this a try:

Royal Cherry
1 oz Skinnygirl White Cherry Vodka
2 oz champagne
1 frozen cherry

Pour champagne into flute and top with White Cherry Vodka. Garnish with one frozen cherry.

Chateau Chantal Cherry Wines
You can keep it simple with Chateau Chantal Cerise Cherry Port Style Dessert Wine and Michigan Cherry Wine. The Port is incredible sipped with dessert, or put it on a dessert like ice cream or pound cake.

As for the Michigan Cherry Wine, it will warm your night mulled. Pour it into a small crockpot with cinnamon sticks, anise stars, and a bit of ginger. You can also add some fruit, if desired. Serve it in warm mugs by a roaring fire.

PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
PAMA, made from pomegranate juice and vodka with a bit of tequila, is quite delicious on its own over ice, as the mixer for a margarita, or in a mojito.  I wanted to do something special with it so I got together with local bartender Lionel Lisardi and we did some experimenting. It resulted in this recipe that we both loved.

Hope you enjoy…

The Nutty Kiss
1-1/2 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 oz Crème de Cacao
½ oz Amaretto
¾ oz cream

Put ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake until blended and the strain into a martini glass rimmed with cocoa. Top with a spoonful of chocolate whip cream (just blend some of the cocoa into the whip cream).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Holiday Addition: The Latest & Greatest You Must Try…

I saved the best for last – the last of the year, that is. I’ve been hard at working eating, drinking, and reading so that I could get everyone ready for holiday giving (and keeping).

Notorious Pink Grenache
First of all, I love this bottle with the glass cap. Right away you get the feeling that this is more than a $20 bottle of wine (it’s not). Inside you’ll get 100% grenache in a light, strawberry-filled rose that’s easy to drink for any occasion.

2012 Fiorfiore Superiore Todi Grechetto Roccafiore
I’ll bet you can’t say that in one breath! You’ll want to write it down so you get it right at the wine store because chances are it’s not up front. Grechetto may be a grape you don’t know, but the Italians of Umbria sure do. This will also only set you back around $20 and it’s hard not to like. Think pinot grigio with a little more bite. You’ll get plenty of lemon and a bit of acidity that will mix well with food.

Viva Diva Moscato Mango
This is not the wine you’ll serve with dinner, but you’ll love it before or after. It has the sweet fruity taste of a Moscato, but the mango adds a bit of tang so it’s not too sugar coated. The Viva Diva wines are owned by celebrity Christina Milan and while I can’t speak for the other flavors (it also comes in Strawberry, Peach, and Pineapple Coconut), for $10 each you’ll want to stock some of the Moscato Mango for holiday visitors.

Reyka Small Batch Vodka
To be honest, I asked reps to stop sending me vodka for a while. It seemed like vodka was being made on every corner and in every country. I reluctantly agreed to try Reyka, and I’m glad I did. This one is definitely different. The Icelandic spirit is produced with glacial water and is smooth and flavorful. It’s well worth $25.

Cana Brava Rum
I confess that I haven’t looked to Panama for my rum before, but Cana Brava certainly knows its way around sugar cane. They also decided to age this one for three years to give it a bit more edge. The result was a great rum with strong vanilla notes. Give it or keep it for $25.

Blue Bay Chair Spiced Coconut Rum
This rum is the complete opposite of the previous one, and, the complete opposite of what I expected. First, it’s white in color, not a brown like most spiced rums. It is more of a cream rum and I’d have to compare it with Rumchata more than anything. That said, this is delicious by itself over ice, or with some soda water for a mixed drink. It will also cost you about $5 less than that other cream rum.

Fords London Dry Gin
I’m a gin lover so it’s not easy to get me to endorse one, but Fords London Gin has my seal of approval. According to the company, this gin is made from nine botanicals, “juniper from Italy, coriander from Romania, lemon peel from Spain, bitter orange peel from Haiti and Morocco, grapefruit peel from Turkey, angelica from Poland, cassia from Indonesia, jasmine from China and finally, orris from Italy and Morocco.” The blend most certainly works, but the reason I really like it is the same reason I really like gin – this one really has strong juniper flavor. Pick it up for about $30.

Tin Cup and Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey
Jess Graber has been distilling in Colorado for 30 years. The Rocky Mountain water has been good to him, but he still likes to play around with making whiskey.

Stranahan’s is quite strong in the front, but it goes down smooth, but not sweet, thanks to 100% malted barley. Tin Cup is actually bourbon, through a blend of corn, malted barley, and rye. You’ll get more sweetness in this one, especially the caramel notes, while the Stranahan’s is a bit more vanilla. Stranahan’s lists at $61, while Tin Cup goes for half that. While Tin Cup is a good blend, you get more fine whiskey taste with Stranahan’s

Food, wine, and spirits books find their way on my doorstep quite often. I admit I’m way behind on my reading, but I have some ideas if you are looking for hostess gifts this holiday season. Here are my picks…






Of course, there’s always my books...

And More…
I mentioned Cascade Ice Organic Flavored waters once before. I just wanted to add that they sent me two more flavors – Mixed Berry and Blueberry. At zero calories with real fruit flavor, I would definitely stock up on these for mixers. The Blueberry was especially incredible with the rum.

*As is always my policy, I only share what I like, regardless of what is given to me complimentary.

Happy Holidays!