Wine Wine Reviews

Wine Wednesday: Pierre Gimonnet Gastronome Brut Blanc de Blanc 2006

ChampagnePierre Gimmonet is far from a household name in the Champagne business. But even though they don't get the headlines, they produce some of the best wines in the region. A great example is the Pierre Gimonnet Gastronome Brut Blanc de Blanc 2006.

A "Blanc de Blanc" Champagne is a white wine made from white grapes — in this case, Chardonnay. It's also billed as a "gastronome" Champagne, which basically means it's intended to be drunk with food. It has smaller bubbles and less added sugar, so as not to overly interfere with the palate.

We enjoyed this with a "surf and turf" meal of ribeye steaks and crab cakes. As promised, this wine was an excellent accompaniment to our dinner. It's fresh and lively, with a crisp flavor that cuts through your meal without overpowering it.

With delicious fruity flavors and a slight floral character, this is also a fine Champagne to drink on its own. I'd be happy to open a bottle of this any time.

Cocktail of the Day Drink Recipes Wine

Cocktail of the Day: Sandeman Harvest Sour

 Sandeman port cocktail
In an effort to help make one of my 2013 predictions come true, I offer a tasty cocktail made with Port wine.

I know this one's a little complicated, but if you feel ambitious, it's worth the effort.

Sandeman Harvest Sour

1 1/2 oz Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto
1/2 oz Apple Brandy 
3/4 oz Raspberry Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
2-3 oz Dry Apple Cider

Shake all ingredients (except cider) with ice, then strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with cider, garnish with raspberries and dust with nutmeg.

Drink Recipes

What to Drink for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is tomorrow in the U.S., that national holiday in celebration of overindulging. Millions of turkeys will be devoured, along with enough sides to make a new set of Dungeons and Dragons dice. But we're not here to talk about the bird.

Wine is the traditional accompaniment for the Thanksgiving feast. Pinot Noir and Riesling make good choices, and Champagne is perfect. I always drink plenty of the latter when I'm cooking. But it's important not to overlook the cocktails. Here are some suggestions for libations you can mix up.


Cranberry Old-Fashioned

2 oz Bourbon
8 Cranberries (Fresh or Frozen)
2 tsp Sugar (Preferably Caster or Superfine)
Piece of Orange Zest
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

In an old-fashioned glass, muddle the cranberries, sugar, orange zest and bitters with a small amount of water. Add bourbon and ice.

Thanksgiving Special

3/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz Apricot Brandy
1/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry. 

Pilgrim Cocktail

1 1/2 oz  Rum
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/4 oz Allspice (Pimento) Liqueur
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Can also be served warm. Dust with freshly-grated nutmeg.

Mayflower Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Brandy
Splash of Pernod
Splash of Triple Sec 
2 dashes Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Apple Crisp

2 oz Applejack
1 oz Triple Sec
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of apple.

You might also consider a Caramel Apple Cosmo or Hot Buttered Rum.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Awards Spirits

The Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition Winners

LaiwscThe LAIWSC recently announced their winners, and the list includes some interesting choices.

Best of Show: Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey 10 Year Old Reserve
William Grant & Sons, USA 
Whiskey/Whisky, Irish Blended $35
96 Pts.

Best of Rum: Bacardi 8
Rum (Cane Spirits) with indication of age (Unflavored) $22.99
91 Pts. 

Best of Gin: Oxley Gin
Bacardi USA Inc.
Gin (Unflavored, i.e., Botanicals added prior to or during distillation) $50
92 Pts.
Best of Tequila: Artá Añejo
Artá Tequila
100% Blue Agave Anejo $59.99
94 Pts.
Best of Brandy: Campo de Encanto Pisco
Haas Brothers
Brandy Pisco $34.99
90 Pts.
Best of Vodka: Skinny Girl Vodka Cucumber
Beam Inc.
Vodka (Flavored)
95 Pts.
Best of Liqueurs: Solerno
William Grant & Sons
Liqueurs Fruit $37
92 Pts.
Best of Whiskey/Whisky: Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey 10 Year Old Reserve
William Grant & Sons, USA
Whiskey/Whisky Irish Blended $35
96 Pts.

You can explore the list of category winners, as well as the various medal winners here.

Cocktail of the Day Drink Recipes Wine

Cocktail of the Day: Sangria del Matrimonio

Not a cocktail, per se, but a great drink for the summertime. I made this recently at a party for my brother-in-law's wedding (thus the name) and it was a big hit.

Sangria del Matrimonio

750-ml Bottle of Dry White Wine
5 oz Grand Marnier
8 oz Pineapple Juice
12 oz Peach Soda or Nectar

Mix in a pitcher with sliced peaches and oranges. Strain into cups with ice to serve.

Cheat Sheet Links

The Cheat Sheet: The Professor’s Guide to the Best Cocktail and Spirits Links

“Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall.” –Charles Bukowski

Professor Cocktail

Cheat Sheet Links

The Cheat Sheet: The Professor’s Guide to the Best Cocktail and Spirits Links

"The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude." –James Joyce

That's it for now. If you have any suggestions for next week's round-up, please let me know.

Cheat Sheet Links

The Cheat Sheet: The Professor’s Guide to the Best Cocktail and Spirits Links

“When you stop drinking, you have to deal with this marvelous personality that started you drinking in the first place.” –Jimmy Breslin

  • In the New York Times, Robert Simonson takes a Tiki tour around the greater New York area.
  • More from Robert Simonson, also in the Times: some classic cocktails don't deserve to be rediscovered, as this panel discussion related.
  • Also in the Times, the great Mark Bittman lists twelve summer cocktails that actually taste like booze.
  • Wayne Curtis wanted to have part of an iceberg sent to Manhattan. Turns out it was a lot harder than he anticipated.
  • In the Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Rothbaum reports on the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, which took place over the past several days.
  • More from Rebecca Rothbaum, also in the Journal: cocktail nerds are visiting a Brooklyn bar for the chance to mix drinks in a cocktail shaker once owned by Charles H. Baker Jr.
  • In Forbes Magazine, Steven Bertoni does a tequila tasting with John Paul DeJoria, the billionaire founder of Patrón Tequila. (There's a short article, but most of it is a video.)
  • For ABC News, Nick Watt discovers the gin revolution and the return of the Martini. (Article plus video.)
  • In the Kansas City Star, Anne Brockoff writes about the growing popularity of shrubs, drinking vinegars that are usually made from various types of fruit.
  • Good news! There are some new videos up on The Small Spirit: Robert Hess shows you how to make a Blood and Sand and an Attention.
  • Inc. Magazine interviews "rising tequila stars" Moy Guindi and Danny Schneeweiss of Milagro.
  • In the Austin American-Statesman, Emma Janzen takes a comprehensive look at what's happening in tequila today.
  • On CLASS Magazine, Simon Difford and Ian Cameron round up 5 hazelnut liqueurs. They give top marks to category leader Frangelico.
  • Also in CLASS Magazine, Camper English visits Washington, D.C. and reports back on four bars to visit. The only one I've been to is the Columbia Room and I highly recommend it.
  • Writing for the Reuters wire, Kara Newman talks about Dawa, Nairobi's "medicinal" cocktail.
  • More from Kara Newman, also on Reuters: a trip to Chile to sample some pisco, the traditional South American brandy.
  • More pisco news: in The Oregonian, Paul Clarke discusses the spirit's status as the perennial "next big thing."
  • On Serious Eats, Will Gordon tries Gosling's pre-made Dark 'n Stormy drink. He gives it the thumbs-up, although wonders how necessary it is. My reaction was pretty much the same.
  • In Details Magazine, Christopher Ross says that he's finally found the first good cocktail app: Bartender's Choice. I'm going to have to give it a try.
  • On the Whiskey Advocate blog, Mike Miyamoto, master distiller for Suntory, explains Hakusku Japanese whisky.
  • The Huffington Post offers up recipes for 10 easy Champagne Cocktails, courtesy of Saveur Magazine.
  • Also in the Huffington Post, Tony Sachs suggests a dozen aged tequilas to sip. I haven't tried most of these, but this looks like a really good list.
  • On Food Republic, Emily Saladino rounds up the 8 best airlines for drinking. "Hands down, the best airline drinking is on Virgin Atlantic."
  • Bacardi has triumphed over Pernod Ricard in their fight to use the Havana Club name in the United States. As a result, Pernod registered a new brand name for the U.S. market, Havanista, in hopes of one day selling Cuban rum here.
  • The AP reports that Maker's Mark has won a court case protecting its exclusive use of the wax seal on its bottles.


Cheat Sheet Links

The Cheat Sheet: The Professor’s Guide to the Best Cocktail and Spirits Links

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough.” –-Mark Twain

  • In the Washington Post, Jason Wilson writes about Buffalo Trace Distillery's Single Oak Project. As I mentioned before, I find this fascinating.
  • Also in the Washington Post, more from Jason Wilson: the James Hotel (New York and Chicago) has an "in-room mixology experience," where they'll send up a tray full of tools and mixers to go with the booze in the mini-fridge. That way, you can mix real drinks with quality ingredients.
  • Also in the Washington Post, Paul Abercrombie visits France's Cognac country and finds a lot to drink in.
  • In the San Francisco Chronicle, Gary Regan writes about a new drink: a whiskey Cherry Cobbler, made with rye whiskey and ruby port. Sounds tasty!
  • In the Chicago Tribune, Zak Stambor has good things to say about Redbreast Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey.
  • In Arrive Magazine, Kara Newman writes about moonshine. I haven't tried any 'shine yet. I suppose I should. I do, after all, live in Virginia.
  • On, Larry Olmstead has a three-part series on gin. Part 1 covers gin and the classic cocktail renaissance. Part 2 discusses London Gins. Part 3 features the original Martini gin and a distillery tour.
  • Also from Kara Newman, a report for Reuters on the spirits scene in Glasgow — it's not just Scotch.
  • In the National Post (Tortonto), Margaret Swayne visits Guyana, home of Demerara rum. (The El Dorado 12 Year Old is one of my favorites.)
  • In Details Magazine, Christopher Ross writes about the mash-up between Tiki drinks and amaro. Yes, please.
  • In New York Magazine, Matthew Latkiewicz tells you everything you need to know about carbonated cocktails.
  • In the New York Post, Max Gross writes about the Asian influences showing up in New York City cocktails.
  • In the New York Daily News, a pair of cocktail recipes from Audrey Sanders and Jim Meehan: the French Pearl and the Strawberry Rhubarb Daiquiri.
  • CLASS Magazine rounds up 6 top vanilla liqueurs. Their favorite is Navan from Grand Marnier. (I believe this is no longer produced.)
  • Also in CLASS, Ian Cameron writes about Ian Burrell, the Ambassador of Rum.
  • On, Jacques Bezuidenhout shows you how to make a Margarita, Paloma and Spiced Old Fashioned.
  • There's a new entry in Serious Eats guide to various spirits — this time the subject is mezcal.
  • Also on Serious Eats: Maggie Hoffman suggests 5 silver tequilas you should try. (I haven't tried any of these! We did our own tequila taste test a while back.)
  • The Denver Post visits Adrift, a new Tiki bar in the Mile High City, and gives it the thumbs up.
  • Las Vegas Weekly reports on the success of Tito Beveridge and his Tito's Handmade Vodka.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Beam is booming, with first quarter sales up by 13%.
  • The 2012 World Beer Cup was held recently and the winners have been announced.



James Beard Foundation Awards

The James Beard Foundation, a group dedicated to celebrating, nurturing, and preserving America’s diverse culinary heritage and future, gave out their annual awards recently. The awards for Books, Broadcast and Journalism were given out last week, and the Restaurant and Chef awards were given out last night.

They presented dozens of awards in numoerous categories related to food, dining, cuisine, and the like. They have increasingly been paying attention to bars and spirits in recent years, and it is those awards that I'm posting below. (I'm also including those awards related to wine.)

Beverage (Book)
Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, & Formulas
by Brad Thomas Parsons
(Ten Speed Press)  

Food-Related Columns (Journalism)
Lettie Teague
The Wall Street Journal
On Wine: Lettie Teague: “Drink, Memory: How to Remember that Wine;” “In Praise of the One-Cabernet Lunch;” “May I recommend: Lessons of Great Sommeliers”

Humor (Journalism)
Brett Martin
The Hangover Part III

Personal Essay (Journalism)
Cal Fussman
Drinking at 1,300 Ft: A 9/11 Story About Wine and Wisdom

Wine, Spirits, and Other Beverages (Journalism)
Sarah Karnasiewicz
Fizzy Business

Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional
Paul Grieco
Terroir (NYC)

Outstanding Wine Program
No. 9 Park (Boston)

Outstanding Bar Program

Congratulations to all the winners!