Monthly Archives: May 2015

What the What? Beer Cocktails?

Mixology is not just for Liquor. Mixology is the Art of mixing fine liquors and ingredients to create a sum that is greater than the parts. But rather than liquor, Beer is becoming an ingredient that people love. Beer sales still dwarf wine and liquor on a national and international basis. Thus it makes sense that the mixology cognoscenti would use beer in their new and older traditional drinks.

If you are in a beer rut, drinking the same old thing, day after day—try a beer cocktail. One of the original is the Radler. The story goes that an ambitious barkeeper invented the Radler early in the 20th century. He bought a little bar in Bavaria and helped lead the local charge to develop a bike trail that coincidentally ran right by his establishment. As the biking scene took off during the decade, his bar became the go-to spot. One day during a big bike rally, he had thousands of bikers stop by his bar. Running low on his beer stock would have been disastrous, so he used some old unsellable lemon soda he had stocked in the basement and mixed it 50/50 with the remaining beer stocks. His ingenious way of rationalizing was that the bikers wouldn’t fall off their bikes on the way home!! A Great idea and the bikers loved it so much they kept coming back for more! FYI–Radler means biker in German!

In Europe, the radler beers are getting super popular. Here in the states the big sellers are Leiny Summer Shandy and Time traveler Shandy. However try the Stiegl Radler for the truest European expression of the great drink!

Summer Shandy

An American take on Radler

You may wonder why Leiny calls their popular beer Summer Shandy and not radler. In Great Britain a shandy is any drink that has beer and soda added. The true British Shandy is Beer and Ginger Beer mixed together! However Leiny liked the alliterative values of the Summer Shandy!

A great drink that the Brits have invented is also the Snakebite. Snakebite is any beer and Hard Apple cider mixed together. It is a great mix where the sweetness of the cider and the slight hop bitterness mesh together to make a great drink! Try it for a change of pace!

The idea of mixing beer is also popular in Latino countries. The Michelada and the Chelada are very popular and you can even find the chelada premixed by the Budweiser family of beers. A Michelada is good cold cerveza mixed with limejuice, assorted sauces, spices and peppers. Try a bottle of Modelo Especial, one whole lime juiced, worchestshire sauce, Tabasco, and soy sauce. Mix in a pint glass and you have a great Michelada! Don’t forget to rim the cup with salt! A Chelada is similar but you add tomato juice or for a real treat use Clamato. The Clamato has a unique flavor that adds a little oomph! I like a little heavier beer like Dos Equis in my Chelada.

The Radler, Shandy and the Michelada are all relatively old recipes with a lot of tradition. If you want to step out and experiment, there are a lot of newer recipes and ideas floating around. Try these two beer cocktails to liven up your afternoon and evenings! Try a beer Sangria. Take a 24oz of Summer style ale like Sam Adams Summer Ale, 1 cup of Peach Nectar, 2oz of limejuice, 2 oz. of simple syrup, 4oz of Pisco (a south American liquor) and 2 cups of frozen peaches. Mix it all together in a pitcher and you have the most unique sangria you can find!

Or if you want to really indulge and make your summer awesome try the Beer ice cream float! Simple to make—but decadent! Take a rich Porter or Stout beer (maybe a beer with chocolate undertones like Oscars Chocolate Oatmeal Stout from Black River falls Wisconsin) pour over two scoops of ice cream and you got it!! Simple—but delicious.

Beer is easy to drink, easy to find, and can be used in a myriad of ways! Don’t be afraid to experiment! Expand your horizons and always enjoy in moderation. Cheers!


By |May 28th, 2015|Beer Blogs|Comments Off on What the What? Beer Cocktails?

Colavita Wines

The Godfather I and II were on TV again a few weeks ago. As usual, I ended up losing a few hours, because I can ‘t channel surf without getting engrossed again and again in the intricate and tragic story of the Corleone Family. I have seen the movie at least 150 times, in bits and pieces, but can never get enough!

The second Godfather, which chronicles the story of a young Vito Corleone coming to America and starting an Olive oil importing business, is the greatest movie ever! It is a true epic representation of the American dream. Even though it ends in a sordid affair of crime and murder, it is a testament to vision and risk taking! There is a venerable Italian company that is following the same path in the Wine business! No crime or murder, but the same passion and commitment to excellence!

Sant’elia a Pianisi

Sant’elia a Pianisi

Colavita was originally a fine olive oil and pasta importer. Started in the charming hilltop village of Sant’elia a Pianisi; this family business has grown into a multinational behemoth. World renowned for fine olive oils and vinegars, it is beloved by millions. Now they have taken the same family traditions of excellence, and their years of family connections throughout Italy to create a line of great Italian wines. Colavita makes four traditional Italian varietals. Pinto Grigio, Verdicchio, Pinot Noir and Valpolicella Ripasso.

Colavita has partnered with the Terlato Wine Group to bring these great wines to America. Terlato is an importer and producer of some of the greatest wines and wine values in the world. They deal only with quality and amazing wines. Some of the great wines in their portfolio include Chimney Rock, Rutherford Hill, Gaja and Santa Margherita to name a few of the over 90 wines they represent. They don’t mess around! They have some awesome wines!

Colavita basically means a life lived well! Vita is Italian for life—not just life–but life lived well! The four wines they have created are a testament to this ethos.

The Colavita Pinot Grigio is a classic Italian Pinot Grigio. It is fermented in 100% stainless steel. The non-wood fermentation and aging allows the fresh flavor of this wine to jump out of the glass! It is from the famed Veneto region, where some of the greatest Pinot Grigio comes from. The cooling ocean climates and rolling hills create an ideal climate for this grape to flourish. Pinot Grigio is an awesome summer quaffer with a touch of sweetness that will please everyone in the group.

However if you want a white wine that really reminds you of Italy, try the Verdicchio. The Verdicchio comes from the Marche province. The Apennines Mountains to the west and the Adriatic sea to the east surround it. This unique terroir gives this wine some amazing characteristics, light Yellow Green Color, crisp fruit aromas, and a little earthiness balanced by citrus notes! There is no other wine like this in the world.

Pinot Noir is a grape that enraptures wine lovers. It is a grape that can create some of the greatest wines in the world. However it is hard to find good affordable Pinot Noir. Winemakers know that it is a temperamental grape. Cheap Pinot Noir is exactly what you pay for–flat boring thin wines. However when you step up a little bit, Pinot Noir can be a joy! The Colavita Pinot Noir is unique in its fruit forward flavors. 100% stainless steel aging allows the soft flavors to come forward. Hints of Blackberry, and a velvety finish tease your palate.

The Valpolicella is truly the treat of the entire portfolio. Just saying the wine is fun! Vahl-paw-lee-Chel-la. It rolls off your tongue like the wine floats over it! This Valpolicella is made in the Ripasso method. Ripasso literally means repassed. The grape juice for this amazing wine comes from the same juices that create Italy’s most amazing wine—Amarone. Amarone is always $40-100 a bottle. You can get a taste of the exquisite flavors for around $15-20, in the Ripasso Valpolicella. The grapes for this wine are partially dried by laying out on the open plains of Italy. The sun slowly dries the grapes to a raisiny texture. This brings an amazing ripeness and intense flavor. Truly unique. If you want to tantalize your taste buds, This well-balanced wine has great wild berries on the finish. I can’t emphasize enough how fun this wine is!

The Colavita Family has a winner in these wines. Italy has made wines for thousands of years; they know what they are doing! Food and wine are an intricate part of the Italian lifestyle. They go hand in hand! Enjoy in moderation and live a Vita Life! Cheers!

By |May 28th, 2015|Wine Blogs|Comments Off on Colavita Wines

Have a martini and mourn the ending of Mad Men

Nothing evokes images of class and sophistication like a fine Martini. From the impeccably clad James Bond to the fine aristocratic gentleman of London England to the high class wall street bankers in New York, a martini is the perfect way to finish a day, close a deal, or just enjoy the finer things in life!

But what is a martini? Is it the glass? It is it ingredients? Is it the method? In actuality it is all three and more! The origins of the martini are a little murky, but one of my favorite stories is the New York version where a guy named Martini invented the drink. Other theories say an Italian drink company made the first one, or that the Martini came from the Martinez drink? Whatever the origin, most people agree that the original martini was a simple concoction of gin and vermouth!

A true gin martini is 3 parts gin and one part dry vermouth, garnished with a lemon twist or olives. From here you can make it drier and drier! A dry martini simply means less vermouth in the ratio. It is said that a true Englishmen will pour three parts of gin, wave the vermouth bottle over the glass and bow to the east—the direction of France where vermouth originated!

From this simple recipe, martinis have grown to become one of the most popular drinks in the world. The Martini glass with the long stem and open mouth(perfect to enjoy the aroma) has become the signature. Virtually anything you pour into the unique glass is called a martini! Name a flavor and you can probably find a ‘martini” recipe to satisfy your taste buds! Chocolate, peppermint, mango, cranberry, etc. The list can go on and on!

James Bond

Shaken, not stirred

James Bond, one of the most famous martini drinkers ever, prefers his martinis with an added touch of flavor and panache! The original Bond likes 3 parts Gordon’s Gin, 1 part vodka, and a half part Lillet Blanc. Shake it well and add the lemon peel. In the original Casino Royale book he called the delicious elixir the Vesper, after a female secret agent.

I prefer Vodka to gin. My Martini recipe is a little different. I first chill my martini glass, with a little ice. I then add some dry vermouth to the glass. I swirl the vermouth to coat the glass with a delicate film of vermouth flavor. After dumping the vermouth, I then add 2-3 oz. of Chopin Vodka to my shaker. I shake it with vigor and urgency then pour straight into the glass. 3 basic martini olives is a must—I need my veggies! The slight film of vermouth is perfect for my taste buds. I love Chopin Vodka. It is 100% potato vodka from Poland. It has a slight creaminess to the finish that I have never found in another vodka. It is wonderful!

True mixologists never shake their martinis. They prefer to stir it. Shaking a drink adds at least 23% more water to the mix. I like this because it is a little lower alcohol in the final drink. Purists like to stir because you get the truest expression of the products flavor. But it doesn’t matter what the experts say. Experiment and do what you like! The fun is in the journey not just the destination!

Without getting into the hundreds of other martinis, I have to mention another great recipe. The Dirty Martini. A Dirty Martini is for olive lovers. It is made just like you would make any other Gin or Vodka martini. But you add an ounce or two of olive juice from the olive jar. It takes the edge off the martini and really accentuates the flavors! They are fun and easy to make and are very environmentally sound! You use every bit of the jar of olives! No waste!

Martinis are simple to make, but are truly a classic. Sometimes the classic drinks are still best. Experiment and find your perfect ratio. There are dozens of great gin and vodkas you can try. Every libation has its own character and flavor. Don’t be afraid! You can never go wrong. Sometimes you will just like one better than the other! Cheers!!

By |May 28th, 2015|Spirits Blog|Comments Off on Have a martini and mourn the ending of Mad Men

Traditional Holiday Drinks

As I was sitting around on a grey Sunday, watching the hapless Vikings go thru another disappointing loss, I spied a bottle of Warres 10yr old Port leftover from Thanksgiving sitting on the counter. I felt it was a shame to leave the lonely bottle half drunk so I di my duty and poured myself a glass. The sweet bracing undertones of the 10yr elixir calmed my nerves as I watched Teddy Bridgewater lead the ineffectual offense. As I sat there reflecting on the grey foggy day, the port brought me to a place in England where I could see English aristocrats drinking their ports while ruminating on the upcoming season. Port is a not an English drink—but it has become an English tradition especially around the Christmas season.

Port is basically a fortified wine. The English had the Portuguese wine makers add a little brandy or liquor to the wine so it would stand up to the long travel back to England. The English discovered that the great strong flavors were delicious as an evening nightcap or perfect with a chocolate dessert. It soon became a staple on the Christmas table!

I started to think of other Christmas traditions around the world. Christmas in the civilized Western world is an awesome time of year as we celebrate the birth of greatness. The entire Christian world from the classic byzantine Eastern Orthodox countries like, Greece, Russia, Romania, to the modern western churches of Italy, Germany, France and England all have their own traditional drinks and holiday traditions. Russia is definitely a vodka culture, Romania has the great plum brandy slivovitz, and Greece has the beautiful Metaxa, a Brandy-like liqueur.

Mulled Wine

A classic German Drink

German Gluhwein is always a classic in the cold regions of the world. Gluhwein is a red wine that is fortified with various spices of cinnamon, lemonseed, aniseed, cloves, orange and vanilla. It can be served warm or room temperature. It has an amazing aroma of holiday spices, similar to the holiday beers I wrote about last week. You can make it yourself or the Saint Christopher winery has a great one that is premade in the bottle and ready to go, either way it is a great holiday drink.

The Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have their own traditional drink. Aquavit is a strong drink that will warm you up! The name aquavit comes from the Latin term Aqua Vitae or “water of life. “ Aquavit is a distilled product from grain and then flavors are added. The most popular is Caraway and dill. It is usually sipped ice cold. It is a great treat with the ever-present lefsa and lutefisk!

Francophiles drink wine with every holiday. And of course the Beaujolais Nouveau must be drunk over the holidays. The celebratory wine bottled in early November is best drunk young and fresh. The Nouveau this year is spectacular and if you see some you should treat yourself to the bright cheery flavors. Beaujolais Nouveau was made to celebrate the first harvest of the winemaking year. Use it to celebrate the birth of the King. It will go perfect with your Christmas Turkey or Ham!

Here in America we have some great traditions also. There are a plethora of great Craft Breweries making fun and unique Christmas style beers. Try any of the brands you see and you will be happy. There is so much good beer out there it is an awesome time to be a beer lover! The creativity and daring of the US brew masters is at an all time high!

But I love Tom and Jerry’s this time of year. A Tom and Jerry is an egg-based batter that you add brandy and rum to. It is sweet and filling and will bring a smile to everyone at the party. You can make it from scratch, but as I am lazy and busy, I use the locally made Flaherty’s Tom and Jerry batter. The Flaherty family of St Paul has made it since the 1940’s. It is a fresh product that is only available this time of year. The family recipe is just spicy enough and is perfect with a half a jigger of Rum and half a jigger of Brandy. It also makes a great French toast. The holiday spices of cinnamon, all-spice and other secrets are a great way to start the holidays!!

Whatever your heritage, Liquor, beer and wine is and should be a part of every celebration. Enjoy this most blessed of seasons and enjoy the Christmas miracle! Cheers!!

By |May 28th, 2015|Beer Blogs, Spirits Blog, Wine Blogs|Comments Off on Traditional Holiday Drinks

Cordials Make Every Holiday Better

December is the month of the year when everything tastes better! The feast of thanksgiving has whetted our appetites and now our taste buds are ready for a month of revelry and celebration!

Holiday parties abound and we all want a little something different! Holiday liqueurs and cordials really come to the forefront. Form crème liquor to ancient recipes to classic mixology we can enjoy a plethora of flavors and experiences!

CordialsCrème liquors like Baileys sell more in the next month than virtually the rest of the year combined! Baileys is the original crème. Introduced in the early Seventies, it took the world by storm as people were entranced by its decadent lushness of texture and unique chocolate, cream flavors. Baileys uses real heavy Irish crème and also the finest Irish whiskeys to create its one of a kind experiences. Baileys and coffee is still one of the best ways to celebrate a crisp weekend morning in the wintertime! I love a little Bailey’s on the rocks after dinner to settle the stomach and also to satisfy the sweet tooth thereby keeping me away from the other desserts! New this year is the Baileys Chocolate Cherry. Two great flavors that are perfect together!

Another new favorite is RumChata. Rumchata burst on the scene in 2009 and the public went crazy! Developed in Pewaukee Wisconsin it uses real Caribbean rum and homegrown Wisconsin dairy crème! Based on the classic Hispanic drink Horchata, RumChata is like a cinnamon roll in a bottle! You can make some excellent coctails like the French Cream a combination of Cognac and RumChata. But again feel free to enjoy in your coffee or hot chocolate, or just straight up! Don’t forget to try it in your French toast the next morning for a really special treat!

IF crème cocktails are not your thing, don’t worry, as there are plenty of liqueurs that have amazing flavors to tempt you. Chambord from France is always a favorite. You feel like royalty as you drink the black framboise (raspberry) elixir. Some say Chambord was developed for King Louis XIV. It is a combination of Fresh Blackberries and Raspberries, French eau di vie, a touch of Madagascar vanilla and a few other secret herbs. I like Chambord in hot chocolate or mix it in a great martini with premium vodka for a strong finish to the night!

On the nuttier side is Frangelico. In a bottle shaped like a Franciscan monk (the sash is included) it is sweet hazelnut liqueur. Developed in the mountains of Canale Italy, it is a classic digestif that has medicinal purposes, but is more important for my mental health! It is a classic that I love in a martini or in my hot chocolate. It is slightly sweet, but has enough astringency to satisfy your thirst and give you a unique flavor profile! For a special treat mix Chambord and Frangelico together in a rocks glass and drizzle with crème for a great taste of nuts and berries!

On the irreverent side try the Naughty Cow! A relatively new drink on the scene, it is truly chocolate milk for adults! Not as creamy as a Baileys, but more chocolatey. It is a great package with a dizzy looking cow on the front that will elicit great conversation around the table or party! Sip it straight or any way you like! It’s okay to be Naughty once in a while!

If you are into the classics there are many venerable brands that have satisfied for centuries. Drambuie is a scotch lovers dream. Scotch, Honey, Heather and secret ingredients make it a bracing winter drink. Try it in the Classic Rusty nail. Drambuie and Scotch in a short glass over ice with a lemon twist!

Benedictine and its close sibling B&B are two classic French liqueurs. Developed hundreds of years ago by monks as both a digestif and a guilty pleasure, they are unique and best sipped after dinner around the fireplace!

If you want to work a little bit and have some festive color in your night, the classic Grasshopper is still popular! White Crème de Cacao, Green Crème de Menthe, a little Ice Cream and a blender of ice and you have a frothy green cocktail that is an unbelievable mint chocolate delight that will remind you of the 1950 and 1060’s when this great drink had its heyday! The classics can still hold up!!

However you enjoy this festive time of year, do it with friends and family and always with moderation! Cheers!

By |May 28th, 2015|Spirits Blog|Comments Off on Cordials Make Every Holiday Better

A Most Underrated Wine Region – Bourgeil

I have long maintained that the single most underrated region in the wine world is the Loire Valley.  There are scores of unique wineries, growers, and grape varietals to be found here.  This small area can lead us to discuss a whole myriad of wines.  Today we will review a region in the heart of the Loire called Bourgueil.

The wines from this region are almost exclusively made from Cabernet Franc.  Cabernet Franc, underrated in its own right, is a wonderful red grape full of character and vibrancy.  Lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine tends to be a bright pale red wine with finesse and a touch of pepper on the nose.  Along with pepper, well made wines can also include aromas of cassis, violets, tobacco, raspberry and maybe even cedar. The complexity of these wines along with well balanced acid and judicious oak make my mouth water!

Bourgueil soils contain a lot of gravel and sand along with some limestone.  This combination allows the vines to have excellent drainage without the soil being to rich.  The vines have to fight to survive, therefore the roots go deep and extract every ounce of love from the soil.  This creates wines that are floral, fruity and complex and with age will have a wonderful earthy element.  Bourgueil wines can age beautifully in the bottle.  If you like a more up front, fruity style, you can drink these young, if complex earthy and  leathery notes are your thing, age the wine for 10-20 years in a cool, dark place and you will be amazed at the complexity and melding of earth and fruit in the glass.   Pair reds from this area with pork tenderloin or grilled chicken.  Bourgueil wines are also the ultimate burger wine!

Harder to find, but also beautiful are rose’s from this region.  Only 5% of total production, these wines are fresh, vibrant yet still have the signature violet and peppery notes.

OuchesAn awesome example of Bourgueil that won’t break the bank is Domaines des Ouches Bourgueil Igoranda.($20)  Made by the Gambier brothers who represent the 8th generation of Gambiers making wine in Bourgueil!  Over time, they have learned to master the region pulling grapes from various spots on the vineyard in order to make different styles.  The Igoranda  is elegant with cassis, tobacco combined with a flowery aroma of bing cherries and black raspberries.  This wine is composed of fruit from the hillside.  The Gambiers have noticed this plot takes longer to ripen, giving the wine more acid and complex fruit.  While riskier and more expensive to produce, the results are beautiful!

Be daring and don’t ignore this unknown region.  If you are a red wine fan, I think you will be surprised.  While hard to find, it is worth the search!




By |May 28th, 2015|Wine Blogs|Comments Off on A Most Underrated Wine Region – Bourgeil

Summertime Ideas

There can be nothing better than a long tall cocktail on a summer night!  During the fleeting summer months we need to take the time and enjoy the pleasure of mixing a great drink.  I agree that the utter simplicity of cracking an ice cold beer open, pouring the golden brown ale into a frozen pint mug, and letting it cascade over your parched taste buds is a summer rite and will quench your thirst—but taking the time to craft a cocktail can be just as satisfying.  Sometimes the journey is better than the end result!


The burgeoning mixology movement is bringing new flavors to our consciousness, but also is bringing back some old classics!  New items like St Germain Elderflower liqueur and Pama Pomegranate liqueur are awesome to try and will amaze you with cool flavors and never before tasted delights.  But sometimes the simplicity of the classic Gin and Tonic with a twist is just as good!


Gin and Tonics have been around for hundreds of years.  First popularized in England since the 1700’s , The Brits have long toasted the long summer nights with a classic Tanqueray and tonic or Beefeater gin.  These are two of the standards in the Gin world.  Years of tradition have made them the perfect gins!  The juniper flavors shine thru to create the slight piney flavor we all love in gin!  Fill a long tall glass with pure ice, add a couple of ounces of gin, fill with tonic water, and spritz a little lime over the top and then garnish with the lime!


St. Germain Cocktails

Click for more great cocktail recipes

St Germain has taken the world by storm.  It was introduced to our palates a few years ago.  It took customers a while to figure out what to do with the unique liqueur.  But now it is flying off the shelves!  It is a delicate liqueur made with fresh elderflowers.  It is handcrafted in France using age-tested methods.  It is a true testament to the French custom of taking it easy and doing things the right way! It is a great mixer to many cocktails.  But my favorite is the Elderflower Cocktail.  Get a chilled Collins glass, fill with ice, 2oz of St Germain, 3 ounces of Champagne (brut or extra dry) and soda water.  Garnish with a lemon twist.  It is amazingly simple—but the flavor is pretty cool and will make you feel fancy and European for the afternoon!


Pama Liqueur can be used as an additive to many cocktails. My wife and I were walking thru the liquor store one day, and the unique crimson colored bottle caught our eye.  I had never tried it, but was intrigued!  So we took a bottle home and started experimenting!  Being a thirsty guy and a martini lover, I immediately grabbed my Chopin Vodka, a shaker, and made a Pama Martini.  The Pomegranate flavor blew me away.  It was slightly sweet—but not so much as a cosmopolitan or other girly drinks!  Even though the drink had a pinkish color, I was secure enough to enjoy the great flavors!  My wife, ever the contrarian, decided to make a mojito with the Pama added in.  I had to admit—her mojito was amazing!  She used great rum, fresh mint from my neighbor’s garden, fresh squeezed limejuice, her homemade simple syrup, and her favorite muddling tool to create this awesome Pama Mojito.  I hate to lose any competition —but this was worth it!!


This is the smallest sampling of a few drinks you can make in the summer time.  The most important thing to remember is don’t be afraid!  There is a plethora of recipes available.  But sometimes just turning your creativity loose can create an awesome summer drink.  But Just in case you fail don’t despair–the Ice-cold Beer can still satisfy!  Whatever edge of the spectrum you fall into—enjoy and savor the fleeting days of summer with a great adult beverage!

By |May 28th, 2015|Spirits Blog|Comments Off on Summertime Ideas

Louisiana Classics

The Mississippi River begins in bucolic Itasca Minnesota.  A charming and beautiful site that from first glance would never seem possible to create the greatest River in the world!  But from the humble beginnings in northern Minnesota, the ‘old man river’ ends at a site that is the polar opposite of Itasca!  New Orleans is about as far from Minnesota as you can get—both physically and culturally.  The voodoo vibe, the great zydeco music, spicy flavorful Cajun foods are all a culture shock to us native Minnesotans!


However there are a few great Louisiana liquors and beers we can all share.  One of the little known powerhouses in the industry is housed in Louisiana.  Sazerac companies are an amazing story!    Sazerac is the largest family owned distillery in the country.  It has some of the biggest brands and most hallowed liquor names in the entire world.


The Sazerac Story started in 1838.  Antoine Peychaud operated a pharmacy in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  Being a skilled apothecary, Antoine loved to mix up cocktails.  He started mixing Cognac, Absinthe, and his secret ingredient –Peychaud bitters.  This cocktail soon became known as the Sazerac.  From here it slowly grew in popularity.  It was drunk throuout the city and was getting popular.  So eventually an enterprising man named Thomas Handy bought the rights to Peychauds bitters and started making the Sazerac cocktail available everywhere.  Slowly he started buying different distilleries and brands.  Today it is a powerhouse in the distilling world!  Sazerac owns venerable brands and distilleries like Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare Whiskey, Pappy van Winkle, George T Stagg, Dr Mcgillicuddy, Fleischman, and Mt Boston, to name a few.  It all started from a cocktail!  Try a Sazerac Cocktail either the traditional way with a cognac or the newer version of Rye Whiskey.  Cognac will make a slightly sweeter drink—while the Rye will be a little spicier!


Another great thing in New Orleans is Abita beer. It is an awesome brewery in Abita Springs LA, about 30 miles north of the city.  The brewery started in 1986 and blew up in popularity. They make all their beers following the purest methods.  Only water, barley, hops and yeast are used.  This is the best way to make beer.  No preservatives, no tricks, just good solid beer making!!  One of the keys to their great beers is the water.  Abita is one of the only breweries to never have to filter their water or use additives. Their water comes from over 5000 ft. below ground and is singularly pure and amazingly capable of producing great beer!  Water is the key! Abita makes dozens of beers, but only a few make their way to the northland—but the ones that do are worth it!  I love Purple Haze.  It is a raspberry wheat beer that is the perfect mix of wheat malts and vanguard hops, the hops are perfectly balanced to offset the sweetness of the malt and the fresh raspberrys that are added after filtration.  It is a great summertime refresher!


For the serious beer drinker, the Abita Restoration Pale Ale is a great example of balance and flavors. It uses 3 different malts, and has Cascade hops added for bitterness both before and after fermentation!  This beer has a great rich body, fresh citrusy flavors and a golden blond color.  A great beer to quench your thirst on a hot New Orleans or Minnesota day!  It is refreshing to see a classic brewing style that has been used by the Germans since 1516 still used today to make amazing beers!


Culturally we are as far apart from New Orleans as could be, but we share a great river and we share a great love of Beer and liquor!  Enjoy everything in Moderation!!



By |May 28th, 2015|Beer Blogs, Spirits Blog|Comments Off on Louisiana Classics

Charitable Beverages

Charity and wine have been one of the best pairings ever known.  The beverage industry has always been very involved and a key part of virtually every charity fundraiser you could ever go to.  The enticement of drinking well and doing good at the same time is too good to be true!


From the champagne toast at the high end dinner fetes to the great times had trying over 200 different wines at a big casual party, wine/liquor/beer always helps the cause!


But you can help a good cause virtually every time you enjoy a beverage.  There are numerous purveyors who give a large portion of their proceeds to a charity or a good cause.  A great local Minnesota option is the Finnegan’s Beer Company.  This great beer gives 100% of its profits to local food shelves and needy people.  They even have a Reverse Food truck.  Where they bring the food truck to you and rather than eat, you give food to the needy.  It is a great idea and impacts countless people.  But the best thing is that the beer is good!  Finnegan’s has three varieties.  The original Finnegan’s Amber, Finnegan’s Blonde Ale and the new Dead Irish Poet Stout


Finnegan’s Irish Amber is full flavored amber ale with a nice smooth flavor.  It is malty and creamy with slight hops added.  It is the first beer developed by Finnegan’s, and really put them on the map.  It carries the Irish theme into its clean straightforward packaging; which is Irish green and the ever-present four-leaf clover!


Finnegan’s Blonde Ale is the next entry which came out a few years ago.  It is a crystal clean tasting blonde ale.  A slight hop kick gives a satisfying finish to this beer.  It is an easy quaffer that you can’t not enjoy!  Every beer drinker from the Busch light guy to the hop crazed beer snob can enjoy this everyday brew.


The newest Entry to the Finnegan’s world is the Dead Irish Poet.  A limited release extra Stout; this is a huge step away from the usual Finnegan’s flavors.  It is a 7% alcohol bombshell.  As Finnegan’s Proclaims proudly, it has deep dark brooding flavors that are homage to the greatest Irish poets of yesteryear like James Joyce, William Yeats and Oscar Wilde.  I know nothing about Poetry, but I love good stout.  This is a nice bracing stout that will satisfy your yearning for dark chocolate undertones and creamy finish to your beer.  The Dead Irish Poet is available only in the Finnegan’s Variety pack.  You can’t buy it as of now in individual packs.  But by buying the Variety 12pk you can run the gauntlet of great Irish style beers and give a little back to charity!!


If wine is your passion there are countless good causes to help and still enjoy great pleasure.  I love Cline Vineyards of California.  The Cline Cashmere is one of my favorite California Red wines.  It is a Rhone Style blend of Mouvedre, Syrah, and Grenache.  The name says it all, like cashmere it is luxuriant and exclusive!  Best of all the pink tones on the label foretell where many of the proceeds go!  Over $270,000 has been donated to Breast Cancer Research and Living Beyond Breast Cancer.  Cline also uses as much sustainable farming techniques as possible to produce some great wines.  They are still a family owned vineyard that gives back and is not just some huge corporate behemoth with no soul!


Whiskey Lovers can still drink good and do good also.  Numerous whiskey brands give a lot back to various organizations like Jack Daniels and their successful Pheasants forever limited releases.  You can guess where a portion of Wild Turkey proceeds go!


As the Charity Benefit season approaches, we can all do good and drink good.  There is no higher calling than to give a little back!  Enjoy in Moderation and sleep well knowing you have helped someone along the way!

By |May 28th, 2015|Beer Blogs, Spirits Blog, Wine Blogs|Comments Off on Charitable Beverages