Monthly Archives: April 2016

My Favorite Morning Elixirs

Weekend mornings and vacations during the spring and summer are some of the best times of our lives!  The sun is rising, the birds are chirping, dew is rising and the opportunity’s to enjoy an awesome morning cocktail are abundant!

My two favorite morning drinks are Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas.  Mimosa is an old time English and French favorite.  The mother’s day brunch staple is named after the beautiful tropical flower.  The delicious elixir is elegant in its simplicity.  Champagne and orange juice!  However the devil is in the details!

What type of champagne?  Fresh squeezed or pulp free juice?  What to garnish the glass with?  Any special add on’s?  What is the correct proportion for bubbly and OJ?


The Classic Mimosa

Two types of sparkling wine work well.  If you have a sweet tooth and like sweet wines, go with the Italian masterpiece Asti Spumante.  Asti is the region in Italy where the wine comes from, and Spumante means sparkling wine.  The grape is predominantly Moscato.  Moscato is one of the most popular wines in the USA. Sweet, easy, and low alcohol—Asti is a great sipper.  For more body and crispness, go with Brut Champagne.  Remember that Brut is the driest of all sparkling wines.  It is drier than extra dry!  I agree at first it doesn’t make sense—but I believe the French do it, just to mess with our minds!

Try a Spanish Brut Cava like Frexinet or the New Mexico  sparkling wine from Gruet for your Mimosa.  They are both great medium priced brands that are definitely a step up from the cheap California sparklers.

Take a fluted champagne glass (any glass is okay if you don’t have a flute) and put in two ounces of Pulp free OJ.  Fill glass with the champagne and if you like a little kick you can add a floater of Grand Marnier (the famous French orange liqueur) over the top.  Garnish with an orange wheel and you have the perfect morning cocktail!

Bloody Mary

One of many iterations of the Bloody Mary

Where a mimosa is simple, the bloody Mary can be complex and an intricate exercise in mixology.  Thousands of combinations can be used to make the bloody Mary.  And everyone has his or her own secret ways! At its base a bloody Mary is merely Tomato juice and vodka.  But we all love flavors and the myriad choices of bloody Mary mixers makes it fun!  A few of my favorite mixers are Remedy Bloody Mary and Zing Zang.  When you don’t want to work from scratch these mixers are amazing!

Remedy is a homemade mixer produced in Holmen Wisconsin.  It has a little black pepper and extra cayenne added for a special kick at the back of your mouth.  The Zing Zang mixer is a little bit mild and allows you to experiment a little more with your add on’s.

What really kicks up the bloody Marys are the spices and other garnishes that work so well.  Various salts, peppers, glass rimmers and seasonings can all add the little something you need to find your unique flavor!  Here is my favorite recipe.

A couple ounces of Vodka, 4 oz. Tomato juice, ½ TBSP of lemon juice, Worchesthire sauce, Tabasco, a little horseradish.  Shake it all up in with ice and strain into a tall Collins glass with ice.  Simple and easy!  But what makes it fun is the added food!  Put some bleu cheese stuffed olives and hot peppers on a skewer and add to the glass.

Let the veggies soak up the flavors and about half way thru your drink delicately take the skewer and enjoy the soaked veggies for the special treat.   Other cool items to add, Cheese squares, bacon, pickled asparagus, jalapenos, etc.  The list goes on and on!  Try your favorites and have a go!   Another secret ingredient is to add Seagram’s Lime twisted Gin to your bloody Mary instead of vodka.  It adds a little zing and the lime works really well with the acidity of the tomato juice!!

The old saying goes—you can’t drink all day unless you start in the morning!  Try one of these morning eye openers to start the weekend right!  Cheers and enjoy in moderation!

By |April 21st, 2016|Spirits Blog, Wine Blogs|Comments Off on My Favorite Morning Elixirs

Raise The Bar At Your House

The new cocktail culture that has taken the nation by storm is changing the way people feel about liquor, beer and wine. Sometimes when you watch TV you see all kinds of fancy cocktails and drinks that mixologists create seemingly out of thin air with new herbs, cordials and unique flavors. But at the end of the day you can make a complete bar at home and make 95% of your guests happy with a few basic items! Sometimes the simplest ways are best!

Vodka is the # 1 liquor in the world. Vodka is the perfect spirit for thousands of cocktails. The great thing about vodka is its mixability and adaptability. It can go in virtually anything and you can make drinks that will make all ages happy! If you have an older classic crowd, there is nothing more traditional than a good vodka Martini! Vodka, Dry vermouth, an olive or two and you are ready! Or if you have a younger crowd you can whip up some vodka lemonades, or vodka cranberry drinks.

The second component of any bar has to be whiskey. Here is where it gets a little trickier. There are many types of whiskey. Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Blended, Canadian, Irish, and so on. If you can only have one type of whiskey in your bar, go with a good Canadian. Brands like Crown Royal or Canadian Club are high quality whiskey’s that are mixable and great in an old fashioned or manhattans, but also great in a basic Whisky Coke or 7-UP. For the whiskey purist in your crowd, CC is still a good well-constructed whisky that anyone will enjoy neat or on the rocks. All the other types of whiskey are awesome whiskeys and outstanding in their own right—but they are way more robust and you will have more flexibility with Canadian Whiskey.

The third item you need in any bar is rum. But you need two types. With the popularity of Captain Morgan and Coke as a cocktail, you have to have the Captain. But then have good straight rum, like Bacardi, which is way more versatile than Captain. Bacardi or any good Rum can be used in a myriad of drinks, like the Cuba Libre, Daiquiri’s, Pina Colada’s and so on. Rum has the sweeter profile that can make many a person happy. Rum always gets you in a tropical mood and hearkens the mind to the Caribbean Sea!

Living in Minnesota you have to have brandy in your repertoire. The upper Midwestern states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas drink more brandy per capita than virtually anywhere! Especially in the winter months, brandy is a welcome addition to any cocktail. Brandy Manhattans and Old Fashioneds are super popular for the classic cocktail crowd. Brandy adds a warming and slightly sweet flavor to all cocktails. Brands like E&J and Christian Brothers will do you just fine! Don’t forget the VSOP versions—the extra years of Barrel Aging make the VSOP a better and richer brandy!

During the summer, Gin is still king. There are few drinks more refreshing and satisfying than the Classic Gin and Tonic. Have a good English gin like Beefeater or Tanqueray. A twist of lime and a highball glass and you are good to go.

The sixth and most unique liquor to have is Tequila. Tequila is a must because the #1 cocktail in America is still the Margarita. Tequila is a must if you want to liven up the party. A round of Tequila shots is always a great party starter! Get the real 100% Agave tequila. You wont be sorry and your guests will love you when they see an authentic great Mexican import!

Of course every bar needs the mixers and accouterments. Make sure you have some Cola, 7-Up, Tonic Water, Club Soda, Orange and Cranberry juice, sweet and dry vermouth and Grand Marnier. Have these basic things and you will be able to make virtually any cocktail anyone can think of.

Only 6 bottles of liquor, a few mixers and you have a complete bar in your house! You will be the hero of your neighborhood. Enjoy in moderation and don’t be afraid to experiment! Cheers!!

By |April 5th, 2016|Spirits Blog|Comments Off on Raise The Bar At Your House