Local Wine Co's Blog


Sign our Petition for American Dry Gin by cdbakunas
January 28, 2014, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Libations, Word on the Street | Tags: , , , ,

America needs its own category of gin which is why we are working on legally amending gin law to include “American Dry” as a bona fide category. With this first step we can be proud to make our own unique American version of gin and this will not only educate the consumer at a much higher level of what they are drinking, it will be the tip of the spear in moving towards greater appellation in our craft spirits. We can envision the day when regional gins like Sonoma Coast Gin, Rocky Mountain Gin, Southwest Chaparral Gin all exist and create a tapestry of style that is as unique as the people are who live in various regions of our country.

Send us an email, post a comment and we will include you on our petition.

Petition for Chapter 4, Class and Type Designation for Spirits Requested Amendment of gin

to define AMERICAN DRY GIN

We propose an amendment to the TTB Class and Type Designation under spirits for the category of gin under Title 27–Alcohol, Tobacco Products and Firearms (gin standard of identity is below) for the two reasons:

#1 historical categories of gin (ie. London Dry, Old Tom and Geneva gins) are not given legal definition for their historical styles. This is an egregious disservice to the consumer. Consumers have the right to know what style of spirit it is they are consuming. Current gin definitions are vague and ambiguous such that a Geneva gin or an Old Tom gin could be labeled a London Dry gin creating confusion for the consumer.

#2 request an amendment to the standards of identity to foster appellations for spirits within the United States. This will give greater regional specificity to American spirits and define more precisely the style and quality of each spirit (eg. Bourbon Whiskey). Consumers deserve to have stronger over site on distilled spirits much as we have a robust appellation process for vineyard land and wines in America. Local Wine & Spirits, and the other listed distillers, are actively educating the public about the emerging category of “American Dry Gin” which is defined as batch distilled gins made from 100% American grown grain, distilled and bottled within the United States using juniper as the predominant botanical. American made and proud of it.

Current definition

Subpart C—Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits

§ 5.22   The standards of identity.

(c) Class 3; gin. “Gin” is a product obtained by original distillation from mash, or by redistillation of distilled spirits, or by mixing neutral spirits, with or over juniper berries and other aromatics, or with or over extracts derived from infusions, percolations, or maceration of such materials, and includes mixtures of gin and neutral spirits. It shall derive its main characteristic flavor from juniper berries and be bottled at not less than 80° proof. Gin produced exclusively by original distillation or by redistillation may be further designated as “distilled”. “Dry gin” (London dry gin), “Geneva gin” (Hollands gin), and “Old Tom gin” (Tom gin) are types of gin known under such designations.

Participating Distillers/Distilleries

Local Wine & Spirits

Ransom Spirits

Bull Run Distillery, Portland

Peach Street Distillers, Palisades, CO

Letherbee Distillers, Chicago IL



Sweet Spot 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon by cdbakunas

The wait is over. On January 24th we bottled the 2012 vintage of our Sweet Spot Cabernet. Why do we call it Sweet Spot? Because there is no other appellation in Sonoma that grows cabernet better with more sense of soul, soil and place then Alexander Valley. We worked with two vineyards for this vintage, Warnecke Ranch and Adams Knoll. There is a small amount of merlot from Adams Knoll that we blended into barrel 8 months ago. 2012 was an amazing vintage and such a relief to have after the challenging and low yield vintages of 2010 and 2011.

Technical production notes are below.

Image

 

SWEET SPOT 2012 CABERNET SAUVIGNON

 

Appellation: Alexander Valley, Sonoma, CA                                      Titratable Acidity: 6.2 g/l

Varietal Composition: 89% Cabernet Sauvignon,

11% Merlot                                                                                           pH: 3.55

Case Production: 2240                                                                         Alcohol: 13.97%

Brix at Harvest: 24.1

Vinification: All of our fruit was destemmed and cold soaked for 4-5 days at 55 degrees Fahrenheit before yeast was introduced. Brix had become 24.5 and three strands of yeast were introduced for fermentation. Ferment lasted three weeks at almost 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Maceration on the skins was included to induce color, tannins and phenols. Sweet Spot Cab was then pressed to barrel with malolactic inoculation. This beautiful wine aged and ameliorated in French and American oak barrel for 16 months and bottled in January, 2014.

Vintage Notes: 2012 was a near perfect vintage for cabernet sauvignon in Alexander Valley, Sonoma. Many of us called it “idyllic,” or “outstanding.” And why? Because of the balance of weather and the ideal diurnal temperature swings that allowed slow and even maturation of our vines throughout September and October. The crop load was considerably larger than 2011 and displayed a near perfect balance of texture and flavors. Our Sweet Spot Cabernet, primarily sourced from the Warnecke Vineyard, is one of the most balanced and giving wines that we’ve yet made.

Vineyard Sources:

Warnecke Vineyard, Alexander AVA

Adams Knoll Vineyard, Alexander AVA

Tasting Notes: A beautiful dark garnet and robust ruby color. The aromatics of the 2012 Sweet Spot Cabernet are full of explosive ripe blackberries, blueberries and mulberries intermingled with mountainside sage, mint and pine needles. The palate is redolent with a ripe compote of blackberries that rides into a rich cascade of herbs, fruit and tannins into a long finish that speak of longevity.



Reasons Why We Drink by cdbakunas
April 10, 2013, 8:20 am
Filed under: Libations, Reasons Why We Drink | Tags:

Garden to Glass Cocktail at SanctuariaI was working with a friend who owns and produces Royal Rose simple syrups. They make perhaps the best, 100% organic, simple syrups in America. Truly fantastic quality and explosive flavors. After hanging out with Forrest Butler I realized that I had my alcohol/industry blinders on and had only thought of Royal Rose syrups as bar/cocktail accoutrements. Shame on me. We engaged in a wonderful conversation with Steve Carrow, of Chicago restaurant, Naha about “temperance cocktails.” Cocktails that had no alcohol in them. Everyone I know, work with, interact with, party with, dine with drinks wine, beer or spirits. It’s what we do being gastronomes and imbibers. It had not dawned on me that there is a woefully underserved segment of diners that want high quality drink options whilst dining at the finer establishments across America. Let’s face it, cranberry juice and soda water is not very exciting.

It got me thinking last night about why we drink? What are the myriad reasons for drinking? Yes, there are many, many reasons and I thought that this would be a good category to explore on our blog.

The obvious #1 (at least obvious to me) is that drinking brings pleasure. Of course feeling that tinge of inebriation or “buzz” is often wonderful, the act of sipping fine wines, excellent brew and superlative distillate is a pleasure in and of itself. To enjoy the aromatics, the complexities, the silky texture on the palate or the sparkling pop inside the mouth is a very physical experience and if you live well in your own skin it’s pleasure. Living in the flesh we were given five senses and in my opinion it would be a disastrous decision as a human to ignore the utter joy of tasting, feeling and smelling all the wonderful things that we can put into our bodies. Drinking is just one of those manifold experiences.

Our ancestors drank for thousands of years and though many of the prime motivations for drinking have ameliorated over generations (such as moderation leads to balance and longevity) the simple fact that drinking is pleasurable, and in community it is a way and time to bond with family and friends, is as potent today as it was 1000 years ago. Some people drink and become loud, laugh more, weep, become flustered or anger easily. Alcohol impairs judgment, period. That being said amongst friends can’t we let our guard down? Needing an outlet to explore feelings that are normally pent up is an utterly human desire and imbibing with friends offers exactly this outlet. Come on, if you can’t get a little stupid with your friends they’re probably not your friends. I’m not saying get hammered each weekend, act like an ass, start fights, scream, cry and punch and it will be alright. But feeling safe enough to open yourself to discourse that you normally do not have is a deep seated desire in humans and often moderate drinking gives us the motivation to do so. So be it. I’d rather have a few beers with pals then go to my doctor and spend money on pharmaceuticals to assuage my fears.

To explore the question of why we drink I encourage you to answer and post your own reasons and numbers. Here are the beginnings of mine.

#1 Reason Why We Drink: Because it feels good.

#2 Because someone discovered that grain and sugar made beer, and grapes made wine and god put all that right in front of our noses, so why not?

#3 To bring us together in community on cold, long winter nights…warming our bellies and our softening our hearts….



Homemade Eggnog Recipe by cdbakunas
December 17, 2012, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Deliciousness, Food and Drink | Tags: , , ,

Homemade Eggnog. What’s better than eggnog and whiskey when the temperature has dropped to freezing, the kids are in bed, the Christmas tree lights are on and you and yours can quietly snuggle on the couch? Don’t buy that store made eggnog crap, it is highly processed, filled with preservatives and overloaded with refined sugar. This is a quick and simple recipe.

Four eggs (separate yolk from whites), 1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar (+1T cane sugar, keep to the side), 1 pint of whole milk, 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg.

Ok, start with the yolks and slowly whisk in 1/3 cup of sugar, then add milk, cream and nutmeg. In another bowl whisk the egg whites till you have soft peaks. Now add the 1T of evaporated cane sugar that you had put to the side and continue to whisk until you have stiff peaks. Chill the egg/milk/cream/nutmeg mixture and then slowly whisk in the egg whites. Serve at your convenience once your eggnog is chilled. Add bourbon or whiskey for the adult version.



Best Lentils Ever Recipe by cdbakunas
December 17, 2012, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Deliciousness, Food and Drink | Tags: , ,

Best Lentils Ever. My mom used to make all sorts of beans and lentils from scratch and it all sucked. Sorry mom, hope you never read this. I came across an Italian lentils recipe that we’ve modified over the years. Add any type of meat if you want this to become a main course. I recommend braised meats, especially pork belly, or savory sausages.

RECIPE: 8oz dried lentils, 2 cloves of garlic, fresh sage leaves or rosemary sprig, 1/4 cup EVOO, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 3 carrots, 1/2 onion, 2 celery stalks.

Pour 6 cups of water into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt. Next add the lentils, herbs and garlic. Cook for about 20minutes until the lentils are tender but remain firm. Strain and place on the side.

In another saucepan we are going to saute a mirepoix. Rough cut the carrots, onion and celery then in a food processor chop until the mirepoix is finely chopped. Add 1T olive oil and saute the processed mirepoix until browned slightly.

In a large bowl combine sauteed mirepoix and lentils, add olive oil and red wine vinegar and toss with sea salt (Maldon is my preferred) and fresh cracked black pepper. Best lentils ever.



Braised Monkfish Recipe by cdbakunas
December 17, 2012, 2:23 pm
Filed under: Deliciousness, Food and Drink | Tags: , , ,

Braised Monkfish. Now don’t be afraid of this recipe because of the enormous quantity of cream and butter. Remember, fat is good for your body, especially healthy fats like organic, non pasteurized milk and butter.

RECIPE: 4 pieces of Monkfish (6oz), season with salt and pepper. Place to the side.

Butter Sauce: 8 ounces of organic cream, 2lbs of organic butter (if you have a farm that you can get non-pastuerized milk products that is the best), 8 ounces of water. Let your butter warm to room temperature. Combine cream and water, bring to a boil, then whisk in your butter. Emulsify in a blender and keep warm in the oven. We’ll come right back to this. TIP: A Dutch Oven works great for braising the monkfish.

Prepare your vegetables prior to braising the monk fish. We recommend seasonal vegetables. Brussel sprouts peak from September to February and are fantastic with this dish. Here’s my favorite winter time way to make brussel sprouts.

Shaved Brussel Sprouts:  1lb brussel sprouts, 1/2 lb pancetta, 1 T olive oil. Shave the brussel sprouts into very thin slices using a mandoline. Prep your pancetta by cutting 1/4″ long strips and sear in a pot for about 5 minutes with olive oil until the edges are crispy. Add the shaved brussel sprouts and continue to stir until tender. Don’t over cook the sprouts, otherwise they’ll lose texture and color. Serve hot.

Take your four pieces of monkfish (that has been seasoned) and put into the Dutch oven that is holding your cream/butter/water emulsion. Cook the monkfish for 12-14 minutes.

To serve use a large, flat boil. Spoon in a small mound of your brussel sprout/pancetta while it is hot and spoon a few table spoons of your cream/butter/water emulsion from the Dutch oven and pour over the sprouts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In each bowl place one piece of monkfish over the brussel sprouts and garnish with finely zested meyer lemon. Voila!



Holiday Recipes from Local by cdbakunas
December 17, 2012, 2:22 pm
Filed under: Deliciousness, Food and Drink | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Don’t know about  you but around the holidays we are kicking ass and cooking in the kitchen, a lot. For most of us our lives revolve around food, wine, all things delicious and sharing with our friends and family. Thus we wanted to share with you a couple of our favorite recipes for the holiday time of year.

Braised Monkfish. Now don’t be afraid of this recipe because of the enormous quantity of cream and butter. Remember, fat is good for your body, especially healthy fats like organic, non pasteurized milk and butter.

RECIPE: 4 pieces of Monkfish (6oz), season with salt and pepper. Place to the side.

Butter Sauce: 8 ounces of organic cream, 2lbs of organic butter (if you have a farm that you can get non-pastuerized milk products that is the best), 8 ounces of water. Let your butter warm to room temperature. Combine cream and water, bring to a boil, then whisk in your butter. Emulsify in a blender and keep warm in the oven. We’ll come right back to this. TIP: A Dutch Oven works great for braising the monkfish.

Prepare your vegetables prior to braising the monk fish. We recommend seasonal vegetables. Brussel sprouts peak from September to February and are fantastic with this dish. Here’s my favorite winter time way to make brussel sprouts.

Shaved Brussel Sprouts:  1lb brussel sprouts, 1/2 lb pancetta, 1 T olive oil. Shave the brussel sprouts into very thin slices using a mandoline. Prep your pancetta by cutting 1/4″ long strips and sear in a pot for about 5 minutes with olive oil until the edges are crispy. Add the shaved brussel sprouts and continue to stir until tender. Don’t over cook the sprouts, otherwise they’ll lose texture and color. Serve hot.

Take your four pieces of monkfish (that has been seasoned) and put into the Dutch oven that is holding your cream/butter/water emulsion. Cook the monkfish for 12-14 minutes.

To serve use a large, flat boil. Spoon in a small mound of your brussel sprout/pancetta while it is hot and spoon a few table spoons of your cream/butter/water emulsion from the Dutch oven and pour over the sprouts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In each bowl place one piece of monkfish over the brussel sprouts and garnish with finely zested meyer lemon. Voila!

Best Lentils Ever. My mom used to make all sorts of beans and lentils from scratch and it all sucked. Sorry mom, hope you never read this. I came across an Italian lentils recipe that we’ve modified over the years. Add any type of meat if you want this to become a main course. I recommend braised meats, especially pork belly, or savory sausages.

RECIPE: 8oz dried lentils, 2 cloves of garlic, fresh sage leaves or rosemary sprig, 1/4 cup EVOO, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 3 carrots, 1/2 onion, 2 celery stalks.

Pour 6 cups of water into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt. Next add the lentils, herbs and garlic. Cook for about 20minutes until the lentils are tender but remain firm. Strain and place on the side.

In another saucepan we are going to saute a mirepoix. Rough cut the carrots, onion and celery then in a food processor chop until the mirepoix is finely chopped. Add 1T olive oil and saute the processed mirepoix until browned slightly.

In a large bowl combine sauteed mirepoix and lentils, add olive oil and red wine vinegar and toss with sea salt (Maldon is my preferred) and fresh cracked black pepper. Best lentils ever.

Homemade Eggnog. What’s better than eggnog and whiskey when the temperature has dropped to freezing, the kids are in bed, the Christmas tree lights are on and you and yours can quietly snuggle on the couch? Don’t buy that store made eggnog crap, it is highly processed, filled with preservatives and overloaded with refined sugar. This is a quick and simple recipe.

Four eggs (separate yolk from whites), 1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar (+1T cane sugar, keep to the side), 1 pint of whole milk, 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg.

Ok, start with the yolks and slowly whisk in 1/3 cup of sugar, then add milk, cream and nutmeg. In another bowl whisk the egg whites till you have soft peaks. Now add the 1T of evaporated cane sugar that you had put to the side and continue to whisk until you have stiff peaks. Chill the egg/milk/cream/nutmeg mixture and then slowly whisk in the egg whites. Serve at your convenience once your eggnog is chilled. Add bourbon or whiskey for the adult version.



Don’t Be Afraid of Your Absinthe by cdbakunas
November 9, 2012, 8:52 am
Filed under: Making Cocktails | Tags: , ,

Cocktail Corner November

Last week I spent some time talking with Graham Wasilition, creator and founder of Tenneyson Absinthe Royal . As usual we got to talking cocktails. One of the many unique things about Tenneyson, amidst the world of absinthe, is that Graham specifically made rhymes with his botanicals and flowers so that Tenneyson could parallel certain aromatics and qualities of gin. When you smell Tenneyson it is unmistakably absinthe, additionally there is a deep savory aromatic that hits you. When you stop to think about it “un-gin” cocktails can go sky high with Absinthe (and as you know I love gin, we make gin, we bath in gin). Graham mentioned, “The Un-Gin is such a good jumping off point for the category and it suits Tenneyson extremely well. Not taking away any of the quality and absinthe backbone but it gives a relatable place for barmen and women to start to conjure up ideas and bring new excitement to a pigeonholed category.”

What we wanted to start today was a monthly dialogue on cocktails and have this be as interactive as you would like. So many of you (readers) are such accomplished bartenders that a rolling dialogue about absinthe and cocktails this month should be fun.

Cocktails for thought here are some of our un-gin formulas (I prefer the term formulas over recipes. Because a recipe is something you follow, but your bar, my bar, your equipment and mine and your rail and my rail just aren’t the same, so please take liberties with these formulas).

And thank you Graham Wasilition for the lively dialogue, the great suggestions and the incredible Tenneyson Absinthe.

Gin Classics that do very well with a Tenneyson substitute:

Negroni, Tom Collins, Corpse Reviver #2

Fall/Winter Seasonal Cocktail Suggestions:

Tenneyson Cider

The Tenneyson Negroni:

Just use classic recipe but replace some of gin with Tenneyson

0.75 oz Campari

0.5 oz Sweet Vermouth

0.75 oz Tenneyson

0.5 oz Gin

Orange Peel Garnish

The Tenneyson Tom Collins (Tenney Fizz):

Replace Gin in classic recipe with Tenneyson

1 oz Tenneyson

0.5 oz simple syrup

1 oz Citrus (lemon, lemon/orange, grapefruit)

Top with Soda and Citrus wheel

Really Reviving Corpse Reviver #2:

Kind of flips the cocktail around…Play with ratio of Gin to Tenneyson from classic recipe…normally 1oz. gin vs. 1 dash absinthe

0.5 oz Gin

0.5 oz Tenneyson

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz Lillet Blanc

1 oz Lemon

Thought Provoking Cider:

1 oz Tenneyson

3-4 oz Apple Cider

0.5 oz honey

5 dash of Bittermens Mole Bitters



Angel’s Wings is Released by cdbakunas
July 18, 2012, 12:33 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Word on the Street | Tags: , , , ,

July 17th, 2012

I am so excited to announce that we have officially released a passion project of mine this week, Angel’s Wings Sauvignon Blanc. I made this wine in memory of a great friend, a mentor and an angel in my life, Ron Miller. The wine will be available in a few select markets since our production was very small. If you are interested in the wine please don’t hesitate to contact me (cb @ localwineandspirits.com). Click here for production notes ANGEL’S WINGS

A portion of our profits will be donated to an amazing organization that Ron created 34 years ago called Common Ground (www.cg.org). With my most humble thanks I hope you enjoy. Sante!



Small’s is Coming OUT by cdbakunas
July 18, 2012, 12:19 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Word on the Street | Tags: , , ,

The American Gin Revolution is here and Small’s is leading the way with our grassroots movement to legally define American Dry Gin. Here’s a copy of the article from OUT’s August 2012 issue.



Ransom Spirits: What’s In a Name? by cdbakunas
June 5, 2012, 10:34 am
Filed under: Word on the Street | Tags: , , ,

The Hooch Life publishes lifestyle articles for enthusiastic drinkers that want to find out what’s happening in the wonderful world of craft. They took a day to hang with Tad Seestedt at what we affectionately call “the farm,” and Emily Hutto created this awesome video. Check out the video.

Ransom Spirits, What’s in a Name Video – Click Here?



A New Coffee Liqueur – Think Savory by cdbakunas
June 5, 2012, 9:00 am
Filed under: Libations, Word on the Street | Tags: , , ,

The Story of Firelit Coffee Liqueur

post image

Firelit started in 2007 when founder Jeff Kessinger, a wine and spirits salesman in San Francisco, noticed a need for a coffee-centric, lower sugar liqueur in the market. After making a few small batches at home he consulted with Lance Winters of St George Spirits, Huber German Robin and James Freeman of Blue Bottle coffee to find ways to refine the recipe he had created. Launching a passion project has its difficulties and Jeff encountered several obstacles.

With persistence, vision and support from two high school friends (now business partners) Marcus Urani and Label designer Tyler Warrender, Firelit Coffee Liqueur became a reality. 40 different trial versions of Firelit were made all with varying base spirits, proofs and coffee beans. The final recipe was refined and perfected with the help of some of San Francisco’s finest mixologists. Firelit approached St George spirits with renewed enthusiasm, and a complete vision. St George agreed to make the first batch of 1800 bottles in 2010.

Jeff along with Dave Smith, (Firelits’ distiller) put together batch one with Cold Brewed Yemen Coffee beans roasted by Blue Bottle in Oakland CA. The brandy base spirit was made from chardonnay and the coffee was distilled and finished with a modest amount of cane sugar.

Due to the quality of the ingredients Firelit was significantly pricier than any other coffee liqueur on the market at the time. The first batch, although intended to last about a year, sold out in four weeks.

When batch two was slated for production the Yemen beans were no longer available from Blue Bottle. Realizing this would be a common occurrence using high quality, local producers, the team at Firelit decided to make each batch unique sourcing different single origin beans.

About two months prior to each release coffee samples are gathered from a few different roasters, made into trial sized batches, blind tasted by a panel and then the coffee is selected. Each label is hand stamped with information on the roaster and single origin bean used in that particular batch. Although the nuances of the coffee bean in each batch are certainly discernible tasted side by side, they are much less apparent in cocktails due to the consistency of the recipe.

Firelit has been very well received by the critics including being listed in The Top Fifty Spirits of 2011 with 94 points by the Wine Enthusiast. Firelit was sold exclusively in CA until March 2012 when a few select out of state markets were launched. These markets were chosen based on where the Firelit guys liked to visit rather than any marketing strategy.

Firelit is producing three to four batches a year of approximately 350 six packs per batch.

Let’s hope they start making more!



Little Flower, The Fiorello Cocktail by cdbakunas
October 24, 2011, 12:59 pm
Filed under: Making Cocktails | Tags: , , ,

Fiorello is an uncommon surname and an even more uncommon name for a mayor. But Fiorello La Guardia was a short man (no more than five feet tall) who served as mayor of New York from 1934 till 1945. The word Fiorello means “Little Flower” in Italian and has been served up as a delicious petit imbiber at La Tavola in Atlanta, Georgia by the great Alli Soble.

Fiorello “Little Flower”


Smalls Gin 1 ¼ oz
Cocchi Apertivo 1 oz
Elderflower Syrup ¼ oz

Shaken and served up in a martini glass
Orange Peel Garnish



The Poqueto Mojito Cocktail by cdbakunas
October 13, 2011, 11:31 am
Filed under: Libations, Making Cocktails | Tags: , , , ,

Direct from the heart of Greenwich Village, NYC comes this stellar gin riff on a classic cocktail.

Thank you Jack http://www.jackbistronyc.com/

Poqueto Mojito

4 oz  Small’s American Dry Gin
½ Lime
Mint Leaves
Fine Sugar
Splash of Seltzer/Club Soda

Muddle the lime, sugar, and mint leaves.
Add Small’s Gin and ice and shake.
Pour into an Old-Fashion glass (with ice) and add soda.



More Classic Cocktails Explored by cdbakunas
June 24, 2011, 9:30 am
Filed under: Libations, Making Cocktails

I’m back at the cocktail lab and gainfully mixing more classic cocktails from Wondrich’s book “Imbibe!”

Today we sat down to take a look at Daisies, Fizzes and the Florodora. Right off the bat the group favorite was the Florodora. Wondrich tells of how this cocktail was invented in 1901 for one of the Florodora Sextettes by Jimmy O’Brien at a Columbus Avenue restaurant in New York. Not only is the cocktail delicious but the recipe is straightforward and the thing that I enjoy the most about the Florodora is that you can prepare the cocktail in the same glass that you’ll serve it in. So convenient.
Here’s the recipe and my notes on preparation.

Florodora (page 122)

Four dashes (2 tsp) Raspberry Syrup in the bottom of the cup

Juice from an entire lime

2 oz Gin (we used both Ransom Old Tom Gin and Small’s American Dry Gin to great, yet differing success)

Fill half the glass with crushed ice

Pour in the best ginger ale you can find. I had Barritts Bermuda Ginger Beer. And it worked great (the real deal for Barritts is in the glass bottle  and is still made with pure cane sugar, the Barritts in the can, not so good. Their recipe for ginger beer dates back to 1874)

Stir until very chilled and garnish with a slice of orange.

Fantastic. This is our entire staff’s new summertime cocktail.

Next we made the New School Rum Daisy with Old New Orleans 3 Year Rum and their Cajun Spiced Rum. Old New Orleans is the pinnacle of Louisiana micro distilleries making about 4,500 cases of their three rums a year. Up until last year this was not available outside of Louisiana and thus the Big Easy had coveted this rum for decades and decades. Slowly and surely it is creeping its way north so us Yankees can enjoy a bit of the good Southern life. And I am delighted to partake in the northward crawl.

I preferred the Cajun Spice Rum in this recipe.

New School Rum Daisy (you could substitute gin or whiskey)

2 oz Old New Orleans Cajun Spiced Rum

Juice of 1/4 lemon, 1/2 lime

1 tsp super fine sugar (we used fine organic can sugar since the rum is made with Louisiana sugar cane)

2 dashes grenadine (we tried grenadine and marischino liqueur – preferring the marischino liqueur)

1/2 oz of carbonated water

Garnish with mint and/or fresh fruit

More next week on the classic New Orleans Fizz, aka Ramos Gin Fizz and Sours.



Trade Shows by cdbakunas
April 26, 2011, 7:54 am
Filed under: Travel, Word on the Street | Tags: , , , ,

Trade shows are the ubiquitous gathering of wine and spirit professionals in regional areas where one distributor takes three or four hours to highlight all their wares and invites their entire customer base to attend. In major markets these events get very large. The question is how do distributors differentiate themselves in this rather cookie cutter style event; how do they position themselves to their customers; and how do the wineries and distilleries that attend make an impact amongst dozens to hundreds of other colleagues vying for the small attention of the buyers? And let’s be honest, palate fatigue sets in rather quickly, there is always a high percentage of consumption which clouds the rational mind (but makes the event a helluva lot of fun) and beverage professionals tend to have short attention spans, especially when coming from the fast paced and hectic environment of restaurants.

I believe that one way to stand out in the crowd, as a producer, is to be honest, humble and sincere (be yourself) and to offer better product and better prices than your competitor. Of course if you have a product that is completely unique, like the only Old Tom Gin produced in America, that makes a huge difference, but if you are making California Cab or Chardonnay, why are you unique? Not saying that you can’t be, but what is it that makes you unique in this over burdened supply side world of domestic and international wines?

And as a distributor, what are you doing to separate yourself from the crowd. Cream Wine Company in Chicago is doing a very interesting thing this year at their annual Small Batch portfolio tasting. And remember, this is one of the top five markets in the US. Only owners, winemakers or distillers are allowed to present at this years tasting. That means no regional sales managers, no marketing interns, no national paper pushers will be pouring and entertaining the beverage professionals. I have not seen this done anywhere else in the US and I love the idea. It gives separation from their peers (distributors) and offers the highest level of quality information to the buyers who attend this tasting because the get to speak directly with the man or woman who is responsible for making the wine, the whiskey, the vodka, etc.

I hope to see more innovations in trade tastings over the coming years. It’s all to easy to fall into conformity and do what the other guy is doing. Let me know what else you’ve seen out there that is unique and wonderful.



Negociant vs Estate Wines by cdbakunas
March 29, 2011, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Word on the Street | Tags: , , ,

I was recently working in Minnesota and had a very intense and interesting conversation about negociant wines vs. estate wines. Negociant as defined by Jancis Robinson is a “term for a merchant who buys in grapes, must, or wine…and bottles under their own label.” Jancis Robinson goes on to explain that negociants, in particular in Burgundy, like Verget, Laurent, Chartron and Trebuchet or Olivier Leflaive now “successfully present their work as high art, with concomitant prices.” There is another layer to the negociant merchant class and that is the negociant eleveur. This is the negociant that oversees the production of their wines from earth to bottle, not merely a trader of bulk wine.

Estate wines are all those that are farmed and produced by a single estate. The grey area in between is what fascinates me the most. Not every winery or winemaker has the money to purchase large tracts of land and in order to be a sustainable estate winery you need to be able to grow enough fruit to pay for production, land cost, capital infrastructure, sales and marketing. As you can imagine the tipping point is well beyond some 50 acres of vines with a winery. So what do smaller and upstart wineries do?

They purchase fruit by farmer contracts and either have had the cash or investors to create their own winery and make the wines, or rent space in a larger winery where they can crush and vinify their fruit. As I look back in European history and the advent of the merchant class that handled production, blending, aging, marketing and sales of all things wine due to the land owners disdain of soiling their hands, it seems that negociants weren’t too different then they are today. After a generation or two the negociants would have enough capital to invest in their own land and their own wineries, thus spawning a new competitive producer in the region that had originally borne them as negociants.

As an estate winery your lively hood is directly dependent on your harvest. Yes, you can operate with stricter controls and higher quality, if you know what you are doing. But you are seriously at risk of aberrant weather, cyclical buying trends and the vicissitudes of the economy in general. Negociants, by nature, have a more flexible business model that allows them to move geographically, stay away from natural fluctuations in weather that inadvertently produce inferior crops and can change business direction as trends and the economy fluctuate. A lot is to be said for both ways of making wine.

At the end of the day the negociant vs. the estate bottled wine is a relatively moot point. Both can be done amazingly well and both can represent the highest quality of terrior and style that any region can produce. It really is about vision and execution. The greatest estate on the planet without vision and leadership can churn out mediocre product year after year. It is the dedicated artisans on both sides of the field that raise the bar and set standards for others to shoot towards.

Swim deep and drink large.



Distilling – How old is this art? by cdbakunas
February 8, 2011, 5:31 pm
Filed under: Making Cocktails, Word on the Street | Tags: , , , ,

When did distilling begin? We are certain that a rudimentary distillation began approximately 3000BCE. As recorded records go our first glimpse into the technology of distilling (essential oils) can be found in written cuneiform in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Figure Drawing of an Ancient Still

In Babylon a technique was used placing a collection of herbs in a boiling cauldron, capturing the steam on the fluffy side of lamb skin, then wringing the solution from the fur to be caught in a bowl where the surface was skimmed for the essential oils: we have rudimentary distillation.

What a gorgeous thing to take a mash of herbs (or in our case nowadays fermented grains or fruits) bring it to a boiling point and make it disappear in a gossamer vapor, only to recapture this vapor from the grasp of the sky and distill it down to the essential ingredients of a pure, water like beverage. When you think of this it really is amazing.

This distillation technology is refined and begins to travel around the globe. By 500BCE the first signs of a distillation industry are evident in India in an area that was known as Taxila (now NW Pakistan). Large terra cotta pots filled with water were boiled, the steam filtered through a bed of fermented grains, thus picking up the essence of the grain and the alcohol,l then hits a second terra cotta pot that was filled with cold water (a condensation plate of sorts) and passed into a tube where the vapor would condense and be captured.  Amazing!  This technology spread rapidly through Asia and Africa. Finally by 1100 CE the Moors bring distilling to Spain and Italy on their conquests of Southern Europe and distillation begins to travel across Europe over the next several hundred years.

By 1600 CE texts are being written about distilling, and an industry springs forth during the Renaissance as the science of distillation is spread to the common man and no longer remains the domain of monks, scientists and the wealthy. This is a good thing for us today, otherwise we would never see the proliferation of styles and vast quantity of distilled elixir.  One bump in the road to the populist movement in distillation was that the church and the wealthy did not want to give up their perceived monopoly on this industry. Thus we see the beginning of restrictions and taxation. More on this heavy topic in a later blog.

America is experiencing a revitalization of micro distilling, done for the love and passion of the craft that we have not seen since before prohibition. I recommend that you walk, run or drive to your nearest bottle shop and begin asking questions about what new craft spirits are available in your city or county and begin a wonderful journey of exploration. This might just lead you to a new passion, or a profound hobby and five years from now you’ll be sitting in a distillery in Oregon, talking with the men and women that have made this revolution happen and be the happiest person on the planet, sipping fine barrel aged gin, white lightening or exquisite vodka, straight from the source.

 

Sante!



Whiskey Recipe at Last! by cdbakunas
February 3, 2011, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Libations, Making Cocktails | Tags: ,

““My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky.” – William Faulkner

-In San Francisco last week the Exploratorium held the Science of Cocktails and Whipper Snapper Whiskey was in the Whiskey Mix-off and we have a winner!!!

This cocktail, the Suffering Barrister, was created by Ken Walczak, spirits blogger for DrinkingMadeEasy.com.

Here’s the recipe:
The Suffering Barrister

1 1/2 oz. Whipper Snapper Whiskey
1 oz. gin
1/2 oz. + ginger-apple syrup (recipe below)
1/2 oz. (slightly less) lime juice
2 dashes angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in ice-filled shaker.  Shake; serve up.

Ginger-Apple Syrup
Combine 3-4 oz. of ginger, sliced thin, 1 tsp. black peppercorns, the skins and cores of two apples, 2 cups sugar, and 3 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; simmer for about 40 minutes or until syrup has the desired flavor and consistency. Cool completely. Strain.

A whiskey recipe to relish. Thank you Ken!

Try this at home, you’ll be glad you did.



Maude’s Smokey Violet Smash Cocktail by cdbakunas
January 5, 2011, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Libations, Making Cocktails | Tags: , , ,

A big thank you to our friend Jean Tomaro at Chicago’s newest hot spot Maude’s for the following Ransom Old Tom Gin cocktail. If you find yourself in the Windy City you deserve to treat yourself to a fantastic cocktail at Maude’s. Make sure to stay and eat as well, the food is fantastic.

Here’s their sublime Smokey Violet Smash

Rinse double old fashion with a few drops of Laphroaig
muddle 3 lime slices, 2 lemon slices, 7 pieces mint
add 1.25 oz Orchard Creme de violette
.5 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin

add crushed ice, rock back and forth 3 times.
top with Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters
garnish with a lemon swath, an orange swath and a mint cap

Voila!

Enjoy another cocktail brought to you by the proud folk at Local Wine & Spirits.



What is Craft Distilling? by cdbakunas
January 3, 2011, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Libations

I have been reading a lot of articles, blogs and news feeds on craft spirits and craft distilling over the last year. For instance, here’s a quote from a recent NPR Colorado radio segment, “Craft distillers are catering to drinkers who have a taste for the regional and the unique.”  Or Max Watman’s excellent book, “Chasing the White Dog,” who seeks stories and truth from craft distillers and the American history of making moonshine. Do an internet search for craft spirits and you’ll be overwhelmed by more than 4 million hits.

From our distillery in Oregon, Ransom

So it makes me ask, what is craft? Where does this resonant term derive from and where might it be going?

Craft has traditionally been referred to genres of work and production that require specific skills.  From Medieval times a craft began as an apprenticeship and graduated into a journey man’s status. Today this still holds true for most craft work. You learn under someone skilled, who is hopefully a good teacher, then you develop your “craft” and head forward on your own to establish a name and fame. Craft has a second connotation of being small production. Inherently, without the aid of modern machinery mechanized for mass production, craft production will be limited to what a few people can do on their own. Interestingly enough there is consensus that craft is skilled labor, small production learned from the hand of a master and skills honed over time, but there are not any legal definitions of what craft production is. For instance, yesteryear craft production was defined as using only tools by hand, not machinery. Later, post industrial revolution craft production is the assemblage of certain goods and products with  the use of machinery and skilled labor (eg. a column or alembic pot still, or a lathe and drill press used in furniture). But how much is small? And how much is medium-sized production?

In my world of wine and spirits it is safe to say that anything you find on a Safeway liquor shelf has been made at extreme scales of largesse, especially when speaking about spirits. If you ever have a chance to visit a large tequila producers or a Budweiser plant or a winery that makes Yellow Tail you will be amazed at how much these production facilities look like energy or oil refineries with their giant continuous column stills, smoke stacks billowing steam from their hoods at 200 feet and silos holding hundreds of thousands of gallons of fermenting grape juice.

The small brand, craft spirit production is typically made by a dozen or fewer people working nuts to bolts with little to zero marketing budgets and getting by on word of mouth, grassroots and sweat of their labor.  As I peruse craft spirits across the web and see how many people are excited about this budding cottage industry, about how many new distilleries have been licensed in the last 12 months (149!), and how bartenders, restaurateurs, retail buyers and consumers are clamouring for higher quality, unique spirits a smile fills my face. This is what makes America so damn great. Small businesses are leading the way to new ideas, new flavors, safe guarding history and the craft of our forefathers all doing something that brings social joy to the next level…the appreciation of a fine spirit.

Craft will evolve, and I predict that craft spirits will rival the micro brew revolution that we have seen over the last three decades. The people have spoken, and they’ve said they want higher quality, more choices, unique historical spirits and they want to know it was made by good human beings, not a board of directors far removed from their craft.

May we all tipple a craft spirit tonight with someone we love.



Vanilla Brandy Punch Classic Recipe by cdbakunas
December 29, 2010, 3:32 pm
Filed under: Making Cocktails | Tags: , , ,

Vanilla Punch

Page 72 in David Wondrich’s book, Imbibe


1 tablespoonful of sugar

1 wine glass (2oz) of brandy

juice of ¼ lemon

Fill tumbler full of shaved ice, shake well, garnish with two slices of lemon and a few drops of vanilla extract. Serve with a straw.

A decent punch but not one of our favorites from Session #2. The plus was that this was a very quick and straightforward punch to make. Worth tinkering with if you are a vanilla fan. Might want to use real vanilla beans.



Gin Punch Classic Cocktail Recipe by cdbakunas
December 29, 2010, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Making Cocktails | Tags: , ,

Gin Punch

Page 77 in David Wondrich’s book, Imbibe


1 tablespoonful of raspberry syrup

2 tablespoonfuls of powdered white sugar

1 wine glass (3oz) of Holland Gin (we used Small’s American Dry Gin)

Juice of ½ lemon

2 slices of orange

1 piece of pineapple

Fill the tumbler full of shaved ice, shake well and ornament the top with berries in season. Serve with a straw.

This was head and shoulders the most exciting punch we made in Session #2. The aromatics of our gin added complexity and aromatic boldness to the fresh fruit and the dissolved powdered sugar brought the alcohol, citrus and herbal aromatics all together in a seamless fashion. Delicious.



Cold Whiskey Punch Classic Cocktail by cdbakunas
December 29, 2010, 2:50 pm
Filed under: Making Cocktails | Tags: , ,

Cold Whiskey Punch

Page 76 in David Wondrich’s book, Imbibe


One teaspoon of powdered white sugar, dissolved in a little bit of water

Juice of half a lemon or one lime

One and a half wine glassesful (3oz) of Red Top Rye

Fill glass with shaved ice

Add two dashes (1 teaspoon) of rum

Shake well and strain into stem punch glass. Garnish with seasonal fruit or thin slices of lemon. Serve with a straw.

Very tasty cocktail, though not our favorite. We wondered if we’d used a lower quality rye (Sazerac 18 year) whether the punch would’ve been quite as good. Guess we’ll have to keep on practicing.



Pisco Punch Classic Cocktail Recipe by cdbakunas
December 29, 2010, 1:55 pm
Filed under: Libations, Making Cocktails | Tags: , ,

Pisco Punch

Page 73 in David Wondrich’s book, Imbibe


½ pint (8oz) gum syrup and pineapple flavoring (see below)

1 pint (16oz) distilled water

¾ pint (10oz) lemon juice

1 bottle (24oz) Peruvian Pisco Brandy

Serve cold in a 3-4oz punch glass and do not keep in ice too long otherwise the punch will be too diluted

*Gum syrup and pineapple flavoring: Cut a fresh pineapple into small squares. Soak fresh cut pineapple in a bowl with gum syrup overnight. Use in above Pisco Punch recipe.

This has the potential to be one of our favorites and I’ll take responsibility in not preparing the pineapple syrup in advance nor having gum syrup on hand. We’ll revisit this recipe and try again in the coming months.



To Make a Classic Cocktail Punch Session #2 by cdbakunas
December 28, 2010, 4:17 pm
Filed under: Making Cocktails | Tags: , , ,

We powered through another session of cocktails. This was day two of making more classic punches from David Wondrich’s wonderful book Imbibe.

I will list all the cocktail recipes on the next blog post, but let me start by saying that reading about cocktails and making them are two entirely different things. I know that sounds elementary, but until you roll up those sleeves and get into classic cocktails you have no idea what a head wind you are fighting. Case in point: I live in Chicago, a major metropolitan city with access to most all things your little mind desires, but finding ingredients like gum syrup, prove next to impossible. Ya, ya, I could order it online but I’m really not that organized. Just getting all the ingredients together the day before we make these cocktails is an ordeal enough. And the looks my wife already gives me as I’ve got three pots reducing on our stove all evening for simple syrup, fruit reductions and fruit syrups is enough to make me drink straight whiskey, forget the cocktails…I need to get to 30,000 feet cruising altitude asap!

We started with Pisco Punch. I’ve heard a lot about this little punch. Pisco this, pisco that and it seems to be the powerful rage in certain circles, or at least people think they like it. Maybe because Pisco is so darn fun to say and you can keep on saying it as you over serve yourself.  It simply falls from your slightly pursed lips like drops of oil from your fried eggs. Wondrich writes about how Pisco Punch was such the rage in San Francisco that nearly every bar in the 1920’s had their own version. The reputed original was made by a Scottish barman, Duncan Nicol, proprietor of the historic Bank Exchange saloon (Exchange, what a great name for a bar). Pisco liquor is a type of grape brandy that was created in Peru dating back to the 16th century when Spanish explorers began planting grapes in the fertile south coast of Peru. Piscos were the names of the potters who threw clay containers used in all sorts of fermentations, including the epynomous Pisco Puro.

This punch seemed to me to be the most captivating. Again, it requires a bit of work in advance so you have to have great determination, patience and diligence to do this right. I have none of these saint like qualities and no wonder our Pisco Punch didn’t make it as the stand out punch this afternoon. 24 hours in advance you need to make a pineapple syrup with the use of gum syrup. So I don’t have gum syrup and I was told by a few mixologist friends of mine that I could substitute a reduced simple syrup and that should suffice. I didn’t soak the pineapple for quite long enough (does 15 minutes count?). Other than that we gave it a solid effort. The punch was good, not great.

Next we made a cold whiskey punch and a gin punch followed by a vanilla punch. In retrospect I should have made the vanilla punch the same day that I made the variations of the classic Brandy punch. They are so darn similar it was like taking a small half step the other way we would’ve been there. Vanilla punch, good, but not great, and probably the day’s most boring cocktail. No fault to the vanilla punch, it just left all of us wanting a little more.

The Cold Whiskey Punch was great. The original recipe calls for 3 oz of Red Top Rye whiskey. Right. That doesn’t exist anymore and Wondrich this time was kind enough to say we could just use Rye Whiskey. Well, I happened to have a bottle of 18 year old Sazerac Rye and we couldn’t decide if this punch was rocking delicious on its own merit or if it was because the Rye we used was fucking amazing. Maybe a little bit of both.

But the Gin Punch took the crowd by surprise this day. It was dynamite. Let me reiterate, dynamite. It’s like aromatic gin was made for punch and fresh fruit combinations. The raspberry syrup combined with the powdered white sugar made a sexy, feminine pink hue that said, “oh wow, that’s really pretty,” and the citrus of lemon, orange and pineapple gave a lift to this punch that the others just didn’t have. The citrus melted seamlessly with the herbal aromatics of our Small’s Gin and each sip was balanced, complex and extremely refreshing.

A successful day after dealing with a few irritations like pineapple syrup and gum (gomme) syrup. I will try the Pisco Punch again when I’m more organized and when I find a source for gum syrup. I do really want to compare gum syrup to simple syrup and taste/experience their unique qualities for myself.

Recipes to be posted next.

Sante!



Sometimes Photos Say More Than Words by cdbakunas
June 16, 2014, 4:28 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink | Tags: , , , ,

Midway through 2014 these were photos that we found moving, amusing, beautiful or all the above.

Raise a glass of wine tonight and enjoy the moment.

 

Wine Photo 7

The good old times transporting barrels

Wine Photo 9

A life filled with passion and dedication

Gendarmes making arrests, wine thieves

Gendarmes preparing for an arrest in France’s wine thieves debacle

Wine Photo 6

Can I have some Muscadet?

Wine Photo 8

So true, it comes from the top down in Italy

Wine Photo 3

Wine Photo 4

Wine Photo 2



What is Verjus and Some Winter Cocktails by cdbakunas
January 17, 2013, 2:19 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Making Cocktails | Tags: , , ,

Verjus in Winter

And a few cocktails

 

Verjus, or sometimes spelled Verjuice comes from Old French “jus verte” or green juice. Green was not a denotation of color but rather a reference to young fruit that still maintained high acidity while harvested under-ripe. In the Middle Ages (500 A.D. – 1400 A.D.) verjus was often used to enhance flavors in stews, condiments and sauces. Most modern cooks now use lemon or lime for lively tartness. Interestingly lemon trees were not introduced to Northern Europe until 1000 A.D. when the Mores brought lemons to Sicily. By the end of the 15th century we see the first cultivated lemon orchard in Genoa and it was “down-hill” for verjus. Lemons, being perfect portable little darlings usurped the quotidian use of verjus which is unfortunate because verjus has a few distinct qualities that, for certain functions, far exceed the tartiness of a lemon. Verjus is not quite as acidic as a lemon (see chart below) and offers a wider range of flavors that can complement beverages and dishes without overwhelming. And because verjus’ type of acidity is tartaric as opposed to citric in lemons, it has an inherent balance to wine and food that citric acids typically overwhelm. Cocktails with verjus have the pleasing uplift that acid from lemons or limes offer and yet can create more aromatic complexity and subtlety. We have a few of our favorites from our test kitchen below for winter cocktails.

 

Please grab a bottle of Bonny Doon’s Verjus as soon as you can and send us your recipes and comments.

 

 

Chart A. pH 0 – 14 (7 neutral measurement between acid and alkaline)

Lemon pH 2.2 – 2.4

Bonny Doon Verjus de Cigare 2.92

Milk pH approximately 6.7

Average red wine will range between 3.65 – 3.8 pH.

 

 

Cocktails:

Sweeter:
1:1 Henry du Yore’s Bourbon: Bonny Doon Verjus
Orange bitters
Splash of Aperol
Stir till very chilled and serve up, garnish with a burnt orange rind

 

Savory
2:1 Bonny Doon Verjus : Fidencio Classico Mezcal
1 bar spoon of Royal Rose 3 Chiles Simple Syrup
Dash of Jerry Thomas Bitters
Stir and serve up in a coupe glass

 

Dry
1:1 Bonny Doon Verjus : Tub 80 proof Gin
Tenneyson Absinthe rinse
Mint leaf garnish (or tarragon)
Stir till very chilled, serve up in a rocks glass.

 

1:1 Tub 80 proof Gin : Bonny Doon Verjus
1/2 oz Cynar
Orange bitters
Stir till very chilled, serve up in a rocks glass

Local Spirit Bottles Blog Verjus




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