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London and Melon Cocktail

by Joe Shotkus April 18th, 2014
I've got an original cocktail here for this week! I'm over the cold weather and ready to jump into warmer weather. As such, here is a cocktail recipe that's beckoning summer. For this, I did a watermelon reduction and threw some coriander and lavender in to spring it the hell up. A reduction is simple, you literally just boil a substance until it thickens up naturally through evaporation. A lot of complexities come out of a substance when you let it naturally thicken by taking most of the water out. Coriander makes anything better in my opinion, so I
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Magic Hat, Pistil

by J Frazzetta April 14th, 2014 | Beer
DSCF6669Bottle/Tap: Bottle

Here it is, Avid Reader, the first official beer of spring!  That’s not to say I haven’t been sampling other stuff, but this is the first one I’m telling you about, and I find it fitting that this particular brew was made with dandelion.  You read that right, and trust me when I tell you that dandelions are edible: when I was growing up my grandfather would come up and visit in the spring.  He’d sit on the porch, then ask my sister and me to gather all the dandelions that hadn’t blossomed.  We come back with a few handfuls, he’d pluck one up and eat in front of us and he would take the rest inside to wash then use in a salad.  I never ate one --  maybe someday I will -- but dandelions always remind me of spring and my grandfather.  Fiddleheads I can handle,
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Bee’s Knees Cocktail

by Joe Shotkus April 11th, 2014 | Cocktails, Mixed Drinks
honey etcToday's cocktail feature is a classic inspired by honey, the Bee's Knees. This is an incredibly simple cocktail, a true sour in three parts: Gin, lemon and honey. With all sours, I always suggest you squeeze your own juice or move on. It really does make that big of a difference. Lime juice squeezed and left in the refrigerator for a few hours calms some of the citric bite down and allows some of that delicious flavor to become more apparent, making lime sours that much more enjoyable. Same with lemon. Taming citrus is what makes simple sours so wonderful. You can explore the flavorful combinations of various sweeteners with their base spirit and complimenting fruit flavors.

That being said, the Bee's Knees is essentially an archaic Lemon Drop. It belongs along such great old timey lady drinks as the Brandy Crusta and Mary Pickford. It's sweet and lemony and
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Sediment in Wine

by Joe Shotkus April 17th, 2014 | Ask the Bartender
Upon finishing a bottle of wine, I noticed a good amount of sediment in the bottom of the decanter.  Should I strain wine into the decanter to avoid finding any in my glass? Does sediment adversely affect the flavor of the wine?

Should you strain it? No. I mean, if it bothers you, drink as you please but it will not adversely effect the flavor of your wine. A lot of producers send their wine through rather strenuous straining procedures to make the wine as palatable as possible, making sure it fits the color, complexion and flavor of the style.
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Montebruna, Barbera d’Asti, 2011

by Jason Lightner April 16th, 2014 | Italian Wine, Wine

Italy, Barbera d'Asti, 2011


Italian vineyards have a longstanding tradition of being held in high regard for their incredible varietals brought about by rich soil and careful harvesting. Home to some of the oldest wine producing regions in the world, Italy boasts an incredible number of 20 distinct regions, including Toscana, Piemonte, and Calabria, just to name a few. The vast differences in grapes from region to region highlight what is perhaps my favorite part of enjoying wine — not only do they usually pair well with a box of chocolates, but wine varietals are not too dissimilar from the box itself.

The posh, purple label, busy with various amounts of Italian script, gives very little in the way of description:

The Italian phrase, "Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita." translates to "Denomination of controlled and guaranteed origin," while the Italian prahse, "Imbottigliato all'origine da Braida." translates to "Bottled at the source, Braida."

Montebruna displays rich
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Remy Martin VSOP

by Joe Shotkus April 15th, 2014 | Liquor
remyBrandy in America has so many odd associations. Cognac has typically been associated with the upper class, and I guess who can blame it. For a brandy to be considered cognac it has to abide by an incredibly stringent set of laws, be aged in wood I can imagine only exists in smaller quantity than the unicorn and must be distilled in copper alembics, whose dimensions are also strictly controlled by the French government. Cognac is then blended, aged some more, and then sold.

So here's the thing. When you look at a bottle of Remy Martin or Hennessy, realize this: you are drinking several cognacs from small producers. They literally buy the leftover bottles of single grape cognac and mix them, label them and mark up the price exorbitantly. Big house cognacs, like the popular saying, are actually and literally the cognac France didn't want, mixed together and sold
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