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Remy Martin VSOP

by Joe Shotkus April 15th, 2014
Brandy 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
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Beer

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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Cocktails

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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Honey Champagne Cocktail

by Joe Shotkus April 10th, 2014 | Ask the Bartender
I ordered a champagne cocktail at a bar recently.  The bartender told me that their version was made with honey instead of sugar.  It sounded intriguing, so I ordered it.  It was tasty. . .until the last few sips, which were thick and syrupy.  Is there a way this drink can be made with honey and taste better?

Honey is one of the best sweeteners on the market for cocktails. There are so many varieties, local and otherwise, and each add really cool subtle flavors. In PA we have access to a lot of local honey, and I've tried my
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Wine

Gnarly Head, Authentic White, 2011

by Jason Lightner April 9th, 2014 | White Wine, Wine
white wineGnarly Head

California, Winemaker's White Blend, 2011

$12.99

As we touched on previously, whites have never quite been my thing, but as I sample more and more great wine, I find my tastes becoming ever more varied. This is the sort of thing all wine fans should hope to achieve on the road from the days of simply enjoying wine, to the eventual time when one might be considered a connoisseur. It's a long ways off, my friends, but we're getting there, and I'm excited to have you along for the ride.

Gnarly Head has been producing a plethora of wines for years, ranging from Zinfandels to Chardonnays, to blends they call their "Authentic Collection." The Authentic White, crafted of wine varietals from Lodi and Monterey, aims to be the gnarliest of them all.

From the embossed label, which features a cartoon depiction of the gnarled vines from which the grapes are harvested:
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Spirits

R.L. Seale’s 10 Year Old Rum

by Joe Shotkus April 8th, 2014 | Liquor
barbados betty wolverton-georgeR.L. Seale's rum is malty. It's a big, dark aged rum weighing in at 86 proof. I love dark rum, especially when you can taste the sugar that it was distilled from. It's like having an understanding of the region from which it is derived. So few alcohols give you as true a taste of the region as rum. Pisco brandy might be only second to this understanding of a region by its distillate. R.L. Seale's 10 Year Old boasts heavy caramel, coconut and vanilla bean flavors with some of the wood from the barrel, but mostly the flavors of distillation. I want to try an older rum by them, something with some more barrel flavors and more subtleties. This rum is not subtle, it's shooting guns at 3 a.m. outside of someone else's trailer. I like that about it in some ways, like this would be fantastic as
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