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Holiday Wine and Cocktail Recipes: 90+ Cellars

Turkey day is this week! Although, technically, it was already Christmas the day after Halloween. Give us a break America and let us celebrate one holiday at a time! All the leaves have changed, the air is cool and crisp and that means it’s time for some good Wine, Prosecco and Champagne. Especially for Thanksgiving. I’ve got two wines that will pair wonderfully with any kind of turkey, roast or chicken you may be having for the holiday; spicy or savory. The good thing about serving wine at your holiday gatherings is that you won’t have to stand behind your home bar making drinks all night or even have to make a punch. Just uncork the bottle and set it out for self service. If you want to feel super fancy, decant the bottle. That will impress your guests and you can feel like a Jr. sommelier.

90+ Cellars offers high-end wines that won’t break your wallet during the holiday season. The unique aspect of 90+ Cellars is what they bring to the wine market.  They have been able to convert market inefficiencies into better value for both winemakers and consumers. How you ask? They enable wineries to sell their oversupply without effecting the value of their brand. This way, 90+ can offer customers high-end wine for less! That means we win, guys. We win!

The first wine I’m recommending for Turkey day and beyond is the Pinot Noir.

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This is a fabulous Pinot Noir that you definitely want to have on your holiday table. It’s bold but not too bold. Slightly dry and fruity, this Pinot is rich and smooth. There are deep notes of cherry, dried fruits and there’s a certain earthiness that is pleasant on the palate and will keep you going back for another sip and that’s exactly what you want when you’re enjoying your roasted and brined meats and savory and sweet sides. There’s some nice spice notes of cinnamon on the end of this one and for $14.99, you can’t lose. Enjoy!

Next up is the Big Red Blend.

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For only $11.99, this one is BOLD. This is a good wine for the intermediate Red Wine drinker. There are a lot of dark fruit flavors in this wine. Such as blackberry, cassis and plum. It’s woody and has a definite spice. It’s a beautiful full-bodied wine with a rich dark color. The blend is of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Tempranillo and it’s wonderful. The Big Red Blend is the perfect cold weather wine and we’re going to do a couple of special recipes with it since we’re in the holiday spirit.

First is a whiskey sour. Yes, whiskey sour. Better than a New York Sour, we’re heading into Bourbon Renewal territory (a whiskey sour with Cassis) with our Big Red Blend reduction.

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The reduction is simple. Add 1 Cup of the Big Red Blend to a sauce pan and begin the reduction on medium low heat. You should have a very light simmer going to cook out the alcohol and reduce by half. You can use your nose for this process. Once the alcohol has evaporated, you’re left with the concentrated flavors of the wine. At this point, when you don’t smell anymore alcohol, you’ll want to add sugar. 3/4 to 1 Cup. Adjust to your likeness but keep in mind that we’re using this as a syrup. The whole process takes about 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it coats the bottom of the pan, is syrupy and also leaves a light coat on a spoon.

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Big Red Whiskey Sour:

2oz. Rye (Or Bourbon)

1oz. Big Red Blend Reduction

1oz. Lemon Juice

1 Small Cinnamon Stick

*Add all ingredients to your shaker, breaking the cinnamon stick in half. Add ice and shake your life away. Double strain over fresh ice and garnish with a lemon wheel.

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Cheers!

Finally, we’re going to use the Big Red Blend reduction for dessert. You can get creative here. I’m doing my take on a cheese course. Roasted Figs, Marscapone ice cream and our wine reduction.

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The marscapone ice cream is extremely simple:

1 Package of Marscapone (room temp)

2 Cups Milk

1 Cup Sugar

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract (Vanilla Bean Paste if you have it)

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix. Adjust the sweetness to your liking and follow your ice cream freezer instructions. #SuperEasy

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You can add this reduction to any dessert or other recipe you see fit. Try adding some mulling spices to the reduction and drizzle over a cranberry tart, cheesecake or any seasonal fruit that pairs well with wine.

It’s time for some BUBBLY!

Tis’ the season for Champagne and Prosecco. It’s also time for you to stock up and get the home bar ready for your New Year’s Eve celebration. Start by ordering a case of 90+ Cellar Prosecco. The bubbles are perfectly intense in this Prosecco. Citrus, fresh stone fruit and a great balance of dry and sweet are what you get with this Prosecco. 90+ offers a Prosecco that is versatile enough for a pre and post dinner sipper as well as a cocktail ingredient.

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A nice seasonal cocktail is in order. A Cranberry Sparkler to be exact.

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Cranberry Sparkler:

3/4oz. Light Rum

3/4oz. Lime Juice

1oz. Cranberry Syrup

90+ Cellars Prosecco

Thyme or Rosemary Sprigs (Garnish)

*Add non-sparkling ingredients to a shaker and top with a few ice cubes. Shake and strain over ice in a nice cocktail glass. Top with 90+ Cellars Prosecco and garnish with a fresh, fragrant herb.

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Finally, we’re ending the show with Champagne.

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Le Cle de la Femme is a newely released Champagne (Nov.). Selected for Magic Door Vineyards, this Champagne is clean, crisp and refreshing. Bright and bubbly (obviously), de la Femme is from the Marne Valley and offers aromas of fresh apple and pear. It’s buttery like a Chardonnay and has some notes of cinnamon and anise. It’s incredibly easy to drink and perfect for The Champagne Cocktail.

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The Champagne Cocktail:

1 Sugar Cube (Demerara used here)

2-3 Dashes of your favorite Bitters (Peychaud’s used here)

Le Cle de la Femme Champagne

*Add a sugar cube to your Champagne flute or coupe glass and douse with bitters. Top with Le Cle de la Femme Champagne and serve.

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So, here’s to enjoying the best wines, champagne and prosecco that 90+ Cellars has to offer, the holidays, the new year and beyond. Cheers, friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spirit Review: The 86 Co.’s Cana Brava Rum

“Noise and Spirits”. The 86 Co. is a company that is focused on making high quality spirits for amazing cocktails. One of their slogans is “For Bartenders By Bartenders”. Well, here at FoodieTails, we’re Hometenders. A Hometender should care about quality spirits and ingredients as much as the best bartenders out there. Great spirits make great drinks. It’s the golden rule of imbibing. There are 4 core values that drive The 86 Co.: 1. Top notch “juice” for mixing (no “sour mix”). 2. A functional bottle (which is very unique) 3. “Complete transparency about the products” 4. “Timeless labels filled with information and educational facts.” Professional bartenders, producing craft spirits, hands on, seeing the process through from beginning to end, makes for the highest quality spirits on the market. After all, you do trust your bartenders to make you wonderful cocktails when you go out for a night on the town. Maybe you’ve gone to this little bar called Employees Only.  It’s kind of a big deal. Dushan Zaric, one of the founders of The 86 Co. and the genius behind Employees Only and Macao Trading Co, is a pioneer in the cocktail world. If you trust anyone’s opinion on what spirits you should be drinking, it’s this guy. Employees Only won “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” at Tales of the Cocktail in 2011. That should put things in perspective for you. If not, check this documentary out.

Cana Brava Rum is made in the Carta Blanca style of old Cuban Rums. Such a classic style rum inspires classic [Cuban style] rum cocktails. The Daiquiri, Mojito and the Old Cuban. Though the Old Cuban is typically made with an aged Cuban Rum, Cana Brava is aged for 12-24 months in new American Oak barrels. Once the distillate is cut to 49% ABV, it is transferred to American Whiskey barrels for 12-18 months. This rum is packed with complex flavors. After the aging process, Cana Brava is blended with older rums from Master Distiller Don Pancho’s collection for more complexity. The 86 team traveled to Panama to meet Master Distiller Don Pancho, world famous for his work for Cuban style rums. Don Pancho lent his signature pineapple yeast to the 5 time distilled Cana Brava rum for the perfect blend. There’s a great story on The 86 Co.’s journey to meet Don Pancho here. It’s time to cocktail!

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I wanted to do something clean, crisp and “fruity” (if you will) with this flavor foward rum. We have Creme de Mure, a little lime and champagne. What more does one need?

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Blackberry Trails:

2oz. Cana Brava Rum [Or other light rum]

1oz. Creme de Mure

3/4oz. Lime Cordial [Sweetened Lime Juice]

1 Pipett Jasmine Bitters [Optional]

Champagne/Prosecco/Sparkling Wine [Something on the dry side]

*For the lime cordial, I take the juice of about 6 limes and sweeten it to taste with cane sugar.

**Add all ingredients to mixing glass (or shaker) minus champagne. Stir to chill and strain into rocks or highball glass. Top with your bubbly of choice.

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The unique and signature bottles of The 86 Co. even serve a great purpose. The bespoke bottle was designed for precision and functionality for all of the great bartenders out there. For us hometenders, It beautiful to look at. There’s a ergonomic grip and measurements etched right into the glass. Over 100 bartenders contributed to the design. It’s truly one of a kind.

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A classic and recommended cocktail to start with is the Daiquiri. Cana Brava Rum makes a superior Daiquiri. Here, we’re having a pineapple-basil Daq. So easy and delicious.

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Pineapple-Basil Daiquiri:

2oz. Cana Brava Rum [Or other light Rum]

1oz. Pineapple Syrup

3/4oz. Lime Juice

2-4 Basil Leaves

*For Pineapple Syrup, take fresh or bottled/canned pineapple juice and sweeten it to taste. No need to cook. Bottle and refrigerate.

**Add all ingredients to shaker and fill with ice. Shake until chilled and double strain into coupe glass. Garnish with basil leaf. Cheers!

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Bubbly South Side

The South Side cocktail. The introduction to gin for “non-gin” drinkers. It’s like the mojito of gin. More commonly had during warmer months, it’s a really easy sipper and very simple. Only a few ingredients. If one of those “bad nights with gin” made you stray…this will bring you back!

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Bubbly South Side:

1 1/2oz. Gin [The Botanist used here]

1/2oz. Lime Juice

3/4oz. Simple Syrup

6 Mint Leaves

Champagne [A drier Champagne used here. If using a sweeter Champagne or Sparkling Wine, use 1/2oz. Simple Syrup]

*Add all ingredients to shaker minus Champagne. Be sure to “smack” mint leaves when adding them to shaker, no need to muddle. Fill shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into coupe glass or over rocks. Top with Champagne and garnish with mint and/or lime wheel. Cheers!

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Thai Swizzle

Nothing like a Highball to get your weekend started. I was planting some herbs in the backyard (my cocktail garden) and became inspired. To me, a swizzle cocktail is the ultimate refresher. Lots of ice, a good strong spirit and whatever else you want. Like Kanye West says “A Cool Cool Beverage”. I planted some Basil (Sweet and Thai) and Mint in the yard. Don’t you get tired of buying it from the store? I do. Basil and other herbs are always great in a cocktail. Here’s to the weekend!

For Thai Basil Syrup:

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/2 Cup Water

Handfull of Thai Basil Leaves [Or Sweet Basil]

Bring the sugar, water and basil leaves to a simmer to dissolve sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool. Can be refrigerated  overnight. Strain and bottle. (This makes a small amount of syrup)

For Thai Basil-Lime Cordial:

1/2 Cup Lime Juice [Fresh]

1 Cup Thai Basil Syrup

Splash of Water [Optional]

Add all ingredients together and stir. I juiced about 6 small limes to get 1/2 a cup of fresh lime juice.

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A swizzle isn’t a swizzle without crushed ice!

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No swizzle stick, no problem! A new discovery. I opened the drawer to get a barspoon (because I don’t have a swizzle stick). The beater from my hand mixer was looking right at me. It fit perfectly into the glass and of course it mixed well. Innovations in the kitchen!!!

 

For Thai Swizzle Cocktail:

2oz. Vodka or Gin [Tito’s Handmade Vodka used here]

1 1/2 oz. Thai-Basil Lime Cordial

1oz. Yellow Chartreuse [Optional]

Champagne

 

*This is a built cocktail. Add crushed ice to highball glass about half way. Add all ingredients minus Champagne. Fill with more crushed ice. Swizzle or mix in glass. Top with champagne and garnish with lime wheel and Thai Basil. (Sweet Basil will work here, too) Cheers!

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Raspberry Express

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! Even if it’s 10am. I’d put Raspberry Express into the brunch or “drunch” cocktail category. Another one I surprised myself with. This cocktail turned out better than I expected. It sucks when you think of flavors you want to put into a cocktail and then it turns out horribly wrong.  That didn’t happen here.  I’m putting this cocktail into the brunch category because the Raspberry “jam” gives a fresh burst of fruit flavor.

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The main flavor I thought I originally wanted for this cocktail was Grapefruit. But, I then decided that I wanted something with more of a richer mouth feel. And, I love berries so why not! I’m using frozen Raspberries here (because I got more for less and their organic!) to make the “jam”. I keep calling it a “jam” but it’s more of an unstrained syrup. Next time I make this, I will more than likely give the berries a blend and strain. It makes the end result a lot easier to strain into your glass.

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I found when drinking this cocktail that I kept want to go back for more. The Lillet in the cocktail kept me wanting sip after sip. I was eating wings that had a spice rub; the spice and raspberry flavor worked well together actually. This a fine Whetter cocktail (appetite inducing cocktail to be had pre-prandial). Pair it with something spicy!

 

Raspberry Express

3 Barspoons Raspberry Jam

~5 Mint Leaves [Torn]

Juice of Half a Lime

1oz. Lillet

1/4oz. Rich Simple Syrup

1 1/2oz. Tequila [Espolon Blanco used here]

Champagne or Prosecco

*For Raspberry Jam:

1 cup Raspberries [Frozen or Fresh]

Juice of Half of 1 Lemon

2 Tablespoons Sugar

Simmer  on low heat until raspberries are broken down. Give the berries  a mash or blend and strain. Jar and enjoy!

*Add all ingredients to shaker minus champagne. Top with cracked ice. Shake until chilled and double strain into large Brandy Snifter or Wine Glass. Top with Champagne or Prosecco. Garnish with Mint leaves and Raspberries. Cheers!

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Chez Black

You ever make something and then you’re surprised by how good it turns out? This happened with Chez Black. Lately, every time I make a cocktail I think “wow, this could be in my top five favorites!” As it stands now…Chez Black is high on the list. This is a riff on a classic French 75. The circa 1915 cocktail was created at the New York bar in Paris and was thought to pack such a punch it was equivalent to being shot by a French 75mm gun. Does that sound good to you? It doesn’t to me. The last thing I want to imagine when having a cocktail is being shot. So, this riff uses Cognac and Yellow Chartreuse. The original recording of the cocktail in The Savoy Cocktail Book uses Gin. It was later claimed to be a Cognac based cocktail. I’ve had them both ways and in this application, Cognac is perfect.

The Yellow Chartreuse is optional in this cocktail but it adds a depth of flavor that can’t be substituted. If you can find some or have it already, using it here is a must. It gives the drink a slightly bitter, sweet and complex flavor that pairs with Cognac and ginger. Chartreuse dates back to the 1700’s and is made by Carthusian Monks in the Chartreuse Mountains in France using 130 different herbs, plants and flowers. It’s one of the few liqueurs that will continue to change and “age” in the bottle after opening. If you don’t have any Chartreuse, it should be on your list. I’m not as much of a fan of Green Chartreuse as I am Yellow and I think that Yellow Chartreuse isn’t used enough in cocktails. Green Chartreuse has licorice and anise flavors. I even got a hint of fennel the first time I tried it. I would say it’s an acquired taste.

 

Chez Black

1 Small Piece Fresh Ginger [Muddled]

Juice of 1 Meyer Lemon [Or half of Eureka Lemon]

1/2oz. Rich Simple Syrup [Depending on type of Lemon Juice]

1 1/2oz. Cognac [Hennessy Black]

1 Barspoon Yellow Chartreuse [Optional]

Champagne or Prosecco

*Muddle Ginger then add all ingredients to shaker minus Champagne and top with Ice. Shake until chilled. Double strain into Highball glass over fresh Ice. Top with champagne and garnish with mint. Cheers!

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