4 Ways to Beat the Winter Doldrums

You know exactly where your favorite gin is located on the shelves. You inadvertently make a beeline to your tried-and-true brandy as soon as you come in the store. You get flustered when your staple vodka has relocated to a different section. But there’s another part of you that’s always looking out for something new, different, and a little off the well-worn path. Liquor Tom is the perfect guy for this job, and he’s unearthed a few hidden gems to bring some pizzazz into these dreary winter doldrums!

Letherbee Autumnal Gin | $34.99 750ML

A France 44 favorite, Letherbee Distillers out of Chicago releases two Letherbee Fall Autumnal Gin 2016one-off seasonal gins per year, one in the spring and one in the fall—and they never release the same one again. This year’s Autumnal prominently features earthy flavors of dill, cumin, beets, caraway, and black pepper on top of their already-floral original gin. These fall flavors make for a hybrid gin verging on aquavit, the Scandinavian staple Minnesotans love oh-so-much. We’ve already sold out of Minnesota’s allocation and have now received a slice of California’s allocation. This earthy gin is perfect for a Bloody Mary, Hanky Panky or a Dirty Martini!

dirtymartiniCocktail: Classic Dirty Martini

Stir and strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with 3 Filthy Bleu Cheese Olives.

Copper & Kings Craftwerks Sierra Nevada Smoked Porter Finished | $49.99 750MLCopper & Kings Craftwerk Brandy Sierra Nevada

Copper & Kings has been producing high-quality craft brandy out of
Louisville, Kentucky for nearly a decade, and have started to create some of the most unique spirits on the market today. Last year they started to release collaborations with breweries around the country, where they send each brewery brandy barrels for them to age beer in. The breweries then send the barrels back to Copper & Kings, who then finish their brandy in the now-twice-used barrels for a whole calendar year. Our favorite was their brandy finished in Imperial Smoked Porter barrels from Sierra Nevada. It shows creamy malted vanilla tones, a slight hint of hoppiness and a lingering smoky note. It’s a brandy with scotch and bourbon tones that’s a beer drinker’s delight!

Cocktail: Stick it in a glass on the rocks and drink it!

Image result for manhattan drinkOr a Brandy Manhattan

Stir and strain into a coupe glass

Glenfiddich 14 Year Old U.S. Exclusive | $44.99 750MLGlenfiddich 14 Year Bourbon Barrel Reserve

Great Single Malt Scotch at a good price is becoming harder and harder to come by. That’s why it was a breath of fresh air for Glenfiddich to come out with a 14 year Single Malt, aged exclusively in bourbon barrels and finished in newly charred American oak as an homage to our bourbon culture. What’s more, this delicious Scotch retails for the awesome price point of $44.99! This single malt is brimming with brown sugar, honey, vanilla, toasted oak spice, coconut, green apple, pear, and orange zest. Perfect for the bourbon drinker who would like to try out scotch!

godfatherCocktail: Stick it in a glass and drink it neat!
Or in a Godfather:

Drink in a lowball glass with an ice ball

Amarula Cream Liqueur | $18.99 750MLAmarula Fruit Cream Liqueur

For anyone who’s always on the search for a quality replacement for Bailey’s at a lower price point, look no further than Amarula Cream! Made in South Africa with a blend of their native marula fruit and fresh dairy cream, Amarula shows bright caramel and butterscotch notes and a faint tropical fruitiness. The marula plant is unique to Africa and is in the same family as mangos, pistachios, and cashews. It holds a special place socioeconomically in South Africa due to the high amount of nutrients found in it. Some proceeds from each bottle purchased go to protecting elephants (closely tied to the marula tree) from being poached across Africa.

Image result for amarula drink
Cocktail:
Amarula Spiced Dram

Drink in a lowball glass on the rocks

Winter Warmers

With the cold finally upon us and Christmas around the corner, we definitely need some cold weather liqueurs to warm us up, right? Read on to discover a few delicious holiday libations that are sure to heat up any occasion!

Tattersall Cranberry

Tattersall Cranberry 750ML $32.99

What’s screams holiday season more than cranberry? Coming fresh out of the red-hot Tattersall Distillery in Northeast Minneapolis, this beautiful liqueur is the perfect balance of sweet, sour and tart. Made from Great Lakes Cranberries and a subtle botanical blend to enhance the berries themselves, this is the perfect addition to your holiday festivities!

Ways to drink it: Add a splash to a cosmo, top off sparkling wine or gin and tonic, or Tom’s favorite: add it to hard cider!

Cocktail: Tattersall Cran-Apple Cider

1.5oz Tattersall Cranberry Liqueur

6oz Sociable Ciderworks Freewheeler Cider

On ice in a high ball Collins glass

Art in the Age Root Beer

Art in the Age ROOT 750ML $29.99

Made from a 1700’s recipe for traditional pre-temperance alcoholic root tea, this is a beautifully sweet, herbal version of what we now call root beer schnapps. An herbal remedy made from sarsaparilla, birch bark, sassafras, cinnamon, clove, spearmint, and more, this is an old-school classic root beer lovers’ delight.

Ways to drink it: Sip it on its own or over ice, with root beer or ginger beer, on top of ice cream is always a favorite.

Cocktail: Super-Sized Root Beer

2 Parts ROOT

4oz Maine Root Root Beer

3 Dashes Black Walnut Bitters

On ice in a lowball

Lazzaroni Amaretto

Lazzaroni Amaretto 750ML $21.99

This classic amaretto has been produced and bottled in the Italian town of Saronno since 1851. If the package looks familiar with its old-school cookie tin it’s because this spirit is actually infused with the Italian cookies themselves instead of an artificial essence, giving it a true-to-form amaretto flavor.

Ways to drink it: On its own or on the rocks, with bourbon, scotch, or vodka, drizzled on top of cookies or ice cream.

Cocktail: Godfather/Godmother

Godfather: 1oz Lazzaroni Amaretto & 1oz Bank Note Blended Scotch or Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon on the rocks.

Godmother: 1oz Lazzaroni Amaretto & 1oz Skaalven Vodka from Brooklyn Park, MN

High West Barreled Manhattan - The 36th Vote

High West 36th Vote Barreled Manhattan

Who wants to actually make all the cocktails at your holiday party, am I right? A France 44 favorite, High West Distillery, has you covered. They’ve created a pre-made Manhattan out of their High West Double Rye, Vya Sweet Vermouth, and Angostura Bitters. It’s aged in an old rye barrel for 120 days before bottling it. They also make a Barrel Aged Boulevardier made with Bourbon, bitter orange liqueur and sweet vermouth–perfect for a dessert drink!

Cocktail: The Easiest Manhattan Ever

Pour straight from a chilled bottle in the fridge, or stir with ice, strain into a coup glass, and garnish with a Maraschino cherry and enjoy!

 

The Beer Drinker’s Thanksgiving Table

Turkey day is just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what will accompany your feast. Surely there will be wine, but why not have a selection of beers to match your favorite courses as well? America’s first Thanksgiving in 1621 was celebrated with local ale in hand. We must pay homage to that tradition! Add some excitement to your celebration by stocking your fridge with a variety of beers that will enhance the dining experience for your guests.

Remember, as flavor intensity increases throughout your meal, so should your beer pairings. So as not to kill your palate too early, start with lighter beers, and work your way up from there. Here is a list of my favorite beers to bring along to Thanksgiving dinner:

Victory Prima Pils 6pk BottlesVictory Prima Pils

One of the best pilsners in the land. Victory Prima Pils is elegant and refreshing. Its dry finish and bracing herbal hop bite make it a crowd-pleasing quencher. Serve Prima before the main courses to whet appetites.

Pair With: Salads, snacks, and other appetizers early in the meal.

Bauhaus Stargrazer Schwarzbier

BauHaus Stargrazer German Style Schwarzbier 6pk

This mystifying black lager pours darker than a moonless night. You will be surprised by its light body and quaffable character. Bauhaus Stargrazer is a session-able choice for the Thanksgiving dinner table. Its silky smooth roast is inviting, ant leads into softly sweet malt-forward notes of chocolate, toffee, dark fruits, and nuts.

Pair With: Heartier, meaty appetizers. Stargrazer’s nutty roast character also plays well with buttered rolls, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Try it with desserts containing nuts such as pecan pie.

north coast le merleNorth Coast Le Merle Farmhouse Ale

Crafted along the Shoreline Highway in the scenic coastal town of Fort Bragg, this invigorating Saison-style ale can lead you through most Thanksgiving courses. Exotic tropical fruit and rustic hay-like aromas lead to a lively palate. Fruity yeast notes and a peppery, dry finish show Le Merle’s food-pairing prowess.

Pair With: Earlier courses such as funky cheeses and salads. Le Merle also matches well with the roast turkey or chicken. The spicy, pepper-like, citrus finish latches on to the spicy herbs and seasonings.

Bent Paddle Harness IPABent Paddle Harness IPA

Bent Paddle’s winter-seasonal is a staff favorite. This IPA features a slightly darker malt profile along with some malted rye and flaked oats. Bold and flavorful with a snappy citrus hop punch.

Pair With: Stronger hard cheeses like Montgomery’s Cheddar. The hop profile also balances saltier pre-meal snacks. The full character of this IPA helps it stand up to bigger courses as well. It won’t get lost amongst more rich, savory flavors. IPAs play well with cranberry sauce, too!

Delirium TremensDelirium Tremens Belgian Golden Strong Ale

A truly mesmerizing bottle-conditioned brew, that yields a dense foamy head when poured. Delirium Tremens has a malty nose with yeasty, floral accents. Malty, fruity flavors and a warming alcohol presence lead to a dry, bitter finish. Delirium is an iron fist in a velvet glove.

Pair With: Sweet Potatoes and glazed ham. Delirium also dances with apple and cherry pie.

Schneider Aventinus Tap 6 DopplebockSchneider Weisse Aventinus Weizenbock

Schneider’s Aventinus is Bavaria’s eldest wheat doppelbock. Pleasant aromatic sweetness greets the senses: caramelized banana, spicy clove, and biscuit-y malt. Aventinus’ flavors are reminiscent of banana bread, brown sugar, caramel, raisins, and cookies. This beer feels perfect on a cool evening.

Pair With: Banana bread pudding or bananas foster. Aventinus is also a nice complement to vanilla ice cream.

Founders Backwoods Bastard Barrel-Aged Wee Heavy

Founder’s Backwoods Bastard is the perfect sipper to round out a satisfying Thanksgiving dinner. Big scotch-like aromas of oaky-bourbon, smoke, sweet caramel and dark fruit suggest the taste that follows.

Pair With: Desserts! German chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate truffles, snickerdoodles, etc.

 

4 Autumnal Liqueurs That Need A Home On Your Bar This Fall

There’s nothing wrong with being a seasonal drinker. We love to match our cocktail, beer, and wine choices to fit the weather, and it’s around this time of year that we start craving those toasty, warm, comforting flavors that mirror the sights and smells that come along with autumn. Our liquor lad Tom has compiled a handful of liqueurs—along with some delectable ways to use each of them—that absolutely need a place on your bar this fall and winter. They’re perfect for any holiday gathering, as well as for a comforting treat at the end of any chilly day. Cheers!

Art in the Age Ginger Snap

Art in the Age Ginger Snap 

Inspired by a medieval German Monk recipe, this USDA organic spirit tastes just like a ginger snap cookie. Made with blackstrap molasses, fresh ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, and other baking spices, this is the perfect interpretation of sweet delicious ginger.

Ways to drink it: On its own, in rye, bourbon, or rum; in apple cider, or use it to make a boozy icing for your gingerbread cookies.

Cocktail: Dark and Snappy

1oz Ginger Snap Liqueur

1oz Myers Dark Rum

4oz Fever Tree Ginger Beer

 

St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur 

St George Spiced Pear Liqueur

In 1982 St. George opened its doors in Alameda, California as the first small craft distillery in America since Prohibition. While they make four award-winning gins, three pear based vodkas and a plethora of liqueurs, the one that stands out during the fall season is their Spiced Pear. Made from a pear brandy base with luscious Bartlett Pear juice added, this low alcohol spirit is spiced with cinnamon and clove to make it a warm and cozy autumn tipple.

Ways to drink it: On its own, in apple cider, with bourbon or dry scotch, or glaze a ham with it.

Cocktail: The Scottish Pear

2oz Bank Note Blended Scotch

¾oz St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur

2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Serve in a coupe glass

 

Sortilege Maple Rye

Sortilege Maple Rye Liqueur 

Consisting of two parts Canadian Rye Whiskey and one part Grade A maple syrup, this delicious spirit comes straight from the maple syrup heartland: Quebec. Its slightly spicy rye base is balanced out by the sweet, luscious maple.

Ways to drink it: on its own, as a simple syrup in any cocktail, with bourbon, or drizzled on pancakes.

Cocktail: Breakfast Old Fashioned

2oz Evan Williams Single Barrel

1oz Sortilege Maple

5 dashes of Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters

 

Du Nord Du Nord Spiced Apple SpiritApple

Du Nord Apple is made right here in Minneapolis’s Seward neighborhood, with apples from a 66 acre orchard in Lake City, Minnesota. The result is a sweet but subtle apple flavor, fresh from the fields of the north to your glass.

Ways to drink it: on its own, in bourbon, warm mulled apple cider, with ginger ale, or with sautéed apples drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

Cocktail: A La Mode

2oz Apple Du Nord

1oz Heavy Whipping Cream

Drop or two of Vanilla Extract

A pinch of Nutmeg

 

The Lost Art of the Cheese Course (Plus, a bonus weekend perk!)

 

France’s Image result for jean anthelme brillat-savarinmost famous gastronome, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, said this about the important role cheese plays in a meal: “Un dessert sans fromage est une belle à qui il manque un oeil.” Loosely translated, that means, “A dessert course with no cheese is like a beautiful woman with one eye.” According to the French sensibility, cheese is what brings the entire meal together.

A cheese course is, unfortunately, a strange concept to us today. We rarely have time to let the meal linger slowly through several courses anymore, nor do we always pay close attention to what we eat. However, a few carefully selected cheeses and curated wine pairings can be a beautiful way to prelude an evening, or to cleanse the palate in-between heavy courses.

Traditionally, the cheese course is served after the main course but before dessert. Sometimes a platter of various cheeses is served, and usually includes one of each different kind of milk—cow, sheep, and goat—along with a spread of preserves, honey, and perhaps nuts and dried fruit. Other times, one single, special cheese can be highlighted, perhaps with a wine pairing to really make it stand out.

This weekend, we challenge you to channel your inner French and bring back the lost art of the cheese course! Check out the France44 Cheese Shop’s weekend feature—Chebris, a goat and sheep’s milk cheese from the Basque country, topped with a dollop of delectable lavender honey.Pinon Vouvray Emotion Demi-Sec 2014

One more thing to add to this match made in heaven: Domaine Pinon “Emotion” Vouvray—brand new to France44! One of our wine buyers, Dustin, visited Domaine Pinon last year in France and fell in love with not only the wines from this small family estate, but also with the elegant simplicity that infused their entire way of life. He picked out this particular wine for France44, a demi-sec Chenin Blanc, because he was so impressed with its balance and vivacity.

Chenin Blanc is one of those “magic grapes.” Because this particular varietal has both high natural acidity and high natural sugar content, it can be done in a multitude of different styles: sparkling, light and bone dry, rich and nutty, or in a dessert style… all depending on what the winemaker wants it to be. Vouvray, within the Loire Valley of northwest France, is Chenin Blanc’s most natural home. The limestone, chalk and clay soils there give it the vibrant, lively quality it is so famed for.

Cheese courses don’t have to be ornate: that same elegant simplicity of a tiny French winery can be brought to your own table with a few well-chosen items that, when you taste them together, seem like they could never be eaten apart from each other. The creaminess of the Chebris, the gentle sweetness of the honey and the bright acidity and fresh fruity sweetness of the Pinon Vouvray combine to make a wholly enjoyable culinary experience.

Here’s one last thing to whet your appetite: from September 1-3 if you mention this blog post at the register, we’ll knock a dollar off your bottle of Pinon “Emotion” Vouvray. Here’s to savoring the simple but elegant moments of life!

Cocchi Vermouth Takeover

cocchi

Summertime is the perfect time to explore fortified wines, especially the Cocchi lineup! The Cocchi line can brighten up your classic cocktails you would usually drink in the cold months as well as shine as the base of low alcohol cocktails. They make a vermouth and two Americanos, and we will be diving into the differences this weekend with open bottles of all three!

Cocchi Di Torino is their 100-plus-year-old family recipe sweet vermouth, and was named Whisky Exchange’s 2014-15 Spirit of the Year. Cocchi Di Torino is dark and rich with black fruit and intricately woven herbs and spices of bitter orange, Artemisia, rhubarb and cinchona. Di Torino is not known for its bitterness like many high end sweet vermouths, but more about the spices. Cinnamon, caramelized brown sugar, bitter orange, rhubarb and cocoa dominate this vermouth making it lighter bodied for summer Manhattans and Negronis.

Cocchi Americano is a bianco or blanc, not a sweet vermouth but instead an Americano, derived from amer, or bitter gentian. While some producers have taken out many of bianco’s more bitter qualities (Lillet Blanc for example), Cocchi Americano embraces its gentian along with some of the same herbs as Di Torino: Artemisia, bitter orange and cinchona. Dominant notes of orchard fruits like peach, pear, and orange make this aperitif wine much brighter in style. It’s perfect when cut 4 to 1 with tonic or club soda, or drunk on its own before a meal with an orange rind. It’s also stellar in a vesper or as a unique twist in a Negroni instead of sweet vermouth.

Cocchi Americano Rosa: Cocchi Americano with rose petals, vanilla, and saffron added? Count us in! An Americano with added florality, weight and richness, Cocchi Rosa is the perfect pairing with anything grapefruit (Palomas with San Pellegrino and tequila anyone?), or in brighter versions of classic cocktails instead of sweet vermouth such as a Martinez or Manhattans.

Cocchi Barolo Chinato is the family’s pride and joy, a truly beautiful aromatized wine balanced between bitter and sweet with the main botanical being quinine, or cinchona. Cinchona is the main ingredient in tonic water: it is an antimalarial entity used in many curative medicines as well as spirits. Best served after dinner instead of before, it has been seen for centuries as a therapeutic wine aiding in digestion.