The Ultimate Easter-Passover Pairing Post

Ah, the inevitable Passover/Easter pairing post. What does go with Easter ham? What even is Kosher wine? Does the Pope sip in the woods? These and many more questions we’ll try to answer, while doing some very scientific, highly-researched, definitely not off-the-cuff opinion-based reporting on the best wines, spirits, and beers to pair with your holiday meal. To guide you through the morass, we’ve assembled two experts in everything related to springtime feasting:

Playing for the Jews, it’s Sam Weisberg — wine and spirits specialist, Slivovitz enthusiast, and former theater kid who definitely loved Passover the most out of all of the other holidays because of all the singing he got to do at the dinner table.


On Christ’s team, we’ve got Josh Timmerman — wine specialist, social media mogul, fan of cocktails with less than three ingredients, and that guy from church who built his own deck and always seems really friendly but you can never remember his name.


* A final disclosure; not all of the products we are going to recommend are certified Kosher or Kosher for Passover. If you keep strict kashrut, we do carry a small selection of dry Israeli wines which make that cut, plus the obligatory Manischewitz. Ok, let’s get going!!

ROUND ONE: WINE

Passover

Easter

Georgian wine has always made sense to me for Passover pairings. Maybe it’s the similarities between Georgian cuisine and the traditional Seder table mains (lots of spiced meat?) or maybe it’s just my made up sense of wines from the “Ancient World” being closer to what my ancestors might’ve had on their table. Either way, this savory, apricot-like amber wine is a knockout with a huge range of foods, especially chicken dishes.

This Israeli Cab is a great choice for those keeping strict kashrut, as it is both normal-Kosher and Kosher for Passover, but it also is a delicious wine in its own right. Produced on the slopes above the Sea of Galilee, it’s a fresher, lighter style of Cabernet than California drinkers might be used to. 

Nebbiolo, with its occasionally rusty color and heady aromas, seems like the perfect wine to use for a holiday that does a lot of (metaphorical!) conflating of blood and wine. For a Passover brisket, you’d be hard pressed to find a better pairing than Angelo Negro’s Roero, a killer deal for Piedmont Nebbiolo. If you need a bottle to bring to a religiously-mixed celebration, it’d probably go quite well with Easter ham, too.

This rose of Grenache is plush, ripe, and bursting with strawberry fruit. Its got enough weight to stand up to the heavy-hitters on the Easter table–ham, turkey, and the like–but it’s still fresh and light enough to give a definite summertime-is-here vibe. From an awesome producer in Central California, Cruess, this is a great domestic rose that would be the perfect way to start off your Sunday supper.

This unique white blend from Southern France is made by an organic producer called Maison Ventenac. Located in the middle-ground between Southern and Southwestern France, the winery works with an eclectic mix of grapes that go into highly unique blends. This Colombard-Chenin blend is one such example; yellow apple and subtle chamomile notes mingle here to create an absolutely delicious white that is bright, fresh, and full of simple joy. 

A great wine, from a great winemaker, from a great region, from a great vintage can be exceedingly difficult to find, especially less than $50. The Tondonia is an exceptional wine and has long been one of my favorites, period. Though it is over a decade old, it’s still unbelievably vibrant and vivacious. Its rustic dark cherry and plum notes play well with traditional Easter ham or lamb, but it pairs well with a shockingly wide range of dishes. 

ROUND TWO: SPIRITS

Passover

Easter

If you have any Eastern European heritage whatsoever, Jewish or not, slivovitz probably graced your holiday table at some point in history. A bracing distillate of plums, this clocks in at 50% ABV and makes you feel very well equipped to be “living in unprecedented times.” With its alluringly tasty almond-tinged flavor and surprisingly strong, burns-all-the-way-down texture, it’s straight-up Biblical. Jelinek, based in the Czech Republic, has long been known for its Kosher booze, and makes a sterling example.

I drink slivovitz neat, and recommend you do as well. However, it’s also got potential in a few different martini variations, and makes a nice highball. Most important, however, is that it’s consumed in very small glasses with very beloved people.

Although there isn’t a traditional liquor for Easter, the Empress 1908 Gin embodies the season well. It’s citrus, blossom, and ginger characteristics offer a modern take to the more traditional juniper-driven style of gin. The stunning purple-blue color is naturally derived from the Butterfly Pea Blossom, and when combined with citrus the gin changes color to a lovely lavender-pink. This blend of colors is reminiscent of dying easter eggs as a child (Who am I kidding? I still dye eggs). It’s the perfect ingredient to add a colorful (literally) take to a classic French 75 for your Easter lunch. Try like this:
  • 1 oz Empress 1908 Gin
  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice 
  • Simple Syrup to taste (couple dashes)
  • 2 oz Sparkling wine (Flora Prosecco would be great)
Add gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into Champagne flute and top with sparkling wine and a lemon twist. 

ROUND THREE: BEER?

Passover

Easter

+1 for Easter! Crisp, clean, with a pleasant hoppy bitterness, Fair State hit it out of the park on this one. Why would you need anything else??? 

Single Barrel Season: On the Bourbon Trail with Tashi

by Tashi

Column still at the Angel’s Envy Distillery

In March I took my first France 44 trip to Kentucky with our liquor buyer, Tom, to help pick out two single barrels for the store.  I was super excited for the opportunity to experience the bourbon trail and get some insider knowledge, so I tried to pack in as much as possible (much to Tom’s annoyance, I’m sure).  We started with a vegan lunch in Louisville as soon as we landed, and had what ended up being a private tasting at Old Forester – always gotta love when no one else shows up and you get some one on one time with the experts!  Then we went to Angel’s Envy for a tour and tasting which was the first time I had toured a distillery of that size, and everything I’d studied in my WSET Spirits 2 Certification finally all clicked into place.  Taking my spirits test two weeks before this trip made March quite the month for me!  Then we bopped around for a bit to kill time while we waited to get picked up by the Libation Project crew.  We ended our evening with dinner and drinks with everyone that had traveled from Minnesota with Libation to pick barrels.

Barton Distillery

Day two we started bright and early with a tour of Barton Distillery.  This was my favorite tour because Barton has been around for a long time and their campus is huge and lived in and gives you a real taste of how long whiskey has been around.  We carry 1792 and Very Old Barton from the Barton Distillery, and were able to sample a couple other products that are only available at the distillery, including a Bourbon Ball Chocolate Cream liqueur!  Fun fact, no one knows why the owner named the distillery Barton.  It isn’t a family name, but rumors say he lost a bet to a Barton but this is unconfirmed.  The coolest part about this tour was being able to sample neutral spirit right off the still!  It was sweeter than I expected and a really cool learning experience, but it was a little too early for me to sample more than a little sip.

After a quick lunch we were off to [redacted] to pick out two single barrels.  We got a tour of the distillery and they took some neutral spirit off the still for us to smell.  If you rub your hands together really fast with the neutral spirit on them you can smell all the unique characteristics of the grains, and sanitize your hands!  After the tour we got set up with our samples.  We had three barrels of [redacted] to pick from, and five barrels of [redacted].  I used the tasting techniques I learned in my WSET class and was apparently too slow for Tom because he was always waiting for me to finish and give my opinion!  When I tried the third sample of [redacted] I knew it was the one.  I even told Tom that’s the one but I’ll finish the five samples anyway!  He agreed with my pick so I’m incredibly excited to share that our [redacted] pick was mine! What a cool journey working at France 44 has been! Last stop we had for the day was a tasting at Heaven Hill.  We carry a lot of Heaven Hill which includes Rittenhouse, Elijah Craig, Mellow Corn, Bernheim, Larceny, Pikesville, and Evan Williams.  I wish we could have gotten a tour of the grounds but unfortunately that did not work out, but we did take a little stroll to look at things.  And we were blessed with some good clouds.

Heaven Hill, feat. CLOUDS
Here we are at [REDACTED] distillers!
Barton exterior
The Brough Brothers distillery

Our last day in Kentucky we headed back to Louisville bright and early for a tour of  Brough Brothers Distillery, the first black-owned distillery in Kentucky!  I got us hooked up with a tour during the week when they normally aren’t offered, and we lucked out with a tour from Bryson, one of the brothers himself!  It was really cool to learn about their mission and see what they’ve been working on.  Their goal is to make bourbon more approachable to the younger crowd, and lead their community to show that anything is possible when you set your mind to it.  Bryson had us try their bourbon with lemonade, and said it was his favorite summer drink – especially while mowing the grass.  I fully plan on drinking this all summer myself, it was very refreshing!  Not to ruin any surprises, but we will hopefully have a new product of theirs on the shelf late spring!  So keep your eyes peeled for a funky new addition to the Brough Brothers lineup.

 

 

The Doggos in question

After our tour we had lunch with our Libation Project rep, Jon, and headed to the airport.  Please enjoy this picture of the best doggos hanging out on their stoop a few doors down from our lunch spot.

This trip was an amazing learning opportunity for me.  As I mentioned, the timing of this trip right after I had studied for my WSET Spirits Level 2 Certification was perfect.  I was able to take everything I studied in text form and see it happening in real life.  I was able to retain more information from the tours, use the proper tasting method to learn more about what I was sampling, and help make two really tasty picks for our single barrel selections!  It’s crazy to think we didn’t make it even halfway through bourbon trail even though I filled our itinerary with as much as possible.  I can’t wait for more adventures and learning opportunities on the horizon with France 44!

 

 

 

Stocking Your Bar: New Mixing-Priced Spirits

By Sam

I’m always thrilled to talk about spirits that represent a bang for your buck. After all, most of the hard liquor produced in the world is destined for the bottom-shelf of a liquor store or the well of a bar. Getting a bottle of whiskey down to dive-bar prices requires either a massively efficient distilling operation and/or bargain-basement-priced raw material. Sadly, in either case, the quest for a cheap(er) bottle of booze can lead to subpar quality.

But! Sometimes distillers really make magic happen, crafting a bottle (or bottles) that manages to hit the sweet spot of high-quality booze at a reasonable price. Those bottles are the prize jewels of bartenders everywhere, who rely on them to create craft cocktails that are not horribly overpriced. Bottles like these have a place on the home bar too: they’re perfect for the Daiquiris, Manhattans, and whiskey-sodas that make up so many simple, at-home happy hours; ready to be deployed when you don’t really need to splurge, you just need a good drink.

Here are a couple great-value bottles that have recently landed in our spirits section.

 

 

Etesia Spirits

Produced by Don Ciccio & Figli, a Washington, D.C.-based operation known for their riffs on classic Italian liqueurs, this line of affordably priced whiskey, gin, and vodka is going to be my new go-to when making cocktails for a crowd. The rye whiskey and vodka are particularly good, both showing fabulous value for their category. The whiskey has clear spicy, rye character (albeit on the sweeter, softer side of things) and would certainly stand up well in a Manhattan. The vodka is maybe even more impressive, a wheat-based, neutral style that has surprisingly clean, smooth character for being in the sub-$20 range.

 

 

Clairin Communal

Clairin is the most popular spirit of Haiti, made from raw sugarcane juice that is left to ferment over a long period, then distilled on rustic pot-stills. It is still very much an artisanal product, made village-by-village by individual distillers whose production is mostly sold locally. In some way, you could think of it as the mezcal of the rum world—a highly culturally-specific distilling tradition that is just now becoming popular outside of its area of origin. For the past few year, La Maison & Velier has been importing a selection of single-producer clairins to the U.S. market, and their latest feature is Clairin Communal—a blend made by combining multiple producers. It’s less funky and intense than some of its single-producer cousins, and it’s bottled at slightly lower proof. All in all, it’s a more affordable, mixable version of an incredibly unique spirit, and would be absolute fire in a Daiquiri.

 

 

Brandy Saint Louise

I’m always skeptical of a cocktail that calls for Cognac in the recipe. I’m not an English aristocrat; why should I splurge for fancy-brandy in my Sidecar when I’m just going to be drowning it in lemon juice? Of course, cocktail fiends everywhere will disagree with me, claiming that Cognac lends an oh-so-subtle dried fruit and spice character that simply can’t be matched by the swill brandies produced elsewhere. Fine. Whatever! I’ll get myself a bottle of Brandy Saint-Louise, a new product—formulated by and for bartenders—that has bravely sallied forth into this morass to deliver *not quite Cognac* to the masses. What is it? Well, it’s French, it’s made near Cognac, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a difference in the production process between the two. I thought it was lovely, delicate, and stood up just dandy in a Sidecar.

 

 

Drapo 50ML Vermouths

I love Vermouth. A lot. I have absolutely no problem getting through a full bottle of the stuff before it spoils. (And it does spoil! Put it in the fridge, now!!) My Achilles’ Heel, however, is dry vermouth. I have no less love for it, but I don’t move through it quite as fast. And, when my hankering for a murderously-cold Martini comes around about once a month, I don’t want to pretend that I’m going to go through even a half-bottle of dry vermouth—I just want the one cocktail. Luckily, Drapo—an Italian vermouth brand—has begun producing adorably-tiny 50ML bottles of their sweet and dry vermouths. They are perfectly delicious, and ideal for satisfying that dry Martini cravin’.

At the Foot of the Mountain: Piemonte’s Nebbiolo

by Hailey

More so than almost anywhere else in the world, Italian wines are hard to understand. With over 355 grape varieties grown in the country, and some of the oldest wine regions in the world, it doesn’t take long to become overwhelmed with information. Yet when we think of Italian wine, Piedmont is one of the first words to come to mind. 

The region holds a special place in Italian history as having played a leading role in the Italian unification process throughout the 18th century, as well as being the origin of the Italian Industrial Revolution that began at the tail end of the 1800s.  It’s also one of the most well-known and renowned regions within Italy: not only does it hold vinous supremacy thanks to its vast number of fine and prestigious wines (a whopping 17 DOCGs and 42 DOCs), but also in its diversity and quantity of wines produced. Nebbiolo takes the crown here, at least in the number of high-quality wines produced – but wines made from this grape vary quite significantly throughout Piedmont. 

The word Piedmont roughly translates to “foot of the mountain,” a nod to the topography of the region. It’s surrounded on all three sides by mountains: the Alps form the boundary with France on the West, and Switzerland and Vallee d’Aosta to the North; in the Southern part of the region, the Ligurian and Maritime Alps separate Piedmont from France and the Ligurian region within Italy. All of these mountains and hills make up a series three concentric rings (predominantly on the Western side of the region, with the Po Valley nestled in the East), and these mountains and hills are not only a defining characteristic of Piedmont itself, but also play a key role in which grapes are grown where, and how wines from each area of Piedmont present themselves in our glass. It’s the middle band, though, where most vines live. Planted between 500 – 1300 feet in elevation with sun exposure coming in all directions, it’s kind of like heaven on earth for Piedmont’s grapes, with each variety planted in the precise spots in the hills that will suit it best. The last, and most inner band, is the plain, which you can find along the Eastern side of Piedmont. Here, the principal crop is rice, not grapes, as the soil is too flat and fertile to suit quality vine growth. 

Okay, here’s where things start to get more convoluted… Piedmont is organized into four major sub-regions, and within these subregions are clusters of hills. The most important in relation to Nebbiolo are the Monferrato hills, the Langhe hills, the Roero hills, and the Novara and Vercelli hills. To make things even more confusing, the hills are further divided into provinces, which are divided into districts and DOC(G)s.  

The most Northerly of these provinces are the Navara and Vercelli Hills. Here, Nebbiolo goes by a different name: Spanna. The climate is milder, thanks to Lake Maggiore’s and Lake Orta’s moderating influences, and cool air from the alps swoops down to create super austere, high acid wines, while a wide diurnal range allows grapes to fully ripen. In relation to Nebbiolo, there’s two DOCGs to look out for from Northern Piedmont: Gattinara and Ghemme.  

Gattinara and Ghemme are the two most Northerly DOCG’s for Nebbiolo, and the former boasts incredible natural grape growing conditions. The combination of perfect sun exposure, ideal altitudes, and soil mix create deliciously bright and aromatic wines, and thanks to these conditions, Nebbiolo (a very finicky grape!) does well here. Gattinara wines contain a higher percentage of Nebbiolo, a minimum of 90% with the other 10% of the blend being either Vespolina or Uva Rara. The combo of full tannins and high acid means that these babies are a bit crunchy and can take a while to mature. They’re full of all of the classic Nebbiolo notes of tart cherry, strawberry, tar, spice and violet, and are incredibly bright and a bit lighter in color than Piedmonts from more southerly areas of Piedmont, with a lighter body and slightly lower alcohol levels as well. 

The Langhe and Roero hills, within the subregion of Alba, are found in the Southern part of Piedmont. This is where the bulk of France 44’s Piedmont section hails from, so if you frequently scan those shelves these words are probably ringing a bell for you. Besides wine, this part of Piedmont is also well regarded for hazlenuts, white truffles, and chocolate (this is where Nutella was invented!). The Ligurian Sea flanks the Southern part of Piedmont, so the conditions aren’t as brutal here and as a result the wines are much more consistent from year to year, with a fuller body and more alcohol than the wines of Northern Piedmont. Temperatures swing quite a bit between day and night in Alba, meaning the Nebbiolos of these parts are able to retain their signature acidity and are especially aromatic with notes of rose petal and violet bursting from the glass.  

Within the Langhe Hills are the two appellations that are most closely associated with Piedmont: Barolo and Barbaresco. The winemaking philosophy of these regions is often compared to that of Burgundy: these are single varietal wines, with huge importance placed on the village origin of each wine. Most of the time, they are single-vineyard wines that are estate bottled. Vineyards are divided into tiny parcels, and these itty bitty lots of land are generally owned by multiple growers. For all of these parallels, Burgundy wine is nothing like that of Barolo or Barbaresco in character.  

Barolo is known and loved for big, brooding power, but it actually wasn’t until the 1850’s that Paolo Francesco Staglieno created a dry style of Barolo. Prior to this, the area was known for sweet wines. As the drier style became more commonplace, they established themselves as the favorites of aristocrats throughout the area, earning the nickname “king of wines and wine of kings.” These wines do vary from bottle to bottle, though, and it’s mainly due to the type of soil they’re grown on (younger and more fertile Tartonian soils of Western Barolo, producing highly aromatic, elegant, fruitier, and more immediately drinkable wine; or the older, poorer Serravallian soils of the East, which produce way more powerful, robust, structured wines) or the style they’re made in (modern, with more fruity characters and more noticeable oak usage; or traditional, with more austerity and neutral, Slavonian oak usage). The Fantino family’s 2013 Barolo Bussia Cascina Dardi is a great example of a Barolo with both power and fruit, with hints of tobacco, leather, and a distinct richness added into the mix. Decant it and it’ll wow you with a surprisingly medium body and beautifully integrated tannins, or let it rest in your cellar and let the flavors morph more into dried fig, dried rose and violet, nutmeg, leather, game and meat.  

Like Barolo, Barbaresco wines are 100% Nebbiolo. Elevation is lower here, and the Tanaro River is also closer, so the climate is a bit warmer than Barolo and grapes ripen fully with more ease and consistency. Beyond that, the terrain itself is more homogenous, so wines from commune to commune don’t vary as significantly as in Barolo. While both Barolo and Barbaresco are full of power and have lots of ageing potential, Barbaresco tends to be just a touch lighter, less austere, and more immediately approachable than many Barolos. If you’re looking for something immediately drinkable that still has some persuasive tannic body, Barbaresco is a great direction to go. The 2018 Luigi Giordano Barbaresco ‘Cavanna’ in particular is a staff favorite, so if we haven’t tried to sell you on it yet, you ought to give it a try! This is another one that you could drink now or cellar for half a decade or so, but drink it now and you’ll find a deliciously herbaceous dried sage quality alongside crushed red flowers and spicy, tart red fruit.  

Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC wines are also varietal wines, pulling from over 30 communes on either side of the Tanaro River, excluding Barolo and Barbaresco. They’re full of wild strawberry, floral aromatics, and a bit of tar or bitter earth, but think of these are the baby sibling to Barolo and Barbaresco. These are lighter, less austere, and much less structured versions of Nebbiolo — perfect for you to get your Nebbiolo fix without breaking the bank too badly. Try the 2018 Bruno Giacosa Nebbiolo d’Alba and you’ll find an elegant, subtle wine with surprisingly fine tannins and notes of fresh black currant, raspberry, and cranberry. 

Last but certainly not least, the Langhe Nebbiolo DOC is used by Barbaresco and Barolo producers looking to release more approachable expressions of Nebbiolo, with less restrictive rules than would be required in their respective DOCGs. The DOC requires only 85% of the stated varietal to be included in the bottle, so there’s more versatility in blending, with less ageing in oak and bottle. These are some of the most budget friendly bottlings of Nebbiolo, and are great for everyday drinking! My go-to weeknight Nebbiolo is the 2019 Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo — it shows the perfume and aromatics that I love so much about this grape, and while it’s easy-drinking and definitely a fruitier style of Nebbiolo, it still has a decent amount of complexity. Black currant, wild mountain berry, lavender and rose petal are the shining notes here, with hints of blood orange and macerating strawberry on the finish.  

Drink on, friends!  

Tom’s Irish Whiskey Picks

Tom

by Tom

Saint Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and we’ve got some brand-new Irish Whiskeys to unveil for the occasion! Two outfits with local ties; Kieran Folliard of 2 Gingers fame is at it again and Brian Nation, one of the most world-renowned master distillers in the whiskey world, moving here to make whiskey right in Minneapolis. Throw some historically accurate peated whiskey in and we’ve got ourselves a party.

Let’s start by introducing Brian Nation. Brian Nation spend the last seven years in Ireland as the Master Distiller of the famed Midleton Distillery. Midleton is known for many whiskeys, prime among them is Jameson, but products like Redbreast, Green Spot, and Power’s are where they really hang their hat. Let’s just say Brian had a heavy hand in the creation of these powerhouses. Brian moved here to spearhead the new O’Shaughnessy Distillery near Surly Brewing. Their first project is Keeper’s Heart, a special blend of an Irish Single Grain, an Irish Single Pot Still, and an American Rye together. Bringing two countries together as one, while jumpstarting the other whiskey projects they have coming down the pipeline. Keeper’s Heart has rich vanilla and orchard fruits with a delightful backbone of sweet spice from the rye whiskey component. A sipper bother American drinkers and Irish drinkers can appreciate.

Rod Locks is the newest foray into whiskey making by none other than Kieran Folliard. Kieran has owned many bars and restaurants around town before giving them all up to launch 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey to remarkable success. After being bought up by Jim Beam and awaiting his time, his newest whiskey is 80% maize (corn) based and sees a litany of barrels, but predominantly Ex Bourbon barrels and some virgin oak. This leads to heady caramel char, vanilla, and green apple. Meant to be sipped or mixed.

Lastly, let’s talk about Silkie Irish Whiskey. Silkie has two distinctive bottlings with one thing in common: Peated barley. Peat is more known on the Scotch side of the isle but there are many peat bogs around Ireland and dried peat was used to malt the barley. Their blue label in their legendary series is mild with the peat, more forward with orchard fruit, orange zest, honey and a whisp of smoke. Their black label start off stong wit peat but after traditional triple distillation the peat goes from 55ppm, phenol parts per million, to 22ppm. That is like going from a big smoky Islay scotch like Ardbeg to a more tobacco sweet smoke more akin to Highland Park. Add that sweet smoke to come salted caramel tones and you have yourself a winner.

We have all theses in stock and more coming, our Irish Whiskey section is certainly starting to boom right in time for Saint Patrick’s Day.

The Even Wilder, Wonderful-er World World of Rum (Part 2)

by Sam

Pre-Pandemic (oy) I wrote a popular blog post about the really incredible rums that were appearing on our shelves at France 44. Those bottles were (and are) fabulous, but they mostly stuck to the more well-trodden locales of rum production—Barbados, Guyana, Cuba, Jamaica, and a smattering of other Caribbean locales.

For this blog post, I wanted to highlight a few amazing rums from some more off-the-beaten path rum producing countries. Many of these are still in or near the Caribbean (sugarcane only grows in so many climates, after all) but they all offer something new and unique to even the most advanced rum tippler.


 

Uruapan Charanda Blanco Rum | Technically this isn’t rum: it’s charanda, a sugarcane distillate from Michoacán, Mexico with protected status (just like Champagne!)Uruapan Charanda Blanco Rum — Bitters & Bottles, but this is splitting hairs. What’s important is that this Mexican sugarcane distillate (don’t censor me, rum gods) has a hard-to-pin-down style that almost tastes like a tequila-rum hybrid. The raw material here is a mix of both fresh sugarcane juice and molasses, with the former contributing fruity and grassy aromas to the aroma. Fiery, with some definite burn on the first sip, the palate eventually mellows into a drying, vegetal finish that tastes a lot like a tequila or non-smoky Mezcal. This would be killer in a very un-traditional Margarita.

 

Rhum JM 110 Proof Rhum Agricole Blanc | 1 L Bottle

Rhum J.M White Rum | Rhum Agricole is a category of rum that persists in many of the French-speaking nations of the Caribbean. What sets it apart from other rums is its use of fresh sugarcane juice (in lieu of molasses) as the raw material. These rhums all have a distinct set of grassy aromas that are unmistakable, lending a lovely brightness to all kinds of drinks. Rhum J.M, a historic producer from Martinique, released this 110-proof bottling of their flagship product just a few years ago. It’s bold and aromatic, with huge hits of pineapple, fresh-cut grass, jalapeño pepper, and overripe papaya. The best way to experience it is in the traditional drink of the region: Ti Punch.

 

 

Cave à Rhum - 100% Haïti, rum cellarAny Bottle of Clairin | Thanks to the enterprising work of La Maison & Velier, a joint Italian-French spirits company, a raft of clairins have become available in the U.S. that have previously never been seen outside their home country of Haiti. Clairin is an agricole-style rum made from fresh sugarcane juice that is produced in rustic pot-stills in villages around Haiti. Despite the small-scale production that defines its production, clairin is a lot more than just Haitian moonshine—each bottle on our shelf is a distinct expression of a single producer. If you are already a fan of funky Jamaican rum, clairin should be your next adventure. Some show overripe fruits and caramel notes, while others veer into savory notes of green olive and fresh herbs.

 

Hamilton Beachbum Berry's Zombie Blend Rum — Bitters & BottlesHamilton ‘Beachbum Berry’s Zombie Blend’ Rum | Ed Hamilton is a Minor God in the world of rum, having leveraged his travels around the Caribbean into an ever-growing line of rums which he meticulously sources from distilleries around the region. His rums have garnered the love of bartenders across the country, to the point where he often makes custom blends for specific bars that want a particular rum style for a particular cocktail. This is one such innovation, a blend of three different rums that was expressly made for bartenders looking to re-create Beachbum Berry’s (a Major God in tiki cocktails) Zombie recipe. It works for that recipe beautifully, but this also subs in anywhere you might need a rich, full-bodied dark rum for mixing—it’s unctuous and smooth, full of spice, caramelized banana, and roasted toffee notes.

Privateer Navy Yard Rum | Total Wine & More

 

Privateer ‘Navy Yard’ Barrel-Proof Rum | New England rum was once one of the cornerstones of American booze production. The history behind this is dark, and deeply entwined with the Atlantic slave trade (not to mention the de-forestation of much of New England, which was a convenient source of rum barrels). Privateer Rum—a small distillery led by distiller Maggie Campbell—takes this complicated history in stride, aiming to turn the massive ship that is the international rum industry back towards high-quality products made by thoughtful producers. Their sugarcane is ethically-sourced from farms in the Caribbean, and then distilled in Ipswich, Mass. Bottled without any colorings, sweetness, or filtration, this is real-deal American rum at a whopping 55% ABV. This is a seriously satisfying sipper.

Winter Scotch Guide

We’re deep in the throes of the winter doldrums, and to help out we’re offering 10% off all scotch (in-store and online) for this weekend and this weekend only! Here are a few of our new favorites to warm you up next to the fire this chilly winter season:

 

Glenglassaugh Revival Highland Single Malt | Glenglassaugh’s first release is named Revival to commemorate their first release in over 20 years. Glenglaussagh is a Highland Single Malt aged in a healthy blend of red wine and bourbon barrels before re-racking into sherry for a finishing period. Highland single malts, to my palate, should be fruity, salty, earthy, and sweet, in that order, and Glenglassaugh hit the nail on the head. Sweet honey tones coincide with a rich blend of orchard fruits (think pear and apple) with a sea salinity on the finish that lingers for days. It’s a beautiful blend of the many facets that make single malt scotch so special.

Glenmorangie A Tale of Winter | Doctor Bill Lumsden has been at the helm of Glenmorangie for the past 27 years and let’s just say he does not disappoint. The Doctor came up with the idea for A Tale of Winter while snowed in during a bad storm many winters ago. He decided to make the perfect whiskey to fit the occasion. Glenmorangie is known for its long neck stills leading to a lighter, brighter spirit, so they finished this limited edition 13 year in Sicilian Marsala Casks to give it more weight and depth. This Single malt is bursting with nutty toffee, Glenmorangie’s signature honeyed orange tone, and gobs of Christmas spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. It’s Christmas in a bottle, which we think is what they were going for.

Kilchoman Machir Bay | Named for the famous western shoreline where their distillery and warehouses lie, Machir Bay is Islay in a glass. Islay is a famous island on the southwest side of Scotland where they make whiskey you would call “peaty” or “smoky”. The weather is terrible with torrential rain and wind. Kilchoman uses the ancient method of peating in their malt, where they burn peat to dry the barley in the malting process. Kilchoman is emblematic of Islay as it is extremely peaty and smoky, and they actually age their whiskies on the island, giving it an extra edge of sea salt to balance out this umami-powered single malt. There are notes of lemon zest and vanilla from the bourbon barrels it is aged in but the historic methods of production shine through with oily, earthy, sweet peat tones and brine that is found all over the island.

 

Remember: ALL single malts are 10% off in store and online! Grab a favorite, grab a new flyer, grab that expensive bottle you’ve always wanted while you have the chance! Warm your bones for the winter with discounted single malts all weekend.

For the Sober-Curious

by Tashi

The world of non-alcoholic beverages has grown over the past few years, and we are happy to carry plenty of options for anyone trying to cut out or cut back their alcohol intake.  We carry NA options all year long, but there is a movement called Dry January that was started in the UK to encourage people to reassess their relationship with alcohol by abstaining from drinking for a month.  Even though we are a liquor store, we love this idea and have put together a sampler kit of some of our favorite products to get you started!  Our staff can also help you find other NA beer, liquor, or wine that fits your vibe, as our selection has grown considerably over the past year.  We assure that you can still be the life of the party without the hangover!

Our Non-Alcoholic Sampler Kit includes:

  • Lagunitas Hop Water – Crisp, zingy, and hoppily refreshing. This sparkling beverage is made using everything Lagunitas knows about hops. Chock-full of Citra, Equinox, and Centennial hops, for a big splash of flavor that’s surprisingly fruity.
  • TÖST ROSÉ – TÖST ROSÉ is an all-natural, delicious, dry, sparkling non-alcoholic beverage with white tea, Ginger and Elderberry. This is the store favorite when it comes to NA alternatives to sparkling wine.
  • Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA – Run Wild is the ultimate sessionable IPA for craft beer lovers. Brewed with a blend of five Northwest hops, it has an approachable bitterness to balance the specialty malt body.
  • Ghia Spritz – Ghia is a non-alcoholic apéritif packed with only pure, natural extracts. Potent plants. Heady herbals. Blithe botanicals. The Spritz includes yuzu, rosemary extract, and elderflower to temper down the natural bitterness, but still taste complex.
  • Hella Bitters and Soda – Hella’s Bitters & Soda is a premium sparkling beverage that gets its smart refreshing flavor from the Gentian root in the South of France. Spritz Aromatic is bittersweet with notes of clove, allspice, bitter root and orange peel.

Each kit includes two bottles or cans of each product, so you can share with friends!  

MORE NON-ALCOHOLIC PICKS FROM OUR STAFF

KARINA Studio Null Sparkling Rosé – This is the non-alcoholic wine I’ve always hoped for. So many N/A wines fall far short of actually tasting like wine and end up being sugary, unbalanced, and tasting like Kool-Aid. Studio Null makes a traditional alcoholic wine, distills out the alcohol to less than 0.5% ABV, and manages to keep all the great flavors, aromas, and acidity that I love so much in dry sparkling rosé. Made from Silvaner and Portugieser (two super cool German grapes), this pink bubbly will have you checking the label several times to convince yourself it’s not alcoholic–it’s that well-made!

DYLAN Jinx Tea

I love Jinx tea, It’s my favorite. 

The Raspberry Lemonade is yummy. 

I always try to savor it. 

Only the best for my tummy.

They have other flavors.

BILL Lovejoy’s Thai Basil Bloody Mary Mix – I really enjoy Lovejoy’s Thai Basil Bloody Mary Mix over Ice with a wedge of lemon and lime. It’s such a great twist on the classic Bloody Mary mix and it’s super easy just to skip the vodka and enjoy it without any alcohol. Plus it’s locally owned and made.

TASHI Untitled Art Juicy IPA – My favorite NA beverage is Untitled Art’s Juicy IPA.  The flavor is super on point, you can’t even tell it doesn’t contain alcohol it’s so well done.  I regularly grab a six pack because it really just hits the spot, even my partner loves it and requests I bring it home for us.  If you like hazy IPAs, you will love this!

BENNETT France 44 Spring Water – Deserving of grand cru classification, this water is sourced from the purest natural springs in the Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin appellation. These bountiful springs are naturally filtered by a roughly half-billion-year-old glacial formation, lending notes of vibrant purity and the distinct absence of terroir. Studies have shown that consuming fresh spring water is beneficial to your health!

(I also think Untitled Art is making some excellent N/A beer, especially the Italian Pils and Juicy IPA).

JOSH Zera Sparkling Chardonnay – This is such a fun and easy-going sparkling NA wine. It is fruit forward with a touch of sweetness. It tastes like those candy peach rings I had as a kid. And to top it all off, its organic! 

JAY Athletic Free Wave Hazy IPA – Athletic Brewing has been a pioneer in the non-alcoholic beer scene and is one of our most popular NA brands. The Free Wave Hazy IPA doesn’t disappoint. It’s juicy, citrusy and delicious. 

KAYLA Untitled Art Italian Pils – My favorite NA Beer is the Untitled Art Italian Pilsner.  it’s loaded with Hallertau Mittekfruh and Strata hops, making it a bit more hoppier than your standard Pilsner, but being less than 1% ABV, you still feel like you’re drinking an actual beer. 

MELISSA Töst Sparkling Cocktail – My favorite dry drink is Töst. As an avid iced tea drinker, I was driven to try this when it came into the store and fell in love with it! With a great balance of tea and flavors that give it a dry, yet layered mouthfeel. It also looks awesome in a fancy glass! With it being tea based, I shared it with my teenage daughters and they enjoy it as well, so it can be fun for the whole family.

The Official 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

We know you’ve been waiting all year for this. We’ve got a gift box for everyone on your list, from the beer buff to the cocktail curious–even a non-alcoholic sampler pack! Check out our glassware gift pack add-ons, our mystery bottle stocking stuffers, France 44-exclusive wine maps and drink coasters, and France 44 class gift certificates. There’s also a tried-and-true list of delicious and exciting wines that are sure to impress any host (and keep your party invites coming for years to come). And if you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for, come talk to our staff for more ideas or fill out this nifty custom gift form. Cheers, and happy shopping!

Gift Boxes

Glassware Gifts

Found the perfect bottle, but need something else to gift-ify it? Choose to add on some glassware to complete the package. Plus, we’ll put it all in a ready-to-give gift box, complete with crinkle and a ribbon! Click each add-on to see our recommended spirits to include with the glassware. 

Up your gift giving game by adding six traditional ceramic Copitas (tiny cups) to your mezcal, tequila, or agave spirit purchase. 

Recommended Spirits (sold separately):

  • BANHEZ ENSEMBLE MEZCAL I $29.99 I Comprised of 90% Espadín and 10% Barril agaves, this mezcal is delightfully mild, floral and fruity (pineapple, banana). Banhez Ensemble is perfect for first-time mezcal tasters and wonderful for cocktail innovation.

 

Make your fancy rum gift even fancier with two Rum Taster glasses to enhance all the complex aromas and flavors in a high-class bottle.

Recommended Spirits (sold separately):

  • PLANTATION XAYMACA  RUM I $24.99 I With Xaymaca Special Dry, Plantation revives the quintessential Jamaican-style, 100% pot still rums of the 19th century with an expression of intense flavors that reveal the traditional, legendary Rum Funk: aromas and flavors of black banana and flambéed pineapple. 

 

  • EL DORADO 12 YEAR RUM I $36.99 I Lush tropical fruit and spice nose with hints of honey and dark sugar. Round, mellow, full bodied palate with rich flavours of fruit and spice. The finish is delightful, elegant and dry.
 

Add two classic Glencairn glasses to your bourbon, whiskey, or scotch purchase. A must-have for any whisk(e)y lover, from novice to connoisseur!

Recommended Spirits (sold separately):

  • FRANCE 44 STELLUM SINGLE BARREL BOURBON I $54.99 I This is a 5 year MGP cask strength bourbon picked out by your favorite staffers just for you! Bright cherry and caramel milk chocolate hit you up front before coming through with oak and spice.

 

  • BOWMAN BROTHERS SMALL BATCH BOURBON I $32.99 I The Bowman Brothers Small Batch Bourbon is distilled three times using the finest corn, rye, and malted barley, producing distinct hints of vanilla, spice, and oak.

Stocking Stuffers

Pick up a box of mulling spices, a three-bottle sampler pack of your favorite spirit, or a pre-wrapped Mystery Mini gift.

Our Mystery Mini boxes are great for stocking stuffers, a white elephant gift exchange, or for those “I feel I should get them something but I don’t know them very well” scenarios. Four 50ml bottles of booze are included, but it’s a surprise as to what you get!

We also have our very own French wine region coasters! Grab one or all six. Only here at France 44!

Wines for Host Gifts

J. LAURENS ‘LA ROSE NO. 7’ | $18.99 | This festive pink bubbly is one of our all-time favorites, no matter what time of year. Best to get two bottles though, or your host gift will be gone before you even walk out the door to the party.

WARIS LARMANDIER ‘RACINES DE TROIS’ BRUT CHAMPAGNE | $64.99 | Cuvée Racines de Trois represents the “three roots” of Waris-Larmandier: the contribution of the three siblings to the project, and their use of three grape varieties, and coming from three regions of Champagne. The Waris-Larmandier style is terroir-focused, understated, structured, and ultra-elegant. 

DOMAINE CARRETTE MACON-MILLY LAMARTINE | $19.99 | This unoaked Chardonnay is the perfect host gift, whether it gets opened at the table or not. Just enough fruit and creaminess to provide texture and a delicious flavor, this high-class white wine is a guaranteed success at any function.

FOSSIL POINT PINOT NOIR | $17.99 | Showcasing notes of ripe plum, black cherry, clove, and pomegranate, this Pinot offers a quality well above its price point. Fossil Point Pinot has concentrated flavors that will pair well with slow-cooked pork belly, roasted duck or miso-glazed Salmon.

O’SHAUGHNESSY NAPA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON | $84.99 |  This polished and rich Cabernet checks all of the boxes. It is plush, complex, and perfect for your holiday roast. O’Shaughnessy is a fabulous wine to drink now and over the next decade.

ST. AGRESTIS AMARO | $39.99 |  Although it is not a wine, the St. Agrestis Amaro is the perfect after dinner drink to cap off your holiday party! It is one of our staff favorites and is great for new Amaro drinkers and enthusiasts alike. Organic herbs, roots and citrus are macerated into a neutral spirit to produce this Brooklyn-made Amaro.

Inspiration for your Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving 2021 is shaping up to be one for the record books. There’s nary a turkey to be found this side of the Mississippi. Sweet potatoes are flying out grocery store doors faster than they can be stocked. And if you haven’t reserved your France 44 Cheese Shop Pumpkin Pie by now, you might be relegated to eating pumpkin puree by the spoonful right out of the can instead.

But one thing that won’t be hard is choosing which libations to pair with your holiday feast. Whether you’re planning for two or 20, the France 44 staff will help you choose the perfect Thanksgiving beverage lineup. From appetizer aperitifs to pumpkin pie potables and everything in between, we’re sharing what we’re bringing to our own tables in hopes of bringing some inspiration to yours. (If you want the fast and dirty shopping list, just scroll to the bottom.) Happy Thanksgiving!

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Flora Prosecco | $15.99 | “My favorite way to start Thanksgiving is with mimosas! Flora Prosecco has become my favorite go-to. Try it with pomegranate or cranberry juice for a festive twist. It also tastes great without juice. That gives it the dual function of mimosas and bubbles to have with dessert!” – Melissa

Leffe Blonde | $8.99/6pk | “The flagship of Leffe, it’s smooth and fruity with a spicy aftertaste! At 6.6% it’s an excellent beer for any dish and relaxing moments with family and friends.” – Kayla

Gail ‘Doris’ Red Blend | $24.99 | “Loving this wine right now and probably will forever. This vintage has a high percentage of Zinfandel accompanied by about 15% of a variety of other grapes. Classic field blend. The Zin isn’t uber jamtastic, and that may be why I’d drink this with any holiday fare. Ripe raspberry, strawberry preserve, and a skosh of pepper round out the palate. Simply stunning.” – Dustin

Paul Nicolle Vieilles Vignes Chablis | $29.99 | “Good Chablis is what I’m bringing to Thanksgiving this year. There are few better pairing wines than a crisp, minerally Chablis, and the small Paul Nicolle domaine is at the top of the game. It is full-bodied enough to stand up to the bigger flavors on your Thanksgiving table, but that laser-sharp acidity also cuts through the salty and savory flavors in your stuffing, turkey, gravy, potatoes… (excuse me, I accidentally drooled on the keyboard).”  – Karina

Arnot-Roberts Trousseau | $34.99 |My current favorite ‘close my eyes wine’ – a wine so good you have to close your eyes and give it your full attention. The whisper-quiet honeyed red fruit flavors provide a refreshing counterpoint to the commotion of the holidays. Drink this one on its own (preferably on your own) when you need a break from the loud flavors (and personalities) of the Thanksgiving dinner table.” – Ryan

Peter Lauer Riesling ‘No. 25’ Trocken | $29.99 | “It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who reads our blog that I’ll be drinking German Riesling at my Thanksgiving celebration this year. My pick is focused, zingy and bone dry. The winemaker, Florian Lauer, has made is his life’s work to preserve the historic vineyard names of the Kupp area within the Mosel region of Germany. You’ll find it to be the perfect aperitif wine for your cheese board and shrimp cocktail.” – Amy

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel | $23.99 | “Thanksgiving is one of the most gluttonous meals of the year, and I have no idea why people pair this wonderful feast with delicate, lightweight wines. Try a Sonoma County Zinfandel at the dinner table this year, especially if you’re smoking the turkey. Silky, rich berry fruit–low tannins–spicy kick–absolutely delicious. It’s a perfect match. ‘Merica!” – Bill

Shacksbury Cider Variety Pack I $21.99 I “I am in love this this variety pack from one of my current favorite cider producers. The pack has 4 cans of each of the following: Shacksbury Dry Cider, The Vermonter (a delicious gin-like dry cider), and the Shacksbury Rosé (aged with red wine grapes). There really is just something about fall weather and fall food that screams for a delicious ice-cold cider. The variety pack is the perfect way to make sure there is a style everyone will like at your Thanksgiving.” – Josh

St. Agrestis Amaro | $39.99 | “I really enjoy this on its own! The bitter/herbal start really meshes well with the cinnamon and sarsaparilla on the finish. Makes me think of the holidays – and at 30% ABV, it’ll keep ya warm too!” – Stephen

Bowman Brothers Small Batch Bourbon | $32.99 | “I’m currently in love with the small batch Bowman Brothers bourbon. Its bright notes of cinnamon and gingerbread pair perfectly with my favorite vermouth to make a lovely Manhattan. It’s definitely something I look forward to making for my family during the holidays.” – Aaron 

Ezra Brooks Cream Liqueur | $14.99 | “After the Thanksgiving rush, I feel quite beat. We sell gobs of cream liqueur this time of year and I’m going to treat myself to some Ezra Brooks Cream Liqueur in some coffee after my morning run… that I’m not going to take. It’s every bit as good as the best cream liqueur at half the price. I may even make myself an evening bourbon cream milkshake for dessert because I’m worth it!” – Tom

Schneider Weisse Aventinus Weizen Doppelbock I $5.99/500ml I “When it comes to pairing beers with Thanksgiving dinner, I prefer something with yeast-driven flavors, some alcohol warmth and fine carbonation. While most beers that fit this mold come from Belgium, some good options can also be found from Germany. Schneider Aventinus is one of my favorite food- (and cheese!) pairing beers. Sophisticated yet perfectly balanced with notes of plum, fig, clove, banana bread, cola and caramelized malt. The finish is warming with a prickly tingle of carbonation. Try it with L’Amuse Brabander goat gouda for a heavenly pairing.” – Bennett

Hamm’s Beer | $17.99/30pk | “What’s the best pairing with Turkey? Ham(m’s). The magical elixir from the land of the sky blue waters, Hamm’s. It tastes like beer and I like it.” – Rob

 

 

 

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TL;DR VERSION

 

PRE-DINNER/ALL-DAY DRINKS

Flora Prosecco | $15.99

Hamm’s Beer | $17.99/30pk

 

DURING DINNER DRINKS

Peter Lauer Riesling ‘No. 25’ Trocken | $29.99

Paul Nicolle Chablis | $29.99

Gail ‘Doris’ Red Blend | $24.99

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel | $23.99

Arnot-Roberts Trousseau | $34.99

Leffe Blonde | $8.99/6pk

 

AFTER DINNER DRINKS

St. Agrestis Amaro | $39.99

Bowman Brothers Small Batch Bourbon | $32.99

Ezra Brooks Cream Liqueur | $14.99