Category Archives: WINE

Photos From My Christmas Day (2015)

Christmas.

I was up early, then immediately napped and awoke around noon just in time for brunch:

 

Champagne Coupe:

 

And more Milk Punch:

 

  

Tom & Jerry:

 

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Filed under CHAMPAGNE, HOLIDAYS, MILK PUNCH, PHOTO POST

You’ve Got Airmail

Here’s some history: The song “Please Mr. Postman” was released on August 21 in 1961.

The song was released by The Marvelettes and it was the first Motown song to reach the number-one position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart.

  
Rather than search the Internet for a “Postman” cocktail, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the classic “Airmail” drink!

About This Drink:

The Airmail is a rum and champagne drink made with honey — or made with a honey syrup.

The recipe below is David Wondrich’s recommendation, which can be found online at Esquire.com:

Ingredients:
•2 ounces rum (golden or aged)
•1/2 ounce lime juice
•1 teaspoon honey
•5 ounces Brut champagne

Preparation:

Shake all ingredients (except the champagne) over ice and strain into a chilled champagne flut. Finish by topping the drink with champagne.

In his Esquire article, Wondrich points out that the drink is sort of like “a cross between the French 75 and the Honey Bee.” And additionally, he can’t explain its origin, but it does appear for the first time in Esquire’s 1949 Handbook for Hosts.

Further Reading:

—Check Imbibe Magazine here.
—This recipe includes Angostura Bitters.
—And the Cold-Glass blog has a really lengthy article worth reading.

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Filed under ANNIVERSARIES, CHAMPAGNE, COCKTAIL CALENDAR, HISTORY, RUM

Customer Appreciation Post — Irish Handcuffs

I appreciate it when people appreciate the drinks I make for them, especially when they post about ’em on social media:

  
Both of those drinks are the same thing — a variation on the French 75 with Absolut Peach in place of gin, as well as a little peach liqueur to balance the brut champagne.

Later I made a “grilled” peach version of this drink with a smoked sugar simple syrup and a Laphroiag rinse.

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Filed under CHAMPAGNE, CUSTOMER PHOTO, WORK-RELATED

Remembering Hemingway

Yesterday was Hemingway’s birthday, and we celebrated it appropriately at the bar where I work:

  

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Filed under ABSINTHE, ANNIVERSARIES, AUTHORS, BIRTHDAYS, CHAMPAGNE, LITERARY DRINKERS

Five & 20 Spirits

Today my wife and I were back out at antique shops and wineries.

Seeing a pattern in these posts?

While our day trip didn’t net me another vintage cocktail book, I did get a tour of Mazza Winery’s Five & 20 Spirits:

  

Five & 20 Spirits is located at Mazza’s Chautauqua Cellars location on Route 20 in Westfield. The site houses the company’s Christian Carl brand still (and will soon be the site of a new, larger still, we learned).

My wife’s parents met us in the tasting room where there was not only wine and liquor to sample, but also Five & 20’s brand-new beer offerings.

I’ve tasted the company’s bourbon before, so today I headed straight for their rye whiskey — followed by their bier schnapps and two of their new beers.

One of the Five & 20 guys was working in the tasting room and offered to take my father-in-law and I on a tour of their still room and storage warehouse.

Notes From The Tour:

The Christian Carl still was impressive, and is capable of both pot still distillation and column distillation. The still wasn’t in use and was being prepared for a cleaning, so our guide disassembled a “porthole” for us and let us take a look inside.

The tour was nice because we got to hear a lot about both the kinks in starting up a distillery as well as the successes. From making mash to distillation to storage and bottling, there are a ton of elements involved with producing the several spirits that Five & 20 is making — and they’re coming out ahead it seems, doing good work and building on their accomplishments.

Back to the still…. The thing’s powered by steam, and we got to see the engine room, so to speak. The temperature that thing has to reach in order to fire the still is just insane.

The secondary structure next to Chautauqua Cellars is more than just a warehouse, it’s Five & 20’s rick house — or rick room, I guess. The filled barrels are stacked in the corner of the warehouse next to the window facing the road, and our guide said the room will soon be filling up with more stacks of barrels, which is an exciting prospect.

More notes about the spirits I tasted are below, but first another photo:  

What I Sampled Today:

  • Rye Whiskey (SB)2RW:

Batch #2 was crafted to be smoother and more approachable than many rye whiskeys. The spirit was pot-distilled and was aged for 18 months in smaller barrels, all of which were new charred American Oak.

Five & 20’s website describes it as having “the spicy grain character of rye and the sweet caramel & vanilla flavors of high quality oak barrels.”

The mash bill is 80% New York-grown rye and 20% distiller’s malt.

On a side note, it’s nice to see that their tech sheet for the spirit not only has a recommended cocktail recipe, but that it’s more than just something basic — specifically, the Westfield Wallop requires both Galliano and strawberry purée. 

45% ABV

  • Afterburner Bierschnapps AB2S:

Five & 20’s Afterburner Bierschnapps are a grain-based spirit created by distilling a finished barley wine. 

On their website, FIve & 20 suggest using the bierschnapps as a stand-in for gin — and now I wish I would’ve had a flask of genever  for side-by-side sipping and comparison, because that spirit is so malty and intersting as well.

50.5% ABV

  • Pale Ale:

Medium-bodied pale ale  with hops for light, fruity, citrus flavors. —  5.4% ABV

  • Rye Pale Ale:

Light-bodied pale ale with spicy grain flavor from its rye malt. — 6.2% ABV

As of this visit, Five & 20’s three beers were only available from the tap. The good news though is that they refill growlers and are selling blank growlers right now, with branded growlers expected to arrive soon. Our guide told us that there isn’t any immediate plan to do 12 oz bottles, but plans for cans and 22 oz bottles are in the works.

What I Didn’t Taste Today:

There’s always next time:

  • Bourbon (SB)2BW — Even though I’ve tasted their bourbon before, that bottle wasn’t mine and so I don’t know whether it’s the same stuff they’re sampling there in the tasting room now.

  • Unaged Corn Whiskey
  • Unaged White Rye Whiskey
  • Limoncello
  • Manhattan Moonshine
  • Sugarwash Moonshine
  • Three Hunters Vodka
  • Apple Eau de Vie
  • Plum Eau de Vie
  • Cherry Eau de Vie
  • Pear Eau de Vie
  • Pear in the Bottle (sale only)
  • Grappa of Steuben

Much of the info in this post came straight from the Five & 20 website, which is online at Five & 20.com.

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Filed under ANTIQUES, CRAFT BEER, RYE WHISKEY, WESTFIELD, WHISKEY, WINE, WINERIES

Weekend Wine Tasting & Antiquing

On Saturday I scored a copy of the Esquire Drink Book from 1956:

My wife and I went to North East, Pa. with her folks and not only hit up some antique shops, but also bought a couple bottles of wine along the way.

Here in Jamestown, we live near the Lake Erie Wine Trail — so weekend tasting is a regular part of summers in Chautauqua County.

We started at South Shore Wine Company, which is a winery located in North East that’s part of the Mazza group of wineries. Mazza has two other locations, both in Chautauqua County, my favorite of which is right across from Johnson Estate Winery — but more on that in a bit.

The South Shore location was a great place to visit because the main room is in an underground, cavernous, stone room that’s just neat to experience. And even better, there’s wine to taste while you’re taking in the history.

I tasted two wines and three meads, their Gruner Veltliner and Noiret for wines — and also their honey mead, raspberry honey mead and a carbonated mead called “Hops & Honey,” made with hops and more.


The gruner veltliner was very good and I wish I would have gotten a bottle, but the appeal of having some honey mead was more appealing. Not getting a bottle of the gruner veltliner just means I’ll have to go back soon, and I wonder if the other Mazza locations sell that same gruner veltliner that South Shore was selling.

Wine Links:

— Lake Erie Wine Country

Chautauqua Wine Trail

— South Shore Wine Company

Johnson Estate Winery

Tasting Bar:

Earlier I mentioned that one of the Mazza sites is located right across from the Johnson Estate Winery.

Those two sites are located right on Route 20 in Westfield and are a couple of my favorites because they offer more than just wine to taste — they have spirits.

The Mazza location has its own distilled spirits to taste, made and marketed under the Five & 20 name. The Johnson Estate Winery doesn’t distill spirits, but it does have what it calls a “New York Statr Spirits Tasting Bar.” Basically, there’s a second station in the winery’s tasting room where you can taste boozes which were made in New York State.

I tasted three whiskies there Saturday:

Whiskey Tasting :

Bootlegger 21 New York Bourbon Whiskey — 

Hudson Double Charred Whiskey — 

77 Whiskey Rye & Corn

At Mazza, in addition to wine and spirits, there’s a launch party for their brewery’s first beers this weekend — making Mazza and Five & 20 the first combination winery, distillery and brewery in the state.

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Filed under ANTIQUES, COCKTAIL BOOKS, COCKTAIL HISTORY, VINTAGE COCKTAIL BOOKS, WINE

Pappy Van Winkle In Western New York

A local wine shop posted a picture online the other day that sent a few of my Facebook friends and I into full-on bourbon geek mode.

Bag & String Wine Merchants in Lakewood are a boon to have in the area. They’ve got an amazing selection of not only wines but also great spirits. The staff are friendly and knowledgable and the shop goes the extra mile, doing tastings and a monthly wine club and more.

And now they have three bottles of Pappy Van Winkle.

In their Facebook post, the shop said it’d acquired three bottles from a private collector — the 12, 15 and 20 year expressions.

Here’s their full post, screen-captured from my phone:

Pappy Van Winkle:

Pappy Van Winkle is a brand of bourbon owned by the “Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery” company (which does not actually own or operate a distillery, but rather has it produced under a contract with another company).

Pappy Van Winkle is distilled and bottled by the Sazerac Company at its Buffalo Trace Distillery. The brand is regarded as one of the finest bourbons in the world, and is rare to find on the market due to its very low production and high demand.

Further Reading:

Here is a link to a lengthy and interesting read, which bills itself as “The Complete Guide To Pappy Van Winkle.”

From their website:

Bag & String Wine Merchants is a boutique rare wine and liquor store with an emphasis on value and unique wines from around the globe.
Our primary goals are to provide unparalleled service, wine education and a selection that meets consumers’ needs and budget. Bag & String Wine Merchants — Purveyors of fine wine and spirits.

 

The shop is located at 119 Chautauqua Avenue in Lakewood,N.Y., just west of Jamestown. For more info visit the shop’a website online here.

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Filed under BOURBON, BOUTIQUE SHOPS, BRANDS, LAKEWOOD, WHISKEY, WINE