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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Sangria

For the holidays, we like Cranberry Sangria. In addition to making pitchers of it to serve at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we keep a pitcher of Sangria in the fridge for daily apéritifs and impromptu visitors.

In the first recipe, tart cranberry juice is pared with a sweet wine and orange liqueur. It takes only 10 minutes to make this recipe, from McCormick. The result: a flavorful, well-balanced holiday refreshment.

Plan ahead: November 20th is National Sangria Day. Here’s the history of sangria.


Ingredients For 6 One-Cup Servings

  • 1 orange
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) sweet white wine, such as Moscato or Riesling
  • 3 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur*, such as Grand Marnier
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

    Cranberry Sangria

    Steep orange slices studded with cloves, plus cranberries and cinnamon sticks, in sweet white wine and tart cranberry juice. Photo courtesy McCormick.

    *Here are the different types of  orange liqueur.


    1. CUT the orange into 8 wedges. Press 2 cloves into each wedge. Set aside.

    2. MIX the wine, cranberry juice, cranberries, liqueur, cinnamon sticks and vanilla in large pitcher until well blended. Add the orange wedges.

    3. REFRIGERATE for at least 3 hours before serving. Serve straight up or on the rocks.

    This recipe also celebrates the flavors and colors of the season—with cinnamon, clementines and cranberries. They compliment the rich red-fruit flavors of Ruby Port (there’s more about Port below). The recipe was developed by Sandeman, using their Founders Reserve Ruby Port.
    Don’t worry about buying a bottle just for this recipe. Port is delicious served alone at the end of any dinner, with the cheese course (especially blue cheeses and washed-rind cheeses). or accompanying a rich chocolate or caramel dessert or candy.

    Serve Ruby Port with a side of salted or smoked nuts, and with smoked meats. The next time you make barbecue, serve Ruby Port on the rocks with a twist of lime!


    Sangria With Ruby Port

    Keep a pitcher in the fridge. Photo courtesy Sandeman.



  • 1 bottle of Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto or other Ruby Port
  • 4 ounces cinnamon schnapps† (Goldschläger is relatively easy to find)
  • 3 clementines, quartered or sliced
  • 6 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 18 ounces sparkling clementine juice or clementine soda‡
  • 6 ounces cranberry juice
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • Ground allspice to taste
    †Cinnamon schnapps is also delicious in coffee, after dinner drinks, atop vanilla ice cream, and so on. You can also make cinnamon simple syrup.

    ‡San Pellegrino and Izze make clementine sparkling drinks. Otherwise, substitute orange soda.


    1. COMBINE the Port, cinnamon schnapps, clementine pieces, cranberries, cranberry juice and cinnamon sticks in a large pitcher. Cover tightly and place in refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

    2. TO SERVE: Add the sparkling clementine juice/soda and sprinkle allspice on top, to taste.

    Porto (sometimes written as Oporto, “the Porto”) is the second largest city in Portugal. Located along the Douro River estuary in northern Portugal, Porto was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Port wine is produced in the region.

    Port is made in several expressions: Crusted, Colheita, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), Ruby, Single Quinta, Tawny, Vintage, Vintage Character and White. Here’s an explanation of each type of Port.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Cranberry Vodka

    Should you change your vodka for the holidays?

    Some vodka producers make seasonal flavors. Pinnacle Vodka, for example, has a portfolio of holiday flavors that include Caramel Apple, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie and Peppermint Bark.

    Finlandia, Skyy and Smirnoff make cranberry vodka. Maybe you’ll be luckier than we’ve been in finding it. So here’s another option:

    Infuse your own cranberry vodka with real cranberries, instead of the extracts used to make commercial flavored vodka. Serve it—or bring it as a house gift—on Thanksgiving, Christmas and in-between.

    Generally when making infused vodka, the flavors should blend for four weeks or longer; but this recipe lets you do it in just 3 days.

  • Pass by the cheap stuff and use quality vodka. For $10 to $15, you can buy Denaka, Luksusowa, New Amsterdam, Pinnacle, Sobieski, Smirnoff or Svedka.
  • Why not spring for pricier vodka? If you’re making the vodka as a gift and want to impress, use the recipient’s favorite brand or other prestigious label. It won’t necessarily make better-tasting cranberry vodka, but will please the status-oriented.

    Cranberry Vodka Cocktail

    An easy holiday cocktail: cranberry vodka and ginger ale on the rocks. Photo courtesy

  • Create a hang tag for the neck of the bottle, with the name of the product (straight or fanciful), year made, and any other information.
  • If you’d rather showcase your vodka in a clear wine bottle, you can hand-paint a label and add decorations. The bottles run about $3 apiece.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed cranberries
  • 1 fifth good quality vodka

    Bowl Of Fresh Cranberries

    Just add vodka. In three days you’ll have
    cranberry vodka. Photo courtesy Good Eggs |
    San Francisco.



    1. COMBINE the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, tilting and swirling the pan occasionally. Lower the heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).

    2. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Stir in the cranberries and set the pan aside for 2 hours.

    3. TRANSFER the cranberry mixture to a large covered bowl, jar or canister and add the vodka. Retain the bottle to refill with the finished product. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 days, stirring occasionally. If you don’t have room in the fridge, keep it in a cool, dark place.

    4. STRAIN the vodka into a large pitcher, reserving the cranberries. You can use them to garnish drinks.

    5. USING a funnel, pour the vodka back into the original bottle. Place the bottle in the freezer until ready to serve. Keep the reserved cranberries in the freezer, but defrost them prior to serving (they defrost quickly).
    To Serve

    Serve cranberry vodka:

  • Shots
  • Straight up or on the rocks
  • As Cranberry Martinis, with just a splash of vermouth
  • In other cocktails or punch
    Top with a few cranberries to garnish.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Serpent’s Bite Apple Cider Flavored Whisky

    Serpent's Bite Bottle

    Good enough to tote in a flask. Photo
    courtesy Spirits Marque One.


    Flavored shots are trending, and our favorite this season is Serpent’s Bite Apple Cider Flavored Whisky.

    It does for whisky what so many distillers have done for vodka: infuses a delectable layer of flavor.

    And Serpent’s Bite is the flavor of fall. It will appeal to fans of whisky and hard apple cider alike. It’s very smooth with a fine balance of sweet, crisp apple cider flavors with the whisky. The latter is distilled from corn and rye, which are blended during distillation and then infused with the apple cider flavors.

    Serpent’s Bite was made to be enjoyed in a neat shot, straight up with a slice of apple, or in a mixed-based shooter.

    At 35% ABV/70 proof, it’s a bit less alcoholic than your typical shot.

    It’s available in 50 ml (MSRP $1.89), 750 ml (MSRP $15.99) and 1 liter bottles (MSRP $18.99).

    If you want to know anything else about it, too bad. The only things on the one-page website are links to Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter feeds, the latter promoting the hashtag #BiteTheNight.

    Perhaps the only thing to say is: It tastes really good and would be a swell gift for the right folks.

    Spirits Marque One, producer of Serpent’s Bite, is part of Constellation Brands, the holdings of which comprise the world’s largest producer of wine, including Manischewitz and Robert Mondavi. Other alcohol brands among the hundred-plus include Corona beer and Svedka vodka.



    Whisky is the Scottish spelling of whiskey. The alternative spelling was chosen to differentiate the national product from Irish whiskey.

    The “whisky” spelling is used in Canada, Japan and Wales, as well as Scotland.

    In the United States, a 1968 directive from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms specifies “whisky” as the official U.S. spelling. However, it allows the alternative spelling, “whiskey.”

    Most U.S. producers prefer to include the “e,” as do we. Without it, it looks like something is missing.

    And another reason to keep the “e”: Irish whiskey predates Scotch whisky. Check out this brief history of whiskey.

    Ironically, distillation was discovered in the 8th century in Persia—a country that has not permitted the sale and consumption of spirits since the 1979 Islamic revolution.


    Serpent's Bite Shot

    Take a sip, bite the apple. Photo courtesy Spirits Marque One.




    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Liqueur Day

    It’s National Liqueur Day, so celebrate with a shot of your favorite.

    But first, what is liqueur?

    Pronounced lih-CUR in French and lih-KYOOR by some Americans, it’s one of a group of after-dinner drinks that also includes eau de vie, cordial and schnapps.

    Most people—including American producers and importers—use these terms interchangeably. But there are differences:


  • Schnaps/schnapps, a generic German word for liquor or any alcoholic beverage, is more specific in English, where it refers to clear brandies distilled from fermented fruits. The English added a second “p,” spelling the word as schnapps. True Schnaps has no sugar added, but products sold in the U.S. as schnapps may indeed be sweetened. As one expert commented, “German Schnaps is to American schnapps as German beer is to American Budweiser.”
  • Eau de vie is the French term for Schnaps. American-made brands labeled eau de vie (“water of life”) are often heavily sweetened, and have added glycerine for thickening.


    You can drink liqueur from any glass, but this is one of the classic liqueur glass shapes. Photo courtesy Bourbon Blog.

  • Liqueur is an already distilled alcohol made from grain which has already been fermented, into which fruits are steeped. It is sweeter and more syrupy than a European eau de vie or schnapps.
  • Cordial, in the U.S., almost always refers to a syrupy, sweet alcoholic beverage, a synonym for liqueur. In the U.K., it refers to a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink or the syrup used to make such a drink. Rose’s Lime Cordial, a British brand, is called Rose’s Lime Juice in the U.S. so Americans don’t think it’s alcoholic.
    The distillation of alcohol may have taken place as early as 200 C.E., possibly by alchemists trying to make gold (the history). Because spirits were initially intended to be medicinal, “water of life” was a reasonable name for distilled alcoholic preparations.

    The Russian term zhiznennia voda, which was distilled down (that’s a pun) into “vodka,” also means water of life (the literal translation of vodka is “little water”).

    The Gaelic uisce beatha, pronounced ISH-ka BYA-ha, too, means “water of life.” The pronunciation evolved into the more familiar term, whiskey.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Ginger Beer

    Ginger beer is not alcoholic, but a stronger, spicier version of ginger ale. There are lots of cocktails made with ginger beer, the most famous of which are:

  • Dark And Stormy: ginger beer and Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (a black or dark rum).
  • Moscow Mule: ginger beer, lime juice, vodka (trivia lovers, it was the first vodka cocktail created in America, and is also called a Vodka Buck).
  • Other Mule Drinks: There’s quite a selection, from a Kentucky Mule with Bourbon to Swedish Mule with Aquavit (the different types of mule drinks).
  • Black and Tan Mocktail: a mix of ginger ale and ginger beer (after the Black and Tan beer cocktail, made from a blend of a pale ale or lager with a dark beer).
  • Ginger Beer Mojito: a mocktail or cocktail of ginger beer, fresh lime juice, fresh mint leaves and—for the cocktail—white rum (recipe).
    We far prefer the heft and sizzle of ginger beer to the more pallid ginger ale.

    You can buy ginger beer in grocery stores, or you can easily make your own. Here’s a shortcut recipe from Chef Jamie Oliver, no fermenting required.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/dark and stormy marcussamuelsson ps 230

    The Dark and Stormy is named for the “storm cloud” effect created by pouring dark rum into ginger beer. Photo courtesy


    Ginger beer goes well with all spicy or highly-seasoned foods, as well as foods with sweet glazes and sauces, like barbecue or glazed ham. Find recipes below.


    Mule and buck are old names for mixed drinks made with ginger ale or ginger beer, plus citrus juice. They can be made with any base liquor.

    Some experts claim that a Buck is made with ginger ale, while a Mule uses the spicier ginger beer.

    Why buck? Why mule? That answer is lost to history, but here’s a detailed discussion.

    A bit of cocktail history: The Moscow Mule was invented in 1941 by John C. Hublein, importer of the than-not-well-known-or-popular Smirnof vodka. Here’s the history

    A Dark ‘n’ Stormy is traditionally made with Gosling’s Black Seal rum. Ginger beer was brought to the Caribbean by the English colonists, and full-bodied dark rum was first made by the Gosling family in 1860. It wasn’t a big jump to combine the two (one historian notes that Bermuda is only 20 square miles).


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    Avoid refined sugar and save calories with Gosling’s Stormy Diet Ginger Beer. It’s sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium. (Stormy is the name of the seal mascot. the ginger beer is also available in the conventional sugar-sweetened form). Photo courtesy Gosling’s.



    The main differences between today’s ginger beer and ginger ale are the sweetness and spiciness. Ginger beer is less sweet than ginger ale and has a sizzling ginger kick. The spicier ginger beer provides a bite to cocktails, while the lighter ginger ale provides more sweetness and effervescence.

    Historically, both were fermented. Today only ginger beer is fermented, a reason for the higher price. Here’s more about fermented soft drinks.

    According to an enlightening article by Bill Norris, mass-produced ginger-based soft drinks began to appear in the U.S. by the mid-1800s. Back then, the ginger flavoring extract was aged in oak barrels for four years before use!

    Ginger ale was the most popular soft drink in the U.S. until the 1930s (Coca-Cola first was bottled for distribution in 1899 more).

    These early ginger ales were closer to what we now call ginger beer, described as “powerfully spicy.”

    Canada Dry ginger ale was introduced in 1907; the “dry” style prevails today. It gained favor around the time of Prohibition (1920-1933). Dry ginger ale has a more mellow ginger flavor and is easier drinking—what most Americans seek in a soft drink.


    Create a spicy, lightly sweet sauce for meat and poultry with a base of ginger beer. Try:

  • Corned Beef In Ginger Beer (recipe)
  • Ginger Beer And Tangerine Glazed Ham (recipe)
  • Grilled Chicken In Ginger Beer Sauce (recipe)
  • Pork Tenderloin With Pears & Ginger Beer Sauce (recipe)


    RECIPE: Apple Sangria


    Ready for a glass? You can use red and
    green apple slices, in addition to the
    strawberries, for extra color. Photo courtesy
    U.S. Apple Association.


    It’s so hot here today (87°F) that we can’t get into fall recipes. But this Apple Sangria recipe is a compromise, turning the most popular fall flavor into a refreshing drink.

    There are actually two recipes below: the first, sangria with Calvados and sparkling wine; the second, a mocktail.

    The first recipe makes eight 8-ounce servings or ten 6-ounce servings. If you don’t have Calvados (apple brandy), you can substitute plain brandy or Cognac.



  • 1/4 cup Calvados
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 5 cups apple juice or cider, chilled
  • 1 medium crisp* apple, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 2/3 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup halved white or red seedless grapes
  • 1 750-ml bottle extra-dry chilled Cava (Spanish white sparkling wine) or Prosecco (Italian white sparkling wine)
  • Ice
  • Preparation

    1. MIX the Calvados and brown sugar in a large pitcher until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the apple juice, apple, strawberries and grapes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

    2. ADD the sparkling wine just before serving and gently stir (you don’t want to break the bubbles). Pour into ice-filled glasses.
    *Crisp green apple varieties include Crispin/Mutsu, Ginger Gold, Granny Smith, Newtown Pippin. Crisp red apple varieties include Braeburn, Cameo, Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Jonathan.



    This recipes makes eight 8-ounce, or ten 6-ounce, servings of non-alcoholic sangria.


  • 3-1/2 cups apple juice
  • 1 medium crisp apple (such as Crispin or Honeycrisp) cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 2/3 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup halved white or red seedless grapes
  • 1-1/2 cups club soda, chilled
  • 1 bottle (25-1/2-ounces) non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider, chilled
  • Ice

    1. COMBINE the apple juice, apple, strawberries and grapes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

    2. ADD the club soda and sparkling cider just before serving and gently stir. Pour into ice-filled glasses.



    The Crispin apple, also known as Mutsu, has a green skin. Honeycrisp apples have a red skin. Photo courtesy New York Apple Association.


    Around 200 B.C.E., the conquering Romans arrived in Spain and planted vineyards. They soon discovered that red grape varietals produced the best wine in the local soils. While some was enjoyed locally, the majority of the wines were shipped to Rome.

    The locals created fruit punches from the wines and called these drinks sangria after the Spanish word for bloodletting.

    While sangria was drunk in Spain for more than 1,000 years, it didn’t arrive in the U.S. until 1964—at the Spanish Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York. It was quickly adopted by Americans.

    Since January 2014, the use of the word “sangria” on bottle labels is restricted by the European Union. Only sangria made in Spain and Portugal can be sold under that name.

    Sangaree, a fruit and wine punch from the West Indies, is the same drink. The name is an archaic English term for sangria.

    December 20th is National Sangria Day. Here’s more about sangria.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Honey + A Raspberry Honey Mojito Recipe

    September is National Honey Month. Celebrate by replacing table sugar with honey in your tea, in baking and other recipes.

    But don’t do it because you think honey is better for you. Truth to tell, honey and sugar are so close in calories, nutrition (both have none or marginal nutrients) and glycemic index* that it really makes no difference.

    Some websites maintained by honey enthusiasts or vendors—as opposed to nutritionists or healthcare professionals—tout the vitamins and minerals. But these are only trace amounts. Here’s more information.

    So why use honey? For the flavor, of course! Start with this Raspberry Honey Mojito:

    This recipe is from Bee Raw Honey, which used its delicious Wild Raspberry Honey in the recipe. You can substitute the honey you have on hand.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 tablespoon fresh raspberries
  • 10 mint leaves
  • Juice of one half lime
  • 1 tablespoons Bee Raw Wild Raspberry Honey
  • 1 shot (1-1/2 ounces) white/silver rum
  • 2 shots (3 ounces) cranberry juice
  • Ice
  • Garnish: mint leaves, raspberries

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/honey spoon beerawhoneyFB 230

    Celebrate National Honey Month in every way you can. Photo courtesy Bee Raw Honey.



    1. MUDDLE the raspberries, mint leaves, lime juice and honey in a cocktail shaker.

    2. ADD the rum, cranberry juice and ice. Shake well and serve in a Collins glass with fresh ice.

    3. GARNISH with a sprig of mint and a few whole raspberries.

    *The glycemic index of agave is 32 GI and 60 calories per tablespoon (but it’s twice as sweet as sugar, maple syrup is 54 GI and 52 calories per tablespoon, honey is 58 GI and 64 calories per tablespoon and sugar is 60-65 and 48 calories per tablespoon. Calorie data source:



    Raspberry Honey Mojito. Photo courtesy Bee Raw Honey.



    Honey In Cooked Food & Drinks

  • Up to one cup, honey can be substituted for sugar in equal amounts. For example, replace a half cup sugar for a half cup of honey.
  • Since honey is sweeter than sugar, you can also use a little less. If you prefer less sweetness to more, experiment until you find the substitution proportion that suits you.
  • If the recipe calls for more than one cup, use 2/3 or 3/4 cup of honey for every cup of sugar.
  • You can also match the type of honey to your recipe. Here are examples of honey-food pairings.
  • In general, the darker honey, the more assertive the flavor. Lighter color honeys are have more subtle flavor. Check out Bee Raw Honey to see the different colors of the “honey rainbow.”
    TIP: Before measuring the honey, generously coat measuring spoons and cups with cooking spray to prevent the honey from sticking.
    Honey In Baking

    In baking, honey typically makes the product more moist and flavorful. Because baking is science, and the chemistry must work, it’s better to look for a tested recipe rather than doing your own replacements. Reduce the oven temperature by 25°F when using honey in place of sugar.

    The Mojito (mo-HEE-toe) hails from Cuba; the name comes from the African word mojo, which means to cast a small spell. One story says that slaves working in Cuban sugar cane fields in the late 19th century invented the drink.

    However, historians at Bacardi Rum trace the cocktail’s roots to 1586, the year that Sir Francis Drake and his pirate crew made an unsuccessful attempt to sack Havana. Drake’s colleague, Richard Drake (no relation), was said to have invented a Mojito-like drink known as El Draque (The Drake). The recipe included aguardiente (a spirit similar to cachaça), sugar, lime and mint. As with most drinks of the time, it was initially consumed for medicinal purposes.

    Sometime in the mid-1800s, with the refinement of rum, rum was substituted and El Draque became known as El Mojito.

  • Beet Mojito Recipe
  • Classic Mojito Recipe
  • Cranberry Mojito Recipe
  • Pomegranate Mojito Recipe


    FOOD FUN: Pool Party Punch

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pool party punch pinnacle recipe 230

    Match your cocktail to the pool (the miniature
    beach balls
    are plastic, made for doll houses).
    Photo courtesy Pinnacle Vodka.


    For your next pool party, make this Pool Party Punch, an tasty and fun idea from Pinnacle Vodka.

    Pinnacle made it with their Original Vodka; you can make it your own with a flavored vodka. If you prefer, you can substitute gin or tequila.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part vodka
  • 2 parts lemonade
  • Splash of Blue Curaçao (we used DeKuyper)
  • Garnish: fruit of choice (we used blueberries on cocktail picks)

    1. MIX ingredients and serve over ice. It’s that simple! Here’s a video with the full punch bowl recipe.


    Make a mocktail by exchanging the vodka for 7 UP, Sprite or white cranberry juice. Use blue food coloring instead of Blue Curaçao.

    And for garnish, perhaps a red Swedish Fish?

    Here’s the mocktail recipe.



    Curaçao is an orange liqueur made from the dried peels of the laraha (LA-ra-ha) citrus fruit, grown on the island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles (southeast of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean).

    The laraha is a de-evolved descendant of the Valencia orange, which was brought over from Spain in 1527. It did not thrive in the Southern Caribbean climate. The oranges that the trees produced were small, fibrous, bitter and inedible. The trees were abandoned, and the citrus fruit they produced evolved from a bright orange color into the green laraha.

    When life gives you bitter fruit, distill it! It turned out that while the flesh of the laraha was inedible, the dried peel remained as aromatic and pleasing as its cultivated forebear. Experimentation led to the distillation of Curaçao liqueur from the peel.

    The distilled liqueur is clear. Some brands are colored blue or bright orange to create color in cocktails. The color adds no flavor.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/blue curacao dekuyper 230

    Blue Curaçao. The clear orange liqueur is colored blue. It is also made in an orange-colored version.


    Here’s how the different types of orange liqueur differ, including Curaçao and triple sec, which are generic terms, plus brands like Cointreau, Grand Marnier and Gran Gala.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Sipping Rum

    Rum is a new world spirit, initially distilled by slaves on Caribbean sugar cane plantations. The distilled rum can be drunk in its clear state (white or blanco rum), or aged in oak barrels for various lengths of time, the process of which creates the different types of rum.

    Why is one blanco (or añejo, etc.) better than another? If the aging time is the same among different rums, the quality factors include the type of the sugar, yeast, and still and aging barrel and how long the fermentation is, and the quality of the still.

    Clear rum is mostly used for mixed drinks; among the more popular are the Daiquiri, Hurricane, Mojito, Piña Colada and Rum and Coke (Cuba Libre).

    Light rum, also used for mixed drinks, is aged briefly or not at all. As with other grades of rum, the longer it is aged (Añejo, Extra Añejo, etc.) the more complex it becomes.

    For National Rum Day, August 16th, here’s an explanation of how rum is made, courtesy of Cruzan Rum (there’s an infographic at the end of the page.

    1) Molasses, a by-product of refining sugar from sugar cane, travels from the sugar plantation to the distillery. There it is diluted with water—often spring water from local aquifers.

    2) Yeast cultures, often proprietary, are added to the molasses to start the fermentation. The yeast convert the sugars in the molasses to alcohol.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/cruzan single barrel rum 230

    Cruzan Single Barrel Rum, a fine sipping experience. Photo courtesy Cruzan.

    3) The alcohol is distilled into a clear rum distillate. Light rum, also called clear, crystal, silver and white rum, is bottled immediately. rum which is then aged for a brief or extensive period.

    4) Distilled rum to be aged goes into oak barrels, which are laid down in warehouses to age for a minimum of two years; some are aged for twelve years or more. As much as half the rum can be lost to evaporation, which is why, along with the cost of carrying the inventory, older rums are that much costlier.


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    Dark rum on the rocks. Photo courtesy Baccardi.

      5) After barrel aging, the rum is charcoal filtered and diluted to 80 proof; it is then bottled.

    See the infographic below.


    The finest rum for sipping is single barrel rum. If you’re looking for that ultimate experience, look for award-winning Cruzan Single Barrel Rum. It’s made from a proprietary blend of vintage rums that have been aged for up to 12 years,

    The term “single barrel” refers to the process: After its initial aging, the rum is handpicked and blended before it is barreled for a second time in new American oak barrels. It is slowly aged again, bottled and individually numbered, one cask at a time.

    The resulting spirit well-rounded, mellow and full-bodied, with a balance of caramel sweetness and oak from aging. The finish is smooth and buttery (the latter also from the oak.

    Single barrel rum is best enjoyed sipped neat or on the rocks. Cruzan’s is just $29.99 per 750ml bottle.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Peach Bellini Cocktails

    We were inspired by this photo from Audra, The Baker Chick, to look for the ripest peaches—or plan ahead and ripen our own—for fresh peach Bellinis. In the off-season, you can buy frozen peach purée or (surprise!) baby food puréed peaches.

    You can make the peach purée a day or two in advance of your brunch or cocktail party. Well-chilled purée from the fridge is ideal.


    Ingredients Per Drinks

  • 2 ripe peaches
  • Chilled Prosecco (substitute Cava or other sparkler)
  • Lemon wedge
  • Optional garnish: peach wedge

    Plan on two peaches for the cocktail. Cut a wedge from one peach, unpeeled, for the garnish. Peel and purée the remainder of the two peaches. The riper the peaches, the better they are for the purée; but you need a ripe-but-firm peach to slice and notch for the garnish.


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    A Bellini made with fresh summer peaches. Photo courtesy

    1. POUR 2 ounces of the purée into a flute, tulip or other stemmed glass. Increase the amount of purée for a sweeter and less alcoholic drink.

    2. ADD a squeeze of fresh lemon.

    3. TOP with chilled Prosecco. You don’t need to stir, but if you want to, do it just once, very gently, so you don’t break the bubbles.

    4. GARNISH with a peach wedge.
    Audra, The Baker Chick, makes a more complex recipe, combining the peach purée with homemade vanilla bean syrup for a strong vanilla flavor. Here’s her recipe.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/mionetto prosecco treviso bottle 230b

    Prosecco’s traditional bottle shape.
    Photo courtesy Mionetto Prosecco.



    While many people use Champagne to make a Bellini, the original recipe, created in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, head bartender at Harry’s Bar in Venice, is made with Prosecco. The dry, sparkling Italian wine is lighter than Champagne—and much less expensive.

    Even if money isn’t an issue, save the Champagne and its complex, yeasty, toasty and mineral-chalky flavors, for sipping straight.

    The peachy color of the cocktail reminded Cipriani of the color of the robe of St. Francis of Assisi in a painting, “St. Francis In The Desert” (sometimes called “St. Francis In Ecstasy”) by Giovanni Bellini, commissioned in 1525. Cipriani named the drink in Bellini’s honor. If you’re a Bellini lover and in New York City, the painting is in the collection of the Frick Museum.

    Some sources report that the original Bellini was made with white peach purée. White peaches were plentiful in the area and were often marinated in wine as a dessert.

    If you can’t find white peaches, don’t worry. When mixed with the Prosecco, the flavor difference between white and yellow peaches is indistinguishable. And yellow peaches provide more of the color for which the drink was named.


    Prosecco is the quintessential summer sparkler: light-bodied for hot weather drinking and sufficiently affordable—most bottles are $10 to $12—to enjoy regularly.

    Hailing from the Veneto region of northeast Italy, Prosecco is the name of the village where the Prosecco grape—now known as the Glera grape—originated. Other local white grape varieties, such as Bianchetta Trevigiana, can be included in the blend.

    The wine can be frizzante—just slightly fizzy, sometimes bottled with a regular cork to be opened with a corkscrew—or spumante—very fizzy, bottled with the mushroom-shap cork and wire cage* used on Champagne bottles.

    The wine is often labeled Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene, after its appellation.
    *Dom Perignon created an early version of wire caging on the cork. Manyt of bottles were lost during production because the cork on the bottle was unable to withstand the pressure of the effervescent Champagne. The added strength. In 1844, Adolphe Jacqueson made the cage (called a muselet in French) in the shape we know today. Here’s a further discussion.



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