Home Posts tagged 'cocktail'

Posts Tagged ‘cocktail’


Trac

An Amaro Love Affair

amaro_webherbs

“Amaro,” the word for “bitter” in Italian, is also a broad and loosely defined category of bittersweet, Italian-born, herbal spirits flavored through maceration. While consistently enjoyed in Western Europe for hundreds of years, only recently has American interest and excitement in amari (plural for amaro) been renewed. In San Francisco, one can visit places like Locanda and Trick Dog just to taste the range of amari available in the U.S. today.

One of amaro’s unique traits is that it epitomizes a true sense of terroir; the flavors of these liqueurs are defined by either the botanicals that grow in the region in which they are produced, or by ingredients heralded centuries ago for their medicinal benefits. The bitterness of amari is one of the reasons they are so versatile in cocktails. It balances quite well with sweeter spirits like rum and bourbon.

We’re excited to offer a fantastic selection of Italian amari so you can explore the terroir and history of Italian spirits. Which is your favorite? Be sure to try our new amaro cocktail recipes, created for us by Josh Harris of The Bon Vivants and Trick Dog, and experiment on your own!  Tweet us your favorite amaro cocktail!

AmaroMelettiMeletti Amaro | Marche, Italy | $19.99
Meletti is a bit astringent for an amaro; its somewhat hot and bright entry is tamed quickly by sweetness. The initial flavors are of orange zest, chocolate, and licorice. Subsequent sips show cardamom and cinnamon. In 1870, Silvio Meletti began producing a popular anise-flavored liqueur bearing his name. Years later, he added an amaro to the line. Meletti is unique in a few ways, principal among them is the addition of saffron—quite an expensive ingredient indeed.

AmaroLucanoLucano Amaro | Basilicata,  Italy | $26.99
Silky like a liqueur, both bitter and sweet in varying degrees, aromatically complex, and quite simply delicious and fascinating. A sophisticated exploration of over 30 herbs, including Roman absinthe, wormwood, clary sage, orange peel, elderberry, and aloe. Amaro Lucano’s roots go back to 1894 in the tiny village of Pisticci, of the Lucania region in the province of Matera, where Pasquale Vena created a special recipe in the backroom of his famous cookie bakery, which is still a well-kept secret today.

amaroMonetnegroMontenegro Amaro | Bologna, Italy | $29.99
This bitter is flavored with licorice root, saffron, and orange peel. Despite its light rust color, this Amaro from Bologna has rich herbal aromas that segue to deep, slightly sweet flavors and a citrusy finish. Amaro Montenegro, “The liqueur of the virtues,” was created in 1885 by distiller and herbalist, Stanislao Cobianchi. The name Montenegro is a homage to the second queen of Italy, Princess Elena Petrović-Njegoš of Montenegro, on occasion of her marriage in 1896 to Victor Emmanuel III, the Itlian sovereign at the time.

AmaroVarnelliVarnelli Sibilla Amaro | Marche, Italy | $54.99
Named after the impressive mountain range in the Southwestern corner of the Marche, this spirit is a must-try for amaro fans. The flavor profile definitely leans toward the drier, more herbaceous end of the spectrum and will seem quite bitter if you are used to Averna or Montenegro. The botanicals are wood smoked before maceration which adds a degree of complexity seldom found in Amari. Mountain honey is used sparingly to balance the bitter flavors. I have found Sibillia to be a delicious digestive, but also quite delightful at the shore when mixed with tonic and an orange rind.

AmaroFernetContratto Fernet | Piedmonte, Italy | $44.99
Based on the original 1920s family recipe this traditional Fernet puts a heavy emphasis on anise, licorice, saffron, clover, and chamomile. The grappa base complements the complex floral aromas well and the layers of flavor don’t come across as too bitter or too sweet. There are so many wonderful ways to drink this old-school liqueur.

AmaroAmaraAmara Amaro d’Arancia | Sicily, Italy | $34.99
Made in Sicily from blood oranges grown near the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna, it’s a citrus-dominated liqueur with only a slight bitterness that marries well with hints of baking spice. The finish is like the purest expression of citrus peel I’ve ever tasted in a spirit, giving the Amara a versatility that is simply off the charts. You can sip it after dinner as a digestivo, add soda water to make a spritz, mix it into a Negroni, or simply pour it over ice.


John Herbstritt

Cocktails with St. George

St. George Spirits became famous for their Hangar 1 brand of vodkas, but when they sold the name to Proximo Spirits they had to cool their vodka jets for a while. Now master distiller Lance Winters is back with his own line and they are better than ever!  Although spirits like whiskey are all about demonstrating the depth of flavor that comes from long ageing, highlighting the different grains used, good vodka is all about mastery of the distillation process. Since the spirit comes out of the still at 190 proof or above, only the most skilled distillers using the best raw materials can make great vodka on the first run.

st george bottlesA little about the history of St. George Spirits: it was founded by Jörg Rupf in 1982. Inspired by the high quality fruit grown in California, he emigrated from Germany in order to start making eau-de-vie. These fruit-based spirits are distilled from a mash of thehighest quality fermented fresh fruitand only made seasonally. Jörg’s family had been distillers for generations in the Black Forest of Western Germany. He started on a single, 65-gallon Holstein pot still and the distillates he made were outstanding. At that time there was no craft distilling movement in the United States to speak of, nor was anybody drinking eaux-de-vie, but these still remain central to what St. George Spirits is all about. You might even make the claim that this foundation on eau-de-vie informs everything that St. George does.

Although the vodkas are not eaux-de-vie, the composition and balance of flavors and aroma is decidedly on the same plane. The base spirit itself is luscious and fresh with zero harshness. It has a softness to it that makes you want to sip it like whiskey. It almost feels like heresy to mix it with anything! For the Citrus and Green Chile flavors the distillation team uses a special, smaller still with basket attachment to make a highly aromatic distillate which they blend into the base spirit. The final products are balanced and beautifully aromatic.

We will be offering 10% off all three of the St. George Vodkas Tuesday through Thursday now through September 24 ($27, regualarly $29.99).Come on down and check them out for yourself, or shop the selection on our online store at Instacart.com.
The secret ingredient in the All-Purpose Vodka is actually pears! St. George distills the same delicious Bartlett pears that they use for their pear brandies to 95.1% in order to obtain a spirit with a luscious texture but no overt pear flavor. They then blend it with a GMO-free base spirit. Great for any vodka application: Dry Martini, Moscow Mule, it’s even great sipped on its own – or you can make like James Bond and whip up a Vesper!

The California Citrus Vodka is scented with Bergamot plus Valencia and Seville oranges all sourced locally. First, the distilling team infuses the citrus peels separately in their GMO-free base spirit. They then distill each infusion and blend them together, looking for harmony of flavor and texture. I like a Martini made from the Cali Citrus and Dolin Dry Vermouth, though you can also throwback to the ’90s with this Shameless Cosmo recipe. Ladies night!

This inspired beverage is made with a combination of infusion and distillation techniques as well. Although jalapeño is the main flavor, they also use a combination of other sweet and hot chiles. Be careful not to get to close to the still when it’s processing all those peppers! The end result is a spirit that is subtly spicy and redolent of mouth-watering peppery aromas. The emphasis is not on the spiciness itself, but the complex flavors that these lovely veggies lend to whatever they touch. Bloody Marys, duh!

St. George VESPER CARDSt. George COSMO CARD  St. George BLOODY MARY CARD


John Herbstritt

Aperitif Wines – Start Your Night Right

FullSizeRenderIn this blog post I will attempt to convince you, reader, to stop whatever your current pre-dinner ritual and to instead take 15 minutes to relax and enjoy a light, slightly bitter, slightly sweet drink accompanied by salty snacks (like nuts or olives).  The purpose?  To whet your appetite and open your senses, preparing your palette to enjoy your meal. If you are totally against this proposition then this post isn’t for you. But if like me, you take pleasure in tasty, unique beverages and crunchy, salty little treats, and you think you might be open to this kind of suggestion, please read on.

You’re still reading, so you likely know that I’m talking about the aperitif. This word refers to both the act of enjoying a pre-meal drink and also to the beverages consumed therein. While it is more common in Europe to experience such a thing, here in the U.S. we too have a fine tradition of imbibing before we eat: think happy hours and cocktail parties. But there is something special about the way that the aperitif wine helps us prepare to eat that a pint of IPA cannot reproduce. It’s the combination of bitterness, acid, and sweetness that awakens the salivary glands and gets us ready for dinner without filling us up.

So, dear reader, next time you are hosting a dinner party, start your night right with a little apéro. You can serve any of these chilled over ice, with a spritz of soda water, or try our very own recipe for your “Aperitif Fix.”  Serve them with a bowl of the aforementioned mixed nuts and you’ve got your night started. And we haven’t even mentioned the possibilities for mixing cocktails! Chin chin!

Aperitif Fix Recipe

Campari $27.99
One of the original bitters in Italy, Campari was invented in 1860 by its eponymous founder, Gaspare Campari. It is also the essential ingredient in the classic Negroni cocktail, but if you’re an Italophile you just mix this with soda water and pretend you’re on the Almalfi Coast.

Lillet Blanc
$19.99
Lillet is the original French Aperitif – it was initially used to cure malaria, but it tasted so good that it soon being used at the dinner table. It is made from Sémillon wine with quinine and citrus liqueurs added.  Serve it chilled with orange peel or add some berries or peach slices for a quick and delicious Sangria.

Uncouth Vermouth Seasonal Hops
$44.99
This wildly inventive vermouth is the brainchild of Bianca Miraglia. Using the seasons as her inspiration, Bianca sources different herbs, plants, and spices and infuses them with a complementary wine base. The Hops is made with 16 different plants plus a final addition of Cascade and Nugget hops. Craft beer lovers will totally dig this amazing vermouth.

Buil & Giné Vermut
$27.99
A unique aperitif from the Priorat region in Spain, the Buil & Giné is a vermouth made from the Macabeo grape and infused with more than 110 different plants and herbs. It’s then aged for two years in oak barrels to get the desired color.  It’s wonderfully bitter with a perfect balance of sour and sweetness. Serve this on the rocks or try it in a Manhattan.

Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
$22.99
Vermouth di Torino is one of the only two protected geographical indication of origins for vermouth, the other being Chambéry in France. To celebrate their 120 year anniversary, the House of Cocchi recreated their original recipe for Vermouth Torino. With flavors of citrus, cocoa, and rhubarb, enjoy this neat with a citrus peel. It also makes a fabulous Manhanttan.

 


Matt R.

Featured Summer Cocktail: What-a-Melon No. 3

HEhrmannNothing really screams, ‘Summertime!’ like peak-of-the-season fresh watermelon! Juicy, and dripping with sweetness, freshly-sliced watermelon is a natural addition our Featured Summer Cocktail, the What-a-Melon No. 3, H. Joseph Ehrmann‘s take on a classic Margarita.

H. Joseph Ehrmann is a 3rd generation Mixologist, barkeep, and owner of Mission District neighborhood saloon, Elixir. He’s gifted at integrating California seasonal produce into well-balanced cocktails that maintain a saloon-like feel. His What-a-Melon No. 3 is a blend of Tequila, watermelon, mint, lime juice, agave, and St. Germain Elderflower liqueur. It’s summery, refreshing, and the perfect refreshment on a sunny afternoon!

WhatAMelon

Espolon Blanco Tequila  –  $27.99
Epsolon
Espolon is 100% Blue Agave based Tequila from the Los Altos region of San Jalisco. Tequilas from the Highlands (Los Altos) tend to have sweeter aromas and more floral components compared to more herbaceous qualities found in Tequilas from the lowlands. The Espolon’s smooth texture and round finish make this a Tequila that’s sippable on the rocks, or mixed into your favorite Tequila-based cocktail.

 

St. Germain Liqueur  –  $37.99
StGermain
St. Germain is a truly special liqueur infused and distilled with wild-foraged elderberry flowers. Each Spring, the wild blossoms are foraged fresh from the Alps, often delivered on bicycle by individuals harvesting on their own. The fresh flowers are then gently pressed, extracting the light floral and tropical qualities without any of the bitterness associated with using frozen or freeze-dried flowers. St. Germain has enticing floral aromas and a lightly sweet quality that can be used in a variety of cocktails, from the classic combination of sparkling wine, St. Germain, and club soda to H. Joseph’s summery What-a-Melon No. 3!

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