If the dad in your house is anything like the dad in our house, he might spend a lot of time watching survivor shows and thinking about gizmos and tools that will help us survive Armageddon. It’s like the natural cave-dweller’s hobby evolution. Well, if your alpha male doesn’t sleep well unless there’s some cold beer in the fridge, this gift idea may be the best thing since riding lawn mowers. Introducing ECool, an in-ground beer cooler that will hold up to 24 cans of beer and chill them without electricity — in your own backyard! Best installed with a garden drill (last year’s gift, perhaps?) but a shovel will do, ECool is contained in a hole in the ground, where your beer will be earth-cooled. Not only is it eco-smart, it will help save space in the fridge and create a feeling of security when the hurricane is blowing offshore. Made in Denmark, ECool costs $349. And while it probably won’t arrive before Sunday, it will arrive in time to enjoy all summer long.
If you’re not quite ready to invest in such depths in beer storage, consider another great Father’s Day gift, Craft Beer of the Month Club.
Lets face it. We don’t make cocktails nearly enough at home. Sure, we serve beer and uncork wine bottles a couple times a week, but when was last time you got out the cocktail shaker and mixed one up? One of our (more fun) resolutions for 2014? Make more cocktails! Starting tonight, with New Year’s Eve 2013. On our bar menu is an old favorite with a slight twist, and a fancy little number that puts the same bottle of cognac to use. Helping us along the way is a new site and subscription service called Julibox. If you subscribe to Julibox for about $40 a month, you will get a box mailed to you that has the fixings for four cocktails plus recipes. (True, a bit expensive for four drinks you make yourself, but a nice gift idea for those want to move beyond craft beer of the month!) These aren’t just any recipes, but recipes that have been developed and heartily tested by expert curators, including Paul Sevigny, a well known Miami bartender (and Chloe’s brother). What we’re excited about is the idea of a cocktail community that exchanges recipes and tales of mixology, which is what the Julibox site curates. In the spirit of sharing, here are two recipes of theirs, both of which use pear cognac. Cheers — And happy new year!!
Winter Side Car
Side cars are one of our favorite cocktails to drink on a cold blustery night. This version is made with pear cognac (or brandy if you can’t find the cognac) and Disaronno. We’ll make this one in a pitcher — so times it by six!
What you need:
1 3/4 oz Xante Pear Cognac
3/4 oz Disaronno liquor
the juice of one lemon
lemon rind twist
How To Make
1. Rub the a slice of lemon around the rim of a martini glass.
2. Pour a pile of sugar into a saucer plate and dip the glass into it.
3. Pour the cognac and Disaronno into a shaker filled with ice.
4. Squeeze in the lemon juice.
5. Shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds.
6. Strain into the sugar-rimmed glass and garnish with a twist.
Because everyone needs a little bubbly on New Year’s Eve, this lovely drink uses the same cognac as the Winter Side Car, but is topped off with some sparkling wine.
What You Need:
1 3/4 oz Xante Pear Cognac
2 oz brut champagne or sparkling wine
1 tsp of granulated sugar
juice of half a lemon
How To Make:
1. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
2. Add cognac and shake until very cold.
3. Strain into a large coup glass.
4. Top with champagne and garnish with a twist.
It was just about a year ago that we first fell in love with the Soma water filter via their Kickstarter campaign. This holiday season the gorgeously designed filtration system is the darling of Christmas Gift guides, popping up everywhere from foodie magazines to T Magazine. Now you can buy Soma for $49 from Birchbox, who reminds us to use filtered water for our ice cubes, too. For that price you get the pitcher and one filter, which needs to be replaced every two months (replacements are $13 each). Sign your gift recipient up for a subscription service, and they will arrive in the mail just in time to change them.
When you show up at that holiday party next weekend, don’t just bring a bottle of libations to spread good cheer, bring a display-worthy bottle to put it in. We love this one from West Elm, which is cheeky and has a Boardwalk Empire kind of vibe. We recommend arriving with that in one hand, and a bottle of Apple Jack in the other–though it works great for homemade microbrews, too!
A month or so ago on a rainy day Upstate, we went exploring down Route 9. There was not much to see or do in such miserable weather, so we stopped by the Golden Harvest Farm for a cider donut and a cup of coffee. We saw a sign that said “distillery tour” pointing towards a nondescript metal building and decided to check it out. We walked into a huge warehouse filled to the ceiling with stacked oak barrels. We had stumbled upon Harvest Spirits, home to some of the finest Apple Jack and apple vodka this side of Mississippi. Founder David Grout (who bares no resemblance to farmer Bean from Fantastic Mr. Fox, btw) is a former graphic designer whose family has owned the large apple orchard for three generations. You can see his artistic side on the front of each barrel, each which depicts a quirky illustration and turns the place into a vertical art gallery. There was a small bar serving up samples of various brews for $1 each. After tasting a little Apple Jack (an alcohol made from distilled cider), rare pear Brandy and apple vodka, we decided to bring a few bottles home for friends. The sips warmed us up in way that coffee never could.
You can taste Harvest Spirit‘s concoctions yourself if you happen to in the Albany-Catskill area on a weekend, or you could order a bottle online and have it shipped to you. To learn more about the distillery, check out this informative video.