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.
Need a last minute Father’s Day gift? Read our review, below, of The Original Craft Beer Club
Chad and I have an indulgence tradition. We love ordering beer flights whenever we discover them on menus. A beer flight is when you are given a sample size drink of five different beers to try. Luckily, we have one favorite spot in Hudson, NY that has them all time. They rotate through a variety of local beers from nearby microbreweries, and the selection is always changing. How can we create this effect at home? At first I thought what we needed was a beer flight paddle (this one from Uncommon Goods caught my eye), but we’d have to commit to opening up and drinking four bottles of beer in one sitting. That’s just not something we do very often (lightweights!). The alternative, I decided, was to join a “beer of a month” club. My thinking was that if we had a delivery of exotic beers arriving every month, we could enjoy the flavors every weekend.
THE DEAL: The Craft Beer Club, $37.75 per month. You can try it for one month or twelve, up to you! With each delivery, you get twelve bottles, comprised of four different kinds of beer from two different breweries. You can decide the delivery date(s). You can order for one month or only, a whole year, or less.
WHAT YOU’LL GET: All the beers are US-made, and each is from a small production, independent company. One of the reasons why I liked The Craft Beer Club is that all they do is beer, unlike some other beer-of-the-month clubs that are run by companies that also do other things like wine and cheese. Chad just received his first box, and it features the Flying Bison Brewing Company from Buffalo, NY and the Evil Genius Beer Company from eastern Pennsylvania. Also in the box is a one-sheet on each brewery, providing a bit of insider knowledge and the scoop on the beers within. Especially fun for a Father’s Day treat: Recipes are included! You could make a whole feast centered around the beers you just received. Ours included a cold bacon ranch pasta salad that sounds especially yummy. In addition, we got a bottle opener as “free gift” bonus.
THE UPSIDE: The beauty of the Craft Beer Club is the feeling that you’re embracing the local beer movement. It’s like a roadtrip for your taste buds delivered right to your door. We love the information included with the beers, and so far, they’ve been great. (We especially liked Rusty Chain, an amber ale from Flying Bison).
THE DOWNSIDE: If you’re giving this is a gift, the surprise element will be hard to pull off. I sent the order in Chad’s name, because it’s coming for several months and I wanted him to enjoy getting the package. But, there’s no way to include a gift card, so when it came, he didn’t know what it was or who it was from. Also, I was hoping there would be four different breweries featured a month – not four beers from two breweries. But honestly, that’s a minor a point.
THE VERDICT: If sampling local beers is a favorite part of your travel adventures, you should give the Craft Beer Club a try. Having ales and IPAs from macro breweries in your fridge will liven up any meal. It’s a bit pricey, but worth it for the well curated selection.
Visit Craftbeerclub.com or call 1-800-200-2959.