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Château de Brézé has a long and storied history, first being mentioned in texts in 1068, lauded by King René of Anjou in the 15th century and served at all the royal courts. In 1957, when the AOC of Saumur Champigny was established, the owner of Château de Brézé refused to be part of the appellation, saying that his estate's vineyards were the best and deserved an appellation all their own. And he was probably right. Unfortunately, the wines from those exceptional vineyards were terrible. Lucky for us, the winery sold in 2009 to Le Comte de Colbert, who recruited Arnaud Lambert from nearby Domaine de Saint Just to make the wine. He changed the vineyards over to organic farming and began producing truly stellar wines worthy of their source. The 2012 Château de Brézé Clos David is all estate-grown Chenin Blanc raised in stainless steel to preserve freshness. It has the slightly-oxidized note of a great White Burgundy and a lovely richness that allows it to pair with a variety of foods.

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Building The Perfect Home Bar (Part 1)

I love going out and getting a cocktail after work, especially if it’s at a great bar in the city like Heaven’s Dog or Alembic, which have professional “mixologists” rather than plain-old bartenders. Their flavors are always bright and perfectly blended together in a way that my homemade concoctions never seem to live up to. This had always led me to believe that I just didn’t know how to mix a good drink. Actually, the problem was that I wasn’t using the proper ingredients. With the recent revival of Depression Era libations, the reprinting of several long-out-of-print cocktail manuals and the rebirth of many long-dead ingredients has made mixing a great drink at home a serious affair. Crème de Violette, Falernum, and Absinthe for example, are products that dedicated bartenders had been forced to create on their own for decades, along with about a hundred different types of bitters, and they are finally now available on retail shelves. More and more producers are willing to take the risk that their recent rediscovery is more than just a phase and are bottling and distributing these products.

It’s amazing how a little dash of this or that can made a rather boring drink explode with tastiness. Since securing my own reprinted copy of the ancient Savoy cocktail book, I have been mixing these classic drinks like crazy (as well as drinking like a fish). There’s been Pansy Blossoms, Rum Punches, Gin Fizzes, and a whole line-up of other drinks that I have forgotten or are forgettable. These aren’t the sugary-sweet girlie drinks of all-inclusive resorts, but rather tasty compositions of intense flavor. The process has been educational and fun and I am now on a mission to seek out the finest spirits, liqueurs, and mixers and make them available to our wonderful patrons. The only concern I have is: will people know what to do with them? To help alleviate this problem I am going to construct a list of the most important ingredients in a home bar and the best values in each category, along with a list of drinks that can be made with them.

Having a well-stocked bar is no different than a well-stocked kitchen. Alice Waters taught me that if I had garlic, tomatoes, herbs, pasta, beans, broth, and bread, then I could cook just about anything. I’m going to recreate that list with booze, beginning with gin.



This is my own personal bias, but I think that gin is by far the most important spirit to have stocked in your own personal bar. For those of you who don’t care for gin, you need to start developing a taste for it because it is essential to so many classic drinks. We have so many wonderful options right now and I have trouble picking a favorite one, but you can narrow it down by choosing a gin that fits the style of drink you like. Some gins are flavored with herbs, others with lemon peel and it makes a real difference when you mix it with specific flavors. Here are a few to think about:


Sarticious Gin $31.99- Made in Santa Cruz, this gin has that real floral and citrus element that makes it perfect for gin & tonics or any drink with lemon juice.

Anchor Junipero $29.99- Maybe the best all-around gin we have, Anchor’s gin is a great choice for martinis because it’s so tasty on its own.


Cadenhead’s Old Raj $49.99- Pale yellow and infused with saffron, this is the smoothest and most luxurious gin we have, and also the priciest. Be careful when trying it because it’s hard to go back once you’ve tasted it.


Leopold Bros. American Gin $36.99- A small batch spirit flavored with Florida oranges and California Pummelos. It makes the killer Negroni.


Hayman’s Old Tom Gin $25.99- A real bargain and the perfect gin for making my new favorite drink: the Martinez. Ever so slightly sweet, it would be a great gateway gin for new enthusiasts.


Gin is clearly the next big thing in the spirits world because of the flavor it packs and the variety of styles in which it can be served. Unlike vodka where everyone is literally trying to make it taste like water, gin is flavorful and delicious with just a splash of vermouth and an olive. However, if you want to make some serious beverages you’re going to need a few other ingredients. Coincidentally (or not), you can find all of them at K&L.


Blue Moon (or “purple drink” as my finacee calls it)

½ Sarticious Gin

¼ fresh squeezed lemon juice

¼ Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette


Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass


I’ve made this drink everyday for the last four weeks. Does that tell you anything?



2/3 Anchor Junipero Gin

1/3 fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ tsp. of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur (buy this immediately, it’s in everything)

½ tsp. of Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette

½ tsp. of Simple Syrup


Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass


You won’t believe how refreshing this is. The Aviation is one of the hottest “revival” drinks of the moment and it’s easy to see why.



1/3 Leopold Bros. gin

1/3 Campari

1/3 Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (you can use a cheaper one, but…)

(maybe use just a smidge less vermouth than the other two ingredients)


Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass


This is the drink that made gin a permanent part of my everyday diet. It isn’t fortified with vitamin C, but you can use the Campari with orange juice and make something that is.


Martinez (kind of like a Negroni, but a touch sweeter and less bitter)

2/3 Hayman’s Gin

1/3 sweet vermouth

½ tsp. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Dash of Angostura bitters


Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass


Erik Ellestad at Heaven’s Dog can make this drink like a pro. But that’s because he is one. It’s something I haven’t mastered yet, but given how much I love it, I’m doing my best on a nightly basis.


Corpse Reviver No. 2

¼ Cadenhead’s Old Raj gin

¼ Lillet

¼ Prunier Orange Liqueur (or Cointreau, Grand Marnier, but Prunier is better)

¼ fresh squeezed lemon juice

Dash of Kubler’s Absinthe (again, any will do, but Kubler is cheap and good)


Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass


Watch out. This turned me into a corpse, rather than reviving me. However, If you need one tasty drink to get you going before you hit the town, this is the one.


-David Driscoll






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