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So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99? I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are. Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. 

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Entries in mixology (4)

Monday
Jul272015

Mixology Monday: Cardamaro

Seeing that it’s July and it’s getting really hot (How hot? Yesterday, I thought I was standing in front of a car's exhaust pipe, turned out it was just a summer breeze), I thought a light, refreshing cocktail would be in order.

 

I love the crisp bitterness of amaro on a hot day, but the question then becomes which amaro, in the heat I turn to Cardamaro.  While most amari are made using a base of grape spirit, Cardamaro is derived from wine, making it lighter and lower in alcohol; perfect for summer drinking.

 

Cardamaro Amaro $18.99 was developed over 100 years ago by the Bosca family in the northern-Italian region of Piedmont. Perhaps the most important botanical found in Cardamaro is cardoon, an herb in the artichoke family that grows wild in Piedmont. The Bosca family recipe infuses estate-made Moscato with cardoon and plenty of blessed thistle and numerous other botanicals to make this digestif.


My favorite thing to do with Cardamaro is keep it simple. I’m not a mixologist. I hate to measure, which often leads to disastrous cocktails, but this one is easy. Mix quantities to your taste of Cardamaro, lemon juice, and club soda, garnish with lemon peel and a sprig of thyme, or any fresh herb available in your house, and BOOM! You now have an extremely delicious drink that might go back a little too easy on a hot summer day.

-Olivia Ragni

Friday
Sep142012

Champagne Friday: French 75

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Friday, September 12, 2012

French 75

With summer drawing to a close, the citrus zip and aged cognac depth of the French 75 cocktail has a lot of appeal. This drink, which legend says was named after a French canon that shot 75 millimeter shells, is a powerful one, and should be treated with respect.

Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne My wife Cinnamon is the real family mixoligist, and she prepared everything in the short demonstration video above. Unfortunately, I could not convince her to get in front of the camera and make the drink! We discovered this cocktail together at Coco 500 in San Francisco, where they make it with Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne. This cocktail is a great one to riff off of, and we have made many tasty variations on the theme at home. For a long time I was a partisan to making it with gin, while Cinnamon preferred Cognac.

Franck Bonville "Prestige" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne One thing that has remained constant is the Champagne- we always use the tail end of a bottle that has been sitting in the fridge door with a stopper in it. I find that Blanc de Blancs tend to balance the Cognac’s aged savor, and the Pinot Noir styles add depth to the gin variation. For the video piece, we used the Franck Bonville "Prestige" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne which worked perfectly with the new Ferrand 1840 Formula 90 proof Cognac. This Ferrand is a great ingredient, and works far better than much more expensive (and far more subtle) Cognacs. The 1840 Formula is made in the three star style from the 19th century, and is a full 5% higher in alcohol than standard Cognac. It is also oilier and weightier with lots of flavor- it won’t get lost in a mixed drink.

 I hope you’ll try this out the next time you would like a stiff cocktail. It is a great one!

 

Ferrand 1840 Formula 90 proof CognacFrench 75

2 parts Ferrand 1840 Formula 90 proof Cognac

1 Part Fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 Part simple syrup

2 parts Champagne (Blanc de Blancs if you have one open)

Lots of fresh ice

Lemon rind for garnish

We use an ounce per part for ours- and that makes a pretty big aperitif.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the cognac, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake thoroughly and pour into a rocks glass filled with more fresh ice. Top with Champagne, and stir if you like (I do!) finally garnishing with lemon rind.

 

A toast to you!

-Gary

 Check out more educational wine & spirits videos from the experts at K&L on YouTube!

Wednesday
Aug012012

Personal Sommelier Online (Aug 2012): K&L Home Bar Essentails

By: Chiara ShannonHead Sommelier - K&L Personal Sommelier Service

As promised in my article "Stirring Things Up"in this month's edition of the K&L Wine News, here's the K&L short list of home bar essentials with notes and tips from our Spirits Buyer David Driscoll. It features the basic booze, mixers, elixers, and accents you need for a fun and functional home bar, with links so you can learn more about each product without spending a fortune. I've also included David's recommended essentail classic cocktail recipes to inspire you.

Be sure to forget to check out the K&L Spirits Journal for more cocktail tips, news, and updates on all things Spirits!

So what are you waiting for? The time has come to release your inner mixologist...

K&L Home Bar Essentials  

Single Malt Scotch:

BenRiach 12 year old Single Malt Whisky ($44.99) - Standard Highland, standard scotch - vanilla, sweet barley, smooth

Glendronach 12 year old Distillery Bottling Single Malt Whisky ($47.99) - Standard sherry-aged, richer textures, brown sugar and cakebread.

Bruichladdich 10 year old "The Laddie" Islay Single Malt Whisky ($52.99) - Islay whisky, with only a hint of peat on the finish. A great beginner or accessible Island malt

Blended Scotch:

Bank Note Blended Scotch Whisky ($29.99) - Inexpensive and made with 40% actual single malt, compared to things like Johnnie Walker that are much lower percentages and use more grain. Delcious for highballs or Scotch cocktails.

Bourbon:

Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon ($19.99) - Mellow, round, delicious.

Old Weller Antique Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($19.99) - Spicer, higher proof, wheated-formula instead of rye (most use around 60% corn and about 30% rye with some barley).

Rye:

Templeton Rye ($36.99) - A small-batch marriage of rye casks with clove and baking spice flavors.

Bulleit Rye Whiskey ($21.99) - Made from the same rye as Templeton, but a much larger batch of casks that results in more mild flavors.

Brandy:

Campo de Encanto Pisco de Peru ($32.99) - 'Acholado' style Picso distilled only once, with nothing added, including preservatives, sugar, or water - just pure, clean spirit. Bottled at proof for use in cocktials.

Park VSOP Cognac ($34.99) - Elegant, round and easy to drink with rich, nutty flavors.

Laird's Straight Bonded "Apple Jack" Brandy ($23.99) - This 100% aged apple brandy is a necessity for anyone creating an authentic bar.

Osocalis Alambic Brandy ($42.99) - A blend of Colombard, Pinot Noir, and other Coastal Callifornia grape varieties, this local Brandy has the finesse and balance of the Old World brandies with more intense fruit.

Gin:

Citadelle Gin from France ($19.99) - An inexpensive, basic bottle if you only want one option

Berry Bros & Rudd No. 3 London Dry Gin ($34.99) - The best London dry style gin available.

Ransom Old Tom Oregon Gin ($39.99) - If you want to make sweet vermouth cocktails, the barrel aging smoothes out the spice.

Vodka:

Belvedere Polish Rye Vodka ($19.99) - Delicate and clean with subtle aromas and flavors. For classic and contempory drinks.

Potocki Polish Rye Vodka ($34.99) – A stunning vodka, elegant and pure. 

Tequila:

Tapatia Silver (in stock 8/2) - Balanced and smooth, with subtle spice. Great for mixing.

ArteNOM Seleccion 1414 Reposado Tequila ($44.99) - Nutty, bready, with cinnamon bursts and spicy cloves on the palate.

ArteNOM Seleccion 1146 Anejo Tequila ($49.99) - Incredibly lean for an añejo! Black pepper and fruit on the finish with flavors of toasty vanilla, warm baking spices, and roasted nuts.

Embajador Blanco Mezcal de Oaxaca ($19.99) - Smoky, vibrant, tangy, spicy and clean mezcal. Great value.

Rums:

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old Panama Rum ($24.99) - A fantastic sipper at a great price.

 Chairman's Reserve Silver Rum ($24.99) - For white rum drinks with lime, a great value.

Batiste Rhum Agricole ($36.99) -  Bright, clean, and distinctive, it mixes exceptionally well with many ingredients

Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum Plummer & Wedderburn Pure Pot Still ($29.99) - Navy-strength rum has all of the oily aromatics of a top-class single malt. Makes a mean Mai-Tai.

Absinthe:

La Sorcière Absinthe Supèrieure Verte ($59.99; for those who want to just splash a few drops into cocktails, the 375ml ($35.99) is also available) - The anise really shines with clean and focused flavors. You could even drink it straight!

Liqueurs:

Byrrh Grand Quinquina Aperitif ($19.99) - Based on quinquina bark, which creates a wonderful earthy aroma and a slight balancing bitterness.

Campari ($26.99) - Sometimes Campari and soda is all you need to get the party started!

Cocchi Aperitivo Americano ($18.99) Try it chilled with an orange twist and a splash of soda to enhance its exciting herbal aromas.

Aperol Aperitivo Liqueur ($34.99) - Moderate in alcohol with a nice balance of bitter and sweet, this is great for using up leftover Champagne. Prepare like a traditional aperitivo with Champagne instead of soda on the rocks with an orange twist.  

Dolin Blanc Vermouth de Chambery ($13.99) - Ideal as an aperitif or in cocktails as needed.  

Dolin Dry Vermouth ($13.99) - Ideal as an aperitif or in cocktails as needed.  

Dolin Rouge Vermouth de Chambery ($13.99) - Ideal as an aperitif or in cocktails as needed.  

Lillet Blanc ($14.99) - The modern version of Kina Lillet, the essential ingredient in James Bond's famous Vesper Martini. Serve chilled or on the rocks with or without lime twist, or use as needed in a number of classic and revival cocktails.

Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao ($19.99) - A must for the Sidecar, Corpse Revivers, and a number of classic revival cocktails calling for orange liqueur. 

Tempus Fugit Liqueur de Violette ($30.99) - With less sugar than Crème de Violette, this integrates seamlessly into cocktails without losing its essence.

Bitters:

Angostura Bitters 10oz ($11.99) – Gentian-based bitter. Absolutely essential.

Peychaud Bitters 10oz ($6.99) –Lighter and more floral than Angustura, a must for the Sazerac.

Sweeteners 

Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup ($9.99) - Essential for those spirit-driven revival cocktails like Sazeracs, Old-Fashioneds and Juleps to achieve the right balance and a smooth mouthfeel. 

Small Hand Foods Pineapple Gum Syrup ($10.99) - Adds viscosity and texture, for Pisco Punch.

 Orgeat Syrup ($15.99) - Made from almonds and apricots according to a pre-prohibition recipe for revival coctkails. If the recipe calls for it, there is no substitute.

Misc:

Luxardo Maraschino Cherries ($15.99) - These cherries will enhance your cocktail significantly; you cannot compromise here. Try them in a Manhattan and you will know what we're talking about.

Driscoll’s Essential Cocktails

Negroni - equal parts gin, Campari, vermouth - stir

Manhattan - 2 oz whiskey, 1 oz. sweet vermouth, 2 dashes Angostura bitters - stir

Sidecar - 1 1/2 oz brandy, 3/4 oz orange, 3/4 oz lemon juice - shake

Aviation - 2 oz gin, 1 oz luxardo, 1/2 oz lemon juice, 1/4 oz Crème de Violette - shake

Pisco Punch - 2 oz. Pisco, 3/4 oz lemon juice, 3/4 oz pineapple gum - shake

Mai Tai - 1 1/2 oz Jamaican rum, 1/2 orange liqueur, 1/2 orgeat, 3/4 oz fresh lime juice - shake

Sazerac - 2 oz rye whiskey, 2 dashes Peychauds bitters, 1/2 oz gum syrup, dash of absinthe

Single Village Fix (margarita variation) - 1 1/2 oz mezcal, 1 oz pineapple gum syrup, 3/4 oz lime juice - shake

 

Happy Shaking!

 -Chiara

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