Recipes: A Taste of New Orleans for Mardi Gras 2017

Can’t make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras this week? Break up the end of winter blues with a good ol’ celebration featuring these seven cocktails. Don’t forget the bead strings, jazz music, and a big pot of jambalaya (Emeril’s recipe is after the drinks).

Smoke Stack SazeracSmoke Stack Sazerac
1 ½ parts Monkey Shoulder whiskey
1/5 part sugar syrup
dash Peychaud’s Bitters
dash absinthe
top with Peach Smoke

Add all ingredients to mixing glass. Add cold dry ice and stir. Once dilution is reached, strain into a glass. Top with Smoke and garnish with peach smoke.

Hudson Storm King
2 parts Hudson Baby Bourbon
1/2 part St. Agrestis amaro
5-6 parts Succession sparkling hard apple cider
2 dashes Fee Bros. barrel-aged aromatic bitters
nutmeg

Build over ample ice in rocks glass: first bitters, amaro, and Baby Bourbon, then top with apple cider. Finally, grate fresh nutmeg on top.

Lavender 75Reyka’s Lavender 75
1 ½ parts Reyka Vodka
1 part fresh lemon juice
¾ part lavender syrup (1/2 cup water; ½ cup sugar, 2 Tbsp. lavender; if you don’t have fresh then use the dried lavender from the spice aisle of the grocery store. Put in a small pan and boil for at least five minutes or until mixture becomes syrupy in texture. Strain out the lavender before using the syrup.)
dry champagne

Combine all ingredients in a shaker except the champagne. Shake and strain into a glass; then top with champagne. Note: you can add a dash of lavender bitters if you like for an additional lavender flavor.

Hop ‘til it Hurts
by Billy Armijo at Cafe Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar
1 bottle IPA beer
1 1/4 oz. Alto del Carmen Pisco
¾ oz. grapefruit juice
1 dash rhubarb bitters
1 dash simple syrup

Put all ingredients except for the beer into a shaker. Shake all ingredients on ice for 7 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe glass. Top with the IPA. Garnish with expressed grapefruit twist.

Epiphany Milk PunchEpiphany Milk Punch
by Laura Belluci at SoBou
1 1/2 oz. King Cake Infused brandy
½ oz. Frangelico
½ oz. cardamom syrup
3 oz. milk
2 dash angostura bitters
candy sprinkles or colored sugar for garnish

Shake without ice and strain into a coup glass. Add sprinkles on top before serving.

Sailor Jerry’s Ginger Daiquiri
1 ½ parts Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
¾ part homemade ginger syrup (1/2 cup water; ½ cup sugar, fresh ginger slices. Put in a small pan and boil for at least five minutes or until mixture becomes syrupy in texture. Remove ginger slices before using.)
½ part fresh lime juice

Add all ingredients to empty mixing glass then fill with ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with candied ginger.

Spicy PalomaCitrus Aisle Party
by Apartment Bartender
2 oz. tequila
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. cinnamon syrup
pinch of salt
Q Grapefruit soda

Shake all ingredients and strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with grapefruit soda. Garnish with a lime and grapefruit wheel.

What to pair with any of the above? Why, this of course:

Cajun Jambalaya
by Emeril Lagasse
24 medium peeled, deveined and chopped shrimp, about 1/2 pound
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
1 Tbsp. Emeril’s Original Essence
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. hot sauce
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound Andouille sausage, sliced
chopped green onion for garnish

Combine the shrimp, chicken and Essence in a bowl and toss to coat evenly. Set aside. Heat the oil over in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers and celery, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Stir in the rice and slowly add the broth. Bring the rice to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and chicken mixture, and the sausage. Cover and cook for 10 minutes longer. Turn off the heat and allow the jambalaya to continue to steam 10 minutes longer before serving. Stir in the green onion.

Note: if you want to add to the party, we recommend adding a ½ cup of bourbon with the Worcestershire.

Emeril’s Original Essence
2 1/2 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. coarse salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried thyme

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; stir until well combined. Transfer mixture to an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place.

Review: 12 Beers from New Belgium, Early 2017 Releases

Today it’s a little bit of “something old, something new” from New Belgium, which released no less than 12 beers on tap for us to experience over the last few months… including a bizarre collaboration with none other than Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

Read on for reviews of everything…

New Belgium Pilsener – A “Bohemian style” pilsner, this lovely lager kicks off with mammoth notes of fresh bread — almost pizza crust-like — before finishing with a touch of sea salt (giving it a pretzel-like character) and just the mildest hint of bitterness late in the game. As straightforward (and enjoyable) lager I could imagine. 4.8% abv. A-

New Belgium Whizbang – Described as a hoppy blonde ale, this is an interesting hybrid style of beer that starts things off with a brisk (Mosaic-driven) bitterness before moving on to a maltier, meatier middle. Imagine an IPA stripped of fruit, with a chewy, bready character in its place, and you’ve got this interesting oddity just about figured out. 5.7% abv. B+

New Belgium Citradelic Exotic Lime Ale – This is a different beer than New Belgium’s older Citradelic, which is flavored with tangerines. As the name implies, this beer has lime as the focus — Persian limes, plus coriander and a little black pepper. Neat idea but, unfortunately, the lime here comes off as a bit plastic, slightly chemical in tone with just a hint of that coriander to give it a little spin. That said, it’s as drinkable as a Corona with a couple of lime wedges stuffed into it, for better or for worse. 5.2% abv. B

New Belgium Tartastic Lemon Ginger Sour – Not a “sour” in the sense that beer snobs think of it, but very acidic and lemony and not really all that pleasant, with an intense vinegar aftertaste that feels a little like the experience one gets when he has motions contrary to swallowing. 4.5% abv. C-

New Belgium Dayblazer Easygoing Ale – The name should tip you off that this is a session brew, a very pale ale that drinks closer to a lager than an IPA. Lightly sweet and malty, there’s an edge of slightly citrusy bitterness that takes it into ale territory. Easy to enjoy and light on its feet. That said, 4.8% abv is on par with the “regular” beers in this roundup. B+

New Belgium Accumulation (2017) – The 2017 release of a wheat-barley hybrid (a “white IPA”) we reviewed last year. Again it’s a chewy, hoppy encounter that offers ample and tart fruit notes and lemony notes on the finish. Heavily bready from start to finish, it’s an appropriate ale for the wintertime scene that appears on the label. 6.2% abv. B+

New Belgium Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale – As gimmicks go, this one’s out there — a blonde ale dosed with chocolate, brown sugar, and vanilla to give it indeed an ice-cream like character. It’s better than you’re thinking, its malty undercoating giving it a bit of malted milk character, and the chocolate/vanilla notes providing sweetness, but not too much. Lots of vanilla on the back end. It’s surely not something for every day, but it’s an approachable novelty for sure. Proceeds help Protect Our Winters. 6% abv. B

Voodoo Ranger is a sort of sub-brand from New Belgium, where “Voodoo Ranger” is larger in type size than the name of the brewery. Here’s three from the company…

New Belgium Voodoo Ranger IPA – A straightforward IPA expression, aromatic and piney up front but with some curious chocolate syrup notes on the back end. Both aromatically heady and burly on the palate, its alcohol level keeps things rolling without overwhelming the palate. 7% abv. A-

New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA – Ample malt backs up this dense, almost gooey IPA, which is heavy on the pine and forest floor elements, with a quite limited citrus profile. Quite bready on the back end. 9% abv. B

New Belgium Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Ale – An octet of hop varieties gives this pale ale a bit of a scattered character, with intense bitterness fading into a muddy, forest-floor-laden back end. The finish is lightly vegetal, causing this beer to take a back seat to better-realized multi-hop beers. 5.5% abv. B-

And two collaborative offerings from New Belgium’s ongoing Lips of Faith series…

New Belgium in Collaboration with Anne-Francoise Spiced Imperial Dark Ale – Aged on “white oak spirals,” this Belgian collaboration is a deep and dense, dry-hopped beer that is flavored with the essence of the forest, including spruce tips and grains of paradise. Warming and malty, the wood-driven vanilla melds nicely with the sprinkling of baking spices, while a hoppy bitterness eventually finds its way to the finish. So much going on here, plan to spend some time getting to know this brew before figuring it all out. 9.5% abv. B+

New Belgium Clutch Collaboration Wood-Aged Imperial Sour Stout – Brewed in collaboration not with a brewery but with a band, Clutch. This is a blend of 70% stout, and 30% dark sour wood-aged beer. Results are straight-up crazy, the beer kicking off with sour apple and grapefruit peel notes that slowly trickle down into a melange of bitter roots, chocolate, coffee, cacao nibs, and oxidized wine. The mouth-puckering introduction that slowly turns rounded, burly, and bittersweet is nothing if not unique, but rather than developing over time, I feel it wears out its welcome fairly quickly. 8.5% abv. C+ / $13 per 22 oz. bottle

$17 per 12-pack unless noted / newbelgium.com

Review: Blank Slate Rich Simple Syrups

This quartet of mixers comes from Blank Slate Kitchen, which whips up nothing but “rich simple syrup” in its Brooklyn kitchen. The four products on offer range in color from golden brown to molasses black, each crafted from palm sugar and (save for the base model) all flavored in some simple but powerful way.

Each comes in an 8 oz. jar and is ready for cocktailing. (Check the back label for recipe ideas!)

Blank Slate Palm Sugar Rich Simple Syrup – A lively syrup, dark brown and quite malty, like a homebrew malt syrup, tempered with nuts and notes of coconut. Versatile, but the syrup pairs especially well with rum. A- / $12

Blank Slate Vanilla Rich Simple Syrup – As expected, the palm sugar syrup finds a companion in strong vanilla overtones — and they’re authentic, as this is made with whole vanilla beans. Lush and powerful, this pairs even better with rum, pulling the two spirits together to reveal a rum cake character. A / $15

Blank Slate Black Pepper Rich Simple Syrup – More nuanced than the vanilla — here the pepper is understated and, on its own (or rather, with plain water), the spice doesn’t really pop at first, lending the syrup more of a vague earthiness and just a hint of heat. (For best results: stir, don’t shake, this one, to free the pepper from clumping at the bottom of the bottle.) Pairing this one is tough; rum and whiskey didn’t impress me, but with vodka you could really catch the peppery essence more clearly. B+ / $13

Blank Slate Bird’s Eye Chili Rich Simple Syrup – Lighter in color (and density of flavor), infused with bird’s eye chili pepper flavors. This syrup offers the softest sweetness of the bunch, and the chili is present and pungent, without being overpowering. Works well with vodka, but better — surprisingly — with gin. B+ / $12

blankslatekitchen.com

Drinks and Dishes for the 2017 Oscars

Neo Fresco
The 89th Academy Awards are upon us (tomorrow night). Wolfgang Puck is heading up the menu at the Governor’s Ball, so we’re including some of his recipes for the dishes being served that you can adapt for your own Oscar party. Of course, this is Drinkhacker, so we’re also giving you five cocktails to round out your evening.

Smoky Deviled EggsDeviled Eggs
Courtesy of McCormick Spices
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/4 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. McCormick Mustard, Ground
1/4 tsp. McCormick Paprika, Smoked
1/4 tsp. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
2 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks; place in small bowl. Mash yolks with fork or potato masher. Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, smoked paprika and seasoned salt until smooth and creamy. Spoon or pipe yolk mixture into egg white halves. For piping, you don’t need to buy cake decorating supplies; just stuff the filling into a plastic sandwich bag, snip one corner, and squeeze out the mixture from the hole. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve.

You can dust the tops with paprika if you wish. For a variation, add 1 Tbsp. of sweet pickle relish to the yolk mixture.

Roasted Nuts With Rosemary, Cayenne, Sea Salt, and Brown Sugar
Courtesy of Food Network
1 1/4 pounds cashew nuts
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 tsp. dark brown sugar
Spiced Nuts2 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until they are warmed through. Meanwhile, combine the rosemary, pepper, sugar, salt, and butter in a large bowl. Toss the warm nuts with the rosemary mixture until the nuts are completely coated. Serve warm for a sweet and spicy treat.

Stir Fried Chicken In Lettuce Cup with Thai Basil and Pine nuts
From Wolfgang Puck
3 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plum wine or sherryWolfgang Puck's Stir Fried Chicken
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. chopped peeled ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed chili pepper flakes
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. Wolfgang’s Asian Rib Sauce (see recipe below)
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup each 1-inch cubes of yellow and red bell pepper
2 scallions, cut into 1-inch slices
2 tbsp Thai basil (if you can not find Thai basil substitute 1 Tbsp. each mint and basil)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 head of romaine lettuce, leaves separated
4 Tbsp. (2 ounces) unsalted butter

In a 10-inch skillet or wok, heat the peanut oil until smoking. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper and sear, about 1 minute on each side. Deglaze the pan with the plum wine or sherry and stir in the garlic, ginger and chili flakes. Pour in the stock and reduce by half (sauce will begin to thicken). Add the rib sauce, mushrooms, peppers, scallion, basil, and nuts, and cook 1 or 2 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is done. Stir in the butter and correct seasoning to taste. Spoon the stir-fried chicken onto the lettuce leave, arranging all the ingredients evenly throughout.

Wolfgang’s Asian Rib Sauce
From Wolfgang Puck
1 1/4 cups rice wine vinegar
1 cup honey
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup mirin (rice cooking wine) or sweet sake
2 scallions, chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

In a 4-cup enamel or stainless steel saucepan, combine all the ingredients and cook, over medium-high heat until syrupy, 50 to 60 minutes. Watch it carefully because it may burn soon after thickening. Strain into a clean container and cool. Refrigerate, covered, and use as needed. It makes a great base for barbecue sauce.

Simplified Apfelstrudel: Baked Apple Pouches with Cinnamon and Raisins
From Live, Love, Eat! by Wolfgang Puck
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus 1/2 cup, melted unsalted butter
1 pound Fuji apples, peeled, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup golden raisins
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup coarse white bread crumbs
16 large egg roll skins
confectioner’s sugar, for garnish
vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the coarse bread crumbs, toast slices of white bread in the oven until crisp, about 10 minutes. Break into pieces and place in a food processor. Pulse the processor until the bread resembles large bread crumbs. In a sauté pan, over medium heat, sauté the bread crumbs in 1/4 cup of the melted butter until they are golden brown. Reserve the sautéed bread crumbs and the remaining melted butter separately. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter; pour off 1/4 cup of melted butter adding it to the remaining melted butter and set it aside.

Add the apples, sugar, raisins, lemon juice, and cinnamon and sauté, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender, about 8 minutes. While the apples are cooking, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and cut 8 pieces of kitchen string, about 6-8 inches long each, and set aside.

In the sauté pan, divide the apple filling into eight roughly equal portions. Place an egg roll skin on a flat work surface with one of the points facing towards you. Place another skin on top, perfectly aligned with the first. Sprinkle dough with breadcrumbs. Spoon one portion of apple filling into the center of the wrappers and gather the corners up around the filling to create a pouch. Tie the pouch around the top with a piece of kitchen string. Don’t worry if some of the wrapper isn’t completely contained within the string. Don’t tie the string too tight. Transfer the pouch to the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients to make 8 pouches in all. Brush the pouches with the reserved melted butter. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake the pouches until their wrappers are golden and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pouches to individual serving plates and snip the strings off with kitchen shears. Dust each pouch with powdered sugar and and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 pouches.

Note: There is a difference between egg roll wrappers and spring roll wrappers. If you use spring roll wrappers, you need to dampen them with warm water first to make them pliable. You will want to fry them in peanut oil, rather than bake because otherwise they won’t brown. They will taste just as good.

With your table set, serve up these cocktails to your guests.

Ciroc Cosmo
1.5 oz. Ciroc Red Berry
2 oz. cranberry juice
1 squeeze of lime
orange twist for garnishThe Seductress cocktail

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake and then pour into a martini glass. Lightly squeeze orange twist and rub around the glass rim before adding it as a garnish.

The Seductress
Courtesy iPic Theatres
4 oz. Piper Heidsieck Cuvée Brut champagne
½ oz. chilled passion fruit purée
½ oz. chilled ginger syrup (Add a Tbsp. grated fresh ginger to 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. Boil until thickened to a syrup consistency.)
1 oz. chilled Aperol
red rose petals for the garnish

Chill a champagne flute. Fill with 4 oz. champagne. Add chilled passion fruit purée, ginger syrup, and aperol. Gently stir. Top with a red rose petal before serving. 

Note: When you get the rose petals, be sure to ask the florist for edible ones. Yes, all rose petals are technically edible but you want to make sure the ones you use have not been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.

NEO FrescoZesty Pop
½ part Facundo NEO rum
½ part Chareau Aloe liqueur
¼ part St George Raspberry liqueur
¼ part simple syrup
½ part lime juice
Makrut Lime Leaf for garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a Makrut lime leaf.

Rufino’s Zesty Pop
3 oz. Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio
8 raspberries
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juiceIn the Patch cocktail
1/4 oz. simple syrup
ginger beer

Add Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio to a cocktail shaker with ice. Add lemon juice, simple syrup, and 6 muddled raspberries. Shake well and strain in a glass over ice, before topping with Ginger Beer. Stir briefly and garnish with 2 remaining raspberries and a lemon slice.

Svedka’s Cocktail of the Year
1½ parts Svedka Cucumber Lime
¾ part simple syrup
¾ part fresh lime juice
1 strawberry (top removed)

Muddle strawberry in a cocktail shaker; add remaining ingredients and fill with ice. Shake well and fine strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Garnish with strawberries and a cucumber slice.

A Visit to “Traditionally Irreverent” Laughing Monk Brewery

Laughing Monk Flight

Laughing Monk Brewery, in San Francisco, California, celebrates its first anniversary this year on St. Patrick’s Day. Brewers Jeff Moakler and Andrew Casteel are both avid beer aficionados, having traveled in Belgium and starting out through home brewing. Jeff has several medals under his belt and worked as a Head Brewer for BJ’s Brewhouse. Their idea for Laughing Monk is to brew Californian and Belgian beers using local, in season, ingredients. For those versed in Trappist beers, a few of these will be recognizable styles.

Their building is in the Bayview area of San Francisco — an artistic place to visit. Every building is painted in vivid, bold murals. As expected of a new craft brewery, the room is small but offers a friendly atmosphere. They have a collaborative relationship with their next door neighbor, Seven Stills Distillery. A visit to one will get you $5 off at the other, so why not check out both?

During our visit to the tap room, we tasted all of the below. Thoughts follow.

Midnight Coffee Stout – This is supposed to be a medium body stout, but the body is a dark brown, brewed with Artis cold brew coffee. The ivory head darkens closer to surface. With a strong espresso scent, its heavy coffee taste carries through to the finish, with mild barley and chocolate flavors underneath and a slight acidity. 7.1% abv. A

Laughing Monk BreweryBook of Palms – When coconut and pineapple are first mentioned, many people automatically think “sweet.” However this Berliner Weisse is a sour beer. The pineapple in the scent is fresh, but tart upon taste. The coconut becomes pronounced on 2nd sip. This dry beer has a cloudy, bright yellow body and a light head—typical of a Berliner Weisse. 5.3% abv. B+

Evening Vespers – This is a Belgian Duppel with a reddish-brown body crowned by a white frothy head. The nice dried fruit flavors of plum/prune, raisins, and dates are not overpowering. The sweetness is light as well. 7.1% abv. A

Date With the Devil – The deep red body and thin, white head of this Belgian Quad are appealing. Its date flavor brings a natural sweetness that’s more pronounced than that in Evening Vespers but it’s not syrupy or overpowering. It is certainly not as bold as expected. 9.5 abv. B+

3rd Circle Tripel – Belgian Tripels are traditionally brewed with three times the malt as other beers. 3rd Circle has a nice golden yellow body, and a thick, white head, and slight dryness to it. You can taste a bit of tart hoppiness with acidity following. 8.7% abv. B

Mango Gose – Originally brewed in collaboration with the Pink Boots Society, this Gose won a Bronze medal at the California State Fair Beer competition for session beers. Its body has a bright yellow color and an effervescent head. Mango sweet-tartness fills the nose immediately and then follows through on the tongue. Its mild saltiness comes from sea salt. 4.8% abv. B

Karl the Fog – This is a Vermont (American) IPA. Right off, the grapefruit-like scent of the hops tickles the nose. If you like IPAs, then this golden yellow beer with a white frothy head will please you. It is heavy with Mosaic and El Dorado hops. 6.2% abv. A

laughingmonkbrewing.com

Tasting Report: Bordeaux and Sauternes, 2014 Vintage

2014 Bordeaux is arriving now, and as is customary, winemakers from all of Bordeaux’s many sub-regions brought their new releases to the U.S. for press and trade to taste and consider.

All told, 2014 is shaping up as a relatively fresher, more fruit-forward year, though naturally some bombed-out, tannic exceptions exist. If any single region is shining with this vintage, it’s the small left-bank region of Saint-Julien, which had three of my top picks, from Château Beychevelle, Château Léoville Poyferré, and Château Gruaud Larose, all balanced, fruit-filled, and ready for intense exploration. Château Chasse-Spleen in Moulis-en-Médoc and Château Lynch-Bages in Pauillac are also outstanding selections for this vintage.

Complete (yet brief) notes on all wines tasted follow, including some lackluster white Bordeaux and a selection of engaging, sweet Sauternes, follow.

2014 Bordeaux Tasting Report

White Wines

2014 Château de Chantegrive Graves Blanc / B+ / melon notes, some honey, grassy and quite pleasing
2014 Château Bouscaut Pessac-léognan Blanc / B- / mushroom notes, some barnyard; a bit pungent
2014 Château Carbonnieux Pessac-léognan Blanc / B+ / fresh, bold body, with grassy and lemon notes
2014 Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-léognan Blanc / B / slightly buttery, fresh melon and grapefruit notes
2014 Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion Pessac-léognan Blanc / A- / a touch sweet, with honeyed peaches, tropical notes, and some maple
2014 Château Latour-Martillac Pessac-léognan Blanc / B+ / lemony, grassy, and floral notes, with a finish of honey and spices
2014 Château Pape Clément Pessac-léognan Blanc / B / rustic, heavy honey notes, lemon preserves
2014 Château Smith Haut-Lafitte Pessac-léognan Blanc / B / big New World character, buttery, vanilla-scented

Red Wines

2014 Château Smith Haut-Lafitte Pessac-léognan Rouge / A- / light body, notes of vanilla and cinnamon, gingerbread
2014 Château Canon Saint-Emilion Grand Cru / B / a bit thin, cocoa powder notes, some mint
2014 Château Canon-La-Gaffelière Saint-Emilion Grand Cru / B+ / bold currant notes, some licorice, pencil lead; tarry finish
2014 Clos Fourtet Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / C+ / thin and flabby
2014 Château La Gaffelière Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / B- / fruit is dull, dialed down
2014 Château Grand Mayne Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / B+ / tight, but fruit lies beneath; try again in 3-5 years
2014 Château Beauregard Pomerol / A- / expressive, lots of brambly blackberry, some licorice kick
2014 Château Le Bon Pasteur Pomerol / B- / smoky bacon and sausages; some barnyard
2014 Château La Cabanne Pomerol / B+ / quite fruit forward, lush but youthful
2014 Château Gazin Pomerol / B- / bizarrely structured, kicks off with fruit then showcases leather and cloves
2014 Château La Pointe Pomerol / B+ / more acidity here; some florals; interesting but quiet
2014 Château Fourcas Hosten Listrac-Médoc / B+ / fresh and lively, a bit thin though
2014 Château Chasse-Spleen Moulis-en-Médoc / A / a top selection; beautiful violets, chewy but balanced, tannin and spices integrate well with dried fruit notes
2014 Château Maucaillou Moulis-en-Médoc / A- / silky, layers of earth complement spicy blackberry notes
2014 Château Poujeaux Moulis-en-Médoc / B+ / very lively, fruity but lighter in style
2014 Château Cantemerle Haut-Médoc / A- / fruit forward on the nose, with earth on the palate; a touch of astringency on the back end
2014 Château La Tour Carnet Haut-Médoc / B- / undistinguished aside from some light tobacco notes
2014 Château Angludet Margaux / B- / lots of mushroomy terroir, dried plums
2014 Château Brane-Cantenac Margaux / B- / underdeveloped and highly acidic, almost green
2014 Château Cantenac Brown Margaux / B- / light and acidic, some vegetal/tobacco notes
2014 Château Dauzac Margaux / B / ample earth, with tons of tannic licorice notes
2014 Château Giscours Margaux / A- / showing some cinnamon notes; youthful but refined
2014 Château Kirwan Margaux / A- / mint and cloves; an explosion of spices
2014 Château Lascombes Margaux / A- / plums at the fore; a little chocolate and some brown sugar character
2014 Château Marquis de Terme Margaux / B / slightly thin, dull around the edges
2014 Château Siran Margaux / B+ / simple, but heavy on fruit
2014 Château Beychevelle Saint-Julien / A / a top selection; violets and glorious fruit notes; well balanced
2014 Château Branaire-Ducru Saint-Julien / B+ / heavy, with earthy elements and some acidity on the back end
2014 Château Gruaud Larose Saint-Julien / A / another great pick; dense and powerful, with a blackberry core and some leathery notes; very long finish – one to age
2014 Château Lagrange Saint-Julien / A- / bold and heavy fruit, both fresh and dried; slightly leathery
2014 Château Langoa Barton Saint-Julien / B+ / mint and some floral notes; fresh fruit notes give it balance
2014 Château Léoville Barton Saint-Julien / B+ / big leather, some tobacco; dried fruit on the finish
2014 Château Léoville Poyferré Saint-Julien / A / yet another solid St.-Julien; evergreen character mixes with bold red berries; beautifully rounded
2014 Château Talbot Saint-Julien / A- / big blackberry and dried fig notes; huge body
2014 Château d’Armailhac Pauillac / B+ / fruit heavy on the nose; terroir heavy on the finish
2014 Château Clerc Milon Pauillac / B / youthful, with ample fruit, but flabby at times
2014 Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse Pauillac / B+ / lush, with fruit and florals, some spice, a bit dull on the finish
2014 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste Pauillac / B- / bound up and not showing any fruit at all… or much of anything else today
2014 Château Haut-Bages Libéral Pauillac / B / restrained, with tobacco and dried fruit notes
2014 Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac / A / blackberry and brambles, cloves, drinking beautifully today
2014 Château Pichon-Longueville Pauillac / A- / intensely spice with licorice and herbs, baking spice, gingerbnread, and a touch of vanilla on the finish
2014 Château Laphon-Rochet Saint-Estèphe / B / intensely tannic, licorice and spice, tar and leather
2014 Château Phélan Ségur Saint-Estèphe / B / needs time; ample dried fruit on the finish though

Sweet Wines

2014 Château Coutet Sauternes-Barsac / B+ / very rich honey notes, almost nutty; finish a bit tart
2014 Château Doisy Daëne Barsac / A- / an undercurrent of earthiness and flowers; lively honey notes
2014 Château Doisy-Vedrines Sauternes / B+ / light earth leads to less overbearing sweetness; finish is just so-so
2014 Château de Fargues Sauternes / B+ / heavy savory herbal character here, atop golden syrup
2014 Château Guiraud Sauternes / A- / intense florals and herbs give this an expresion of candied flowers
2014 Château Haut-Peyraguey Sauternes / A- / nuttier, with citrus notes dusting the honey-heavy core
2014 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes / B+ / a bit overblown on sweetness, light lemon notes
2014 Château Suduiraut Sauternes / B+ / some mushroom , lemon peel; big, candied walnut notes on the finish
2014 Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes / B+ / heavier lemon peel notes; finish is somewhat herbal

Book Review: Distilled Knowledge: The Science Behind Drinking’s Greatest Myths, Legends, And Unanswered Questions

From the scientist that studies rats with hangovers to the bar patron who wonders why anyone would want a raw egg in their drink, there have always been those who question the how’s and why’s of what we imbibe. Over the years, large amounts of research has been compiled to explain why fermented and distilled beverages entice the senses, and to explore the physical and psychological experiences that occur when we consume them. Brian D. Hoefling’s own research into these quandaries provided him the opportunity to pen his new book Distilled Knowledge: The Science Behind Drinking’s Greatest Myths, Legends, and Unanswered Questions.

Within the book Hoefling provides an intermediate study of the sciences involved in the production, preparation, and consumption of alcohol, and includes explanations for many rumors and theories along the way. Everything from fermentation to hangovers is fully explained in an easily accessible fashion that allows any novice to quickly understand the material. Plenty of detailed scientific data is included, which should satisfy the experts as well. There are also many interesting and amusing graphs, illustrations, and research studies to support the text, furnishing the reader with a fuller understanding of the more complex details around booze.

Explanations of several major myths surrounding alcohol show up within each section, and are either debunked or upheld by Hoefling’s explanations and scientific research. These include many common tales and theories that most of us have heard at one time of another, but he also includes some lesser-known rumors, such as how grapefruit may affect the potency of alcohol, to keep things interesting. Likewise, there is plenty of humor injected into his scrutinization of this folklore, which helps to keep a light-hearted attitude throughout the book.

Overall the book is successful in supplying an organized guide to the science behind alcohol. It has similar content to other books written on the subject such as Proof, but its merit lies in the easily understandable nature of the presented materials, updated content, and simplification of detailed information. The book dutifully explores the reactions we experience before and after we consume alcohol and is a solid jumping off point for anyone who wants to further their own understanding of the field.

B+ / $15 / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]

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