Review: 2014 Les Dauphins Puymeras Cotes du Rhone Villages

70% grenache, 20% syrah, 10% carignan. This affordable Rhone Valley wine offers an exceptionally fruit-forward profile, featuring notes of bold strawberry and cherry, backed with a hint of rhubarb. As the palate develops it turns a little toward citrus, with stronger orange juice and orange peel notes, before leading to a slightly astringent — yet highly fruited — finish. Best with food.

B- / $19 /

Cocktail Recipes for National IPA Day 2017

National IPA Day

On August 3rd, we celebrate our love of hoppiness with National India Pale Ale Day. Rather than review a few, since we do that throughout the year, we decided to focus on cocktails using IPA as an ingredient. When beer is used in cocktails, it’s typically the bittering agent, particularly when it’s an IPA. You can also boil it down into a syrup if you don’t care about the alcohol content but do want the hops to come through.

We’re sharing a great lemon bar recipe which has an IPA ingredient as well. Cheers and enjoy!

Coupe de Ville
from Marie Claire online
6 oz. Hornitos Reposado tequila
6 oz. orange juice
3 oz. Triple Sec
2 oz. fresh lime juice
6 bottles of your favorite IPA

Mix together the tequila, orange juice, lime juice, and orange liqueur. After it’s mixed, pour in six cans of the beer and you are ready to share with friends.


courtesy of
2 1/2 oz. Applejack or apple brandy
2 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 oz. real maple syrup
1 ½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 cup chilled IPA beer
1 1/2 oz. chilled club soda (we used DRY Rhubarb soda)
1 lemon wedge

Dry shake all ingredients except the club soda and IPA. Pour into your glass and add the club soda. Gently stir. Top off with the IPA, garnish with the lemon wedge and enjoy.

courtesy of
Agave Nectar
Mint for cocktail and garnish

Muddle mint and add the remaining ingredients except for the IPA to incorporate the agave nectar into the liquids. Pour into a beer glass; add the beer and garnish with a mint sprig.Albatross

This is a fun recipe from
1 oz. Brockman’s Gin
1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. hop muddled simple syrup
6 oz. Lagunitas IPA
rosemary sprig for garnish

To make the hop syrup:
1/4 oz. of dried aroma hops (such as Cascade, Citra, Simcoe—we used 007: Golden Hops)
1 oz. of simple syrup.

Muddle to combine and strain through a fine mesh filter.

For the cocktail:
Combine the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a tulip glass and top with the IPA. Garnish with a Rosemary sprig.

Deuces Juice

Easier than a Sunday morning, Deuce’s Juice is the kind of breakfast beer cocktail that sneaks up on you. Deceptively sweet and savory, this brew matches the peppery flavors of a Belgian-style pale ale with a peppercorn punch and a bit of champagne to smooth things out. Topped with a bit of Aperol for a hint of citrusy bitterness, this juice is far from loose. The folks at Extra recommend paring it with chicken and waffles.

Deuce’s Juice
Courtesy of
1 oz. Aperol
1 oz. tangergine juice
1 oz. champagne
6 oz. Bear Republic’s Apex IPA
Orange twist
A pinch of black peppercorns

Fill pint glass with ice. Add the first three ingredients, then top off with beer. Gently stir. Garnish with orange twist and crushed black peppercorns to get fancy.

Campari IPA
courtesy of
12 oz. Campari
10 oz. IPA
sparkling orange juice
orange peel

Take two rocks glasses and put two to three ice cubes in each one. Divide the Campari between the glasses and top with the IPA. Add a splash of sparkling orange juice (we used San Pellegrino sparkling blood orange) and rub a piece of orange peel around the rim of each glass before dropping into the drink.

Rebel Rhumba

Rebel Rumba
courtesy of Sam Adams
¼ oz. orgeat
¾ oz. lime juice
½ oz. Dry Curaçao
½ oz. dark rum
½ oz. white rum
3 oz. Sam Adam’s Rebel Juiced IPA

Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake. Strain into wine glass, add ice, and garnish with fresh mango or pineapple and mint.


Wassail gets its name from the Old Norse “ves heill” and Old English “was hál,” meaning “be fortunate,” which is how we feel when we drink it. Wassail is typically served at Christmas time. However this is a great drink for around the campfire or on the beach in the evening. You can make it up ahead of time and then let each person warm theirs over the fire in metal cups (be sure to use pot holders).

courtesy of
6 apples, cored
2 1/2 tbsp. light brown sugar
15 allspice berries
15 cloves
6 sticks cinnamon
1 cup Madeira wine (we used Rainwater variety)
1 cup Angry Orchard Summer Honey cider
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. ground ginger
3 bottles Deschutes Pinedrops IPA
3 ½ cups Angry Orchard Crisp Apple cider
peels of two oranges

Heat oven to 350°. Place apples in baking dish; place light brown sugar in center of each apple. Pour 1 cup water in dish; bake 1 hour. Toast allspice berries, cloves, and cinnamon sticks in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high, 2 minutes. Add Madeira, both ciders, nutmeg, ginger, ale, and orange peels; boil. Reduce to medium; simmer 1 hour. Add apples and any liquid; cook 10 minutes.

IPA Lemon Bars

IPA Lemon Bars
recipe from
1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
6 tbs unsalted butter
pinch salt

3 large eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup flour
2 tbsp. corn starch
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup IPA beer
powdered sugar for dusting

In a food processor add the flour, powdered sugar, butter, and salt. Process until well combined.
Press into the bottom of a greased 8 X 8 pan (for a 9 x 13 pan, double the entire recipe).Chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool to about room temperature, about 15 minutes—this will help the crust and the filling to stay in two distinct layers.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour and corn starch. Add in the lemon juice and beer, stir until combined. Pour the filling over the cooled crust. Bake until the center has set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before refrigerating. Chill for 2 to 3 hours before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Review: Wines of San Simeon, 2017 Releases

San Simeon is a sublabel of San Antonio Winery, which makes a vast number of wines from grapes sourced from all over California — in Paso Robles, Monterey, and Napa Valley. Today we look at a mere three of them, part of the San Simeon label (that’s where Hearst Castle is, which you should go see in person).

Thoughts follow.

2015 San Simeon Chardonnay Monterey – More of a northern California style chardonnay, this wine offers butter, lemon, and a modicum of baking spice — creamy but with a lightly bitter kick — leading to a happily food-friendly finish. B+ / $19

2014 San Simeon Pinot Noir Monterey – A lively wine, this pinot finds notes of black pepper sprinkled atop cherry, currants, and a touch of rhubarb. The palate is just a touch gummy, but secondary notes of cola and cloves give it added depth, and the lasting finish — moderately tannic — offer lingering intrigue. Drink slightly chilled. A- / $19

2015 San Simeon Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles – A gentler style of cabernet, full of fruit, with notes of fresh raspberry and strawberry, with a vanilla cream kick. The palate is lush without being overbearing, with just a hint of tannin (particularly after the wine has time to open up). The finish shows some sweetness, with touches of graphite. I liked this wine more and more as I experienced it, especially at this price. A- / $19

Review: Fabriquero Sotol

Perhaps you’ve heard of this “cousin of tequila”? But OK, what is sotol?

Sotol is a distillate of an agave-like plant called sotol — scientifically named as Dasylirion Wheeleri. It’s not agave, but a different plant that creates a finished product with a different flavor. This wild plant grows in three northern Mexico states, “100% wild,” and at maturity they are about half the size of agave plants. Fabriquero’s sotol — just now being released in the U.S. for the first time — is found on the Don Héctor Jiménez ranch of Ventanas.

When ripe, Fabriquero is harvested and cooked for five days in lava rock-lined pits using acacia and mesquite as fuel. They are then crushed by hand before being fermented in open air.

What’s it taste like?

Fabriquero Sotol (this is an unaged, “blanco” expression) is a strange and unique spirit, landing somewhere between tequila and mezcal and lemonade. The nose is smoky, but not as intense as most mezcal, with notes of lemon peel, honeydew, and some layers of evergreen. The palate is much stranger than that would indicate, a semi-sweet, semi-sour experience that kicks off with light smoke before folding in notes of ripe banana, menthol, more melon, and a simplistic sweetness that washes over the experience and leaves behind a sense of cheap lemon candy, the kind of budget fruit candy you might find in a big vat at your local taqueria.

Do I like it better than mezcal or tequila? Not at all, but I can appreciate its uniqueness, and look forward to trying other expressions of sotol as they make their way to the U.S.

90 proof.

B / $65 /

Review: Gonzalez Byass Sherries – Leonor Palo Cortado and Gonzalez Byass Nectar

Sherry continues to attempt to muscle onto American wine menus but it’s having more success in cocktails, where it can stand in for spirits to create a lighter, less boozy cocktail. Here’s a look at two very different sherries from major producer Gonzalez Byass, and a cocktail idea on how to use one of them.

Gonzalez Byass Leonor Palo Cortado Palomino 12 Years Old – 100% palomino grapes, which comprise some 95 percent of the Jerez growing area. The color of strong tea. Nutty on the nose, with leather and notes of roasted vegetables. The palate is extremely dry, leathery again, with ample notes of dried savory spices — thyme and some sage — before moving to a very drying, almost bitter finish that echoes notes of old, wet wood, mushroom, and furniture polish. B / $21

Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez Dulce – 100% Pedro Ximenez grapes. As the name implies, this is a sweet (very sweet) style of sherry. Much darker in color, close to coffee. The palate is fueled with notes of sweet dates, plump raisins, and figs. Some cola notes bubble up on the back end, but the sweetness is quite enduring, almost overwhelming at times. Sip in moderation (and slightly chilled), or mix liberally. B / $15

How about a sherry cocktail?

Palo Negro
5 oz Leonor Palo Cortado sherry
5 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters

Serve on the rocks.

Review: Knappogue Castle Single Malt Irish Whiskeys – 14 Years Old and 16 Years Old (2017)

Once known for releasing only vintage-dated Irish whiskeys, Knappogue Castle switched to standard age statements some years ago. Today it continues to tweak its branding, labels, and other packaging details, and now we’re also seeing a few production changes. That said, in addition to some rare offerings, the core of the line remains a trinity of single malts, all triple distilled and aged 12, 14, and 16 years.

Today we look at fresh bottlings of the 14 and 16 year old whiskeys — last reviewed in 2014. Details on how production may have changed follow, along with fresh tasting notes for both.

Knappogue Castle Twin Wood Single Malt Irish Whiskey 14 Years Old – This whiskey has changed considerably in production in the last few years. It was once traditionally finished in sherry, but it is now a marriage of whiskeys, each aged 14 years in either bourbon or oloroso sherry barrels, then blended together. The bourbon is clearly the lion’s share of the blend: The whiskey is very malty on the nose, with notes of orange peel, melon, and some coconut behind that. On the palate, the sharp body offers a nutty, nougat-heavy core, with notes of chocolate, lemon, and plenty of lingering earthiness. The finish finds hints of tobacco and barrel char, giving this a more brooding, savory conclusion than most Irish whiskeys. Despite its relatively advanced age, this is a whiskey that still feels young — perhaps undeservedly so, to be honest. 92 proof. B / $60  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

Knappogue Castle Twin Wood Single Malt Irish Whiskey 16 Years Old – This whiskey marks a more traditional approach (and has not changed since the last release); the spirit spends 14 years in bourbon barrels before being finished for two years in oloroso sherry barrels. Though only two years older, this is considerably darker than the 14, with a nose that is much more rounded and aromatic, showing heavily nutty notes, some oily wood, nougat, and orange peel — a greatest hits rundown of some of the most classic characteristics of older single malt Irish. The palate is rich and seductive, with both brooding wood and walnut notes as well as kicks of old wine, fresh herbs, grassy heather, and a squeeze of orange. There’s a sharpness on the back end, a reprise of well-roasted nuts, dense wood, and spicy notes of cloves, nutmeg, plus more of that old, oxidized wine character. Deep, intriguing, and soulful, today this is showing as a well-crafted whiskey worth seeking out. 80 proof. A / $100  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

Review: Method And Madness Irish Whiskey – Single Grain, Single Pot Still, and Single Malt

Method And Madness is a new brand of Irish whiskey that comes from Irish Distillers, particularly Midleton, where these expressions are born. The idea, across the board, is to take tradition and turn it a bit on its head — with all three whiskeys seeing a different type of wood treatment than the typical ex-bourbon barrels.

A bit more from the folks at M&M:

Method And Madness celebrates the creativity of our whiskey masters through the fresh talent of our apprentices. Taking inspiration from the famous Shakespearean quote, ‘ Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t ’. Method and Madness is designed to reflect a next generation Irish spirit brand with a measure of curiosity and intrigue (Madness), while honouring the foundation of innovation and experimentation grounded in the generations of expertise at the Midleton Distillery. (Method).

Without further ado, let’s look at the inaugural trio of whiskeys. They aren’t available in the U.S. yet, but soon enough you should find them at your favorite spirits merchant.

All are 92 proof.

Method And Madness Single Grain Irish Whiskey – This is a standard single grain whiskey — but it’s aged in bourbon casks before being finished in virgin Spanish Oak. Results are a bit iffy. The virgin oak — as it tends to do — does a real number of the delicate grain whiskey, impregnating it with an overwhelming lumberyard character (“pencil shavings” don’t quite cut it), with hints of coal dust and walnut shells. The finish sees some sweetness trying to peek around the edges, but it’s a fool’s errand. B / $40

Method And Madness Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey – Single pot still (reminder: malted and unmalted barley distilled in a pot still) matured in sherry and bourbon barrels, then finished in chestnut casks. Chestnuts! This is a very exotic whiskey, driven in part by the pot still spirit and part by the wood treatment. There’s lots of spice on the nose that melds with floral notes and some vanilla cream. The palate is clean and silky, but it’s got a raciness that stuffs tons of vanilla candies, mixed flower petals, and ginger-led baking spice into the palate. The finish starts to feel a little busy, but some sherry-driven grip gives it balance. B+ / $65

Method And Madness Single Malt Irish Whiskey – This whiskey was distilled in 2002, aged in bourbon barrels, and finished in French Limousin oak. No age statement, but it’s roughly a 15 year-old whiskey. The nose immediately offers notes of salted caramel, dark chocolate, and fresh wood, but the body has that unmistakable honeycomb and hint-of-lemon-peel essence you find only in Irish whiskey, moving ever so slowly from gentle citrus to mushroom, with hints of spring onion and black pepper, and a fade-out of sandalwood. B+ / $69