Bar Review: Bar Mia, San Francisco

There are whiskey bars. There are rum bars. There are even vodka bars. Bar Mia is the first amaro-focused bar that I can recall ever visiting. Housed in San Francisco’s Mission District, Bar Mia only just opened, the libation side of Nostra Spaghetteria, the Italian-focused eatery which it shares space with. Under the direction of…

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Review: Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey

Heaven Hill loves to make rye, and based on the enormous success of Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond, people like to drink it, too. The company is expanding its rye portfolio with Pikesville, a 6 year old straight rye bottled at a blazing 110 proof — clearly inspired by the success of Rittenhouse at 100 proof. (Pikesville…

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Review: Wines of Planeta (Focus on Sicily’s Etna), 2015 Releases

Planeta is one of the icons of Sicilian winemaking, and recently I had the pleasure of meeting Alessio Planeta (pictured below), head winemaker for this operation that sprawls across the island of Sicily. Over lunch at San Francisco’s SPQR, we tasted through a series of Planeta’s Etna-grown wines. (Etna is on the east coast of…

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Review: Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley and Alexander Valley, 2012 Vintage

The 2012 vintage releases from cabernet-focused Louis Martini are here. (For 2011 vintage reviews, click here.) Let’s see what this vintage has in store for us! 2012 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – Dense and raisiny on the nose, almost pruny at times. The body offers dried herbs atop a plum, raisin, and dark…

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Review: The Balvenie Tun 1509, Batch 2

Balvenie’s roughly annual Tun release is here, with Tun 1509, Batch 2 now arriving on our shores. (For the first in the series, see Tun 1509, Batch 1.) Similar to Batch 1, Batch 2 is a vatting of 23 traditional American oak casks and nine European oak sherry casks, a somewhat smaller collection of barrels comprising this…

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Review: Sonoma Cider The Crowbar, The Washboard, and Dry Zider

Two limited edition ciders and one very limited reserve release from Sonoma Cider. These ones aren’t exactly my favorites, but maybe the descriptions will entice your palate… Sonoma Cider The Crowbar – Dry cider, flavored with lime and habanero. Surprisingly spicy, with intense lime notes and quite a peppery punch behind it. It’s altogether a bit…

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Review: 2014 Chateau d’Esclans Rock Angel Cotes de Provence Rose

Rarely have I been so unoffended by a wine. In this case, Provence-based Chateau d’Esclans makes a rose from (red) grenache and (white) vermentino (aka rolle) and bottles this barely pink wine as Rock Angel. (The wine replaces the company’s previous rose, Whispering Angel.) It smells basically like almost nothing at all, just the lightest…

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Review: Magic Hat Ale, Electric Peel, Miss Bliss, and Belgo Sutra (2015)

A quartet of brews from Vermont’s Magic Hat, including two seasonals, a new full-time release, and limited edition available only on draft. Let’s go! Magic Hat Ale – Seasonal for fall. A simple name for a simple beer, an Irish-style red ale with ample malt and a slightly fruity, caramel-heavy palate. Magic Hat Ale serves up…

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