Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update- Fathers Day Gift Guides, Good Books and Other Stuff

I haven't been keeping this up like I should. That said, I've got a number of things to cover, so please bear with me. Those of you that know me well know that I do more of my blogging over at these days. Its a great site and I'm proud to be associated with it. Hopefully, I'll have a pretty big announcement soon, one that will really be exciting. As it is, lets get to the things I need to cover.


I've been lucky enough to receive some new books that are really outstanding. All of these deserve a place on your bookshelf.

Matt Skinner's book, "Heard it Through the Grapevine: The things you should know to enjoy wine" is easily one of the best books on wine that I've had the pleasure to read. While Skinner focuses on the novice wine drinker, making terms and pairings simple, even a real cork dork will find value in this book. Its an easy read, broken down into short chapters on everything from buying wine at auctions to what to do if you break a cork. Personally, I think it should be required reading for every server in America, its chock full of good useful information and leaves out all of the pretense that can make wine books intimidating for some. Highly Recommended

Kathy Casey's new book, "Sips and Apps" is the best cocktail book released this year. While I only knew Kathy Casey through her partnership with Ryan Magarian, in this book, Casey demonstrates that her talent for creating original, unique and cutting edge cocktails is second to none. From the Pear Thyme Fizz to the Grapefruit Negroni, Kathy Casey's cocktails are winners. Even better for those who enjoy entertaining at home, Casey also offers great recipes and recommendations for appetizers. I tried my hand at the Chipotle Deviled Eggs and not only are they easy, but they are incredibly delicious. Highly Recommended

When I received an advance copy of Teresa Marie Howes "Skinnytinis: All the Fun for Half the Calories" I almost threw it away. I'm glad I didn't. While this isn't a book for everyone, there are plenty of people in America who enjoy a nice cocktail but are also concious of their weight. Skinnytinis offers solutions for both home entertaining ( a Spanish martini at 126 calories anyone?) as well as options to order at your local watering hole ( a vodka tonic is only 131 calories). Beautifully photographed, and containing great advice on how to slice calorie counts off of cocktails, Skinnytinis is a very well done book. Highly Recommended.

Things I've been drinking & enjoying recently

When was the last time you tried Canadian Club? While I frequently rave about the Canadian Club 30 year (the finest Canadian whisky ever made), I've recently been revisiting the entire lineup of offerings from Canadian Club and I'm impressed. The 12 year is amazingly delicious and the 10 year is a steal. These are great whiskies that deserve more attention.

Michael Collins Single Malt Irish Whiskey has a unique peatiness and deep chocolate flavor that has made it one of my favorite Irish whiskeys. Usually I drink Irish whiskey as a session whiskey, but this single malt holds its own and makes a perfect end to a good day. Now, instead of automatically choosing a good Scotch Single Malt, I find myself reaching more and more for the Collins Single Malt.

Zipang Sparkling Sake just rocks. I really enjoy this product and its extremely versatile in cocktails. I also love the packaging, nothing goes to waste with their small bottles. I really wish Tanuki carried this and some good soju, I'd be in heaven if they did.

I'm not much of a vodka guy. In fact, I honestly find it rather boring. That said, Oval is a nice smooth vodka that impressed me. It would make a wonderful martini.

I've also recently tasted a couple of new vodkas from Three Olives. I've always thought that the flavors offered by Three Olives were more interesting than most of the other offerings available from other vodka producers. Even so, I probably dislike flavored vodkas more than plain vodka. While the Grape flavor didn't do a whole lot for me (I do understand that its the hot new mixer with Red Bull though), I was impressed with the Cherry vodka. Mix it with some organic cherry juice, a bit of lemon, some simple syrup and just a drop of Zwack and it makes a deliciously mouthwatering cocktail.

On the tequila front, Tequila Ocho is a delicious blanco, something I thought I might never say. I'm more of a reposado man myself, but Tequila Ocho is really first rate. I created this cocktail in honor of both Tequila Ocho and a former Oregon State star wide receiver.

The Ocho Cinco Cocktail
1 1/2 oz Tequila Ocho blanco tequila
1 oz Aperol
2 oz grapefruit juice
tonic water to top

In a collins glass, add all ingredients except tonic. Add ice, top with tonic and stir briefly to incorporate ingredients.

Fathers Day Gift Guides
This year, I'll be doing a variety of Fathers Day Gift Guides as we approach June 21st. I'll focus on Rum one post, Bourbon on another, Scotch on yet another and work my way through the spirits world offering a variety of options for all budgets. Also, I'll be focusing on some good cocktail and food gifts for Dad this year. Keep your reader pointed here, these are going to be good.