Sunday, April 3, 2016

Solano Cellars

Another warm, happy East Bay bottle shop run by adults with style and humor. The tasting bar in back is a refuge of many lovely glasses. Good eats too. Check ’em out.

steel bar, wine glass wo=ith white wine, water glass, back bar with mirror relfecting windows, wine bottles with pourers.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Dashe Cellars

An Oakland, California winery making elegant wines from varietals that aren’t necessarily known for being vinified that way. The friendly tasting room folks know what they’re selling and care. Check ’em out.

Wine label depicticting a monkey riding a whale.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bloody Maria Mix

For some reason, it took me years to figure out I like a Bloody Maria about ten times better than the vodka version. I can’t imagine why it didn’t occur to me sooner. Tequila naturally pairs with vegetables, and I’m a big fan of savory notes in beverages.

Beverage, ice, double rocks glass, cocktal onion, lime wheel, cocktail pick, straw

Bloody Maria Mix
  • 32 oz tomato juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbs cacao
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground chipotle
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground true cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
Gradually incorporate dry ingredients with a little of the tomato juice at a time until smooth enough to stir with the remaining liquid. Add lime and garlic. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

My preferred tomato juice, Knudsen, has some lemon in it to begin with, so you may want to add more lime for snap. For the cacao, it’s worth finding the dark, smoky, complex Valrhona. And I’m thinking a half teaspoon of cloves wouldn’t hurt a thing.

Reposado tequila is nice with this. But it’s a grownup drink on its own without the spirits, so if you have a Virgin Maria in your party, she won’t feel left out.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Oakland Crush

Oakland Crush is a neighborhood wine shop that focuses on small-production, independently owned wineries that follow sustainable practices.”

Non-corporate wine, impeccably presented, affordably priced. Buy a bottle to take away or drink there. Beautiful space: simple, clean, bright, practical, elegant. Very refined sensibility. Nice folks, too. Wine is alive.

glass of red wine, wine bottle, watter glass, steel bar

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mister Minneola

Yet another of my attempts to find something useful to do with seasonal produce besides cutting the stuff into wedges, this has some Bronx inspiration, though it feels more integrated and modern than most of my ventures into Bronx Cocktail territory. The dash of Laphroaig adds a little depth without peating it up much.


Mister Minneola
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 oz orange liqueur
  • 1/2 oz tangelo juice
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • dash Laphroaig
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Good Luck Happiness

It’s one of my favorite times of year: the season when all the interesting citrus comes in. I never really know what to do with it all since I’m not the sort of cook that does a lot of sweet dishes, and end up defaulting to drink recipes. Blood orange is an especially nice ingredient to work with. It behaves a little more like red grapefruit than orange in cocktails.

This recipe calls for both fresh blood orange juice and Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur. It was really coincidence that I ended up buying a bottle of Solerno pretty much at the same time as the fruit. I went to the store for some Combier, but they were out. The Solerno vaguely appealed, so on impulse, I decided it was coming home with me. Tasty product, pretty package.

cocktail, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur bottle, blood orange

Good Luck Happiness
  • 2 oz calvados
  • 1/2 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
  • 1 oz blood orange juice (half a fruit)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 5-6 mint leaves
Break the mint leaves in half and drop them into the tin. Combine remaining ingredients and ice cubes, shake well. Strain into a double old fashioned; add fresh ice. Garnish with a blood orange half-wheel and mint sprig.

This one’s easy drinking but with plenty of character and snap from the calvados base—an inspired thought. I thought about going slightly more tart, but like the balance as it is. The mint is pretty subtle, a little twinkle here and there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Solar Radio

This is an original recipe I blogged for a Mixology Monday that called for a favorite niche spirit. I went with kirsch, a classic eau-de-vie made from cherries, and accented it with another niche item, dry sherry, which seems under-appreciated in my home country of the United States.

For those who haven’t had much experience with dry sherries, they have a distinctive pistachio and green apple aroma which comes from a compound called acetaldehyde, the result of oxidization in the presence of a layer of special yeasts referred to as the flor.

Dry sherries don’t hold well once opened, and should be consumed quickly—within a day or so for best flavor.


Solar Radio
  • 2 oz kirsch
  • 1 oz dry sherry (anything labelled fino, manzanilla or amontillado)
  • 1 – 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Amarena or brandied cherry, garnish
Stir kirsch, sherry and bitters with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add cherry garnish.

This is a dry, aromatic cocktail that would be suitable before dinner or for other Martini-type situations.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.