Mixed Case: Cheers

Our Mixed Case series serves up an eclectic mix of recent ‘adult beverage’ discoveries by the dozen.

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Tasty Sips & Bites

Whether you’re perusing a bar menu while traveling or stirring up a cocktail at home, let our guide lead to new taste destinations.

By Hope S. Philbrick

Treat your tongue to some yum experiences.

Longevity Wines impress with delicious balance. The urban winery is family-owned and a certified minority-owned business based in the Livermore Valley wine region of Northern California. Longevity Wines is owned by Phil Long, who is also the president of the Association of African American Vintners. He personally designed the delicate, heart-shaped logo on Longevity bottles for his wife and winery co-founder, Debra. We sampled four varietals: 2018 Phil Long Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon offers ripe notes of blackberries, cherries, mocha and earth. 2019 Longevity Chardonnay balances its buttery and fruity notes, lusciousness and tang. 2020 Debra’s Cuvee Rose of Pinot Noir is a pink that everyone can appreciate with notes of fruit and minerals. 2018 Longevity Cabernet Sauvignon California is as enjoyable on its own as it is paired with food. Grab any bottle of the Longevity or Phil Long label you find. Retails for approx. $14 and up.

Mermosa, Florida’s first Black-owned wine brand, is made using premium grapes from Oregon and Washington state. According to press materials, “We make Mermosa wines in the Van Duzer region where maritime air currents from the Pacific Ocean shape flavor profiles. Our wines are sea-kissed by these air currents, making them The Official Wine of Boats, Brunch and Beaches.” Enjoy the bubbly refreshments on their own or mixed into a cocktail. Grab a few bottles while you’re at Sam’s Club this summer to be ready for poolside sips. Retails for approx. $15.

2019 Old Vine Zinfandel, Dry Creek Vineyards is crafted from grapes grown on vines with an average age of over 100 years, some as old as 140 years! “The result is a complex, rich wine, with spicy notes that are unique to the 5 historic properties that make up this prized Zinfandel. Its deep color and firm structure are enhanced by the addition of some of the region’s best Petite Sirah,” boast press materials. The wine has soft tannins and pleasant notes of berries, mocha, coriander, and nutmeg. Retails for approx. $38.

2018 The Mariner, Dry Creek Vineyards is made using the 5 noble Bordeaux varieties. According to press materials, “This wine is the culmination of decades spent working with different vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley, including our own iconic Endeavour Vineyard. Winemaker Tim Bell selected Cabernet Sauvignon as the backbone of the wine for the 2018 vintage, with Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc blended in. This distinctive Bordeaux-style blend was aged for 18 months in French and Hungarian oak with 44% new oak.” The wine is rich with notes of dark cherry, currant, cranberry, violet, cocoa, cumin and vanilla. Retails for approx. $60.

Licence IV Blanc is the first muscadet available in a can. According to press materials, “Blanc is a Melon de Bourgogne—straight from the banks of the eastern Loire Valley. It features aromas of freshly cut grass, salty lime zest and gun flint. The palate is vibrant and refreshing whilst the mid palate is dry and reminiscent of citrus and oyster shells with an herbal, saline finish. A perfect pairing with oysters and clams, mouthwatering with marcona almonds, salted butter, bread and anchovies and fantastic with fresh chevre.” These are quite lovely, a taste leader in the world of canned wine. The grapes are harvested from 30-year-old vines, so the makers clearly take things seriously. Retails for approx. $6 for 250ml cans and $24 for a 4-pack.

Buzzbox is a single-serve, ready-to-drink, cocktail that looks like an adult juice box. The nine different cocktail options all come in an eco-friendly package. You can just chill, shake, and shove a straw into the little box, which is convenient if you’re sitting on a pontoon boat far from shore. But if you’re at home, you may want to shake, cut off a corner of the box, and pour into a glass over ice—the cold ice and bit of dilution make these well-balanced cocktails a bit more elegant. Each flavor is tasty, personal favorites were the greyhound and margarita. A 4-pack retails for approx. $14. 

Ron Barceló Rum belongs on your bar shelves. According to press materials, “Celebrating 90 years since its conceptualization, Ron Barceló Rum was founded by Julian Barceló in 1930 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The brand quickly gained popularity throughout the Dominican Republic, and was soon exported internationally throughout the Caribbean, Europe, and the Americas. Today, the brand’s world-class portfolio of award-winning rums includes Barceló Imperial Premium Blend 30 Aniversario, Barceló Imperial Onyx, Barceló Imperial, Barceló Gran Añejo and Barceló Añejo. Ron Barceló is the #1 exported dark rum in the world from the Dominican Republic, available in more than 80 countries worldwide, and a leading brand in Spain and Chile, and continues to expand its superior quality product around the globe.” Barcelo Imperial Onyx ($46) was recently awarded a Double Gold Medal at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This is one of the highest honors for a spirit brand at one of the most prestigious spirits competitions in the world. We sampled Barceló Imperial, twice-chosen “The Best Rum in the World” by the Beverage Testing Institute of Chicago. It has a smoky nose, creamy mouthfeel, and notes of butter, brown sugar, tropical fruits, praline, and toffee. Retails for approx. $35.

The new Hershey’s a2 Milk pairs America’s #1 milk chocolate brand with one of America’s fastest-growing premium milk brands to provide a natural chocolate milk. According to press materials, “a2 Milk comes from cows that naturally produce only the A2 protein rather than the combination of A1 and A2 proteins contained in most dairy products. Published research suggests a2 Milk…may help avoid stomach discomfort in some people.” The co-branded chocolate milk can bring back fond childhood memories with each sip. It has strong forward chocolate flavor, is smooth on the palate, blended with 2% milk, and if you’re a fan of chocolate milk invites guzzling. Retails for approx. $5.

Field + Farmer has a new line of farm-to-table conveniences for the home cook. According to press materials, it “started as an urban farm in Chicago and blossomed into a farm fresh, plant-based producer…as a way to reduce waste on their urban farm, they started using leftover basil to make salad dressing. The dressing was a huge hit, sparking an idea to use these premium, local-sourced ingredients to produce delicious, clean-label, plant-based products that directly supported farmers in their network.” The line now includes 7 dressings/marinades, 10 dips/spreads, plus juices and refrigerated plant-based bars. We sampled 3 dressings and 3 dips, all of which impressed our taste buds. Personal favorites include Caesar dressing, sweet basil dressing/marinade, and spinach artichoke dip/spread. Find all products here.

Unless otherwise noted, all suggested retail prices are for a 750ml bottle.

Be a responsible grownup: Never drink and drive.

Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.

Hope S. Philbrick is founder and editor-in-chief of Getaways for Grownups. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications nationwide. She’s written about wines and spirits for more years than she cares to admit. When not writing, she can usually be found on the road or savoring something tasty.

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