Mixed Case: Garden Party

Twelve Tasty Sips

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

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

Late summer is the best time of year for palates, when fresh goods are available in abundance. Whether you harvest your own garden or stock up at a local farmers’ market, it’s time to fire up the grill and enjoy the bounty. Invite some friends over for a garden party. Whatever is on your menu, these wines and spirits can help elevate the taste experience—and, yes, I can count to 12, but school is out so I’m using fuzzy math for your shopping benefit. Cheers!

Bloomers Frosé & More is a cocktail mixer that can help cool off even the hottest summer day. Launched in May 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the ready-to-use frosty frosé mixer makes it easy to whip together an icy treat, so you can spend more time sipping and less time prepping. Add some to a blender with ice and the wine or spirit of your choice and frosty refreshment with tropical fruit flavors is just a push of a button away. Find year-round recipes at bloomersfrose.com. Retails for approx. $16.

Cameron Hughes Lot 631 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris recently won a Gold Medal, 90-point score, and Varietal Wine of the Year (Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio) at the Sommeliers’ Choice Awards 2019. This pale yellow crowd-pleaser offers notes of Asian pear, lemon/lime, green apple, almond, and honey. Retails for approx. $12.

Cameron Hughes Lot 639 2017 Arroyo Seco Rosé recently won a Gold Medal and 91-point score at the 2019 San Diego National Wine Competition. According to press materials, it is “sourced from certified sustainable estate vineyards on the Central Coast that showcases one of the rarest plantings in California: the Valdiguié grape—typically only found in the south of France.” Notes of strawberry, minerals, apple, and citrus stand out in this food-friendly, easy-to-enjoy wine. Retails for approx. $13.

Coconut Cartel Special Guatemalan Dark Rum with Coconut Water is the first premium rum by the producer best known for its fresh-branded coconuts. Coconut Cartel combines rum aged in Guatemala with coconut water to create a spirit that can be enjoyed on its own or mixed into creative cocktails. According to press materials, it “was inspired by a fresh cold coconut spiked with a shot of Central American aged rum.” Smooth and soft, it especially appeals to adults who prefer a lighter approach to spirits. It pours pleasing notes of coconut and vanilla. Retails for approx. $37.

Dry Creek Vineyard 2018 Fumé Blanc, Sonoma County, is deeply rooted: According to press materials, “While other Fumé Blancs of a similar price point are moving to North Coast and California appellations, we are bucking the trend and remain committed to the quality of our Sonoma Vineyards.” Crafted exclusively from Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley fruit, this crisp, balanced, easy-to-quaff, food-friendly wine offers notes of citrus, stone fruits, green melon, and grassy herbs. Retails for approx. $16.

Dry Creek Vineyard 2017 Heritage Vines Zinfandel, Sonoma County, is a tasty endorsement of agricultural science. According to press materials, “the Heritage Clone was initiated in 1982 to preserve the tradition and ‘heritage’ of old Zinfandel vines. Cuttings from a pre-Prohibition era vineyard were grafted onto phylloxera-resistant rootstock” to achieve virus-free young vines with mature characteristics. This smooth, rich wine offers notes of stewed blackberries, currant, mocha, and spice box. Retails for approx. $26.

Dry Creek Vineyard 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley, is primarily its namesake grape with 15 percent Sauvignon Musqué and nine percent Sauvignon Gris for added depth and complexity. According to press materials, “stainless steel fermentation was supplemented with small amounts of chestnut, acacia, and French oak barrels adding additional character and nuance.” A refreshing, balanced crowd-pleaser, this wine whiffs of tropical fruits. Notes of lemon curd, fresh-baked scones, and green tea delight the palate. Retails for approx. $20.

Graham’s 20 Year Tawny Port makes the case that port can be a summertime treat by suggesting a surprising yet hard-to-resist pairing: enjoy it alongside s’mores at your next bonfire. (Trust us, it’s mmmmm; serve the port chilled for an added sense of seasonal refreshment.) Made of grapes from Symington Family Estates’ vineyards in the Douro Valley or Portugal, this wine is seasoned in oak casks for at least 20 years before bottling. Notes of orange peel, hazelnut, caramel, butterscotch, and tart berries can be enjoyed year-round. Retails for approx. $65.

Monkey 47, produced in Germany’s Black Forest, is the gin renowned wine critic Robert M. Parker called, “the greatest gin I have ever tasted. It’s as good as it gets. If ever a gin deserves 100 points, it’s that.” It contains only hand-selected ingredients—47 in all. According to press materials, “The production process is complicated, comprising a combination of maceration—that is, steeping herbal ingredients in a mixture of highly rectified, molasses-based ethyl alcohol and water—as well as distillation, percolation, and oxidation.” Among the ingredients: juniper, lingonberry, spruce shoots, lavender, scarlet monarda, coriander, grains of paradise, rose hip peel, ginger, and blackberry. Playful yet serious, complex yet easy-to-appreciate, this soft yet tangy gin is yummy enough to sip on its own yet also makes a delicious gin and tonic, martini, gimlet, and whatever gin cocktail you favor. Look for notes of citrus, pine, herbs, and a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables. Monkey 47 was first introduced in Germany in May, 2010; since then it’s racked up many awards including Gold-Best in Class for Gin Worldwide at The International Wine & Spirits Competition. Retails for approx. $40 for 375ml.

Oso de Oro vermouth is produced by California-based T. W. Hollister. “I’ve always described drinking our Oso de Oro vermouth as sipping a bit of California history,” says co-owner Ashley Hollister. “My husband [Clinton], a fifth-generation Santa Barbaran, has always loved the California spirit and wanted his appreciation of the land to be reflected in every bottle. We source the finest ingredients available and wild forage select native botanicals from our family’s historic ranch on the California Coast, which gives the vermouth a refreshing and earthy quality.” The first release in January 2019 sold out in one week. Since then, production has expanded. Both the dry white and sweet red vermouths are enjoyable sipped alone over ice or mixed into a martini or other cocktail. The red is a blend of 19 botanicals with notes of citrus, vanilla, herbs and bitters. The white is a blend of 12 botanicals with notes of orange blossom, herbal tea, and antique wood. Retails for approx. $35.

Post Meridiem Spirit Co.’s full-strength cocktails in a can are perfect for sipping poolside, on the deck of your rented houseboat (when someone else is captain), while standing at the grill, when camping, and any time you’d like the convenience of a grab-and-go cocktail. The product line includes: The Real Lime Juice Margarita, The Double Old Fashioned, The Hemingway Daiquiri, The 1944 Mai Tai, and The Lemongrass Vodka Gimlet. All are made using distilled spirits, imported liqueurs, bitters, and 100 percent real citrus juices; are 24 to 37 percent alcohol by volume; and sold in single-serve 100ml steel-walled cans. If you hear “cocktail in a can” and think these must be overtly sweet and/or metallic-tasting, think again. These taste far better than most cocktails you’d get at most garden parties. And if you’re the host, these make bartending a breeze: Just pop one open, pour over ice, and voila! Stock up because guests will want seconds and/or want to try multiple flavors. Each can lists exactly what is inside, both ingredients and amounts—and the ingredients are all recognizable things, not chemicals or imitators. Post Meridiem is manufactured in Atlanta, Georgia’s West Midtown neighborhood. Retails for approx. $3-4 per 100-milliliter can.

Roaming Man Whiskey is a Tennessee rye whiskey made by Sugarlands Distilling Co. in Gatlinburg. Aged for a minimum of three years, it is bottled cask-strength—which means straight to the bottle from the barrel without any added water. It has won several awards, including “Best of Whiskey” at the 2019 American Craft Spirits Association Awards. It’s spicy with some char, raisin and vanilla notes. The 8th edition will be released in 2019; you can pre-order online. Retails for approx. $50.

2017 Yarden Chardonnay is made from grapes grown in rocky volcanic soil in Golan Heights, Israel’s coldest winegrape growing region, which overlooks the Galilee. The wine was aged for seven months in French oak barrels, 40 percent of which were new. Full-bodied and well-balanced, the wine offers notes of pear, pineapple, lemon, fruit blossoms, toast, and vanilla. Retails for approx. $23.

BONUS: Dessert

If you’re shopping for your Mixed Case at Publix, stop by the dairy section and grab some ready-to-eat decadent dessert. Petit Pot is a line of French puddings made using classic recipes and high-quality ingredients. There are four flavors of full-fat dairy pot de crème: dark chocolate, Madagascar vanilla, lemon curd, and salted caramel. If you’re looking for a tropical flair (or dairy-free option), opt for the versions made from coconut milk, like Mango Passion Fruit Rice Pudding. Dark chocolate and Madagascar vanilla are my personal favorites. Servings are small, about five spoonfuls. The containers are glass, so please recycle!

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

Be a responsible grownup: Never drink and drive.

Photos courtesy producers.

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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