15 Tasty Sips
Our Mixed Case series serves up an eclectic mix of recent ‘adult beverage’ discoveries.
Let our guide lead to new taste destinations.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Here we are, still working at home, 12 weeks later.
If, like us, you’re thankful for the little ways you can treat yourself during the Coronavirus pandemic and yet really appreciate everything you can experience that’s new and different, consider treating yourself to any of these adult beverages. Until you can safely get back out there, you can order for home delivery or call your favorite retailer and set up curbside pick-up.
Of course, these sips are still worth seeking out even once the all-clear is given. Until then, stay safe, wear a mask, and stay home as much as possible.
Alas, you may not be able to travel to Italy right now, but you can take a virtual trip to Tuscany thanks to the region’s most iconic winery, Ricasoli 1141. Baron Francesco Ricasoli and his team have launched a video travel series, #madeinBrolio, which showcases the people, vineyards, cellar, and secrets of the ancient Castello di Brolio in the heart of Chianti. We sampled two of the winery’s bottles:
2017 Ricasoli 1141 Brolio Chianti Classico fills the glass with intense ruby red. It sniffs of violet and spice, and slips smooth across the palate with soft tannins and flavors of dusty cherries, dried earth, cocoa, thyme, and nutmeg. Pair with lasagna Bolognese. Retails for approx. $22.
2016 Ricasoli 1141 Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva is a ruby red wine that whiffs of berry compote. Pleasant flavors of blackberry, plum, cherry, and iron start soft and elegant, building to a robust finish. Try it with steak or pasta with a rich mushroom sauce. Retails for approx. $30.
2017 Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon is made from grapes grown in the Chilean foothills of the Andes Mountains. The deep red wine bursts with aromas of berries, spices, and pencil eraser. Full-bodied with chewy tannins, it is packed with flavors of black currant, ripe cherry, cedar, and savory herbs. Serve it alongside grilled meat. Retails for approx. $25.
2018 Oceano Pinot Noir is a 100 percent varietal from a certified sustainable winery in California’s San Luis Obispo County. Bright ruby with layered scents of tart red berries, rose, beet, and vanilla, it looks as delish as it tastes. Flavors of cherries, cola, pomegranate, rhubarb, mushrooms, and thyme are savory and sophisticated. Open a bottle alongside and herby roast chicken. Retails for approx. $45.
Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay is a creamy yet fruit-forward example of the varietal with notes of apple pear, papaya, buttered toast, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon. This wine has ranked as America’s No. 1 selling Chardonnay for 26 years and counting! The wine is food-friendly and is enjoyable sipped on its own. Retails for approx. $17.
2017 La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast is a bright ruby wine with notes of pomegranate, cola, dark cherries, sweet spice and cola. It’s light to medium bodied, well-balanced, with fine tannins. Pour it alongside roast chicken. Retails for approx. $25.
Grand Brulot, the first-ever VSOP Cognac Café, is inspired by an 18th century French tradition and a New Orleans’ cocktail of the same name (which still serves up its beautiful blue hot flame around the city). Made in France of VSOP cognac, French brandy, and Ecuadorian coffee, it proves that a sum can be greater than the whole of its parts. The cognac is a craft distilled, single-estate, 80 proof VSOP that’s aged for up to at least four years in limousin oak casks. The Robusta coffee beans from Ecuador are married with French Brandy before joining the VSOP Cognac in the blend. Grand Brulot is impressively smooth. (My tasting notes: “How did I live without it?”) Coffee leads the flavor profile, alongside notes of nutmeg, vanilla, and honey. This spirit, with an equivalent of one shot of espresso per serving, is enjoyable on its own or mixed into a cocktail. Retails for approx. $40.
Prairie Organic Spirits, the No. 1 organic spirits brand, makes some new Sparkling Craft Cocktails that we enjoy. But the Princeton, Minnesota-based company also produces spirits for folks who prefer DIY cocktails. All three of the farm-crafted spirits featured here are made using single-sourced vintage corn grown on the family’s organic farm. Retails for approx. $20.
Prairie Organic Vodka is so smooth that you can stick your nose in the glass and take a whiff without fear of alcohol burn. Its crisp, clean mouthfeel opens smooth and builds to a spicy finish. Look for some vegetal notes alongside hints of citrus, melon, and pear. This is a crisp, versatile vodka that can be enjoyed on its own or mixed into a creative cocktail, such as…
1.5 oz. Prairie Organic Vodka
0.5 oz. rhubarb organic liqueur
0.75 oz. grapefruit juice
0.5 oz. demerara simple syrup
0.25 oz. aromatized wine
2 dashes grapefruit bitters
Combine Prairie Organic Vodka, rhubarb liqueur, grapefruit juice, demerara simple syrup, aromatized wine & bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into lowball filled with ice cubes. Garnish with grapefruit peel.
Prairie Organic Cucumber-Flavored Vodka is equally soft and smooth, with mild cucumber aromas and flavors. Refreshing and clean, it’s enjoyable on its own or mixed into a drink like this one created by Scott Stroemer, head bartender at Pacific Standard Time in Chicago, Ill.:
Drink Your Veggies
1.75 oz. Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka
0.25 oz. Green Chartreuse
0.5 oz. simple syrup (1:1)
0.5 oz. lemon juice, fresh or bottled organic
1 oz. carrot juice, fresh or bottled organic
2 coins fresh ginger
3 parsley stems
Add ginger and parsley to cocktail mixer, lightly muddle. Add all other ingredients, shake with ice. Fine strain into double old fashioned glass with fresh ice. Garnish with parsley stems.
Prairie Organic Gin is dry and smooth with soft juniper notes mingling among aromas and flavors of citrus, garden herbs, and spicebox. Clean and refreshing, it’s enjoyable on its own yet also scrumptious in a gin & tonic, martini, or creative sipper like…
2 oz. Prairie Organic Gin
1 oz. creme de violette
1 oz. triple sec
1 oz. lemon juice
Combine Prairie Organic Gin, crème de violette, triple sec and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into lowball filled with ice cubes. Garnish with orange peel.
Rosemary Gin Sour
2 oz. Prairie Organic Gin
1 oz. rosemary simple syrup
1 oz. lemon juice
Combine Prairie Organic Gin, simple syrup, lemon juice and a few crushed rosemary leaves in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into lowball filled with ice cubes. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprig.
George Remus Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which is available year-round, is the brand’s flagship spirit. It’s a blend of high-rye bourbons aged at least five years. Complex yet smooth, it smells of vanilla, caramel, toast, and spice. Sweet on the palate, it boasts pleasing flavors of vanilla, caramel, spice, tree fruit, and toffee. It earned a rating of 94 points from Tasting Panel Magazine and Double Gold at the SIP Awards in 2019. Retails for approx. $40.
Remus Repeal Reserve is an annual, limited-edition release. The medley changes each year, but whatever it is, you want some of this sipping bourbon! (In fact, if you share home bar access with another bourbon lover, you may want to hide a bottle somewhere to keep for yourself. Series II and III may be sold out at your favorite liquor store, but look for Series IV starting in November with a full release by December 5 (the anniversary of Prohibition)). Series III offers sophisticated notes of leather, caramel, orange, thyme, pepper, maple, and candied fruit. Series II earned a rating of 98 points from Tasting Panel Magazine and Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2019. Retails for approx. $85.
Fun Wine brings festivity to tables, #FUNathome is especially welcome during the monotony of quarantine! We sampled three of the company’s award-winning flavors, all of which are carbonated, low-calorie, low-alcohol, and available in 750ml bottles (approx. $6-8) as well as 250ml cans (approx. $2.30 each). These are sweet and meant to be served chilled or over ice. The label designs are by Miguel Paredes, an artist who combines New York graffiti art with his own pop vision; his fine art gallery is in the Wynwood Arts District in Miami, Fla.
Fun Wine Red Sangria is a sweeter-than-usual version of this classic summer sip. Add some fresh fruit for authenticity and enjoy it alongside tapas or tacos.
Fun Wine Strawberry Rose Moscato is sweet and fruity. Try it mixed into a cocktail, such as the…
Chocolate Strawberry Negroni
1 oz. Aperol Spritz or Campari
Dash Chocolate Bitters
4 oz. Fun Wine’s Strawberry Rose Moscato
Serve on rocks
Fun Wine Coconut Chardonnay is sweet and coconutty. Mix it into a cocktail like…
2 oz. Barcelo rum
Frozen pineapple or coconut
4 oz. Fun Wine’s Coconut Chardonnay
Blend all ingredients until frosty and serve on a chilled glass
Unless otherwise noted, all suggested retail prices are for a 750ml bottle.
Be a responsible grownup: Never drink and drive.
– Photos courtesy featured brands
Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.