Monthly Archives: May 2009

Watermelon Fresca

No, this is not an announcement about a new flavor of your favorite soft drink.

My friend Ana told me about a great recipe for agua fresca in the New York Times.  I told her I would use it in a cocktail, so here you go.

By the way, agua fresca is a refreshing mixture of fruit, sugar and water.


I chose watermelon and the hardest part was waiting the hour for it to chill in the fridge.


For the tasty cocktails that ensued, click here


Filed under Cocktails, Other Beverage

The Adventures of Drunkleberry Finn

I grew up in a town where Mark Twain wrote some of his books.

I thought it was appropriate to share his thoughts on one of my favorite beverages. Probably not his best work – it sounds like WC Fields, Churchill or some other quotable drunk – but snappy nonetheless.

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.”


Mark Twain, 1835-1910 (or as locals know him, Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

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Bubbly by the Bathroom

Last night I checked out Table 8, the new Govind Armstrong restaurant that opened three weeks ago in the Cooper Square Hotel.

Table 8 bar

Stepping into the bar transported me to South Beach – glass everywhere, flowing curtains, a little untz-untz music. The place was full – suits, leggy women and a boisterous group of young men pounding Heineken and Corona. We snagged a just-vacated seat at the bar and struck up a conversation with the bartender.

He sheepishly admitted that they didn’t have a cocktail list printed yet (…hey, if you guys need help, let me know!), but he was happy to offer some suggestions. We ended up with these:

Table 8 cocktails

The one on the left is called Basil 8 and is made with vodka, muddled white grapes, basil, simple syrup, lime and ginger ale. The one on the right is CB3, their take on an old-fashioned with rye, honey and orange bitters. Both were well-balanced, fragrant, refreshing and tasty enough to keep us from getting cranky while waiting for a table. Click here for the best part

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The last South American titanosaur


I thought titanosaur was a made-up dinosaur name, but turns out it’s not. 

Titanosaurs are in the sauropod family, known for their “lizard-hips”, small heads but large overall size – some reaching 60 feet in height – and herbivorous ways.  Of particular interest for the purposes of this post is the aeolosaurus.  The last one on record was found during the construction of the Familia Schroeder winery in San Patricio del Chañar, a fairly new winemaking region in the Patagonia area of Argentina.  The fossils are still on exhibit at the winery today.  

Since I’m more interested in enology than paleontology, I’ll get on with it. Click here for the wine I tried


Filed under Wine



I’ve never had frozen wine, but I’ve definitely left a rosé in the freezer too long when speed-chilling it. Come to think of it, a Riesling slushy doesn’t sound half bad.

As you may have guessed, this post is about serving temperatures. People can be quite particular about the temperature of the wine in their glass. Different wine books, websites and organizations will all offer advice on this topic and exceptions seem to be the rule. Click here for 6 tips


Filed under Lessons, Wine

Virtual cellar

How many times have you enjoyed a great bottle of wine and then instantly forgotten the name of it?  I have an easy and free solution for you. 

1. Take a picture of the wine bottle you’d like to remember using the camera on your cell phone.

2. Email the picture to  If you choose to add a subject, that will become the title of your entry –  “Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace” or “last night’s dinner at L’Ecole”.  If you choose to add any text in the body of the email, that will become your description – “sparkling, pink and delicious” or “great with oysters”.

3. Log-in to  If you don’t have an account with them yet, you can still sign in:

User Name: your email

Password: your email

Your email will be recognized and a virtual cellar will be started for you.  Your photos will show up in “The Wine Diary”.  Don’t stress about what you write in step #2 because you can add more details to any of your entries whenever you choose.  You can also change your password once you log-in to your account. 

No label savers, scrapbooks or iPhone apps required.  How cool is that?


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Haunting in Himrod


The tasting room for Miles Wine Cellars is in a Greek revival style mansion built in 1802. 

The current owners learned their house was a stop on the Underground Railroad when they discovered Civil War-era pennnies in the cistern.  A local historical society confirmed that the pennies had been minted by banks in the South and that they were most likely left behind by former slaves grateful to be escaping. 

The family has also had many paranormal encounters since living and working there – mist in the kitchen, slamming doors, flying comforters.  Most of the activity has been more inconvenient than frightening, but the owners have admitted to taking great care in cleaning and maintaining the cemetery that’s on the property. 

They’ve also created a wine in honor of the newlyweds who lived there in the mid-19th century – a light and fruity blend of Chardonnay and Cayuga White labeled “Ghost”.  It’s believed that the groom met an untimely end by falling off a ladder while changing an oil lamp on the front porch and his new bride died soon after of a broken heart.  They’ve been spotted throughout the house, but most frequently on the front porch and usually in classic Victorian garb.  Click here to see what we tasted

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Hermann the German

Yesterday, I visited:


Hermann J. Wiemer purchased 140 acres on the west side of Seneca Lake (Finger Lakes, upstate NY) in 1973 and released his first vintage in 1979.  He’s originally from Bernkastel, in the Mosel region of Germany and his family has a winemaking history of over 3oo years. 

He’s considered one of the pioneers in this region and was one of the first to focus on planting vitis vinifera grapes – this is the species of all the wine grapes you’ve heard of before; Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.  Previously, most plantings in this area had been vitis labrusca – think concord grapes and Welch’s grape juice. 

The cool climate and gravelly soils in the Finger Lakes reminded Wiemer of his family’s vineyards in the Mosel.  His dedication to old-world style winemaking and the quality of the wines he’s produced have not gone unnoticed – just this past week was a great mention in the New York Times where Eric Asimov focused on Complex American Wine at an Easy Price to Pay. Click here to see what I sampled

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What a gal

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) was an author, poet, screenwriter, humorist, critic and defender of human and civil rights.  In her time, she was published in Vanity Fair, Vogue and The New Yorker.  Not bad considering her formal education ended at the age of 13.  She was also a thirsty spirit.  Here’s what she had to say about martinis:

I like to have a martini,

Two at the very most.

After three I’m under the table,

after four I’m under my host.


Filed under Lessons

Go go jasmine ginger

I was introduced to a new beverage this week – sparkling white jasmine tea. 


The Golden Star Tea Company takes jasmine silver needle tea, a rare white tea from the Fujian province in China, and puts it through a controlled fermentation with Champagne yeast – controlled to produce only trace amounts of alcohol (less than 0.5% abv) but to still capture the brioche, tropical fruit and floral notes created by the action of the yeast. 

Some of the bubbles are from the fermentation process and some have been supplemented.  There’s a touch of caffeine as well as a touch of sweetness from raw sugarcane juice. 

They recommend serving it well-chilled and straight up, in a Champagne flute. But, as is usually the case when I’m introduced to a new beverage, I decided to make a cocktail out of it.


The tea had lots of stone fruit and honeysuckle notes, which I thought would pair nicely with the fiery earthiness of an unaged tequila.  I wanted to add a little spice to the mix, so I chose Domaine de Canton, a ginger-infused Cognac. 

Go Go Ginger Jasmine
1.5 oz. white tequila (I used Sauza Blanco)
.5 oz. Domaine de Canton
1 oz. Golden Star Sparkling Jasmine Tea
splash of simple syrup
juice of 1/2 lime, 1/4 lime to finish
pinch of salt

Combine tequila, Domaine de Canton, simple syrup, lime juice and salt in a shaker with ice, shake vigorously, strain into chilled martini glass, top with sparkling tea and squeeze the juice of an additional 1/4 lime on top.  Candied ginger or an edible flower would make a nice garnish.


Filed under Cocktails, Other Beverage, Spirits