Monthly Archives: March 2010

That bubbly is bitchin’

photo from

I had the pleasure to meet Dan Philips this week and to taste one of his newer products, a sparkling version of the very popular Bitch Grenache. 

Upon the wine’s release last August, Dan put his thoughts down on paper and many of his comments are worth sharing with you.  “Over the years I’ve heard about every possible idea for line extension: Big Bitch (magnums), Skinny Bitch (riesling), White Bitch (chardonnay), Clos de la Bitch, Dom Bitch, Sine Bitch Non, Cloudy Bitch, and on and on…it straddles the line like a delicate tight rope walk between popular culture and fine wine, PT Barnum and RMP, Jr., Meryl Streep and Zsa Zsa Gabor (think Paris Hilton with an accent if you’re too young to remember Green Acres,) Krug and….? Well, something that has not yet been invented.  Until now.  It’s called Bitch Bubbly.  I can try to describe it, but you have to taste it AND see it to get it.  It’s pink.  It’s bubbly.  It’s basically a blanc de blancs with a hint of grenache.  It’s redolent of strawberry mousse.  It is made by Chris Ringland and has his trademark, crisp and vibrant balance.  And, it’s about the sexist thing you’ve ever seen in a bottle.” 

There you have it.  It’s made by a rockstar wine maker, it’s under $10 and it has a crown cap.  What’s not to love?

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Seventh Heaven

This bright, sunny day has me thirsty for a refreshing cocktail. 

Ted Haigh has come to the rescue yet again.  You may recognize this as an Aviation; we’ve subbed grapefruit for lemon.

1 3/4 oz. gin (I used Seneca Drums), 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur (I used Finger Lakes Distilling Cherry Liqueur), 1/4 oz. grapefruit juice (I used ruby red). Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into chilled glass. Garnish with mint.

The cherry liqueur I used was quite tart, which prompted me to substitute the sweeter ruby red grapefruit juice.  The mint garnish is a touch of genius, playing off the herbaceousness of the gin and cutting through the sweet-tart combination of cherry and grapefruit. 

I couldn’t find much on the history of this drink, though “Seventh Heaven” is the name for all sorts of other interesting things like a revolving restaurant in the Ostankino Tower in Moscow, a frequent flier program for Air Jamaica and a Dutch romantic comedy.

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How to get filthy rich

I think his math is spot on.  Don’t you?


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D is for Durif

In the late 1990s DNA profiling determined that Petite Sirah in California was a field blend of Peloursin, some actual Syrah and mainly Durif, which is a crossing of Peloursin and Syrah.


Let’s break it down.  Petite Sirah is a darkly-colored, fairly tannic grape grown in warm climates like California, South America and Mexico.  Sometimes it’s bottled as a single varietal – I especially like the ones from Elyse, Judd’s Hill and Neal Family – these wines are bold, with spicy blue and black fruits.  At other times it’s used to beef up red blends.

A field blend, not as common as it once was, is a mixture of different varietals planted in the same vineyard.

Peloursin is an obscure French grape, now found in California and Victoria, Australia.

A crossing is when two varieties within the same species are combined to create a new varietal.  Think Pinotage (Pinot Noir x Cinsault) or Müller-Thurgau (Riesling x Sylvaner).

Durif was spread into southeastern France in the 1880s by Dr. Durif and while it was resistant to diseases such as downy mildew, it didn’t really produce any high quality wine and the French authorities weren’t too keen on having it very widely planted.  You can now find it in North and South America and several areas of Australia; Rutherglen, Riverina and Riverland.

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My kind of ice cream

photo courtesy of lickin' it

A student in our blogging class recently started a “badass ice cream blog” called Lickin’ It. 

Many of you probably know that I don’t care much for sweets, but here is some ice cream I could envision finishing a meal with: vanilla bean creme anglaise, bourbon, candied pecans.  Yes, please.

You have to respect a girl who tries to get her dinner date drunk with dessert.

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Planter’s punch

New Orleans has an incredible cocktail culture, dating back to the 1800s. 

It’s home to two booze-themed museums: The Museum of the American Cocktail and The Absinthe Museum of America, it’s the birthplace of Peychaud’s bitters, it boasts multiple signature cocktails like the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz and it hosts “the most spirited event of the summer”, the annual Tales of the Cocktail.

I was therefore quite surprised by the following.

I couldn't bring myself to sample one.

These "hand grenades" were all over town. The bright green is not from the cup, but rather it's the actual color of the drink. When I inquired about the drink, all the bartender would say was it's "melon-flavored" and the recipe is a secret (then he proceeded to fill the cup from a soda gun). The best part of this drink was the plastic grenade garnish.

Fortunately, the evening was saved when we made our way to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar.  Built in the 1720s and named after a hero in The Battle of New Orleans, it boasts the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States.  We had Planter’s Punch.  The first printed reference to this drink was in the New York Times in 1908.


This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.

I’ve seen little agreement across recipes: some suggest Jamaican rum, others list a combination of light and dark rum, some suggest almond syrup, while others use superfine sugar and the citrus ranges from lemon to lime to orange.  I think the one I had contained pineapple juice.

Here’s Dave Wondrich’s recipe that appeared in Esquire.

3 ounces dark rum
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce grenadine
1/4 teaspoon superfine sugar

Stir the above over ice and pour into a well-iced collins (highball) glass.  Garnish options: citrus of your choice, pineapple, cherry.

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Rock you like a hurricane

A survey reported that 95% of all first-time tourists to New Orleans go to Pat O’Brien’s.  I did, too.

Founded in 1933, this bar is home to the Hurricane cocktail.  Potent, sweet and oddly popular, the mixes are available for purchase all over town.

O'Brien, with the help of a liquor salesman, came up with the drink to use up an abundance of rum. During WWII, spirits like whisky were in short supply and bar owners and restaurateurs would be forced to buy rum (which was plentiful) in order to get their whisky.

Between examing the ingredients and sampling a cocktail, I still had to look up the recipe upon my return home.

Hurricane sans mix:
– 2 oz light rum
– 2 oz dark rum
– 2 oz passion fruit juice
– 1 oz orange juice
– 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
– 1 tbsp simple syrup
– 1 tbsp grenadine
– Garnish: orange slice and cherry

Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a hurricane glass (shaped after a hurricane lamp). Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.

Please note the 4 oz. of alcohol in this drink.  You’ll be a “ragin’ cajun” in no time.  Do you think the Scorpions have been to Pat O’Briens?


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