liquor and libations

get a black belt in booze

Sundance meets wine tasting April 26, 2007

Filed under: events,wine — liquorandlibations @ 4:02 pm

If only I had known about this sooner, I would have been high-tailing it over the boarder next weekend to Portland, for the city’s third annual Indie Wine Festival. The event is a juried festival for Oregon wineries who make under 2000 cases in total production, and is touted as “a fun, lively, community experience. Think Sundance meets wine tasting.”

The winemakers will be on hand and you can purchase wine directly from the people who make it, what a great way to get people involved in their local wine industry. Portland is a cool city and with strong local community production and involvement in many industries – in particular beer, coffee, wine and music.

Tickets are $60 a day (for either Saturday or Sunday) or $100 for both days. Saturday’s highlight is a grand tasting with complimentary food from top Oregon chefs, and Sunday includes an event called the Sunday Cellar where wines from both 2005 and 2006 will be poured for you to compare how the wines are aging.

If anyone is in Portland, or heading down for this, and wants to guest write a post for us, leave a comment below with your email address and we’ll be in touch.

Link Imbibe Unfiltered.


my brandy alexander always gets me into trouble April 25, 2007

Filed under: cocktails,drink of the week,liquor — liquorandlibations @ 12:50 pm

feist.jpgIn celebration of the upcoming release of fellow Canadian Leslie Feist’s new album, the liquor and libations drink of the week for the final week of April goes to… the Brandy Alexander. Not one of my absolutely favourite cocktails, but a classic nonetheless. I was reminded of this tasty little number when listening to the pre-release of Feist’s The Reminder (go have a listen on her myspace), which includes a sweet little love song called Brandy Alexander.

The Brandy Alexander


  • 1 1/2 oz brandy
  • 1 oz brown creme de cacao
  • 1 oz heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

Shake the brandy, creme de cacao, and cream in a shaker full of ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with nutmeg.

If you’re looking for a cocktail in place of dessert, this one should do, there’s also a tasty blended variation with ice cream if you want the full deal.

Go mix yourself a drink, turn on some good music and relax, it’s Wednesday after all, and the weekend is just around the corner.


Summer is on the way! April Tasting Highlights April 23, 2007

Filed under: beer,tasting,wine — liquorandlibations @ 9:44 am

T.S. Eliot was on the mark when he penned ‘April is the cruelest month’. The worst part of April in Vancouver is the false sense of security you get that summer is on its way. Merciless trick! After months of jonsing for warm enough weather to elicit some joie d’été, we couldn’t resist the urge to guzzle these picnic and patio appropriate wines and beer. Who knew effervescence would be the theme of the month?

Tasting Highlights

Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato D'Asti Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato D’Asti 2004, 2005
For the second year in a row (hooray for new traditions), we had this bright, aromatic and lightly effervescent dessert wine with Easter brunch. It is adorably yummy, with notes of peach, honey and melon. While I love it at brunch or early on a sunny afternoon (feels happily indulgent), it also makes a nice aperitif if your tastes lean towards less sweet dessert wines because it has some musky notes. Nivole Moscato D’Asti hails from a single vineyard in the commune of Canelli located in Asti province where the moscato bianco grape dates back to 17th century. Anyways, why bother blundering through more description when the name ‘Nivole’ meaning “cloud” in the local dialect so nicely encapsulates this airy, tantalizing wine.

Blanche de Chambly beer
$11.76/6x341ml                                                                                                                                                                  This tasty, triple fermented white beer from Quebec’s Unibroue brewery will definitely be representing at our 2007 croquet season – special shout out to the Eastside Croquet Club! Citrusy with subtle spicing, light and effervescent, Blanche de Chambly is not as sweet as Hoegaarden and maybe that’s why it seems more refreshing. What can I say, Unibroue makes some great stuff … besides, have you seen their label art? Their designs are fit to be airbrushed on the side panel of 1970’s van. Awesome!

Fantasy Art Van

Pouring the Banrock Sparkling Shiraz and GabbyBanrock Sparkling Shiraz
$16.99/750ml We picked this up as a novelty one Friday after work. While the lightness of sparkling and fullness of red wine seem contradictory, in practice it wasn’t bad. Fizzy and sweet with robust plum and blackcurrant flavours, this sparkling red was interesting to try but definitely not for everyone. That being said, it would be tasty with summer picnic fare like sausage, baguette and an assortment of cheeses; alternatively, it may also be nice with dessert, particularly something of the chocolate persuasion. I must admit the cherry colour, tingly-on-the tongue froth is pretty fun too. If you’re not turned off by the notion of a bubbly red, it’s worth trying, but be warned the 14.0% alcohol content may give you, ahem, a little more buzz than you bargained for.


everything but the kitchen sink April 17, 2007

Filed under: cocktails,liquor,mixology — liquorandlibations @ 1:22 pm

On Saturday night, in preparation to hit Tropical Fever night at the ANZA club, I looked in the fridge to mix a drink. We had one can of tonic, leftover cava from making French 75s the night before, a bottle of my dad’s homemade white wine, and the usual standards on my home bar – gin, vodka, whisky, tequila, etc.

I thought about pulling out a cocktail book, but decided to wing it, and inspired by making the French 75, I decided to riff on that cocktail and bring out the leftover champagne and adding a tropical twist.

The Bleu 75

– 2 oz vodka
– 1 oz blue curaçao
– juice of 1 lemon – around 1 oz
– 1 oz orange juice
– a few dashes of simple syrup (make your own at home, bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil, take it off the heat and voila)
– champagne or sparkling wine

Shake everything but the sparkling wine in a shaker with ice. Top it off with some sparkling wine or champagne and stir.

Try it out, it’s tasty, and if you like champagne cocktails, you’re in luck, Married with Dinner is hosting Mixology Monday this month, with champagne cocktails as the theme.


mxmo: The French 75 April 16, 2007

Filed under: cocktails,drink of the week,liquor,mixology — liquorandlibations @ 4:22 pm

Liquor and Libations is very pleased to participate in our very first MxMo (or Mixology Monday) . This month hosts Married with Dinner chose champagne cocktails as the theme, which brought me back to one of my very favorites – the French 75.

French 75

– 1.5 oz of gin
– 2 oz lemon juice
– champagne or sparkling wine
– super fine sugar (I use a few dashes of simple syrup)

Combine gin, lemon juice, and sugar in a shaker full of ice. Shake well, pour into a Collins or another tall glass, and top with champagne. Garnish with a cherry (I was out, so I made do with an umbrella.)

It’s like an extra special, extra tasty G&T, with champagne replacing the tonic.

Cocktail Times offers a brief history on the cocktail’s origin:

Named after the French 75-millimeter guns, this champagne cocktail was created during the first World War by American army officers. The original recipe called for gin, absinthe (now illegal in the United States) and calvados. Calvados is an apple brandy made in France. It is produced from an apple cider and aged in oak barrels for several years.

The French 75 is a classic – all I can say is gin, lemon and champagne, what a wonderful combination. If you like tart and bubbly, this is your drink.


wine school in the comfort of your home April 11, 2007

Filed under: tasting,wine — liquorandlibations @ 5:13 pm

As we mentioned before, a couple of us ventured out to the Vancouver International Wine Festival in March to try our hand at tasting. Wine events are a great way to sample a host of different options, ask questions, learn what you like and taste wines that aren’t readily available in your local liquor store. While we will continue to cover any wine and drinks related events that come to town, we also want to explore home tasting, as it’s something anyone can try.

Hosting a tasting party is a great idea – for a bridal shower, supper club, or even on a Thursday night, and there are many companies that will host parties for you, or even send a sommelier to your house to guide you through the tasting. Another option is to join a tasting group, check out for one in your city, or make wine tasting a regular affair and order a mixed case of wine from your local specialty shop.

Eric Asimov of the New York Times wine blog The Pour suggests that tasting wine at home regularly and making notes on what you are drinking is a great way to democratize wine, allowing you to learn while you taste.

Too often, we treat wine as something that can only be understood and enjoyed by connoisseurs, and therefore enjoyment of wine has to be preceded by a knowledge and understanding of wine. This partly accounts for the reason that people feel they must apologize for knowing little about wine, in a way that they would never feel about most other subjects, whether poetry, art, baseball or bread baking. In most areas of life, people feel free to dip in and experiment. If they find pleasure and they have time, then they pursue further knowledge. Why not wine?

I agree, the best way to learn about wine is to try new things, and not feel embarrassed about asking questions. Going to a wine store and asking for a recommendation may end up leading you to a new favourite and keeping your eye on wine blogs like Asimov’s will also give you a new idea about what to try.


The art of drink April 10, 2007

Filed under: general — liquorandlibations @ 12:32 pm

A special thanks to Darcy from The Art of Drink for including liquor and libations in his post Browsing the Cocktail Blogosphere Part IV. We were honoured to be mentioned, as The Art of Drink is one of our regular reads and a real source of blogging inspiration. I’ve checked out a couple of the other blogs on this list, and we’re in very good company.