liquor and libations

get a black belt in booze

Sites we love: cork’d June 7, 2007

Filed under: general — liquorandlibations @ 11:44 am

Walking into your local liquor or wine store and blindly trying to choose a new bottle of wine can be a challenge. While some participate in tasting groups to learn more before they buy, others just close their eyes, grab a bottle and hope for the best (and yes, I am speaking from experience). Sometimes you get a winner, and other times you get a bottle of wine better suited for a white wine clam sauce than an enjoyable after work drink on a patio. What it really boils down to is that there is so much choice it’s hard to know what’s good. This is where cork’d comes in.

cork’d is a free site for wine enthusiasts that let’s you rate and recommend what you are drinking. Started over a year ago by a couple of wine loving designers, the site is easy to use, very well designed, and provides a great jumping off point to learn more about wine. The site now has over 20,000 users and was recently acquired by Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV.

If you love wine and you haven’t yet checked out cork’d, go set up your free account and get tasting. Here’s how it works:

Keep track of wines you’ve tried in your Wine Jounal. You can rate, review and tag wines, and these “tasting notes” end up attatched as comments to each wine in our database. You can also build a Shopping List of wines you’d like to buy (think of this like you would a Netflix queue), and a Wine Cellar for wines that you own. Keeping track of what your friends are tasting is as easy as adding them as a Drinking Buddy. You can also recommend wines to your buddies after you’ve rated and reviewed a bottle.

Whether or not you’re a wine fanatic, a heavy participant or a lurker, you will find something of interest on this site. If nothing else, one look at Cork’d before you hit the wine store, and you’ll never have to choose blindly again.


Music Goes Better with Wine May 30, 2007

Filed under: events,general,tasting,wine — liquorandlibations @ 2:59 pm

The Gorge amphitheatre on the Columbia river in central Washington state is touted as one of the best outdoor concert spots in the States and it deserves the reputation. Visually stunning with excellent acoustics and room for 20,000 people the Gorge hosts prime music festivals such as Sasquatch, which recently took place on the Memorial Day weekend.

A mere five hour drive from Vancouver, the Gorge is an excellent reason on its own to inspire a roadtrip. But the icing on the cake is the fact that along the way you can visit some of the many excellent wineries that have been cropping up in Washington state over the last decade, making it the second largest wine producer in the USA after California.

At about the same latitude as the Bordeaux region in France, Washington has many areas suited to wine growing but the one best explored on the way to the Gorge is the Columbia Cascade region. Heading east from Everett through Stevens pass, the road travels through snow capped peaks and lush forests on to rolling sagebrush hills ideal for vineyards.


3 BottlesIn the Lake Chelan region Tsillan Cellars is the winery of choice. Designed and developed by Dr. Robert Jankelson, the winery provides “an unmatched venue to enjoy the Italian art of living enhanced by fine wines.” Sounds good to me! Try the ’03 Bellissima Rossa, a Cab Sauv, Merlot and Cab Franc blend which won the double gold at the 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Don’t miss Leavenworth, the cutest little Bavarian Village in the state. Try the boutique Eagle Creek Winery, full of old-world European charm to prepare your taste buds.

To round out the trip, be sure to visit the easily accessible Chateau Faire Le Pont in Wenatchee (only an hour from the Gorge). The name means “Bridging the Gap” and refers to when a holiday falls mid-week but you continue right through to the weekend. We should adopt this motto more often! Not to be missed, the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Pinot Noir, and the new 2003 Tre Amore.


For more information check out

Happy road trip!


Calpico, the tastiest mixer you’ve never had

Filed under: cocktails,drink of the week,general,mixology — liquorandlibations @ 1:17 pm

i_calpico.jpgSo the sun is out and you want to try a new refreshing cocktail. If I tell you there’s nothing tastier than a Calpico, a Japanese fermented milk drink, you’ll probably start laughing at me, but the liquor and libations drink of the week is the Calpico Cocktail.

In Japan, Calpico goes by the rather unfortunate name of Calpis, which according to Wikipedia, comes from combining cal from calcium and pis from Sanskrit sarpis (good taste). So what exactly is in Calpico? Mostly water, nonfat dry milk and lactic acid. The drink is non-carbonated and produced by lactic fermentation. It’s probably like nothing you’ve ever tasted before, and mixed with a bit of juice or in a cocktail, it’s a tasty treat. We’d suggest trying out both the water and the soda versions, as they come in small bottles or cans, and add different things to a drink.

For your first foray into Calpico, try the Milky Pink, an adaptation from the cocktail menu at local favourite Guu.

Milky Pink

2oz vodka
3oz Calpico water (buy the premixed stuff, it already has sugar in it)
3oz pink grapefruit juice

In a Collins glass with ice, mix vodka, Calpico and juice. Stir to combine and garnish with a cocktail umbrella. If you’d like a fizzy drink, substitute Calpico soda for the Calpico water.

Guu has a great selection of Calpico cocktails they mostly call “milky drinks” with Calpico, vodka and fruit juice. We recommend experimenting at home with the spirit and fruit juice of your choice.

Make sure to check out the Calpico site for a number of great cocktail recipes, as well as non-alcoholic drinks and desserts.


tonic taste test May 15, 2007

Filed under: general,tasting — liquorandlibations @ 1:54 pm

tonic.jpgI’ve been drinking tequila and tonic ever since I went to Mexico last fall. After bringing back two giant bottles of tequila I started to substitute it for many other spirits in my favourite mixed drinks – tequila instead of rum in mojitos, tequila instead of whiskey in the Mexican lemonade, so I was intrigued by Married With Dinner’s recent tonic taste test when making tequila and tonic. Since I also enjoy a gin and tonic fairly regularly, I know that while good quality spirits are necessary, a good tonic can make all the difference. Married with Dinner had four tonics to test with, two mass market entries – the ubiquitous Canada Dry and Schweppes tonic waters, as well as two boutique tonic waters – Fever Tree and Stirrings.

“The results were interesting. Canada Dry was the clear loser with a Two Tongues Stuck Out in Disgust rating; “Overly sweet and chemical-tasting,” said our panel. Our tasters were also a bit disappointed by the Stirrings tonic. It had the advantage of tasting like natural product, but was nearly as sweet and oddly fruity as the Canada Dry. The second mass-market entry, Schweppes, fared better, although it brought out the boozy, horse-blanket nature of the tequila. The overall winner was the Fever Tree tonic, which balanced sweet and bitter and added welcome herbal notes.”

After finding a tonic recipe in Imbibe Magazine, I’ve been searching for quinine to make my own homemade tonic. It’s one of the main flavour components of tonic, but seeing as it’s a malaria remedy (and Canada doesn’t exactly have malaria outbreaks anymore) it’s not readily available. Once I’m able to make my own tonic, we’ll do a liquor and libations tonic tasting comparing mass market to homemade to see whether it’s worth the time, effort and taste to make your own.


happy birthday imbibe magazine! May 1, 2007

Filed under: general — liquorandlibations @ 1:45 pm

imbibe_current-cover.jpgImbibe magazine, in our humble opinion, the best drinks culture magazine around, is celebrating its first birthday. I picked up the premier issue last year, and have been loving it ever since.

Each time I pick up a copy I learn something new – last issue included a recipe for homemade tonic (once I track down all the ingredients, I’m going to make one tasty G&T!) and this issue will have us all hand crafting our own bitters. There are articles on coffee, beer, cocktails and wine, as well as the drinks culture and industry. So whether you’re looking for a guide on how to host a wine tasting, some fantastic, inventive new cocktail recipes, or you want to read well-written spotlights on small local producers, Imbibe is a great resource for anyone interested in the world of drink.

The latest issue of Imbibe is now on the news stands, and if you haven’t picked up a copy before, check it out. You can even browse page by page through the latest issue with their neat Java preview, or better yet, find a store with a decent magazine selection (even Chapters carries it here in Vancouver) and pick up a copy, you’ll be very glad you did!

And make sure to also visit the Imbibe Unfiltered blog.


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.


Welcome! March 6, 2007

Filed under: general — liquorandlibations @ 12:29 am

Welcome to liquor and libations! Simply put, this a blog about booze. If you want to really get into it though, you will find everything from wine recommedations, taste testing, cocktail recipes, event listings and coverage, and general chatter about drinks and drinking.

Now you may be wondering if this blog was started by a bunch of alcoholics, the answer is no, umm maybe socially? and possibly, but really, we are just three ladies who like to wind down with a glass of wine or a cocktail at the end of the day.

We’re just getting started, but if they’re anything you’d like us to post about, let us know.