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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – January 2015

BLT Cocktail... better than a sandwich!
When Utahans walk into the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores this month, they will know that Santa Claus has left the building.  Special Price Adjustments (SPAs) originate with the distributors of the products, not the UDABC (only Clearance item price reduction come from the UDABC).  Last month they were generous with the holiday promotions.  This month those promotions are scarce.  The number of items on SPA drops from over 600 last month (when Santa was here) to barely over 200 this month.  Part of the reason this post is so late is that things are so very depressing…  Cocktailians in search of ingredients who didn’t stock up in December will wish they had.  If this post seems short, you now know why.  The forecast for next month is not much better (230 items?), so tighten up your belt and wait for March.

Tequila lovers may shed a tear at the lack of SPA tags on the Tequila shelves; unless there is something wrong with my program, they will find none!  For those who love Vodka Martinis, 1750ml bottles of Tito’s Handmade are marked down 13% to $35, plus there is a small selection of other Vodkas on sale.  There isn’t much excitement in the Rum shelves either this month: a trio of mid-price Darks marked down around 20%: Cruzan, Bacardi Añejo, and Bacardi 1873 Solera.

If you’re into Bourbons, liter bottles of Jack Daniels Black Label is marked down 10% to $27. These should make a great BLT; too bad that’s about it for Bourbons (unless you count the $2 off Knob Creek).  There are a couple of single malt Scotch Whiskies that reside in the $50 range marked down this month (a Macallan 10 Year and a Highland Park 12 Year) if you’re looking for something to put into a high end Bobby Burns, give one a try.  As usual, the number of Rye Whiskies on SPA this month is low: one. Knob Creek Rye Whiskey is marked down $2 to $33. Try it in a Rye cocktail like the Scofflaw Cocktail.  If you need some liqueurs, there’s not much action there, either. Tuaca is marked down a little over 10% this month; this vanilla and citrus-based liqueur mixes well with Tequila (too bad there’s none of them on sale!)

As to any other sale or clearance items, if you see anything at your local state store that other cocktailians might enjoy, post a response to this article.  See the following list “Suggested by the author” for information on how to use the Utah DABC website.  You can check out what else is on sale (e.g. the wines etc.) by clicking through to the “SPA Product List” to open a price book in PDF format that shows all of the markdowns for the current month.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Santa arrives early as Utah DABC rolls out sales for December 2014

A Negroni may be served in a cocktail glass,
or on the rocks.
Once again there are over 600 items on Special Price Adjustments (SPA) for the December holidays (up from 329 last month), so when Utahans walk into the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores this month, they will expect to hear Santa chuckling.  These deals are great for gifts (given or received), or for stocking your bar.  Still need a Christmas gift for Dad (or Mom)? Don’t forget to look at the gift items that are often found on the top shelf of the Utah State Stores. These gift packages usually contain a bottle of liquor and items like glasses or a shaker for about the same price as the bottle without the gift. Some of them are pretty nice, others might be a little tacky.  Shop early in the month for a better selection and buy one for a lazy relative to give you for Christmas.

First for Gin lovers: as the Gin revival continues, stores have expanded their Gin sections to accommodate new brands.  If your local store has a small selection, visit a larger store when you have the chance to check out the new items.  This month there is a variety of Gins marked down, most of the good ones around 10%, more or less.  Gins with price adjustments include offerings from Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Beefeater, and even bargain Gin: New Amsterdam (1750ml for $24).  While you’re picking up a nice bottle of Gin, pick up a bottle of Campari (on SPA this month) and try one of my favorite Gin cocktails, a Negroni.  You can look up all of the prices for yourself by clicking through to the “SPA Product List” to open a price book in PDF format that shows all of the markdowns for the current month; then search on “Gin” or the product of your choice.  Oh, and there are 13 non-flavored Vodkas marked down this month too (including Ketel One and Chopin, if you’re a Vodka drinker.

Now for the Whiskeys: There are 44 Whiskeys on SPA this month (60 if you count 1750 ml bottles), so it’s a great opportunity to stock up. Twelve different Bourbons:  most of the major brands are represented, try Bulleit ($25), and there are single barrel offerings from Basil Hayden, Elijah Craig, and Evan Williams.  Kick back on Christmas Eve and enjoy a nice Bourbon ManhattanThree Irish that normally retail around $25 to $35 are marked down around 10%.  There are 20 Single Malt and Blended Scotches marked down, including 9 twelve year olds and Glenlivet French Oak 15 year.  This is your big chance to cheer up and impress your old man with a gift he’ll enjoy.

This is your chance to stock up on your favorite Liqueurs or buy them as gifts; 30 are on SPA this month.  Try Di Saronno Amaretto ($23) over ice, or a favorite for cocktails: Amaretto Di Amore ($11); both are marked down.  Godiva Chocolate Liqueur ($27) and Kahlua Coffee Liqueur ($16) are on SPA, along with a variety of Irish Cream Liqueurs (great gifts for light drinkers) and Liqueurs like Alize and Midori.  A favorite Triple Sec substitute: Gran Gala Orange Liqueur ($20) is on SPA, or feel free to go upscale with Cointreau ($34).  There are only 11 (non-spiced) Rums on sale this month.  Appleton Estates VX Jamaica Rum is the best of the bunch, or you can try Mount Gay Eclipse for $17.  Sadly there are no high-end premium Rums to put under your tree.

If you’re looking for Champagne for New Year’s Eve, there’s not a lot of the good stuff on sale this month.  Mumm Napa Brut is the pick at $19, but the Barefoot Bubblies in the $9 range are decent and have won some awards for their price range.  I haven’t quite forgotten you Tequila lovers, either.  There are 31 choices this month in the Blanco or better categories, including some top brands!

As to any other sale or clearance items, if you see anything at your local state store that other cocktailians might enjoy, post a response to this article.  See the following list “Suggested by the author” for information on how to use the Utah DABC website.  You can check out what else is on sale (e.g. the wines etc.) by clicking through to the “SPA Product List” to open a price book in PDF format that shows all of the markdowns for the current month.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – November 2014

Salt Lake City cocktailians will be disappointed to see that the Special Price Adjustment (SPA) list this month is a lot leaner than it was last month (down from 419 to 329).  This is the normal pre-December slump that we experience every November; Santa Claus comes in December, and his SPA list is usually very generous.  We will soon be presented with a cornucopia of liquor oriented gift items and sparkling wines for New Year’s celebrations.

Remember: November is the time to start looking up… to the top shelf, that is.  Boxed gift items that are usually found on the top shelves of the Utah State Stores. These promotional packages usually contain a bottle of liquor and items like logoed glasses or a shaker for about the same price as the bottle without the gift (quality of these “extras” varies).  These deals are great for gifts (given or received), or for stocking your bar.

For those who love Vodka Martinis, this month it’s liters of Skyy Vodka that are marked down from $22 to $19.  There are also a bunch of other Vodkas and the usual large number of flavored Vodkas on SPA.  The standout Tequila deals this month are a pair of El Jimadors: the Reposado and the Blanco are both marked down from $20 to $17.  Regular readers will know that a good Silver (or Plata or Blanco) is an essential ingredient in the ever popular Margarita, but this Reposado also makes outstanding cocktails.

If you were hoping for some Gin this month, you’re almost out of luck.  One good bet is Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, marked down from $25 to $22. Try it in a Tom Collins.  New Amsterdam Gin, an excellent economy Gin, is marked down this month (CS# 031475 down 20% to $12).  If you have an open bottle of sparkling wine and you’re in the mood for something a little stronger that a Champagne cocktail, try it in a French 75 – a reliable Champagne (and Gin) cocktail that is sure to have just the kick you need. 

November is not totally devoid of deals in the cocktail area, however.  If you’re into Bourbons, and if you like something a little pricier, Jack Daniels® Single Barrel (CS# 026906) is available for $47 (that’s a generous $3 off) should make a great Bourbon Manhattan.  All (both!) of the Scotch Whiskies marked down this month are blends, so if you’re looking for something to put into your top-shelf Rob Roy you can get a bottle of Chivas Regal 12 Year marked down 9% to $32.

Regarding any other sale or clearance items, if you see a great deal on anything at your local state store that other cocktailians might enjoy, post a response to this article.  See the following list “Suggested by the author” for information on how to use the Utah DABC website.  You can check out what else is on sale (e.g. the wines, etc.) by clicking through to the “SPA Product List” to open an online price book in PDF format that shows all of the markdowns for the current month.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – October 2014

Tequila Mole Manhattan is both dry and sweet.
Utah cocktailians can rejoice that it’s October, and the colder weather means it’s time for cocktails that are brown, bitter, and stirred. The count of items marked down by the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores  has revived! The number of items on SPA (Special Price Adjustment) this month (419) is quite an increase compared to the 335 in September, so now is a good time to get ready for cold weather cocktails by stocking your bar with October bargains. As the nights grow cooler and the early autumn days grow noticeably shorter, here are some cocktail ideas that, combined with these sale items, can reduce your monthly cocktail spend.
If you are into Bourbons, some good ones to try this month are Bulleit Frontier (down 11% to $25), Elijah Craig 12 Year (down 8% to $23), and Woodford Reserve (down 8% to $33). If you want to make a very mellow Manhattan, try one with some Woodford Reserve.  If you are tempted more by imported, brown liquors, there are a couple of good, blended Scotch Whiskies marked down, too; so if you’re looking for something to put into a really top-shelf Blood and Sand, you can get some Dewars Special Reserve 12 Year (17% to $30).  You might want to try a Glenlivet French Oak 15 Year (9% to $52). Feeling like some Barbados Rum? Mount Gay Eclipse is marked down 10% to $18 this month, try it in your next Rapture.  There is also a large selection of spiced Rums.

If your taste runs to liquors of a lighter color even this late in the year, there are still some deals for you. There are about 14 Tequilas marked down in October, not counting the flavored ones.  Familia Camarena Tequilas, one of my favorite brands for mixing, have the Silver and Reposado both marked down 10% to $18. If you’ve never tried one, give the El Diablo a try. Deals on Vodka this month include liter bottles of Tito’s Handmade (CS# 038176 down 15% to $17). (Great in a White Russian.) You might also like to try Ketel One (12% to $22) in a Vodka Martini.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – September 2014

For a smooth ride, try a Sidecar!
Utah cocktailians can thank heaven that August is officially over and the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores have once again loosened the SPA purse strings for September.  The number of items on SPA (Special Price Adjustment) this month increased from only 288 in August to 335 in September. That means it’s time to get ready for cold weather cocktails by stocking your bar with September bargains.  So as the nights grow cooler and the late summer days grow noticeably shorter, here are some cocktail ideas that, combined with some sale items, can stretch your cocktail dollar.

In case you’re looking for liquors to accompany the key ingredient of your cocktail, or even be the main ingredient, you might want to try one of the following.  A favorite Triple-Sec substitute (if you’re still using that $10 Triple Sec, why not treat yourself? If you do, you may never go back...) is Gran Gala Orange Liqueur, marked down 14% to $19.  It’s cheaper than Grand Marnier, but almost as good.  E&J VSOP is a decent Brandy for mixing; it’s marked down 21% to $11.5, can do good duty in a Sidecar (or any other cocktail), and will hurt your wallet far less than mixing with your favorite Cognac. 

There are some nice Plata Tequilas on sale this month.  A couple you might like to try are Milagro Silver (13% to $26) or 1800 Silver (6% to $29).  Either of these will make a dynamite Margarita.  Why not mix them with Gran Gala Orange Liqueur (see above)?  There is also a nice selection of Reposados marked down this month, check them out at your local store.

There are only a couple of Bourbons on price adjustment this month; Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon can make a great BLT and is available for $25 (7% off).  Another Bourbon on sale is Jack Daniels Black Label for $22.5 (12% off).

If you enjoy Rum, the state has limited markdowns this month.  You might want to try Cruzan Dark at $11.  If you’re a fan of Appleton Estates, VX is marked down 14% to $18.  Vodka lovers will be pleased that there is a good selection of Vodkas in bottles large and small on sale this month, including Skyy and Stoli.  All Vodka brands have their fans and detractors, but there is something for almost everyone.  Finally, Martini lovers will be pleased to know that they don’t have to go thirsty this month.  Hendricks Gin (6% to $34 makes an excellent Classic Martinis. There are a handful of other Gins on sale, mostly in 1.75 liter bottles, so this might be the time to stock up on your favorite.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – August 2014 – It’s raining Rye!

Corpse Reviver No. 2 cocktail will rattle your bones
Utah Rye Whiskey lovers should be grateful to the UDABC this month.  As you may remember from these posts, most months there are no Rye Whiskeys marked down in Utah.  This month there are three, and good ones, too!  Knob Creek Rye, Pendleton 1910 Canadian Rye, and High West Double Rye Whiskeys are all on sale this month (all about 10%).  Whether you like them for sipping, or in a Manhattan or a Sazerac, this is a great month to stock up on Rye!  In other news, there are two new Scotch Whiskies available this month in the $50-60 range for you Scotch lovers: Talisker Storm (single malt) and Johnnie Walker Double Black (blended).

Last August, the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores seem to have begun a new pattern.  Rather than enter the doldrums in August, they have maintained an average level of items on SPA, this month there is a respectable 288 item marked down, slightly more than in July.  August usually marks the beginning of a cooling trend as the days begin to grow noticeably shorter, but it’s still warm enough that Utah’s amateur mixologists will have plenty of takers for their cocktails when cocktail hour rolls around.  Here are some cocktail ideas that will save you money by taking advantage of the marked down items.

In case you haven’t noticed, the UDABC has been slowly expanding their selection of Gins, and there is now a made-in-Utah Gin available: Beehive Jack Rabbit Gin ($28, Google it for more info).  A classic Gin cocktail from The Savoy Cocktail Book is the Corpse Reviver No. 2.  This month you might want to try one using Bombay Sapphire Gin (CS# 028236 down 11% to $24).  If you’re looking for something to go into a summer cooler like a Tom Collins, try some New Amsterdam Gin (CS# 031475 down 20% to $12), an excellent economy Gin. 

Lovers of Brandy cocktails will be pleased to find that E&J XO Brandy is on SPA for $13.5 (an 18% reduction); try it in a Sidecar (or any other cocktail calling for Brandy), where it will hurt your wallet far less than using your favorite Cognac.  Deals on Vodka this month include Grey Goose (CS# 034433 down 9% to $31) and Absolut (CS# 034006 down 15% to $17).  Try these in a White Russian or a Vodka Martini.

Purists may be offended by the Rum deals this month, all of the Rums on sale are spiced or flavored...  If you are so inclined, you can check out the selection and try one in one or two of my favorite Rum coolers: the Mojito and the classic Rum and Coke (with lime, of course).  You can check all of the prices for yourself by clicking through to the “SPA Product List” to open a price book in PDF format that shows all of the markdowns for the current month; then search on “gin” or the product of your choice.