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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. 


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – June 2014

Enjoy an Aviation Cocktail in honor of World Gin Day!
June brings the beginning of summer, and with summer comes hot weather.  Hot weather and yard work make for thirsty people, so when cocktail hour rolls around Utah amateur mixologists should have plenty of takers for their cocktails. The number of items on SPA (Special Price Adjustment) in Utah this month rose from around 270 for May to a more generous 420 in June.  That means there are some quality cocktail ingredients on sale this month at the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores, so you can get what you need to make some tall coolers or shake up some great cocktails.  Here are some ideas on how to use this month’s sale items to improve your cocktail offerings.

Rye lovers are in luck this month, Knob Creek Rye is marked down 11% to $40.  As for Bourbons, there are about a dozen on sale this month, including single barrel offerings from Elijah Craig and Ridgemont Reserve.  If you like Mint Julep (I know I do), you might want to try one with Jack Daniels Black Label (down 8% to $24.5).  There are not a lot of Rums on SPA this month, but you might want to try some Appleton Estates VX (14% to $18) in a Mojito or the classic Rum and Coke.  

June 14 is World Gin Day, but there are only a few Gins marked down this month.  If you love Gin and Tonics to cool down in the hot weather, you might want to stock up on New Amsterdam Gin (CS# 031475 down 20% to $12), an excellent Gin for the price. Try some Tanqueray ($22) in a Classic Martini

Lovers of Scotch Whiskies should be happy this month: there are nine single malts and eight blends marked down in a variety of sizes.  The single malts range from ten to 16 years old, so enjoy.  The blended Scotch Whiskies include Johnnie Walker 12 year old ($38) and Chivas 12 year for $40.  If you’re searching for a Scotch cocktail to try this month, consider trying the classic Bobby Burns.  The usual mix of Tequilas is marked down in June, but you might want to try my favorite bargain Tequila: Familia Camarena Silver or Reposado, both of which are marked down this month 15% to $17.  If you want something a little more expensive, I also like El Jimador Reposado, marked down to $37.  If you’ve never tried one, give the Tequila Mojito a try. 

Irish Whiskey lovers will be happy to discover that Jameson Black Barrel is now available in Utah for $35 (not on SPA); I had a chance to taste this one in Portland two years ago and can tell you that you will enjoy it.  As to 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.