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Friday, April 13, 2012

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – April 2012

When Utahans walk into the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores this month they will find that the number of marked down items has dropped back into the “average” range.  The number of items on SPA (Special Price Adjustment) dropped from around 350 last month to around 300 for April.  Cocktailians who need to stock their bars can still find some bargains, though.  There are some quality cocktail ingredients available this month, so dust off your shaker and get ready to mix some great cocktails.

Most of the Scotch Whiskies marked down this month are a mite too pricey to go into a cocktail, but if you’re looking for something to put into your Blood and Sand you might want to try some Bowmore Legend® Single Malt that has a small mark-down to $26.  There is not much in the way of Bourbons on SPA this month; they are probably holding them in reserve for the Derby next month, always a big day for Bourbon.  In the 750ml size there is Eagle Rare® Single Barrel at $28.  Sip it, or you can make a very good Manhattan, or perhaps even a Boulevardier.

If you need some Dry Gin, Tanqueray® Ten is marked down $2 to $28 and Hendrick’s® is marked down to $29 ($4).  Try these in a Classic Martini.  1750ml bottles of my favorite “economy Gin”, New Amsterdam® are marked down 11% to $24 (try it in a Tom Collins).  If you like Vesper Martinis, liter bottles of Ketel One® (it’s great with a lemon twist) are also on SPA.  There are also deals on Stoli®, Skyy®, and Absolut® in a variety of sizes, as well as the usual multitude of flavored Vodkas that are better not being mentioned.

The Rum deals are few (that may be an exaggeration) and far between this month.  If you like dark Rums, Cruzan® Dark Rum is marked down over 15% to $11.  Try it in a Rum and Coke.  Fortunately, the UDABC didn’t forget about you Tequila lovers.  There are 16 Tequilas (Platas, Añejos and Reposados) on SPA.  My favorites range from El Jimador® Reposado through Sauza Cien Años® Reposado to Herradura® Añejo; it’s Margarita time.

There are a couple of Liqueurs marked down this month.  Amaretto Di Amore® ($11) goes great in Mai Tais and is marked down around 15%.  Midori® Melon Liqueur is marked down 10% to $18; try it in a Tanqueray Taj.

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, April 6, 2012

May the Easter Bells bring you an Easter cocktail

Wandering around Salt Lake City and viewing the traditional Easter decorations and candy, one gets the idea that the Easter Bunny is a global phenomenon, but that is not the case.  Students of French language and culture learn that Easter (Pâques) is as big of a deal in France as it is in Utah and the USA.  Visitors to France around Easter are impressed by the amount of chocolate available (there are large displays of it in the big hotels), and it’s all delivered by les Cloches de Pâques.  France was once a strongly Catholic nation, and many Catholic traditions persist.  One of them is that the church bells (les Cloches), usually a daily presence as they ring the hours, do not ring from Good Friday morning until Easter morning.  Legend has it that the bells do not ring because they have flown off to Rome (yes, they have wings) for the week-end.  When les Cloches fly back into town on Easter morning they bring chocolate for all of the children, but what about something for the adults?

This year les Cloches may have something for the adults, too.  Do you have a weakness for chocolate covered cherries at Easter? Then you might want to try an Easter Egg.  This cocktail has all the essentials of an Easter treat in a single glass: chocolate, cherry, and cocoanut.  The Easter Egg will remind you of gobbling your candy Easter morning as a child (if you have a sweet tooth, that’s a good thing).  The Easter Egg may be enjoyed on its own or after dinner, but is definitely not a good choice for an aperitif or with your meal.  As you can guess, this one’s a little sweet, so if you’re looking for something dry to enjoy with your meal, read my post on Pairing cocktails with Easter dinner. 

Ham it up by pairing cocktails with your Easter dinner

Easter is only a few days away, and while it snowed Thursday night, Sunday is forecasted to be a beautiful spring day in Salt Lake City.  Some people don’t observe Easter, some celebrate it with Cadbury Crème Eggs®, and some are planning a nice Easter dinner to complete their day.  If you think you might enjoy a nice cocktail with your Easter dinner, the Utah Mixologist has a few suggestions that you might enjoy.  Ham is the main course in many Easter dinners.  If you’re looking for a cocktail to accompany ham, you want something that can stand up to ham’s high fat content and smoky taste.  Whiskey or Rum should fill the bill nicely, so here are some ideas:

One of the oldest cocktails that, due to childhood memories (of observing, not drinking!) always says “holiday” to me is the Old Fashioned.  My grandfather would make them at every holiday gathering for Dad, Mom, and the aunts and uncles.  This very flexible beauty can be mixed with almost any brown liquor, it just needs liquor, bitters, sweet (usually sugar or simple syrup), and ice.  Best of all, the liquor can be Rye, Bourbon, Brandy, or even Rum. 

One American classic certain to go well with ham is the Manhattan; this one just tastes good with almost any food.  Like most classics, the recipe is simplicity itself: Bourbon or Rye (lately I’ve been leaning toward Rye, especially now that Bulleit Rye® is available in Utah) and bitters. Oh, and don’t forget a cocktail cherry.  If your taste leans more toward Scotch Whisky, you might want to try a Bobby Burns.  This easy recipe with Scotch, Italian Vermouth, and Benedictine is sure to please. 

The crisp, dry taste of a Martini goes well with almost any meal.  Lately I’ve been using Plymouth® Gin, a brand name for a distinct type of Gin that legend says was used in the first Martini cocktail.  It’s the Gin that Dale DeGroff used when he made me a Martini at Portland Cocktail Week.  Always have the fixings for a Martini in reserve “just in case”.

Pairing cocktails with a meal can have one danger: overconsumption.  While a cocktail has about the same amount of alcohol as a glass of wine, some have more and, in any case, the alcohol in cocktails tends to be more concentrated.  Consider serving cocktails on the rocks rather than up, or serve tall drinks like the Tom Collins. Ensure that everyone has a glass of water available at their seat.  Most of all: know when to stop drinking or serving. Always drink responsibly, and enjoy your holiday.