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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – March 2013

French 75

Oops! I got busy this month an almost forgot to publish this.  It's not too late, though, so when you walk into the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores this month you should be excited to see that sale tags are more in evidence than they have been in the last couple of months.  The number of marked down items has increased from January and February lows into the “above average” range.  The number of items on SPA (Special Price Adjustment) rose from around 230 last month to over 370 in March.  Cocktailians who have been waiting to stock their bars will see that this is an opportunity.  Quite a few quality cocktail ingredients are available this month, so dust off your shaker and get ready to shake or stir some great cocktails.

One item that’s marked down this month, and may go lower on clearance next month, is half-bottles of Noilly Prat Vermouth for $5.  Buy a bottle or two if you’re not into Dolin’s yet, and be sure to refrigerate after opening.

If you need some Gin, Hendricks is marked down $4 to $31 and Brokers is marked down $2 this month to $18.  Try it in a Classic Martini.  My favorite “economy Gin”, New Amsterdam (CS# 031475), is marked down 13% from $15 to $13 (try it in a Tom Collins).  If you have an open bottle of sparkling wine but you’re in the mood for something a little stronger than a Champagne cocktail, try a French 75 – a reliable champagne (and gin) cocktail that is sure to have just the kick you need.  If you’re more into Vodka Martinis, Tito’s Handmade is marked down 15% to $17 this month.

If you enjoy Bourbons, selections this month range from Jack Daniels Black Label (down 9% to $21) to Blanton Single Barrel (down 4% to $48).  If you want to make a very good Manhattan, or perhaps a Boulevardier, try some Woodford Reserve ($30) or Knob Creek ($31).  This month you might want to stock up on your favorite Liqueurs.  Liqueurs like Hpnotique ($20) and Frangelico ($22) are on sale, and also an excellent Triple Sec substitute that works well in Margaritas: Gran Gala Orange Liqueur (14% to $19).

The UDABC didn’t forget about you Tequila lovers this month.  There are 15 Tequilas on SPA with plenty of Platas and Reposados.  My favorites range from El Jimador to Herradura; and there are some 1800’s marked down too.  Leave your credit card at home... it’s Margarita time.  Rum seems to have been overlooked this month.  If you like Dark Rums, Mount Gay Eclipse Barbados Rum is marked down over 15% to $16, try it in a Rum Old Fashioned, and Cruzan Dark is marked down 15% to $11, but that’s about it for Rums. 

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, March 15, 2013

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with some delicious cocktails

Emerald Cocktail
Your St. Patrick’s Day celebration doesn’t have to be an orgy of drinking and partying as it is in Chicago.  Salt Lake City’s Irish population (and those who wish they were part of it) will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a parade Saturday and a dinner or a party Saturday or Sunday evening (or both!).

My first recommendation was developed by the Utah Mixologist just this month in anticipation of the Day.  The Chocolate Corann blends the flavors of Irish Whiskey and chocolate into something you’re sure to enjoy.  It’s a fun twist on the Manhattan.  If you’re looking for something a little more traditional (and dryer), why not try an Emerald.  It’s more like a traditional Manhattan, but made with Irish Whiskey: Whiskey, Vermouth, and Bitters is all you need.  Make it (and drink it) pretty much the same way. 

Green drinks are something of a fad on SPD, so here are some food-coloring-free green cocktail recipes that you and your friends will enjoy.  The Irish Lady is a great champagne cocktail for St. Paddy’s Day.  When served in a flute, this cocktail will remind you of a slender, red-headed colleen dressed in a pale green gown.  Exquisite.  Another champagne cocktail, the Shamrock Champagne, is best when served in a champagne flute. You will enjoy the transparent green appearance of this simple mix of Midori® melon liqueur and champagne.

My first original St. Patrick’s Day cocktail was the O'jito, a Gaelicized descendant of the Mojito.  It requires mint, which has the added advantage of being green, to acknowledge its Mojito ancestry.    You should enjoy this concoction of mint, Baileys® Irish Cream, and Amaretto.  If Irish Cream is your favorite St. Paddy’s Day beverage, you should try an Amaretto Irish Cream
Beannachtai ná Fhéile Pádraig!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chocolate Corann Cocktail will enchant you

Chocolate Corann
One great takeaway from my recent interview with Jameson Irish Whiskey brand ambassador Sibéal Bird was an idea for a tasty cocktail.  When Sibéal told me about some of the cocktails she had recently enjoyed that were made with Jameson (an Old Fashioned made with Jameson 12 and chocolate bitters  and a Manhattan made with Jameson Gold with caramel), lightning struck: how about a Manhattan made with Jameson and chocolate bitters?  I just happened to have a bottle of Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters in the bar that was stored less than 18 inches from a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey, so it seemed like a marriage made in heaven (or, at least, Ireland).   The Bitters come complete with an eyedropper, so a little (fun) experimentation resulted in just the right blend of flavors.  The resulting cocktail was very tasty indeed.  So don’t be afraid to experiment if you have different types of vermouth or chocolate bitters on hand to discover which combination works best for you.

The final step in developing a new cocktail is to name it (unless you started with a name and worked your way to the cocktail), so after a little research on Midleton, home of the Jameson distillery, I decided on the Chocolate Corann.  Corann is Irish for Weir, and is part of the Irish name for Midleton: Mainistir na Corann (“Monastery at the Weir”); just think of the smell of a river of chocolate as you take your first sip.  So here, just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day, is a recipe for a new Irish Whiskey cocktail.
Beannachtai ná Fhéile Pádraig!

Chocolate Corann
  • 1 ½  ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • ¾ ounce Quady Vya sweet Vermouth
  • 10 drops Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Fill a mixing glass 2/3 full with ice, and add the liquid ingredients.  Stir briskly with ice and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Jameson Irish Whiskey appoints new brand ambassador for the northwest

Sibéal Bird Photo: Pernod Ricard USA

Irish Whiskey is the fastest growing category of Whiskey.  The category still has lower sales volume than the Whiskey market leaders (five million cases per year versus ninety million for Scotch and thirty million for American Whiskeys), but global category sales are growing at around 24% annually (rapid growth is normal when a product takes off from a low base) and Jameson owns 76% of the market.  Jameson is popular with Irish Whiskey drinkers in Utah; half of the 750 ml products stocked are Jameson brands. 

Sibéal Bird is a new regional brand ambassador for Jameson Irish Whiskey, the largest maker of Irish Whiskey.  Based in Seattle, her territory also includes Oregon and Minnesota, but she took some time out of a recent visit to Portland for a phone interview with the Utah Mixologist.  

What led you to become a brand ambassador for Jameson?
Last year I was finishing my degree in International Business, I decided that I wanted to work for an Irish brand, to do something that would help promote Irish business and the Irish economy, but at the same time I wanted a chance to travel and see some of the world.  When I heard about the opportunity to represent Jameson, and what the position of being a brand ambassador involved, it sounded like a perfect fit.  

I applied and went through a two-day interview process and was one of the lucky few to get selected for the role.  When you think about making whiskey, there are a lot of different people involved, from the farmers who grow the grain to the workers in the distillery; being a brand ambassador involves representing all of them. 

What was your most interesting experience as a brand ambassador?
One of the high points during training was going to the Midleton Distillery and getting to meet Whiskey legends like Barry Crockett.  There was a huge warehouse full of barrels, and it smelled of all kinds of wood and spices; it was really impressive.  The high point in America so far was attending the Jameson Bartenders’ Ball in New Jersey; that was really fun, getting to meet all the bartenders who support the brand.

When did you decide that you would work with cocktails and spirits for a living?
It goes back to what I said about wanting to work for an Irish company.  I was raised on a barley farm, so the Irish Whiskey business was a good fit, and then the rapid growth of the category means that there is opportunity.  It also helps that I have always been a big fan of Jameson.

What do you think is/are the keys to Jameson’s excellence? What differentiates Jameson from other brands?
Jameson has a single distillery in Midleton and can control the process from end to end, so Jameson Whiskeys are hand-crafted, and we have great quality control.  We control the product from grain to glass.  Jameson knows and works with the farmers that grow our grain, and that fits right in with consumer desires to know where their food comes from.  Our master distiller, Barry Crockett, who spent 47 years in the Midleton Distillery, has changed the face of Irish Whiskey.

Do you ever use Jameson products in cocktails?  One of my favorite Irish Whiskey cocktails is the Emerald (a Manhattan variation), what do you like?
I love using Jameson in cocktails.  My two favorites are an Old Fashioned made with Jameson 12 and chocolate bitters (I love Whiskey and chocolate), and a Manhattan made with Jameson Gold with caramel.  One of the best parts of being a brand ambassador is getting to try the new cocktails that bartenders develop using our brands.  I had Jameson with Ginger Beer and fresh ginger with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.   There is a trend toward using fresh ingredients in cocktails, and in Minnesota I had a cocktail that mixed Jameson with homemade apricot jam and freshly pureed apple juice with a squeeze of lemon.  It was delicious.

Did John Jameson really fight a giant squid?
I’m not actually sure! You would need a time machine to find out for certain.  John Jameson was a hero among men; he is a legend in the Irish Whiskey business, and he embodies the Irish personality, so his legacy lives on.  You know, those commercials are not shown in Ireland.  We’re not permitted to advertise alcohol on television there, so you have to be in America to see them.

Thank you, Sibéal, I really enjoyed talking to you and good luck in your new career.