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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Shake And Stir Dad's Palette: National Martini Day With Carpano Dry Vermouth


I could probably state the obvious, but I'm sure you've already heard that it's Father's Day.  By now dad has probably perfected that skeptical grin for the plethora of items he may or may not wear or may or may not don on his dust-covered tool belt.  Of course we love dad, but maybe today he needs some reassurance that he doesn't need to plug in, search for an extension cord for, splash on after he shaves or determine whether better half or full Windsor with.  That reassurance should most assuredly come inside of a glass that should probably not don the phrase 'Number One Dad'.

That reassurance comes best served in a chilled glass with or without olive.  Martini glass preferred since this is Nation Martini Day.  James Bond's cocktail of choice gets national attention today.  What's great about a martini is the many different tweaks and updates it goes through, but the best to me is still the classic martini.  Ice, gin and the great, but often backseat driver, vermouth.

Vermouth is an aromatized wine that is very mild but quite fragrant and an excellent co-star to soften the blow of strong spirits like gin and whiskey.  When paired with gin it makes a very delicious and satisfying cocktail as both the vermouth and the gin have herbal and floral notes that complement each other.  Classically chilled, the cool down of the cocktail makes it a refreshing sip with a vibrant finish that elevates it to seasoned and mature.

For my National Martini Day nod, I'm having a classic British gin with and trying it with a new vermouth to the renowned Fratelli Branca Distellerie in Italy, Carpano Dry Vermouth.  It's drier and it contains less sugar, but has an intense flavor profile and slightly acidic taste that goes from spicy and citrusy to a finish that's a touch fruity.  Here's a classic and simple recipe:

Classic Martini

2 1/2 ounces Dry Gin
1/2 ounce Carpano Dry Vermouth
Green olive for garnish

Chill a martini glass, combine gin and vermouth into a shaker with ice, shake then strain into the martini glass and garnish with a green olive.


What's even nicer is that the salty olive garnish adds another element to the flavor experience.  So whether dad has the greatest or the sketchiest day today, make a list, check it twice to make sure you've got all the makings for a great dry martini to make the rest of his week look brighter. 

Carpano Dry Vermouth is great to have in your home bar for a great dry martini and other cocktail recipes like a Manhattan and can be found at your finer alcohol, wine and spirit stores.  As always please remember to drink responsibly.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

He'll Really Want Rotter For Father's Day: Tommy Rotter Distillery Gin Review

I strongly believe that this is the Fathers Day to say bye bye to the same old go-to's for dad.  Has he really worn that tie yet?  Does he even need a fragrance set with five items he doesn't even use anyway?  Will he ever try to synch that gadget to his phone...I mean it's been almost a whole year already.  Perhaps what dad needs is more realism and less projecting.  Projecting is one thinking that dad has a yen to learn how to keep his coffee warm with his own mug warmer.  Realism sets in when one discovers that the only drink dad really relishes in is that stiff cocktail at the end of a crazy work day.

Well if you're looking to kill two birds with one stone on Sunday and thereafter then may I suggest a gin I tasted recently that kinda wowed me.  Tommy Rotter Distillery Gin is a small batch produced gin with flavor and character produced in Buffalo, New York.  When you think small batch, think a more controlled center of flavor where ingredients don't get lost in too big a fold.  This is what you have with this spirit.  Tommy Rotter Gin has recently won awards at the San Francisco World Spirits and Denver International Spirits Competitions due to its unique flavor profile that involves a blend of herbals, fruits, roots and flowers.  The result is a surprisingly smooth gin with a beginning of the soothing herbals and earthy spicy roots and a fresh finish of the pleasantly sweet fruits and aromatic cleansing flowers.  I tried Tommy Rotter Gin in a classic G & T with a twist of lime and the tasting just became a pleasing rush of freshness as the citrus played nicely off of the seasoned notes of the spirit.

Is it apropos to give dad a spirit on Father's Day?  I say with Tommy Rotter it is when you know he's a man who enjoys a nicely executed cocktail.  It's sure to go faster than questionable bottle of designer cologne.  

Tommy Rotter Distillery Gin is available now at your finer spirits, wines and alcohol retailers and as always please remember to drink (and gift) responsibly.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Daddy's Litte Girl: Book Review of "In The Name Of Gucci" by Patricia Gucci

"Relationships can be tricky to navigate.  Those we have with our parents can be the most complicated and often require compromises once we come to the realization that none of us live in a perfect world and that the people we love are flawed." - Patricia Gucci

Sometimes in life we don't necessarily get the hands we want; we get the hands we're dealt.  It's up to us to play that hand wisely so that we come out a winner or break even, but all in the name of having a good-spirited game.  

Patricia Gucci knows this all too well.  Her memoir "In The Name Of Gucci"(Crown Archetype) is the emotional tribute and recollection of her life as it related to her infamous father Aldo Gucci and her strong smitten mother Bruna.  Quite often we tend to think ill of the less popularized version of a story since we tend to buy what we're first given.  However, a long believer in hearing both sides of a story, I was captured by how this memoir reiterates that love is truly complex.

Love is complex in the way Aldo Gucci wanted to be strong and untouchable yet fell victim to love's relentless drive enter one's heart.  The complexity grows as his obligations to his already established family, his work and his quiet awe that love truly makes things happen produced secrets, long distance romance, Old World charm, resentments, longings and bittersweet memories.  Throughout the story we see a young innocent almost devil-may-care Bruna transform into an wizened, understanding heartbroken woman who oftentimes had to fight back her heart and use her mind.  

Patricia, the optimistic lovechild, emerges as a learned woman, not devoid of emotional distress but fully aware that what fuels her habits have stemmed from her parents' tumultuously passionate past. What becomes clearer as the book evolves is how Bruna's deciphering of the messages and actions she received from Aldo directly affected the levels of strengths and amounts of reflections that both she and Patricia had to endure.  Bruna's lovesick, strong silent, passive introspective, even distant demeanor lent a hand in Patricia's inquisitiveness, search for love and support and emotional strength.  In the same way, Aldo's unavoidable distance, underlying tenderness and infectious presence seemed to give Patricia a strength she would have to see she had once in the thick of her life's encounters with family, business and learning the truth about her parents' relationship.

Such an interesting read about the life of a fashion magnate told in a real way from an honest perspective that humanizes and helps transcend wealth, class and race all in the name of a daughter's love for her father.  It's an insightful chronologic family and telling romantic love story that shows that true love forgives and never dies. 

In The Name Of Gucci by Patricia Gucci (Crown Archetype, Hardcover 320 pages) is available now in bookstores and online.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Whatever Quenches You Through The Summer: Santera Tequila Review


So last week was Memorial Day, the unofficial start of Summer.  But what does that mean to you though?  Are you scrambling to get in shape again with only about 2 weeks till the official start of summer?  Did that last Monday in May mean it's time to break out the summer threads or go on the hunt for new ones?  Perhaps Monday's revelry turned into Tuesday's realization that vacation time is near.  Well whatever the new-ish season brought to mind, for me it made me think about how I'm going to kick back and relax.  Or rather, when I'm going to find the time to kick back and relax.  It always seems like Summer weekends are such a hot commodity that while, yes you certainly can relish in having a full roster of summer activities, there always seems to be not enough lazy days to just do nothing and have no agenda.  Then before you know it, it's September again.

Forgive me for uttering the dreaded month of Summer's end, but what if you took the time to make the summer matter?  In between all the planning for this, packing for that, sucking in that gut and searching for a spot on the beach, make time to create a lazy day of summer no matter where you are.  For me, all you have to do is utter one word: cocktail.  A breezy, easy, sometimes fruity, never weak and certifiably delicious cocktail helps me get through the days of trays of kumamoto oysters, fries and tabasco, reapplying sunscreen and napping seaside behind my sunglasses.

Since tequila has never done me wrong (intentionally), let me share a brand that I had the pleasure of sampling last Fall.  Santera Tequila is a really honest tequila that thrives off the land.  The agave that makes up the brand's Blanco, Reposado and Añejo varieties are made in Tequila, Jalisco which is in the heart of Mexico's Blue Weber agave growing region.  The earthy full flavor comes from the volcanic soil from which the agave plants grow and together with the different ways in which each tequila is cultivated, a flavor profile that is distinctly Santera is created.  The young Blanco is clean and fresh tasting with a smoothness that characterizes its unique filtration process.  The Reposado is woodsy and a pop spicy with its being aged for up to 7 months in American oak barrels. The Anejo is seasoned and heavy but in a good way with its smoky bold flavor from being aged up to 16 months in those same characteristic oak barrels.  

Santera is really a great tasting tequila with a distinct trio of varieties to make your on the rocks, blended, shaken and stirred Summer cocktails sing.  Here are three great recipes with all of the Santera Tequila varieties:


Santera Margarita - Nothing shows off the classic margarita like a blanco tequila.  Refreshing cold and a perfect blend of sweet and tart in a glass. Spicy salt rim optional.
2 parts Santera Blanco Tequila
3/4 parts Fresh Lemon and Lime juice
3/4 parts Agave Syrup
 

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with a lime wheel.


Mustache Tickler - this cocktail has a bit of spice, so depending on your tolerance for heat, add as little or as much Sriracha Sauce as you like!
2 parts Santera Reposado Tequila
3/4 parts Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 parts Honey Syrup
1/4 parts Sriracha Sauce

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with a lemon wheel.


El Anticuado – Santera Añejo is aged up to 3 years, with a bit of extra añejo tequila added to the final blend to round out the full flavors of this spirit. Try it in your favorite whiskey cocktail like the one below or try it neat.
2 parts Santera Anejo Tequila
1 Sugar cube
5 drops Bittercube Bolivar Bitters
Large Orange Twist

In a rocks glass, muddle sugar cube and bitters. Add 1 large ice cube, tequila and stir until very cold. Express an orange twist over the glass and rim and garnish.

Santera Tequilas are available at your finer alcohol, wine and spirit retailers and as always please remember to drink responsibly.