In Alcohol Review Cocktails Drinks Entertaining Finlandia Vodka Food and Drink Recipes Summer Drinks Wines and Spirits

A Clean Not Complicated Finnish: Finlandia Vodka Review And Tasting

I think we've all been in that scenario where we ask someone to make us a cocktail only to be disappointed.  Heavy-handedness is a thing just as is light-handedness.  Too much alcohol kills the other flavors of a cocktails and too little alcohol doesn't necessarily get your imbibing fix together.  What you want is balance!  For it's balance that creates a wonderful in-synced collective dance of spirit to ingredients to garnishes to ice that creates a splendid cocktail experience rather than a drink that sits untouched on the table all evening. 

As I deepen my trek into the world of vodka, I'm discovering its versatility.  One recent evening, I had the pleasure of experiencing one that makes it easy to achieve that aforementioned balance due to its crispness and clean taste.  Finlandia Vodka is that vodka and its created with glacial Spring well-water that gives it a very refreshing taste as opposed to the often heavy medicinal taste that other vodkas can have.  See, it's the purity of the water that creates a great tasting vodka and Finlandia achieves a very smooth-tasting vodka with a fresh fluidity that served to boost whatever it's mixed in with a matured organic kick.

On that particular evening, I sat down to a special tasting from Finlandia Vodka Master Mixologist Pekka Pellinen who created five distinct cocktails that celebrated the pure essence of Finlandia Vodka while highlighting how its purity enhances the key flavors of a chosen cocktail's ingredients.  

First up was the Finlandia Arboreum, a herbal verdant cocktail with Classic Finlandia, dill, basil, egg whites, club soda, agave, salt (to open up the herbs) with a final spritz of Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka. The result was a fresh and summery cocktail with nice depth and the slight blending of the ingredients with a bartender's coil opened up and balanced the fresh flavors of the basil & dill with the sweetness of the agave.  

The second round brought a breakfast staple remixed as the Finlandia Gazpacho.  Here both Classic Finlandia and Finlandia Grapefruit are used along with dijon, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, sea salt, Sriracha, lemon juice and tomato juice.  The special element Pellinen used to create a smoky depth in the cocktail was actual smoke.  Garnishing off the remixed classic was lime, cucumber, celery and black pepper that with that blast of smoke created a nice array of spice, garden freshness, saltiness and a lingering pleasant heat from the horseradish that was just so satisfying. 

Next came a pair of sour cocktail cousins.  The Popcorn Sour was Pellinen's ode to getting naughty with  a snack staple.  Using Classic Finlandia, and that trusty bartender's coil again, he blended lemon juice, kettle popcorn, agave, egg whites and raspberry garnishing for color.  This was a delightfully fun and interesting cocktail that was a nice take on sweet and salty flavors and, since naturally present in the kettle popcorn, the two tastes were nicely enhanced with the familiar & comforting note from the popcorn.  The Vegetarian Sour didn't slack on the flavor either and Pellinen used a surprising substitute to compensate for the slight frothiness that an egg yolk delivers.  To the combination of Finlandia Grapefruit, lemon juice and agave was added chickpea brine.  Yes, actual chickpea brine has properties that almost exactly duplicate that of egg whites and in this cocktail it brought a depth to it that was nicely balanced with the freshness of the Finlandia Grapefruit and citrus tartness of the lemon created a kicking lemonade-esque pleasantness.

Finally, we closed out the evening with a great Helsinki Mule.  What do you say to a cocktail that brings you the warm soothing heat of ginger with the tart coolness of lime juice and is not overly sweet?  I say give me another!  The shot of Finlandia Grapefruit, Belvoir Ginger Beer, lime juice and garnishes of cucumber, ginger root and lime all came together to once again showcase how the cleanness of the Finlandia makes the notes in the drink shine all while maintaining a grown seasoned crispness.

My first experience with Finlandia Vodka was a defining one that won't be my last.  It truly is a definitive vodka that is everything you wish a vodka to be as it's pureness livens up your palette and awakens the flavors that you choose to pair with it in a cocktail.  So I bid a fair kiitos (thank you) to Mix Master Pellinen and Finlandia Vodka and implore you to make Finlandia your vodka go-to.  Finlandia Vodkas are available now at your better wine and spirit retailers and as always please remember to enjoy responsibly.  Kippis (Cheers)! 

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In Dr Gingers Coconut Toothpaste Grooming Health Product Review Vegan Wellness

A Mouth As Clean As A Coconut: Dr. Ginger's Coconut Toothpaste

There's so much going on with toothpastes lately.  Have you not been down the toothpaste aisle in a minute?  Well let me tell you that the 'proven this' and 'clinically-tested that' brands are shouting for your attention amongst the pastes, gels, whitening promises and plaque-reducing guarantees.  Well a few months ago, almost a year into my vegan journey, I became an oral health purist.  I started coconut oil pulling in early April and eliminated fluoride products from my daily mouth routine.  So when I was offered the chance to try Dr. Ginger's Coconut Toothpaste, how could I refuse.

The all-natural and fluoride-free got me!  Then the flavor had me next!  The coconut flavor is pleasant and the pop of xylitol is sweet and soothing and creates a soft clean paste in your mouth.  Some toothpastes have a clinical taste to them, but Dr. Ginger's Coconut Toothpaste is refreshing and the sweetness is natural.  This is achieved not only from the presence of the coconut oil and natural mint, but also from  the rejuvenating presence of aloe vera juice and the natural thickening property of Irish Moss.  

My verdict is that it's a good natural toothpaste with reassuring natural ingredients that combine together to have a great fresh taste.  I have definitely been noticing oral improvements since starting the coconut oil pulling so I believe in it's benefits and the restorative power of coconut oil for mouth health, so I would definitely suggest giving Dr. Ginger's Coconut Toothpaste a try.  Available now on

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In Alcohol Review Brockmans Premium Gin Cocktails Drinks Entertaining Food and Drink Gin Recipes Summer 2018 Summer Drinks

The Case Of How Gin Just Got Better: Brockmans Premium Gin

Some may say that, although available year-round, Summer is the season for rosé.  Well I (as well as other cocktail imbibers) say that any wine or spirit can be for any season depending on your mood and your available seasonal culinary offerings.  For example, the spices, warmth and soothing quality of a hot toddy could be enjoyed all year, but works best when the thermometer dips low.  The citrusy kick and effervescent pop of chilled wines and champagne spritzers can certainly be made in December, but seem more appropriate in July.  However, it's all relative.  Some folks order based on what connects to them after a hard work day, after an emotional break up or to cap off a memorable event.  Further, on this spinning orb we call earth, it's always both Summer and Winter somewhere right?  So I say use what you like and connect with in order to create the feeling, atmosphere and satisfaction that you want, be it straight up, on the rocks, with a bevy of fresh ingredients or just a touch of lime.
Gin has always been something that I look to enjoy mostly in the Summer.  I used to think it was due to the lively juniper berry essence, but then I realized that I first had a gin and tonic years ago in the Summertime.  Gin is grown, sexy and seasoned with a distinctive flavor profile that has profound character.  So when I recently came across Brockmans Premium Gin I wondered what this spirit would add to the arena of gins to make it special.  Well the answer lies in the eclectic essence of the ingredients.  Brockmans Gin tantalizes its taster with a special blend of unique botanicals from worldwide locales creating a melange of notes blessed by different soils and climates for an exciting spirit.  What you have in Brockmans Gin are Italian juniper berries, Spanish lemon and orange peels, Bulgarian coriander, Indo-Chinese cassia bark and Northern European blueberries & blackberries.  It's like a UN meeting of world-sourced flavors in a suave bottle.  Then rounding out the profile of tastes is Chinese licorice, Belgian & Saxon angelica, Spanish bitter almonds and Italian orris root.  The result is a very explosive gin with a satisfyingly smooth and appropriately complex flavor profile and this wonderfully soothing burst of aromatics.  Brockmans Premium Gin will satisfy gin drinkers whether they choose to enjoy it on-the-rocks or in a great cocktail. 

And speaking of cocktails, in true 'Jacket Optional' fashion, I had to use this groundbreaking gin to pay homage to the season in which I savored my first sip of it to create a signature cocktail that I'm calling "Pineapple Express To Summer".

Pineapple Express To Summer
4 ounces             Brockmans Premium Gin
2 ounces             Fresh Pineapple Juice (squeezed with a citrus juicer)
1 ounce              Triple Sec
1 ounce              Fresh Lemon
1 sprig                Fresh Rosemary
1 slice                 Fresh Pineapple

Grill both sides of the slice of pineapple and set aside.  To a rocks glass add ice, gin, pineapple juice, triple sec and fresh lemon.  Stir gently, then use the citrus juicer to squeeze half of the grilled pineapple into the glass.  Add the sprig of rosemary, then skewer a wedge of the remaining grilled pineapple and garnish the glass.  The similar notes of the fresh & accompanying ingredients in this cocktail play up the gin very nicely and allow it to still stand out.  The sweet tropical pops of the pineapple, lemon and triple sec blend harmoniously with the citrus notes in the gin to heighten the flavor.  Then the herbal note of the rosemary and the smokiness of the pineapple sidle up with the earthy rustic flavors in the drink.
Summer starts today so when thinking of a refreshing and distinct gin cocktail, remember Brockmans.  For a list of bars and retailers near you, click here and as always please remember to enjoy responsibly.

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In Comfort Foods Cooking Entertaining Food and Drink Moore's Hot Sauces Moore's Marinades Summer 2018 Summer Eats Vegan Vegan Foods

The Barbecue's Cherry On Top: Moore's New Line of Hot Sauces

You've patiently waited and were temporarily fooled by Memorial Day hi jinx, but the official start of Summer is at the end of this week.  So in walks the trips to the beach, horseplay at the pool, rooftop soirees, sunbathing on the deck and of course the ubiquitous backyard barbecue.  With all the dietary concerns nowadays, the gluten-free this, vegan that, dairy-free here and vegetarian here, I always find one common food item that many a guest looking for culinary flavor is interested in (and in many cases quite particular about).  That item is hot sauce.  

That heat-induced, vinegary and leveled bit of saucy loveliness is understood as an essential, but often not for the faint of heart.  From the potent Carolina pepper to the lively jalapeño and from the Caribbean Scotch-bonnet to the Mexican habanero, there are stages to heat for those who want an oral inferno to those who want just a pop of warmth to those who desire an ample amount of heat coupled with a sweet blend of spices and flavor.  I am one of those latter folks and that is why I was happy to discover Moore's Marinades & Sauces new line of Hot Sauces.

I decided to christen the Summer cookout season with a sampling of my own bevy of vegan barbecue foods coupled with Moore's new line-up.  I started with Moore's Habanero Hot Sauce, their hottest of the foursome, on a 'Beyond Burger' with classic toppings.  The Habanero Sauce packs some heat but also packs a nice balance of vinegar to spices which made it a perfect mixer with a simple ketchup.  It also has a nice consistency that could also liven up sweeter more tamed sauces with punchy heat.  Next up, in the spirit of North African & Mediterranean cuisines, I decided to make a vegan shish kabob with a 'Field & Roast' sausage then topping it with Moore's Harissa Hot Sauce.  The smoky grilled flavors of the veggies and sausage went perfectly with the tangy pepper-melange blend and savory garlic-infused heat of the Harissa Sauce.  I could also see this working its way into homemade pizza sauce to give it a smooth garlicky kick.

Then came the hot dog.  Moore's Spicy Mustard Hot Sauce gives you the familiar earthy zestiness coupled with a pleasant undertone of sweetness from apple cider vinegar.  I placed this on top of a 'Field & Roast' hot dog and even with the spicy raw kraut underneath, the Spicy Mustard Sauce held its own and offered up a great mustard-heat to spicy-sweet combination for the grilled organic flavor of the hot dog and the crunchy tartness of the kraut.  Finally, I grilled up some cauliflower heart slices to be accompanied by Moore's Jalapeño Hot Sauce.  When I initially tasted the Jalapeño Sauce I was impressed by its fresh greenness and how it lent itself very harmoniously to the vinegar and spices.  I did a simple grilled dish of crisp grilled cauliflower on a bed of raw carrot medallions to give the right amount of texture, smokiness and earthen freshness that served as the perfect complimentary base to highlight the verdant sauce.
Moore's line of hot sauces are a great solve for your pre and post grilling conundrums this season and would be a great pantry stocker for flavorful everyday cooking with heat.  Moore's complete line of hot sauces are available now and for a list of the retailer near you click here.  You've been 'hot sauce briefed' just in time to add some welcomed delicious heat to your Summer culinary escapades.

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