Spring Sips: Cocktails, Whiskey, Wine & Sake

I sample dozens of spirits, wines, beers and beyond in any given month. If there are tasting events (and there are), then multiply that a few times. I am working on perfecting spitting… and, yes, some tastes rise above others. Here, I share three (or less) sips in varying categories that rose above others:


ALEMBIC, –  Alembic‘s Georgia Mud Squid ($11) may not be the best drink I’ve ever had at one of my favorite bars, but besides a delightfully silly name, the arrival of a cocktail with flaming peanut shell floating on top is the worth the price of admission. What hits you first is a whole mess of corn from its corn whiskey base, followed by black tea, lemon and a splash of pine cone liquor adding refreshing dimension.


Michter’s line

MICHTER’S – Though I appreciate Michter’s American Whiskey, what I really take to is their black pepper, caramel-laden Rye, and sweet-but-dry Bourbon (both around $45).

At Wine Enthusiast’s Toast of the Town last week, I sipped their spicy, layered 10-year Bourbon (around $80). This one is special. A welcome, upper mid-range bourbon option.



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Esporao Reserva White 2009 – Redolent of oak, spice and peach, creamy with a touch of acidity on the palate, Esporao gets it right with their reserva white. And their entire line of Portuguese wines: from balanced reds and bright whites to playful animal label artwork by a female Portuguese artist. At Wine Enthusiast’s Toast of the Town, I tasted through eight of their delightful wines.


Rocca della Macie 2006 Roccato – Ah, those Super Tuscans. Transporting me back to days driving around Tuscany through medieval wine towns, this 2006 Roccato is 50% Sangiovese/50% Cab, bold with tobacco and oak but dry, refined and meat-friendly.

Sawbuck Malbec 2008 ($10), Yolo County – This California red is 76% Malbec, 19% Cab, 5% Syrah. What makes Sawbuck playful is its Gold Rush-era label and a name that was slang for the US $10 bill when first created (bearing the Roman numeral X, the shape of a sawhorse, aka sawbuck).

It worked for me with BBQ and pizza, a low-priced pour redolent of berries and vanilla but not too heavy-handed.


PURE DAWN – Available to taste at this year’s Wine Enthusiast Toast of the Town, Pure Dawn is a food-friendly sake with floral, orange peel notes and that apple/pear crispness you get from some Junmai Ginjo sakes. At roughly $15 for a small bottle and around $35 for a large, it’s an elegant sake from Akita, Japan.