Tastebud: Another Round

More than a decade ago I saw the cocktail future while vacationing with friends in Tokyo. I was led through back alleys of Ginza and into unmarked elevators in Shibuya to swank bars where tuxedoed bartenders—they weren’t called mixologists yet—shook, swizzled, and stirred delicious drinks into the wee hours of the morning. Most memorable among them was Bar Tokyo, where four white-jacketed bartenders serviced six stools and the free snacks included transcendent sashimi and other beautifully plated amuse-bouches fitting of our $600-plus tab. And then there was the subterranean Alcohall, where I first saw blocks of ice chipped by hand into the perfect crystalline spheres that rotated in our glasses as we drank.

 

The origin of the Japanese ice ball, as it has come to be known, was based on the logic that minimizing the surface area of ice in a drink will minimize melting and therefore dilution. It’s also totally cool. There are inexpensive molds that help you achieve an icy orb, but most have the problems of trapping air in the water as it freezes, which increases melting, and/or produces an unsightly seam. That explains the gadget every cocktailian covets: the... Read more >

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Outstanding Drinks Across America

A map of all James Beard Foundation Outstanding Bar Program award semifinalists

The next time you want to wet your whistle in one of these cities, check out the following restaurants and watering holes—all semifinalists for the new JBF Award for Outstanding Bar Program—for classic cocktails as well as innovative tipples (and beer, too!).

 

1. The Zig Zag Café Seattle
COME HERE FOR: The extensive selection of whiskies, rums, and cachaças, plus a rotating menu of more than 20 cocktails, such as the Sarah Law.

 

2. Clyde Common Portland, OR
COME HERE FOR: A Barrel-Aged Negroni (a traditional gin negroni aged for 2 months in used whiskey barrels) or a Kingston Club.

 

3. Beretta San Francisco
COME HERE FOR: Handcrafted cocktails like the Kentucky... Read more >

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Bar Wisdom: Beverage Classes Around the Country

James Beard Foundation senior editor Anna Mowry reports on beverage classes around the country

 

Bars have always been dependable places to unwind, enjoy a drink, and get some therapy (or even plot a revolution). But lately some watering holes, including the below semifinalists for our new Outstanding Bar Program award, are also offering their customers an education. Here's what you can learn at the following spots.

 

Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston (anvilhouston.com)
Located in a remodeled, half-century-old tire store, this establishment is owned and operated by a trio of professed “cocktail freaks.” You can sense their enthusiasm through the generous offerings at the bar’s monthly classes: guests typically get to taste up to eight spirits and three cocktails per session.

 

Rivera, Los Angeles (riverarestaurant.com)... Read more >

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Wine Wisdom: Extreme Wines

Vines planted on slopes along the Mosel River in Germany

 

When we dream of taking a jaunt to wine country, what usually springs to mind are idyllic scenes of graceful hills and orderly vines. But when Mother Nature has her say, the world of wine isn’t always so tidy and tranquil. Here are four examples of formidable winemaking, from harrowing harvests to plundering pests.

 

Vertiginous Vineyards

In areas of Germany’s Mosel region, Riesling vines are planted on 45-degree cliffs that loom over the river of the same name. Mechanical harvesting is impossible on such a dramatic incline, so workers have to strap on harnesses and rappel down the terraced slopes to gather grapes. But the tough landscape has its purpose: it provides the fruit with maximum exposure to the sun, essential for developing flavor and body in such a cool climate.

 

Hints of Lava

Steep vineyards are of lesser concern to vintners on... Read more >

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Wine Wisdom: A Toast to Champagne

James Beard Foundation interview with Pascal Boyé of Nicolas Feuillatte

We asked Pascal Boyé, director of Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte sales in the Americas, to tell us what to eat with Champagne and why we should be drinking more of it.

James Beard Foundation: What’s your favorite Champagne from the Nicolas Feuillatte range?

Pascal Boyé: It sounds silly, but they are like my children and I love them all. However, I have to say my favorite is the Blanc de Blancs, which is made only with Chardonnay grapes. I love how crisp, fresh, and minty it is. It’s just fantastic.

JBF: What do you like to eat with Champagne?

PB: It depends on what’s being served. I enjoy Brut Champagne with sushi, Rosé with red meat, a Blanc de Blancs with white fish, and our Palmes d’Or Rosé, a vintage Champagne, with dessert.

JBF: It

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Wines for Your Thanksgiving Spread

Food Lover's Guide to Wine

If you’re on a last-minute hunt for Thanksgiving wines, consider one of these recommendations from two-time James Beard Award-winning authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, co-authors of the new The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine (Little, Brown), which was recently named one of the five best wine books of the year by the Wall Street Journal. Whether you’re looking for a multi-sipper that goes with everything you’ve heaped on your plate or for a variety of bottles to pair with all of the trimmings, this list has you covered.   Bubbles: We toasted our wedding at Lydia Shire’s Boston restaurant Biba in 1990 with Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée, and this iconic brand has been our critical and sentimental favorite to enjoy on special occasions ever since. If you only serve one

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Wine Wisdom: Natural Wine Picks


To producers and wine geeks, natural wine defies precise definition: it can indicate an absence of additives and pesticides; a gentle handling of grapes and soil; or even the ancient methods of the biodynamic approach. But consumers only need to know this: many natural wines exhibit rich and unique character, as well as a strong sense of terroir. If you’re on the hunt for a memorable bottle, there’s a good chance that a naturally produced wine will fit the bill.

To get some recommendations for affordable natural pours, we turned to Jenny Lefcourt of Jenny & François Selections, which specializes in naturally made European wines.

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Domaine Binner Saveurs 2009 (biodynamic/$18)
"This floral and fruity white is light and versatile. Enjoy it with seafood, grilled chicken, and even mildly spicy Asian dishes."

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Q & A with JBF Award Winner Julian P. Van Winkle III

Anna Mowry interviews Julian P. Van Winkle III, winner of the 2011 JBF Award for Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional
Winner of the 2011 JBF Award for Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional, Julian P. Van Winkle III carries on a century-long tradition of producing premium bourbon at Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky.

The James Beard Foundation: Rip Van Winkle is a four-generation family company. How did you get involved in the business?

Julian P. Van Winkle: I started working for my dad in 1977. At that time we were selling just one age of Old Rip Van Winkle. We also sold decanters filled with our whiskey. I took over the company in 1981 after my father passed away.

JBF: Can you describe your bourbon recipe and the impact it has on the flavor of your products?

JPVW: Bourbon must be made from at least 51 percent corn. Rye or wheat can also be used. My

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On the Wine Trails

On the Wine Trails

With summer in full swing and the harvest around the bend, it's a great time to plan a leisurely (and responsible) drive through wine country. We called up some of the 2011 JBF Award–nominated oenophiles to find out which wine destinations make for a great weekend escape.


“Among off-the-beaten-path wine trails, I like the Fauquier Wine Trail in northern Virginia. Boxwood Winery is a favorite of mine on that trail, particularly its Topiary Red, which I got to try last year after our chef visited.” —Wine director Andy Chabot, Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN (nominated for Outstanding Wine Service)

“The Long Island AVA includes the infamous Hamptons and successfully produces cool-climate reds and whites. We enjoy the crisp whites and Bordeaux-

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Wine Wisdom: The Virtual Oenophile

Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings

One of the most plugged-in wine personalities we know, Natalie MacLean leads the new-media pack. We got in touch with the JBF Award winner to hear what she had to say about her new app, Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings, and the survival of traditional media.


JBF: Tell us about your new app. What are the coolest features?

NM: Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings just launched a few weeks ago. It’s essentially ten apps rolled into one. It’s available for iPhone and BlackBerry, with a mobile site for other smartphone platforms. We're currently testing the Android version.

With this new app, you can walk into any store and use your phone to scan a wine bottle’... Read more >

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