Cocktails: American Vodka

One of the perks (most of the time) of being a food writer is that people love to send you samples of a product they are promoting. Recently, I received a bottle of Blue Angel Vodka. Blue Angel is an ultra-premium American vodka. It is the brainchild of Maurice Kanbar, Master Distiller. Now I’m no expert on the subject, but my resident vodka fan gave it a resounding “A!” There’s also boasting their signature martini called the BAM (Blue Angel Martini.) Blue Angel is new to Arizona and can be found at retail liquor stores…where I don’t know just yet….but
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Sips & Shots: 50 Shots of America–Pennsylvania

You’d think (or at least I would) that Pennsylvania would have been the first to ratify the Constitution, seeing as how much time our forefathers spent doing big things in Philadelphia and all during those early colony days. Instead, they signed on a full 5 days after Delaware, on December 12, 1787,* becoming the second official state of the Union. The site of the first commercially drilled oil well in 1859, oil is not what most think of as being the prime business in the woods (Pennsylvania means Penn’s Wood after the founder, William Penn, and the Latin silva for
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Sips & Shots: Sangria

A fruited wine beverage, Sangria has as many variations as it has makers. The downside, generally speaking, is that to make good Sangria you need time. Namely, time for the fruit to mix and meld with the other ingredients. But what if you want Sangria now, and you’ve got all the parts but you’d rather drink it tonight as opposed to tomorrow? Are you doomed to a passable but not spectacular bottled version? Is there a happy medium between 8-hours and a screw-top bottle? I think so. In fact, my theory is that you can “fake” the steeping period by
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Sips & Shots: What’s So Hard About Being a Lemon?

You know the saying: When life gives you lemons… But why stop at just plain old lemonade? Why not bring lemonade from the stand to the shaker and beyond? When you hear “Hard Lemonade” it probably brings to mind the bottled malt beverages that come in a variety of flavor options. To make this sort of lemonade, it takes your basic home brew kit, some sorbate-free lemon juice concentrate, malt extract and yeast (the brewing kind). While I’m sure there’s finesse required to make a truly exceptional hard lemonade this way, the 6 to 8 weeks it would take before
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Sips & Shots: Kirsch Me, I’m German

Kirsch (or kirschwasser) is one of those liqueurs that, if you you have it, you probably have it because you’ve made a Black Forest Cake (aka Kirschtorte) at some point in the not too distant past. This dry cherry brandy is strong! Definitely not something I would ever sip without it being heavily diluted with something very sweet. But what to do with the bottle on my bar? I dug around through a couple of reliable cocktail books and found a few recipes for drinks that also called for other non-standard ingredients (like Chartreuse and Benedictine–not things I had on
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Sips & Shots: A Touch of the Irish

Most people who have encountered Irish Cream liqueur have done so favorably and come away fans. While it does well as a single spirit, over ice or neat, it also pairs with a whole laundry list of others. There are some notable exceptions, however: like the lime juice that tops it in a Cement Mixer and, from personal experiments, strawberry liqueur–the consistency is, well, they call it a Cement Mixer for a reason. Blech! Back to happier combos! Vodka seems to pair especially well with this spirit and, of course, anything chocolate or coffee. If you treat it as cream
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