Lemon Wine Spritzer

This cocktail recipe from The Food Network includes a fair amount of gin, so be sure that you have adequate arrangements to get home after this drink!  The lemon adds a bit of freshness and color to the cocktail.

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Lemon Wine Spritzer

2 tablespoons gin (adjust to taste preference or strength preference)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

lemon slices

white wine

seltzer

* Put 2 tablespoons of gin and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice in a glass.

* Add ice and a few lemon slices

* Fill glass halfway with white wine and top off with seltzer.

* Stir gently.

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Negroni

The Negroni is a perfect before dinner drink, comprised of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. Campari is a popular bitter aperitif in Italy produced by the infusion of herbs and fruit. This classic Italian cocktail was first made for the Count Negroni in 1919.  There have been many variations of this drink since then.  The Negroni can be translated to a barrel-aged cocktail with a few adjustments to the original recipe as well.

Last week was Negroni week, where different restaurants and bars around the world donated a percentage of the profits made from this drink to charity.  Many of the establishments also made twists on this classic drink for the week.

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Negroni

1 ounce Campari

1 ounce sweet vermouth

1 ounce gin

* Shake well with cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Variation: For a tall drink pour over ice cubes in highball glass and fill with soda water.

Barrel-Aged Negroni

11 ounces gin

11 ounces sweet vermouth

11 ounces Campari

1-liter oak barrel

(For Serving:  Ice and Orange Twists)

* If the barrel is new and dry inside, fill it with water and let stand until watertight (about 24 hours) and drain.

* Fill the barrel with all of the liquid ingredients needed for your cocktail, using a funnel.

* Age the cocktail until it has taken on a softer, rounded but not overly oaky flavor (about 1 month).  Taste a sample once a week to ensure that you are not letting it age too long.

* Strain the cocktail through a coffee filter-lined funnel into a glass container.

* If you age a new cocktail in the barrel after a previous one, it may pick up on some of the flavor from the first cocktail aged in the barrel.  This can be a fun thing to play around with while aging drinks!

* Store until you are able to enjoy!

* To serve, pour 3 ounces into an ice-filled rocks glass and stir well. Serve with an orange twist.

Gin Martini

The catchphrase that springs to mind for me when discussing martinis is the quintessential James Bond quote referencing how he prefers his martinis, “shaken, not stirred.”  Now I have never actually seen a James Bond movie (I know, I know… I’ve been chastised many times!), so maybe his martinis are vodka based and I am way off base by even including this anecdote for the gin martini recipe.  The Gin Martini can be translated to a barrel-aged cocktail with a few adjustments to the original recipe as well.

I always find it interesting, though, that the method people in the industry will describe as the actual preferred method for martinis is stirred because shaking changes the elements of the ingredients too much.  They will say that simplicity is key in this drink.

Are you a Martini drinker? I can neither confirm nor deny the concept because Martinis are not a drink I imbibe in often, unless I am trying the girly, chocolate or flavored Martinis.

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Gin Martini

2 ounces dry gin

1 ounce dry vermouth

Ice

Olive or Lemon Twist

* Combine the gin and vermouth in a shaker filled halfway with ice, and stir vigorously until well chilled (about 20 seconds).

* Strained into a chilled glass.

* Garnish with olive or lemon twist.  (If using the lemon twist, be sure to run the slice over the rim of the glass.)

Barrel-Aged Gin Martini

22 ounces gin

11 ounces dry vermouth

1-liter oak barrel

(For Serving:  Ice and Lemon Twists)

* If the barrel is new and dry inside, fill it with water and let stand until watertight (about 24 hours) and drain.

* Fill the barrel with all of the liquid ingredients needed for your cocktail, using a funnel.

* Age the cocktail until it has taken on a softer, rounded but not overly oaky flavor (about 1 month).  Taste a sample once a week to ensure that you are not letting it age too long.

* Strain the cocktail through a coffee filter-lined funnel into a glass container.

* If you age a new cocktail in the barrel after a previous one, it may pick up on some of the flavor from the first cocktail aged in the barrel.  This can be a fun thing to play around with while aging drinks!

* Store until you are able to enjoy!

* To serve, pour 3 ounces into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and stir until chilled.  Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail and serve with an lemon twist.

Brewery Tours

When I first started this blog, I made a few goals for myself.  One of the goals I set was to travel to a new winery, brewery or distillery every month. I enlisted the help of my brother, asking him if he would be willing to spend his much coveted weekends with me on the pursuit of good, local beer. (And by local, I mean anything in Iowa or a connecting state!) Thankfully, he is willing to make the sacrifice and we have planned an outing this weekend to two breweries and a distillery in Wisconsin.

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My brother and I had plans to go to New Glarus Brewery on the last weekend in April, so when a group of guests that I was working with at the winery last weekend started talking about New Glarus, I asked if they had any advice.  They were a wealth of knowledge about other places to visit and quickly our trip to one brewery turned into a day including two breweries, a distillery and a tavern/cheese shop.  I could not be more excited!  (And I’m thinking I should win some sort of ‘Sister of the Year’ award for this deal.)

Maybe it is the teacher in me, so used to planning field trips and preparing for the unexpected, but I always feel the need to research where we are going ahead of time to have an idea of what to expect.  That night after work I went home and looked up Minhas Brewery, Minhas Distillery and Baumgartener’s Cheese Shop and Tavern.  I will give a full report on the beers and spirits after visiting, but I wanted to share a few of the things I am excited about before the visit to see if they live up to my expectations.

New Glarus Brewery

Spotted Cow at the New Glarus Brewery is by far their most popular brew in the area, but I look forward to trying the other types of beer they produce.  There are six beers available year round, seasonal beers to compliment the time of year and they always have a few surprises up their sleeves to keep things interesting.  I am most curious about their Thumbprint Series, in which they let their brewmaster loose to create whatever his adventurous heart desires.

Minhas Brewery

The tour at Minhas Brewery looks fantastic! After touring the facilities, you can hang out in their Lazy Mutt Lounge and enjoy bottomless beer samples of their brews.  Considering the crowd that may be joining my brother and I, Minhas may want to rethink this policy before the weekend.  They also send you off with a “Thank You” pack full of bottles of their beer, root beer and a souvenir glass. For the mere $10 you spend on the tour, I think that is quite the deal!

Minhas Distillery

Located conveniently across the street from the brewery, the Minhas Distillery also provides a tour of their facilities.  Their spirits selection includes gin, three types of rum, rye whisky, tequila, vodka and irish cream.  What I am most looking forward to, though, is their horchata rum.  I did not find any information about it online, but the couple I spoke with at the winery said it was fabulous and leaps and bounds above RumChata, which has become popular in this area.

Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern

You can not visit Wisconsin without stopping for cheese!  Thankfully I got the inside scoop about a fabulous little cheese store and tavern a block away from the distillery called Baumgartner’s.  Apparently they have the second best chili (only after your mother’s) and a cheese sandwich that is a must try item.  They feature locally brewed beers on tap to compliment their food.  What can be better than a quaint, local tavern after a day of tasting locally brewed beers and spirits?  I can’t think of anything, either.

Needless to say, I am counting down the days to the weekend!