Spirited Inspiration – What a difference the last five years has made. If you’re stocking the liquor cabinet this year, you could happily do so with entirely Utah based products if you’re so inclined. From liqueurs to spirits to bitters, the local landscape for the cocktail lover has radically changed in recent years.
My favorite this year has been newcomer Waterpocket Distillery that have taken a different tack from practically everyone else in town. I tasted several of their botanically buoyed spirits through the year and am giddily excited to pour some this Christmas. If you have room in your lineup for one of their unique creations, I’d grab one ASAP. Their concoctions generally revisit flavors forgotten or overlooked by new world distillers (think anise, fennel, peppermint, to name a few), as well as some tried and true (coffee and chocolate).
Stop by their website to check out their current unique product lineup to see if there’s something that strikes. I’m personally planning on grabbing a bottle of their epic coffee liqueur this year. Side note, that particular one is only available at the distillery direct; which in itself is a hidden bonus, don’t forget you can grab products at the source with most of our local distillers, thereby side stepping the madness of the liquor stores this week.
And if you do end up at the liquor store this Saturday 23rd, well, make sure you leave the whole day open in your schedule…
Another one to consider, Beehive Distillery, their two gins being a perennial favorite of mine; not least because as a Brit our DNA is 25% gin soaked. Again available at most liquor stores and direct at the distillery. Local sushi-stars Takashi agree with me too, they provided the following Beehive Gin inspired cocktail. If you’re looking for something special to impress visitors this holiday season, you couldn’t go wrong with this one:
1 oz. honey-sage syrup
½ oz. Yuzu (or fresh lemon juice)
½ oz. Elderflower Liquer
1 ½ oz. Jack Rabbit Gin
Stir all ingedients and strain into a glass filled with ice.
And we’d be remiss not to mention Vida Tequila, one of our valued Local Partners – who’s continued support brings this site to you each and every month. I can vouch for their blanco, anejo and reposado tequilas from personal experience, and always try to have a bottle on hand. The blanco makes a great base spirit while the reposado is a perfect glass swirler by the Yule log – ok enough with the schmaltzy Christmas crap.
Pinots On Point Always a fine pick this time of year as they typically pair admirably with roasted meats and veggies, check out these four affordable pinots – recommended (and notes provided) by Vine Lore:
Primarius Pinot Noir
Aromatics suggest brambly cane berries and Bing cherries accented by some subtle notes of cinnamon and clove. The palate carries these aromas on and complements them with lively acidity and just a hint of oak sweetness. The mouthfeel is round and pleasant and yields some further depth suggesting Morello cherries and nutmeg.
Elk Cove Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley 2014
A brambly nose of black currents, tart cherries, and violets is met with spicy cardamom and cinnamon. A core of juicy red cherry, cocoa nibs and leather on the palate is complemented by fine tannins evocative of dried leaves, pipe tobacco and anise.
Albert Bichot “Secret de Famille” Pinot Noir
This charming wine features predominant fruity aromas of blackcurrant and wild red berries. Velvety and silky, this wine boasts soft, balanced structure on the palate, which ends with a delicate finish reminiscent of red fruit.
Decoy Pinot Noir
This alluring wine displays classic Pinot Noir aromas of ripe strawberry, cherry and plum, along with subtle hints of cola and clove. On the palate, the lush fruit is underscored by lovely cool-climate acidity and silky tannins that carry the flavors to a long, elegant finish.
P.S. don’t forget the DABC’s handy inventory checker to see what’s in stock and where before you brave the crowds:
A few other selections you might want to consider for the Christmas table if pinot ain’t your poison. Again, recommendations by local wine broker Vine Lore:
Dom Bulliat Morgan Nature
This is the Beaujolais Utah has been waiting for. Made with organic old vine grapes, this wine shows pomegranate and plum fruits with enough tannin to take on fall dishes like braised beef. 92 points – Wine Spectator.
Prazo de Roriz
Douro Valley 2015
Hand picked from one of the oldest estates in the Duoro, this portugese red blend displays dark fruitiness, liquorice, and spice, with a silkiness on the tounge that finishes fresh. An elegant drinker at a great price. 87 points – Wine Spectator.
Adelsheim Willamette Chardonnay
Willamette Valley 2014
This Willamette Valley Chardonnay shines with aromas of apples and white flower. Whole cluster pressing and sur lies aging creates a blance of youthfulness and richness on the palate. Pair it with lighter foods as well as heavier dishes.
Family owned. Sustainably farmed. Estate fruit. Cradled by San Pablo Bay, Poseidon Vineyard is one of the oldest in southern Napa. In the mornings, the sea fog rolls over the vines, keeping the intense heat at bay. Protected by the cool air, Poseidon Chardonnay develops delicate flavors and retains a crisp structure. Look for honeydew, cantalope, and a hint of cream soda. 92 Points, Robert Parker.
Founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review. Former restaurant critic at the Salt Lake Tribune. Stuart is largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words he doesn’t understand. Ate all the pies.