January 2015

The Grapes of Craft

Clippers in one hand, I duck under the vines, snipping bunches of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Sweat rolls down my neck. It’s not easy to find these grapes. Gnarly branches and rough leaves scratch my bare arms.

Street Smarts

When Ed Barnett and Karim Webb opened their Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar in south Los Angeles’ Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw district three years ago, the franchisees knew the odds they’d face.

The Guide to Menu Design

For San Diego seafood institution the Brigantine, the road to a new menu began with an old website.The Brigantine is one of those restaurants that’s been around for quite a while. Founded in 1969 by Mike and Barb Morton—and now run by their son Mike Jr.

Patrón XO Café Incendio

The new product and third in the XO Café line from Patrón is a blanco tequila–based liqueur, made with rich Criollo chocolate and spicy Mexican arbol chili.

D.O.M. Benedictine Liqueur

Supposedly based on an ancient recipe made by monks, Benedictine is a delicious liqueur with flavors including honey and allspice that make it perfect in cold-weather drinks.

Angel’s Envy Port Finished Bourbon

The hard-to-find cask-strength version of this bourbon was rated the best spirit in the world one year, but the readily-available 43.3% ABV flagship offering is nothing to scoff at, either.

Ron Zacapa Rum

If your bar has only one aged rum, it should probably be Zacapa. Even if you offer a small collection, it should certainly be included.

Laphroaig Select Single Malt Scotch Whisky

This landmark Laphroaig bottling combines flavors (and probably stocks) of their Quarter Cask, PX Cask, Triple Wood, and Ten-Year-Old expressions into a new non-age-statement whisky.

Ancho Reyes Liqueur

This spicy, bartender-approved liqueur is perfect for the bar program that eschews Fireball but doesn’t want to lose sales because of it.

Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon

For this limited release—that I have a feeling will become a permanent one—Michter’s begins with bourbon aged in traditional new, charred oak barrels, then finishes it for a time in a barrel made o

2011 Waterstone Carneros Pinot Noir

A smoky, earthy nose eases into a palate rich with black cherries that lingers, while packing on more spice—yet not too much to distract from the food.

2012 Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir Carneros

A bouquet of brown sugar and cinnamon paves the way for a complex, youthful palate marked by earthy spices, plums, and tart cherries. On the long finish is a silky texture.

2011 Ca’ Momi Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir

Pomegranate, cherry, and cola notes dance on the palate of this beautifully structured, deeply complex Pinot Noir before dashes of pepper, sandalwood, and cloves pop up near the finish.