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May 06

Playing It Safe

With the days getting longer, you’ll be out of the house, enjoying wine events (sans snow or cold weather) late into the evening. So I wanted to talk to you a little about cabs. Contrary to popular belief, Cincinnati does have taxi cabs and they do serve more than just our airport. Shocking, I know. ;)

From Flickr user Chris Isherwood via CC

FETCH is a local service, launched by C-Change, that makes calling a cab a lot easier. All you need to remember is

513-35-FETCH

Plug that into your mobile phone right this minute.

FETCH delivers immediate access to over 8 different cab companies that serve the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky region. No holding, no busy signals. You are put through to the first available cab company. You can tell them where you are and to please come get you now.

If you’ve got a smartphone, be it an Android, Blackberry, or iPhone (or anything else), there is most likely a taxi app for your phone. No kidding. Go to the iTunes store and search for “taxi.” It’s ridiculous the number of apps that are available.

On my Android-powered phone, I really like Cab4Me, which I’ve used in various cities (also now available for iPhone). Cab4Me uses your GPS or cell signal to figure out where you are, and then shows you a list of local cab companies. If you’re traveling, this is a godsend. After all, you might find yourself standing on a street corner in the Mission District of San Francisco, with a sick friend, wondering where in the world all the cabs have gone. If that happens, it’s handy to have an app that will tell you not only what the nearest cab companies are, but where the nearest taxi stand is located.

According to the Cab4Me web site:

If a cab company is found in our database, you can get additional information like available car types or payment methods. If we do not have a cab company for your area, a local web search is performed. You will always get a result. In the Favorites tab you can quickly access your favorite companies and the recent tab shows companies you recently called.

Isn’t that great? You’ll even be able to request a minivan so that you and all of your slightly tipsy friends can pile into the same cab.

Regardless of how you find a cab, just make sure you find one. It’s okay to enjoy yourself, and enjoy yourself a lot – just be safe about it.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:19 am in Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 05

… Three Tequila, Floor (Repost)

Back in April of 2007, Kevin conducted a massive blind tequila tasting. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I’m reposting his grand experiment. I’d love to have him do this again sometime, now that his tequila palate has developed more.
- Michelle

____

With the increase in advertising, even my Tivo-filtered brain has seen a few TV ads. So I decided to see if there was good reason for the additional cost with the premium level of Tequilas. With the help of Michelle, I went for a blind tasting of 5 premium Silver tequilas with 1 well-level tossed in to see if it would be noticeable.

Silver is the entry level in Premium tequilas. Silver usually has a slightly more alcohol taste and a lot of roughness around the edges. The trade-off is the increased level of fruit in the flavor. The second level is gold, and the top tier is Reposado. The flavor is smoother, but the fruit becomes lighter and more integrated into the overall flavor.

Here is what I tried, in order of preference after the blind tasting:

  • Patrón
  • 1800
  • Corazón
  • Milagro
  • Don Julio
  • Montezuma

The first tequila I tasted turned out to be the 1800. The alcohol came through on the nose along with a nice sweet characteristic. There was a very nice pineapple flavor that was evident on the taste. The finish had a slight burn, but was still a nicely flavored and relaxed drink.
(1800 Tequila)

My rating:

The second one on the table was a much different drink. This turned out to be the Milagro, which had a very sugary smell almost to the level of marshmallows. The flavor had less of the fruit I expected, continuing to enhance the sugary sweetness instead. The finish had no burn, but it didn’t seem quite what I was expecting. I suspect Michelle might like this one for its sweetness. (Milagro Tequila)

My rating:

Up next was a very fruity and dry smelling entry. It was a return to what I like about Tequilas, the tropical fruits and dry flavor were evident in this offering from Corazón. This return to a traditional flavor was a nice switch from the last.  (Tequila Corazón)

My rating:

The next tequila was an undrinkable mess. The odor was reminiscent of spoiled wet straw. Sadly, this was the Montezuma and I could not progress past the nose for this one. It proved that the extra money is worth the cost from a low end to a higher end. (Barton Brands)

My rating: (yes, it smelled that bad)

Up next was the gem of the tasting. It has a deservedly high reputation and this Patrón did not disappoint. In the interest of full disclosure, the first premium tequila I ever has was Patrón. I still find it quite enjoyable. It had a very light and crisp smell with a great full flavored taste. (Patrón Spirits Company)

My rating:

Finally, the Don Julio – this had a more upfront nose and a heavier flavor. The tequila had a woodsy characteristic I did not find enjoyable. It helped me realize that I like the pineapple and guava flavors evident in other selections. I didn’t enjoy this as much as I had hoped or expected. (Don Julio from Diageo)

My rating:

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Posted by Kevin at 8:15 am in Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 03

Local Wineries Gear Up for Summer

It’s spring!  Grapes are budding and the vines are spreading rapidly. Our local wineries are getting ready, in many cases, to open for the summer and have special events all lined up. Questions about local wineries? Check out our always updated Guide to Drinking Local that points you to posts on wineries from Ohio, Kentucky, and even Indiana.

Harmony Hill

Harmony Hill’s official opening for the season is on Memorial Day weekend. But there is sort of a pre-opening this coming weekend. Harmony Hill will open it’s doors for a special occasion on Saturday, May 8, in conjunction with The Village of Bethel’s presentation of its inaugural BAMfest Art and Music Celebration. The winery will host an antique tractor show from 12-6 pm, and officially release the 2009 wines Woodwind, Ovation, Aria and Chamber Suite. There will be live entertainment at the winery from 12-8 pm so bring your blankets and lawn chairs.

On May 28, the winery opens for the season, with live music on Friday nights, 5-9 pm, and Saturdays, 2-9 pm. Holiday weekends (Memorial and Labor Day), the winery is open on Friday, Saturday, and Monday (2-9 pm).

Kinkead Ridge

Kinkead Ridge had a rough growing season. Because of that, they won’t be open on weekends this summer. If you want your fill of excellent Kinkead Ridge wines, you’ll have to attend their special events, starting on Memorial Day weekend. On May 29 and 31, Kinkead Ridge will be releasing their 2009 white wines from 10 am – 6 pm. Quantities are very limited: only 126 cases of Kinkead Ridge Viognier/Roussanne, and only 42 cases of River Village Cellars White Wine (a blend of all our other grapes) were produced. After Memorial Day, whatever is left will be allocated to our wine store  and restaurant customers. Can’t make it? They are accepting phone or email orders for these wines prior to May 29. The wines must be picked up the following Saturday.

Kinkead Ridge will be closed after Memorial Day until Labor Day, when they offer their Red Wine Release (2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Petit Verdot) and annual vineyard tour.

La Vigna Estate

La Vigna Estate is located in Georgetown, OH and they’re also having their season opening on Memorial Day weekend. They’ll be open on Saturday, May 29 from 11-6 pm and Monday, May 31 from 12-6 pm. They’ll be releasing their 2009 Proprietary White ( Petit Manseng) and the 2008 Proprietary Red (Cabernet Blend). They’ll also have live music on Saturday.

After opening weekend, the winery will be open every summer Saturday from 12-6 pm.

Meranda-Nixon

Meranda-Nixon winery, located just outside of Ripley, hardly ever closes. They’re open year-round (with the exception of January, I believe). You can always visit their winery on Thursdays from 1-6 pm, Fridays from 1-8 pm, and Saturdays from 11 am – 9:30 pm. Additionally, you can have a fantastic dinner in the lovely Tuscan-themed tasting room at Meranda-Nixon on Saturday nights: steak and salmon dinners accompanied with a bottle of wine. Reservations can be made by calling (937)392-4654.

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Posted by Michelle at 12:56 pm in Local Wineries | Permalink | Comments (2)
May 01

Derby Days: Bourbon Barrel Stouts

In honor of today’s Derby, I tried three beers that were aged differently, but all used barrels that had previously contained Kentucky bourbon. I stuck with stouts that had an age of 2 to 12 months of additional time.

Bourbon County Stout by Goose Island

Michelle described the initial nose as similar to opening a new box of choclates. That matched up with the vanilla, carmel and chocolate that I smelled. As the evening progressed and the beer warmed up a bit, I started to get additional notes of butter toffee along with a little bit of oaky tannins on the finish. At 13% AbV, this is a sipping beer that would go great with dark choclate, cakes, or even creme brulee.  I think this was my favorite of the three listed and all around a really nice beer. I would recommend this to almost any one. Even Michelle, who is not usually a beer drinker enjoyed her share, deciding it was a nice dessert beer.

Rating: 

Jefferson’s Reserve by Bluegrass Brewing Company

A nice Kentucy brewed beer from Louiseville, home of today’s muddy Derby. This was the mildest of the three in overall intensity. At 8% AbV and aged for 60 days in Jefferson’s Reserve  Bourbon barrels, there was almost a candied orange flavor along with coffe and oak on the finish. I would reccomend this to stout lovers who want to try something with a hint of bourbon aging to see how the stout changes.

Rating:

KBS by Founder’s Brewing

This is a stout aged for one year in a Bourbon barrel. I would consider this the heaviest of the three I tasted. The nose jumps out with wood and coffee to which adds vanilla in the main flavor. The 11.2% AbV is not apparent as the coffee and wood cover any of the overall influence. I’m not sure I would reccomend this to a lot of beer drinkers unless you like stouts with heavy wood influances.

Rating: 

- Kevin

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Posted by Kevin at 4:00 pm in Beer, Beer-Guy.net | Permalink | Comments (2)
May 01

Derby Days: Mint Julep

Back in March – Wine Festival week, to be exact – Kevin and I took a Bartending 102 class from Josh Durr at Tonic. We learned how to make mint juleps and I ran right home and wrote up this post. (I purposely held it for Derby week. Why am I burying it on a Saturday? Long story.)

Photo Credit : Bruce Crippen | Business Courier

The most important thing I learned from Josh in this particular session was that, with a mint julep, the method is more important than the ingredients.

Place the mint in the bottom of the cup.

Pour in 1/2 oz of maple syrup.
We used this in place of simple syrup and I really loved the results.

Photo Credit : Bruce Crippen | Business Courier

Add 1 oz of Bourbon.
I believe we used Ancient Ancient Age in the classroom, but pick your favorite. Josh also suggested Old Grand-Dad and Old Weller.

Roll the muddler on the mint, rolling towards the top of the glass. Make sure to get the oils on the rim on the glass.
This takes a certain amount of technique, as I learned. Don’t pound on the mint either – you want the mint to be minty, and pounding? Well that just makes it bitter.

Next, crush your ice.
I used an old fashioned ice crusher Josh had handy. I swear my grandma had one on her bar and I loved it. Kevin pounded away on a bag of ice with the muddler. Both methods are valid.

Photo Credit : Bruce Crippen | Business Courier

Add crushed ice to your glass until it is filled just under the edge.

Stir, pulling up from the bottom of the glass.

Next, add another 1 oz of bourbon.

Add a second layer of ice, so that it sort of resembles the shape of a sno-cone.

Garnish with 2 short straws and a sprig of mint.

Honestly, this made one of the best mint juleps I’ve ever had. What was even more surprising was that I made it myself! I know it sounds easy in the directions, but the technique – especially with muddling – is tricky to get the hang of.

Happy Derby Day!

Photos from Business Courier article about our class, by photographer Bruce Crippen.

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Posted by Michelle at 9:51 am in Cocktails | Permalink | Comments (1)

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