Halloween Drinking Games
Halloween isn’t just for little kids; it’s also time for the grown-ups to relax and let their hair down a little bit. Although fun costumes do set the tone for a good party, kick things up a few notches by organizing a few of these fun drinking parties.
Bobbing for Booze
This is a magnificent game based on the traditional bobbing for apples. While those who are wearing face paint or elaborate, spooky-themed make-up may not appreciate getting their faces and heads dunked into a tub of liquid, it’s still good fun. For those who don’t know, the traditional game is played like this: A bunch of apples are placed in a tub full of water, and participants need to pick up an apple using only their teeth: no hands are allowed. While this game is great for the little ones, for adults it needs to be spiced up a bit.
T o make the game more interesting for those who are of drinking age, there are three variations. The first variation is replacing the apples with miniature bottles of alcohol which are available at liquor shops. When the “booze bobber” manages to catch a bottle in his or her mouth, he or she must immediately down the contents.
The next variation is also fun, and can end up costing a bit less as no miniature bottles are needed; alcohol from regular sized containers will be more appropriate. In this version, apples are used, but before being placed in the giant tub of water, a number from one to four is carved into the side. When a participant picks up the apple in his or her teeth, if the apple has a “3” carved into it, he or she must take three shots of alcohol. If the number on the apple says 2, then two shots must be consumed. By the time the round is over, if make-up or special costume details are ruined by water, everybody will be having so much fun that nobody will care!
To make the game even more “interesting”, instead of floating the apples or miniature liquor bottles in water, put them in a tub full of jungle juice, which is a mix of hard liquor, fruit juices, beverages such as Kool-Aid or Tang, and chunks of fresh fruit.
The Movie Drinking Game
This is a very easy game, but everybody enjoys it because it’s just plain silly and adds another dimension of fun. Basically, the rules need to be agreed upon beforehand; a shot of alcohol must be consumed every time a certain event or cue happens in scary movie. For example, the rule might be to take a shot every time there is heavy breathing in a horror movie. At some parties, the cue to have a shot might be a scream. No matter what the cue is, one should make sure that it is something that will occur with enough frequency so that people can get a bit tipsy; the game will be a failure if the agreed-upon cue never takes place!
While this isn’t a typical Halloween drinking game, it will be a very appropriate game to play if there are people dressed up in Roman Centurion costumes. This is a game that should be played with beer due to the vast amount of shots that are consumed in a relatively short amount of time.
Centurion is played like this: participants usually sit at a table and have a shot glass placed in front of them. The shot glass is filled with beer, and a shot of beer is taken once a minute for one hundred minutes. While this may seem like a very tame amusement, one must keep in mind that 100 ounces of beer will be consumed in one hour and forty minutes; that’s the equivalent of 3 litres of beer, or roughly 6 pints. When was the last time you drank 6 pints of beer in under two hours?
A word of caution must be used here. Never, under any circumstances, attempt to play centurion with hard liquor; this can lead to alcohol poisoning at worst and one heck of a mess to clean up at best.
Halloween Beer Pong
Beer Pong is a familiar drinking game to students the world over: a team will bounce ping-pong balls on a table and get them to land in one of the cups of beer which are arranged in a triangle on the other side. If the ball does land in one of the beer cups, the opposing team must drink the beer. If the ball misses, the team bouncing the ball must drink one of their own beers. The team who finishes their beer first loses (or wins, depending on how you see the situation.) For a Halloween twist, instead of beer, use jungle juice or a punch recipe featuring a blood-red juice such as cranberry or raspberry juice and lots of vodka.
Halloween parties are fun, and these drinking games are guaranteed to make them even more fun. However, always remember to appoint designated drivers and never, under any circumstances, allow a person who’s been drinking to get behind the wheel of a car. Even one alcoholic beverage is enough to impair one’s judgement, so make driving arrangements beforehand, ensure there’s enough cash on hand to pay for a taxi, and have some space reserved for guests who may need to spend the night. Have a fun Halloween, and drink responsibly!
A Simple Method for Brewing Your Own Beer At Home
For those who love beer but hate paying the high prices in the markets, there’s a great solution which is brewing your own beer at home. While it does require some effort and a little bit of time, home beer brewing is basically an easy process and the massive savings make the work worth the effort. Furthermore, many will argue that a home-made beer tastes far superior to a beer from a supermarket shelf. Here is a simple method to make beer yourself, at home, and to keep things simple, rather than use dozens and dozens of small glass bottles that need to be capped, we will use 2-litre plastic pop bottles with reusable plastic lids.
All of the supplies can be purchased from www.homebrewing.org
First of all, you’ll need these items to brew your own beer.
1 38-litre food-grade pail with a plastic lid
1 siphon hose measuring about two meters long with an 8 mm diameter made of food-grade vinyl tubing
1 hose clamp for the siphon hose
12 2-liter plastic pop bottles with lids
1 large pot or a turkey roaster
Once these items have been acquired, the next step is to get the ingredients.
1 40oz or 1.2 liter can of malt extract in any flavour you prefer (light beer, dark beer, stout)
1 teaspoon or 5 ml of brewer’s yeast
1.5 -1.75 liters of white sugar or 2 liters of corn sugar, depending on the richness of flavour desired.
This recipe will yield about 23 liters of beer.
We highly recommend www.homebrewing.org for all of your supplies.
The Brewing Process
There are two main steps in the brewing process: that of sanitation and that of actual brewing.
Wash all equipment in warm, slightly soapy water and do not use any scouring-type cleaning instruments which can cause bacteria-friendly grooves in the plastic. After rinsing, use a no-rinse acid sanitizer which will kill bacteria without leaving any funny aftertaste.
Pour ten liters of fresh cold water into the big plastic pail.
Boil seven liters of water in the largest pot you have in your home.
Add the malt extract to the boiling water. Stir and let simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
Add the sugar and stir until the sugar granules have dissolved.
Pour the malt, sugar and water mix into the pail with the cold water as soon as the sugar has dissolved. Pour quickly and in a splashy fashion to add as much oxygen as possible to the mix; this will ensure optimal yeast growth.
Top up with room-temperature tap water that has been boiled to kill off any bacteria or top up with bottled drinking water until the entire mixture cools down to a neutral temperature. The pail will be a bit more than half full at this point. To ensure that the proper temperature has been reached for optimal yeast growth (about 30 C), use a sanitized thermometer.
Sprinkle the yeast into the liquid. Stir everything well, and then loosely cover the pail with the lid. Do not seal the lid; if the pail is capped too tightly, it may explode from the carbon dioxide that is produced during the fermentation and brewing process.
Keep the beer covered, and avoid opening the pail unnecessarily as this can introduce air and can affect the taste of the beer negatively. The beer will need to sit for 6-10 days at room temperature, which should ideally be between 16-20 C, but a higher temperature up to a maximum of 24 degrees will also work. The higher the room temperature, the less time it will take for the beer to be ready.
Test the beer with the hydrometer after the 6-10 day brewing period. Once the hydrometer has been set into the beer, give it a quick spin to release any oxygen bubbles clinging to it which may give a false reading. Once that has been done, the hydrometer is ready to give an accurate measurement. A reading of 1.008 means that the beer will be ready for bottling if it is a dark beer, and a reading of 1.010 to 1.0150 will indicate that light beer is ready to be put into bottles.
Place the pail or “carboy” onto a sturdy table once the brew is ready and put the 2-liter pop bottles on the floor with some rags or newspapers underneath to catch any spills or drips that may occur.
Put two teaspoons or 10 ml of sugar in each pop bottle; use a funnel so that sugar doesn’t drop everywhere.
Siphon the liquid into the bottles, ensuring the sediment at the bottom of the pail isn’t disturbed. Do not agitate the beer or splash anything; any added oxygen will make the beer taste of cardboard box.
Keep the end of the siphon near the bottom of the bottle while siphoning, this will stop the liquid from developing a froth.
Leave an air space in each bottle do NOT fill each bottle to the top.
Screw the caps on tightly, invert each bottle and give each bottle a shake to make the sugar dissolve.
Place the filled bottles in a warm place for 2-4 days, then store in a dark, cool area. The beer will be ready to drink in a few days, but beer that is left to “age” in a cool, dark storage area for a longer time will taste better.
Beer made at home will taste terrific after aging for a few months, so keep in mind that many home beer brewers like to get a second batch of beer on the go as soon as possible so that some beer can be consumed shortly after brewing and some can be left to age.
For people who are making beer for the first time and are nervous about equipment, ingredients and other supplies and wish to have the most professional results possible, it is ideal to get a full beginner’s home beer brewing kit with everything that’s necessary to make a good beer. A Beginning Homebrew Equipment Kit from www.homebrewing.org only costs $69.99 and beer recipe kits are available at $22.99. Instructions are included with the kits and are also available at the homebrew.org website in PDF format.
Devilishly Delightful Drinks for Halloween
Halloween is the spookiest time of the year, with ghosts, goblins and all sorts of evil creatures wandering about, but it is also one of the most fun occasions, giving most people the opportunity to blow off some steam, wear a silly costume and have a good time. Make the night even more entertaining by treating yourself or your Halloween party guest to some of these delicious yet devilish cocktails and shots.
The Vampire Martini
For guests who like a little sophistication with a spooky twist.
1 martini glass, chilled
1 oz Chambord raspberry liqueur
1 oz Vodka
1 oz Cranberry juice
Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice, stir for about 30 seconds, then strain and pour into the chilled martini glass.
The Vampire Bite
This is for those who want something a little more substantial in the fear department.
1 tall glass, filled with ice cubes
1 oz Vodka
½ oz Gin
½ oz Dry Vermouth
1 dash of Tequila
1 dash of salt
2 oz of clamato juice or tomato juice if clamato is not available.
Shake everything in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Strain and pour over ice cubes.
The Thriller Zombie
This is for people who want a drink that will make them dance like the monsters in the famous “Thriller” video by Michael Jackson.
1 tall glass, filled with ice cubes
1 oz Rum
1 oz Almond liqueur
½ oz Triple sec
1 ½ oz Sweet and sour
2 oz orange juice
½ oz 151-proof rum
Shake all ingredients except the 151-proof rum in a shaker with ice. Strain and pour over the ice cubes, and float the 151-proof rum on top. Garnish with a maraschino cherry if desired.
After one of these, you won’t be “fraid of no ghosts”, guaranteed!
1 Pint glass
1 shot glass
1/3 oz Kahlua
1/3 oz Grand Marnier
1/3 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 oz Rye Whiskey
8 oz Coca Cola
Layer the Kahlua, Bailey’s, and Grand Marnier in the shot glass, effectively making a classic B-52 shot. In the pint glass, mix the rye whiskey and coke. Drop the shot, glass and all, into the pint glass, and drink all in one go. This drink doesn’t contain any ice as it is made to be consumed quickly.
The Gothic Martini
Apparently this was Frankenstein’s favorite, and the Keeper of the Crypt is said to have one every night as a frightful constitutional.
1 martini glass, chilled
3 ½ oz Blavod vodka
½ oz Blackberry brandy or a black raspberry liqueur
Shake all ingredients except for the lemon twist in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice. Strain and pour into a chilled martini glass, and garnish with a twist of lemon.
Here are some delicious-tasting yet terrifying-looking shots that are sure to frighten yet delight those who drink them.
The Brain Hemorrhage
1 shot glass
1 oz Peach schnapps
1 tsp Bailey’s Irish Cream
½ tsp Grenadine
To give this drink its fiendish appearance, pour the peach schnapps into the shot glass first, then slowly pour in the Bailey’s Irish cream, making sure not to mix it. The Bailey’s will clump together, looking like a brain, and once the grenadine is poured into the drink, it will look exactly like a brain hemorrhage!
The Jack o’Lantern
A nice-looking but not so scary looking shot more appropriate for the faint-hearted.
1 shot glass
1/3 oz Kahlua
1/3 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
1/3 oz Goldschlager
Mix all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and strain into the shot glass.
The Flaming Jack o’Lantern
This is a drink that must be made with a tremendous amount of care because it is lit on fire; the drinker must remember to extinguish it before drinking.
1 shot glass
½ oz Kahlua
½ oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
¼ oz 151-proof rum
Mix the Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish Cream together in a shaker with some ice, strain and pour into the shot glass. Add the cinnamon sprinkles, and float the 151-proof rum on top. Light on fire, but again remember to extinguish the flame before drinking.
The Hound of Hell
A spicy drink that can bring a tear to a glass eye; especially devilish on Halloween. A word of caution however; if this drink is too spicy and a person is in pain after drinking it, immediately serve the person a small glass of full-fat milk or a spoonful of cold yoghurt; this will alleviate the pain better than a glass of water.
1 shot glass
¾ oz Whisky
¼ Tabasco sauce
Pour the Tabasco sauce in the shot glass first, followed by the whiskey. “Enjoy”.
The Stake Through the Heart
The perfect drink for going and slaying vampires.
1 shot glass
½ oz Drambuie
½ oz Scotch whisky
Dash of grenadine
Shake the Drambuie and scotch whiskey in a drink shaker with plenty of ice. Strain and pour into the shot glass, and gently pour grenadine down the inner side of the shot glass. The resulting drink will look appropriately terrifying.
With this fine selection of Halloween-themed cocktails and shots, all guests at your party or spooky event are sure to have a great time and enjoy the ghoul and goblin-filled night. However, do remember to drink responsibly and never drive after having an alcoholic beverage; you want to be around to enjoy the Halloween drinks again every year for a long time to come!
Clearing Up the Confusion about Rye Whiskey
When the word whisky or whiskey is mentioned, the first thing that most people will think of will be Scotch whisky, and some people might mention that whiskey comes from Ireland as well. However, what must be explained is that Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey are only two varieties of whiskey, and there exist many more types from all four corners of the world.
First of all, whiskey/whisky is a general term for a distilled alcoholic beverage that is made from fermented grain mash and typically aged in a wooden cask. The types of grain used in whisky production vary; corn, rye, malted rye, barley, malted barley and wheat can be used, and each grain variety makes a very unique style of whiskey.
The word whisky/whiskey itself has a very interesting history: originating from the Gaelic word for water uisce|uisge, it became anglicized. Furthermore, linguistics researchers have found that the Gaelic word in turn was a direct translation of the Latin word for distilled alcohol aqua vitae meaning “water of life”. In 1581, the word describing present-day whiskey was first published in English as “uskebeaghe”.
Therefore, as we can see, not all whiskeys are the same, nor will they present with the same flavours or characteristics; they only things they have in common are the preparation of ingredients, distillation, and aging in wooden barrels.
Rye whiskey, when spelled with an “e” between the “k” and “y” at the end of the word, generally refers to American rye whiskey, which, by law, must be distilled from at least 51% rye, but can also refer to Canadian whisky which can also be labelled as rye whisky without an “e” although it may not contain any rye at all. Canadian whisky, according to Canadian labelling laws, may advertise itself as a rye whisky as long as it possesses the general character, taste and smell of a rye whisky. However, for the sake of this article and for clarity, only American rye whiskey will be discussed.
American rye whiskey must be made from a mash of at least 51% rye, and other ingredients composing the mash are usually corn and malted barley. Distillation can be no stronger than 80% alcohol by volume, or 160 proof in the American alcoholic beverage industry terminology, and aging must be done in new oak barrels that have been charred. The maximum abv or alcohol by volume percentage of the whiskey when it goes in the barrels to age is 62.5 %. “Straight” rye whiskey is a rye whiskey that has been aged in a charred oak barrel for a minimum of two years.
Rye whiskey in the United States was very popular before the Prohibition era, especially in the country’s north eastern states of Maryland and Pennsylvania. However, most of the rye whiskey distilleries disappeared during Prohibition and only a handful survived the era. Old Overholt is one of the only American rye whiskey brands that is still around from back then; however a growing interest in American whiskeys is fuelling a revival with new brands and distillers trying their hand at distilling and marketing rye whiskey. Brands involved in the revival are Jim Beam, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, and Catoctin Creek, with a Mount Vernon distillery attempting to produce the same sort of rye whiskey that George Washington may have possibly made at his home during the era of America’s war of Independence.
Experts in different types of whiskeys compare the quality of American rye whiskey to that of an Islay scotch whiskey, meaning it is a very good variety indeed with highly unique characteristics. While bourbon, which is made of corn, is a bit sweeter and has a fuller body than rye whiskey, has long overtaken rye whiskey in the popularity game, connoisseurs claim that only rye whiskey can provide a fruity yet spicy flavour and is actually much more complex. While many bartenders will use bourbon for classic bar cocktails such as a whiskey sour or Manhattan, these recipes were originally intended to make drier, less sweet drinks and were specifically tailored for rye whiskey; cocktail aficionados will state that the bourbon substitution makes the beverages too sugary for their liking.
In fashionable circles, as mentioned previously, rye whiskey is making a comeback, and the flavour has been described as “dry, bold, and spicy, with greener, floral flavours from the grassier grain”. Further making those in the know happy is the fact that American rye whiskey ages exceptionally well, becoming smoother and spicier the older it gets. Brands that are getting more national and international attention are Sazerac Rye from the Buffalo Trace Distillery, Hudson Manhattan Rye from the Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery, and High West Double Rye! (there is an exclamation mark in the brand’s name apparently because it is that good) from the High West distillery.
More and more American rye whiskeys are coming on the market every day, and thus far, due to the tight regulations concerning labels, critics have not been able to find one that is bad. With options becoming more varied by the week and ranging in price from $25 to $55, trying a good rye whiskey is affordable and is a beverage which must be experienced. In fact, there are some who say that a person hasn’t really lived until they’ve had a proper Sazerac cocktail.
To make the legendary Sazerac cocktail, simply pour a little bit of Pernod in a chilled glass, making sure to pour the Pernod down the insides of the glass, thinly coating as much of the inner surface as possible. In a separate cocktail shaker, combine a teaspoon of sugar, a few dashes of bitters, and a drop or two of water. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then add plenty of ice and two ounces of Sazerac rye whiskey. Stir for about half a minute, until everything is well mixed, and then strain the liquid into the chilled glass containing the Pernod. Add a lemon twist, and enjoy the American rye whiskey life experience.
Moscato white wine, made from the Muscat Blanc grape which grows mostly in Piedmont in Italy, is a little bit different from all other wines and it is worthwhile to try it as a delightful little change in one’s wine-drinking routine. Fresh, fruity, floral, and fragrant, the frizzante or slightly sparkling wine is on the light side of things, with a lower alcohol content than other reds and whites, and has a sweeter taste. For a person who may have never tried wine before, Moscato is the perfect introduction; and although it’s a wine beginner wine enthusiasts enjoy, experts adore it for its sophisticated nuances and refreshing palate.
Moscato grapes are believed to be the oldest cultivated varietal of grapes in the world, and along with making wines, they are also grown for raisins and can be eaten straight from the stem as other table grapes are. While they are mostly grown in Italy, they are also cultivated in almost every wine region on the planet.
While usually labelled simply as Moscato, if the wine comes from the Piedmont region, it will be labelled as Moscato d’Asti (a town in Piedmont). The first few things a person will notice about Moscato are its fragrance of flowers, spritzy – almost sparkling- character, lower alcohol content of about 8 %, light body, golden straw colour, and sweet, fruit forward flavour.
The aromas characteristic of Moscato are dazzling, exotic and refreshing all at the same time. Orange blossom, ginger, almonds, honeysuckle, citrus notes and peach all form a part of the wine’s dizzying perfume, and the flavour ranges from semi-sweet to sweet, with a fruity start and a crisp, medium acidity. Tastes have been described as a combination reminiscent of peaches, oranges, apples, citrus, pears, and apricot. The taste has been described by “newbies” to wine drinking as heavenly; the mix of bubbles, sweetness, acidity and fruitiness wins over almost everyone who gives it a try.
Moscato, like all other wine varietals, comes in a large price range. On the lower end of the price spectrum, about $6, Moscato wine tends to be very sweet with big fruit flavours, and on the higher end of the scale, over $200, it tends to have more floral aromatics, be semi-sweet, and have a flavour that makes one think of stonefruit, apricots, and peaches.
Moscato wine tends to be a favourite beverage during the day-time, served at brunches, lunches, and afternoon tea. Many also believe that Moscato is best when it accompanies dessert in the evening time; no matter what time Moscato is served, whether it’s brunch, lunch, as an aperitif or digestif, all agree that it must be served cold in order for all the flavours and textures to be fully appreciated.
This festive and celebratory wine, due to its combination of sweet and acidic, makes it incredibly versatile when it comes to wine and food pairing. It must be served young; aging it is of no benefit whatsoever, and the first pairings which come to mind are desserts. Moscato goes well with fresh berries such as wild blackberries, desserts made of apples, peach cobbler, fruit crumble, lemon meringue pie, lemon-poppy cakes, and desserts featuring hazelnuts, which compliment the wine’s level of acidity. The wine also goes very nicely with summer salads or salads made with fresh, garden-grown greens.
While people tend to naturally think of sweet food pairings for Moscato, it also goes incredibly well with some unexpected food items. Moscato d’Asti will match perfectly well with cheese courses featuring strong and mild cheeses, charcuterie (preserved meats such as jamon Serrano from Spain), and antipasto plates featuring sundried tomatoes, eggplant, artichokes, and olives.
Another interesting characteristic of Moscato which makes it an attractive wine to drink is the plentiful presence of flavonoids which are antioxidants. While red wine has the fame of having these anti-aging compounds in its components, Moscato wine has just as many of them or even more, according to some experts in the chemistry and wine-making fields. Therefore, a glass or two of Moscato a day could be just as beneficial to one’s health as a glass or two of red wine.
As mentioned previously, Moscato grapes are grown all over the world and Moscato wines are produced, however, the wines are known by slightly different names; either a different sub-type of Moscato grape is used in the wine-making process or the spelling differs slightly due to language differences. Both Australia and Austria produce “Muscat” wines, with Austria producing “muskatellers” ranging from dry to very sweet. In France, Moscato grapes are used for Vins Doux Naturels, sweet natural wines, and one of the best-known Moscatos is the dry Muscat D’Alsace. Greek-produced Moscato is called Moschaton, Moscatel is the wine from Lebanon, and Portugal produces the famed Moscatel de Setubal and Moscatel de Favaios.
Overall, Moscato is a wine that has been made for centuries, if not millennia, and continues to be a favourite with wine-drinkers all over the world for good reason: it can be sweet or it can be dry, it has a beautiful floral, citrus fruity aroma accompanied by a fruity flavour that can be big or can be subtle, according to the price one pays. The wine’s slight fizziness intensifies all the flavours, and when served ice-cold a glass of Moscato is no longer just a drink, it becomes an experience. Although prices do start at the very low end of the spectrum, it is no reflection on quality and even a person who doesn’t have much to spend on a bottle of wine will find he or she can do no wrong with an inexpensive bottle of Moscato.s
The Best Wines for Under Ten Dollars
For those who don’t have much experience with wine, the idea of being responsible for a wine to go with a specially prepared meal can be almost panic-inducing: everyone knows good wine is incredibly difficult to select and good wine is expensive. If a dinner guest has been told by the host or hostess to bring along a bottle of wine for everyone to share, the pressure is on and for a wine beginner or novice, selecting the wine can become a painful experience.
This does not necessarily have to be the case. In this article we will show how a person with a small budget and no wine experience whatsoever will be able to select a wine that will be able to accomplish something almost miraculous: please both the wine experts and new wine drinkers at the same time and not break the bank. We will highlight the top three wines which never fail to impress, and we will also show how to select a good, inexpensive wine with confidence if one cannot find one of our three wines at his or her local wine shop. First however, come our favourite three wines which are all under ten dollars, but taste like wines that could easily cost in the $25-$35 range.
Red Wine: Torres Sangre de Toro
Grape Varietal: Garnacha and Cariñena blend
Price Range: $9-$11 depending on shop location
Sangre de Toro, a blended red wine from Spain could easily be our favourite red wine; the fact that it’s inexpensive actually has nothing to do with it. What makes this wine so great is that it is consistent year after year, making it an almost fool-proof choice as a wine to present to guests. Sangre de Toro has a dark ruby color, is leggy, balanced, lush from oak, and is medium bodied, supple, and most importantly, is smooth with no hint of the sourness that some cheap wines present. Furthermore, it doesn’t have the bizarre, heavy, almost sweet clove flavour that other inexpensive red wines seem to have. The wine has some bright raspberry and cherry notes at the end, but what makes this wine stand out from the rest of the pack is the little punch of peppery spice that one feels after swallowing a sip, making this wine great to drink by itself or as an accompaniment to any type of food. Sangre de Toro is a great all-rounder and is easy to recognize at the shop: it’s the bottle which proudly has a little plastic black bull attached to the cap.
Red Wine: Jose Maria da Fonseca Periquita
Grape Varietal: Castelão (75%), Trinadeira (15%), and Aragonez (10%)
Price Range: $8-$10 depending on shop location
Periquita is one of Portugal’s most famous exports; having been in production since 1850, it is highly regarded as a very good product from Fonseca’s line. While at first price was what got our attention several years ago, we now select this wine simply because it’s good, even though we can afford more expensive wines. Periquita has a lovely deep ruby hue and smells divine with aromas of figs, plums, raspberries and interestingly, blackberries. This wine is fruity without being sweet, isn’t too light tasting or too heavy tasting, and finds the perfect balance providing a long, smooth finish. Periquita is terrific to drink on its own, but is especially good when paired with cured cheeses, turkey, and can very easily hold up to and enhance a meal when red meat is served.
White Wine: Casal Garcia Vinho Verde
Grape Varietal: Trajadura, loureiro, arinto, azal
Price Range: $9-$10, depending on shop location
Inexpensive, reminiscent of summer and bright, Casal Garcia Vinho Verde (translates literally to “green wine”) is one of the very few wines that makes it into serious wine critics “top ten wines under fifty dollars” lists year after year. Even the biggest wine snobs will break into happy smiles when they hear Casal Garcia will be served; it’s another wine that most have tried when their budgets were microscopic but continue to drink because it’s great. Making Vinho Verde unique is that although it is not a sparkling wine, it has a refreshing “pop” to it which makes it an ideal wine to bring along to the beach or pool party or anywhere it’s hot. While technically not a complicated wine, it has a clean, lemon-lime aroma and has a bit of fizz with a citrus flavour that can brighten anyone’s day. Best of all, due to its relative simplicity, it’s easy to pair with food with some saying it is the best wine to serve with sushi or fresh, cold dishes.
Selecting a wine when our selections are not available
The problem with many suggested Top Ten wine lists is that whether they are expensive or cheap, the recommended wines may not be available. Here’s what to look for if our three wines are not available at your local wine shop.
First of all, keep in mind the food that you will be eating. If your meal will be a heavy, buttery or creamy dish, select a Chardonnay white wine. Chardonnay means the name of the grape that was used to make the wine; different grapes have different characteristics, and chardonnay tends to go well with buttery, cheesy or creamy meals.
If you will be eating something spicy, then select a Gewurztraminer white wine which is a little bit sweet.
If eating red meat, a heavier wine will be good, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon red wine, a Malbec red wine, or a Merlot red wine.
If eating fish or seafood, a crowd-pleasing choice will be a Rosé wine, which is pink in color and a little bit sweeter than red or white wines but not as sweet as a Gewurztraminer white.
After selecting the type of wine, select the country of production. Good wine producing countries are France, Spain, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Italy and South Africa, while Germany produces the best Gewurztraminer wines. All of these wine producing countries have great selections available for under $15 and to get the best value for money, don’t be afraid to ask the shop employee for help choosing.
Vodka is one of the most versatile spirits available on the market and is unique in that a truly astounding variety of mixed drinks can be made with it; cocktails can be sweet, sour, salty, or dry, served neat, on the rocks or served blended with ice. In fact, an entire catalog can be made of drinks that are vodka-based and there will be at least one or two cocktails that will please even the fussiest of party-goers. Here’s our Top Ten list of the best vodka drinks.
As the name implies, this cocktail rules supreme in Canada and is very similar to the Bloody Mary cocktail familiar to Americans. This salty drink is perfect to drink as an aperitif or when one is having a fun night out. To make a Bloody Mary, simply use plain tomato juice instead of Clamato.
1 Highball glass rimmed with celery salt, full of ice cubes
1.5 oz vodka
1 squeeze fresh lime juice, not syrup
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2-3 drops Tabasco sauce
celery stick (if available) or Matt and Steve’s Extreme Beans
Pour vodka over ice cubes. Add lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce, stir. Fill glass with Clamato juice, stir again. Add some salt and pepper. Garnish with a lime slice and celery stick.
An old-time classic drink that never gets old. This is the perfect cocktail for those who don’t like sweet or salty beverages and enjoy a very dry sipping experience. This can also be made with gin.
1 chilled cocktail or martini glass
¼ oz dry white vermouth
Pour the vodka and vermouth in a shaker full of ice cubes. STIR with a long spoon for approximately thirty seconds and do NOT shake. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or 3 olives on a toothpick. To make the martini even drier, only use two drops of vermouth, and add a tiny drop of a blended scotch whisky.
This is another classic North American cocktail that’s finding its way across the world; whether it’s summer or winter, this drink is sure to be a hit.
1 Highball glass, full of ice cubes
1 oz crème de café
1 oz vodka
Milk or half-and-half cream
Pour crème de café and vodka over ice cubes; fill glass almost to the top with coca cola. Top with milk. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
#4. The Chi-Chi
For those who love Piña Coladas but don’t like the taste of rum, a Chi-Chi is basically the same drink, only milder tasting.
1 Cocktail or wine glass or Highball glass
1 cup crushed ice
¼ cup coconut milk
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1 Tablespoon sugar syrup
1.5 oz vodka
Pour vodka into glass. Put ice, coconut milk, pineapple juice and sugar syrup into blender or shaker. Shake well, do not strain. Pour into glass. Garnish with an orange slice and cinnamon stick.
To make a strawberry Chi-Chi, simply add a handful of strawberries to the ingredients and blend well.
#5 and # 6. The Russians
These two are standard cocktails the world over and although they are simple, both men and women will emphatically state “Da!” when either a Black or White Russian is offered.
1 Old Fashioned glass, full of ice cubes
1oz crème de café
Pour the crème de café and vodka over the ice cubes. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
1 Old Fashioned glass, full of ice cubes
1oz crème de café
Pour vodka and crème de café over ice cubes, top with milk. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
#7. Sea Breeze
Absolutely delightful to drink during the hot summer days and evenings, and is particularly nice to drink if one happens to be close to the ocean.
1 Old Fashioned glass, filled with ice cubes
1.5 oz vodka
lime wedge for garnish
Pour vodka over the ice cubes, and fill the glass with equal parts grapefruit juice and cranberry juice. Garnish with a wedge of lime.
#8. Salty Dog/Greyhound
This standard drink is great for those who want something a little sour, a little bitter, and a little bit salty and don’t want the heaviness of a clamato-based Caesar.
1 Old Fashioned or highball glass, rimmed with salt and NO ice
1.5-2 oz vodka
some ice for the cocktail strainer
Place a good amount of ice, the vodka and grapefruit juice in a cocktail shaker, shake vigorously. Strain and pour into a glass with a salted rim. Do not put ice into the glass.
To make a Greyhound, simply omit the salted rim on the serving glass.
#9. Cape Codder/Crantini
A highly refreshing cocktail which is great when the weather is hot, or can be made into a sophisticated evening drink for a fancy soiree in elegant surroundings.
1 Highball or Old Fashioned glass filled with ice
1.5 oz vodka
squeeze of lime
lime wedge for garnish
Pour the vodka over the ice cubes and fill the remainder of the glass with cranberry juice. Add a squeeze of lime, and garnish with the lime wedge. To make a crantini, use a martini glass, and pour all the ingredients except the garnish over ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Stir for about 30 seconds, strain and pour. Use the lime wedge as garnish. Remember that a crantini is neat, meaning it is not served with ice.
#10. Hazelnut Chocolate Martini
A favourite on special occasions, this sweet martini is crystal-clear and tastes very rich and smooth with a hint of hazelnut from the Frangelico liqueur.
1 chilled cocktail or martini glass
1 oz vodka
1 oz white crème de cacao
¼ oz hazelnut liqueur or amaretto (optional)
Pour vodka, crème de cacao and Frangelico into a cocktail strainer with plenty of ice. Stir with a long spoon for approximately 30 seconds. Strain into glass. No garnish.
The World’s Most Expensive Scotch Whisky
A good single-malt scotch whisky will always be sought after by aficionados; the smoky, peaty flavour of the clear to amber liquid can turn anyone into a devotee. Correspondingly, fans of Scotland’s most famous product are willing to pay heavily for the opportunity to own a bottle of and perhaps even taste the rarest and oldest whiskies in the world.
It is a fact that the longer a whisky is aged in an oak cask, the more complex and smooth its flavours will become. Scottish regulations require that anything labelled as “Scotch” must be aged for a minimum of three years and must be distilled in Scotland; scotch connoisseurs say that the spirit goes from good to great after it has been aged for at least ten years.
There are two single-malt whiskies that are in the competition for being considered the world’s most expensive: in 2010 a bottle of The Macallan 64-year-old single malt, housed in a specially-made “Lalique: Cire Perdue” crystal decanter sold at auction for a staggering $460,000 US, making it the most expensive whisky ever sold. On October 10, 2012, a bottle of 54-year-old Bowmore was expected to fetch $240,675 USD; however the whisky failed to sell as buyers were not prepared to meet the minimum asking price. Therefore, the bottle of 1957 Bowmore is considered to be the whisky with the world’s highest asking price.
The Macallan: Most expensive ever sold
The Macallan brand of whisky is distilled in the Speyside region of Scotland and is labelled according to Scottish regulations as a Highland Single Malt. Speyside whiskies are distilled in Strathspey, the region around the River Spey in north eastern Scotland, and are known to be the lightest and sweetest of the single malts. This is due to Speyside lacking the peat that is present in regions such as Islay, which gives some single malts their heavy, smoky notes, and also due to the lack of salinity and ozone which is characteristic of single malts which come from the coastal areas. Speyside whiskies further distinguish themselves by not having the floral, dry aromas and taste hints that are typical of Lowland whiskies. When Speyside whiskies are aged in sherry oak barrels, they become quite powerful and incredibly complex with subtle notes that many whisky lovers all over the world will willingly spend a fortune for.
Speyside is home to the world’s three top-selling single-malts: Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and The Macallan all call the region home, and year after year, all brands of The Macallan, from the 12-year aged whisky to older variants, are deemed to be the world’s best. In fact, The Macallan is known for being the “gold standard” of scotch.
The 64-year-old The Macallan whisky which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the most expensive ever sold is available for those who’d like to try it: for a mere $64,000, one can have “a wee dram” at the £10, a bar at the Montage Beverly Hills hotel. The amount paid is then given to the charity of the buyer’s choice.
1957 Bowmore: The whisky with the world’s highest asking price
The 1957 Bowmore, which failed to sell on October 10 is expected to sell for more than its asking price the next time it is offered at auction; Bowmore is another single malt that is more than well-respected in whisky aficionado circles and has extraordinary tasting features that are preferred by those who enjoy a darker, smokier, and almost medicinal tasting dram.
The Bowmore distillery is found on Islay, an Inner Hebrides island off the west coast of Scotland. Having been in operation since 1779, older whiskies from this company are highly prized. Although Islay whiskies are known for being heavily peated and smoky with notes of seaweed, iodine and salt due to the distilleries being on the ocean’s shoreline, but Bowmore produces a more balanced product using only a medium-heavy peating process (25 ppm) and aging the whiskey in sherry casks. Other famed Islay single malt whiskies include Laphroaig which is the favourite beverage of fictional Edinburgh detective Rebus, Ardbeg, an award-winning scotch, and Lagavulin.
The 1957 Bowmore, which was bottled in 2011, is only one of a dozen bottles that are in existence. A second bottle is scheduled to go to auction in the United States on October 28 this year. According to whiskey specialist Martin Green of Bonhams, the auction house responsible for the attempted sale of the special bottle of Bowmore, “the skill and patience that has gone into the production of this product has not been appreciated by the market.”
The single malt was presented in a visually stunning hand-blown decanter encrusted with platinum, and according to the tasting notes given to the potential buyers at the auction, the primary flavours hinted of blueberries, figs, cassis, eucalyptus and sea salt with secondary flavours of dark chocolate and grapefruit. Aftertastes of star anise and bergamot were also noted. Bowmore stated that the proceeds of the sale were to go to five Scottish charities.
While The Macallan and Bowmore make the most expensive whiskies in the world, a whiskey lover need not despair if he or she cannot afford the asking price for the exquisite variants mentioned in our article; the Speyside distillery and the Islay company produce the world’s best entry-level 12 –year-old whiskies which are also deemed as outstanding by experts. Fortunately for those of us who enjoy a drop of whiskey in the evening after dinner, these younger single malts are an affordable luxury and can give us an authentic taste of the high life.
Mezcal and Tequila: The Facts You Need to Know
A mistake many in the beverage industry make is that of confusing tequila and mezcal, two types of alcoholic spirits that are made from cactus plants in Mexico. Some will claim that mezcal is a stronger, more potent version of tequila. However, tequila and mezcal, while both are indeed made from agave cactus hearts, they are made from two very different types of agave cactus that give very distinct flavours and aromas that cannot be confused once tasted.
Mezcal has its origins in a very old pre-Hispanic fermented drink called pulque, which was made from the juices of the roasted maguey agave cactus, which grows primarily in the Mexican state of Oaxaca but also grows in the semi-arid regions of Guerrero, Guanajuato, San Luís Potosí, and Tamaulipas. After the Spanish Conquest of the area, colonists discovered that the maguey heart mash could be distilled into a very potent liquor.
Mezcal has changed very little over the centuries; even in present-day distilleries mezcal is only distilled once and the only major change has been the addition of the iconic “worms” in the bottles which occurred in the 1940’s as a possible marketing ploy. While the rumour exists that the worms, which are actually moth larvae, contain mescaline, this is nonsense. The larvae, which may or may not add flavour to the alcohol, do not contain any hallucinogenic substances at all.
Mezcal is very smoky, and to some first-time drinkers, it is disagreeable. Mezcal has a flavour which is very strong and generally will not mix well in cocktails; therefore, mezcal is traditionally taken “neat”, with no ice, water or other liquid added to it. The most traditional or “authentic” way to drink mezcal is to sip it slowly from a shot glass, after first placing a pinch of sal de gusano on one’s lips. Sal de gusano is the fried larvae, ground into a powder, mixed with chillies and salt with some fresh lime squeezed over it.
Mezcal is generally mass produced, but according to Mexican laws governing the name mezcal, a product sold as “mezcal” must contain at least 60% distilled maguey spirits. Some producers sell flavoured mezcal; however mezcal purists and aficionados claim that unadulterated, 100% distilled maguey spirits are best.
The best mezcal, according to some experts, is one that has been distilled at someone’s home or in a micro-distillery. While these are not available on the market, if one gets the chance to visit Oaxaca, the opportunity to taste a smooth, home-made mezcal should not be missed. However, there are very good mezcals with relative degrees of smoothness to be enjoyed. A person who wishes to try mezcal should look for an añejado or aged mezcal which has been aged for at least three years and is 100% pure maguey agave-based.
Tequila, the more famous of the two spirits, is one of the most well-known and beloved drinks in the world. Made from the highly unique blue agave cactus, it is distilled twice, unlike mezcal which is only distilled once. Mass production of tequila began in 1608, and Mexico has since claimed exclusive right to use the word “tequila” internationally.
Tequila made from blue agave harvested in the highlands surrounding the city of Tequila in Jalisco state is considered to be of the highest quality; the spirits produced will be sweeter and fruitier in taste and aroma. Tequila from other regions such as Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit and Tamaulipas will have an herbal, earthy smell and flavour.
While mezcal is rumoured to be “stronger” in alcoholic content than tequila, in reality both are about the same when it comes to potency; tequila often has an alcohol content of 38 to 40 percent, which translates to 76-80 proof, but can come in a stronger version with an alcohol content up to 55 percent, which roughly translates to 110 proof. Mezcal is also available in the exact same potencies.
Tequila seems to be a bit more regulated than mezcal, and comes in two basic categories; mixtos which must contain at least 51% blue agave and some sort of sweetener such as sugar making up the remainder, and 100% pure agave. After, tequila is then sorted into five groups; blanco or plata meaning white or silver and signifies the tequila is unaged, bottled immediately after the distilling process; joven or oro meaning young or gold, and is the term used when blanco tequila is mixed with reposado tequila; reposado or rested, and is for tequila that has been stored in oak barrels for over two months but less than a year; añejo or vintage, aged for more than a year but less than three years in oak barrels; and extra añejo or extra vintage, which is the designation for a tequila that has been aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels.
With 100% agave tequilas, the more they are aged, the smoother and more complex they will become; however the flavour that most characterizes tequila is that of agave and makes tequila a more complex spirit than other distilled spirits available on the market.
A bottle of tequila, unlike some mezcal products, should never contain a worm, and furthermore, unlike mezcal which can only be drunk “neat”, tequila, while delicious by itself with no mixers added, can also be an ideal mixing drink and is actually the base ingredient for two of the world’s most famous cocktails, the margarita and the tequila sunrise.
When it comes to spirits, Mexico produces two which are among the world’s most highly rated. Mezcal and tequila, although both are Mexican and both are made from agave cactus, are separate entities with their own qualities but are both equally delicious.
Top 10 Drinks with Tequila, Best Tequila Drink Recipes
Tequila is one of the most versatile spirits in the world; made from the Blue Agave plant in Mexico, its earthy, potent yet highly agreeable flavour make it a favourite for drinking neat or blended with other ingredients into a tasty and appetizing cocktail. While many tequila novices may believe that tequila is only taken in shot format with some lime and salt or is only blended with sub-standard “sweet’n’sour” prefabricated drink mixes for chain-restaurant margaritas, the truth is that tequila, when properly paired with good-quality mixers, can make for some mind-blowing drinks. Here is our list of the top ten drinks with tequila.
1. The Margarita
When prepared with fresh ingredients and made with care, this drink is the Queen of All Cocktails. Bars and restaurants that serve premixed, slushy margaritas do a grave disservice to cocktail lovers the world over; a proper margarita highlights the subtleties of the tequila and is so flavourful that a person drinking one should feel like dancing with joy.
Margarita La Reina
1 cocktail or wine glass with SALTED rim
1 cup crushed ice
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1.5 oz tequila (use silver, 100% pure agave tequila)
½ oz cointreau
Put all the ingredients into a blender or a cocktail shaker and either blend or shake well. Do not strain, pour into glass. Garnish with lime slice.
Variation: Fruit Margaritas
Instead of using a glass with a salted rim, fruit margaritas have a sugared rim. Prepare the margarita in the exact same fashion; if using a cocktail shaker add a fruit flavoured syrup, but if using a blender fresh fruit can be added with the rest of the ingredients. Fruits that work best are strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and mangoes. Garnish with a slice of orange.
2. The Paloma
This simple yet incredibly tasty drink should be the national drink of Mexico due to its huge popularity south of the U.S. border. Try the classic version or the spicy version called the Paloma Pícara.
1 tall glass, filled with ice cubes
2 oz silver tequila
grapefruit-flavoured soda like Fresca or Squirt
squeeze of lime juice
Pour the tequila over the ice cubes and fill the glass to the top with the grapefruit-flavoured soda. Add the squeeze of lime juice, give a quick stir, and serve.
Made exactly the same way as above, but with an added dash of Tabasco sauce and once crushed mint leaf.
3. Tequila Sunrise
This is the cocktail that people sing songs and make movies about, it is so good. Try it out and you will see why.
1 tall glass filled with ice cubes
2 oz silver tequila
4 oz good quality orange juice
2 tbs grenadine
1 orange slice
1 maraschino cherry
Pour the tequila and orange juice over the ice cubes, and stir. Add the grenadine by slowly pouring it down the inner edge of the glass; this will make it sink to the bottom. Garnish with the slice of orange and cherry.
4. Tequila Sunset
The lesser known cousin of the Tequila Sunrise is equally delicious.
1 tall glass, chilled beforehand
2 oz gold tequila
2 oz good quality orange juice
2 oz lime juice
2 tbs liquid honey
Pour the tequila, orange and lime juices in the empty, chilled glass and stir well. Add the honey, and afterwards fill the glass with ice cubes.
In this cocktail, pineapple and tequila complement each other to make a “killer” drink.
1 cocktail glass
2 oz silver tequila
4 oz pineapple juice
1 squeeze of lime juice
Blend the tequila, pineapple juice, lime juice and ice in a blender until everything is slushy. Pour into the cocktail glass.
6. Bloody María/Mexican César
Not all drinks with tequila need to be sweet; tequila provides a lovely twist for the classic Bloody Mary and Caesar cocktails.
1 tall glass rimmed with celery salt and filled with ice cubes
some Tabasco sauce
some Worcestershire sauce
dash of lime juice
celery stick for garnish
lime wedge for garnish
crushed black pepper
2 oz silver tequila
Pour all the ingredients except the garnish ingredients and black pepper over the ice cubes. Stir, place the celery stick in the drink and garnish with the lime wedge. To make a Mexican César, replace the tomato juice with clamato juice or add some clam juice to the tomato juice.
7. Long Island Iced Tea
This is a beloved American cocktail that people in many countries also enjoy.
Long Island Iced Tea
1 tall glass filled with ice cubes
½ oz vodka
½ oz tequila
½ oz rum
½ oz gin
½ oz cointreau or triple sec
½ oz lime juice
Pour all ingredients over ice, and fill the remainder of the class with Coca-cola, stir and serve.
A simple drink enjoyed by party-goers; it is simply a shot-glass of silver tequila dropped into a ¾ full mug of beer and drunk quickly. Do not pour the tequila into the beer; drop it in, shot glass and all.
9. Black Mexican
A perfect after-dinner drink and is the feistier version of the Black Russian cocktail.
1 short glass, filled with ice cubes
1 oz silver tequila
1 oz Kahlua or other high quality coffee liqueur
Pour the ingredients over the ice cubes, stir and serve.
10. Tequila with Sangrita Chaser
Although it’s at number 10 on our list, tequila purists declare that this is the best way to enjoy a high-quality tequila. The tequila is poured into a shot glass and gently sipped; after each sip a small sip of sangrita is taken to highlight the flavour.
1 short glass
2 oz tomato juice
1.5 oz orange juice
½ oz lime juice
generous dashes Tabasco sauce
pinch of salt
Pour all ingredients in the glass and stir, add ice if desired.
The days of thinking that tequila is only good for shots or sickly-sweet margaritas are over once these recipes are tried. Tequila is the King of Spirits and a taste of one of our top ten choices will have even the most skeptical tequila critic convinced.