Merry (Holiday of your choice)!

Whatever holiday you are celebrating this Christmas eve, I’m sure this will make it better. It’s a little treat brought to you in a round-about way from 1961 Vodka, Restaurant 2Vine, my friend Ann, and Heather and me, called the Queen Ann.

2B_1961 Queen Ann

I mentioned 1961 Vodka a few posts back, here. I was working with Ann on all of the cocktail and bottle photography for, which I recommend you check out…as I helped develop the recipes, too. (It was a fun shoot!) It’s fabulous vodka, I suggest you look for a bottle!

Restaurant 2Vine created the cocktail in Ann’s honor. Just for fun, I decided to photograph it in a similar fashion to the others. Pour one ounce 1961 Vodka and 1 ounce strawberry puree in a champagne glass. Top with sparkling wine, garnish with a strawberry, and celebrate. Cheers!

Have a very merry breakfast!

Merry Christmas! I hope Santa was good to you. If ever there was a day to do a less than healthy breakfast..this is it! Cookies and a fresh squeezed tangerine mimosa! At least there is a little vitamin C in there for you. I definitely recommend the tangerine juice version versus orange juice. No tangerines? I know all the stores are closed, so the morning light of tomorrow seems like another reason to be merry! Go hug your family and enjoy the peaceful moments of this special day.

103-2eat2drink-tangerine mimosa-p

Simple syrup solutions

Hi, it’s Heather! This post is actually an excerpt from Local Bubbly, an article I wrote for CITIZEN, a new Rochester area magazine. In the first part of the article (which can be seen in our post The Sparkling Finger Lakes),  I shared our tasting notes on three local sparkling wines – Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs, Swedish Hill Riesling Cuvée, and Hunt Country Chardonnay Champagne. While all of these sparkling wines were fantastic on their own, during our tasting session, we decided to mix a bit of flavored simple syrup in with each of the wines to create a trio of tasty cocktails.

Making simple syrup is as easy as the name implies. Combine equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan. (We typically use one cup of each, and sometimes use brown sugar rather than white.) Bring the mixture just to a boil, reduce the heat, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool completely. We pour ours into bottles and store it in the refrigerator. It has become a staple in our kitchen!

Our three simple syrups being infused with flavor!

To go with our three sparkling wines, we decided to make three different flavored simple syrups – rhubarb, cranberry cinnamon, and brown sugar orange. Flavoring the simple syrups was quite easy. Once the sugar had dissolved, we stirred in the necessary ingredients. Chopped rhubarb, cranberries that had been sprinkled with cinnamon and roasted for about an hour at 350º, and an orange peel with pith removed (add about half the juice of the orange to the simple syrup, as well) were our ingredients of choice. It was then time to take each of our three saucepans off the heat and let them sit for an hour. We strained the simple syrups into containers, let it all come to room temperature, and chilled it before use. Feel free to get creative with your flavoring, using nearly any spice, herb, or fruit you desire.

The finished syrups look as good as they taste.

To create the cocktails pictured, pour one to two ounces of flavored simple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it) into a champagne flute then top it off with sparkling wine.

Ready to drink!

The Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs mixed nicely with the rhubarb-flavored simple syrup. The Swedish Hill Riesling Cuvée was superb with the cranberry cinnamon simple syrup. Our favorite combination was the Hunt Country Chardonnay Champagne with the brown sugar orange simple syrup. The deep caramelized flavors of this wine paired nicely with the brown sugar and citrus of the simple syrup, making for a deliciously decadent sparkling treat.

We hope you get a chance to enjoy some of the many delicious sparkling wines that our region has to offer, whether on their own or in your favorite drink recipe. And, if you haven’t done so already, pick up a free copy of CITIZEN. Cheers!

The sparkling Finger Lakes!

Hi, it’s Heather! As Rich mentioned in the last post, over the holiday season, we had the opportunity to try a few of the sparkling wines that are produced here in the Finger Lakes region. Here’s a quick synopsis of our taste test:

First we sampled Hunt Country’s Chardonnay Champagne. This wine was deep, rich and delicious, with pear and apple flavors, a surprising hint of buttered popcorn, and a caramelized-buttery finish. It reminded us of crème brulée, and we agreed that it would pair nicely with that dessert. We just may have to pick up another bottle soon!

Next up was the award-winning 2006 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs. We already knew that we liked Chateau Frank Célèbre, as well as Célèbre Rosé. We were eager to try the 2006 Blanc de Blancs, which won gold at both the Tasters Guild International and the Los Angeles International Wine Competitions. It also was given a 90 point rating by Wine and Spirits Magazine. This sparkling wine is made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Blanc. It was light, refreshing, and extremely well-balanced. The slightly floral aroma led into a sweet start with citrus and pear flavors. The finish was dry and crisp. We agreed that it was the most “Champagne-like” of the sparkling wines that we tasted, and well-deserving of its many honors.

Finally, we indulged in Swedish Hill’s Riesling Cuvée. This is another award-winning wine, having garnered the Governor’s Cup at the 2010 New York Wine and Food Classic, the highest honor for a New York State wine. It was pleasantly light and crisp, with a fruity aroma and hints of peach on the palate. This slightly sweet sparkling wine was quite amazing!

What’s your favorite Finger Lakes sparkling wine? Leave us a comment so we can try your recommendations!