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This cocktail from the inaugural menu at Better Luck Tomorrow features sorrel, a nod to the bar’s work with chef Justin Yu and local producers.

1½ oz. aquavit (Negranza uses Krogstad)
½ oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. orgeat (Negranza uses Giffard)
1 fresh egg white (pasteurized if you like)
1 French sorrel leaf
Tools: muddler, shaker, strainer, fine strainer
Glass: coupe
Garnish: red-veined sorrel leaf

Muddle the sorrel in a shaker and add the remaining ingredients. Shake well without ice until foamy, then add ice and shake again to chill. Double strain into chilled glass, then garnish.

Alex Negranza, Better Luck Tomorrow, Houston

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The holidays are over, the weather is cold, and the wallet probably feels a little lighter these days after so many festivities. What better time to settle in at home with an easy-drinking, budget-friendly wine? The newest release from second-generation Sonoma winemaker Tom Gore, this 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is fruit-forward with flavors of cherries, currants and a hint of spice. The soft tannins lend a pleasantly dry finish and make this one extra drinkable, with a price that’s perfect for any night of the week. $14,

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Ashtin Berry, head bartender at Tokyo Record Bar, and the bar’s owner, Ariel Arce.

“When you put 20 strangers in a tiny room, it’s potentially incredible and it’s potentially very strange,” says Ariel Arce. She’s talking about Tokyo Record Bar, her Greenwich Village saké destination and the downstairs neighbor of Air’s Champagne Parlor, one of this year’s Imbibe 75 Places to Watch.

The subterranean bar is at once cozy and energetic. “It almost feels like you’re walking into someone’s private party,” Arce says. Paper cherry blossoms bloom from the bar’s ceiling and the bustling open kitchen is cordoned off by lightweight shoji screens that add to the coziness of the small room. On the back wall, a colorful mural depicting a misty mountain scene strikingly contrasts the wooden furniture’s neutral tones.

The bar is a 20-seat space devoted to vinyl records coupled with a seven-course izakaya-style prix fixe menu. Sound like a strange mix? After opening last August, reservations were quickly snatched up, and nearly six months later the bar’s books remain full. One of the main attractions is the fact that guests have a say in the music selection. “I felt like in New York, and in general, there weren’t a lot of spaces that tie together the experiences of listening to music, drinking and eating food, and...

At Manhattan’s Tokyo Record Bar, the Mojito serves as inspiration for this refreshing blend of shiso and three types of saké.

2 oz. junmai ginjo saké (Tokyo Record Bar uses Koshi No Kanbai)
1 oz. yuzu saké (Tokyo Record Bar uses Joto)
1 oz. Banzai Bunny sparkling yuzu saké
3 shiso leaves
Tools: muddler
Glass: highball
Garnish: shiso leaf

Muddle the shiso leaves in the bottom of a glass. Add the junmai ginjo saké and yuzu saké to the glass and fill with ice. Top with sparkling yuzu saké and garnish.

Ashtin Berry and Ariel Arce, Tokyo Record Bar, New York City

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The brandy category keeps getting better and better, just as bartenders continue to devise new ways of mixing the spirit into cocktails. There’s never a bad time for brandy, but winter is an especially perfect time to incorporate it into your glass.

Ale Punch
This ale punch is one of the few recipes with beer that appears in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 Bar-Tender’s Guide.

Banana Alexander
The Banana Alexander at Holeman and Finch in Atlanta is a fun tropical riff on the classic Brandy Alexander recipe.

Black Rider
Named after a Tom Waits album, a full-bodied brandy and a strong, smoky mezcal make this drink sing.

Brandy Alexander
A holiday classic via Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge.

Brandy Crusta
The Brandy Crusta was originally made with Cognac but can also be made with brandy, bourbon or rye whiskey.

Classic Brandy Milk Punch
The Brandy Milk Punch recipe has long been a holiday staple in Louisiana, thanks to the New Orleans restaurants run by the Brennan’s.

Deauville Sidecar
Calvados amplifies the fruity side of aged brandy in this twist on the classic Sidecar cocktail.

Improved Japanese Cocktail
This riff on a 19th-century classic gets a boost with the addition of lemon juice and Peychaud’s bitters.

Loud Speaker
California brandy’s richness is countered by gin’s spark in this adaptation of a classic cocktail.

Saint Cecilia’s Society Punch
Brandy, rum and black tea syrup create a wintry...

It’s a cool, misty morning above the banks of Japan’s Uji River, when, after weeks spent under cover, they’re ready. Harvesters arrive, woven baskets in tow, and lift the veil. Through a soft filter of early morning light, they sit—precious young tea buds destined for gyokuro. Translating to “jade dew,” this jewel-toned green tea is the most highly prized of all Japanese teas, and once you become acquainted, you’ll quickly understand why.

But isn’t all tea the same? Well, yes and no. Horticulturally speaking, all teas originate with the same shrub species—camellia sinensis—but just as the wine grape boasts thousands of varieties, so, too, does the humble tea plant. Traditionally, gyokuro comes from yabukita, a cultivar first bred in the early 20th century and renowned for its cold-weather hardiness and inherent sweetness—it’s currently the most widely planted tea cultivar in Japan. But for gyokuro, it’s less about from what it’s made, and more about how it’s made that gives the tea its air of wild mystique.

Going Undercover

“What really makes gyokuro so different from other teas is its remarkable shade-growing process,” says Linda Villano, owner and co-founder of online tea retailer SerendipiTea. In early spring, when warming weather stimulates the plant to send up a flush of new growth, tent-like abodes are constructed to shade the shrubs from the sun. For the traditional tana covering, low, sturdy bamboo structures are erected around the plot of plants destined for...

These quick-bread Märzen Pecan Caramel Rolls are made with a traditional Oktoberfest-style beer that’s full-bodied and has lots of toasty malts. It’s a perfect complement to the rich caramel sauce and crunchy pecans.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. fine sea salt
⅓ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed, plus 1 Tbsp. softened
4 oz. märzen, room temperature
1 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 oz. märzen beer
½ cup chopped raw pecans

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter.

For the rolls, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the cubed butter, and use a pastry blender or two knives to work the butter into the flour until the mixture is in pea-sized pieces. Pour in 4 ounces of beer and stir until a dough forms. Knead the dough into a ball.

Roll the dough on a floured surface into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle. Turn the rectangle so that the long end faces you. Rub the softened tablespoon of butter over the dough. Sprinkle it with 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar and cinnamon. Start from the bottom and roll the dough into a log. Tuck in each end. Set aside.

For the topping, melt ¼ cup of the brown sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, just until the sugar...

Our friends at Q Drinks are giving away a case of mixers! Each mixer is specially crafted to enhance the finest spirits. They’re less sweet than many sodas, allowing the subtleties of quality spirits to shine through beautifully in cocktails. The winner will be able to choose from Ginger Beer, Tonic Water, Indian Tonic Water, Ginger Ale, Club Soda, Kola and Sparkling Grapefruit, or a mixed case of varied flavors. The deadline for entries is January 14, 2018, and you must be living in the United States and be at least 21 years old to qualify to win.

Click here to enter!

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A classic cocktail in four equal parts, the Last Word is a playground for bartenders, as we discovered in our January/February 2018 issue. In this loose interpretation at PaaDee in Portland, Oregon, bartender Jon Lewis infuses gin with pineapple and subs in banana liqueur and Cognac in place of the maraschino. A generous spritz of mezcal lends an earthy aroma. “The Last Resort is a tropical take on the Last Word,” says Lewis. “It was inspired by my love of banana, pineapple and tiki drinks.”

¾ oz. pineapple-infused gin
¾ oz. green Chartreuse
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. banana liqueur
¼ oz. Cognac
Spritz (8) of mezcal
Tools: shaker, strainer, fine strainer
Glass: coupe

In an ice-filled shaker, add all the ingredients except the mezcal. Shake and double strain into a chilled coupe, then spritz mezcal on top.

Pineapple Gin: Using excess pineapple that you wouldn’t normally juice (skin, core, trimmings), and one 750-ml. bottle of gin. Infuse for 24-48 hours, then strain and rebottle.

Jon Lewis, PaaDee, Portland, Oregon

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As the world’s most popular fruit, bananas have been cultivated around the globe for hundreds of years. Sweet and creamy, banana is the starchy staple that lends distinctive depth to everything from puddings and pies to … cocktails? Shake a cocktail with muddled banana and you end up with a goopy mess, so how can you best transfer the flavor of banana to mixed drinks? Banana liqueur.

Mentions of banana brandy date back to the 1850s. By the 1900s that had evolved into crème de banane (or crème de banana), which led to some of the earliest banana liqueur cocktails, such as the Banana Bliss (Cognac and banana liqueur) and the Waterloo (bourbon, orange and lemon juices, and crème de banane), both from the 1930s. But fast-forward to the ’80s, and things get a little off track with artificial ingredients and an abundance of sugar that tips an already-sweet product into something unbearably cloying. Today, however, producers including Bols, Monin and Giffard are bolstering the fruit’s flavor in liqueurs—and, it seems, bartenders are going bananas for it.

A good banana liqueur adds the essence of pure banana flavor to a cocktail without notably altering the drink’s viscosity or color. Banana liqueur is a natural match to aged rum and tequila; just add high-acid fruits like pineapple and lime. While bartending at Mayahuel in Manhattan’s East Village, Jordan Brower mixed just such a combo with Giffard’s Banane du Bresil—a liqueur...

I’ve never been a fan of January. Holiday festivities are all wrapped up, December’s vacations are over, and the calendar offers nothing but school days, deadlines and winter weather for months to come. But instead of being consumed by winter’s gloom, I make plans for better days. There are new bars and cafés to visit, brewers and winemakers whose work merits discovery and cities where drinks scenes are coming to life, great for exploring during a weekend getaway.

We’ve got plenty of options to keep you busy all year long. This issue features the Imbibe 75, our 5th annual compilation of people, places, destinations and directions that we think will influence the way you drink in the year ahead. In search of awesome cocktails? Then head to Houston and say hello to Alex Negranza, our Bartender of the Year, or set your sights on the Living Room Bar at The Dewberry Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, our Cocktail Bar of the Year. Charleston’s also home to several of our People to Watch for 2018—publicist and event organizer Angel Postell, and bloggers and speakers Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves, aka the Cocktail Bandits.

Great coffee is an essential part of any voyage of discovery, and a great place to start is in St. Louis at our Coffee Bar of the Year, Blueprint Coffee, and get to know our Coffee Person of the Year, Jeff Duggan. Contributing editor...

The lovely combo of orange and cardamom shine in this Coffee Old Fashioned from Blueprint Coffee.

Double shot of espresso
2 dashes Angostura bitters
½ oz. orange-cardamom syrup
Tools: mixing glass, barspoon
Glass: Old Fashioned or small jar
Garnish: lemon peel

Fill a mixing glass with ice and set aside. Combine the bitters and syrup in a separate glass and pull the espresso into the mixture. After the shot has pulled, skim the crema from the top and discard. Add the bitters, syrup and espresso mixture into the prepared mixing glass and stir until combined. Strain into a glass over fresh ice. Garnish.

Orange-Cardamom Syrup
2 oranges, zested
2 Tbs cardamom seeds, chopped
2 c. white sugar
10 oz. boiling water
6 oz. fresh orange juice

Combine the orange zest, cardamom seeds and 2 cups of sugar. Mix well, then allow to sit in a sealed container at room temperature for 3 days. After 3 days, strain the sugar from the zest and solids. Boil the liquids and stir vigorously. Cool, strain into a bottle and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Alex Werth, Blueprint Coffee, St. Louis

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Raleigh’s Brewery Bhavana is not your average beer destination. Part brewpub, part dim sum restaurant and part flower shop and bookstore, the genre-defying space blends a surprising mix of ideas, but it’s masterfully unified in its vision. “We wanted to create a living room where people from all walks of life can co-exist, collaborate and be inspired by one another,” says co-founder Patrick Woodson, a former Peace Corps volunteer and current head brewer at the brewpub.

Woodson had always dreamed of opening a brewery, but his path to Bhavana was not a straight line. While volunteering in Laos, he and his wife Aubrey fell in love with the country’s cuisine and culture, so when Woodson heard the North Carolina town where his parents recently relocated had a reputable Laotian restaurant called Bida Manda, he was intrigued. “We sat at table 7, which we always cite because we remember the moment,” Woodson says as he recalls meeting business partner Vansana Nolintha. “Van was managing that night, and he introduced himself and we shared stories and photos.”

At the time, Patrick and Aubrey didn’t know where they’d settle, but Raleigh immediately pulled them in. They decided to move there, coincidentally, a block away from Nolintha. “When I started brewing again for fun, we’d often hang out and drink my random recipes. That snowballed into Brewery Bhavana four years later,” Woodson says.

“We were thinking about how we could engage with the community in a way that feels authentic and genuine, so we were thinking about the power of words and books,” says Nolintha of their unique blend of concepts. “We did an...

A good meal deserves a good companion. We teamed up with Green Chef, an organic meal kit service, to share our passion for the perfect pairing, and we collaborated with bartender Eric Rickey on a celebration-worthy cocktail especially for Green Chef.

This New Year’s Eve, mix up a celebratory spin on the Gibson. Fragrant herbs and a kiss of citrus brighten the classic recipe, and in place of the traditional pickled onion garnish, cranberries add a festive pop of color. For the full recipe, click here.

Visit Green Chef to learn more about their meal plans and try their service with 2 complimentary meals.

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There are seemingly endless sparkling wine options to choose from this holiday season, but none with a back story quite like this recently released brut rosé. Half sisters-turned-wine-entrepreneurs Andréa and Robin McBride grew up on opposite sides of the world (Andreá in New Zealand and Robin in California), each unaware of the other’s existence until they found each other in 1999. Over the years, a shared interest in wine blossomed, and in 2010, the sisters launched their own winery, McBride Sisters Wine. Their brut rosé is a standout, made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from vineyards in New Zealand’s Wairau Valley and cellared for three months. Bursting with juicy strawberry flavor, this crisp, lively bottle is the perfect way to pop the top on 2018. $20,

The post Drink of the Week: McBride Sisters NV Sparkling Brut Rosé appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

This low-ABV cocktail gets a boost of flavor from mezcal and Cynar.

2 oz. fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
½ oz. Cynar
½ oz. dry curaçao
¼ oz. mezcal (Cormier uses Del Maguey Vida)
2 oz. chilled soda
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: double Old Fashioned
Garnish: grapefruit twist

Combine the first 4 ingredients with ice and shake to chill. Add the soda to an ice-filled glass, then strain the cocktail into the glass. Twist a grapefruit peel over the drink; use as garnish.

Jenner Cormier, Bar Kismet, Halifax, Nova Scotia

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Many faces make up today’s cocktail culture—bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts, historians and bloggers. Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves saw that booming culture making its way to Charleston, and in 2013 the duo (who met while students at the College of Charleston) stepped out as the Cocktail Bandits on Instagram, followed by a website and blog. Now, with a book coming out in January (Holy Spirits, an exploration of Charleston’s history and culture as seen through what the city drinks) and a schedule filled with seminars and speaking gigs at culinary events, Caldwell and Reaves are helping spread the word of Charleston’s drinking culture, and bringing the knowledge of quality cocktails to new and long-overlooked audiences.

“We started because we were making cocktails, and making our own renditions at home with syrups and tinctures, and our followers said they wanted to see more of what we were doing,” Caldwell says. “We started going to events around town, and we became kind of unofficial Charleston ambassadors.” Reaves notes that their timing was good. “We noticed the change around 2012, with the whole Upper King Street area having restaurants and bars, and we started seeing a wave of new concepts coming to Charleston,” Reaves says.

But as in most cities around the country, Charleston’s cocktail scene seemed largely homogenous, directed at and populated by an overwhelmingly white audience. Caldwell and Reaves aimed to change that....

Ariel Arce thinks sparkling wines have gotten a bad rap—pretentious, overpriced, inaccessible. Not helping the situation is the stubborn mindset that bubbles are strictly for celebrating, not for any-day drinking. So she set out to change that mindset, overseeing sparkling lists at New York spots like (the now closed) Birds and Bubbles and Riddling Widow. And now, she has her own bar, Air’s Champagne Parlor, which we highlight in our 2018 Imbibe 75 Issue. Air’s opened last summer with a wide-ranging and comprehensive list that breaks down by-the-glass selections by flavor and organizes bottles by region, varietal and vintage. “I wanted to find value-focused sparkling wines and Champagnes that would push the limits of people’s understanding of what Champagne was,” she says.

Arce curates her list with less-frequently seen bottles, many from growers and producers that she knows personally from her travels. “I think oftentimes you see a lot of the same names over and over again,” she says. “I definitely could not be happier that there is as much Champagne as there is on the market right now, but you see a lot of repetition. We really do our homework to try to find what we consider to be the best quality sparkling wines that you might not see that often.”

To that end, we asked Arce to recommend some of her current favorite bottles that fly below the radar and are perfect for celebrations or any night of the week.

Dhondt-Grellet Brut Champagne Dans un Premier Temps
This winery in Avize was established in...

Fresh lemon juice adds the perfect bright pop to this bold cocktail from the Living Room Bar at Charleston’s Dewberry Hotel.

1½ oz. bourbon
¾ oz. Averna
½ oz. Campari
½ oz. Heering cherry liqueur
¼ oz. fresh lemon juice
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: cocktail
Garnish: large ball or cube of ice

Shake all the ingredients with ice to chill, then strain into a glass holding a single large ball or cube of ice.

Ryan Casey, The Dewberry Hotel, Charleston

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A new day in instant coffee has dawned, thanks to Sudden Coffee. Founded in 2015 by Joshua Zloof, a food-loving techie turned CEO, and Kalle Freese, an award-winning Finnish barista, Sudden delivers a quality cup of coffee, instantly. Like many inventions, necessity was the inspiration for Sudden. “I grew up in a suburb of San Francisco where we originally had a Peet’s Coffee and later a Starbucks in our town, which was still a 15-minute drive away,” says 31-year-old Zloof, who saw an opportunity to bring quality coffee to people living outside of major metropolitan areas.

In 2015, Freese was already a familiar face on the coffee scene—a two-time Finnish Barista Champion and founder of Helsinki’s now-shuttered Freese Coffee. But a chance conversation with a former Nestlé flavor scientist-turned-chemistry professor led to an idea: transportable, freeze-dried, instant specialty coffee. Freese was determined to develop a formula, and he set to work in the summer of 2015, shut away in a rented lab stocked with beans and a La Marzocco espresso machine.

By the season’s end, he had found success. Pulling individual shots of espresso, leaving them to cool and then freeze-drying them provided the makings of the instant cup Freese sought. Soon, he connected with Bay Area investors, such as Flickr’s co-founder Caterina Fake, and Sudden Coffee officially came to life in October of 2015, with Zloof, a restaurant-technology pro at Groupon, climbing aboard that November. Just a month later, Sudden rolled out its first capsules in time for the holidays...