Category Archives: Spirits/Cocktails/Beer

And Now For a Beer That’s A Little Different

Your eyes are not fooling you.

Your eyes are not fooling you.

 

If you think the foamy head on that frosty mug of beer looks a shade pink, your eyes are not deceiving you.

That’s because this beer has the unlikely ingredient of blackberries.

A full pound of blackberries per liter, in fact.

The Palos Verdes Brouwerij West’s beer is whimsically named “Dog Ate My Homework.”

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My On-Again, Off-Again, On-Again Love Affair with Coconut

Coconut banana macadamia nut -- a taste of Hawaii in your own home.

Coconut banana macadamia nut — a taste of Hawaii in your own home.

 

As a teen, I fell for coconut.

Hard.

I’d bake sticky coconut macaroons, shower vanilla frosted cakes liberally with the snowy shards, and stir in as much shredded coconut as humanly possible into the batter for my favorite Morning Glory muffins.

But in my 20s, all of that stopped. I turned my back on coconut.

Maybe it was my young adult self trying to assert a more grown-up palate. Or the reaction to way too many Mound’s bars or supermarket German chocolate cakes early on, both of which had the nasty habit of rendering coconut nearly sickly sweet.

In any event, coconut and I parted ways. For a long, long time. I went out of my way to avoid the stuff, picking around the lone coconut bonbon in the See’s candy box or turning up my nose at any dessert that dared include it.

But a few years ago, ever so slowly, that flame for coconut was rekindled.

Koloa Coconut Rum mini bottles -- a souvenir from my recent trip to Kauai.

Koloa Coconut Rum mini bottles — a souvenir from my recent trip to Kauai.

Maybe it started when I succumbed to a sublime wedge of coconut cake at the cute-as-a-button Hominy Grill in Charleston. Because if you’re in Charleston, how can you not eat coconut cake?

Or all my recent trips to Hawaii, where coconut something or another can be found on every menu around.

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Hankering for Hawaii Part II: A Taste of Rum

The tasting bar at Koloa Rum Co. in Kauai.

The tasting bar at Koloa Rum Co. in Kauai.

 

KAUAI, HAWAII –When the future of the last of the island’s sugar plantations turned uncertain, a group of investors got together to try to figure out a way to save them.

Their idea?

Rum. Distilled from Kauai rain water and home-grown sugarcane made into raw crystal sugar.

Producing the 80 proof-and-over spirit did prolong the life of the last sugarcane plantation, but couldn’t save it from eventual closure.

Still, Koloa Rum Co. has proved a success story.

Established in 2009, it remains the first and only licensed distillery on Kauai. Its award-winning rums are now sold in nine states, as well as inf France, Australia and Canada. In San Francisco, you can pick up bottles at Cask stores.

With 22 employees, Koloa Rum now produces seven different rums.

If you fly Hawaiian Airlines to the islands, too, you can even enjoy a Koloa Breeze rum punch for free — even in coach — in a promotion by the airlines and distiller.

Moreover, when you’re on Kauai, you can visit Koloa Rum’s tasting room at the Kilohana Plantation. Free tastings are offered every half hour. You must be 21 years or older to partake, of course. And yes, IDs are checked.

That’s just what I did on a trip a few weeks ago to Kauai, courtesy of the Kauai Visitors Bureau. I’ve enjoyed many a wine tasting. But never a rum tasting, which will definitely jolt you awake at 11 in the morning, which is when I did it.

Making my Mai Tai shot.

Making my Mai Tai shot.

By Kauai law, each person is allowed tastings of only 1 ounce of rum per day. In this tasting, you’re basically making your own Mai Tai shot. Your guide first pours a little Koloa Mai Tai mix into one shot glass for you to taste. Next, a pour of the Koloa White Rum into another glass. Take a small sip to taste the crisp, clear rum that has a slight tropical pineapple finish. Then, pour it into your Mai Tai mix glass. Next, you get a pour of the Koloa Dark Rum, which tastes of molasses, coffee and toffee. The darker rum has more caramelized sugar added to it, hence its color. To create a classic Mai Tai, carefully pour your Dark Rum down the side of the shot glass with the Mai Tai mix and White Rum. You end up with a float of the Dark Rum on top. After you’re done admiring your handiwork, slam it back in one chug for a quick buzz.

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A Perfect Valentine’s Day Pairing, Dessert For Dinner, and More

A Valentine's Day gift that keeps on giving. (Photo courtesy of Eden Canyon Vineyards)

A Valentine’s Day gift that keeps on giving. (Photo courtesy of Eden Canyon Vineyards)

Eden Canyon’s Perfect Pair

Sure, I’m biased, but I do think that Eden Canyon Vineyards has come up with the perfect pairing for Valentine’s Day.

It’s a signed copy of my cookbook, San Francisco Chef’s Table (Lyons Press), along with a bottle of its 2010 “Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon, which won a gold medal in the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

The $55.95 “Perfect Pair” gift set is just the ticket to set the mood. Uncork the wine, and cozy up to one another as you leaf through the book together to plan your next cooking adventure or the next Bay Area restaurant you most want to visit.

The winery, the only estate-owned Filipino-American one in the country, is in the Paso Robles Appellation. The wine is made by Danny Villamin and his daughter, Elaine Blackaby.

Presidio Social Club Cocktails To Take Home

If you’ve visited Presidio Social Club in San Francisco, you know they make a mean retro cocktail.

Now, they’ve bottled two for you to enjoy easily at home.

All ready to take home. (Photo courtesy of the Presidio Social Club)

All ready to take home. (Photo courtesy of the Presidio Social Club)

Choose between the Barrel Aged Negroni made with gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari; or the Barrel Aged Reasons Rye, a blend of rye, punt e mes, Cointreau and orange bitters.

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Time to Enjoy Holiday Teas, Christmas Ales and More

Afternoon tea hits the spot during the holidays. (Photo courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton)

Afternoon tea hits the spot during the holidays. (Photo courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton)

Holiday Tea Time at The Ritz-Carlton SF

If you need a respite from all that holiday shopping, head to the swank Ritz-Carlton San Francisco for some soothing tea.

Take a load off at the 3 p.m. afternoon tea in the lounge, available daily through Dec. 24.

You’ll enjoy a pot of tea, savory finger sandwiches, scones, macarons and other sweets while live music entertains.

Price is $65 per person.

The little ones are sure to love the Teddy Bear Tea, available 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 20-24.

Children can bring their favorite stuffed animal to the Terrace Room to meet Stretchy the Elf, Holly Berry and the giant Ritz-Carlton Teddy Bear. They’ll also get to partake in holiday story-telling, sing-a-longs and a photo session with the Ritz-Carlton Teddy Bear. Holiday treats will be served, too.

Aww,  how cute is this Teddy Bear Tea? (Photo courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton)

Aww, how cute is this Teddy Bear Tea? (Photo courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton)

Price is $110 per person. A portion of proceeds benefits the Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area foundation.

For reservations to either tea event, call (415) 773-6168.

Winter-Christmas Ales at The Trappist

The Trappist in Oakland is celebrating Kerstbier, a two-day Bacchanalia today through Saturday that spotlights a bevy of winter-Christmas ales, including a tap take-over with 25 featured beers.

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