Sip, Sip, Hooray: Part 1

A fun cocktail kit to make your own Moscow Mules at home, complete with snazzy copper mugs.
A fun cocktail kit to make your own Moscow Mules at home, complete with snazzy copper mugs.

Habanero Moscow Mule Kit

Now, this is guaranteed to spice up Valentine’s Day.

Hanson of Sonoma Distillery has put together a fun DIY Moscow Mule Kit ($60) that comes complete with most everything you need to make the popular cocktail. All you need do is just add the final fresh wedge of lime. You can get two Hanson-embossed copper mugs (an additional $40) for the full effect.

I had a chance to try a sample of the full kit with my choice of Hanson’s Organic Habanero as the base. You get a full 750ml bottle of the vodka that’s made by steeping seven varieties of peppers, including habaneros in the neutral vodka. Tasted straight, it’s grassy, subtly sweet, and peppery with a pleasant kick of throat-warming heat that’s not overwhelming. In short, it’s wickedly good.

The kit comes complete with two bottles of ginger beer, a bottle of organic agave, and a bottle of lime juice. There’s a handy recipe card, too, so you readily know what proportions to pour to your gleaming copper mug.

Everything you get with the kit.
Everything you get with the kit.

Stir it all up and enjoy a cocktail that is rousing and refreshing with ginger, citrus, and spicy peppery heat. It will definitely wake up the taste buds. And you can’t help but want another sip — and another — after the first one.

Cheers: Try the Habanero vodka in your next Bloody Mary or margarita. Or add a splash to fresh-squeezed orange, grapefruit, cucumber, or watermelon juice. Or swap out the ginger beer for coconut water, a riff I thoroughly enjoyed.

2015 Artesa Vineyards Grand Reserve Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine

Napa’s Artesa Vineyards & Winery has debuted its first demi sec, a semi-dry sparking wine with a slight sweetness to it.

The 2015 Artesa Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine ($60), of which I received a sample, is a blend of 55 percent Chardonnay and 45 percent Pinot Noir grapes from Los Carneros, the coolest appellation in the Napa Valley.

A sweet bubbly from Artesa.
A sweet bubbly from Artesa.

Crisp and bright, the bubbly wine is fragrant with apples and pears, has a slightly creamy mouthfeel, and tastes like apple cider married with peaches.

If you lean savory, pair this sparkler with spicy Thai, Indian or Sichuan dishes. Or save it for dessert to enjoy with macarons, shortbread, pound cake, apple pie, peach cobbler or vanilla birthday cake.

Cheers: If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting the Artesa winery, it’s a must-see. Designed by Barcelona architect, Domingo Triay, it was built to blend in with its surroundings. So much so that if you were to scan the horizon for it, you might miss it entirely because it was purposely built and covered in greenery to mimic the high hill it’s built on. It’s a marvel of a design.

Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey

You may know the name Fritz Maytag mostly for pioneering the craft beer movement with his purchase of San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing in 1965.

But he also founded the Anchor Distilling Co. (now Hotaling & Co.) in 1993, and created the first American craft whiskey to be produced since Prohibition.

Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey ($60) is pot-distilled from malted rye. This method is thought to create a more flavorful and fuller-bodied spirit than that distilled in more modern column stills.

Rye whiskey made the age-old way.
Rye whiskey made the age-old way.

It’s aged for a minimum of six years in white oak barrels, lending it a beautiful deep caramel color. When I opened a sample bottle, I was immediately grabbed with the fragrance of cherries, vanilla and cedar.

At 48.5 percent ABV, it definitely is potent when sipped neat. But it’s also surprisingly smooth with notes of cherries, cinnamon, cloves, orange, and toasted nuts.

Enjoy neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails. Pick up a bottle at retailers such as K&L Wine Merchants, Mission Wine & Spirits, and Mollie Stone’s Markets.

Cheers: You can also enjoy Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey at many San Francisco restaurants and watering holes, including The Battery, Bix, Epic Steak, Absinthe Brasserie, Rosemary & Pine, Routier, and the Lost Resort.

More: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 24

And: Sip, Sip, Hooray: Part 1

And: Sip, Sip, Hooray: Part 2

And: Sip, Sip, Hooray: Part 3

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