Friday, February 5, 2016

Big Game Grab Bag

So we hear there's an important football game coming up on Sunday. Since it doesn't involve the Eagles, Giants or Jets, we're not so sure about that. But if you're hosting a Big Game party, or simply attending one, we have answers to your beverage questions. Click here for yesterday's blog post, where we pre-gamed the Big Game.

In-Store Events

We have a big Neshaminy Creek Brewing tasting/Growler event in Lawrenceville today, 5-7pm. Fresh craft beer in time for the Big Game? Yes, we can help with that. On Saturday, we have our regularly-scheduled wine tasting, from 2-4pm. Click here for the tasting menu. We wrap up our pre-game on Sunday, with an appearance by the Bud Light Girls, from 1-3pm.

The weekend starts in Woodbridge with a sampling of Jim Beam Apple and Kentucky Fire, from 4-6pm today. Stop in on Saturday for our regular wine tasting, from 1-3pm. Click here for the tasting menu. The featured wine is a 93 point Barbaresco, on sale for under $27. The weekend's events wrap up with a sampling of Henry's Hard Soda, from 3-5pm on Sunday.

Just added to the Woodbridge schedule is the Founders Small Plates & Tasting Event. Four courses, five beers, just $20. Your admission fee includes one 12oz bottle of KBS and an All Day glass (no beer in there, sorry). Click here for info or to register. Limited to 25 people, so reserve your place now!

New Products

Our spring seasonal beers are continuing to arrive. Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale is now in stock,
all ready for St. Patrick's Day.

A pint for Pa Conway! The co-owners’ grandfather and policeman who’d likely uphold that an Irish Ale with full-bodied caramel malt flavors is just the ticket. 6.5% ABV, 25 IBU's. Conway's Irish Ale pairs well with corned beef, stews, and a hard day's work.

Glenmorangie Milsean (Scots Gaelic for ‘sweet things’ and pronounced ‘meel-shawn’) is a single malt whisky full of intense candied fruit flavors and mouth-watering sweetness. It has been created from Glenmorangie matured in ex-bourbon casks and then extra-matured in former wine casks, re-toasted for the
purpose. This distinctive cask preparation replicates something of the moreish sweetshop flavors in a single malt whisky. It is the seventh annual release in our multi-award-winning and always intriguing Private Edition range.

Aroma: Perfumed, sweet and spicy with hints of sugar cane, ripe fruits, sherbet lemons and fudge.

Taste: A sweet, luscious candy-like flavor followed by a mix of tart plummy fruit, candied orange peel, cherries, and angelica.

Finish: Long and spicy, but always with a sweetness in the background, with flavors of ginger, brown sugar, sweet tobacco and cake mix.

Limited availability, at $89.99.

2010 Chateau Senejac Haut Medoc. 93 points from Wine Enthusiast. "This chateau is under the
same ownership as Saint-Julien’s Château Talbot. The wine is firm, fruity, rich and concentrated, showing all the best qualities of 2010. There is a complex array of black fruits which are sustained by the firm, solid tannins. Age for at least 6–7 years."

92 points from James Suckling. "Really ripe almost jammy sweet fruit with raspberries, black currant and vanilla. Some fresh citrusy notes too. Full on the palate with ripe fruit and soft texture. Fine smooth tannins and good length. This chateau always makes serious wine."

$18.99 in the Bottle Club®.

Ripped from the Headlines

Colorado’s Fort Collins Brewery is adding a canning line in March, with plans to shift its entire core range to can format. Seasonal and limited edition releases will still be available in bottles. The craft brewer’s canned packaging will include suggested food pairings and date coding to denote the freshness of the beer. Fort Collins currently offers 50 ales and lagers on draft and in bottles throughout the U.S. (Courtesy Shanken Daily News).

Have a great weekend! Your blogger will attend an industry event Monday, so we'll see you here on Tuesday.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pre-Game the Big Game

Attending a football watching party on Sunday is pretty simple. You show up. Maybe you bring a bottle or a six-pack or some food, but it's easy. Hosting a party? A bit more complicated, maybe by a factor of a gazillion or so. Today's post is all about helping you simplify things. And since there aren't any local teams involved, guests might pay more attention to the party.

Maybe it's counter-intuitive, but we'll start with food. Ok, food and beverage. Along with chicken wings, the top food that will available on Sunday is pizza. We recently asked our store staff for their recommendations on beer and wine to pair with pizza. Click here for that post.

Beer and wine are popular choices for the Big Game, but punch bowls have found a place on many party tables. We just happen to have some great, yest simple punch recipes. Click here, here, here, and here for an assortment of recipes.

If you're thinking about spirits for Sunday, consult our Build a Bar workshops for ideas. So far, we've discussed Scotch, Irish Whiskey and Gin. There are also some additional cocktail recipes at the Gin link.

We heard a radio report this morning that there are something like 16 different wine choices at the stadium where the Big Game is being played this Sunday. While most people associate beer, not wine, with football, the Northern California location of the game does get you thinking about wine.

The stadium website doesn't make finding those wines easy. Our Woodbridge store does have a football-themed wine in stock, the J. Arthur One On Zip Toss Merlot. It's soft and enticing, with mocha and dark fruit. It's available for sampling on Saturday, from 1-3pm, during our regular wine tasting.

Cabernet Sauvignon, of course, remains the best selling red wine. For the Big Game, or for any time you need a red wine, Lawrenceville's Senior Wine Manager Brandon Bartfalvi recommends the 2013 Robert Storey Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, and not just because it's a wine from Northern California.

One of the top offerings of the year, do not miss this great Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Burgess Triere Vineyard and their signature hillside estate on Howell Mountain. Napa Valleys Burgess is one of our most requested Cabernets and this wine from their Estate Vineyards and a great vintage is one of the most incredible offerings yet from wine industry icon Robert Storey. And
Brandon says that it's great with wings.

For another football-themed product, how about this Effen Vodka? Everything about ultra-premium EFFEN® Vodka was painstakingly designed. The continuous distillation process that ensures extraordinarily smooth taste. The range of daring flavors, including Black Cherry, Dutch Raspberry, and Cucumber. And definitely the bartender-designed touch that adorns each bottle: a polymer sleeve. That's what makes EFFEN® Vodka perfect for those who love good design. We're the product of one.

Arriving just in time for the Big Game, the sleek bottle is cased in a textured football sleeve which comes stamped with 50 Cent's’s signature and logo.

Craft beer is always a top choice for football watching. Over the last week or so, we've discussed almost a dozen of the latest arrivals. These have included local favorites like River Horse Chocolate Porter and Northern California (see what we did there?) seasonals like Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut Down.

We just received our shipment of what might be the most popular seasonal craft beer, Troegs Nugget Nectar. Maybe take a six-pack to the party, and keep one six-pack for yourself.

If you're a last-minute shopper at our Lawrenceville store, you can meet the Bud Light Girls on Sunday, from 1-3pm. Last-minute shoppers in Woodbridge can enjoy a sampling of Henry's Hard Soda, from 3-5pm. If you are shopping this weekend, please allow a few extra minutes, as we do expect the stores to be busy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Room for More

One important reason that we seem to always be in the middle of re-arranging things on the shelves is that there are always new products on their way into the store. Sometimes, they are seasonal products (craft beer especially, but think about Rose wine and Beaujolais Nouveau); others are limited editions (often a Bourbon or craft spirit), and sometimes it's just a vintage change. Whatever the reason, we need to find space for great new products, like these:

The Bruery Jardinier, a brand new, year round beer. Jardinier, which is French for "gardener," was inspired by the fresh, sessionable beers so often found on the Belgian dinner table. Bright and flavorful with an assertive hop character, Jardinier is a perfect beer for any occasion, casual or ornate. 4.5% ABV, 35 IBU's. Enjoy Jardinier with California avocado toast, saffron & garlic clams, rotisserie leg of lamb, crispy Brussels sprouts, burnt orange ice cream. Available in 750ml bottles.

Apothic Crush. This will arrive within the next few days. This decadent red blend is every bit as memorable and captivating as your first epic crush. "This limited release red wine blends luscious red fruit flavors with notes of caramel and chocolate for a velvety, smooth mouthfeel," said Debbie Juergenson, Apothic winemaker. "With our time-tested winemaking style of blending Old World intrigue with modern sophistication, Apothic Crush is our most decadent red blend yet."

This will be available only for a limited time, at $9.99 in the Bottle Club®.

Remy Martin V. Returning after a hiatus. Daring and sophisticated: the premier eau-de-vie de vin from Rémy Martin. Born of legendary French vineyards, Rémy Martin V‘s grapes are distilled in the traditional manner in copper pot stills. Fresh, smooth, with crisp
flavors, and sophisticated aroma. Ice-cold filtration refines Rémy Martin V’s exceptional smoothness and brilliant transparency.

On the nose, fresh fruity notes with hints of grapes and pears and nuances of melon. The taste offers subtle hints of pear and nuances of fresh mint. The body is smooth and balanced.

Rémy Martin V is vibrant and intricate on the rocks. Mixed, it reveals the soul of great cocktails, classics and new creations alike. Available for $37.99 in the Bottle Club®.

Allagash Evora. Evora is a golden hued ale with aromas of tropical fruit, honey, and spice. Citrus, oak, and earthiness dominate the flavor and give way to hints of bread
crust. Malty and robust, this medium bodied beer finishes fruity, dry, and slightly tart.

We brew this beer with Maris Otter Malt and flaked oats, and hop with Sorachi Ace, Hallertau and Northern Brewer. Evora begins fermenting on stainless steel with a classic Belgian yeast strain, then moves over to Portuguese Brandy Barrels, where it ages with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis for over a year.

This is highly allocated, and we have a very limited amount for sale. Please call the store directly to see if any remains available. 375ml only.

Remember that we receive many more new products each week than we can possibly preview here. If you're looking for a specific new item, or you're just interested in what's new in general, please consult with our store staff.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Something New, with Savings

Some people will claim that the current craft beer trend started at a brewery in New England. American beer history shows that we used to have a huge number of breweries that simply never shipped beyond their local area. Pasteurization and refrigeration changed that, but those smaller breweries faded out, or were bought out by larger brands.

Today, we look to a different part of New England for our featured product. Long Trail Ale started life as Mountain Brewers, in 1989, about 4 years after Sam Adams debuted. Back then the brewery was a modest brew house tucked into the basement of the Old Woolen Mill in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont, with the goal to brew an affordable, American-made alternative to the pricey German and English exports that filled the shelves.

With the Mountain Brewers leading the pack, Long Trail Ale slowly weaved its way into the Green Mountain landscape—becoming as much a Vermont tradition as the hiking trail itself. Commonly referred to as "the Long Trail guys," they eventually changed their name. When they outgrew the 8,000 barrel-a-year system in the Old Mill basement in 1995, they decided to take a hike on up the road to where they reside today.

And how about this bit of environmental stewardship: besides being green in color, the original Long Trail Ale bottles were recycled and reused Beck's and St. Pauli Girl bottles.

Unearthed, brand-new for 2016, is rooted in a labyrinth of roasted malts.

The alter-ego to the big and juicy Limbo IPA, this American stout is full of big notes of coffee and chocolate. 7.9% ABV, 58 IBU's.

Click here for our coupon page, where you can save on Unearthed, other craft beer, wine and whisky. The coupons are valid at Joe Canal's in Lawrenceville and Woodbridge.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Football Game Party Mix

You're probably aware that there's a championship football game this coming Sunday. Since there are no local teams involved, you can pay more attention to the party side of the evening, and we're here to help you with that. We are open normal hours this week, so you have plenty of time to do your shopping. We always suggest shopping early, for the best selection. However, if you wait until Sunday, you can meet the Bud Light Girls in Lawrenceville, or enjoy a sample of Henry's Hard Soda in Woodbridge.

We've scoured the internet and worked with our staff to bring you a few Big Game cocktail recipes that are sure to please the party crowd on Sunday night.

Big Game Punch

1 liter Tito's Vodka
3 bottles of Corona, 12 oz/bottle
3 containers frozen limeade, 6 oz/container
3 bottles club soda, 1 liter
3 limes, sliced into wheels
Lime wedges, for garnish

Add the vodka, beer, limeade, and club soda to a large serving container and mix well. Add lime wheels and pour into tall tumblers filled with ice. Garnish each glass with a lime wedge and serve.

Super Sunday Punchbowl of Freedom

6  Cinnamon sticks
25  Whole cloves
1 tsp Allspice
1 bottle (750ML) Woodford Reserve Bourbon
1 bottle (750ml) Laird's Applejack
25 oz Ruby red grapefruit juice
25 oz Honey
10 oz Sweet tea
1 apple, cored and sliced

Wrap the cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice in cheesecloth, tie into a bundle and place in a punch bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly. Fill with ice, stir and garnish with apple slices.

(If assembling ahead of time, refrigerate after stirring together the ingredients and add the ice just before serving).

Montgomery Punch

2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup Christian Brothers Brandy
2 (750ML) bottles chilled La Marca Prosecco
1 (375ML) bottle chilled dessert wine, like Lions de Suduiraut Sauternes
Garnishes: orange slices, lemon slices, cranberries

Stir together first 2 ingredients until sugar dissolves. Stir in brandy. Pour over ice in a punch bowl. Stir in sparkling and dessert wines.

Recipes courtesy, and

Friday, January 29, 2016

Weekend Grab Bag

We can all shop in a more leisurely manner than last weekend, so that's a good thing. Please note, however, that the professional football championship game (we honor trademarks and copyrights, but you know what we mean) is one week from Sunday. You'll beat the crowds if you do your Big Game shopping this weekend.

In-Store Events

It's a wine tasting weekend in Lawrenceville. We will observe the usual tasting hours of 4-6pm Friday and 2-4pm Saturday. Click here for the tasting menu.

Looking ahead to the Big Game weekend, we have a tasting of Neshaminy Creek Brewing on Friday, February 5, and a visit from the Bud Light Girls on Sunday. Of course, there will also be the regular Saturday wine tasting. Later on, we wrap up February with a Leap Year Sale and Celebration, with details TBA. Click here for the complete Events Calendar.

In Woodbridge, we're also having a wine tasting weekend. Our tasting hours are 4-6pm Friday and 1-3pm on Saturday. Click here for the tasting menu.

We'll have three different tastings at Woodbridge on that Big Game weekend. Stop in on Friday for a tasting of Jim Beam Apple and Kentucky Fire. Our regular wine tasting will take place on Saturday. And come back on Sunday for a tasting of a new product, Henry's Hard Soda.

The rest of our February schedule includes a tasting of Leinenkugel's. Click here for the full Events Calendar.

New Products

River Horse Chocolate Porter. We start with a brown porter brewed with dark roasted malts, and add one pound of chocolate per barrel. We then throw in some Madagascar Vanilla beans to accentuate the chocolate flavors, resulting in a decadent porter. Available February - March. ABV - 6.5%.

Bodegas Avante Tineta 2012. "This Tempranillo is lush and inviting with a lot of personality for the modest price. The wine offers flavors of dark raspberries, spice, cedar and cocoa. Deep and dark with lush tannins and medium acidity.  Give this an hour to open up and enjoy!!!" - Brandon
Bartfalvi, Senior Wine Manager, Lawrenceville.

Also Rated 91 points by IWC. Their review: "Dark purple. An exotically perfumed bouquet evokes dark berries, cola and candied flowers. Plush and invitingly sweet, displaying good heft to its concentrated boysenberry, lavender pastille and cherry-cola flavors; zesty acidity contributes spine and lift. Shows real depth and power but comes off as lithe, with a bright minerally quality adding cut. Fine-grained tannins add grip to the very long, penetrating finish, with the blue fruit and floral notes echoing. This wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in used French and American oak barrels."

Only $10.96 in the Bottle Club®.

Dream Catcher Legendary "Toasted" Irish Liqueur. Rooted in an old Gaelic recipe and started in an historic farmhouse with a pot still in County Cavan, Ireland. A farmer was inspired to blend the natural flavor of toasted chestnuts and other superb ingredients with Premium Irish Spirits. The farmer said that it was a "dream worth catching."

Available for only $18.99. Click here for cocktail recipes featuring Dream Catcher.

                                 Ripped from the Headlines

Wine from Kim and Kanye? Click here for that story.

There's no more news possible after that. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Build a Bar Workshop: Gin

A good quality Gin should be a staple in your home bar. Gin is a vital ingredient in a range of classic cocktails, from the obvious (gin & tonic) to the colorful (Negroni), to the ultimate (martini). The subtle flavors of London Dry Gin are easy to use as a cocktail base.

Gin History

Juniper berries
The first confirmed date for the production of gin is the early 17th century in Holland, where it was produced as a medicine and sold in drug stores to treat stomach complaints, gout and gallstones. To make it more palatable, the Dutch started to flavor it with juniper, which had medicinal properties of its own.

British troops fighting in the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) were given "Dutch Courage" during the long campaigns in the damp weather. Eventually, they started bringing it back home with them, where already it was often sold in their version of drug stores, called chemist shops.

King Charles I authorized the formation of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, where members had the sole right to distill spirits in London and Westminster and up to twenty-one miles beyond. This improved both the quality of gin and its image, and it also helped English agriculture by using surplus corn and barley.

Gin triumphed in the 1920's - the first "Cocktail Age" - after having been scarce during the First World War.

Gin Today

There are several methods of producing gin. The EU defines three:

-London Gin which is produced by the traditional method described below. Plymouth gin is made in a similar manner.
-Gin can be made from any spirit alcohol made from agricultural product which meets the neutral alcohol requirements laid down in the spirit drink regulation. The neutral alcohol must be distilled to a minimum of 96% ABV and the residues must not exceed those stated in the neutral alcohol definition. The finest raw materials for this 'neutral' spirit are either grain (normally barley or maize) or molasses. The best neutral alcohol has no flavor at all.
-Gin can be produced by simply flavoring suitable alcohol with substances (known as botanicals) which give a predominant taste of juniper; this method is technically known as "compounding".

The type and quantity of each producer's botanicals vary according to their own closely guarded recipes; all are carefully selected and tested for purity and quality. All gins include juniper as an ingredient: other botanicals used are coriander, angelica, orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom, cinnamon, grains of paradise, cubeb berries and nutmeg.

There are three definitions of gin: gin, distilled gin and London Gin. We'd get too lost in the weeds here by offering the specific definitions. Click here for the official EU Gin definitions. And note that Plymouth Gin is made in Plymouth, England.

As with many of our product categories, your shopping choices can be divided into craft producers and mass market producers. Price, quality and value are the usual decision points.

We stock gin from craft producers like Berkshire, Bluecoat, Brooklyn, Hendricks and the Botanist. These gins are made in non-traditional locations like Massachusetts, Philadelphia and the Islay region of Scotland.  Larger producers include Beefeater, Bombay, Gordon's and Tanqueray. There are about two dozen different brand choices in our Gin category. Talk with our in-store experts about the best selection for your palate, or just experiment until you find the one you like.

Gin Cocktails

From Bluecoat, try the Gin Rickey
1.5 oz Bluecoat American Dry Gin
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz fresh lime juice
Club soda

Add the ingredients into an ice filled Collins glass. Gently stir. Garnish with a few lime wheels.

Or try the Unusual Negroni, from Hendrick's Gin
1 Part Hendrick's Gin
1 Part Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth
1/2 Part Campari
1/2 Part Aperol
Orange Segments and Zest

Combine ingredients and shake well with ice. Serve up and garnish with an orange twist.


Some information courtesy the Gin and Vodka Association of Great Britain and