For all the time we obsess over food, cookbooks, and dining out, I think it’s high time beverages got their share of attention! Let’s start chronologically, as in, the liquid that’s going to do you the most good in the morning when you have to drag your butt out of bed! I could wax poetic about coffee brands until the cows come home (which is not a bad idea if you take yours with cream!) but since I’m also kind of a gadget girl, let’s talk about new ways to brew!
This Brass Pour Over Coffee Dripper from World Market has a cool, vintage science lab look about it that I absolutely love! If you enjoy the taste of pour over and prefer a hands-on approach to making coffee, this is a fun apparatus that looks great on the countertop (way better than that awful plastic filter holder and carafe you’ve probably got going!).
Crate and Barrel, the boss of kitchen stores, has every kind of coffee press imaginable including this pretty Brass Coffee Press from Bodum. If you like robust flavor, and always feel like drip coffee just isn’t strong enough for you, immersion style brewing may be the process you need.
Can’t decide if you should switch to pour-over or press? The Clever Dripper device might look like a pour over, but it’s actually a combination of filter and immersion. With a valve at the bottom, you immerse the coffee grinds in water completely so that extraction can take place. Then, when you’re ready, you open the valve and the coffee filters out. You get the best of both worlds and a consistent cup of coffee each time!
Flavored Coffee & Italian Soda Syrups
Plain coffee too boring for you?! You can be a badass barista at home, making flavored coffee like a pro with Torani Syrups. They have, like, 30 different flavors plus seasonal options. Once you start looking at all of the varieties, you’ll notice quite a few fruity options that you can make Italian soda with simply by adding a pump to your club soda!
A Different Kind Of Brew!
Well, it doesn’t seem like the microbrew beer trend is ending anytime soon. I like that restaurants now have the option of promoting beers from neighborhood breweries as opposed to serving only big international brands. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cute Clydesdale commercials from Budweiser, but OMG, it’s a snoozefest drinking those old-time ubiquitous brands when there are so many new beers that have really unique flavors! Plus, I kinda like the idea of promoting brew dudes (are there any dudettes?!) in my own city because shorter deliveries to bars and restaurants not only help the environment, but they also support local businesses.
Packaging is another thing that’s changing! As more and more breweries opt for cans over bottles, there is some really cool can art that’s emerging, like these here from Lamplighter Brewing, a microbrewery in Cambridge, Massachusetts that crafts small batch brews with aromatic twists. From stouts that have essence of marshmallow, vanilla and espresso to Belgium ales with hints of plum, cherry and nutmeg, Lamplighter Brewing is totally pushing the envelope on flavor and turning those who aren’t normally beer drinkers into their biggest fan!
In Dallas, Texas, Noble Rey Brewing is another microbrew where the flavors and beer names are just as exciting as the packaging! Choose between options like ‘Tropical Combat Firefighter’ IPA or a fruit Hefeweizen called ‘Frooty Tang.’
San Francisco has a number of microbreweries but Fort Point Beer Company has my favorite can art! The brewery is located in the Presidio, a historic old Army base, and features old-world brewing techniques that showcase special hops and grains.
The Wild New World Of Whiskey
When you need something stronger than beer and wine, whiskey is the way to go! I love that whiskey comes in so many different styles. Kentucky Bourbon tastes nothing like Irish Whiskey and for years Scotland seemed to be the benchmark producer for top-notch bottles. But not any longer! Japanese Whiskey has risen to the top. (I guess they realized they needed to create something to dull the pain when you saw your bill at basically every Sushi restaurant ever! Am I right, or am I right?!)
Here are a few you should give a try when you’re ready to splurge on the good (read: expensive! like sushi!) stuff!
From Chichibu Distillery comes Warrior Whiskey! I don’t know if drinking this will make you want to go into battle or just hang out in your robe by the fireplace. Either way, the award-winning taste of their single malt, single cask whiskey is a rare treat.
The single malt Moscatel wood finish Yoichi and Miyagikyo whiskeys from Nikka Distillery are similar to a Scottish whiskey because they rely on sea air and peat for malting barley. If the “peaty” style is how you roll, these are for you!
Suntory is Japan’s first and oldest distillery, which makes them old pros at this! Their Yamazaki 18 is a single malt whiskey aged 18 years in Mizunara Japanese oak, a wood that’s very difficult to construct casks from, but wood that Suntory feels best showcases the flavors of their whiskey. I say, anyone who goes through this much trouble, for 18 years no less, deserves a round of applause. (I’ll drink to that!)
It’s Not A Good Day For The British Empire This Blog!
First Scotland, now England. Know how English Gin is supposed to be the bomb? Well, throw traditional to the wind because Japan is making some pretty incredible gins now as well. Guess all that whiskey making inspired them to branch out. And not to completely miss the boat, a ton of American producers are making craft-gins here in the states too.
Okay, full disclosure, I haven’t tasted Roku Gin but because of my packaging fetish, I fell in love with the bottle and decided to do a little research on this one. It’s made by the famous Suntory Distillery and rather than use traditional English botanicals in the distillation process, this gin uses six Japanese botanicals that represent all four seasons, including Sakura flower, Sakura leaf, Yuzu peel, green tea, Gyokuro tea, and Sansho pepper!
Nikka Gin is made in a coffey still, which is also where their whiskey is made. They infuse apple and citrus essence from Yuzu, Kabosu, and Amanatsu fruits.
Distilled in Kyoto, Ki No Bi Gin is made with a rice spirit base and Japanese botanicals such as Yuzu, bamboo, Japanese cypress, Sansho peppers, and gyokuro tea. The result is something distinctly different than the gin you’re used to but equally satisfying on the rocks with a twist!
Here in the states, a couple of Chicago bartenders have created Letherbee, a craft distiller that makes seasonal gins. Their Autumnal Gin is infused with rosemary, cardamom, allspice and lemon peel. With all that flavor, who needs an olive?! #YUM!
Time For Sir Mix-a-Lot (Uhm, That Means Mixers)
Okay, the La Croix craze is winding down a bit, but there are other alternative mixers hitting the shelves. Call me crazy, or a booze-hound, or both, but I kinda like the idea of a mixer containing it’s own bit of alcohol! Like these White Claw Hard Seltzers! With these fruity gems you get bubbles, you get refreshment, and you get 5% ABV which is a nice little buzz you can add to other cocktail spirits or just sip on its own!
Mixologists at the hippest watering holes are adding drinking vinegars to signature cocktail creations. Scrub District and McClary Bros. are two popular brands of cocktail vinegars that combine vinegar, fruits, spices and herbs. In addition to cocktails, people use them as digestive tonics and as toner on the skin.
Cutwater Spirits is kind of like a grab bag of booziness. They distill and bottle rum, gin, vodka, and whiskey. They make canned cocktails that are a blend of their flavored seltzer waters and house spirits, including favorites such as vodka with cucumber soda water, whiskey iced tea, and ginger rum. They also make mai tai and bloody mary mix, tonic water, and ginger beer. #PHEW!
How to Set Up A Bar Cart
Gone are the days of people having built-in bars in their homes. But that’s okay because decorative bar carts are so much prettier! And, they’re mobile!
Open up any Pottery Barn catalogue and you’ll find a swoon-worthy bar setup.
Wondering what to put in your cart? Definitely start with liquors that you always use (like vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey) and add a few “anything” bottles that are packaged in decorative glass or feature really pretty label art for a pop of flair – it doesn’t have to be alcoholic, it can be sparkling water in colored bottles!
Depending on the size of your cart, here are some other things that look great on the cart:
- Metallic ice buckets
- Cocktail shakers
- Copper mule glasses
- Bowls of citrus fruit
- A potted plant
- Crystal decanters
- Glasses filled with colored paper straws
- Tins filled with cocktail pic umbrellas
- A vase or bowl of flowers
- Strands of lights
- Cocktail recipes books
- Seasonal items (mini pumpkins, pinecones, a pineapple)
That’s about all we’ve got to share in this, blog, but if you want to save time, money AND get super fab ideas that will grab your attention and spark your creativity when planning your next party, download our FREE Super Secret Party Tips Guide right here!