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Speed Rack Competition Regional Winners

Speed Rack Competition Regional Winners

Speed Rack is a competition, and a tough one at that. Pitting the best female bartenders in each city against one another, the competition travels around to major cocktail markets before The Finals to determine Miss Speed Rack in May. Created by female bartenders for female bartenders, the best part has to even be mentioned: all proceeds from each event go to supporting breast cancer education, prevention and research. Follow along to find out who will win the coveted title of Miss Speed Rack.

Tucson winner Shel Bourdon considered herself an unlikely speed test winner: "I am not known for being the fastest at mixing drinks. I have learned, developed and still work in more craft-focused environments." Bad news for a contestant of a timed competition, right?
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Pick Your Own Cocktail

Pick Your Own Cocktail

VEEV'S CARTER REUM KEEPS GUESTS' DRINKS INTERESTING WITH A COCKTAIL HERB GARDEN

Here's a gardening tip for mixed drinks mavens. Carter Reum, co-founder (with his brother Courtney) of VeeV Açai Spirit, grows herbs specifically for cocktails at the duo's shared home on a winding canyon road in upper Beverly Hills.

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Marketing Push for the Pays d'Oc  IGP

Marketing Push for the Pays d'Oc IGP

Having thought I'd heard everything about French wines, I was surprised to learn of a whole new area of IGP wines [Indication Géographique Protégée].

Want to guess?  Here's a little more info: this is a huge region, the largest exporter of wines from France.

This region grows native and international varietals, and many of the producers have been getting more and more modern, creative and natural over the last decade or so.

Give up? It's the ancient kingdom of the Pays d'Oc (pronounced PAY-ee dock).
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Dry Creek Zinfandel — Old World or New?

Dry Creek Zinfandel — Old World or New?


In September, six top Dry Creek producers — Paul Draper (Ridge), Erik Miller (Kokomo), Clay Mauritson (Mauritson), Doug Nalle (Nalle), Hugh Chappelle (Quivira) and Julie Pedroncelli (Pedoncelli) — participated in a panel discussion at Ridge Winery, "Debunking Zinfandel Myths," led by journalist Patrick Comiskey.

With vines dating to pre-Prohibition, Zinfandel is the grape most uniquely associated with California viticulture and was the first variety to create a wine craze in California; it is still known as "as the wine of the people." Today there is a renewed interest in this varietal as Zinfandel is being rediscovered and re-appreciated.

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The Quest to the West

The Quest to the West

Cocktail and motorcycle enthusiast Dylan Regan is making another trek across the country. This time however, Regan will not only further expand his knowledge of cocktails, but also his peace of mind. Join us for regular installments.

Los Angeles Dreams Come True

The next morning came slowly. Matt and I spent the morning riding down the Sunset strip and along the Malibu coastline, meandering around on our motorcycles and taking in the sights.

Joe Pro and Lauren Wells gave us a call in the early afternoon and hoped to meet up for a late lunch in Venice Beach. As we veered our bikes back into the city, we found that traffic was thick, especially for a Sunday afternoon. Once we made our last inch onto the Venice boardwalk we were greeted by a crowd of blonde-hair, bikinis and short-shorts. Would-be musicians sang their tunes in between cool little curio shops, bars and independent coffeehouses.

Matt and I were greeted by Lauren and Joe in front of Hal's Bar and Grill on Abbott Kinney Boulevard as most of the bar locals stayed glued to the football game while we licked our wounds from the night before. The Roosevelt proved to be great, but offered little rest and we surely felt the repercussions of the festivities from the night before.  The slow redemption continued on through most of our lunch until conversation of the night ahead began to come together. We headed across the street for a cappuccino and haphazardly discussed our plan of action. 

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Comfort, Contemporized

Comfort, Contemporized


CO(CK)BURN'S PORT
IS BROUGHT UP-TO-DATE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE

Port, in all its styles, is decidedly a comfort wine. Enjoyed as an aperitif, it signals the comforting thought that dinner is likely to follow and it often accompanies moments of deep relaxation after a meal.


Enthusiasts have long associated Cockburn's (pronounced Coburn's), a brand founded by Scotsman Robert Cockburn in 1815 and acquired in full by the Symington Family Estates in 2010, with just that level of comfort. As the largest-selling brand of port in the U.K., the company's humorous advertising campaigns since the 1970s have traded on the common mispronunciation of the name Cockburn.

Brits who know their history have the advantage in that regard, as both Sir George Cockburn, the admiral who conveyed Napoleon to St. Helena in 1815, and Sir Alexander James Edmund Cockburn, a Lord Chief Justice of England in the early 19th century, both carried the name.

As part of the Symington portfolio, Cockburn's has undergone a complete overhaul one that began in 2006 with improvements in wine quality and culminated in a complete redesign of the packaging and the reopening of the Cockburn Port lodge in Villa Nova de Gaia, Portugal where consumers can once again tour the cellars.


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Moroccan Wine: The Sands of Timelessness

Moroccan Wine: The Sands of Timelessness

While winemaking has existed in this corner of the world for centuries, French and Moroccan winemakers have rediscovered Morocco's rich potential.

Thanks to the inquisitive nature of sommeliers and wine connoisseur consumers, Moroccan wine is poised to enjoy a new moment in the sun. Though wine production has existed in Morocco since Phoenician times, the industry has been hibernating for centuries, especially as many of its citizens don't drink for religious reasons.

However, thanks to an expat population and Morocco's cultural French underpinnings and continued ties with France, it was inevitable that the art of fine winemaking in Morocco would eventually enjoy a renaissance. According to Los Angeles-based importer Didier Pariente of Exotic Imports LLC, a mix of collaborative effort between French and Moroccan winemakers combined with steadily increasing global demand for new "destination wines" has put Morocco back on track as a wine production spot worth watching.

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Cocktails Rise to Great Heights in Park City, Utah

Cocktails Rise to Great Heights in Park City, Utah

photos by the author

Thanks to new laws and a new embrace of the farm-to-table food movement, the cocktail scene in Park City is blossoming. High West Distillery is at the heart of this revolution.

With the London Olympics standing as one of the year's landmark events, it is almost difficult to believe that the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games is already a decade into history.  While records were broken at those games as well, it was also a was watershed event for local bars and lounges, as many state decision makers realized lightening up Utah's famously strict liquor laws would lead to weightier revenues.
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A Walk on the Wild Side

A Walk on the Wild Side


EMBRACING SYRAH AND OTHER TASTY VARIETALS WITH THE RHÔNE RANGERS

Simple wines are for wimps. Just ask the growing number of talented American winemakers who are crafting world-class wines with intriguing red and white grape varieties originally brought over from the Rhône Valley of France.

It's an art that starts with devotion to the hallowed grape Syrah. Since the early 1990s, the popularity of this grape has been on the rise with boutique producers in the United States. Today, it is used to make elegant, complex and powerful still wines, sophisticated Rhône-style blends, proprietary red wines, refreshing pink wines and flavorful ports.


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Who's Got Bossa?

Who's Got Bossa?


RIO DE JANEIRO-BORN COSME GOMES EXPLAINS HOW PREMIUM SPIRIT BRAND BOSSA CAPTURES THE SOOTHING AND SOPHISTICATED BEAT OF BRAZIL, WHILE CELEBRATING HIS COUNTRY'S ACHIEVEMENTS IN MODERN ART, MUSIC AND ITS LONG HISTORY OF CACHAÇA-MAKING

Rio de Janeiro is having its moment, with the World Cup slated for 2014, the Olympic Summer Games for 2016, renewed chic as a travel destination and even a discovery of oil reserves large enough to last centuries.

Cosme Gomes, however, saw this new era coming for a very long time. Over the years, he has seen his native city's image evolve internationally from the usual sun, fun and bikinis into a more complete picture of a thriving tropical urban center with a laid-back yet sophisticated lifestyle, the cultural soul of the newest powerhouse of premium consumers in the Western Hemisphere—Brazil.

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Sparklers for the Fourth

Sparklers for the Fourth

Lots of people set off sparklers for the Fourth of July . . . so why not pop open a few sparkling wines to add to the national festivities. Don't limit your holiday to cheap beer. Declare your independence from backyard tradition with a bottle of all-American sparkling wine.

An excellent place to explore some of the finest, yet most underrated, American sparklers? None other than the Pacific Northwest. Gifted wineries dedicated to painstaking precision and supreme-quality sparkling wines are sprinkled throughout Oregon and Washington, and, believe me, they deserve a closer look.

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Chilean Today, Cool Forever

Chilean Today, Cool Forever


JUST IN TIME FOR SUMMER, CHILEAN PISCO IS POISED TO DISTINGUISH ITSELF AT THE BAR AND ON RETAIL SHELVES

Though the origins and cultural "ownership" of pisco have been a subject of debate between Chileans and Peruvians for generations, the category's emergence in the 21st century is piquing interest stateside. In 2010, sales of pisco from both Peru and Chile skyrocketed by 101 percent, which according to the Comisión Nacional del Pisco of Peru, makes it the fastest growing spirit in the U.S.

Chilean pisco distillers, not surprisingly, are using this opportunity to define their market share by explaining to beverage buyers and the public what makes Chilean pisco "real pisco". . . and really Chilean.


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TY KU: Saké's Warrior Brand

TY KU: Saké's Warrior Brand


WITH INNOVATIVE MARKETING, PRECISELY-EXECUTED PARTNERSHIPS AND A PASSIONATE TEAM WORKING IN SUPPORT OF A BRAND—AND CATEGORY—THEY LOVE, TY KU IS LEADING THE CHARGE FOR SAKÉ AND INVITING THE WORLD TO “DRINK EXTRAORDINARY”

Saké, perhaps more than any other beverage category in the United States, has been patient on the path to stardom. Despite a rich and ancient heritage, saké has remained largely misunderstood, served warm in ceramic carafes at sushi joints, overshadowed as a mere bombing partner for beer and mislabeled as everything from a spirit to a rice wine on its path to the spotlight (Extraordinary Tip Number One: Saké is actually brewed in a process similar to that used in beer production and is therefore more like rice beer). Read More ==>

A Family Affair

A Family Affair


WHILE CHILEAN WINE HAS EVOLVED INTO BIG INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS, MARIA LUZ MARIN SEEKS LONG-TERM SUCCESS AT CASA MARIN BY STAYING TRUE TO HER PERSONAL WINEMAKING ROOTS

Like a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, Chile's wine industry has clearly and briskly arrived, evidenced by its increased presence in restaurants and retailers worldwide as well as its eno-tourism boom. However, winemaker Maria-Luz Marin has never lost sight of her own reality. She believes, no matter how big Chile's wine industry gets, wines evolving from her vineyards need to stand on their own. It is a point of pride for her that the winery is not defined by sales volume, but by unique soils and climatic conditions that only a vineyard two and a half miles from the Pacific Ocean can offer. Read More ==>

The Road to MCC

The Road to MCC

With the Manhattan Cocktail Classic a few weeks away, bartenders, brands, writers and connoisseurs are preparing to descend upon the Big Apple, shakers in hand and ready to sip and savor. THE TASTING PANEL is as excited as you are, and to get in the swing of things, we're starting the countdown to MCC with a little road trip.

In the tradition of
Easy Rider, one man will swap his jigger for the open road, and we'll be here to capture it all. Meet Dylan Regan, a man who spends most of the year working behind the stick as the Bar Manager at Aspen's Jimmy's Restaurant , and a guy who is going on the adventure of a lifetime, hopping on his motorcycle to drive across country, with MCC as his ultimate destination.
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