Where has the year gone? I CANNOT believe that we are already discussing the Fourth of July holiday. I also never thought I would be one to go camping in a travel trailer, but here I am, rocking that lifestyle, too.
After last year’s muted celebrations that brought warnings and admonishments for large gatherings, it seems this year’s holiday marking our nation’s independence from tyrants will look a bit more normal. Why, even last night, my wonderful neighbors one street over started their fireworks…
But, I am not here to chat fireworks. Instead, Mandy and I are going to be chatting “day drinking” since so often the 4th is a holiday spent out on the lake, around the pool, grilling…and if your lucky, on a beach somewhere, usually with a beer in hand. I wanted to explore some other options for your beverage choice, to include some drinks that our Keto crowd could enjoy as well as brews for our non-drinkers out there to keep yall cool and enjoying your holiday. So this segment is going to be jumping around in terms of drinks but will hold to the Red, White, and Blue…*ahem*, Brew theme.
We’ll go in that order although this is not necessarily the order in which I would actually try these offerings. When I am tasting wines, beers, or spirits, I like to go from lighter bodied (and often, lower alcohol) to full bodied and bold, concluding with the sweeter drink options. So, in the case of this segment, I would actually navigate these drinks by beginning with our wines and finishing with our cocktails. But then that would flow with the Red, White, and Brew…so bear that in mind as we discuss these offerings.
Up first in our discussion…the quintessential day drinking cocktail: the Bloody Mary. Normally, these brunch favorites and hangover cures are made with vodka, tomato juice (or Bloody Mary mix), with black pepper, celery salt, Worcestershire, Tobasco, and lemon juice. Here is a great article on the history on my favorite cocktail when I am shooting craps in Vegas (true story.)
Today’s Bloody Mary will actually be using ingredients from my favorite moonshiner, Mike Girard of 3 Hundred Days Distillery. We will be making his recipe and using his Top Shelf Bloody Mary Mix as well as all the yummy accoutrement he makes as well.
Straight from Mike himself:
“My Bloody Mary recipe is: 2oz Single Barrel or Barrel Finished shine, 4-5 dashes of our Pepper Sauce, .5 oz Our Sizzling steak Sauce. Top with our Top Shelf Bloody Mary mix. Garnish with everything, Celery, olives, Lime, Papa Dill Pickles. Enjoy!”
Now, as far as the wines go, we have three up for tasting, one in the red category, one in the blue, *ahem*, “brew” category (although both are red wines), and one in the rosé category (that is in the flag I have, where the red stripe has bled a little into the white). First up is a very affordable red blend from Washington wine maker, Charles Smith (who reminds me of Sammy Hagar, if I am being honest) and Charles Bieler (rosé proselytizer and of Bieler Père et Fils). The Charles and Charles Red Blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Syrah, with all the grapes coming from Columbia Valley, Washington. With softer notes off of both grapes, this wine has lovely balance and doesn’t overpower the pallet. It makes a great “day drinking” wine because of its flexibility in terms of pairing. It would make a lovely accompaniment to burgers, hot dogs, brats, or ribs and I personally would put a little chill on it and see how it opens up as it warms up in my glass. In fact, it is the perfect pairing for The French Kitchen’s “hot dog” which will be available on 1 Jul. Mandy and I will taste test them on air today!
Our next red wine is a fun and funky Aussie red wine blend that rings in around $20. Named “Fresh AF” (the “AF” means “as f-bomb” for those who are unaware), this Nero d’Avola and Zibibbo blend is aptly named! It has blueberry on the nose and pallet, hence its inclusion in this tasting, and will most definitely pair with BBQ ribs, wings, or whatever you are cooking up on your grill for the 4th. This is a wine I would pair with food because I am not a huge blueberry fan. My husband, however, loves blueberries and says it is fine on its own. It is well balanced between acidity and tannins, and I would certainly classify this one as a “porch pounder.” Definitely chill this fun wine and watch the different notes from these two grapes come forward as you enjoy this “Fresh AF” wine!
Our final wine for today is a Pét Nat, or a naturally occurring fermentation process where they do not fine, filter, or disgorge, from the Subject to Change Winery out of California called Party Monster (and no summer party of mine is complete without a rosé). This wine is perfect for your day time celebrations, and if that includes a brunch, you won’t go wrong with this one. Lower in alcohol (11.8%), this 100% Petite Sirah has a natural citrus profile and reminds me of a cranberry spritzer. I am often asked if Petite Sirah is the same as Syrah: it is not. The two look similar but thanks to DNA testing, they are most definitely not the same. It is also ironic that of the two, Petite Sirah has bigger tannins and acidity (but is called Petite…it is like the Greenland of the wine the world.) In this particular wine, the cranberry notes are balanced with the hints of black pepper and black berry. It is a totally fun wine and when served ice cold, utterly refreshing. I caution you on this one…it goes down really smooth. Choose it as a wine of choice if you are doing a mimosa or bellini bar to mix things up from the usual Champagne or Prosecco. You won’t be disappointed! This wine pairs with everything, especially salty items, so if baked beans, potato salad, chips, hot dogs, brats, charcuterie and cheese boards, or grilled BBQ chicken are on the menu, make sure you offer this wine up to your guests.
Now, no Fourth of July is complete without sparklers, both for the kiddos and in the form of bubbles in the adult glasses. If I am doing a little day drinking, I like to make sure I stay hydrated by including some drinks that include some sparkling water. Since I love me some Topo Chico mineral water and San Pellegrino, these are my usual go to’s but you can use just about any sparkling water as your base. I plan to make a “ranch water” cocktail for Mandy (which is about as Keto friendly as you can get when it comes to cocktails), I am going to just go with a plain Topo Chico and add in some lime and tequila blanco for my hydrating Keto Cocktail. Here’s the recipe my friend, Patrick, shared with me:
- 3 oz (roughly two shots) of a quality tequila (I am going with a blanco since this drink is part of our “white” in Red, White, and Brew)
- the juice of 1 lime (around 1-2 oz of fresh squeezed lime…keep one slice for garnish)
- top with Topo Chico over a glass of ice
Now, you could opt for other spirits, or even different types of tequila, but I am keeping mine pretty simple. Just make sure you go with a quality (ie, not bottom shelf) spirit since it will be the star of your show. If you aren’t a fan of limes, any citrus will do. Give blood orange or tangerines a try!
Mandy is supposed to be providing her margarita for us…I will go back and add a comment here once we enjoy her contribution to the party!
I am going to break from the drink discussion to quickly chat cheese because I am bringing some amazing chevre, or goat cheese, from a small town here in Colorado: Buena (pronounced beu, as in beautiful, nah) Vista. Yes, I know the pronunciation is weird but don’t get me started on how natives of Colorado pronounce things.
I discovered this delightful little cheese maker when I was tasting wines at Blanchard Family Wines in Denver. Jumping Good Goat Dairy produces some lovely goat cheeses and fudge (we will be trying the fudge today, too). My favorite is the soft ripened and ash (poplar tree) dusted First Snow. It is a creamy and melt in your mouth kind of cheese, perfect with the wines we have today and makes such a unique and gorgeous addition to a cheese board. If you are not in Colorado, I encourage you to hit up your local farmer’s market and support your local cheese makers.
Moving on to our “brew” selections…I have one beer from Castle Rock brewery, 105 West Brewing, called “Deez Nuts.” Now, as a common joke amongst military folks, jocks, and your typical rednecks (mine and Mandy’s people), Deez Nuts is an amber ale that was created by mistake. It is infused with peanut butter and hazelnuts…the PB is present on the nose but the hazelnut balances out that note on the pallet. It is a yummy and smooth amber and has challenged my personal favorite, a German Dunkel, for the #1 place in my heart. Since 105 is owned by an Army vet, Deez Nuts is really giving the Dunkel a run for its money. Oh, and be sure to check out 105’s “Bear Naked Fridays,” when they do their small batch, limited releases. Support your local small businesses! After 2020, they need you now more than ever.
For our non-alcoholic drinks (of course, one could always spike this as well), we have a personal summer favorite, cold brew coffee. I like to foo foo my coffees, so this recipe is my favorite. I used fresh roasted coffee from Buena Vista Roastery. I enjoy medium roasts, so this little morning blend sounded perfect for a cold brew to sip on during holiday activities, especially if the heat we have been having continues. To make my cold roast, here’s what I do:
- Combine 8oz of your favorite coffee with 4 quarts of cold, filtered water
- Allow the coffee to sit at room temperature anywhere from 8 to 48 hours
- Strain out the grounds through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth or several paper towels (throw those grounds into your garden or compost!)
- Serve as is over ice or add your favorite “foo foo” accessories: I like a French cane sugar syrup flavored like Madeline cookies plus grass fed half and half, or just La Lechera from Nestle (sweetened condensed milk) If you want to spike it, consider adding Coole Swan Irish Cream Liqueur
Whatever you decide to do for your Independence Day celebrations, I hope you are able to spend it with family and friends, having fun, and reconnecting to one another and to our nation’s history. We always like to read the Declaration of Independence or watch the John Adams mini-series from HBO. And then watch Pueblo skies light up in a bigger display of fireworks than any formal firework display I have ever seen. If you get a chance, check it out some time.
Tune in next month when we honor France’s independence day with all French wines!
Cheers and namaste,