Jamieson Ranch: Napa Valley’s gateway winery

As you travel north and enter Napa Valley, Jamieson Ranch Vineyards sits at the gateway. It’s the winery further south than any other in Napa. Their estate is composed of more than 300 acres. From those vines and other fruit, they craft a portfolio of wines under several sub-labels but all part of the overall Jamieson Ranch umbrella. Considering their Napa Valley location and the quality of their general portfolio, there is a lot to like here for the money.

Even their flagship red, Double Lariat Cabernet, is a bargain compared to wines of similar quality from many of their neighbors. Here’s a look at four current releases that I recommend. It’s worth noting that a portion of the profits from the wines under the Light Horse label benefit the Light Horse Foundation. This organization was founded by the winery to help support at risk people, in particular those with autism.

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Drink of the Week: Eeyore’s Requiem

Eeyore's Requiem.Last week, we had a drink that highlighted the bittersweet pleasures of Campari, a sometimes divisive liqueur that is nevertheless a classic cocktail essential. This Oscar weekend, we’re quite literally doubling down on the Campari and maybe tripling down on the bombast with a bunch of other harshly bitter and gently sweet ingredients for one of the best new cocktails I’ve had in awhile. It just might be the perfect two-pronged taste to savor as you enjoy the Oscars while, of course, complaining about the Oscars.

Eeyore’s Requiem is presumably named after A.A Milne’s depressive donkey who cut through some of the sweetness generated by the rest of the gang at Pooh Corner. It can be found on the menu of the Chicago craft bar, the Violet Hour, which stresses the classic beverages of the pre-Prohibition era. Created by Toby Maloney apparently circa 2011, this is a drink that is iconoclastic enough to set a new standard. I wouldn’t call it the “Citizen Kane” of cocktails, but it definitely turns cocktail convention on its head, with Campari taking the place of a base spirit and then relegating the hard stuff to a supporting role. It’s not your usual cocktail.

Eeyore’s Requiem

1 1/2 ounces Campari
1 ounce bianco vermouth
1/2 ounce dry gin
1/4 ounce Cynar
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
1-2 dashes orange bitters
1-3 orange twists (not necessarily a garnish)

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Drink of the Week: The Killer in Red

The Killer in Red.If the name of this week’s drink sounds like the title of a mid-20th century pulpy crime thriller to you, you’re half right. It’s taken from a very classy, though entirely promotional, 13 minute neo-noir homage from Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, best known in the states for his all-star drama “Youth” and his Fellini-esque “The Great Beauty.” As booze commercials go, “The Killer in Red” is, typically for Sorrentino, rich in deep-dish eye candy, from it’s outlandish L.A.-centric decor to French-Swiss co-star Caroline Tilvlette, who motivates Clive Owen’s bartender to get involved in some ill-advised behavior.

The drink that the short promotes also has its sensual pleasures, particularly for lovers of Campari, like me. The fact that I’ve been getting free bottles lately from a shadowy representative of the aperitif really doesn’t enter it. (Really!) I love the stuff. And, since Campari’s flavor largely dominates today’s drink, I also pretty much love today’s drink. Let’s check it out.

The Killer in Red

3/4 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. chamomile gin or standard dry gin
3/4 oz. Cinzano 1757 Bianco (or another bianco)
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
1 drop of rose water or rose essential oil (if you can find it)

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Drink of the Week: The Honeymoon Cocktail

The Honeymoon Cocktail.Valentine’s Day is Tuesday, and you’ll probably want a drink. If you’re lucky in love, and perhaps have recently tied the knot with that special someone, today’s truly old school classic cocktail might not be the worst way to celebrate the fact. And if, like so many of us, Cupid’s arrow has had more than a bit of a sting to it, it’s pretty much guaranteed to take the edge off.

The Honeymoon Cocktail recipe appears in numerous places, but I’m pretty much taking my recipe entirely from Ted Haigh’s “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.” As the legendary Dr. Cocktail notes, it dates back to around 1917 and eventually became a favorite at the Brown Derby restaurants that were among the go-to nightspots of Hollywood’s mid-century heyday. It definitely has a bit of show biz panache to it, while being a relatively simple drink to make. The main question here seems to be whether you prefer the American or French version of its base spirit.

The Honeymoon Cocktail

2 ounces apple brandy (American apple brandy or calvados)
1/2 ounce Benedictine
1/2 ounce orange curacao or Grand Marnier
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 lemon twist (garnish)

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Drink of the Week: The Liar’s Cocktail

The Liar's Cocktail.It’s Super Bowl weekend, but I’ve got bigger things on my mind…

You see, we cocktail writers like to make a big deal about the names of cocktails and why we choose particular ones to write about at certain times of the year or to reflect something in the news of the day. (Like, say, the Super Bowl, which I know I’m ignoring. I’m not a sports fan, so I forgot about it. Sue me.)

However, I’m here to tell you that there’s absolutely no reason at all why I randomly chose the Liar’s Cocktail on this particular occasion. There’s absolutely nobody famous or well known or the most powerful person in the world who has repeatedly misrepresented easily provable facts again and again and again. And that person does not have people going on news programs and repeating or obfuscating those untruths again and again and again… and bullying them when they dare to question them. Nope, I can’t think of anyone like that, and if I did, that person probably would be known to be a non-drinker and a germaphobe.

Even though it’s therefore entirely irrelevant in terms of its name, the Liar’s Cocktail is a decent little beverage that provides some honest boozy flavor. See what you think.

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