Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Avoid the Confusion this Cinco de Mayo – Go with the World’s Greatest Margarita!

Margaritas come in all shapes, sizes, and in a variety of ways –from mango to strawberry, to frozen or straight up. With all of these types of margaritas available, deciding which to drink on Cinco de Mayo can be tricky. So why not save yourself the trouble and go with the best?

Tequila Avión certainly proved to be the best at this year’s renowned, trend-setting San Francisco World Spirits Competition with five awards. In addition to winning Double Gold and Best Tequila, Tequila Avión Silver stole the Best Unaged White Spirit category—beating all other vodkas, gins, and rums who dared to compete. And really, how can they? Tequila is setting the spirits industry ablaze, while blanco tequila specifically is rising to be one of the top spirits trends of 2012. Who can argue, when Tequila Avión is the secret ingredient to the crowned World’s Greatest Margarita at last year’s Sixth Annual World Margarita Championship held in Tucson, AZ.

Tequila Avión is taste elevated; produced with only the finest Blue Weber Agave found in the highest regions of Jalisco, Mexico. Sourced from the world’s highest quality agave and produced through a rare distillation process, Tequila Avión offers Añejo, Reposado, and Silver expressions to choose from.

Tamarindo Margarita

Judges' choice for the World's Greatest Margarita

·         2 oz. Tequila Avión Silver

·         1 oz. Grand Marnier

·         1/2 oz. lime juice

·         1/2 oz. orange juice

·         1/2 tsp. tamarindo puree

·         1 tsp. sugar

·         Rim glass with coarse salt and chili powder

·         Lime wheel and tamarindo peel for garnish


Combine tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice, orange juice, tamarindo purée and sugar in a shaker with ice. Strain into a Margarita glass and garnish with a lime peel.

Tamarino purée: To make enough purée to prepare four Margaritas, begin with 1½ pounds of fresh tamarindos. Boil the fruit for approximately 45 minutes or until they are tender. Allow the fruit to cool and strain to remove the seeds. Add ½ tsp. of salt and sugar and then blend the fruit pulp until a purée.

Now being served at fine bars and restaurants, including La Fuente Restaurant in Tuscon, AZ.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Garlic Basil Infused Vodka

Apparently vodka is very impressionable. There are so many different things you can infuse it with. Here's a little something fun to do...

Garlic Basil Infused Vodka. 

1 bulb of garlic (bulb...not clove)
2 large sprigs of fresh basil
750 ml premium vodka
32 oz jar with a lid

Separate the cloves of garlic and remove all the skins. Combine the garlic, basil and vodka in the jar.
Cover and store in a dark place, at room temperature, for 4 days. Strain it though a coffee filter.
Store in a pretty little jar the same way you'd store your regular vodka.

Note: The garlic flavor is strong. You have to really like garlic to appreciate this infusion. Of course you could use less garlic in the process to tone it down if you must....but why?! 

And once that's done....make yourself one heck of a martini!

Vampire's Hell Martini

1.5 oz Garlic Basil Infused Vodka
.25 oz Dry Vermouth
Lemon Zest to garnish 
Olive to garnish

Shake or stir the vodka and vermouth with ice. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with lemon zest and an olive if desired. 


*Adapted from*

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mothers and Fathers can both Toast this New Wine Mobile App

Find the perfect wine pairings 
for Mother’s Day brunch and Father’s Day barbecue

Toronto, April 13, 2012 – A new free mobile application will change the way that parents feel appreciated this May and June. Adult offspring eager to please their parents can find the perfect wine matches for Mother’s Day brunch and Father’s Day barbecues on the Wine Picks & Pairings: Natalie MacLean app.

“Please stop buying your parents soap and neckties; they’re just being polite when they say ‘thank-you dear’,” pleads Natalie MacLean, editor of Ontario’s largest wine site at “You can still be Mommy’s or Daddy’s little helper even though you’re all grown up. Give them a terrific bottle of wine that you can share as you cringe at those old vacation photos together.”

Under the Pairings tab of the wine app, you’ll find Natalie’s top 5 matches for Mother’s Day Brunch:

1. Spanish omelette with Pinot Grigio
2. Spinach and bacon quiche with Sauvignon Blanc
3. Crepes Suzette with Icewine
4. French toast and raspberries with Champagne
5. Smoked salmon and cream cheese on bagels with Pinot Noir

Natalie’s top 5 wine matches for Father’s Day barbecue:

1. Seared Pepper Steak with Shiraz
2. Planked Salmon with Riesling
3. Flame-Broiled Hamburgers with Zinfandel
6. Grilled Chicken with Chardonnay
9. BBQ Pork Chops with Merlot

The new Wine Picks & Pairings app is the next generation of Natalie’s mobile app, and is the only Canadian wine app featured on Apple’s iTunes store under App Essentials for “Apps for Foodies” and “Pocket Sommelier.” The app is also available for Android and BlackBerry. Other smartphones can access the mobile site. Those who don't have a smartphone can still browse thousands of wine reviews and pairings to create custom shopping lists on the web site.

The app’s key features allow you to:

- Instantly access tasting notes, scores, prices, recipes and food pairings via a point-and-click bar code scanner

- Search 150,000 wines at the LCBO and other wine retailers across the country

- Find out how many bottles of each wine are in stock at the LCBO you’re in as well as nearby stores via GPS real-time inventory search

- Track your purchases in your virtual cellar log with just a few clicks or add them with one click of the bar code scanner

- Create a wine journal with your own wine notes and pictures in the app

- Create custom shopping lists for special occasions and favourite wines

- Share your wines and pairings on Twitter and Facebook

You can download the app for iPhone and iPod Touch, Android and BlackBerry. Other smartphones can use the mobile site.

About Natalie

Natalie MacLean is the Ontario author of Red, White and Drunk All Over and Unquenchable: A Tipsy Search for the World’s Best Bargain Wines, which Amazon chose as one of the Best Books of 2011. She connects with more than 135,000 wine and food lovers who get her free e-newsletter. Natalie is the only person to have won both the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation and the M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing from Les Dames d'Escoffier International. She was named the World’s Best Drinks Writer at the World Food Media Awards. More bio bunk here:

Connect with Nat on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google +.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Maker’s Mark’s Perfect Mint Julep Recipe for Derby Day

It’s time to press your seersucker suit and unpack your fanciest hat because racing around the corner comes the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby on May 5th! More than just a sporting event, Derby is as much about fashion and sipping mint juleps as it is horse racing. So, what exactly is a mint julep? It sounds simple – ice, bourbon, sugar and mint – but the truth is there’s a lot of prep that goes into making this iconic drink correctly.

Maker’s Mark is one of Kentucky’s finest premium bourbons, handcrafted at the oldest operating bourbon distillery in the world. Rob Samuels, eighth generation distiller and grandson of Maker’s Mark Founder Bill Samuels Sr., has happily offered up his family’s personal recipe for The Perfect Mint Julep so that you can share it with our readers. (See below)

For those who don’t have enough time to make juleps, Rob suggests trying Maker’s 46 – the first new bourbon from Maker’s Mark in 52 years. Best enjoyed neat or on the rocks, Maker’s 46 is finished with seared French oak staves and offers a bolder and more complex taste than the original Maker’s Mark. It has a rich, creamy caramel and vanilla flavor with a big, oaky finish. 

“The Perfect Mint Julep”
(Serves 14-16) or Natashya, either one.


1 liter Maker’s Mark® Bourbon

Lots of fresh spearmint

Distilled water

Granulated sugar

Powdered sugar

    To prepare the mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves – wash and place in a small mixing bowl.  Cover with 3 ounces of Maker’s Mark.  Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes.  Then, gather the leaves in a clean, soap-free piece of cotton cloth and vigorously wring the mint bundle over the bowl of whisky.  Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times.  Then set aside.

    To prepare the simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and one cup of water in a cooking pot.  Heat to dissolve the sugar.  Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn.  Set aside to cool.

    To prepare the mint julep mixture, pour 3 ½ cups of Maker’s Mark into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher.  (Pour the remaining whisky from the liter bottle into another container and save it for another purpose).  Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the Maker’s Mark.

    Now, begin adding the mint extract a tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture.  Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added.  You may have to leave the room a time or two to clear your nose.  The tendency is to use too much mint.  You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste – generally about 3 tablespoons.

    When you think its right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.

    To serve the mint julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) half full with shaved ice.  Insert a sprig of mint and then pack in more ice to about an inch over the top of the cup.  Then, insert a straw that has been cut to one inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

    When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice, add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice and serve.

For other great cocktail recipes using Maker’s Mark Bourbon, visit

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Limencello Martini

Have you ever sipped Limencello? It was an interesting experience..... that first sip from a shot glass. It was instantly too sour and too sweet all at once. A kinda ying yang thing going on the palate.

From Limoncello

I assure you, it wasn’t a taste where you didn’t want another one though. Second sip – quite pleasing. Delicious!

It called for a cocktail glass and marriage with vodka. Yes. Yes, it did.

3 parts vodka to 1 part limoncello makes a smashing citrusy martini. Beware… is where you ought to stop.

However “ought to” is more of a guideline. I’ll have two more of the same.