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Jordan Mackay

Summer Drinking


Zuni's cocktails

Summer’s just around the corner, and heat spells like last week’s are good reminders of the absolute perfection of drinking a light, refreshing aperitif on a warm, sunny evening before dinner.

My top 5 restaurant bars for aperitif cocktails are:
5. Ame
4. Americano
3. Slanted Door
2. Perbacco

Pomander Recipe from Yountville's Bouchon



I went to Napa last week and stopped by Bouchon in Yountville to check out the cocktail list. It’s a truly lively restaurant and bar, and I was particularly enchanted with the Pomander, a drink dominated by flavors of clove and spice, yet incredibly refreshing and delicious at the same time.

Pomander Recipe:
2 oz Hangar One mandarin blossom vodka
1 oz aquavit
1 oz Velvet Falernum
1 drop essential oil of clove

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, shake gently for 6-10 seconds and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Taste3 on Drinks

I was fortunate enough to attend the Taste3 conference in Napa last week. Sponsored by the Robert Mondavi company, the gathering of food, wine and art minds from around the world is supposed to be a sort of culinary TED conference and—if you have an extra $2-grand and consider yourself a die-hard foodie—is well worth your time and money. Great thinkers, scientists, story tellers, cooks, taste makers and thinkers gather together for two days of awesome talks on everything from bees and mushrooms to terroir, food blogging and new kitchen inventions. And you can rub elbows with the speakers at several lunches and dinners.

What’s Not to Like?

Here’s a reason why I think the Bay Area is so awesome: We believe. We believe in a community that cares about its food and drink.

What’s special about this picture? No, it’s not that Rajat Parr, Michael Mina’s wine director, at the Golden State versus Utah playoff series. It’s the fact that the beer he is holding (which was mine) is a Trumer Pils—one of my favorite brews, crafted distinctly right here in Berkeley.

It was a good game and a great beer.

Three Syrahs

JC Cellars is small winery located in Oakland and run by Jeff Cohn, former winemaker for Rosenblum, and his wife Alexandra. A Rhone-wine specialist--meaning he works mostly with Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne--Cohn also makes a bit of Zinfandel.


86 Rules of Boozing

Modern Drunkard is a truly great magazine, and these 86 Rules of Boozing should be posted like government certificates above every bar. You will see how true these rules ring, and reading them will transport you back to moments of drinking past. Some are just little jolts of wisdom and advice. Number 50 is particularly pithy. ("Never brood in a dance bar. Never dance in a dive bar.")

I also like #29, "If you owe someone twenty dollars or less, you may pay them back in beer."

Wine in Time


Wine in Time discussion panel

Where's the Beefeater?



My meetings continued with a rare opportunity to meet with Desmond Payne, the master distiller for Beefeater gin. He lives in London and while his appearance may give the impression of a mild-mannered fellow, his personality is the opposite. He has a wonderfully dry wit, loves the Negroni (as do I) and gets excited for good parties. We talked at length over lunch at Town Hall, where I had the excellent fish and chips in honor of Payne's hometown.

Where Italians Speak German

I had the opportunity to catch up with Alois Lageder of Italy's Alto Adige region this week, which was great, as I'm a big fan of his wines and the wines from this region. Located in the far north of Italy on the east side of the country the Alto Adige borders southern Austria, which is why the majority of the residents in this area speak German as their primary language. The wines reflect a sort of teutonic bent as well--the whites—Rieslings, Pinot Grigios and Sauvignon Blancs, especially—are precise and steely with a great mineral core, just as you'd find in Austria and Germany. The reds are good too, but lesser known. The most famous indigenous variety of red grape there is Lagrein, which has a spicy, peppery component that recalls a lighter Syrah.

Coming Up Rosés

Rosé champagne has never been more popular in this country. There's no greater indication of that than the overwhelming number of rosé samples that are stacking up at my house. And if you haven't seen the new Wine Spectator yet, dry rosé graces its cover--which I doubt has happened before. Not to mention that so many wine lists around town and press folk like I am are heavily promoting rosés of late.
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