Category Archives: Other

Our Top Picks For Dad … and they’re not all whiskey!

It couldn’t be easier. Come in store, tell us a bit about your dad and we’ll help you find the
bottle he’ll love this Father’s Day. Heck we’ll even wrap it for you. It’s that simple. Here are our top picks, a mix of hard-to-find, new-in-store, and just plain delicious.

For The Dad Who Takes Any Chance He Can To Talk About His Whiskey Collection
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Highland Park Valkyrie

The newest offering from Highland Park is the first in a three-bottle series showcasing “Viking Legends.” Don’t let this bottle’s lack of an age designation fool you. It has wonderful fruit and spice flavors and is remarkably smooth at 92 proof. It’s brand-spanking new and is already racking up the awards. Let your father know he’s as important to you as Odin!  $79.99 (750ml)

Glenfiddich Experimental Series #1: India Pale Ale Cask

This brand new whiskey is the first single malt scotch ever aged in IPA casks. It has a totally unique finish with a subtle fruit & hoppy character and is delicious. Very limited availability on this one, so scoop it up for your Dad’s collection before it goes away.  $69.99 (750ml)

For The Classic Dad Who Keeps It Real 
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The Singleton of Glendullan Classic 12yr

A beautiful scotch that won’t break the bank. It was unavailable in Little ‘Rhody for a spell, but now it’s back. It’s delicate and light with a soft finish. It’s a classic malt for a classic Dad.       $36.99 (750ml)

Gordon & Macphail Scapa 10yr

From independent bottlers Gordan & MacPhail this is a classic Orkney malt that will surprise with its unique, subtle peat character and light tropical notes. Not as aggressive as most island whiskies, the Scapa has just the right amount of peat & fruit for summer evenings under the stars. $69.99 (750ml)

For The Dad Who Doesn’t Like Whiskey (They Do Exist!)
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Bumbu Rum

Dad doesn’t like whiskey? We have you covered! One of the best new rums on the market is the Bumbu, out of Barbados. It’s a craft rum made with all-natural native spices and no artificial flavors or colors. It’s distilled in small batches and blended by hand. It has wonderful hints of spice and fruit. We like it best neat, or with a cube or two. $34.99 (750ml)

Grand Mayan Ultra Aged Tequila

Looking for something totally special this Father’s Day? How about a tequila that finishes like a brandy! The Grand Mayan Ultra Aged is simply one of the most unique and delicious spirits we’ve tasted in a long while. It has very little “bite” and appeals to tequila drinks as much as those who favor dark spirits. It’s a terrific gift.  $89.99 (750ml)

For The Dad Who Deserves A Little Extra Special Love This Year
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Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary

A special bottle for the collector’s shelf. This celebratory release commemorates “The Master Distiller’s Master Distiller” Jimmy Russell’s 60 years with wild Turkey. It’s a blend of bourbons ranging in age from 13-16 years old, and will be sought after for decades. A true treat for bourbon lovers. $114.99 (750ml)

Happy Father’s Day!
(Prices subject to change.)

Spirited Stocking Stuffers

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Don’t short shrift your stocking stuffing. Here’s a sampling of the hundreds of stocking-sized stuffers we have in store for the drinks enthusiast on your list. From left to right, top to bottom:

Mini Bottles of Bubbles: 187ml of fizzy fun (that’s just over a glass to you and me) from Champagne to cava and a few styles in between.
Shown: Mionetto Brut Prosecco $5.99

Canvas Flask – Made in the USA, pocket-sized for big fun with the filler of your choice.
Multiple styles, $14.99 each

Viski Julep Strainer – a bar staple not just for juleps!
$9.99

St. Germain – the most beautiful bottle in the store, palm sized.
$13.99

Wigle Bitters – made with small-batch, organic Wigle whiskey and infused with all matter of deliciousness.
4 available flavors: Aromatic, Rosemary & Lavender, Orange Pomander, Molé, $17.99 each

Bittermens Citron Sauvage Liqueur – a bitter grapefruit aperitif for those who love to play with their cocktails.
$14.99

St. George Raspberry Liqueur – precisely flavored liqueurs, ideal for sipping and mixing, from CA with love.
Raspberry (shown) and Spiced Pear, $17.99 each

Macallan 12-Year Half Bottle –  a perfect fit for Scotch lovers!
375ml, $34.99

Multi-Colored Pull-Tap Corkscrews – the cork extractor of choice among wine professionals.
Several colors, $5.99 each

“Bad Mother Shucker” Oyster Knives – engraved by our sister studio, The Engraved Bottle. $9.49

Silicone Corks – a colorful way to keep your wine fresh!
Available in purple, blue, green, red, pink and yellow, 
$1.99 each

Pizza Coasters – a set of 3 flavors (pepperoni, cheese & veggie).
$4.99 for a stack of 12

Iron Lobster Bottle Opener – for the New Englander in us all.
$6.99

Liber & Co. Orgeat Syrup – made with real roasted almonds. Can’t make a Mai Tai without it. 8.5oz, $8.99

Nips – With its real wax coating, the Maker’s Mark mini-bottle is one of our favorites from the over 50 we have in store.
Various spirits, starting at $1.49

Happy Stocking!

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What to Drink While Watching “A Christmas Carol”

Whether you’re watching the 1951 Alastair Sim version of the Dickens classic, or taking in a live performance at Trinity Rep (which we highly endorse – it is just fantastic this year), we’ve got a pairing that will make your enjoyment of this holiday must-do that much better.

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Curt Columbus, Artistic Director of Trinity Rep (and a wine lover with a great palate) selected two sparklers to go with the show. Said Curt: “Two celebratory wines for the year’s most festive production! One’s sweet and one’s dry, but both are sparkling and just spectacular. The dazzling Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s Sofia Blanc de Blancs is dry and full of bright, fresh and juicy pear flavor; the sensational Centorri Moscato d’Asti has a crisp honeycomb-scented sweetness. Both are bubbly and echo the joyful spirit of the holidays at Trinity. Happy Holidays!”

Both the Sofia and Centorri are available to drink during the show. If you purchase either in store, Bottles will donate 20% of your purchase back to Trinity.

We’re proud and thrilled to be the Official Sommelier of Trinity Repertory Company. Happy Holidays from all of us at Bottles!

PUNCH! Local, Herbal and Delicious

Whether you’re hosting 4 people or 40, serving a big bowl of premade punch is a stress free and festive way to ensure your guests drink well. Bottles’ friend Jessyloo Rodrigues, the Botanical Bartender behind the Parcel Apothecary herbal CSA / cocktail farm, recently shared with us tips and tricks for perfecting your punch, as well as three of her favorite seasonal recipes.

A Traditional DIY Rum Punch

Tips on ingredients:

The original word for punch comes from the Sanskrit word meaning 5, and refers to the 5 traditional ingredients in classic punches: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, tea/spices. Consider using variations on those key elements when constructing your punch.

Our new favorite way to remember the recipe for a Traditional Rum Punch is with a rhyme: “One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak.” Using that rhyme as your guide will allow you to riff with ingredients and open your punch up to what’s in season.

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Sour: lemon juice is traditional, but you could also use lime juice, grapefruit juice, tart/sour cherry juice or a blend.

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Sweet: A classic simple syrup is an easy way to add the “sweet.” To make simple syrup, mix 50/50 sugar to warm water and stir until sugar is dissolved. You can use traditional cane sugar, or grenadine syrup (pomegranate & sugar simple syrup), or make your own simple syrup with any of the following sugars: honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, demerara. Consider adding strawberries, raspberries, passionfruit, or any other fruit to your simple syrup. Or infuse the simple syrup with your favorite aromatic herb (like lavender, mint, basil, rosemary). To do so, add the herb after the sugar is dissolved and the water is slightly cooled, and let steep for 15 minutes, then strain out the herb matter.

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Strong, aka, the alcohol: The punches below use locally-made spirits. If you’re not in the Rhode Island vicinity, be sure to look for spirits made in your area. Thanks to the boom of small craft distillers, they can be found in your local radius anywhere in the US at this point. Use just one spirit, or a mix of several.

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Weak: Go with one juice, or try a blend. Pineapple, orange, pomegranate, and watermelon are all good choices. Or, try freshly squeezing a blend of your own juices (carrot &  ginger are terrific). When cocktails meet your health kick – your trainer will be proud! Also, it’s always a good idea to balance the juice with water (tap, coconut, acai, etc.) as it helps dilute the juice’s concentration.

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Using large-format ice is ideal, as it slows down the dilution of your punch, while keeping it chilled. Consider using a bundt pan as a ring mold, and float your garnish (citrus wheels, herbs, garnish, edible flowers, or a little prize) in the water before freezing. Alternately, use plastic bags or a small plastic bowl as your mold. Large-format ice cube “trays” are easily available, too. We have several sizes and shapes at Bottles.

All recipes below are formatted for the standard, large 8-quart punch bowl.

punchdoneA Traditional Rum Punch 

Ingredients
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (sour)
2 cups simple syrup made from demerara sugar (sweet)
3 cups Thomas Tew Rum (strong)
4 cups of a 50/50 mixture of pineapple juice and coconut water (weak)
Garnish: fresh limes, cranberries and rosemary. Jessyloo chose rosemary, a symbol of remembrance, for this recipe as it represents the rhyme that will help you remember how to make punch! It’s also a lovely aromatic herb that will inspire you and your guests to stir up fond memories of loved ones at your holiday gathering this year. (Herbal Fun Fact: simply smelling rosemary once a day can improve your short and long term memory.)

Method
Combine all ingredients into a punch bowl, stirring well after each addition. Add large-format ice and garnish with fruit and herbs. In our punch, Jessyloo filled the limes halves we squeezed earlier with cranberries and rosemary for garnish.

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Here are two additional recipes that will require a touch more effort, but are worth every second.

Honey Bee in a Pine Tree

Ingredients
9 green tea teabags
12oz freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 bottle (750ml) of Barr Hill Vodka (distilled from Vermont honey)
12oz Combier (an orange liqueur)
18oz Pama Liqueur
8oz Zirbenz (a pine liqueur)
1 bottle (750ml) Mionetto Brut Prosecco
Garnish: pomegranate jewels and lime slices

Method
Prepare 18oz of green tea by brewing 9 teabags in 18oz of boiling water, and letting steep for 5 minutes. Add the next 5 liquid ingredients into your punch bowl, stirring vigorously after each addition. Let sit in the fridge for 2-4 hours. Top with a 750ml bottle of prosecco. Add ice and garnish with pomegranate jewels and lime slices. (Herbal Fun Fact: white pine needles are edible and high in vitamin C.)

Five Pointed Punch

Ingredients
1 tbsp Chinese 5-Spice Powder
7oz raw honey
6 Roobios teabags
25oz of Sons of Liberty Gala Apple Whiskey
8oz Lime Juice
12oz Orange Juice
10oz Apple Cider
32oz club soda or seltzer
Garnish: lime, orange and apple slices cut width-wise to reveal their star (remove seeds).

Method
Make a 5-Spice honey simple syrup: stir the Chinese 5-Spice Powder and raw honey into 8oz of hot water until dissolved. Add to your punch bowl. Prepare 12oz of strong Roobios tea by brewing 6 teabags in 12oz of boiling water, and let steep for 15 minutes. Add to the punch bowl. Add all remaining liquid ingredients except the club soda into your punch bowl, stirring vigorously after each addition.  Let sit in the fridge for 2-4 hours.  Add ice cube and top with club soda before serving. Garnish with the fruit slices. (Herbal Fun Fact: The spices used in Chinese 5 Spice are star anise, szechuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, cinnamon and cloves. These represent the 5 natural elements in traditional Chinese medicine, thus making the powder a balanced and powerful blend. All 5 spices are used for digestive complaints and as an ingredient in tooth paste.)

We hope you enjoy making these punches. Our thanks to Jessyloo, and Happy Holidays!

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Kiuchi Brewing

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a very special 193-year-old brewery.

They have never closed, and have been producing continuously since 1823, so how can they be 20 years old?

The answer lies in what is being brewed, and in some of the most innovative, thoughtful, and delightful products that we are proud to carry on our shelves. They all come from the Kiuchi brewery, who from their home in Japan send us charming, thoughtful sakes which they’ve brewed since the early 1800s, and mouth-watering beers which they began brewing 20 years ago.

We’d love to share a few of our favorites with you, in the hope that you find some new favorites for yourself.

The Sake

Kiuchi sake has been brewed for a long, long time, with a sustained commitment to quality ingredients and traditional methods. Their careful processing coaxes wonderfully floral, fruity and nutty aromas from the rice, along with a beguiling mouthfeel that demands to be savored. As always, sake is best enjoyed with good food and better company.

Here are some of our favorites from this venerable house. What’s great for beginning sake drinkers is that Kiuchi makes the following sakes available in sample sizes. Five of their best are sold in a pack of 200ml bottles.

Asamurasake – ‘Morning Purple Red Rice Sake’ is made from a very unique red rice, and is indeed reddish-purple in color, with a very light spritz and refreshing berry flavors.

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Tarusake – Sake slowly matured in Akita Cedar barrels. Look for flavors of white pepper, citrus zest and, well, cedar.

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Kurahibiki – A complex sake made with ‘Yama Danishiki’ rice, specifically bred for sake brewing. A sophisticated sake with flavors of honeydew melon and lychee fruit.

The Beer

Kiuchi began brewing beer in 1996 under the Hitachino Nest label, along with their iconic owl.

Led by their stalwart White Ale, their brews are typified by fresh spins on style, with a uniquely Japanese twist that intrigues your taste buds without shocking your sensibilities. If you’re lucky enough to find any of these beers on tap – drink them! Since we aren’t always so lucky in our draught choices, here are some of our favorite award-winning bottles:

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White Ale – A Belgian-style witbier brewed with the subtle additions of coriander, nutmeg, orange peel, and fresh orange juice. Remarkably refreshing!

Anbai – Anbai means ‘salty plum,’ an apt name for this take on a German gose. The brewers ratchet up the alcohol on their White Ale recipe to 7% and add Japanese green sour plums and sea salt. Sounds odd, but the slightly tart and flinty flavors are explosive and addictive.

Red Rice Ale – An ale comprised of barley and red rice, fermented with sake yeast. The result is a malty brew, with a pleasantly earthy finish. It’s one of our favorite food beers, as it marries perfectly with all manner of meats and fatty fish.

Dai Dai – A dry IPA brewed with the peel of the ‘Fukure Mikan’ fruit, a wild Mandarin orange which is cultivated near the brewery. As with all Hitachino beers, it’s neither too bitter nor fruity, with all the flavors in balance.

Sweet Stout – An English-style milk stout, with decadent flavors of coffee, chocolate and roasted nuts. Not a dark or bitter stout, but a pleasantly sweet brew perfectly suited to dessert.

Kanpai!

-Liam

Nick’s Spanish Adventure

Garnacha growing in the extreme desert conditions of Jumilla.

Earlier this summer Bottles’ Wine Director Nick Shugrue traveled throughout Spain, visiting several vineyards and essentially having the time of his life. We’ll be tasting many of the wines he had while in Spain in the store on Saturday. Following are excerpts from his travel journal.

We started in Vigo which is up in Galicia, in northwest Spain, known for incredible seafood and the Albarino grape. We were in a small seaside town called Cambados, which was kind of New England-like (humid, coastal, picturesque) but with big, old palm trees lining the main boulevard.

In Cambados we had an insane lunch with mountains of shellfish, razor clams, octopus and whole grilled fish. One of the region’s delicacies is the Percebes or “goose foot barnacle.” It’s a prehistoric, scary looking type of shellfish that I’m glad I tried, but won’t be having again. With lunch we drank a ton of really great Albarino wine. Galicia is Albarino country – it’s what all the locals drink, given how well it pairs with seafood, giving credence to the “what grows together goes together” adage. I visited a few wine shops, and really, all they sell is Albarino with maybe a few red Mencias, a wine made inland in the mountains from the grape of the same name.

The Galician regional delicacy Percebes, or “goose foot barnicle,” with Nick’s empty glasses of locally-grown and made Albarino.

Later in the day we visited the beautiful Lagar de Condesa winery, where lots of the Albarino wines are made. The Kentia was my favorite, super fresh, vibrant and lively. At de Condesa they are experimenting with giant egg-shaped fermenting tanks that many high-end, cutting edge wineries all over the world are using. Many winemakers feel it’s the perfect vessel in which to ferment because the shape of the egg makes the wine naturally convect, continually stirring the lees on its own, not mechanically. It allows for more skin contact with the juice and produces wines with more body and complexity. Really cool. 

Nick next to the egg-shaped fermenter at Lagar de Condesa.

Next we drove southeast to the desert region of Zamora. I felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. Zamora is the giant all encompassing zone that includes the famous wine region of Ribera del Duero. Here we drank some great Tempranillo, Mencia and also a “Prieto Picudo” which is an obscure grape from Zamora that I’ve never seen stateside. It’s a bit Dolcetto-ish but juicier.

But the most interesting bit about Zamora is its desert landscape! It’s amazing how anything can grow in such arid conditions, just unbelievable. With no irrigation! Here we went to one of Juan Gil’s oldest vineyards where the vines are over 100 years old, growing in sand. It was the weirdest thing. I felt like we were on a sand dune. The wines produced from these ancient vines and in these rusty, red-ish brown soils were outstanding. Really rich and concentrated. The stand out wine of the day was Rejon Tempranillo grown on 130 year old vines.

A 100+ year-old vine growing in Zamora’s sandy soils.

We later visited another of the Juan Gil winemaking facilities in Rueda, which was about an hour’s drive from Zamora. It was a little less arid here, and the soil was made up of larger grains very much like gravel. One of the stand-outs here was the Shaya Verdejo, which is partially sourced from 110 year old vines. It was a delicious, very typical Verdejo – medium bodied and a bit more lush. We finished that day in a town called Segovia. One of the prettiest cities I have ever been in. The town is cut in half by a giant Roman aqueduct. Stunning. 

Verdejo growing in the gravely Rueda soil.
The Roman aqueduct in the ancient city of Segovia.

The next day we were off to Jumilla in the extreme southeast, so the opposite corner of where we started and home to the Juan Gil headquarters. We’ve carried the Juan Gil wines in store in the past to great success but I honestly have a new appreciation for them after visiting the vineyard. It’s an amazing place full of beautiful contradictions. In this rocky, barren landscape there’s a garden with several 900 year old (!) olive trees. Yet inside the winery, which is underneath a large mountain, is one of Juan Gil’s massive, cutting edge, state of the art wineries, which houses four-story high fermentation tanks.

900-year old olive trees at the Juan Gil headquarters in Jumilla.

The modern, steel fermentation tanks at the Juan Gil winery.

While there, we also got to see a vineyard where their Monastrell is grown. Again, super extreme growing conditions here, which they allude to on their label. It’s really hard to believe wine can be made in this region! The soil and terrain is a desert of jagged sharp stones, rocky cliffs, plateaus and canyons. On the front label of the Honoro Vera Monastrell there’s an image of a vine growing through a white rock. When the vineyards that produce these wine were planted over 100 years ago, the farmers had to remove about a meter of these jagged rocks, until they hit a slab of chalk/limestone. They then had to drill a hole through the limestone to plant the vines. They did this so that the roots could get nutrition and water. The wines all have this hard but delicious mineral edge to them because of the influence of the limestone. It was really cool.

Later in the day we drove to the region next door called Almansa. Here we toured Bodegas Atalaya and met Pepe. Pepe was certainly a highlight of the trip. This round, jovial, amazing man gave us a tour of the rocky vineyards and desert landscape in his old Land Rover Defender. What a day! Atalaya mostly works with the Alicante Bouchet grape which in this region is called Garnacha Tintorera (due to EU laws). Alicante is a black skinned grape and one of the only grapes that produces red juice when crushed.

Nat Saywell of MS Walker, Atalaya’s Pepe and Nick, prior to touring the vineyard in Pepe’s Defender.

On day 5 of our trip we drove up the coast to Montsant and Priorat, closer to Barcelona. The landscape was incredible. We visited the Cellars Can Blau which sits in this bowl surrounded on three sides by mountains. Here we had what was probably the best meal of our trip: A chef brought to our table a huge cast iron skillet full of sunnyside-up eggs. In the middle of it was a mountain of truffled potatoes. He placed it on the table and began tossing. Unbelievable. It was served with Blue Grey Priorat and the Can Blau wines. Big, stunning wines grown in sandy mountainsides. Just beautiful.

The skillet filled with egg and truffled-potatoes. It was mixed tableside prior to being served.

We finished the trip with a day in Barcelona. What an amazing town. The Sagrada de Familia church (a World Heritage Site), Gaudi Park, the famous outdoor market La Bouqueria and Flamenco. A great way to end a trip I’ll never forget.

Join us on Saturday, August 27th, as we taste several of Nick’s favorites from his trip, including Blue Grey Priorat, Kentia Albarino and Shaya Verdejo.

Meet Josh – He’s Bottles’ Newest Team Member!

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And you want to get to know him.

If you’ve been in the store over the past few weeks you’ve probably noticed a tall, Irish-lookin’ fella with a warm smile on the floor. He’s Josh Shields, and he’s our new General Manager. Josh has wine, beer & spirits smarts in spades and we’re sure glad to have him.

Josh will tell you he rarely drinks the same beverage twice in a row. He’s got several years of experience at three highly-regarded New England wine shops under his belt. His time working harvest at a 3rd Growth Chateau in Bordeaux is something he’s still high about.

Oh, and he helped manage the world’s largest private wine cellar – we’re talking north of 750,000 bottles – while a sommelier at the legendary Tampa-based Bern’s Steak House. The 60-year-old restaurant that just won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service? Yeah, that one.

And he’s an all-around great guy, to boot. Easy-going, smart, funny and easy to work with, Josh fits right into the Bottles family. Read on for Katie’s Q&A with Josh to see why we think he’s not only a spectacular addition to the out team, but to the RI beverage scene as a whole.

Katie: Let’s start with an easy one: If you could have only one bottle for the rest of your time, what would it be?

Josh: That’s not easy! That said, at Bern’s I learned two things I never wanted to know about myself. That I like Old Burgundy and ancient Madeira. Two things I’ll never be able to afford. But if I had to pick one style it would be aged Bordeaux. ‘61 if we’re just getting silly. Why not.

K: Sounds like Bern’s was quite a place to work. You were there for 5 years, managing their wine list, which at one point hovered around 1 million bottles. What was that like?

J: For starters it wasn’t just me. It was definitely a team effort of about three somms and David Laxer, and the restaurant’s current owner and son of founder Bernard “Bern” Laxer.  And it was thrilling. Mr. Laxer, who founded the restaurant 60 years ago was an amazing, truly self-made man – he built the whole thing through relationships with producers, bankers and customers. Living up to the legacy of the people that built the cellar was the hardest  – but best  – part of my time at Bern’s. I considered myself a docent rather than a wine manager. And then there’s also the wine I had the opportunity to taste. I got to taste a lot of Really. Great. Wine. Nearly all of the best wines I’ve had in my life were at Bern’s. It was quite an education.

K: How did you help guests find their way through that huge list?

J: That was another exciting part about the job that I really liked. It was a busy restaurant – anywhere from 500-600 up to 1,200 covers a night – and there were typically only two somms on! As one of the sommeliers I had the opportunity to wade through that entire list, and take a guest who wanted to spend, you know, $200 on a big name bottle, and convince them they could spend $100 on something they’d never heard of, and they’d be happier with that choice. I called it shotgun somm-ing. After reading the table I’d basically whittle the whole list down to two options. They’d pick A or B, I’d pour the wine for them, and then I’d go back a few minutes later and right then and there I’d know whether I’d hit a homerun or struck out. It was one of the coolest places I’ve ever worked, without a doubt. I learned how to successfully read people. Knowing what type of service and product guests want – without getting much verbal input from them – is a critical skill to have on the floor of a retail store or restaurant.

K: What’s the most memorable wine and/or spirit that you’ve ever had?

J: Tough question. At the steakhouse we saw things that were totally unique – things that just shouldn’t have existed. One that always jumps to mind was a 1947 Fleurie (a cru Beaujolais) which there’s absolutely no way that wine should have been still around. That wine should have been dead 20 years before I was born and it was stunning, it really was – for 45 minutes, and then it fell apart. Also, I’ll never forget the pre-World War One wines I had the honor of tasting. Thinking about what that wine went through to get to you. Amazing.

But if you want to know the wine I’d miss car payments to pay for? 1967 d’Yquem. I don’t mean to name drop, but what an exquisite wine. ‘67 was a horrible year for Bordeaux, it was wet, it was cold, it was just not a perfect vintage for still wine, but it made this amazing dessert wine, and there’s not a lot of it to be had.

K: What’s your favorite food & beverage pairing?

J: The one I’ll never forget was my first: In my early 20s I paired Aventinus and Thin Mints. I was very proud of that! Try it! It still works! My pairing philosophy, which I learned from my boss and mentor at a wine shop in Western Mass, is: drink what you like, and work backwards from there. The pairing isn’t going to work if pros say it does but you don’t like the wine. For someone who’s just starting to develop their likes and dislikes, I do suggest the classic pairing guideline of “what grows with it, goes with it.” It’s never failed me.

K: What are your plans for the store in the coming year?

J: The most important thing for me — and most challenging — will be to maintain what you guys at Bottles have already built. I know it sounds like a cheesy answer and it’s not meant to – it’s true. Your community of involved customers is rare – I’ll take tremendous pride in carrying that stewardship on. In addition, I’m here to help take some of the workload off of Nick so he can continue to evolve and develop the stunning wine program he’s built. And Eric and Liam, who will be spending some time on business development, will never be far away, either. Thankfully.

In terms of inventory there are certain things that I feel passionate about so I’ll be fleshing them out more. If you couldn’t tell already – I really like vintage Bordeaux. So if there’s a market for it in this town I’d like to grow it. Last year I spent a good amount of time in France, working harvest and vintage at Chateau Giscours, in Margaux (Bordeaux). I also planted 7,200 little merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapevines.  They’ll be there for 40 years! Still mentally riding the high from that so yeah, I’ll bring those wines into the store too.

And soju – I love soju – and good soju is hard to find.

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K: Getting adjusted to a new town and job is demanding. When you do have free time again, what will you be doing?

J: I’m a history buff, so there’s always that. Also, sports, and catching up with old friends.

K: Red Sox or Rays? Or  Bruins or Lighting?

J: I grew up in Sutton and Uxbridge, and never lost my MA sports roots despite getting lots of grief from the Tampa guys. So Red Sox & Bruins all the way. That said, the Lighting guys were really nice guys! Insanely nice guys. In my experience hockey players tend to be the nicest of the sports groups.

K: If you could have dinner with any 3 people in the world, living or dead, who would they be?

J: Bill Belichik, Marcus Aurelius & Hunter S. Thompson. Can I also add My dad? And Talleyrand?

K: Of course you can add your dad. What’s with the historical guys?

J: I have a degree in Military History and Political Science from UMass Amherst, and studied in Northern Ireland and planned to build a career in ethnic conflict resolution. Unfortunately, languages are not my thing – and that field of work is hyper competitive. I studied it because I’ve always like history and mediation was the most fascinating aspect of it and the most applicable and practical aspect of it.

K: Let’s hope you never have to use those skills here at Bottles. How has it been adjusting to Providence?

J: The adjustments are pretty basic. Just learning which products are carried by which distributors and the nuances of the RI beverage law. In terms of other cool things is the local product – there’s a lot of cool locally made products that I’m just learning about.

K:  You’ve traveled quite a bit. Where would you most like to live?

J: I’m here! I’ve had options to live all over the world, but I’m happy to be home, back in New England.

You’ll find Josh at Bottles most days of the week. Please come by to introduce yourself to him – and to test his beverage know-how with your toughest questions!

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SPRITZER 101

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They’re baaaack….

They’re fresh and fizzy and fun. They’re light and refreshing on hot summer afternoons.

They’re spritzers, and we’re such huge fans of them that we’ve decided to declare this season the Summer of Spritzers.

The spritzers we’re talking about are descendants of the wine drinks made famous (some say infamous) in the 1980’s. Back in that diet-crazed decade, some wine drinkers added ice and seltzer water to their glasses in order to tamp down the vino’s calories and alcoholic punch. Eventually, serious wine aficionados took issue with those alterations (sacré bleu!), and the spritzer fizzled out.

Fast forward to today, where we think that – especially in the summer – keeping drinks light and low-alcohol is a good thing. No, make that a great thing. We believe there’s no shame in adding soda water to your wine to lighten the potency and to add a lift! We believe there’s no shame in adding ice cubes to your glass, to keep the chill up and the power down! Especially when you use the right ingredients.

We hope you agree, and will join us in this Summer of Spritzers!

Herewith, our guidelines for making tasty spritzers that you can drink with pride.

Basic Spritzer Recipe:
Add equal parts fresh & fruity still white wine (see below for our picks) and soda water to a glass over a few cubes of ice and stir. Garnish, if you’d like.

Already have a bottle of fizzy wine – or just want to add more character to your glass? Just add juice, and/or a low-alcohol aperitif.

Best wines for spritzing:
Choose fresh & fruity whites and rosés such as riesling (dry and off dry), chenin blanc, gewurztraminer and gruner veltliner — essentially anything but chardonnay. If you want to start with bubbles, look for prosecco, lambrusco, cava, cremant d’alsace.
Best garnishes for spritzers:
For white wines, lemon, limes and grapefruit. For rosé, try fresh strawberries and cherries. Leafy herbs, such as mint and basil, work best for both.
Great additions:
Grapefruit juice, lemonade, St-Germain, Aperol, Cocchi Americano, Lillet Blanc & Rosé, Plymouth Gin
Helpful hints:
-Play with your ratios to suit your mood.
-To ensure optimal fizz, pour still ingredients first. Finish/top off with the bubbles.
-Be sure to use fresh soda water – no one likes a limp spritz!
Bottles’ Favorite Spritzers

The KaiserSpritzer
Add to a glass filled with ice 3oz of Gruner Veltliner, a big splash of St-Germain and 2oz of soda water. Stir, and garnish with fresh mint.

The Eastside Spritzer (aka Bottles’ House Spritzer)
Combine over ice in a tall glass 4oz of white wine, 2oz of soda water, a pinch of sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Stir and drink deeply.

The Aperol Spritz
To a rocks glass filled with ice add 2oz Aperol, 4oz prosecco and 2oz soda water. Stir, and garnish with an orange slice.

Enjoy your Spritzing!

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Uncle Val’s Gins

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They’re really good gins with a really great story.

You see, it all started in 1895 when Samuele Sebastiani emigrated to the US from Tuscany. He settled in Sonoma, and within 10 years he opened the successful Sebastiani Winery which is still in operation today. This skill for producing high-quality, tasty beverages was inherited by his great-grandson August Sebastiani, who, decades later, created Uncle Val’s gin.

The line of gins – it’s among Bottles’ best-sellers – is named after August’s favorite uncle, Valerio Cecchetti, a retired physician from Lucca, Italy.  Uncle Val was not only a highly-respected doctor, but an accomplished cook with a passion for gardening. August modeled the gins after the fruits, vegetables and herbs that Uncle Val loved to grow in his garden and use in his cooking: juniper, lemon, sage, lavender and cucumber.

Each of the gins is produced in small batches, distilled five times, and filtered over stone to produce as smooth, clean and true a flavor as possible.

Uncle Val’s distinctive dark green, antique-hued bottles were inspired by bitters bottles produced in Italy in the 18th and 19th centuries. The labels, which are hand-numbered, feature some of Uncle Val’s more notable – and eccentric – sayings: “Eggs have no business dancing with stones.” “If the beard were all, the goat might preach.” “You cannot flay a stone.” Thankfully, the labels also include a translation of these colorful phrases.

The Gins:

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The Botanical opens with crisp aromas of sage and juniper. A first taste of lemon leads to a warm, spicy, lavender finish, with piney and cooling cucumber notes. We love sipping this gin with nothing more than a cube of ice and a pine needle or juniper berry picked from the in the backyard.

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The Restorative is based on savory, American-style gin. After distillation it’s infused with juniper, coriander, cucumbers and rose petals. When used in a martini, an olive will subdue the floral notes and accentuate the savory coriander and juniper. To enhance the floral notes, add a citrus twist.

VALS4
The Peppered is a big, spicy gin. It’s flavored with juniper, red bell pepper, black pepper and pimento, and is both terrific for sipping and for mixing for those who like big, bold drinks. It opens with a sharp salty-pepper flavor that evolves into a sour/sweet juniper and charred red pepper finish.

Each of the gins are distinctive as their back story. Come by and pick up a bottle today – they’re on sale – $5.00 off – thru August 2016!

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Bottled-in-Bond: What it Means and Why it’s Important

What does “Bottled-in-Bond” mean and why should we care? Whiskey Professor and two-time Whiskey Man of the Year Bernie Lubbers visited Bottles recently to let us know just why. And we believe him. If you’re getting your dad a Bottled-in-Bond bottle of whiskey for Father’s Day, why not learn what makes it so special!

The Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 laid out a set of regulations and standards for distilled spirits; more specifically it made the government the authenticator of a spirit’s quality. At the time, some whiskies were adulterated out of greed — things like iodine and tobacco were used for coloring or as flavoring agents. Folks wanted to trust that they were drinking the real deal, so the government stepped in.

When you purchase a “Bottled-in-Bond or “Bonded” bottle, you can rest assured that what’s in the bottle is just good old USA-made whiskey and time.

In order to be labeled “Bottled in Bond” or “Bonded” the whiskey must:

  • be the product of a single distillation season
  • be from one distiller at one distillery
  • be aged in a federally-bonded warehouse for at least 4 years
  • be bottled at 100 proof
  • identify the distillery in which it was made or the location where it was bottled

We have several Bottled-in-Bond bottles at Bottles – come by and let us help select the right one for you!

Here’s to Bottled-in-Bond!

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