If you’re still thinking of sherry and vermouth as drinks for your grandmother or Niles and Frasier Crane, get your head out of your bubblegum vodka. Fortified wine cocktails are fully en vogue, with some bars hosting special events around the ingredient or devoting a page or more to them on their beverage lists.
Square 1682 has led the trend in Philly, slotting these cocktails into their seasonal rotation. Head bartender Chauncey Scates says fortified wines – defined as those with (usually grape-based) distillate added to boost the alcohol content and shelf life – are gaining in popularity in part because they pair so well with food.
“It’s like pairing with wine but with all of those additional ingredients in the cocktail,” she says. “And our chef does a lot of lighter fare like fish and veggies, so I wanted to bring in fortified wines as a big part of our program because they’re not as heavy as some other spirits.”
And yes, we have recipes…
In her quest to raise awareness of German wines and beers among Philadelphians, local celebrity sommelier Marnie Old is bringing the Fatherland to Wine Week through a series of German-focused events. Tonight, the author of the newly released (and quite colorful – both in tone and hue) text Wine: A Tasting Course is hosting “A Tasting Tour of Rheinland Riesling” at the German Society of Pennsylvania from 6:30-8:30. For $38, guests will learn, among other things, that not all Riesling is sweet and not all German wine labels are horrifically confusing, once you know how to read them.
But wait, there’s more!
If you live at the intersection between history buff and beer geek, this upcoming event hosted by the Philadelphia chapter of The Society of Architectural Historians will hit you right in your sweet spot. On Thursday, March 27, the chapter will be meeting at the not-quite-open-yet Saint Benjamin Brewing in Kensington to hear beer historian Rich Wagner talk about the famed 19th century brewery architect Otto Wolf, who designed the St. Benjamin’s brewhouse as a stable for the Finkenauer brewery in 1895.
Wolf was a Philly native and Penn grad who made a national name for himself designing industrial buildings and well-known breweries like Schmidt’s. The rest of the Finkenauer site was demolished in the ‘50s, but in 2012 brewer Tim Patton bought the stable for his 3-barrel nano, which he hopes to open later this year. In the meantime, the 6 p.m. event will be a good time to get a sneak peek at his space and a sneak sip of his Foul Weather Jack English Mild.
Tickets are $20 for non-society members, and space is limited. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s party time this Sunday at The Pour House–the Haddon Township bar that (arguabl)y boasts South Jersey’s strongest craft-beer draught program. The Pour House (which is owned by the company that gave us the P.J. Whelihan’s chain), celebrates its fifth anniversary, starting at noon and running until the last person leaves.
On tap for Sunday are a special roster of brews, from Terrapin Cinnamon Rolled Wake-n-Bake to one of only four pins of Carton Swisher in the state, to Allagash Four aged in bourbon barrels with 500 lbs. of strawberries. Or, ya know, if you don’t like beer, you can always come and buy a $10 anniversary t-shirt and say you were there.
The Pour House [f8b8z]
Pronto Bistro in Thorndale has just upgraded its tap system, and to celebrate the new focus on craft beer, owners are hosting their first beer dinner this Wednesday. They’ve chosen to go with Victory, as it’s a local brewery, and they’ll be offering … wait for it … unlimited beer. Chef Franco Alvisi has prepared a menu where each of the four courses is paired (and prepared with) a different Victory brew, and a brewery rep will be on hand to talk about it all.
In the crowded field of beer dinners, this one stands out for one big reason (apart from the unlimited samples): Italian food. Pronto is a family-owned Italian restaurant that serves specialties from the homeland made with ingredients mostly free of chemicals and GMO’s.
Tickets sell for $55. Contact the restaurant for details. And check out chef Alvisi’s menu after the jump.
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Have you ever eaten at – or even seen — a restaurant specializing in Native American foods in the Philly area? No, I haven’t either, and I have to admit that until this moment, it never occurred to me to miss it. But from now until April 6, the Penn Museum is running Native American lunch specials in its Pepper Mill Café to coincide with its temporary exhibition, Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now.
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Shameless self-promotion alert: I’m about to preview my own event. But I assure you, blurred lines of journalism aside, it’s worth writing about.
Tomorrow, beer-loving women across the planet will get together at breweries and homebrew shops to participate in the world’s first collaborative brew day for ladies. In honor of International Women’s Day, brewsters (as brewers of the fairer sex are called) and their friends will spend the day brewing their take on the same recipe – a 4% ABV session beer named Unite Pale Ale.
Here in Philly, Beer for Babes, my New Jersey-based craft beer appreciation group for women, is hosting a brew that’s open to all women from 1-3 pm at Nodding Head. Meredith Rebar, who runs Home Brewed Events, is donating her time to lead the brew and instruct the newbies, while Nancy Rigberg, owner of Home Sweet Homebrew, is donating supplies. Proceeds will go to fund scholarships for female brewers, and participants get to pick up a 22—ounce bottle when it’s finished.
Some brewsters in England dreamed up the idea, which is being organized by the Pink Boots Society, the only global organization for women in the beer industry. So far, 60 breweries in the continental U.S., Alaska, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Israel are signed up to take part.
For those who’d like to join in at Nodding Head, tickets can be bought here for $10.
In what appears to be a first-of-its-kind commercial endeavor, a South Jersey winery is selling wine aged on hops normally used for brewing beer. As of last week, Valenzano Winery in Burlington County has released the first of what may end up being a series of hopped Chardonnays, which are available for around $15 a bottle at South Jersey liquor stores like the Joe Canal’s chain and WineWorks in Medford.
Winemaker/homebrewer Michael Jones says as a hophead who works at a winery owned by a beer geek, the idea emerged–as ideas so often do–over pints.
“We were drinking some really good IPAs and we thought, ‘Why don’t we try putting hops in the wine?’” he recounts.
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I have to admit, I cringed when Jacqui Town told me at our first meeting, at the Craft Brewers Conference in D.C. last winter, that everything was running right on schedule at the brewery she was establishing with her dad, Chip. With no prior brewery experience for either of them, I wondered if the Tom’s River, NJ, father-daughter team realized that breweries and restaurants never open on time. Never. So it was with little surprise but absolutely no pleasure that I heard shortly thereafter that the Towns had hit a huge snag. Huge. They had to rename their brewery.
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Anyone who’s ever listened to Marnie Old speak on beer, food pairings, marketing, Canada, or anything really, knows she full-on knows her shit. But it’s when the Philly-based sommelier talks wine that people (and the related multi-national corporations and associations that she addresses and advises) truly stop mid-sip to hear her.
And now people who like wine but can’t quite seem to grasp all the appellations … and the labels … and the vintages … and the…sigh, well, you know … everything else, can take advantage of her copious knowledge without shelling out thousands of bucks to hire her as a personal consultant. For the price of a $25 book, the educator who came up the wine ranks as the som at Striped Bass and the director of wine studies at Manhattan’s French Culinary Institute will tell everything she knows.
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