Fall Cocktails: Whiskey Ginger Spritz

 

Whiskey Ginger Spritz Autumn Cocktail

Gin may be the Spirit of Summer, but Bourbon is the Spirit of Fall. With the color of autumn leaves and a warm taste, a nice Bourbon cocktail on a fall evening really hits the spot.

You could use any Bourbon you like. The more popular brands like Jack Daniels and Jim Beam are always safe but tend to be on the pricey side. I picked up this bottle of Samuel Grant Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (is the name long enough for ya?) at Albertson’s in Los Lunas on sale for $8.99. It turned out to be quite good and just goes to show that it is not necessary to break the bank in order to mix excellent cocktails.

With regard to the Ginger Ale, I highly recommend a premium brand such as Reed’s… so much more Ginger-licious than the common brands.

Follow the flow chart

Fill a high ball glass (or mason jar) with ice

Add 1.5 shots Bourbon

Add 3 – 4 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Top off with Reed’s Ginger Ale

Stir

Garnish with lemon wedge

Enjoy while the sun goes down 🙂

Whiskey Ginger Spritz

Wine Review: 2014 California Pinot Noir, Prophecy

2014 Prophecy NoirThis bottle was from a trip to Total Wine towards the end of our days in Frederick (circa November 2017)

Life gets hectic when times of transition grow near, especially moves across the country. Days are filled with finding answers to important questions like how to get all of this stuff from point A to point B?, and of course the all important where we will live upon arrival?

There are other important details like what to pack and what not to pack. Deciding what day will be the last day at work and when to say goodbye to all our friends.

As the big day grows closer, the apartment grows more sparse. The U-Box was packed and sent ahead, leaving us to eat on paper plates while sitting on the floor and, after the bed that wasn’t going to make the trip was hauled away, Xavier and I spent the last night in Frederick huddled together on a sleeping bag.

A slumber party with sleeping bags on the floor is fun when you’re eight, sleepless and not as fun when you’re forty-two. In the morning we packed the cars and hit the road to our new life in New Mexico.

So, about the wine…

The picture on the label is the zero card from a Tarot deck, The Fool.

Card 0, The Fool. Radient Rider-Waite Tarot.

Symbolizing new beginnings, freedom, a clean slate, and fearlessness, The Fool sets off on a fresh adventure with all the elements he needs in his pack. Little dogs run along beside him, nipping at his heels as a reminder that a clean slate is only clean momentarily because every decision shapes the road ahead. “Watch your step and choose carefully”, sayeth the dogs.

I have enjoyed every bottle of Prophecy wine that I’ve tried.

They always have cool labels, which is important because, you know, first impressions and all.

This Pinot Noir is medium bodied and has a beautiful ruby red color. It smells and tastes like cherry (but in a good way, not like cough syrup) and oak – gotta love the oak –  with a velvety smooth finish.

13.8% alcohol, pairs well with clearing the way for what lies ahead.

An excellent wine for closing one door and opening another.

 

Gin Days Of Summer: Classic Ernest Hemingway Gin & Tonic

 

 

Classic Ernest Hemingway Gin and TonicI once visited the Dark Continent where it was rumored that the Quinine in Tonic Water prevented Malaria. To that end, I didn’t meet anyone who had Malaria but I did encounter many an alcoholic.

Ernest Hemingway was rumored to enjoy a Gin & Tonic now and then but he liked his a special way, with a secret ingredient.

Ernest Hemmingway Gin & Tonic

Follow the flow chart

  • Fill a High Ball glass with ice
  • Add 1 (or 2) shot(s) of Gin
  • Shake in 4- 5 dashes of Agnostura Bitters (the secret ingredient!)
  • Add about 2 teaspoons of lime juice
  • Top off with Tonic Water
  • Garnish with lime wedge

Classic Ernest Hemingway Gin and TonicI no longer spend much time on the Dark Continent but I do live in New Mexico which, minus the roadside Baboons, is hauntingly similar.

It’s hot here, like Africa hot, with summer temperatures easily topping 100 degrees for days on end. When happy hour finally rolls around, a Gin & Tonic sure does cool the soul.

Classic Ernest Hemingway Gin and Tonic.

 

Wine Review: 2015 Red Blend, Prophecy

2015 Prophecy Red Blend

Always listen to first impressions.

The picture on the label of Prophecy Red Blend is an artist’s interpretation of Tarot card number VI – The Lovers.

VI - The Lovers. Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot

When The Lovers card appears, it means there are decisions to be made. The Fool has set off on his journey, making progress on the path of his choosing when he comes to an unexpected fork in the road. He (or she, of course) has encountered something or someone that they have fallen in love with. In the most literal sense, it may be a person, or it could also be a brilliant idea or inspiration. In any case, there is a sense that the wheel in the sky has just turned and that this new love must be had.

The question though, is at what cost?

This new love presents a divergence from a previously chosen path. Like re-routing the inertia of any river, the ability to follow this new path does not come for free. There is risk and conflict involved but also the possibility to follow one’s destiny when a once in lifetime opportunity comes along.

The Fool could be paralyzed with loss aversion, too afraid to risk what he has to chase what he wants. Standing at the station while the bus pulls away, walking home to a predictable life but with regret in his heart. Or he could risk it all to pursue his love. It may not work out but at least he wouldn’t spend the rest of his life asking the worst question of all; “what if?”.

In the end, only the Fool knows if it was worth it.

Xavier and I have a love story just like this. If you feel so inclined, you can read about it here, here, here, and here. All stories from the time before this blog was about wine.

And about the wine…

Featuring grapes from Washington and California, Prophecy Red Blend is a rich and full wine, full of dark cherry and chocolatey goodness, a bit of oak and a smooth finish. Delicious on a chilly evening.

13.8% alcohol, pairs nicely with a roll of the dice.

Wine Review: California Sweet Red, Sutter Home

 

Sutter Home California Sweet Red WineIn going through my photos and wine tasting notes, I recently found two bottles of Sutter Home wine that I photographed and made notes about but that never made it to this blog. This is the second one.

I think Sutter Home may get a bad rap but I generally find their wines to be drinkable despite the bottom shelf price. Personally, I am a fan the screw top, easy to open and easy to close.

Sutter Home Sweet Red is, well.., sweet. I’m not a huge fan of sweet wine but this one is pleasant, smoky sweet with a smooth finish and a touch of oak. In my opinion, dessert wines are not intended to be consumed at the same pace as dinner wines. One glass is plenty, more than that and the sweetness becomes overwhelming. Plus, don’t forget that sugar plus alcohol = headache.

One glass after dinner is great but don’t go guzzling the whole bottle, no one likes a Kool-Aid wino.

 

Wine Review: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sutter Home

Sutter Home Cabernet SauvignonIf you’re out at a restaurant and see on the wine list that a glass of Sutter Home wine is $5.99, just keep in mind that you could stop on the way home and buy a whole bottle of pretty much any Sutter Home wine for the same price. I’m just sayin’… spend the extra money on dessert.

Coming from a place of expectation management, this Cabernet Sauvignon is not bad. It’s probably not the best Cab you’ll ever have but it’s certainly not the worst.

I found this wine to be very drinkable with lots of toasty oak & vanilla with a smooth finish. Pairs nicely with steak or pasta and red sauce.

13.5% alcohol, no headache after two glasses.

 

Photo Trip: Albuquerque Railyards Market

 

Albuquerque RailyardsEarlier in the summer, during the time when I had no car, Xavier and I took a field trip to the Albuquerque Railyards Market.

The Market itself is interesting. There are tons of vendors selling all kinds of things but primarily food, organic produce and handmade goods like organic soap. To be honest though, I wasn’t that interested in the Market.

What interested me was being able to walk around the whole complex and look inside the abandoned buildings. Visitors are not allowed to go inside the buildings but you can stand at the door or at a open window and take all the photos you like. So I did.

The buildings of the Railyards were mostly constructed between 1914 and 1924 and were in use until the mid 1990’s. In 2007 the City Of Albuquerque purchased the site with an aim towards preservation and restoration. Today, it’s primary function is hosting the Market and being used as an awesome location for filming movies and TV shows. The Railyards have appeared in several episodes of Breaking Bad and in The Avengers movies.

Albuquerque Railyards
Albuquerque Railyards

Albuquerque Railyards

Albuquerque Railyards

Albuquerque Railyards

Albuquerque Railyards

Albuquerque Railyards

Albuquerque Railyards

Albuquerque Railyards

Albuquerque Railyards

Albuquerque Railyards

Wine Review: California Red Wine Blend, Firefly Ridge

Firefly Ridge California Red Blend, Dry Heat Photography

After drinking Gin for most of the summer, the Fall Equinox seemed a good time to renew my relationship with wine.

Firefly Ridge California Red Blend is normally about $10 but was on sale at Albertson’s in Los Lunas for $5.99. Wine can become an expensive habit, you know, so I say save money were you can.

I was pleased with my half price bottle of wine.

The label doesn’t offer up much information but I would guess the blend to be Cab, Syrah, and Zinfandel.

Very rich and smooth with a nice chocolatey, oaky-ness about it. Before I knew it, I had finished my third glass and went to bed at 9:50pm on a Saturday night because I know how to party like I’m 42.

Other pertinent info: 13.5% alcohol. Before bed, I felt the possible beginnings of a red wine headache but 3 ibuprofen and eight hours of shut-eye later and my head is just fine.

In other news, Los Lunas is overflowing with yellow Clouded Sulphur Butterflies. They love the purple flowers that grow wild in my yard and these are the same flowers that in the photo with the wine above.

Yellow Clouded Sulphur Butterfly.

Yellow Clouded Sulphur Butterfly

The Unknowable Alternate Outcome

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This isn’t a post about drinks.

Two weeks ago today, I was driving home from the store and a teenage girl rear-ended me at a traffic light. She wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and neither was her 14 year old brother. His head broke the windshield.

Two weeks.

Since then she and her family have refused to cooperate with their insurance company. They won’t return any phone calls or make an official statement.

Officially, I am not a fan of these people.

Because of this, her insurance has not accepted liability for the accident.

I have sent photos and the police report.

I have called, and called, and called…

I have tried being nice, polite, professional, patient, condescending and sarcastic, demanding to know in what universe any of this makes sense and to speak with a manager.

No matter what I say or how I say it, they won’t accept liability until they speak with the driver. They’re not trying very hard to contact her, and even if they were, I saw on Instagram that she’s been out of town – living it up at summer girl’s camp.

That’s right, her parents still let her go to summer camp after she destroyed a vehicle and damn near killed her brother. Apparently she’s the favorite of the two.

I didn’t see anything in her IG feed about that.

No photos of her brother’s bloody face or the wrecked front end of her truck. No video of her hysterical crying, no photos of the citations.

Just goes to show, you shouldn’t believe everything you see on social media.

Two weeks.

Her insurance won’t even look at my car. They won’t help me out with a rental, they won’t cover the repairs to my camera. (I was driving home from a wedding before I stopped at the store and my camera case was in the trunk).

In the meantime, I’ve still had to make my car payment. You know, the payment on the car I don’t have and can’t drive because somebody was careless and now can’t be bothered to make a phone call.

And about all this, I am really pissed off, but irresponsibility and injustice are not the point of this story.

Incidentally, my insurance has stepped in and they’re taking care of things now, though I may possibly end up having to pay my deductible.

But what if what I’m describing is only part of the story and there is another force at play here that is unseen?

There is a thin veil between blessed and cursed. It’s called the Unknowable Alternate Outcome.

I wasn’t hurt in the accident. To the contrary, I had less neck pain after the accident than I did the day before the accident. Call it an unfavorable way to get a chiropractic adjustment but it worked.

I love my car but the truth of matter is that it’s expensive. I bought it in January of this year and then promptly quit my day job. Since then, I have found other work and am making the payments but it’s often a stretch.

Stay with me now.

The main reason I wanted to trade in my old car, a 2010 Hyundai Accent, is because I found out that the safety ratings on it were really bad. I mean, like, if a 1989 Ford Ranger driven by a careless 16 year old girl plowed into me at 35 mph in that car I might be dead right now, bad.

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On the other hand, the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze is a very safe car. I absolutely believe that the safety engineering of Cruze is what kept me safe in the accident. If I had still been driving the Hyundai, things may have turned out much differently.

Could it be the whole reason I bought the Cruze in January was to save my bacon at 2:30 in the afternoon on July 27, 2018 in Los Lunas, New Mexico?

But wait, there’s more.

On the day of the accident, I had photographed a wedding in Albuquerque in the morning and was planning to have a little dinner party with adult beverages and pizza at my house that night. On my way home from the wedding, I stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up the aforementioned adult beverages and pizza. Wal-Mart is on the other side of Los Lunas from where I live so to go there meant taking a different way home.

So may times I thought, “Why didn’t I just go straight home?”, “Why couldn’t I have just gone to Albertson’s instead?”, “Why didn’t I stay at the wedding for just a few moments longer?”

What if I wasn’t in that exact place at that exact time?

Well, what if, indeed?

When the truck hit me, I was the eighth car in line at a stoplight. The truck hit me so hard that I hit the car in front of me. It was a rickety old Hyundai sedan, several years older than the one I had recently traded in. I didn’t hit it hard, just a little tap that didn’t cause any damage. In contrast, there was two feet of intrusion into the back of my car.

Two feet of crushed steel and body panels, lights and electronics. My license plate was bent in half.

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The car in front of me was driven by a woman and there was a two year baby girl in the backseat. The baby was fine, belted into a child seat but even so, it would’ve been no match for a speeding truck, it was a minimal child seat and it was facing the wrong direction (forward instead of backwards) for a child that young.

What if I wasn’t in that exact place at that exact time?

What if the truck hit them instead of me?

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A mother loses her baby daughter and a 16 year old girl is charged with vehicular homicide.

How lucky we all are that my car was in the middle and there was no one in my back seat.

What if I had taken a different route home and been in an even worse accident that my car couldn’t protect me from?

Instead of pushing up daisies this morning, I got to wake up next to my husband safe in my bed. I got to see the sunrise, feed the hummingbirds, and to play with my dogs. I got to hang out with my family yesterday and photograph lightning last night.

I got all of that and all I can do is bitch and whine and complain to everyone I know about the injustice of it all.

Can’t know the alternate outcome but it’s reason to reconsider.

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Gin Days Of Summer: Lemon Lavender Gin and Tonic

 

Lemon Lavender Gin and Tonic
Doesn’t this look good?

Gin and Tonic, the quintessential summer cocktail, made famous by Ernest Hemmingway and rumored to prevent Malaria.

It doesn’t, but nothing refreshes the soul at the end of a hot day on the Dark Continent like a Gin & Tonic .

Hemmingway drank a Gin & Tonic and he killed himself on a Sunday in Idaho. There may have been a different reason why.

What’s in a Gin & Tonic, you ask?

Well…. Gin and Tonic. See there, that’s an easy one.

But wait, what if this self explanatory cocktail could be improved upon?

I present for your consideration the Lemon Lavender Gin & Tonic.

Hemingway would never daisy-up his liquor with girly things like Lemon and Lavender but no one asked him. You know, because he’s dead.

Follow the flowchart: 

In an empty glass, muddle a sprig of fresh Lavender with a good size slice of lemon. I did not add sugar to the mix, but you could if you wanted. Incidentally, Tonic Water usually has quite a bit of sugar in it already.

Fill the glass with ice.

Top with Tonic Water.

Either serve with a cocktail straw or stir with a spoon. All the good stuff is at the bottom.

Garnish with a lemon wedge and a sprig of Lavender, preferably one with flowers.

Fresh homegrown lavender.
Home grown Lavender, fresh from my yard.

This flavor set may not be for everyone, but I found it to be nice. Earthy and fresh. Drunk on aromatherapy, you could say.

Lemon Lavender Gin and Tonic Summer Cocktail