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Republic of Jam Cocktail Club: Irish Scallywags

It's that time again when the masters of fruit preserves and culinary syrups gather their "citizens" for another quarterly Cocktail Club. When Republic of Jam puts on an event, it's sure to include an assortment of flavors to delight your tastebuds. This was no exception, and once again, we were invited to lend some creative cocktail ideas to the evening. One of the challenges we learned from last time was the fact that cocktails mixed in batches are served en masse and have to be prepared differently. Because all of the drinks get served as small samples on the rocks, none of them go through the typical construction process of shaking with ice. Proper dilution is normally a helpful byproduct, so we needed to take that extra water into account. By making these individually, you also have the flexibility of glassware choices and creative flourishes with the garnish.

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Drink of the Week: Champagne Cocktails

ChamPino Cocktail

We have said it before and it still holds true: It’s never a bad time to open a bottle of champagne. Although we like to keep a bottle of bubbly in the refrigerator ready for any event, sometimes all it takes is dinner at home. There’s no reason it should only come out on special occasions. Whether you open a bottle of cava, prosecco, or real champagne from France, sparkling wine is great all by itself or as an ingredient for cocktails. Flavors vary, and so does quality and price, but you can make decent drinks with just about anything. We aren’t saying you should drink the cheapest stuff you can find, but you don’t have to break the bank either.

Over the years we have featured some popular uses for sparkling wine—the Mimosa, the French

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Drink of the Week: Kir Royale

It's been a long time since I patted myself on the back for the novel idea of pouring a little Chambord into a bottle of Zima. I don't even know if you can still buy Zima anymore, but that seemed like a good idea at the time. Of course, it wasn't such a unique concept—adding liqueur to sparkling beverages. In fact, it doesn't even have to be bubbly at all.

Named after Félix Kir (1876–1968), mayor of Dijon in Burgundy, the Kir was a drink that was originally made by pouring a measure of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) into a wine glass and then topping it up with wine. After World War II, there was an abundance of white wine in Burgundy, so Kir renovated the drink and used the surplus white wine in place of his original red. Today, we also have the Kir Royale which is essentially

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Drink of the Week: Sangria

Some of you may know that I have a sister who lives in Spain. Over the years, she has shared some wonderful stories about life in Europe, but when it comes to cocktails, she usually talks about Sangria. Essentially a wine-based punch, Sangria is a great party beverage. It’s normally made in batches and tastes better if the ingredients are allowed “get to know each other” while chilling in the refrigerator. That means you can and should make it ahead of time. With the Fourth of July holiday just around the corner, it seemed like the perfect time to mix up some of this delicious potion. I also thought it might be interesting to see how my own basic Sangria recipe stacks up against my sister’s experiences in Barcelona and to share some of her insights about what works and what doesn’t. In the end, this highly customizable drink should

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Repeal Day 2010

Others may have written about it before me, but this year I thought I would do my part to promote this day of celebration. Repeal Day, otherwise known as December 5th, marks the anniversary of the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Not everyone went to law school, but some of us know that in January of 1919, the 18th Amendment was ratified prohibiting the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol. Making it illegal may have done more to promote the allure of the cocktail than to squelch it, but it simultaneously destroyed distilleries and microbreweries throughout the nation, not to mention the effect it had on the innovative craftsmen behind the bar. Thirteen years or so later, the 21st Amendment was ratified, repealing our "Noble Experiment". December 5th, 1933 became known as Repeal Day and it is still celebrated to commemorate our legal right to drink alcohol.

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Spirit tasting and fan clubs

I would hardly call myself a wine expert, and yet I think I know enough to navigate a decent wine list. More important is getting to the point of knowing the flavors you like so you can ask the right questions and get what you want. It's about having confidence in your ability to narrow the choices as opposed to buying a bottle based on its price. But it doesn't come without experience, and the best way that I know to gain valuable knowledge about wine—or any kind of beverage—is to take the time to taste them.

Last week was a busy one for tasting whiskey in the Twin Cities. A few weeks ago, the world saw the release of Maker's 46, the new bourbon whiskey by Maker's Mark. As the bottles were arriving at the local shops, I got word of a Maker's 46 release party being

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