Cocktail Hour: These are a few of my favorite things
What is your favorite drink? I have been asked the question countless times in my life. It's a loaded question, like being asked who is your favorite child. There is no right answer!
There's also no wrong answer. We're talking about grapes, grains and water, not rocket science. I just have to decide what I like! As a friend of mine, Alan, said the other night in a profound moment — his favorite wine is the one he is holding in his hand.
Different times call for different things. No beverage maker sets out to make a bad product. Each producer puts love and care into his libations. We should respect the process. I try never to say that something is bad — I may not like it as much as the next, but it is like someone's child. Every mother loves her child unconditionally. Even the biggest beer snob or hophead has to appreciate an ice-cold Old Milwaukee on a hot day after mowing the yard. Nothing flows down better than a smooth, easy cold one on a hot day. Enjoy the moment and savor the one you're with.
Red wine? White wine? What goes with what meal? The general rule is red with red meats and white with white meats. Simple enough. But at the end of the day, drink what you like. Don't let so-called experts tell you what to drink. If you like sweet, luscious Moscato d Asti and you are having prime rib, drink it up! Wine aficionados will tell you that you are robbing yourself of the pleasure of a well-made cabernet sauvignon and rich meaty slab of beef meshing perfectly over your taste buds, but enjoy your wine the way you want it.
Another thing I hear all the time: "I'm waiting for a special occasion to drink this special wine/liquor/beer." Isn't every day special? Shouldn't we allow ourselves a little celebration every day? Life is precious — enjoy it!
Last week my morning Rotary club raffled away five bottles of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. The buzz among whiskey fans was palpable. Pappy is one of the hardest whiskeys in the world to procure. The 20-year versions can be found online for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. The empty bottle alone is offered for $50 on eBay. Pappy always gets huge reviews as an outstanding whiskey. But the scarcity is what makes it valuable.
Numerous people asking for a taste of the rare elixir instantly accosted the winner of the invaluable Pappy Van Winkle 20-year-old. Mike said he is waiting for retirement to drink it. I disagree. You only live once. Take the time and enjoy the small things in life. If you are sitting on a special wine or liquor or beer, take a step back and look at the big picture. Indulge yourself and celebrate. (But share a little, too.)
Back to the "favorites" question. How to answer? I love many things and I waffle all the time. I try many different beverages and can find good in all of them. But here is a good try: My favorite vodka is Chopin. The 100 percent potato vodka from Poland hits my palate just right — smooth but so creamy in the mouth. A martini made from Chopin is an opus going off in your body.
My favorite whiskey is Blanton's — the original single barrel. The iconic round bottle with the thoroughbred on top evokes great images of my trip to Kentucky and the flavors transport me to the bluegrass beauty of the horse racing capital of the world.
My favorite beer is a little tougher. With the plethora of IPAs, pilsners and stouts, it can be daunting to pick one beer. But I always tell people if I was stuck on a desert island and could have only one beer for the rest of my life, it would probably be Newcastle Brown. Not because it is my favorite, but because it is a great all-around beer. Not too heavy or bitter, but not a milquetoast beer, either. It can be drunk on the hottest day or on the coldest day.
I have two favorite wines: Napa cabernet and Australian shiraz. I like red wines the best. My all-time favorite is Napa Valley cabernet. I love the tannic intensity of Napa wines and I love a good steak. The two together truly create a little bit of nirvana! My favorite bottle I ever had was a bottle of Keenan Cabernet. I got home to an empty house, threw a porterhouse on the grill, grabbed my Sports Illustrated and ate and drank the best on the deck in a rare moment of solitude.
Enjoy the small things in life! Always in moderation! Cheers!