Drinking Oryza Sativa

Posted on Jun 3, 2012 in Distilleries, Featured, Reviews, Travel | 1 comment

Next time you’re in Portland, go west along US-26 and head over to Forest Grove to check out the Saké One brewery. It’s not the kind of brewery you think of when you think of the Pacific Northwest, but there’s really every reason for saké to be a West Coast thing. Japanese culture has deep roots here, there’s the whole Pacific Rim culinary tradition, and the rice itself is grow here. Saké One prefers Calrose, a strain of rice from central California. There’s a tasting room at Saké One, but before you get too far into that, you’ll want to take a tour of...

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Went to St. George Spirits. It Blew My Mind.

Posted on Jan 13, 2012 in Distilleries, Featured, Reviews | 4 comments

“Is it all right?” asks the tasting room bartender Chris, looking down quizzically at my barely-touched vodka shot. “It’s fantastic,” I tell him.  “Just pacing myself.”  He pours the rest out, but he’s not happy about it. And it really is a damn fine vodka, a vodka to put Goose-swillers in their place, a surprisingly floral and complex and lovely blend of two vodkas actually, one distilled from wheat and the other from viognier grapes. If you have ever felt that white wine wastes your time, what with all that fruit and oak and dismally low alcohol content, this...

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Have Yourself a Boozy Little Christmas.

Posted on Jan 13, 2012 in Featured, Reviews | 2 comments

Several years ago, at a family Christmas gathering in Sacramento, my brother-in-law served the pie and asked if anybody would like a drink to go with it. There was a pot of decaf going in the kitchen, so I asked him for a coffee with Bailey’s. He gave me an odd look.  “Are you sure?” Was I sure?  Well, it wasn’t my house, and maybe I was being a bit presumptuous. I’d scanned the liquor supply earlier and decided this was the best postprandial option on offer.  “Um—yeah,” I said.  “Is that okay?” He shrugged and nodded and disappeared into the kitchen. He came back a...

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The Wonders of Cassis

Posted on Oct 1, 2011 in Distilleries, Reviews | 1 comment

(Your intrepid reporter at the Cassissium.  Notice the pen and notebook. This is work.  Really.) After a week spent touring distilleries in France, Scott and I had come to suspect that anything called a museum must receive special benefits:  tax cuts, subsidies, an extra-long vacation every August.  It seemed like every distillery had created an official museum devoted to their product.  The museum was often nothing more than a few glass cases in the gift shop, but a smiling woman in a blazer and a badge stood nearby, ready to hand us a brochure in our choice of language and give us a...

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Vodka Tasting: We Must Suffer For Our Art.

Posted on Sep 2, 2011 in Reviews | 1 comment

Because my next book involves plants and booze, I am required to spend a lot of money at liquor stores buying unusual spirits.  It’s terrible, I know, but this is the sort of grueling research writers must put themselves through.  My husband is no help:  as a rare book dealer, he has that obsessive collector’s mentality that makes him want to acquire one of everything so as to have a complete collection. So once he realized that we had vodka made of rye, wheat, barley, corn, and potato (Polish and Idaho), we had to get more!  What else is vodka made out of, he asked.  Grapes,...

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