Holiday Merriment: Chilean PISCO COCKTAILS

Change up the routine with a new, lighter taste from the pristine lands of Chile. Chilean Pisco is the result of distilling wine and aging for a minimum of 2 months, resulting in a floral-y spirit. For a crowd, make your entertaining simpler by setting out the pretty punch with start fruit, or for consumate home-bartenders, thrill guests with these special libations from NYC mixologists. Brands available in the US: Kappa, Capel, Alto del Carmen and Control C.

The peels of three lemons, each cut into spirals with a vegetable peeler
.75 cup sugar
.75 cup fresh-squeezed, strained lemon juice
1 750-ml bottle Chilean Pisco
1 quart cold water
1 star fruit
Muddle the lemon peels and the sugar together and let sit for at least 90 minutes. Muddle lemon and sugar again and stir in the lemon juice. Add the pisco and the water and stir. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Before serving, cut star fruit into ¼ to ½ inch slices. To serve, pour into a one gallon Punch bowl with a large block of ice in it and float star fruit slices.

1.5 oz Chilean Pisco
.75 oz lime juice
.75 oz orgeat
1 egg white
Topped with .25 oz to .5 oz float of Chilean white wine
Shake all ingredients, except for the wine, with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float the Chilean white wine on top (this can be done by pouring the wine slowly over the back of a barspoon).
—The fun thing with this drink is that it can change slightly based on the Pisco, wine, or even orgeat that you use. Josh Perez, Booker & Dax

1.75 oz Chilean Pisco
.25 oz Grand Marnier
.25 oz Green Chartreuse
.25 oz Amaro CioCiaro
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing glass with ice. Stir thoroughly to chill. Strain over a large cube of ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a wide orange peel.
—Andrew Seymour of Vicktor & Spoils

2 oz Chilean Pisco
4 oz Jarritos Tamarindo
Pinch of salt
Squeeze of lime
Pour Pisco and Jarritos in a highball glass over ice. Add pinch of salt and squeeze of lime. Swirl and garnish with a lime or orange.
—Jason Littrell of Jbird

34º Sweet Crisps: Indulging to a Lesser Degree

Compliment your party snacks with ultra-thin wafers that offer a touch of sweetness. Light flavors of Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon, and Graham do well on a cheese board, and contain only 60 calories for 7-8 crackers. Also great for doling out to kids looking for a sugar fix—top with peanut butter and slice of banana or ricotta cheese and drizzle of honey. 34º offers a full line of super low-cal cracker choices.

Spice Cookbook: The Art of Blending

Give the gift of ongoing culinary experimentation. The Art of Blending by Lior Lev Sercarz features recipes by chefs around the country who are regular recipients of his special spice mixes. The book showcases the stories behind his 41 extraordinary blends, with recipe and inspiration for creating your own dishes. Beautiful photos accompany the recipes by Thomas Schauer. It’s cooking from a purely global perspective, and a true treasure trove of cooking ideas.

Bottles to Bring: Il Poggiolino Chianti

Introducing Il Poggiolino, a collection of traditional Chiantis debuting in the US. First an amusing little “history” lesson. In the Middle Ages, Florence and Siena both wanted to rule the beautiful Chianti region. To bring an end to their conflict, it was decreed that a knight from each city would leave at dawn (when the rooster crows), and the border would be established where they met. The Sienese chose a white rooster. The Florentines chose a black one, which they did not feed for days—causing the rooster to crow way before dawn on the day of the contest. The Florentine knight ended up only a short distance from Siena, thus bringing the Chianti region under Florentine rule. Today the symbol of a Black Rooster appears on the neck of bottles of wine from the Chianti Classico zone. If the seal has a red border, it’s considered “Standard” which means the wine is young and meant to be enjoyed shortly after purchase. A gold border represents a “Riserva” that can age for many years. I got to sample both varieties and thought they were all fantastic. There were also a sweet after-dinner wine, Il Vin Santo, that would make a great accompaniment to desserts or cheeses. The farm at Il Poggiolino also houses 5 acres of olive trees, and the olive oil produced is a pretty bright yellow, mellow, and amazingly fresh. (lately been coming across amazing olive oils, lucky me!) Bites were provided by The Leopard at Des Artistes restaurant, including the crostini with chicken liver, also with sauteed eggplant and red peppers. (correction: as of this writing, wines are not yet available in the US, stay tuned for their official launch coming soon)
Importer Dina Gianella at the helm.
Poggio alle Balze: a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 15% Colorino grapes. A casual, young wine.
Il Classico: Loved this one, very soft, round, velvety and feminine. Nice to drink on its own. 95% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino
La Riserva: Getting more complex, earthier, spicy, berries, dark nose, even overall. 95% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino.
Le Balze: Uses only the best vintages of Sangiovese grapes. Full-flavored, intense nose, ripe tannins.
Vin Santo: From the best vintages of Malvasia, Trebbiano, San Colombano, and Canaiolo grapes, picked in October and dried before pressing. Aged 12 years. Only the best is taken from the barrels. A lovely, sweet wine, but not overly so.
Delicious olive oil, packaged with the perfect pouring top, come from the same land.
Italian bites provided by The Leopard, eggplant caponata, and chicken liver on toasts