Brandied Cherries

Cherry Glass

This was my first foray into homemade brandied cherries, and they turned out pretty damned well, if I do say so myself.

The recipe was pretty simple, you should really give it a go yourself. These cherries taste 100 times better than those Day-Glo red monstrosities you see on the supermarket shelves. As an added bonus, you can tweak this recipe to your liking, as we did.

The depth of cinnamon and vanilla notes with these little beauties brings a fullness of flavor to your cocktails that is tough to match. See for yourself!

Brandied cherries:

1lb sweet cherries, pitted and stemmed
1 cup Demerara sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp of fresh grated nutmes
2 vanilla beans
750ml of brandy, dark rum, Luxardo, or any combination of the three (I did equal parts of each)

Cherry Cook

  1. In large saucepan, combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla beans and liquor. Bring to a low simmer. Simmer, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add cherries and stir until coated with syrup. Let cool to room temp, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove to clean canning jars, then refrigerate 4-6 weeks before serving. Cherries should last for up to a year.

Cherry Jar

Whiskey Vinyl Vibe #11 – All Things Seattle

PJ 4

I can still clearly remember the first time I listened to the Pearl Jam “Ten” album – it was sitting in the stands at a Freshman basketball game, waiting to play the Junior Varsity game afterward (in my high school Freshman and JV teams played on the same nights, one right after the other). It was my friend Greg’s cassette tape, but he let me borrow it. So, I slapped it into my Walkman cranked the volume up a bit and pushed play.

That was my introduction to “grunge” or “90s alternative” and I was immediately smitten. I listened to the album front to back and back to front that night – in fact, I don’t think Greg got his cassette back for another couple of days as I devoured the unique vocals of Eddie Vedder mixed with the fuzzy guitar riffs, the dark lyrics sad, angry and full of mistrust – perfect for a teenage boy clumsily finding his way. It was unlike anything I had really ever heard before. I couldn’t get enough.

PJ 2

Pearl Jam was my gateway to Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots and to many more obscure bands like 7 Mary 3 or Dinosaur Jr. or The Crash Test Dummies (I still love Afternoons and Coffeespoons). I owe Eddie, Stone, Jeff and Dave an immense debt for that.

So, then, “Ten” will always hold a special place in my heart. Like a first love, you can never forget it and it forever changes you on a personal level.

Since Pearl Jam, and the grunge scene in general, is associated the most strongly with Seattle – I figured a coffee themed cocktail was appropriate. I just happened to have a recipe for one – The Revolver – the recipe is below. I hope you enjoy it and that it inspires you to give your favorite 90s alternative album a spin while you sip.

PJ 1

The Revolver:
1.5 oz of bourbon
0.5 oz of coffee liqueur
2-3 dashes of orange bitters
orange twist for garnish

PJ 3

Here’s mud in your eye!




Whiskey Vinyl Vibe #10

There is no question that we’ve been pretty terrible lately about keeping this blog updated, and while we certainly haven’t been missing any vinyl or whiskey opportunities during our absence (see our Instagram account for evidence), we are determined to pick up the pace here. This brings me to our latest Whiskey Vinyl Vibe, which also happens to include an album from my vinyl quest.

Over the past week, we found ourselves up in Michigan for a family wedding and time well spent visiting friends and family. Right in the middle of our Sunday of brewery and cocktail hopping in Grand Rapids, we found ourselves parked across the street from Vertigo Music, and of course I had to go in. This place was massive and had a very impressive selection of used vinyl, not to mention the folks working there were incredibly friendly. The friends we were with got to see me in true geek-out form, and I had to try hard to contain myself and keep the visit short so as not to bore everyone. As difficult as this was, I still managed to pick up a few great finds, one of which is Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Crush.

OMD 10

Crush is the 1985 selection from my vinyl quest list, and while I could’ve picked it up at just about any online record store pretty easily, it’s far more satisfying to find it during crate digging, especially at a locally owned shop. So why is Crush on my life list? I will admit, this is one of those albums that is on my list because of one song, and in this case it is So In Love. I didn’t come across OMD until a few years after the 1985 release, but I remember very clearly the first time I heard this song. I was in a car with a few friends, a couple of which were a bit older and as such, way cooler than I was during the oh-so-awkward early teen years. The driver popped in this cassette and played So In Love no less than three times during the drive up to Chicago, where we spent the afternoon in Grant Park picnicking and listening to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform. It’s one of those memories that really sticks with me – that song, the beautiful, clear day, the excitement of being in the city without any parents, the sense of feeling like I belonged.

Placing this album on the turntable for the first time last night and immediately hearing So In Love on side one/track one was almost as exciting as finding the album in the first place. The nostalgia never gets old. A special thank you to my husband for mixing up a cocktail with a name that felt very fitting as a reminder to the perfect day that I spent so long ago.


Well, given that her first OMD experience revolved around a day trip to Grant Park, this seemed an appropriate cocktail selection. This is a really great summer bourbon cocktail, the thyme gives it a wonderfully soft herbal note and helps round the drink out a bit. I strongly suggest you give it a try one of these warm summer evenings, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Cheers!

Sunday in the Park:

Instructions – In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1.5 oz Lillet Blanc, 1.5 oz of bourbon (I suggest something 90 proof+, to stand up to the juice and Lillet), 1 oz of fresh lemon juice, a couple dashes of Angostura bitters, and .25 oz of simple syrup. Add a whole thyme sprig, shake hard, and double-strain (using a fine mesh strainer) into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top it off with 1.5 oz of soda water and garnish with a new thyme sprig.

OMD 4 Good


Record Store Day 2016


It’s slightly old news that last Saturday was Record Store Day 2016 – but it was my first ever experience and I thought a recap might be in order. Despite my somewhat recent passion for vinyl, I initially refused to be one of the people standing in a long line to buy albums.  I usually cringe at the thought of a queue, unless there is a roller coaster ride waiting at the end, but what I didn’t know is that this particular line would end up leaving me with a high very similar to such a ride.

Around the Monday prior to RSD, I started taking a peek at some of the anticipated releases and, truth be told, I didn’t really even understand what a big deal some of this was until I started digging around. Slowly, I started to feel my interest growing and by Wednesday I was actually considering the possibility of going. I proposed the idea to my husband, and he agreed that we should probably at least check it out, but maybe not until later in the day. The store opened at 9 a.m., so we figured we would just roll up around 11 or 12 and take our chances with what might be left, because neither of us wanted to stand for hours amid a sea of hipsters with man-buns. (Yes, this is exactly what we envisioned.) By Friday night, we looked over the releases together and built our want list, and maybe it was the late night cocktails and beer w/ friends, but given that we weren’t really doing anything else the next morning anyway, we decided we may as well show up closer to opening.

I was starting to get excited about this and despite our late night, woke up at 6 a.m. ready to get things rolling. Sadly, the previous night’s activities affected my husband a tad more than me, and I didn’t have the heart to wake him up too early with my sudden need to nerd-out, so I let him sleep. By 8:30, I couldn’t wait any longer and got him moving…barely. The promise of coffee helped in my efforts.


During the 20+ minute drive up to Lunchbox Records, we tried to decide if coffee should happen before or just after our visit, because maybe it wouldn’t really take all that long after all. Well, that was a ridiculous notion. At about 9:10, I saw the Lunchbox Records sign approach and looked out of my window to see a line wrapped around the building with no apparent end, and I kept driving straight on to the coffee shop. We would need sustenance for this.

rsd 4

With coffee in hand, we walked up to the shop, found the end of the line and prepared to wait. What surprised me the most, and perhaps it shouldn’t have, is that there were folks from all walks of life waiting right along with us.RSD 3 The realization that this wasn’t just a day created for hipsters really set in, in fact, we didn’t spot a single man-bun the whole morning. After a surprisingly short 40-ish minutes we reached the front door, which was manned by guys I’ll refer to as “RSD bouncers” – one of which happened to be an acquaintance of ours. Let me just say that Lunchbox Records really did this one right, the RSD bouncers only allowed about 30 people into the store at a time, which really helped to control the flow and enhanced the overall shopping experience. I’m not sure how other shops do this, but it definitely seemed to work.

With our list in hand, we stepped inside and headed to the back where the rest of the folks were. Neat tables with organized and labeled boxes of albums were set up in rows, and my husband and I split up and hit the stacks. We built our list with the thought that if we found just one or two of our wants we would leave happy, and we weren’t even expecting that, given that we didn’t camp out earlier. Within about two minutes, I was holding 4 items from our list, and my husband came over with several more. We regrouped to see what remained and headed back out. Several Lunchbox employees were also offering to help and with a little of their assistance, we were quickly holding every single item on our list – plus two records for a friend in South Carolina that he couldn’t find at his local shop. Remember that roller coaster high I mentioned earlier? This was it. We talked briefly about seeing what else we might find, but thinking that we may have already over done it, we decided it was time to walk away like the smart people that we aspire to be and reward ourselves with brunch.

With my first Record Store Day in the books, I am happy to say that not only am I looking forward to next year, I might actually show up earlier – might. I will also try to be less judgemental of man-buns…then again, perhaps not.

Oh, you want to know what we picked up? Here’s the rundown:

rsd 5

Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force – Planet Rock (Remixes)

John Coltrane – The Roulette Sides

Johnny Cash – All Aboard the Blue Train

The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show – 1969-1972

Madonna – Like a Virgin & Other Hits (Originally released in Japan, now on pink vinyl)

Across the Universe Cast – Music from the Motion Picture

Rob Zombie – Well Everybody’s Fucking in a UFO

Outkast – Elevators (Me & You) 10″ single w/ remixes (Glow in the dark vinyl)

Bee Gees / Faith No More (Side by Side) – I Started a Joke

Warren Zevon / Flamin’ Groovies (Side by Side) – Werewolves of London

Reverend Horton Heat – Hardscrabble Woman / Lying to Myself

Shawn Colvin & Steve Earl – Wake Up Little Susie

Buddy Guy & Junior Wells – Criteria Sessions

Bleachers – Terrible Thrills Vol. 2 – All-female version of their debut album, Strange Desire



San Francisco

San Fran Pink Ladies

What does one do when traveling to San Francisco for the first time? Tour Alcatraz? Check. See the Painted Ladies? Check. Head to wine country and indulge in all things good? Check. Buy vinyl and whiskey? Absolutely! Besides eating and drinking our way through what quickly became one of my favorite cities and regions, I had two musts on the list and one was to visit at least one local record shop and the other was to stop in to Cask, the curators of our Whiskey Explorer’s Club.

I decided to turn to social media for a recommendation on which record store to visit, because there were a handful in the city (mostly in the Haight, of course) and I was trying to not completely monopolize our time. Who better to turn to than my Instagram connection, GrooveNarrative, who happens to be an SF based vinyl enthusiast? He gladly offered up a number of suggestions, and while I can’t wait to check out the rest of the shops on his list during a future visit, I opted to go for one of his first mentions, Rooky Ricardo’s – plus, I just dug the name.

San Fran RookieIt turned out that the shop was in the midst of making a move to a location down the block, but most of the vinyl was still in this original location, along with a handful of listening stations set up, which the owner encouraged us to use while he bounced back and forth between the locations. I appreciated the trust to leave us alone in the store, and while I realize we don’t exactly look shady, I suspect vinyl folks tend to be generally trustworthy. I mean, what kind of jackass would try to steal vinyl?

A few minutes after digging through the stacks I didn’t even feel the need to use a listening station, at least not for the purposesSan Fran Records of checking out the condition, because this vinyl was so clean. It was obvious that the owner cared about what he was offering up in the shop. The hardest part was deciding what to take with me, given that whatever it was would need to make it’s way back on the plane with me.  After forcing myself to limit the haul to 6 spontaneously selected albums, we said our goodbyes and headed back out to make the steep uphill trek towards some of the best whiskey cocktails we had in the city. We had worked up quite a thirst by then, those hills are no joke! If you find yourself in the Haight, stop by the Alembic, you won’t be sorry.San Fran Alembic

Our final day in San Francisco left me feeling like there was still so much that we hadn’t experienced, and as much as I wanted to hit Groove Merchant and Amoeba Music, I decided those would need to wait for the next trip and instead we made our way to Cask in the Rincon Center. To paraphrase an Instagram follower, if there was ever a zombie apocalypse, this is where I’d like to hide out. The gentleman operating that store that day introduced himself as Greg and asked if we were San Fran Casklooking for anything in particular. When I told him that I was a member of their Whiskey Explorer’s club, he immediately set off to see if he had anything special in the back, and brought out a couple of bottles that neither of us had come across before – Parker’s Heritage and Elmer T. Lee. Sold. Also sold on the Cask Exclusive Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila single malt – which might be the smartest purchase I made while in the city. One taste and I was in heaven, so it’s a good thing that my husband isn’t as much of a scotch fan as I am because I’ll be hanging on to this one for as long as possible. I also suspect that these beauties will make their way into a Whiskey Vinyl Vibe one of these days.

San Fran Whiskey

We had a couple of slots left in the niftiest wine shipper that I’ve ever seen, called the Wine Check. It’s a wine shipping box inside of a bag designed to check on the plane, and it was brilliant! No one said we had to only fill it with wine, so the last spots went to these glorious bottles – and our San Francisco haul was complete.

San Fran Carrier

I could go on and on about the food, wine, and the cocktails that we experienced during our trip, but more than anything it was the people that made this so special. San Francisco and the Napa Valley region are filled with friendly folks, from my social media contacts who were so helpful, to the best bartenders and servers, the most gracious Air BnB hosts, and everyone in between – thank you for making our trip a memorable one. We will definitely be back.

A quick list of some of our other favorites:

Best Lunch:  Yank Sing (Come hungry!)

Best Dinner: Quince (A very special evening out to celebrate our 10-year anniversary)

Best Tiki Bar: Pagan Idol (The best bartenders around!)

Best Winery Tour while in the Napa valley: This is a tough one, but I’d go with the Chateau Montelena estate tour, followed closely by the cave tour and tasting at Schramsberg

For the best Air BnB experience in St. Helena – shoot me a message and I’ll gladly share!