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Drink

Monday, November 20, 2017

Holiday Stocking Stuffer No. 1, Don Papa Rum

Already a phenomenon in Paris, Don Papa Rum has just arrived in New York and Boston. I went to a rum tasting last week at Shojo in Boston’s Chinatown and was even more enamored with this rum than the last time I tried it in France. The 10-year-old bottle has hints of vanilla which stems not only from the sweeter Noble Cane found in the Philippines, but the result of aging in former bourbon and American oak casks. As the story goes, founder Stephen Carroll was sailing around the volcanic island of Negros, when he learned about the centuries-old Noble Cane and the reason they coined the island Sugarlandia. He went on land and discovered the remains of a small rum distillery. Carroll bought it out and started creating his own “black gold” molasses. In less than a decade, he’s created quite a buzz in the liquor world. Grab your bottle of 7 and 10-year rum at Vinodivino in Boston and Needham, Charles Street Liquor in Boston, Gordon Liquor in Waltham, among many other Boston area liquor stores, and you’ll soon believe the hype. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/20/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Adventures in Las Cruces Week—Exploring the Mesilla Valley Wine Trail

Head south from the historic town of Mesilla on Route 28 and you enter the Mesilla Valley, a short section of the historic El Camino Real route. At the end of the 16th-century, Spain created a 1500-mile route from Mexico City to Santa Fe that would bring settlers, horses, and goods to these lands. Old mission churches still remain, sharing the road with large tracts of pecan trees, orchards, and vineyards. Las Cruces has an ideal climate for vines with warm days, cool nights, and mild winters. Thanks to Franciscan monks, New Mexico started creating wine about 150 years before California. Today, New Mexico is home to over 60 wineries and ten of those wineries in the southern part of the state form the Mesilla Valley Wine Trail.
 
My first stop was Rio Grande Vineyards, started in 2009, and now creating 15,000 bottles a year. We tried their signature wine, Queue Tendre, a semi-sweet white wine aged in Hungarian oak barrels, before moving on to my favorites, the dry red zinfandel and the sangiovese. Tastings are done in a classic ranch-style tasting room or outside on the back deck offering glorious views of the Organ Mountains. Back on Route 28, I passed over the Rio Grande River and under an umbrageous tunnel of mature pecan trees, courtesy of Stahmann Farms, the world’s largest family owned pecan orchard. Not surprisingly, the shaded roadway is cherished by road bikers. 
 
Soon I arrived at La Vina Winery, just in time for their annual Harvest Wine Festival. Bands were playing live rock, bluegrass, and country tunes and booths were selling local crafts, and, of course, spiced pecans. But most folks were here to taste the excellent wine. I really enjoyed the sauvignon blanc and the smooth syrah. Glass in hand, I walked over to a tent to listen to the music, looked up at the clear blue sky, and enjoyed the slight breeze. Life is good on the ole El Camino Real. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/18/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, May 08, 2017

New Beer Garden to Open on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway

Excited to hear that the Greenway Conservancy is opening a Beer Garden this summer on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. They chose a perfect spot, right in front of the Rowes Wharf Arch at the Boston Harbor Hotel. They also chose my favorite Massachusetts-made beer, Trillium, which has breweries in Fort Point and Canton. Expect Fort Point Pale Ale, dry double-hopped Melcher Street, and six other beers on tap. Don’t just take my word that Trillium is one of the best brews in the region. Earlier this year, the website RateBeer ranked Trillium as the third best brewery in the world! The Beer Garden is slated to debut in late June. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/08/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, December 05, 2016

The Debut of the Trapp Family Lodge Bierhall

I caught up with Sam von Trapp at the Boston Ski Show and he was really excited about the opening of his new bierhall at Stowe’s Trapp Family Lodge. He’s been brewing award-winning Austrian-style lagers since 2010 but now you have a chance to swig a pint at large communal tables while being served lunch and dinner items from the wood-fired grill. The bierhall is located right on the cross-country ski trail network (and mountain biking network come spring). I can think of no better way to reward yourself after a good sweat than having a cool freshly made lager. Look forward to checking it out this winter! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/05/16 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, June 27, 2016

Single Malt Whisky Tasting At Cape Breton’s Glenora Distillery

It’s wonderful to be back in Cape Breton, especially on a hot cloudless sunny day. After crossing Canso Causeway and following Route 19 on Ceilidh Trail, we picnicked on the rocks of the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail, a hard-packed gravel trail which snakes along the western shores of Cape Breton from Port Hastings all the way north 92 kilometers to Inverness. In Glenville, we stopped at the Glenora Distillery to sample the single malt whisky (can’t call it Scotch since we’re not in Scotland). We stepped into the bar and listened to the live Celtic music from local fiddlers and singers while sampling a flight of five whisky choices. The Glen Breton 10 year-old whisky was smooth, but we loved the 19 year-old cask strength whisky finished in a barrel used for ice wine to add a hint of sweetness at the end. Then we took a tour around the distillery to see how they produced 150 barrels of whisky this past year. Built in 1990, Glenora is the first distillery in North America to attempt to make single malt scotch. The water stems from the shimmering McClellan’s Brook which runs through the bucolic property, while the malted barley comes from Saskatchewan and the fast-acting yeast from South Africa. The finished product is aged in oak barrels from the Buffalo Trace bourbon distillery in Kentucky.  The result is award-winning single malt whisky, worthy of a stop. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/27/16 at 04:30 AM
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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Visiting Lake Geneva’s Lavaux Wine Region

Lavaux’s majestic vineyards are sculpted into the steep hillside like the rice terraces of Bali. Many of the stone walls that hem in the rows of vineyards were first created by monks. The perfect introduction to the beauty of Lavaux is aboard the circa-1910 paddle steamer, La Suisse, preferably on one of their gourmet cruises for lunch. Heading east from Lausanne to Montreux, the hillside is awash in vines surrounding small villages and centuries-old villas. 

 
After dining on leg of lamb or cod paired with wild mushrooms, washed down with the Lavaux wine, the cruise lets you off at the magical Chateau de Chillon. This impressive castle on the rock dates as far back as the mid-12th century, when it became the home of the Count of Savoy. But it was the British poet, Lord Byron, who made the chateau famous by penning his poem “The Prisoner of Chillon” in 1816. Byron writes about the Geneva monk, Francois de Bonivard, who was imprisoned in the dungeon of the castle for six years from 1530 to 1536. You can still see the pole de Bonivard was chained to as well as Byron’s name, which the poet inscribed into another nearby pole. Byron’s poem was so popular that it inspired a slew of writers and artists to make the trip to Chateau de Chillon, including Henry James and Eugene Delacroix. 
 
Yet, to truly appreciate the Lavaux wine region and realize why it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you have to walk from small village to village in the region. Yesterday, we took the train to Cully, where we met the 5th-generation winemaker Melanie Weber. Remarkably, Melanie creates each of her vintages in the bottom two floors of her 4-story home in the middle of the community. She was just getting ready for the annual harvest when we walked in and tried her 2012 Chenalette, a white wine made from the Lavaux’s most popular grape, Chasselas. The wine was crisp, with hints of apples and pears, perfect for a warm autumn day. 
 
Then we strolled on narrow concrete paths through the vineyards, watching workers cut the grapes off the vines by hand. Within 15 minutes of heading uphill, we were in the charming village of Epesses, at the heart of this winemaking region. Follow the vineyards down the steep slopes and you’re staring in awe at Lake Geneva and the jagged peaks of the Alps that stand on the opposite shores. Your eyes, however, don’t need to drift too far to capture the beauty. Around every bend is another enchanting stone house with terra cotta roof, home to the more than 20 winemakers who live in Epesses. We had one of my favorite meals of the trip at Auberge du Vigneron on an outdoor terrace with glorious views of the Lavaux. Sipping wine made from the surrounding vines and dining on risotto with wild mushrooms is as good as it gets. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/02/14 at 04:00 AM
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Friday, August 01, 2014

Lovin Our Lattes at Blue Bottle Coffee

Our first morning in San Francisco, we wandered over to the Ferry Building to sample the wares at the Saturday Farmers Market. Jake downed a delicious pork banh mi, Melanie found yummy blueberry muffin, and Lisa scooped up homemade yogurt at a booth. I stood on a long line at the Blue Bottle Coffee stand hoping it was worth the wait. One sip of my strong latte and I instantly understood the fuss. This is the real deal. When I found out that my lodging for the last two nights, Hotel Zetta, was only a 2-minute walk from the Blue Bottle Coffee at Mint Plaza, Lisa and I went both mornings and yes, once again stood in line to order. Paired with yogurt and fresh fruit or oatmeal, it was a great way to start the day. Looking at their website, I noticed that Blue Bottle has locations around Manhattan and Brooklyn, including a stand on the High Line, so waiting on line for another latte is in my future. 
 
Next week, I’m excited to blog live from Lake George—a locale I know well, having sailed on this majestic lake since I was born in nearby Schenectady. Stay tuned for my blogs and you can follow me on Twitter @ActiveTravels
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/01/14 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, March 06, 2014

Maker’s Mark Turns 60

Later this this month, an installation by iconic glass artist Dale Chihuly will be seen on display at the Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of producing their bourbon. If you’ve never been to Loretto to tour the distillery and drive the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, now would be the time. All of the 1880s buildings on the 650-acre Maker’s Mark property have been restored. The company has also worked with others in the industry to establish a 130-mile driving trail of “bourbon landmarks” through central Kentucky, a mere 45 minute drive from Louisville, to showcase where the drink was developed. The trail takes visitors to Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and seven other distilleries, as well as the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. To sample a variety of the latest stock, head to a local favorite, the bar at the the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace in Bardstown.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/06/14 at 11:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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