Inspired by Margarita Wars

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Inspired by Margarita Wars


Jesse Babbitt of Surfside Taphouse mixing “The Florita” margarita

This past Saturday was Creative Loafing’s annual Margarita Wars, an event I find very inspiring.  At this event bartenders from around the bay area dream up their most creative margarita, and everyone attending gets to vote for the best.



Pineapple peppered rims offered by Jake Hiller of the Tampa Marriott Waterside.


Random attendees enjoying the flavors…

The 19 entries this year included cocktails for every palate, and tequila was probably the only thing all had in common.  Flavors varied from the traditional lime juice to ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, and coconut, fruits included watermelon, blueberries, and mango, and garnishes included  persimmons seeds, blueberry caviar and citrus foam.  Traditional salted rims gave way to  toasted coconut, habanero pineapple, and chipotle sugar.  Many of these cocktails were outstanding, and all were creative and worth trying.  As someone always looking to push the flavor boundaries in beer & hard ciders, it’s exciting to see what flavors mixologists are combining to create new taste sensations.  Cheers!




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Beer Research…in Italy?

I’m about to leave on my beer research trip in Europe, and I could not be more excited! While I won’t make it to Belgium on this trip, I will be visiting three very cool beer destinations. The first two destinations are pretty obvious while the third, not so much.

Germany, our second stop, has a centuries old brewing tradition, and is a country that not only gave the world such beer styles as bocks, kolsch, schwartzbier and berliner weisse, to name just a few, but also is the birthplace of the 500 year old Bavarian (beer) Purity Law and one of my favorites, Oktoberfest, both the beer style and the celebration.

The third stop, Czech Republic, is home to Plzen, the hometown and namesake of the pilsner beer style, inventors of the famous Bohemian Pilsner beer style, and creators of the Budweiser brand name, long before Anheuser Busch stole the name for use on their American beer. Perhaps most importantly, however, the Czech Republic is world renowned for their mild & spicy Saaz noble hops, used in many beer styles around the world.

So you may be wondering how Italy fits into such a beer-focused trip.  Sure, Italy is better known for its wine and food than for its beer, but that doesn’t mean Italians don’t know how to brew.  In fact, about 15 years ago I discovered Birra Moretti La Rossa on a beer menu at a Macaroni Grill in Denver, CO, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  More importantly, however, is that Italy is in the early stages of a craft beer revolution that started a few years ago in the Nothern part of the country, around Milan.  Combine the Italian’s new-found zeal for craft beer with their centuries-old reputation for fresh, high quality flavors, and this should be an exciting experience indeed.  Salute!