This weekend we’ve got some friends coming over. So naturally I raided our non-existent liquor cabinet (I say non-existent because we don’t have a bar in our home or dark mysterious wine cellar) to see what wine we had to go along with dinner. Then I thought how it was interesting how we all have what I affectionately call our “house wines” and beers that we always have in stock at our homes. Everyone does this. Those several favourite brands that are always replenished. I’m not necessarily talking about Award Winners (though some are) but your household favourites.
And after seeing a ton of upcycled bar carts this past season on blogs, I thought I’d share my favourite ‘house’ drinks of choice.
What? What’s this talk about liquor and beer? This is a respectable blog. I came here to read about IKEA and how to do crafts with my children. We don’t talk about alcohol. How inappropriate.
Right. And you’re all out there keeping those martini and shot glasses staged and empty on those bar carts for your blog entries.
Let me just clarify, this is not a post to encourage you to go out and binge drink. I’d like to believe we’re all responsible adults. These are just some tales of what it’s like spending the majority of your life being a non-beer & red wine drinking person, discovering them for the first time. We all like to having company over and choosing an appropriate wine or alcoholic beverage to compliment a meal is always nice. Especially if you’re not the greatest cook and need the wine more than you need a good recipe. Who could that be? Hmmm…
The craft beer industry has exploded with independent companies showing off their newest products so I am always interested in discovering new wines and beers.
So in no particular order, here are my (our) Top 5 “House” Liquors, Wine and Beers.
1) Wiser’s Special Blend Whisky
I was at a family BBQ. You need to drink at a family BBQ. If you have to ask why, please adopt me. Years ago at said BBQ when James’ Aunt asked me what I wanted to drink I instantly replied with “Do you have any whisky?” I love whisky. My favourite bar drink of choice has always been a Rye & Ginger.
If that sounds like morse code to our fellow Americans who may not have access to Canadian Rye Whisky – this guy explains that situation better than I ever could as does Wikipedia – Rye & Ginger just means Rye Whisky and Ginger Ale. His Aunt said “Oh yeah I have a bottle over in the cabinet” and she goes to get this small mickey (another fun Canadiana lesson – it’s a 12 oz bottle) of Wiser’s Special Blend. She says help yourself to as much as you want. There was only half a bottle left so I poured myself a drink. Paradise ensued. Where was this Rye Whisky the entire time I was drinking cheap Rye Whisky at clubs and bars in my younger years?
All was great. Until I heard “So I see you like my whisky” from a very stern looking Grandma (James’ Aunts mother) who was obviously unhappy that her daughter gave away her stash of alcohol that she bought to the BBQ and hid away. I pleaded ignorance. Do you know what it’s like to get the death stare from someones Grandma? Oh man. Good thing the discovery of the whisky made it bearable.
To this day it is my favourite whisky. My husband and I affectionately call the best nights, Wiser’s nights.
2) Fuzion Shiraz Malbec Wine
This was the first red wine I ever tried that I actually liked. I was a long time white wine drinker and really wanted to change my palate as the white wines weren’t tasting as good as they used to. I asked my then local LCBO (that’s the Liquor Control Board of Ontario – yes we Ontario, Canada folks can’t buy our alcohol in corner stores) employee for a recommendation for a novice red wine drinker. He led me to the last case of this new Shiraz that they couldn’t keep in stock. I thought for $7.95 a bottle, sure I’ll try it.
Divine didn’t even cover the hype of this wine. It sold out fast and they couldn’t keep it in stock. Great for the company but terrible for me and the rest of the people that had discovered this and demanded to get their hands on a bottle. This was back in 2009 and things have calmed down since then. But the price and taste hasn’t changed and therefore this has officially become my go to house wine. It’s rare that I will actually reach for a bottle of anything else to drink with dinner and bbq’s etc. I may give other high end bottles as gifts but for everyday meals, this is it for me.
3) Panama Jack’s Original Cream Liquor
Bailey’s Irish Cream is a staple cream liquor in everyone’s household. It’s a well known taste, mandatory at Christmas and mixes well with everything from coffee to milk to straight on ice. You know the one downfall of Baileys? The price. A 750 ml bottle will run you $29.95.
Then one day as I was staring at the all the varieties of Bailey’s on the shelf, I got into a conversation with another fellow LCBO clerk about this very issue. She asked me if I had ever tried the Panama Jack’s version. I said “There’s a Panama Jack’s version?” Not only was there an alternate version to the alternate versions, it was $18.95 (regularly on sale for $15.95) for 750 ml. The only difference was that the Panama Jack’s is a wine based liquor and not a cream based liquor so it was nowhere near the other cream liquors. If you’re an ardent drinker (that’s about the only polite way I can say that without saying if you know your booze), you will taste the difference the first time you compare them.
But not enough to warrant to the extra $11 a bottle for your casual desert drink around your house. I have literally promoted this one to all my Bailey’s loving friends and they agree. Once it’s in your drink, you won’t care.
4) Sleeman Honey Brown Lager
I have spent my entire life hating beer. Back in high school, er, I mean back in my younger days (because drinking when you’re a teenager is wrong) whenever my friends went out and brought their 24’s and 6 packs, I would always be the one they’d leave their cases with because they knew I’d guard them and not drink any because I was repulsed by it. It tasted like crap, bitter and dry and just all kinds of awful. So it was a funny thing that when I was pregnant with Little C, my second child, I craved beer like it was water. I seriously would have killed someone at some point just to get in a sip. And because I obviously couldn’t do that, after I was no longer pregnant I went on a beer tasting adventure trying to find something to satisfy that craving. Nothing seem to fit what my craving thought a good beer should taste like.
That is until Sleeman Honey Brown was introduced to me at yet another BBQ for a friends son’s birthday and then I introduced it to my Guinness and Rickard’s Red (which is so good on draft) loving husband. This was the first beer I had ever enjoyed in my entire life and has since become our house beer. With an honourable mention to Moosehead (due in part to their special 28 pack of beer for the price of 24 promotion they’ve had for a long time now).
5) Innis and Gunn Original
Ok ladies and gentleman, this is the product that I am going to tell you about, that you wish you had never heard about or tried. Because once you do, you will wind up cursing the fact that it is by far one of the best beers currently out there.
And that one 330 ml bottle will cost you $3.15.
And it doesn’t come in a 6 pack, a 12 pack or a 24. So you have to buy them individually (though based on me stalking them on Twitter they do have plans for it to come out in a 6 pack very soon).
We discovered Innis and Gunn this past Fall when we were out for dinner for our Anniversary and the waiter suggested it to my husband. It’s been like an IV in his arm ever since. This is his end of the work week beer treat. To give you an example of how much we like it, this is my Instagram image I tweeted Innis and Gunn the day we brought the empties back to Beer Store:
The beer was born by accident. Innis and Gunn were trying to make a scotch whisky with ale flavours, so they stored special ale in whisky barrels. After the ale had ‘flavoured’ the barrels, it was supposed to be discarded and replaced with whisky. The happy accident was that the ale tasted phenomenal instead. And so after 77 days in oak barrels, you get original Innis and Gunn beer. It’s no surprise I like it, given my affection for Whisky.
But James is beyond taken by it. So much so that when our local LCBO was sold out of it for millionth time we checked, I sent them a tweet on our behalf showing the empty shelves. Innis and Gunn graciously replied they would get in contact with the store to ensure it would be refilled. They can’t get this in 6 pack soon enough for us. Everyone that James has gotten to try it falls in love with it.
Just don’t blame us for the price per bottle. But one try and you won’t care.
Remember, always drink responsibly.
And please note, that if you are visiting my blog for the first time, a lot of the above was written tongue in cheek. So don’t send hate mail. Send me your bottle caps instead for my kids craft projects.
I leave you with this little bit – it’s a tad early for Mother’s Day but this way you won’t forget:
Now tell me about your favourites…