Five spirits and wines to start off the New Year

by W. Andrew Powell
Canadian Club 100% Rye

Celebrate the end of the year, or the start of the New Year, with a few spirit, wines, and alcohol suggestions that serve up perfectly with food, treats, or just about any event you have in mind. Suggested spirits include: Canadian Club Chairman’s Select 100% Rye, Knob Creek Straight Kentucky Bourbon, Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon, Iceberg Chocolate Mint Vodka, and JJ McWilliam Shiraz Cabernet.

Canadian Club Chairman’s Select 100% Rye | $27.45
Canadian Club’s new Chairman’s Select 100% Rye is probably the reason that I currently love Manhattans. The new premium Canadian whisky is made, as the name suggests, from 100% single grain rye, rather than the usual mix of grains, and it’s beautifully smooth served neat, on ice, or in a cocktail.

The whisky is gentle on the palate, with a little hint of spice, and a finish that is smooth and incredibly creamy. The finish is so smooth, in fact, that it tastes like a much more expensive whisky, and makes me think Canadian Club should be charging more for this wonderful rye.

For your New Year’s Eve party, or just for a little after-work drink to relax with, Canadian Club’s 100% Rye is a nice change from other whiskies.

RECIPE: Dry Rye Manhattan
1 ½ oz. Canadian Club Chairman’s Select 100% Rye
½ oz. dry vermouth
1 heavy dash Angostura bitters
¼ oz. simple syrup

Stir all ingredients together with cracked ice. Pour into a cocktail glass over fresh ice. Accent with lemon peel zest.

Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon
Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon | $16.95
If you’re looking for a rich, delicious wine to pair with your red meat, look no further than Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon, a new brilliant red that fits perfectly with steak, charcuterie, or even a good, hearty beef stew.

Hailing from California, Carnivor is a deep, dark wine that tastes like sun dried fruit with hints of chocolate, and it has a solid depth of flavour that is almost smoky smooth.

On sampling with delicious meats from The Carnivore Club’s December offering, the wine was wonderful next to almost everything–from pepperettes and sausage, to a sweet bacon fudge. It just goes well with red meats, but especially smoky-flavoured red meats.

Carnivor is fantastic, however, with or without meat, so you should consider the wine as a nice distraction for any social evening with friends and family, with a distinctly rich flavour.

Iceberg Chocolate Mint vodka
Iceberg Chocolate Mint Vodka | $25.95
Go ahead and add a little holiday cheer to your end of year celebrations, or to your next cup of hot chocolate or coffee. Iceberg’s Chocolate Mint vodka is a simple addition to cocktails, treats, and even baking, if you want to get creative.

Made with water from the icebergs in Newfoundland’s infamous Iceberg Alley, Chocolate Mint Vodka is surprisingly light and easy on the palate, but very tasty, and it mixes well with a range of drinks. Best of all, unlike other liqueurs, the vodka is naturally not sweetened, so you can add the right amount of sweetness that you want to the recipe.

Here are two suggestions for making the most of this unique vodka:

Recipe: Andrew Claus
1 ½ oz. Iceberg Chocolate Mint IceFusion
½ oz. Maraschino Cherry Juice
2 oz. Light Cream

Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake well, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a candy cane. Enjoy!

Recipe: Hot Cocoa Delight
1 ½ oz. Iceberg Chocolate Mint IceFusion
Hot Water
Cocoa Mix
Whipped Cream
Raspberry Liqueur (Chambord)

Begin by putting half a bag of an individual packet of cocoa mix in the bottom of an Irish coffee mug, followed by the Iceberg Chocolate Mint IceFusion. Pour hot water into the mug to about 1 ½ inches from the top of the mug. Stir until the cocoa is mixed well. Top off with whipped cream. Drizzle a small amount of raspberry liqueur on top of the whipped cream.

Knob Creek Straight Kentucky Bourbon
Knob Creek Straight Kentucky Bourbon | $46.95
This is an easy one. Knob Creek bourbon is perfect with BBQ, or just a nice cigar. The sweet, but strong spirit opens up with a drop or water, or on ice, but it’s also a great ingredient in a range of cocktails.

For this time of year though, I recommend it highly with mulled hot apple cider. Just heat the cider with your favorite fruit and spices (orange, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice), and serve it with a shot of Knob Creek mixed in to the glass. The bourbon adds a nice touch of extra spice and kick that lingers nicely on the back of the tongue. If you’re really inventive though and want to try something fun, try mixing the bourbon in with your favorite BBQ sauce as you braise ribs, steak, or chicken.

JJ McWilliam Shiraz Cabernet
JJ McWilliam Shiraz Cabernet | $9.95
By far the cheapest suggestion on this list, JJ McWilliam Shiraz Cabernet is a red wine treat for the budget-conscious, and it will not disappoint.

The bright red wine has a nose that hints of dried fruit, and on the tongue it’s a dry, mid-range red that is silky on the tongue with just a little sweetness and spice. It works well as wine to enjoy with conversation, or it pairs well with red meats, naturally. At the price you can decide if you want to drink it and cook with it, or just serve it as a great red for your guests.

As a hint to do something fun with it, you can try mulling it with spices and fruit for a simple seasonal adventure that won’t take long, and won’t cost much. Or why not try an inventive red wine punch for your next party?

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