Five Classic Bubbly Cocktails to ring in 2015

By Kit Rose

Whether you're hosting at home or slinging at work, here is an inspirational list of classic sparklers to celebrate the New Year. Any of these will be welcome alongside brunch as well. Where do you plan to welcome 2015 and do you have a favorite bubbly cocktail? Tell us in the comments! Word on the street is that most Salem bars will offer free champagne toasts at midnight (be sure to call ahead and confirm)! 


From Chicago comes this perfect pairing to New Year's brunch. In a flute, add 1tbsp honey, 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice, 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc, 1/2 oz elderflower liqueur,  and top with prosecco.


An Italian bartender in the 1960's accidentally added sparkling wine to a Negroni instead of gin. The result was delicious and refreshing! Add 1 oz Campari, 1 oz sweet vermouth and ice to rocks glass; top with prosecco and garnish with orange slice. 

The French 75

The French 75


Upon returning to Earth in 1969, Neil and Buzz sipped this cocktail at London's American Bar at the Savoy Hotel. In a flute, add 1 oz grapefruit juice, 1/2 oz orange liqueur, and splash of rose water; top with Champagne. 


This iconic sparkler is making a well deserved comeback in martini form. In a shaker, add 1 oz of gin, 1/2 oz simple syrup, 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice, and ice; shake and strain into chilled martini glass, top with Champagne and garnish with lemon twist. 


Perfect for your post celebration hangover; the medicinal bitters is a cure-all addition.  Place a sugar cube in bottom of flute, dash Angostura bitters on top to dissolve, and top with Champagne; garnish with lemon twist. 

For those of you heading downtown to ring in 2015, these are Salem Sips' favorite bubbly cocktails in Salem:

Baymosa at The Lobster Shanty

Cran Apple Bellini at Finz

Sinner & Saint at Opus

Jazzed Up Mimosa at Vics Boathouse

Ginger Pear Sparkler at 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar 

Happy Sipping and Cheers to a New Year! 

DIY Liqueur Gift Guide by Salem Sips

By Kit Rose

DIY Liqueur Gift Guide

Eek! It's last minute, and you still have a handful of cousins, friends, or aunts & uncles to buy for. Or, maybe you need a unique host gift. Either way, Salem Sips is at your rescue.  Follow the below recipes, bottle them, tie a festive ribbon on it, and Voila! Adjust these to the amount you need, or put a personal spin on the flavors.  You. Are. Welcome. 


Infuse in a pitcher one bottle of vodka, 10 cinnamon sticks, and 2-3 sliced apples, for 2-3 days. 


Infuse in a pitcher one bottle of brandy, one cup of peeled and chopped ginger, and 2-3 sliced pears, for 2-3 days. 


Bring to a simmer 3.5 cups white sugar with .5 cup brown sugar and 4 cups of water.  Remove from heat and add your choice of 2 oz fresh espresso, 3 oz strong brewed dark roast coffee, or 2 oz instant coffee (allow to dissolve). Combine coffee syrup and one bottle of vodka in a pitcher with a capful each of peppermint extract and vanilla extract. 


Zest 10 lemons, carefully excluding white pith. Add to a bottle of vodka in a pitcher. Allow to steep 2-3days. Drain zest. Heat equal parts sugar and water ( about 2.5 cups each) until sugar dissolves, not to a boil. Separate from heat to cool. Add infused vodka, and strain over a coffee filter. Salem Sips Twist: why not try another citrus, like tangerine or grapefruit? Add a little of the juice to the sugar syrup for extra flavor. 

Happy DIY Sipping! 

Vinos Españoles: Decoding Spanish Wine Labels with Kit Rose

By Kit Rose

Vinos Españoles

Decoding Spanish Wine Labels

While New World wine labels are simplified, many Old World European labels can be tricky to navigate, and at times a bit intimidating. This is especially true for Spanish wines, since multiple terms can mean the same thing, thus causing some confusion when searching for the right one. For example, Tinto Fino just means Tempranillo, in the Ribera del Duero region, and there are various ways to make Sherry, all labeled accordingly.

Aside from Sherry, it wasn't until the 1980's that Spanish wines rose in popularity outside of its own borders. Recently the US became the leader in Albariño consumption, including in Spain or Portugal, where the grape originated and is thought to be an Alsace Riesling clone. American producers have also recreated their own versions in many California regions.

The reason for the recent increase in Spanish wine interest stems from the vineyards adapting New World styles on Old World vineyards. Some labels will even note "Old Vines" to ensure the consumer that the grapes were grown on existing plots, not the new ones that have been planted over the last 30-40 years. What were once considered value table wines have been transformed into a carefully crafted, artisan and boutique product. These wines are so much more well received due to improvements in the wine making process; a result of declarations of production laws to ensure quality, and introduce new regions that were once unheard of.

Because of the new laws and many years of wine making now categorized as a blend of New and Old Wine technique, many terms need some explaining as they aren't always completely translated. Below is a list of common terms, notable regions, and popular varietals for Spanish wine. Any of the wines pictured can be purchased at Cosgrove's LiquorsPlease include your questions and comments, and Happy Sipping!

Sparkling Wine: when you see the word Cava, it is a Spanish term for sparkling wine made in the same style as that from Champagne, France.

Sherry: fortified wine made from the Palomino grape, in the region of Andalucía.  Basic types-

Fino, light & dry. Amontillado, aged at least 10 years. Manzanilla, made only in the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.  Olorosa, rich and sweet. Cream, a blend of other sherry types.

Vintage or Year: seeing the terms vendimia or cosecha refer to the wine's vintage.

Aging: the following terms refer to how long a wine has been aged, from shortest time to longest; vino joven, sin crianza, crianza, reserva, gran reserva. Other terms less common but also referring to aging are añejo, noble, and viejo.

Notable Regions: Castilla Y Leon (Ribera del Duero & Toro), Rías Baixas, Rioja, Catalunya, Jumilla, Andalucía, Castilla la Mancha.

Common Varietals: Garnacha, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Moristel, Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah, Albariño, Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca,  Malvasía,  Moscatel, Palomino, Verdejo, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc,  Treixadura.  

The New New World by Salem Sips

Salem Sips is an ongoing celebration of local drink culture by Kit Rose

Artisan Wines in America's Northeast

Yes, you read that correctly. Carefully crafted fine wines are being produced right here in New England, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and (gasp!) New Jersey. Between these eleven states, there are almost 900 wineries currently in operation. Close to half of these wineries are in Maryland, with the runner up state of New York, home to over two hundred. 

New York as a wine making state makes sense, as it houses the great Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes Region, and we've all learned that vineyards thrive in valleys and coastal regions. The first winery of the Empire State opened its doors in 1839, which is still in business today. Even the Hamptons of Long Island claim AVA status. Wines of NY are made of various local grapes as well as French inspired hybrids, and because of the cool winter climate, Reisling is also a popular wine. 

Here in The Commonwealth, white grapes produce lovely and lively wines, but in true New England fashion, local fruits like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are not neglected in our wine making process. Mead, made from honey, is also widely produced and will also commonly have fruit or spice added.  

Just a short ride up Route 1 into Rowley will take you to Mill River Winery, where steel fermented Chardonnay, floral Riesling, and a lightly oaked Zinfandel (among many other varietals) are waiting to be sampled in their tasting room.  Close by in Ipswich and popular for apple picking is Russell Orchards, where wine is made from every local fruit imaginable; from blackberries to blueberries to various ciders and even dandelion, paying a visit to their tasting room is worth the short drive. 

 To support our local New England wineries, Mill River Wines are available for purchase at Salem Wine Imports, Pamplemousse, and recently being poured at Flying Saucer Pizza Co.  Also at Pamplemousse is a variety of New Hampshire Meads. Of course, taking a trip to any New England winery is also a fun idea!  Let us know in the comments which Northeastern wines you’ve tried and how you support our local wine economy! 

 Happy Sipping!