Thirsty Thursday: Tyrion’s Game of Thrones’ Blackberry Wine Slushies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 bottle of fruity red wine
  • 6 ounces fresh blackberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons simple syrup (or agave nectar, honey, or sugar), to taste
  • 1-2 shots liquor of choice (vodka, gin, rum, tequila), optional

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pour wine into a standard ice cube tray and freeze until solid.

Regular Alcohol Drinkers Have a Lower Risk of Diabetes

There’s a new checkmark in the ‘drinking isn’t all bad for you’ column.

According to a new study that looked at more than 70,000 Danish people, those who drink small to moderate amounts of alcohol on a frequent basis are less likely to develop diabetes than people who don’t drink at all.

To be clear, these results shouldn’t be seen as licence or encouragement to drink freely as a health-promoting exercise.

But they do provide further evidence that, for some reason, people who drink moderately are less likely to suffer from certain illnesses, including some cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes.

For the new study, researchers wanted to see how much alcohol consumption was associated with the lowest diabetes risk, and determine whether the type of alcohol or the frequency that people drank mattered.

Using data from the Danish Health Examination Survey, they looked at the drinking habits of 28,704 men and 41,847 women, and tracked whether those people developed diabetes within approximately five years.

The researchers excluded anyone who already had diabetes, was pregnant at the start of the study, and didn’t provide information on their alcohol consumption.

The results showed that the study participants least likely to develop diabetes drank 3-4 days a week. For men, those who drank 14 drinks per week had the lowest risk, as the chart on the left shows below.

For women, those who drank nine drinks per week had the lowest risk, as the right-hand chart shows.

As the U-shaped risk curve shows, study participants who didn’t drink at all seemed to have a higher risk of developing diabetes. People who drank moderately had a lower risk, up to a certain point – after that, risk started to rise again.

Even heavy drinkers (up to 40 drinks per week for men and 28 drinks per week for women), however, still had a lower risk of developing diabetes than teetotalers.

The lowest risk was associated with drinking that was spread out throughout the week, rather than occurring in the same day or two.

The type of alcohol mattered too. Men and women who drank wine had the lowest diabetes risk. For men, beer was also associated with a lower risk.

Spirits didn’t seem to affect risk for men, but women who drank seven or more drinks of spirits a week had an increased risk of developing diabetes.

A brief but important aside on diabetes: The design of this study didn’t allow researchers to say whether drinkers had a lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes or type 1.

Type 2 is generally caused by lifestyle factors and prevents the body from using insulin, whereas type 1 cannot be prevented since the body simply doesn’t produce enough insulin.

The researchers say their study should refer to type-2 diabetes, since their results held true even if they eliminated anyone under 40 (by which point the vast majority of people with type-1 diabetes already have it).

So what’s going on here?

Tempting as it might be to say that drinking lowers diabetes risk, we can’t say that. All we know is that people – Danes, at least – who drink regularly develop diabetes less frequently.

It’s possible that this is because people who drink in moderate quantities tend to be healthier in the first place than people who don’t drink at all.

The researchers tried to calculate for these effects – they accounted for things like body mass index, physical activity, smoking status, and family history – but it’s always possible that results were still skewed in some way.

There is a hypothesis that moderate drinking may improve some aspects of health by lowering blood pressure and dilating blood vessels, but it’s not certain whether that plays a role.

There are a number of other complicating factors, too. On the one hand, most people under-report their drinking, meaning that people may actually be drinking more than they reported.

Also, this was a population study in Denmark. Different results might be found in non-Scandinavian populations (especially non-white groups, many which have a higher risk of developing diabetes).

When it comes to alcohol and health, we know that drinking too much isn’t healthy.

Alcohol consumption has been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers – a recent new report found a link between an increased risk of breast cancer and drinking as little as one glass of wine or beer each day.

The researchers behind this study aren’t advocating for drinking as a means of health promotion. But at least in regard to diabetes, drinking what’s considered a moderate amount throughout the week seems to be fine.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

These Kirkland Brand Products are Why You Need a Costco Membership

Let’s go ahead and establish the tone for this article right now. Costco might be the best thing to happen to the general shopping experience since the first person set up a store. Your shopping trip could easily include picking up socks, dinner, a new computer, flowers for the garden, and filling up your gas tank. Plus, it doesn’t come with all the guilt of shopping at other stores like it. Where Wal-Mart hosts food drives for its employees and actively suppresses workers’ efforts to improve their job experience, Costco is routinely ranked one of the best places to work. The company treats its employees well, has ridiculously low turnover because it actually rewards employee loyalty (and reciprocates that loyalty), provides benefits to the vast majority of workers, and voluntarily keeps markups low on products to save customers money. It’s a wholesale club with the labor philosophy of a family-owned corner store.

The company’s excellence carries into its Kirkland brand as well. Everything with the Kirkland logo on it is guaranteed to be a quality product, and that guarantee doesn’t come in the form of some corporate disclaimer or marketing stunt. It comes in the form of Costco making way better stuff than they ever needed to. Next time you find yourself in a Costco, or maybe we’ve just convinced you to start doing your weekly shopping there, make sure you give these Kirkland brand products a shot.

Booze

There are a ton of rumors flying around about Kirkland brand spirits and they’re incredibly difficult to verify. People have said Kirkland vodka is Grey Goose’s overflow and that Knob Creek and Macallan regularly supply the brand with whiskey. The prevailing theory seems to be that when high end distilleries of any number of alcohols have spirits they aren’t happy with or made too much of, Kirkland swoops in and swallows it up. Again, we can’t verify this, but if there’s truth to those rumors, it would explain a lot. For example, it would explain why Kirkland vodka costs next to nothing and doesn’t make us hate ourselves in the morning. In fact, it made us a lot more confident in vodka’s potential to be good, an opinion that’s backed up by the opinion of people who drink a lot more vodka than we do.

This isn’t a “better for the price” situation. Kirkland spirits are a high quality alternative to dropping a couple hundred bucks at the liquor store. In fact, the cult following of the brand is growing all the time and we might be saying stuff one of your friends has been saying for years. As what might be the ultimate sign that Kirkland booze is an excellent choice to stock your house, check out this post on Reddit. In a rare display of unity, every top comment is a recommendation to try their brand, and that’s if it’s not a glowing endorsement. Obviously still go ahead and get some top shelf stuff, but for everyday mixing and sipping, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping a few of these bottles handy. If anything, you’re going to find out exactly which of your friends are spirit connoisseurs and which are just posing.

Barbecue Meats

The butcher at Costco is one of the more appetizing to walk through. At some locations, you can watch the butchers work and they are consummate professionals. Their cuts are clean and precise, they’re more than knowledgeable, and they’re happy to help customers, even if that means recutting or redistributing what they’ve already done. They’re great at their jobs and they clearly enjoy what they’re doing, which are the two main things we use to evaluate the people who sell us stuff.

Their product is excellent too. It’s great meat and here’s another place we won’t cheapen that sentiment by adding “for the price.” The price is great too, but neither detracts from the other and you don’t have to rationalize eating one of their generic steaks the way you might have to at cheaper grocery stores. Provided you cook it right, you and your guests will be more than happy with your burgers, sausage, ribs, steaks, pork belly, hot dogs, chicken, turkey, or whatever else you buy.

Pet Food

Here’s a personal anecdote as support for a larger claim. Kirkland dog food made my dog happier. I brought home a few sample bags on one of my trips to the store, because it was a sample bag and the lady offered me enough to feed the dog for a few days. In those couple days, the dog looked healthier, had more energy, and was generally far happier than he had been in weeks. From then on, that’s what he’s eaten and it’s been a sustained difference from the previous food.

That also taught me that maybe the people on all those TV commercials aren’t full of shit. The paragraph I just wrote could have easily been ad copy for an annoying Blue Buffalo ad. But those are the genuine results of Kirkland dog food, at least for my own personal pet and there’s also no way for me to make it sound like I’m not currently writing a couch testimonial for a shitty ad, so I’m just going to close this by saying at least take the free sample if the lady offers you one.

Sunglasses

We find it a bit weird that they don’t list their sunglasses on the Costco website. They only have two types, one athletic and one casual, but they’d be so easy to pack and ship that not listing them online seems like a missed opportunity. Especially since these are the perfect sunglasses for everyday use. They’re polarized, sturdy, and come with their own cases and microfiber cleaning cloths. The pairs we’ve seen haven’t cost more than $30, which is the perfect price for buying a decent pair for leaving in a car or by the front door. They’re stylish enough that they look like they cost more than $30. Not hundreds of dollars more, but still. More.

A Giant Wheel of Parmesan Cheese

We’ve never had the need for 72 pounds of Parmesan cheese, but now that we know it’s so accessible, we’re going to work pretty hard to find one. If we have to spend a month eating pasta and Italian soups, that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make. Plus this isn’t a big tub of American knockoff cheese. This is genuine, imported Italian parmigiano reggiano aged for 24 months possibly in a cave. For nearly a thousand dollars, sure, but people have spent more on weirder, so we don’t think this is such a crazy thing. And when we looked around for comparable products, the best we could find was price quotes from high scale websites. Fine Italian dining is finally within grasp.

Gasoline

The attraction of this is more that it makes Costco a completely one stop shop for anything and everything you’d need in a week. You can get your shopping done, then pull the car around a corner and fill it up too. It’s probably not anything to go out of your way to get, but if you find yourself at the wholesale club and also a little low on fuel, there’s no harm in pulling around and topping up. This is going to be a specialty thing not every Costco offers, but if yours does, take advantage.

Kitchen Pots and Pans

Unless you’re one of the only families in the world to pass cast iron cookware from generation to generation in a tradition stretching back hundreds of years, everyone needs to buy themselves a set of pots and pans for their kitchen. When you do, you’ll want a set that’s durable, versatile, and affordable, all words that can be and are being used to describe Kirkland’s set. For less than two hundred bucks, you can outfit your new apartment, house, vacation home, RV, cabin, or whatever other domicile you’re furnishing with every pot or pan you’ll need for good home cooking. Plus everything can be used on the stovetop or in the oven too, so you don’t even have the limitations that cheap, plastic handled pots and pans have. In fact, we may have just talked ourselves into buying a backup set.

 

Thirsty Thursday: Paloma Sangria Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium grapefruit, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium limes, sliced
  • 6-8 mint leaves
  • ¼ cup agave Nectar
  • 3 cups grapefruit juice
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle sauvignon blanc (or other white wine)
  • ½ cup tequila
  • 1 cup club soda
  • Lime wedges, for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Muddle the grapefruit, limes and mint in a cocktail shaker then add to a gallon drink container. Pour the agave, grapefruit juice, sauvignon blanc, tequila and club soda to the container and stir to combine.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until chilled through. When ready to use, pour over ice-filled 8-ounce glasses and garnish with lime wedges.

Thirsty Thursday: Summer Sipper Sangria Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups leftover fruit from tipsy fruit salad or an assortment of your favorite fruit, cut into bite size pieces – such as pineapple, oranges, grapes, melon, berries, peaches, nectarines
  • 1/2 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup light rum
  • 750 ml of dry white wine about half a bottle, like a sauvignon blanc or pinot gris
  • splash sparkling water or club soda optional

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients (except sparkling water/club soda) together in a pitcher. Chill for several hours.
  2. Serve as is or with a splash of sparkling water or club soda for a spritzer if desired.

Thirsty Thursday: Frozen Cantaloupe Margaritas Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen cantaloupe chunks (freeze chunks for at least 1-2 hours)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup sliver tequila
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau
  • 1-2 tablespoons agave or honey, to taste
  • salt, for the rims (optional)

Instructions

  1. 1. Slice a thin piece of rind off both ends of cantaloupe so that it can stand upright. Cut in half horizontally and remove seeds. Scoop out flesh and set aside, save cantaloupe halves.

    2. In a blender, combine the cantaloupe, coconut milk, tequila, lime juice, Cointreau and agave, pulse until smooth. If needed, add ice to get a slushy consistency. Divide between cantaloupe bowls (halves) and drink!

Mead Is the Next Craft Beer

I noticed something while traveling home from work one afternoon ‘Garagiste Meadery‘. But what is a meadery and what exactly is mead?

Mead is ready to break through, to become the next sought-after alcoholic beverage. But what is it?

What’s Mead?

Like most alcoholic beverages, mead’s been around for some time. Mead’s history dates back at least 8,000 years, as there’s evidence that suggests it predates wine. Enjoyed on the Isle of Crete, mead was—and still is—fermented honey water. Yeast eats the honey’s sugar and you’ve got a beverage that ranges from about 8% alcohol to 20% alcohol. Meads have long been flavored with spices, herbs (including hops), and/or fruits, and, like wine, can be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.

While ancient mead was naturally fermented by the yeast in the air, today’s meaderies add yeast themselves for a more controlled environment and to produce insanely flavorful offerings unlike anything from the Isle of Crete. Today, fruit is a major component, as are fun adjuncts like coffee, licorice, and other grocery store staples. Meaderies are getting as wild as some breweries, making meads from the strangest of ingredients. Of course, just as with breweries, some makers are not as plugged into that scene. If you want to try the mead that demands the best beer in a trade, here’s what you’re looking for… Garagiste Meadery.

America’s Best Brewers Reveal The Hardest Things About Launching A Brewery

It seems like new craft breweries are popping up all over the country every week. Visit any major city in America and you’re likely to find a booming craft beer industry. But, just because you make a delicious farm ale or New England IPA at home, doesn’t always mean that you should quit your IT job and invest in your life savings in a brewery.

Brewing is not for everyone. Just because you’ve seen headlines about breweries being sold for millions of dollars that doesn’t mean that you have what it takes. We asked some of the most well-respected brewers in the country to tell us the challenges you’ll face if you decide to take the leap and start your own craft brewery.

Owning your own business isn’t easy

“The thing that home-brewers often don’t see is the business side of things. You can make unbelievable beer and still fail as a brewery if you don’t have a good business plan. As the craft space becomes more congested this is becoming increasingly important. In that same vein, home-brewers should be aware this isn’t a cheap business to get into. You won’t want to limp in or else it’ll cost you somewhere else.” – New Belgium brewer Cody Reif

Multitasking is really tough

“It’s not easy, and it’s not all about brewing. With new breweries and styles popping up every day, I need to be six to twelve months ahead of the curve, simultaneously developing new recipes, beer names, ideas for events, creating a growth strategy for current and new markets, delivering the best customer service experience through our bartenders and sales staff, and ensuring we make the most consistent and delicious product through our brewing team. All of this while making sure the lights stay on and everyone is having fun.” – Second Self Beer Company co-founder Jason Santamaria

Customers will see through your gimmick

“Don’t do it as a gimmick. Customers will see through the gimmick; they are well versed in good beer and demand a genuine attempt. Second, know where you want to go with this venture. I believe that there’s two distinct segments developing within our industry: below 25,000 barrels per year from the local craft brewer who produces draft-only, and the above 25,000 barrels brewer, who packages and bottles their product. The first has a relatively bright future – sell your beer at your location(s) – beer pub or taproom – and some kegs into the local wholesale market. At this size, you can make a living, brew what you want and can operate under your terms. – Elysian Brewing’s co-founder & CEO Joe Bisacca

Get ready to give up everything else in your life

“You should understand the challenges that come with day to day brewery operations, and recognize how much the market is changing. Gone are the days of bootstrapping equipment together, finding a garage space to brew in, slapping a puny name on your IPA and having immediate success. Your brewery needs to come out of the gate with a polished image, a solid location, and great beer on day one. The hours are going to suck and you should already know that very few craft brewers ever make six figures. You’re going to need to love cleaning, paperwork, long days, hot working conditions, tackling challenges, cleaning, schmoozing, drinking beer late, waking up early, tasting beer early, brewing the same beer over and over again, and cleaning to be successful.” – Upslope Brewing’s Head Brewer Sam Scruby

What can go wrong will go wrong

“If you don’t connect with the world in a tangible way but rather in a theoretical way, brewing is not for you. Brewing really embodies the Robert Burns expression ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’ because things go wrong. Glycol chillers fail, ingredient containers are mislabeled, ferments can have minds of their own. But as a brewer you need to harness these events and learn from them. Maybe even incorporate them into your process. Racer 5, our flagship beer came about because of a screw up on a brew day and our reactions to that series of events. Also, at some point owning or managing a brewery becomes about more than the beer. Things like wastewater, personnel and utility pricing become important. If you view these as a hassle or as non-essential than look for another career path.” – Bear Republic Master Brewer Peter Kruger

It costs a ton of money to open a brewery

“Besides the basics of not having enough money or enough (or maybe even any) experience, there is so much more one needs to know to put together a good brewing operation. You need to know everything that you can possibly know about how to brew beer – this includes everything from raw materials to trouble shooting QC issues in the field. You have to consider shipping and distributor logistics. Does your brewery have a brewpub and the challenges that come with running a restaurant and a brewery? There are so many moving variables on top of the challenges of just running a business. Sometimes, these daunting tasks that it takes to open a brewery are too intimidating for some good brewers to make it happen. On the flip side, others don’t grasp these important essentials to make it happen in a good way.” – Schlafly Beer Founding Brewer Stephen Hale

Don’t like working 9-5? How about working all day every day?

“If you like long hours, endless cleaning, and complete focus on quality, then this is for you. There really is nothing better than having one of your own beers after a long day of work. Breweries are also fantastic conduits to their community, and it is very rewarding to see locals embrace your craft.

If any of the above isn’t your style, then you’re not going to like it (especially the cleaning).” – Coney Island Brewing Company Head Brewer Eric Hernandez

Your beer isn’t as good as you think it is

“I think the worst reason to start a brewery is because your friends tell you, ‘you make great beer.’ Your friends are fantastic people, that’s why they are your friends, but they aren’t always honest. If you get that feedback from them that’s a great start, but get your beer out there – whether it be homebrew competitions or forging relationships with quality breweries and getting their input. There is so much that goes on inside a brewery that isn’t related to making beer. If you are making great beer and love it more than anything, then I think getting into the industry is a fantastic idea. It will give you a huge understanding of what this business is all about and what it might take to start one.” – Devils Backbone brewer Josh French

Thirsty Thursday: Mango Habanero Margarita Recipe

Ingredients

Habanero Infused Simple Syrup (makes 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 habanero halved
Chili Powder/Salt Rim
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Margarita
  • 1 cup frozen mango cubes thawed (or fresh if you have it!)
  • 3 oz habanero simple syrup
  • 4 1/2 oz tequila
  • 1 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 3 oz freshly squeezed lime juice

Instructions

Habanero Infused Simple Syrup
  1. Cook on low until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let the habanero steep for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture using a fine sieve into a lidded jar. Store in the fridge until ready for use.
Chili Powder/Salt Rim
  1. Mix together chili powder and salt together on a small plate, set aside.
  2. Wet the rim of your glasses (with water or use lime juice by rubbing a lime wedge along the rim) and then dip the rim in the chili powder/salt mixture.
  3. Fill the glasses with ice.
Margarita
  1. Place thawed mango and habanero simple syrup in a Vitamix or high powdered blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and set aside.
  3. Fill a shaker with a few ice cubes (don’t use too many, as the margarita ingredients fill the shaker most of the way).
  4. Pour in mango/simple syrup mixture, tequila, triple sec, and lime juice.
  5. Shake until chilled.
  6. Pour evenly into two glasses and drink immediately!

The Latest Craft Beer Comes From Bees’ Yeast

The newest beer craze is coming out of a research lab at North Carolina State University, where environmental microbiologist Anne Madden works with yeast from bees.

Most alcoholic beverages, including beer, are made with yeast. However, there are upwards of 1,500 species of yeast and for most of history, we have only relied on two types of alcohol yielding yeast. Only recently have brew masters and scientists begun to explore yeasts other than ale and lager.

The age-old relationship between yeast and bees was the inspiration for Maddens work. Knowing that yeast live in flower nectar, gorge themselves on sugar to produce alcohol and attract bees, she began to examine the microbes on individual bees.

Madden started by collecting one wasp, known for its ability to carry yeast, and continued her experiment in the lab where she moved the wasp’s microbes into a petri dish for observation. She discovered that the microbes grew abundantly on the dish. To ensure the production of top-notch quality yeast, she separated the best yeast from the first dish, onto other Petri dishes. Next, a DNA sample of the cultured yeast takes place. This step ensures that no pathogens are associated with the yeast, and therefore makes it suitable for becoming beer. In the final stage of the testing process, a color chemical test is performed to display that the yeast is able to process a specific sugar found in malted barley. If all tests are positive, then brewing is a go.

Using bee yeast has many advantages, scientists have discovered, as their adaptability to different brewing conditions can create multiple flavor profiles from the same yeast. Researchers are excited to see what new yeast discovery will be next, whether it’s for the beer or not.

One thing is for sure, the “Bumblebeer” brew is sure to please craft beer connoisseurs everywhere.