War, conquest, death – it’s as if only one of the four horsemen is missing, and already may be on the way. Not the moment to debate drinks, but some strong ones may be needed in the coming weeks.
Although devoting words to beverages seems out of place, this blog mainly is about imbibing. That said, consider visiting drizly.com. Look for Obolon and Lvivske brews. They’re from Ukraine. And perhaps one day, a more peaceful day, they may be poured again to honor the hard-won gains of democracy over the autocracy.
In the U.S., cans from the Oskar Blues Brewery, headquartered in Colorado but big in North Carolina and Texas, are bracing choices for focus. The beermaker has starred with Dale’s Pale Ale and Ten FIDY Imperial Stout. You’ll be hopped up with the lively Western Mutant IPA (★★) and the bold Double Dale’s Imperial IPA (★★★), both available on the east coast in six-packs for $11 to $14.
The Double Dale’s is an intensely hoppy choice that comes in at 9 percent alcohol by volume. This mega-brew is box seats compared with many other IPAs, which are destined to the bleachers or the upper deck if the baseball season ever begins. It’s hearty company alongside a Chicago-style hot dog, and a citrusy drink to lure the most ardent and extreme IPA devotees. The Western Mutant IPA, at 7 percent alcohol by volume, delivers hop bitterness with flair, and has a hint of tropical fruit, too. It’s also an essential for fans of hoppy extremes. Figure $11 to $14 for a six-pack in the northeast.
Shiner 1909 (★★★), from a brewery beloved for its bock, is a much subtler and equally recommended choice. This new, small-batch, year-round brew is meant to celebrate craft beer, Texas-style, and that it does, 112 years since Shiner was established by Czech and German immigrants. A six-pack of the balanced, refreshing, toasty brew is about $9 to $15.
The Isle of Skye is the biggest island in the Inner Hebrides. It’s known for lochs and peninsulas, dramatic landscapes and mountains, the Fairy Glen and the Northern Lights. One of Skye’s peaks is the Talisker distillery, popular for its 10-year single malt, among others.
The distillery recently released the remarkable Talisker 30 Year Old (★★★★★ $999.99), a very limited-edition whisky, complex and smoky, and, as you’d expect, expensive. About 3,200 bottles were released worldwide, almost 500 in the United States. If you have the funds, or the good fortune, to taste Talisker 30, it could, at least momentarily, ease the emerging bear market. The cask-strength single malt is a vivid expression of the style, a whisky unfolding creamy, fruity, salty, more than a bit peppery, and hinting of the sea, after residing in American oak casks. A treat, a luxury.
While you’re contemplating lushness, smooth Congo Tropicals organic dark chocolate is fine company, too. The chocolate is made in Costa Rica. The balance between sweet and bittersweet stays long in a bar that’s 70 percent cacao. A 10-pack of 40g bars is $42.99; a 5-pack of 100g, $44.70.
A STA. RITA HILLS STAR
Sea Smoke wines are as enticing and rewarding as a visit to Santa Barbara County and the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The producer soars with pinot noir, among the best produced in California. Look for the full-bodied 2019 Sea Smoke “Southing” Pinot Noir (★★★★ $110 to $130), driven by red fruit, ripe with cherry and strawberry, and notes of minerality. It’s a partner for dishes from grilled salmon and grilled tuna to roast duck and loin of pork. And it will be excellent with your last beef stew or prime rib of the season.
Ready to open that bottle of Knappogue Castle 12 Year? Sip a glass of Redbreast neat? Or savor The Tyrconnell Single Malt with a little water? Maybe that triple-distilled Jameson Black Barrell? After a stellar Irish whiskey or two, you may be entertained and soothed by some tea. Adagio offers Irish Stout Tea. The black tea includes cocoa nibs and chicory, blended with shamrock-shaped sprinkles. How can you resist? Adagio already has made Cupid’s Cup for Valentine’s Day and Year of the Tiger Tea for the lunar new year. A pouch of Irish Stout Tea is $15, and until St. Patrick’s Day, a 3-oz. pouch is free with a purchase of $59 or more. adagioteas.prowly.com
COMING UP ROSES
You can try to force spring by uncorking a rose during one of the rollercoaster weeks that drives meteorologists to frenzy. Try the crisp 2020 Decoy Rose (★★ $20), a dry, delightful domestic Provencal, bright and floral with a strawberry statement followed by notes of peach. Tabor Hills Winery in Michigan offers a trio of roses: the namesake 2020 rose (★★ $19.99), with suggestions of strawberry; the 2019 Free Run Rose (★ $19.99) with a pleasant hint of kiwi; and the dry Round Barn Vineyard Rose (★ $14.99), with a trace of pomegranate.
THIS YEAR’S OSCAR QUIZ
Will Smith is the prohibitive favorite to win the best actor Oscar this go-round, rising from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to “King Richard.” But Benedict Cumberbatch, for his performance in “The Power of the Dog,” may have a chance. Besides, voters should still feel guilty for denying him the statuette for “The Imitation Game.” And Denzel Washington reached higher than ever in “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”
These, however, are among the trivia questions to come. For now, here are 10 for vintage Oscar fans.
1. Which animated Disney movie was nominated for best picture of the year?
(A) “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
(D) “Beauty and the Beast”
(E) “The Little Mermaid”
2. Steven Spielberg’s 2021 “West Side Story” is up for 7 Oscars. The 1961 Robert Wise-Jerome Robbins version was nominated for 11 and won 10. In what category did it lose?
(A) Supporting actor
(B) Film editing
(D) Production design
3. Spielberg has been nominated for best director eight times over six different decades. For which film was he not nominated?
(B) “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”
(C) “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
(D) “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
4. Cate Blanchett won a best-actor Oscar for her performance in what film?
(B) “Blue Jasmine”
(C) “The Aviator”
(E) “I’m Not There”
5. It’s the 50th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” How many Oscars did the classic movie win?
6. What actor won an Oscar for his performance in a comedy?
(A) Jack Lemmon
(B) Steve Martin
(C) Jack Palance
(D) Robert Downey, Jr.
(E) Peter Sellers
7. Who has won three best-actor Oscars?
(A) Marlon Brando
(B) Jack Nicholson
(C) Peter O’Toole
(D) Daniel Day-Lewis
(E) Spencer Tracy
8. Composer Hans Zimmer won an Oscar for what film?
(A) “The Lion King”
(D) “How the West Was Won”
9. How many languages did Oscar winner Christophe Waltz speak in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”?
10. What cinematographer has won the most Oscars? Two examples of the cameramen’s best-known films are listed after their names.
(A) Gregg Toland (“Citizen Kane,” “Wuthering Heights”)
(B) Gordon Willis (“The Godfather,” “Manhattan”)
(C) James Wong Howe (“Hud,” “The Rose Tattoo”)
(D) Joseph Ruttenberg (“Gigi,” “Mrs. Miniver”)
(E) Freddie Young (“Lawrence of Arabia,” “Doctor Zhivago”)
ANSWERS: (1) D … (2) E … (3) E … (4) B … (5) C … (6) C … (7) D … (8) A (9) … C (10) … D