The Corkage Fee charged in restaurants is always a subject of spirited conversation. What is really reasonable that’s equitable to both the guest and restaurant? There is a real cost to the restaurant (and lost revenue) when a guest brings in their own wine. Hospitality comes into play, too. Should a guest even be allowed to bring in a wine already on the restaurant’s wine list regardless of the corkage fee? What’s proper etiquette?
Santa Ana’s The Blinking Owl Distillery is the very first craft distillery in Orange County. The Blinking Owl is one of the first distilleries in the state of California to hold the Type 74 Craft Distillers License allowing them to operate their own tasting room and sell a few bottles there. The Distillery makes Vodka, Gin, several types of Whiskey, and the Scandinavian spirit, Aquavit.
“We are locavores, grain nerds, and control freaks so we decided to actually make our booze the long way: from grain rather than pre-made spirit. We mill it, mash it, ferment it, distill it, and, in the case of whiskey, barrel age it (which means we will not have a 9-year old Bourbon to sell until 9 years from now).”
“The Founder, Brian Christenson, had a bootlegging great-grandfather, Fred P. Armbrust. Fred had a still on his dairy farm hidden in the basement behind secret passageways. He would covertly provide his local farmers with his “good spirits”. Brian’s dream is to carry on Fred’s passion by providing “good spirits” to our very own neighborhood, legally, of course!”
“Brian and Robin Christenson, longtime Santa Ana residents, had heard stories of the midcentury “Blinking Owl Bar” on the corner of Birch and Third Streets, known for an iconic owl sign that would “blink”. Inspired by the craft cocktail movement, the farm-to-table food movement, and current thriving craft distilleries, the husband and wife team saw an opportunity to bring a local distillery to the neighborhood, paying homage to the history of Santa Ana.”
Brian & Robin step out from behind the long bar in their Tasting Room to join us.
Santa Ana’s The Blinking Owl Distillery is the very first craft distillery in Orange County. The Blinking Owl is one of the first distilleries in the state of California to hold the Type 74 Craft Distillers License allowing them to operate their own tasting room and sell a few bottles there. The Distillery makes Vodka, Gin, several types of Whiskey, and the Scandinavian spirit, Aquavit.’
BLINKING OWL VODKA
42.5% ABV (85 PROOF)
“Blinking Owl Vodka has stunning earthiness, subtle flavor and rich, full-bodied mouth feel. Distilled in house from organic wheat grown in California, and our unique twist from the organic malted barley that was added to the mash bill adding hints of sweet vanilla and caramel. Distilled in our Carl still from Germany (that includes 34 rectification plates alongside a pot still), Blinking Owl Vodka transfers the essence from the grain it was made from to the glass.”
42.5% ABV (85 PROOF)
“Beginning with our beautiful Vodka, we add 130 pounds of whole Valencia oranges that come from Heritage Museum of Orange County. We hand-cut the oranges and let the entire orange soak (including flesh, pith, juice and peel) in the Vodka overnight. The vodka is then re-distilled with oranges added to our vapor basket in the still. The combination of natural orange macerations and vapor distillation to an already rich, sweet vodka base creates a true orange essence to this flavored vodka that is full-bodied and delicious. Heritage Museum of Orange County.”
BLINKING OWL AQUAVIT
42.5% ABV (85 PROOF)
“We set out to make an aquavit reminiscent of the great Aquavits of Scandinavia but with a California twist. After crafting our base spirit with organic wheat and malted barley, we macerate 10 gorgeous organic botanicals (with a final steep in Caraway, leaving a natural golden hue). The primary flavors of our Aquavit are caraway, fresh dill, and hibiscus (the flower of Santa Ana), with undertones of fennel and cardamom. The result is a complex aquavit that can served chilled as a digestif or can add incredible flavors to a variety of cocktails.”
OLD TOM Barrel Vacationed GIN
48% ABV (96 PROOF)
“Our super special limited release of Old Tom Barrel Vacationed Gin is coming out soon!
We get a limited number of late harvest semillon wine barrels from a prestigious Napa producer each year. These particular barrels not only allow the Gin to age, but they also impart a hint of sweetness from the late harvest semillon they were previously holding.
This BARREL VACATIONED OLD TOM GIN basically took a vacation in the barrels for approximately 3 months, got a nice tan, and picked up a lucious hint of sweetness (thus we categorized it as an Old Tom). No sugar, flavoring, or coloring was added. The end result is pure, delicious liquid gold!”
Many have been waiting and asking to get on the presale list. The Gin is ready, it will be bottled soon at 48% ABV and released late-August. Each bottle will be numbered for this annual release and will only be sold from our tasting room.
This is owner, Robin Christenson’s, personal favorite and she having a very tough time not buying all of this gin herself. BUT she has decided to find it in her heart to share (at least some of it).”
You’ve been hearing us talk about the upcoming OC Foodie Fest’s Pub & Grub – A Culinary Crawl happening in Downtown Santa Ana on Saturday, June 10th. Attendees are invited to “crawl” through Downtown Santa Ana deliciously eating and drinking every step of the way.
It’s Orange County’s most mouth-watering edibles including smothered tots, addictive tacos, and piping hot churros. Multiple bars with craft beer, wine, and outrageous cocktails. Our own Chef Andrew Gruel will be represented there with Two Birds’ drool-worthy, Hot Fried Chicken Sandwiches.
The June 10th event will take place in two parts. The Artisan Bazaar, buy-as-you go area for a modest $10, will run from 12 Noon to 11:00 p.m. Tickets for the 2-sessions of the All-Access Area, all you can eat and drink section are $60. Tickets available now right here.
Joining us with all the details are James Foxall the curator of Pub & Grub and Chef Jake McPeck of the crowd-pleasing Mess Hall Canteen Food Truck. Mess Hall is famous at Festivals for their signature Drunken Sailor Tots. Just look for the long, line line…
Here’s an incredible extra discount for our listeners. Until day of the Festival on June 10th, $30-off discount tickets (half-off) are available for either of the two sessions of All-Access Area. Also, half-off the regular $10 ticket price for the Artisan Bazaar area option. Use the code, “foodiefestfam” all in lower case. Jump on this…J
Rose’ (particularly from France) has improved in quality and is gaining in popularity. It’s the perfect Summer picnic wine. We’ll get Kyle’s thoughts. He also explains how Rose’ is produced.
If premium wine wasn’t expensive enough as it is there is also the perplexing matter of what stemware to properly serve the wine in. Lot of hype out there…Some of the fine, imported wine glasses are plenty pricey.
Time to separate the practical from the impressive salesmanship. Our resident wine expert, Kyle Meyer of Wine Exchange, joins us with sound advice on what you really should buy when it comes to wine glasses that won’t break the bank.
Thankfully Kyle keeps this simple for us. He suggests even a hard-core wine connoisseurs only needs a Champagne Flute, a White Wine glass, a Bordeaux / Cabernet glass and a wider bowl Burgundy / Pinot Noir glass. Respectable stemware can be had for $10 to $12 per glass. Kyle also suggests a cut glass rim versus a rolled rim.
Foodbeast is launching, Meat Street, what they ambitiously bill as the ultimate meat festival of Southern California. All of the meat-centric grub you can imagine is coming to the Main Place Mall on April 22, 2017. Meat Street, Presented by Foodbeast and The Makers of The SPAM Brand, this one-day meat fest will feature a wide variety of delicious and crazy exclusive culinary creations, as well as drinks and other fun activities.
“MEAT STREET will showcase the best meat dishes that Southern California has to offer. Grilled, fried, on a stick… however you like your carne you can bet it’ll be there. You can expect exclusive items from eateries such as Slater’s 50/50, Bruxie, Mess Hall Canteen, Elbows Mac n Cheese, and more. With a large number of participating vendors bringing the best of their offerings, and incorporating the Foodbeast elements we all know and love (we’re talking epic eats you won’t find anywhere else), guests are guaranteed to leave full and maybe even considering vegetarianism.”
There is a Marketplace for General Admission guests and two sessions of VIP.
The pleasantly effervescent Prosecco from Italy is on a lot of restaurant by-the-glass menus these days. It’s a common misnomer that it’s Italian sparkling wine. Actually it comes from difference grapes (Glera) than Champagne and is created using a different, less labor intensive process. Also, all Prosecco is not created equal.
Also, what sparkling wine and Champagne is now served in by the glass in better restaurants is starting to change. It’s not just presented in a Champagne flute anymore. What’s going on…?
If you’re a wine enthusiast then the Paso Robles AVA is surely on your mind. It’s located in the northern reaches of California’s San Luis Obispo County. Actually different districts there have distinct characteristics.
The super trendy area is the hilly West Side (calcareous soil) with three zones of particular interest. These are Adelaida District, Willow Creek District and Templeton Gap District.
Kyle also shares insider tips for dining and accommodations in Paso.
Kyle previews the expectations for the 2015 vintage in California and a peek at the upcoming 2016. We’ll see what else he’ll uncork for us.
Always highly informative & entertaining.