15-52 Segment 1: Celebrating New Year’s — At Home

Synopsis: Not everyone likes to go out and celebrate the New Year with the hoards in the bars and streets. Our guests have ideas on how you can have just as much fun toasting in 2016 at home. We’ll hear how you can pair your favorite movies with some creative cocktails; learn about and try some new craft beers and food to go along with them, and how to create a cheese platter that will go with the bubbly.

Host: Gary Price. Guests: Tim Federle, author of Gone with the Gin: Cocktails with a Hollywood Twist; Christian DeBenedetti, co-author with Andrea Slonecker of the book, Beer Bites: Tasty recipes and perfect pairings for brew lovers; Gordon Edgar, author of Cheddar: A journey to the heart of America’s most iconic cheese.

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Celebrating New Year’s — At Home

Gary Price: New Year’s is upon us and there will be millions of Americans out and about at big parties, and clogging the streets around bars and nightclubs in cities around the country. Not everyone likes to go out and celebrate with a crowd on the New Year’s Eve. Some like to sit home with family or maybe a few close friends and watch the festivities from the comfort of their own living rooms. That doesn’t mean they can’t have fun, though. Our guests have suggestions on how anyone can celebrate safely and eat heartily that night … and enjoy the sports broadcasts the next day … without all of the hassle and expense of going out on the town. Are you the kind of New Year’s reveler who likes to sit home with an old movie and some alcoholic beverages? If so, Tim Federle has a plan for every type of film buff in his book, Gone With the Gin: Cocktails with a Hollywood twist. Federle is a writer, former Broadway dancer and film aficionado. He says that if you’re by yourself, with your significant other, or if you are just getting together with the girls, he has the cocktail and movie for you…

Tim Federle: I might suggest the Sloppy in Seattle, which is from the comedy section of the new book, which is broken up into all sorts of different sections that you may have found in the old days at a Blockbuster, now on Netflix, of course. So the Sloppy in Seattle is with a toast to Sleepless in Seattle, of course, directed by the great Nora Ephron in 1993. I would get the ladies together, I’d pop it into the DVD player or you’d stream it, and then I would make it a shot of espresso, one ounce of whiskey, a half ounce Amaro liqueur, and a little ground cinnamon for garnish. And the idea with all of these cocktails is that they sort of hopefully evoke the spirit of the movie. So, of course, with this one we think of a Seattle-worthy coffee cocktail that’s worth staying awake for.

Price: Mystery and thriller fans have a number of movies and drinks they can choose from including one inspired by a suspenseful Audrey Hepburn film…

Federle: And I might suggest under “thrillers” you choose something like Wait Until Dark and Stormy. So of course Wait Until Dark, classic Audrey Hepburn movie that was first a Broadway show, that as a little Snapple fun fact, it was such a success it ended up opening and closing in three different theaters in New York to accommodate the demand. It’s a slightly creaky movie now when you watch it, which of course also helps make a cocktail go down more easily or vice versa. That’s two ounces spiced rum, half ounce lemon or lime juice and ginger beer to fill the top of your glass. And the idea here is that it’s such a quintessential cocktail, it’s so simple, you could make it with your eyes shut, as of course, the plot of the movie revolves around a woman who’s outwitting a bunch of crooks even though she’s blind.

Price: Federele says he’s kind of partial to movie musicals and has a drink to watch a holiday classic by…

Federle: My personal favorite as somebody who grew up watching this movie with his family is the White Russian Christmas, which is of course a not to White Christmas from 1954. Interesting fact about that movie, of course, George Clooney – some of your listeners may know his aunt, Rosemary Clooney who starred in that film. And this is a White Russian that has a twist on it, of course. It’s got the vodka, but then it’s a crème de menthe liqueur, Irish coffee liqueur, eggnog, and some crushed candy cane for garnish.

Price: As a former Broadway dancer, Federle has a cocktail that goes perfectly with a dance classic…

Federle: So I’ll tell you about Sippin’ in the Rain because Gene Kelly is one of my favorite dancers of all time, and he actually co-directed the film (Singin’ in the Rain), which a lot of people didn’t know. Gene Kelly, himself, co-directed with Stanley Donnen. Four ounces of champagne, ounce-and-a-half of orange juice, three-fourths ounce of raspberry liqueur, raspberry for garnish and then, of course, you’ve got to stick an umbrella in the Sippin’ in the Rain. So that’s a get up and go drink that’ll have people saying “Good morning!” of course as they sing in the film.

Price: Federle also features snacks to go with the cocktails inspired, again, by famous films…

Federle: So I got the Silence of the Lamb Burgers, Grillers in the Mist, The Breakfast Cereal Club, True Grits, and Life of Pie, spelled p-i-e which is a really delicious vegetarian Indian pie.

Price: If your tastes turn more to beer than cocktails, Christian DeBenedetti has a book full of beverage and food selections that will take big-brewery beer drinkers a bit out of their comfort zones. DeBenedetti is co-author with Andrea Slonecker of the book Beer Bites: Tasty recipes and perfect pairings for brew lovers. He says that if you want to drink beer, but also enjoy the celebratory “bubbly” feel of champagne, there are a number of brews to choose from…

Christian DeBenedetti: For my bet, if I was going to drink something celebratory, champagne sort of style I’d look at some of the great Belgian beers and golden ales that come in large-format bottles and Belgian-style beers made in the United States that come with a cork and cage. And they’re fun to pop open, they tend to be a little higher in alcohol than a typical beer, but they’re a lot less alcoholic than wine and champagne typically, so they’re pretty sociable as well. And depending on where you live, there’s a huge variety of beers our there to look for. But, you know, that can be fun from the celebratory sort of angle and as far as just celebrating through the holidays with craft beers, there are so many different varieties now that pair well with food and that fit different situations.

Price: One of the most popular of those craft beers is Indian Pale Ale or I-P-A. If you’ve tried them 20 or 30 years ago and thought they weren’t your style, DeBenedetti says that you should give it another chance…

DeBenedetti: In the 80s and 90s when that style started coming out in the U.S., craft brewers were bringing them out, the very, very first sort of commercial one was in Portland, first sort of widely bottled and packaged beer was by Bridgeport, and at the time it was considered extremely bitter, almost a radical departure of beer. These days, it barely registers on the bitterness scale compared to what is out there on the hopping scale. But anyone who’s interested in beer should know that these days, American IPA has really backed off of the bitterness side, and amped up the floral and aromatic side of hops, which is a great thing. That makes the beers a lot more approachable, in terms of having more than one and also enjoying what those beers are all about, which is hops. And you know hops being the flower that gives beer bitterness and aroma and helps with the bubbles and has a lot of magical properties for the beer.

Price: For revelers and football fans who are dedicated to their Guinness, there’s no substitute. But if you’re hesitant to try the Irish brew because you think it’s too strong, DeBenedetti says you should think again…

DeBenedetti: Guinness is one of those beers that will always be, I think for better or worse, the most misunderstood beer in the world, because it is technically a dry Irish stout. And dry Irish stout, Guinness is the most famous version, but don’t be fooled by the color of that beer. When anyone talks about Guinness or look at it, the common reaction is, ”Ooh, that’s a heavy beer! You know I can’t have more than a few sips of that, I’ll fill up.” But the fact is, Guinness only has a few more calories than a bottle of Budweiser. The color is dark. The color comes from roasted malts that are just like coffee. If you roast coffee for much longer, the coffee in your glass is going to be much darker. The same goes for beer. When we roast those grains they turn dark. But as it turns out, Guinness Stout is really a light beer, about 50 more calories than a Bud Light.

Price: The book is called Beer Bites, and DeBenedetti says that they have included food that will go great with each type of beer. For the Irish stouts like Guinness and its craft beer counterparts, they have an interesting twist on the traditional slider…

DeBenedetti: Andrea came up with a gougères slider bun, which is like the airy, kind of Burgundian cheese puff that you can make ahead of time. We use those for the bun on a beef slider. You go through the process of making these gougères which are just yummy. They’re just kind of chewy and delicious. This is a great invention by Andrea. And then make some homemade pickled shallots, just takes a few minutes, and then some little mini-beef patties with some Worcestershire and Dijon and some maybe some shredded iceberg, a little mayo. These little sliders are a huge hit when we serve them. You know they fit in two fingers basically, just pop them in your mouth and they’re great for entertaining people watching the game, what have you.

Price: For the IPA beer, he suggests a pizza with…Brussels sprouts?

DeBenedetti: We ended up working with some classics. One that we did is very seasonal, is a Brussels Sprouts and Taleggio Pizza. This is the classic pairing, right? Pizza and beer. And for this we make our homemade dough, although you can use store-bought dough as well if you’re short on time, and then basically a combination of a little garlic, a little Taleggio cheese which is a very fragrant cow’s milk cheese, Brussels sprouts, little sea salt, and then some speck or prosciutto which is cured pork product that you’ve probably had before. Really tastes amazing when it’s kind of melted under the broiler with these powerful cheeses, and with the Brussels sprouts.

Price: DeBenedetti says that often, people who are new to craft beers concentrate on style of brew, like IPA or pilsner. He says that it’s the flavors rather than the style that you should concentrate on…

DeBenedetti: These days a style can be many different flavors, there’s so many interpretations of those styles happening. They can range from dry to sweet, from herbal to flowery to, you know, chocolaty. You name it, the flavors they run the gamut.

Price: No matter if you’re serving cocktails and movies, craft beers or wine, nothing goes better with a celebration than cheese. Gordon Edgar has some suggestions for cheese platters for New Year’s Eve and game day. Edgar is the cheese buyer at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, and author of the book Cheddar. He says if you’re serving champagne, you should have a variety of offerings on the plate…

Gordon Edgar: You’ve got to have something fatty and creamy to go with that champagne, so you know if you can get a triple cream brie, I would go for that, but even a double cream, just something nice and rich. I always like for kind of a festive occasion you know I would ask the person where I buy my cheese, I would say you know what’s really good right now? Because often they can give you really good advice. But usually I would pick something fatty, something alpine which would be like a Gruyere-style. I’d take something with a couple of different milks, if I could get sheep milk cheese, whether that’s a Manchego or something fancier and local, nice goat milk cheese, that’ll really do it for you.

Price: You can find all sorts of history and information on Gordon Edgar’s favorite cheese in his book, Cheddar available now. You can also visit his website at Gordonzola.net. For insight and stories about beer and what to serve with it, pick up Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker’s book, Beer Bites also in stores and online. His website is Christian DeBenedetti.wordpress.com. And for a night at the movies with cocktails on New Year’s or anytime, grab Tim Federle’s latest book, Gone with the Gin, at stores and online, and visit his site at Tim Federle.com. For information about all of our guests, log onto our site at Viewpointsonline.net. You can find archives of past programs there and on iTunes and Stitcher. I’m Gary Price.

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