Beerman for Jan. 24, 2012

For Weekly SurgeJanuary 21, 2013 

Apricot, grape, Clementine – drink!

I still haven’t opened my bottle of apricot liqueur from Dürnstein, Austria, but I have cracked the tiny bottle of apricot schnapps.

Dürnstein, and the Wachau region in which it sits, are known for all things apricot, as well as wine from grapes.

Around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 1, the sun was already setting in Austria. During our arrival, on a riverboat on the Danube River, clouds and a light fog made the town a bit darker than it would have been.

I walked from the riverboat toward Dürnstein and stopped along a bare vineyard to take photographs of the ruins of the castle high above the town. The ruins were lit by electrical lights, which made photographing a little easier in the twilight.

After walking along the river and taking more photographs than anyone would ever bother to view, I walked up into Dürnstein, on a more or less constant incline, over both stone and asphalt streets, to find a few shops open for tourists on New Year’s Day. The shops featured one thing with nearly complete consistency: stuff made with apricots, including marmalades, candies, liqueur, and schnapps.

I really, really wanted to buy more apricot booze than I did, but I stuck with about a pint’s worth of apricot liqueur and the tiny 40-milliliter bottle of schnapps. The difference between the shop I was in and the others seemed to be a matter of origins. I was buying an apricot liqueur made in Dürnstein rather than the surrounding region; the schnapps was from Salzburg, another Austrian city.

On my way back to the riverboat, I followed paved walkway around the far side of the same vineyard I had passed earlier, and noticed it was larger than I had earlier realized. The vineyard must produce tons of grapes.

I waited until I was stateside to open the apricot schnapps, called marillenschnaps in Austria. What a floral aroma. The apricot flavor was hard to detect on the front end, but it left a candy-like aftertaste in my mouth.

I decided to drink the schnapps straight, regardless of 38 percent alcohol. Plus, I once read that Germans, at least, drink schnapps straight. No apricot spin on the fuzzy navel for me.

Perhaps more to the point, however, we have wine and fruit-liquor news here on the Grand Strand.

Spring is for wine

Here’s the best way to have a fundraiser: Hold a wine festival.

This spring, the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., and the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach, N.C., will hold Wine Fest 2013 to help the two organizations raise money.

The fest runs 6:30-9:30 p.m. on April 27 at the museum, 21 East Second Street, Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. Tickets are $50 each.

Better yet, the Ocean Isle Museum Foundation and the Ocean Isle Beach Chapter of the American Wine Society will hold an Amateur Wine Competition, with winners to be announced during the fest.

Open to any amateur winemaker, the Amateur Wine Competition will be judged by wine experts, and judges will provide each entry with comments. (Which reminds me – did you ever see the Monty Python skit that cracks on Australian wines with a mock sommelier review?)

Wines for the amateur competition are due at the museum by April 17. Each wine must be accompanied by a $15 entry fee. Contest rules and entry forms are available under the Special Events tab at www.MuseumPlanetarium.org .

You have plenty of time to ferment. Go online and find home winemaking kits.

Be My Clementine

Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Bar, located at The Market Common, has a plan for February and the annual Valentine’s Day season: A signature drink called “Be My Clementine.”

And the barkeeps have already provided the recipe:

1 part Grey Goose L’Orange

½ part Cointreau

1 part fresh lemon juice

1 part simple syrup

1 part muddled Clementine

1 ½ parts sparkling wine

1 mint sprig

I’m an easy target for vodka and citrus, so I’ll definitely try this one. But it’s not available yet – wait until February.

Beers worth trying

If you like unusual craft beers, you must keep your eyes open for these brews, which I recently sampled at Crafty Rooster, 1125 3rd Avenue, Conway:

1. There Will Be Black – inky sweetness but no roasted or toasted notes, from Brooklyn Brewery in New York.

2. Bierre de Garde – a deeply peculiar collaboration between New Belgium Brewing of Colorado and Brewery Vivant of Michigan. It’s light in color and body, but beyond that, words fail me.

3. Birra Estruca Bronze – a sweet, fruity beer from Dogfish Head in Delaware.

Contact Colin Burch at beerpour@yahoo.com.

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