Show Me Your Mussels and I’ll Show You My Gruner!

Steamed Mussles and WineMy two favorite things during the the winter are good comfort food paired with a bottle of awesome wine. One of my favorite easy meals for the winter are Steamed Mussels paired with a Gruner Veltiliner.

Gruner Veltiliner is typically an Austrian wine but one of my favorites is made in Michigan. Gruner Veltiliner is easy to pair with many different foods. It is a refreshing medium bodied, peppery white wine with stone fruit flavors. Gruner goes well with anything from green salads to cold poached salmon, roasted chicken and seafood.

Here is my recipe for Steamed Mussels with Fennel:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bulb of fennel-trimmed cored and thinly sliced
1 large tomato, cubed
½ cup white wine
¼ cup ouzo
½ cup heavy cream
4 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
1/3 cup fresh basil leaved, torn
Salt to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in shallots and garlic, and cook until tender. Stir in fennel and tomato, and continue cooking about 5 minutes.
2. Mix white wine, ouzo, and heavy cream into the saucepan, and bring to a boil. Gradually stir in mussels, ½ the basil, and salt.
3. Cover saucepan, and continue cooking about 5 minutes, until the mussels have opened. Garnish with remaining basil to serve. Serve with crusty bread.

Excellent Gruner Veltiliners currently in stock at the Eden Prairie Liquor location next to Rainbow Foods include:

Lagler (Austria) $20.99
Wimmer Czerny (Austria) $19.99
Chateau Grand Traverse (Michigan) $17.99
Wolfgang Concerto (Austria) $14.99
Pratsch (Austria) $13.99
Hugl (Austria) $12.99


 Tana Wold, Liquor Store Manager

The Bitter Truth

I recently watched an episode of Drinking Made Easy where the bartender used different flavored bitters to enhance standard cocktails. I realized that I didn’t know much about the mysterious bitters and what they can add to your cocktail experience.

After a bit of research here’s what I can sum up for those of you who don’t know either.
The definition of bitters as I understand,  was a common bar ingredient that was once considered a necessity in earlier times for traditional cocktails. Bitters began as a medicinal tonic and soon became a staple in home bar supply as a concentrated flavor stimulant that added a kick by only using  a dash. The secret bitters formulas include a variety of herbs, fruits, spices and roos distilled in a base liquor.

At the Eden Prairie Liquor location near Cub Foods (8018 Den Road), we currently stock a brand called The Bitter Truth. They offer a Traveler’s Set of 5 different flavors in a small bottle format. We also stock larger bottles of the Celery and Creole bitters.

The Bitter Truth Traveler's Set

Tasting notes on these bitters are as follows:

CELERY BITTERS: Very complex and exotic. The initial flavor of celery is dominant, leading into a complex palate with aromas of lemongrass, orange peel and ginger.

OLD TIME AROMATIC BITTERS: Classically bitter and tangy. Combining the aromatics of cinnamon, cardamom, anise and cloves, it reminds one of gingerbread.

ORANGE BITTERS: The aroma of bitter orange peel is in the foreground, complimented by the spicy flavors of cardamom, caraway and nutmeg.

CREOLE BITTERS: The complex combination of flavors hints upon spice, bitterness and cardamon with a subtle floral finish that e vokes the flavors of Creole cuisine in New Orleans/Louisiana.

JERRY THOMAS BITTERS: Dedicated to Professor Jerry Thomas (1830-1885), who is considered to be the most famous and important bartender of the 19th century, these bitters reveal citrus and dried fruit aromas which unite with the spicy flavors of cloves, angostura bark and cinnamon.

Some recipes to use these fine bitters with are:

The Improved Brandy Cocktail
50ml Cognac
2 dashes Creole bitters
2 dashes Absinthe
10ml Simple Syrup
Stir with ice and strain into chilled glass or tumbler.
Garnish with lemon peel or olive.

Intense Bloody Mary
50ml Vodka or Gin
4 dashes Celery bitters
3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
10ml Lemon Juice
100ml Tomato Juice
Tabasco, salt & pepper
Stir with ice and strain into a tall glass.
Garnish with your favorite bloody snacks.

Still curious for more? Try Cocktail Kingdom for more recipes and ideas.

 Holly Smith, Liquor Store Manager

Some like it HOT!

There is nothing better than sitting in front of the fireplace on a cold, winter night, sipping a hot cocktail. And after shoveling all of that snow, you’ve certainly earned one!   

So the Internet is inundated with millions upon millions of amazing recipes you can check out for inspiration, but here are just a few of my favorite spirits to add to your next cup of joe or cider. 

Check out these links for some incredible new drink ideas:

Coffee: Kahlua (new Midnight!), Trader Vic’s Roasted Chestnut Liqueur, Bailey’s, Godiva Chocolate Liqueurs, Amaretto di Saronno, 2Gingers Irish Whisky  

Apple Cider: Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur, Tuaca, Goldschlager Cinnamon Schnapps, Berentzen Apple or Pear Liqueurs, Barenjager

Hot Chocolate: Malibu Coconut Rum, Rumpleminze Peppermint Schnapps, New Kahlua Gingerbread, Bailey’s Caramel or Mint Chocolate flavors, Chambord….of course, I wouldn’t want to serve hot chocolate without adding some alcohol infused whipped cream on top!

Last but not least, if you catch a cold, as we all inevitably do, be sure to throw a shot of brandy and a twist of lemon into a hot tea toddy.  It will cure what ails you! 

Stay warm!

  Tammy Wanchena, Store Manager

I like Scotch

To me, there’s nothing better than a good Single Malt Scotch Whiskey. Let me tell you the difference between a Single Malt Scotch Whiskey and a Blended Scotch Whiskey:

  • A Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by batch distillation in pot stills.
  • A blended Scotch Whiskey contains both malt whiskies and grain whiskies. About 90% of all Scotch produced in Scotland are Blended Whiskies.

Also, Scotch Whiskey must be aged a minimum of 3 years in oak barrels before bottled. The aging process stops once the whiskey is removed from the barrel. So if you own a 12 year old bottle a Scotch and keep it lock away in your liquor cabinet for 10 years (Can’t imagine why anybody would do such a thing), your bottle of Scotch is still only 12 years old (So don’t do that). Most Single Malt Scotch Whiskies are aged at least 10 years most are aged 12 years and some are aged up to 25 years. Most blended Scotch is aged at the 3 year level and that’s one of the reasons they cost less.

The first known distillation occurred in the late 1400’s. It was called “lively water” or “water of life”. Like to get my hands (lips) on some of that stuff.

There are 4 regions in Scotland where whiskey is produced
Highland, Lowland, Islay and Campbeltown. All regions give their products a unique taste. 

Here are some of my favorites:

Balvenie 15 year, only 350 bottles come from any 1 barrel and all bottles are hand numbered. Each bottling forms a limited edition so each bottle is unique and unrepeatable. The nose is one of vanilla, honey and oak. Simply the best!

MaCallan 12 year, aged in Sherry Oak Casks. Not as unique as the Balvenie but delicious just the same. You’ll find hints of grapes, and sherry wine and some might get a hint of chocolate.

Laphroaig 10 year, from the Islay region and the malt barley is dried over a peat fire giving this Scotch Whiskey a smokey pungent and earthy nose. On the tongue one gets a sweet and salty taste.

And by the way, all 3 are available for your pleasure, at any of the Eden Prairie Liquor Stores. Of course many other brands are available for your shopping experience. Come on in and ask me about our Scotch selection.

Here’s to you!

Mitch Dean, Assistant Operations Manager

Skinny Cocktails for the Holidays

The holidays are nearing and it will be that time where I indulge at the dinner table as well as at holiday parties. I recently came across a few tips so we all can enjoy skinny cocktailing without depriving ourselves taste.

When mixing up my cocktails I use fresh 100% juices. Also, I use zero calorie bubblers instead of soft drinks such as flavored seltzer, sparkling water or club soda. Remember,the simpler the cocktail the fewer calories. Also consider drinking sparkling wines, they have less sugar and can be mixed with the fresh juices for a fun and festive cocktail. My personal favorite is Cava from Spain because it’s inexpensive and perfect for sipping or mixing.

And as always, drink in moderation. Here are a few skinny cocktail recipies I found to be refreshing and light without sacrificing flavor.

Simple Margarita 170 Calories
One shot of your favorite tequila, lime juice to taste and a splash of triple sec. Shake with ice and serve.

Better Bellini 120 Calories
Pour 2 oz of peach nectar into a flute and swirl with 4 oz ofprosecco or champagne. Try with mimosas as well with orange juice.

Asian Flavor Fusion 90 Calories
Start with a shot of ginger flavored vodka and lime flavored sparkling water.


 Holly Smith, Liquor Store Manager