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Vail Red, White and Brew: Minimalist margaritas

Vail Daily staffVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail Red, White and Brew: Milagro Silver Tequila, a 100 percent blue agave tequila, is smooth, smooth, smooth
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VAIL, Colorado -Ah, 21. The age when the youth of our fine nation dive headfirst and mouths open into the wonders of dancehalls and dive bars, forgetting whatever valuable lessons they learn along the way. Now, as far as we can tell, Deschutes Brewery has always been legal, but it is using its 21st birthday as an opportunity to let loose, albeit without the shame of waking up on a stranger’s couch with permanent-marker phalluses drawn on its face. Nay, Deschutes is celebrating instead with a reinvention of its flagship beer.Black Butte XXI builds on Black Butte XX (released last year), which itself built on the stalwart Black Butte Porter. The fact that Deschutes recommends cellaring XXI for a year before drinking – there is actually a “Best After” date on the bottle – should tell you how special this beer is. The moment I shed the bomber’s wax seal and poured a taste of this silky, sultry brew, I was already falling in love. The first sip warmed my blood and the hard-to-reach parts of my soul and made me glad I’d already had dinner – this was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.Now, the brewery makes a lot of noise about the coffee notes in this beer (as well as the partial aging), but there are really just two words needed to describe the beer’s flavor profile: dark chocolate.Yes, dark chocolate, the fancy kind that you buy your girlfriend after you don’t notice for four days that she chopped 7 inches off her hair. Rich, dark, sweet, chocolate flavor that coats your tongue, made possible by the addition of real cocoa nibs to the original Butte’s already-chocolatey character. Intensely sweet for sure, but XXI is balanced and amazingly mellow for the high alcohol content (11 percent). I almost hate to admit I don’t get a lot of coffee flavor out of the beer, but my roommate (who drinks almost as much Black Butte as he does coffee) agrees, so I’m going to say it: not a lot of coffee flavor, but maybe cellaring would help the bashful java undertones show their faces.Some may use the word “ballsy” to describe an establishment that would release such a heavy brew in the heat of summer, but maybe that’s the point. Black Butte XXI celebrates the success of Black Butte and Deschutes with this somewhat experimental but damn good beer. Here’s to 21 more years of solid beverages from Oregon’s best all-around brewery.You can find this beer at Avon Liquor.Aaron Butzen, Daily staff writer

Red wine and summertime don’t always mix, but the right bottle of red will make you want to put on some flip-flops and head straight to a patio or a pool.That’s what the 2007 Home Grown Family Harvest Red does – it screams easy-drinking and smooth sailing.The blend is of syrah, barbera and petite sirah, about a third of each grape, and the style the winemakers follow is known as Italian Field Blends. It means the grapes are grown together and the wine gets its character the “old-fashioned way, layer by layer,” according to the winemaker’s Web site.The Mendocino coastal vineyards at Home Grown Farms produce a quality fruit flavor in each bottle. There’s a variety of smells and flavors that come through with each sip, most notably cherry, plum and blackberries. The deep plum color suits this wine as a fine table wine.Red blends can often overpower you with certain grapes, tannins or richness – this wine is all about subtlety. Rather than a big bomb of fruit and body, it merely sprays the palate with small notes of each. Sure, a steak or lamb dish would pair wonderfully with this wine, but so would a fresh summer salad of mixed greens, nuts, goat cheese and blueberries.Whether you’re off to a dinner party or an outdoor barbeque, wine snobs and amateurs alike will be happy you showed up with the Home Grown Family Harvest Red.Drink this wine now, and don’t be afraid to open a second bottle when this one quickly disappears.You can find this wine at Pier 13 Liquor in Eagle-Vail, Eagle Liquor Mart, Minturn Mile and Beaver Creek Fine Wines.Lauren Glendenning, Daily staff writer

I’ve found a tasty recipe for relaxation:1 part Milagro Tequila1 part chilled water1/2 part Milagro Agave Nectar1 part fresh lime juiceCombine the ingredients with ice, shake and serve. And of course, prepare to breath deep and let go of whatever work weight might be on your shoulders.This 100 percent blue agave tequila is smooth, smooth, smooth, likely because its triple distilled. It goes down as easy as tequilas that are priced much higher, making it a darn good value. The tequila is a bit peppery on the palate, but otherwise very clean. If you can find the gift package that includes both the Milagro Tequila and the Milagro Agave Nectar, buy it. It’s a great deal and the Agave Nectar, which is a bit like honey but not quite as sweet, is the perfect addition to a minimalist margarita that lets the tequila shine.Of course a good, simple margarita, like the one above, is fantastic alongside spicy Mexican food, as the cool, refreshing drink tempers any lingering burns nicely. But I didn’t pair it with anything but 5:30 p.m. and Tuesday. A nice combination indeed. You can find this spirit at West Vail Liquor Mart, Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail, Pier 13 Liquor in Eagle-Vail, Avon Liquor, Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards and Village Warehouse Wines in Avon.Caramie Schnell, High Life editor


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