Let’s Chat Some Fun Options for Your St. Paddy’s Day Celebrations Beyond Green Beer
Yes…I am of Irish decent. My people, on my father’s side, come from all over the British Isles, but predominantly from Ireland and Scotland (my maiden name is McMaster, originally McMasters.) They made their way through Canada (picking up some French and German connections along the way) and wound up in Oklahoma. I definitely get my penchant for Irish Whiskey and temper from that side of the family! Naturally, I love the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, where rivers run green and everyone gets to proclaim they are Irish. After having parades and celebrations canceled for the past two years and the current events that are dominating the news cycle, it seems appropriate that we declare the Mandy Connell Show an Irish pub, complete with some traditional pub fare, libations, and lots of Sláinte (pronounced slahn-ché). So join us for a brief break from the realities facing all of us as we taste some fun foods and booze.
Now, Dave the Intrepid is joining us, so plan on some sweet libations and food he typically enjoys! But we’ll try the Dave non-favorites first. We will kick off our #ThirstyThursday with some hard seltzers from Elevated Seltzer located in Arvada, Colorado. I heard about Elevated from the Taking it for Granted podcast, hosted by KOA’s very own, Grant Smith (aka, Millennial Grant.) Grant spoke with Warren Wood, co-founder of Elevated, and I was intrigued and reached out to Warren.
While seltzer may not be Irish, it is a great alternative to beer and whiskey if you are like me and having to watch your consumption because you are watching your waistline. It is also a great alternative if alcohol isn’t your BFF anymore (Mandy has commented frequently on how wine and beer leave her wrecked after consumption…if you find yourself in a similar boat, give hard seltzer a try! She had no issues we are happy to report.) We tried their very first seltzer, Lemon Lime Cucumber, as well as their Acai, Guava Coconut, Plum (Mandy’s favorite), Grapefruit, and Pomegranate Apple. All of their seltzers are gluten free, GMO free, and contain ZERO carbs and sugars.
Seltzers can be brewed from fermented cane sugar (making those gluten free) or dextrose (from corn) or the usual suspects in the beer making process (may or may not be GF) or vodka. The Wood brothers grew up in the craft beer industry in Golden, Colorado, which has influenced their approach to making hard seltzers and they use dextrose and seek to use the best quality ingredients from their Champagne proprietary yeast blend to the flavor concentrates infusing their seltzers. Hunter is the master brewer while Warren handles the front of the house operations. If you are interested in meeting them and trying some of their seltzers, be sure to check them out in their Arvada location (here is a blog link about their operating hours) or this Saturday, 12 March 2022, at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Denver. They will be pouring at the VIP tent in front of Coors Field but you will need a ticket to gain access.
We will be pairing these seltzers with some of The French Kitchen’s Taste of March goodies, to include a lemon shrimp and orzo soup and antipasto quiche. If you want something fun on your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, consider ordering the Crème Brûlée Queenet, which is only available on March 17th in honor of the Queenet’s two year anniversary!
Not to be out done by the seltzers, hard ciders are also having a moment and are one of my favorite alternatives to beer. I first tried a hard cider during my first temporary duty to England when I was flying the KC-135. We often billeted off base and, on that trip, I was put into lodging in a hotel called The Bird in Hand. Conveniently, the Bird also had a pub associated with it (so did are other lodging option, The Smoke House.) This was the first time I tried Strongbow hard cider (hard apple cider??? heck yeah!) I first tried in the form of a “Snakebite,” which is a drink made with equal parts lager and cider. It. Was. Amazing. I also tried Spotted Dick for the first time…that is a dessert, in case you are wondering, and was ordered usually after someone lost a bet. Cider can be dangerous for me…it is smooth and the kinds I like are very dry, so my sweet tooth never kicks in to alert me that I need to stop. If you like sweeter ciders, do check out Strongbow that is distributed here in the States or Magners. I don’t prefer sweet cider, so I went out searching for quality local hard ciders. Fortunately for me, I have one in my town, Colorado Springs.
Boxing Brothers Ciderhouse (choosing brother-based companies was not intentional, but here we are) offers both sweet and dry ciders. The first one I tried was an Earl Grey and Lavendar cider in the summer of 2020. I am not a fan of lavender in my food or drink due to the gene that turns lavender and cilantro into soap when consumed, but this is a subtle floral component that is quite refreshing and the perfect cider for camping out in the mountains. When I stopped by Boxing Brothers tasting room, I tried everything they offered, including the wines they produce as well. We’ll chat about those when we chat Colorado wines later this year.
One of two of my favorites happen to be flagship cider. Much like Elevated and other microbreweries, Boxing Brothers offers seasonal ciders and flagship ciders. Flagships are available year-round and you can usually find them in your local wine and beer store. In this case, I found the Dry Cider (Flagship) and Fireside Cider (seasonal) right up my palate alley. The Dry Cider is a traditional hard cider…very little residual sugar, refreshing, and crisp. Think Granny Smith Apple. At 6% ABV, it is something you can enjoy if you are doing some day drinking or a great mixer with your favorite lager to make a Snakebite.
Fireside is a winter inspired semi-sweet cider, infused with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. I picked this one out for Dave specifically and plan to serve this warm. A perfect warm drink, this reminds me of mulled cider and after the cold temperatures and weather we have had in Colorado this week, the perfect pairing with warm fires in the cold of winter. It was a hit both hot and cold with Mandy and Dave.
Moving on to our one wine selection this month from Vino Salida, out of Salida, Colorado. During last month’s Thirsty Thursday segment, Dave asked about foot stomped wine. So, in honor of that question, I have brought in the 2020 Tenderfoot Stomp Crimson Cabernet. A native American varietal, Crimson Cabernet is grown in the Grand Valley AVA here in Colorado and has a profile similar to a blend of Shiraz, Petite Sirah, and Cab Sauv. It is stomped with love and laughter by customers of Vino Salida. With blueberry and vanilla notes, it has smooth tannic finish and lingering notes of leather. This is a great wine for grilling out or even for your Easter table. We are going to pair this wine with the Monte Cristo sandwich from Arvada’s School House Kitchen and Libations. To be honest, the Monte Cristo went with everything. EVERYTHING. It was a serious hit for all around.
And finally, especially for Dave, I have brought in some sweet libations for him to enjoy. Beginning with Coole Swan Irish Cream Liqueur, we will actually pour both of these spirits into 55% cacao chocolate shooters from Animas Chocolate & Coffee Co. from Durango, Colorado. Sadly, he hated it all, lol. His favorite was actually the Earl Grey Lavendar Cider from Boxing Brothers. Who knew the way to his heart was channeling his inner Jean Luc Picard?
Think of Coole Swan as an alternative to Bailey’s (and once you try it, permanent replacement.) Made with single malt Irish whiskey, organic cream, and Belgian white chocolate, this Irish Cream is perfect on its own, in a chocolate shooter, hot chocolate, or coffee. I also like to add it to heavy cream which I whip to make an adult version of whipped cream to top waffles, coffee, hot chocolate, and other desserts…or a I just eat it straight out of the bowl.
Coole Swan offers you tons of ideas for using this wonderful and amazing beverage…and Mandy’s and my friend, Lori Lynn Barker, loves this drink.
Our favorite local moonshiner has also released a popular seasonal shine. 3 Hundred Days of Shine in Monument has released their very popular (and quick to sell out) Cherry Pie Shine. We will be pouring this into our chocolate shooters as well to create the chocolate covered cherry dessert adults can appreciate. Mandy loved the chocolate shooter and Chuck crushed two shooters with the Cherry Pie Shine. If you are looking for non-green beer activity on St. Patrick’s Day, drop by their Monument location for a Cherry Pie Old Fashioned and enjoy some fish and chips from On the Hook Fish and Chips food truck. I have personally enjoyed their fish and chips and can attest to how yummy their food truly is.
Next month, we will be in studio on April 14th at 2pm MDT (we jump forward this weekend…good thing Mandy will be enjoying her vacation and cruising), tasting wines from Colorado for your Easter table. Given we still have some Elevated Seltzers flavors to try, expect to hear about a few more of those as well.
Until next time,
Sláinte and Namaste,