Win A Trip To New Orleans With Sandeman’s Summer Sangria Challenge

Port enthusiasts will be familiar with the Sandeman brand, but this summer, the distinguished producer wants you to think of their fortified wine in a new light: as a mixer. For their Sandeman Summer Sangria Challenge, participants must submit a photo and original sangria recipe that incorporates a bottle of Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto.

Anything else goes ingredient-wise, but it’s helpful to remember that true sangria is a red wine punch from Rioja, Spain. Traditionally, it combines Rioja or another varietal of regional wine with Brandy and fresh fruit. It’s hard to improve upon a classic, but in my experience, Port makes everything better.

The winner will receive a trip for two to New Orleans to attend Tales of the Cocktail – the world’s premier cocktail festival – in July. To enter, visit by June 1. Recipes should yield one pitcher of sangria.

[Photo credit: Flickr user divya_]

Cinco De Mayo: Five Fiesta-Worthy Foods To Make Or Try

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo (“fifth of May”) is essentially yet another excuse to get hammered. In the Mexican state of Puebla, however, the holiday commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Cinco de Mayo is also celebrated in other regions of Mexico; as in the States, it’s a day of honoring Mexican pride and heritage. This year, instead of the standard chips and guacamole (and crippling hangover), try some beloved Mexican foods that are well suited to serve a crowd. They’re easily made, or purchased if you live in a community with a sizable Hispanic population. Buen provecho!

1. Flor de Calabaza (squash blossoms): Available now at your local farmers market or specialty produce shop, and a favorite of Mexican home cooks. Try sautéing them and tucking into quesadillas or dipping in batter and frying (stuff them with fresh goat cheese mixed with chopped herbs for a really special treat; click here for the recipe).

2. Elotes: Whether served as whole, grilled ears of corn or kernels-in-a-cup, these mayonnaise, lime, and chile-slathered street eats are worth every ripple of cellulite they produce. True, corn isn’t in season right now; see if your favorite local farm stand, market vendor, or specialty grocer has frozen kernels for sale.

3. Churros: Fried, sugary goodness in phallic form: what’s not to love? Uh, except maybe churros con cajeta (filled with caramelized goat milk).

4. Antojitos: Traditionally found in the fondas, or beer bars of Mexico City, these small, fried or griddled masa dough “cravings (antojos)” or “little whims” are now more commonly associated with street food, and have regional adaptations. The differences in shape and fillings are often subtle: a chalupa (not to be confused with the Taco Bell concoction) is a thin, fried cup with a slight depression for holding meat and/or beans, shredded cabbage, crumbled fresh cheese or crema, and avocado or guacamole, while a huarache is like a slightly thicker tortilla in the shape of a sandal (hence the name). In Oaxaca, regional antojitos such as tlacoyos (like a skinny huarache) and memelas (think round huarache) may be topped with black beans and complex salsas indigenous to the region. In a word, addictive.

5. Michelada: Forget margaritas. This refreshing beverage has hair-of-the-dog built right in, and indeed, it’s a traditional Mexican hangover helper (as is a steaming bowl of menudo). Combine one icy cold Mexican beer (My pick: Pacifico) with fresh-squeezed lime juice, tomato juice or Clamato, a dash of hot sauce and a pinch of kosher or celery salt. The variations are many, but this recipe from Food52 is a winner.

[Photo credit: Flickr user the queen of subtle]

Want more antojitos? Check out this assortment, below:

United Airlines flight attendants create new cocktails – passengers pick the best

Last week, United airlines held an event for their most important passengers, and presented them with ten different cocktails, all designed by flight attendants. In total, United crew members submitted 64 different cocktails, and the top ten entries ended up on a table at Trader Vic’s in Chicago.

The ten finalists:

  1. Sunset-Sunrise : Finlandia Vodka, cranberry apple cocktail, splash of orange juice, lime wedge
  2. Sky High Delight : Finlandia Vodka, orange juice, cranberry apple cocktail, sprite, lime wedge
  3. Friendly Skies Spritzer : Finlandia Vodka, ginger ale, orange juice, cranberry apple cocktail, seltzer, lime wedge
  4. Cloud 9 Cosmo : Finlandia Vodka, Sprite, cranberry apple cocktail, lime wedge
  5. Jack and the Bean Stock : Jack Daniels, Ginger Ale
  6. My Style High : Courvoisier VSOP Cognac, orange juice, cranberry apple cocktail, sprite
  7. Bon Voyage! : Bacardi Rum, orange juice, cranberry apple cocktail
  8. Flirty Smile : Finlandia Vodka, cranberry apple cocktail, ginger ale, lime wedge
  9. Island Dream : Bacardi Rum, cranberry apple cocktail, ginger ale, lime wedge
  10. Gin Buck : Tanqueray Gin, ginger ale, lime wedge

The event was very casual and was attended by several members of the United Airlines management in charge of the in-flight service. As for the drinks, I actually managed to try all ten of them, and found it very hard to pick a favorite. The lime wedge was a very nice touch, and made for delightful drinks.

The winning cocktail will end up on all United Airlines flights with full beverage service towards the end of the year. In addition to drinks, United also served some of the newest food choices from their coast to coast P.S. service.

The winning drink as picked by members of and the United Fliers Community is drink number 1 – Sunset Sunrise. If you’d like to make one of these for yourself, here are the instructions:

  • Pour 25 ml Finlandia vodka over ice
  • Fill glass with Minute Maid Cranberry Apple Cocktail
  • Add a splash of Orange Juice
  • Finish with a Lime wedge

Sunset-Sunrise was created by LAX based flight attendant Tita Martin. Events like this show a new thinking within United Airlines, and I have to say that I’m quite impressed by the time and effort put into listening to their customers. Granted, the event was not really open to everyone, but an airline that is open to ideas from its customers is one that deserves a pat on the back, especially if it involves serving free cocktails.