Everything you never knew you needed to know about food, beverage, and lifestyle.

It’s not just the end of the year, it’s the end of the decade. The 21st century is in full swing now, and depending on your outlook things are either going to be really really good, or really really bad. I am choosing the former. There is simply too many exciting things happening to be down for too long. Plus, its the holidays. Call me sentimental, but this time of year always fills me with unreasonable (and probably annoying) levels of joy.

I love it all. The music. The cold weather. The gift giving. Watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the hundredth time. It grounds me before the start of a new year. The holidays can keep things in perspective. It reminds us (or at least it should) of the things that are important in life: family and friends, being charitable, and really good food and drinks! Don’t even get me started on eggnog!

Happy holidays everyone!

Christmas Tree App

Living in the big city, its easy to forget that Christmas trees actually come from forests. Growing up, they were always relegated to side lots that remained defunct for three-quarters of the year. For Estonians, finding a Christmas tree is as easy as going to your neighborhood forest, axe in hand, and picking out your own spruce looking tree.

Now, the government of Estonia has released an app that helps tree-hungry Estonians. The app helps their citizens locate and pay for the trees they want to bring home, while allowing the government to better understand where people are taking their trees from. House Republican leader Mitch McConnell released a statement regarding the app, calling it “socialist” and saying that when he was a kid, people went into the forest with only a pocket knife and 10 inches of PVC to bring their tree home.

More Than Just a Hanukah Beer

Beer isn’t the first beverage that comes to mind over the holidays, but the Schmaltz Brewing Company is working to change that. Their line-up of holiday brews is unparalleled, with flavors like: Chanukah, Hanukah: Pass the Beer, a strong ale with notes of chocolate and vanilla; and Sugar Plum Fairy, a Belgian dark ale brewed with plum puree and Belgian candi syrup that will have you singing Tchaikovsky in your underpants by the end of the night! These are beers that go great by themselves, or with a meal, no matter what the celebration might be.

Founded in 1996, Schmaltz Brewing Company remains the only Jewish brewing company in America, creating a plethora of different beers from their breweries in upstate New York. The Schmaltz Brewing Company also produces beer (such as the Sugar Plum Fairy) under other monikers including 518 Craft, Alphabet City, and Start Trek.

Gift Shopping

One of the trademarks of my holiday season is waiting until the last moments to begin gift shopping. I am happy to know I am not alone in this tradition, though. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 62% of Americans buy their gifts in the week before Christmas. And while it might seem small, 7% do their shopping on Christmas Eve—that’s well over 10 million people! No wonder the lines are so long!

Of course, you can always do your shopping online, leaving the parking lot frustrations and check-out line breakdowns to your imagination. Why not start with our Blue Lifestyle Holiday shopper guide? Or, check out our Spirit and Wine Review pages to get some great ideas on bottles for the drink aficionados in your life.

Pepsi Café

Pepsi has announced their new drink line, Pepsi Café, a pre-packaged coffee drink that blends their famous cola with the taste of coffee. Flavors being released include Pepsi Café original and Pepsi Café Vanilla. The goal of the new product line is to meet the consumer demand for pre-packaged iced coffee head on. Each 12 oz can will have double the caffeine as a normal Pepsi cola. Apparently, Pepsi has been working on the recipe for years.

Dentists everywhere are seeing this as win-win situation, as their business prospects have skyrocketed for the 3rd quarter of 2020.

New Year’s Bloody Mary

What would the first day of the New Year be without a Bloody Mary to cut the hangover? The first day of the year just happens to be, strategically, National Bloody Mary Day. This year, you can have all the Bloody Mary flavor without the alcohol, if that’s your MO, by following Mike Wolf’s recipe for a garden-fresh Bloody Mary. Recipe is courtesy of his new book, Garden to Glass, which encourages drink makers to take a sustainable, fresh, and creative approach to their drinks. Here’s the recipe:

Garden to Glass Bloody Mary Mix
    • 2 quarts tomato juice
    • 12 ounces celery juice
    • 6 ounces beet juice
    • 3 ounces cucumber juice
    • 3 ounces lemon juice
    • 1 ounce lime juice
    • 3 ounces Celery Cordial (2 cups chopped celery stems and tops, steeped for 24 hours in a quart of a cold batch of rich simple syrup)
    • 2 ounces pickle juice
    • 6 dashes Celery Bitters
    • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
    • 12 turns freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
    • 2 tablespoons celery seed
    • 2 tablespoons dried dill (or dill weed, but I don’t know why it’s called a weed just because it’s dried)
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • 2 teaspoons basil seed
    • 2 teaspoons celery salt
    • 2 teaspoons paprika (smoked paprika if you’ve got it)
    • Pinch of dried marjoram
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 25-50 dashes hot sauce (like Valentina)
    • A few shakes of dried cayenne pepper

Directions: Combine all the ingredients except the hot sauce and cayenne in a large sterilized container and whisk vigorously to incorporate. If you have a stick blender, that will do wonders in terms of mixing everything together. Taste the mix and add hot sauce to taste, depending on how hot you like your Bloody Mary, then add the cayenne. This will give the mix a lot of “pop,” so add a little at a time until you’re happy with the flavor. Kept in the refrigerator, the mix will last for around 2 weeks.

That’s what we in the business call a “restorative.” Vodka not included.

By Aldo Moreno

Read about holiday shopping, recipes and more on our Blue Lifestyle Blog Pages.