Spirits to Lift Our Spirits

Photo courtesy of Wine on Piedmont


With winter solstice upon us, we decided we needed to spike up our Winter Wassail recipe, so we wandered over to Wine on Piedmont at 4183 Piedmont Avenue in Oakland and asked Adriana Fabbro what she would pour into such a drink.

“It would be Home Base Bourbon Batch 22, one of our local favorites,” she said. “It’s produced here in the East Bay from high-quality, California-grown corn, barley, and rye. It’s fantastic to sip on alone, but at a price that isn’t too steep for blending into cocktails.” She added that Home Base is aged, blended, and bottled in Berkeley by twin sisters Alexandra and Samantha Blatteis, who were born and raised in Oakland. They founded Home Base Spirits in 2011.

Adriana had two more good options for our wassail: the Espirito Brandy from Marian Farms, a biodynamic farm and distillery in Fresno, and Transcontinental Rum Barbados 15 Small Batch, “a rum from famous Foursquare distillery that will knock your socks off.”

Given that this pandemic-shrouded holiday season needs a little extra in the spirits department, we were happy for a few more bottles that Adriana suggested:

The Åhus Akvavit Midvinter is a spiced Nordic delight. “If anyone knows how to navigate these short days, it’s Scandinavians,” Adriana says.

As fans of the ume plum, we were excited about another spirit from a local East Bay distiller, Pekut & Carwick. “Their Prumus Mume, an ume plum liqueur, makes a wonderful digestif,” Adriana said.

And then, as we were looking for a cold-weather-worthy red, we were redirected from our usual pinot noir corner to the syrahs.

“One of our recent favorite discoveries is from New Zealand—not the first place to come to mind when you think of syrahs,” said Adriana. “The 16 Mills Reef Winery Elspeth Syrah from Hawkes Bay is from the famous Gimblett Gravels region, renowned for its red wines. This wine is perfumed with savory notes of olive tapenade, black cherry, black currant, black pepper with a hint of smoked bacon and mint.”

Hmm… that made us think about a nice way to dress up some crackers for the party platter . . .