Fall means the chance to enjoy a well-built cocktail, mug of small-batch beer or cup of hard cider in front of a welcoming fire.
But it’s not enough to just take a sip these days. Whether it’s beer, wine or spirits, more and more folks want to learn how to make these libations themselves, from scratch. Here’s a list of kits and other products to get you started, along with some gadgets and gear that will enhance your drinking experiences.
The Homemade Gin Kit
• Suggested price: $49.95
• Manufacturer: The HomeMade Gin Kit LLC
The rising popularity of craft cocktails has led to renewed interest in artisanal spirits and creating ingredients from scratch. Now, here’s a way to create gin at home without needing to convert the garage into a distillery. This kit transforms a bottle of vodka into gin with the help of juniper berries, spices and a couple of tools. After a 36-hour infusion, you’ll be ready to pour a martini or French 75, DIY style.
Mr. Beer Premium Edition Beer Kit
• Suggested price: $54.99
• Manufacturer: Mr. Beer
• Available at: BevMo! stores, www.mrbeer.com
So, you’ve got dreams of creating your own version of Pliny the Younger or Brother Thelonious. Every budding brewmaster has to start somewhere, and this kit from Mr. Beer contains all the tools and instruction needed to create beer at home. The kit can be reused for making additional batches, which in this case means eight bottles at a time. More hops, yeast strains and other ingredients can be ordered from www.mrbeer.com to create various styles.
Hudson Valley Farmhouse Hard Cider Kit
• Suggested price: $49.95
• Manufacturer: Breezy Hill Orchard
• Available at: Williams-Sonoma stores, brewhardcider.com
Why should home beer brewers get all the fun? The local apple harvest has arrived, which means the area is teeming with ingredients for making hard cider. This kit contains a fermentation jug, yeast and other tools for making five 1-gallon batches of hard cider. Follow the step-by-step instructions and you’ll be sipping on cider within five to 10 days.
Riedel Vivant Wheat Beer Glasses
• Suggested price: $39.99 for a set of four
• Manufacturer: Riedel
• Available at: Target stores
Don’t even think about pouring that pricy craft beer into a red party cup. For those who care about the quality of libations, proper glassware remains a key concern. Riedel remains the go-to glassware company for fans of fine wine, and it also produces excellent glasses for enjoying beer. These crystal glasses will aptly show off the color of your ale, with a tall, tapered shape that allows yeasts to settle at the bottom and plenty of space at the top for capturing the beer’s foam.
Tovolo sphere ice molds
• Suggested price: $10.95 for set of two
• Manufacturer: Tovolo
• Available at: Sur la Table locations
A proper dilution rate can make or break a cocktail. After all, nobody wants a drink that turns watery too fast. Use these molds to make ice in a spherical shape that allows for a slow and evenly melting ice ball that’s perfect for a glass of fine Scotch or bourbon. These ice orbs are also apt for a whiskey old-fashioned cocktail and other drinks served in a stout old-fashioned glass.
Winexpert wine kit
• Suggested price: $79.95 for “World Vineyard” kit
• Manufacturer: Winexpert
• Available at: www.winemakingsuperstore.com
Sacramento has it pretty good in terms of home winemaking. The area is blessed with an abundance of wine grapes and boasts the especially active Sacramento Home Winemakers club. For those who want the ease of learning to make wine via a single kit, the line of products from Winexpert allows the home vintner to make 30 bottles of wine over the course of a few weeks. Pop open the box and you’ll find all the necessary tools and ingredients to make a personal batch of vino.
• Suggested price: $6.95 for pack of 12
• Manufacturer: Borracha
• Available at: craftedbyborracha.com
After an afternoon of wine tasting, especially when reds are involved, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to have a purple-stained mouth. For help in looking appropriate again for that high-end dinner reservation, use a Wine Wipe to lift away the grunge – kind of like Stridex pads for the teeth. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are the key ingredients.
Call The Bee’s Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.