Well my friends, it’s been a year. I’ve been in and out of fate’s favor and have found new delights in the world of wine & spirits and beer. Most of them are in the cheap and cheerful category but that should be no surprise.

The first thing I’ve discovered (or re-discovered) is my love of good beer. I was shown the delights of winter ales especially Vertical Winter Ale and good old Big Rock Winter Spice Ale…and for just general good drinkin’ I found Phillips Blue Buck session ale. Yum. There’s nothing like a good beer at the end of a hard days’ work.

I also found some cheap wines that satisfy my yearning for good wine without breaking the bank. On the low end there is always Castillo de Monseran Garnacha. It’s full of all the fruit and spice that a wine drinker could want with a ten dollar price tag. Other winners were the Australian Wine Men of Gotham Shiraz which offers juicy Shiraz spice and fruit with a year of oak aging for about thirteen dollars. I’ve also had my share of Familia Pacheco organic Monastrall/Shiraz blend for about fifteen bucks a bottle.

Finally I satisfied my yearning for something awesome with the Meandro do Vale Meao Douro. This wine is made from a field blend of different grapes that have been growing together so long that despite normally budding, flowering and ripening at different times when grown in  separate plots, these plants do all that at once. The wine is lush and dark and speaks eloquently of the place from which it springs – all for around twenty five dollars. A real splurge for me these days!

For fun Christmas liquor, I treated my son’s girlfriend to Viniq Shimmery Liqueur. It’s a blend of premium vodka with Moscato and Candy Shimmer effects. Delicious, purple and Dramatic!

I worked at Sherbrooke on Boxing Day. Hard. Restocking wasn’t done until after 6:00 p.m. and I was only meant to work until 5:00. Therefore I was obliged to treat myself to a couple of things I rarely get to have on my bar. The first indulgence was Old Tom’s Sloe Gin. This is a traditional English Liqueur made from a long standing family recipe of wild picked sloe berries harvested from the blackthorn tree and steeped for months with Hayman’s gin. It’s a rich red liquor that bursts with bittersweet lush fruit on the palate. Perfect on its’ own over ice. Love it.  Then I threw in a real indulgence. A big heavy bottle of Zaya dark Rum. This is basically a glass of Demerara sugar for the soul. Served over ice in a heavy glass it will make any day better.

Finally, you know I love bubbles. This year it was Pares Balta organic Cava and Reversanti Prosecco all through Christmas. For New Year’s Eve I will indulge in a little bottle of Mailly Grand Cru Champagne which will be amazing and still be less expensive than anything else I might choose.

So that’s it for me for this year. I have been in and out of the tunnel of darkness, supported by great friends and colleagues and I have learned what I think I already knew. Life is good. Friends and family are what count and in the end  you can get really good booze without breaking the bank.

I hope you  have all  had a wonderful year of learning and new discoveries and I hope that some of the things I’ve uncovered will help you all celebrate this awesome, crazy life in the coming new year.



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