Fabio Viviani: Spreading the Wine Culture in the U.S.

Written for the June print issue of Chilled Magazine.

Italian chef and reality television personality, Fabio Viviani, launched his wine collection late last year in Chicago, which he appropriately named “The Fabio Viviani Wine Collection.” The collection, which includes a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2012 Chardonnay, are now available nationwide, and have made appearances on The Talk, The Rachael Ray Show, and Home and Family. Viviani’s newest wines, just released this spring, include a white blend of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, and a red blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Syrah.

Fabio Viviani Wines

So what inspired this Top Chef alum to start his own line of wine? Growing up in Florence, Italy, Viviani has been in the business of wine his entire life, and after his first sip at five-years-old, his life was forever changed. After he moved to California in 2005 (and opened up a few restaurants), he was set on creating affordable, quality wines to help spread the culture of wine in the United States.

“I saw a need for a wine company in America that was on the people’s side — that can demystify the idea that wine is hard to understand, and that you need to be an expert to enjoy it,” Viviani said. Read More

Wine by the Glass: Because Giuliana Rancic Doesn’t Believe in Wasting Wine

Style-star and E! news anchor Giuliana Rancic plunged into the competitive wine industry with her latest project, Xo, G this past November, and it’s making quite the splash. The stackable single-serving wine is the perfect portion for when you need that one drink, without worrying about spoiling the rest of the bottle.

While a regular bottle of wine has its place and time, there are many situations where it just doesn’t cut it. Inside the four tear-apart individual packages of Xo, G, which add up to a 750ml bottle, you’ll be able to sip on French Pinot Noir, Italian Pinot Grigio, and a Rosé from the South of France. It’s an easy way to avoid the hassle of a corkscrew and glassware, and you’ll be set with different portable glasses of wine. Simply zip loose the sleeve, snap apart the glasses, and peel back a foil to enjoy.


So where did this brilliant idea come from? According to Rancic, it was after discovering StackTek, a single-serving packaging company, that she began thinking outside of the bottle. “Being Italian I have always wanted my own wine, and once I saw this packaging I reached out to the StackTek team and Xo, G was born,” she said.

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Drink in History: Boulevardier

Smoky, strong, and bittersweet, the Boulevardier is probably the best cocktail to cozy up to on a chilly winter’s evening. This fancy drink, whose name transfers to “a wealthy, fashionable socialite,” is a subtle combination of bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari, making it a breeze to prepare and easy to impress.

Sometimes mistakenly called a whiskey Negroni, the Boulevardier cocktail is actually believed to predate the Negroni. According to Dave Karraker, director at Campari & Cynar Marketing, it maintains the bitter sweet character of the Negroni but isn’t as embracing.


“The Boulevardier has a deeper, smoother flavor than a Negroni thanks to the aged whiskey, which replaces the gin in the classic recipe,” Karraker said.

Dating back to 1927, the Boulevardier is credited to Harry McElhone, the founder and proprietor of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Read More

Drink in History: Tom Collins

There’s nothing in the world that refreshes like a Tom Collins. This cocktail is sweet and tangy and comes with a little mischievous sparkle. It’s a classic so good that it even has a glass named after it. But where did this famous drink get its start?

According to National Brand Ambassador for Tanqueray, Rachel Ford, the history of the Tom Collins perfectly demonstrates how information would have spread back in the 1800s.

The refreshing Tom Collins cocktail. Image via liquor.com.

The refreshing Tom Collins cocktail. Image via liquor.com.

“As the tale goes, individuals would seek to get a rise out of one another by inquiring if the other had seen Tom Collins, a man who was rumored to be running around town speaking what I like to call ‘Colonial smack’ about him,” said Ford. “The affected party would naturally become agitated and pursue this Collins character with a vengeance.” Read More

Exploring the Secrets of Keens Steakhouse (and the bar)

Known as New York City’s legendary steakhouse, Keens Steakhouse is smothered in juicy secrets. From the ceiling lined with clay pipes to the mysterious painting of the nude woman over the Scotch bar, it’s certainly worth checking out. First opening its doors in 1885, it stood the test of time for over 130 years. Once described as “world renowned,” the restaurant grew to become legendary with the new Millennium.

The bar at Keens Steakhouse.

The bar at Keens Steakhouse.

Comfortable and classy, the environment of Keens is rich with history. Every room in the steakhouse displays some kind of record of America’s or New York’s younger days, and there are hundreds of pieces visitors can spend hours looking at, sometimes discovering something new that they missed the last time. As for the types of guests the steakhouse attracts, they’re a very diverse and fun crowd. Read More

Candy Cocktails: Flirty Drinks with a Sugar-Kissed Twist

Spontaneous and imaginative, mixologists Flannery and Katherine Good have always been inspired by anything colorful and sweet. As girls, the fascination started off with candy, and the Shirley Temples with extra cherries they made eventually graduated into mojitos and margaritas. When they combined the best of both worlds, it really shook up their true passion.

The sisters began experimenting with candy liquor infusions when they started their cocktail blog, Fashionably Bombed. One of their first creations was a bubblegum martini made with homemade bubblegum infused vodka and garnished with gumballs.  Not only was it crazy festive, it was also irresistibly delicious.  After that sweet success, they began infusing everything they could get their candy-coated hands on, and the result was Candy Cocktails, a book full of the tastiest candy cocktail concoctions imaginable.


“My favorite thing about the book is that almost all of the cocktails have a candy liquor infusion base,” said Flannery Good. “Bubblegum rum for our Bubblegum Mojito, Cherry Jolly Rancher vodka for our Chocolate Covered Cherry Martini, and Banana Runts tequila for our Circus Peanut Margarita are just a few of my favorites.” Read More

Popcorn Sutton’s Famous Moonshine Heads Back Home

Tennessee whiskey legend, Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton was known throughout the south for making the best liquor anyone had ever tasted. He was a rebellious third generation moonshiner who lived on his own terms, distilling his whiskey in Cocke County, Tennessee. In March of 2009, he was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for not paying taxes on his whiskey, and instead of serving time behind bars, he took his own life. In the midst of his impending prison sentence, Popcorn ensured that his whiskey-making ways would continue by passing on his tradition to his apprentice and trusted friend, Jamey Grosser.


Sutton was given the nickname of “Popcorn” after damaging a bar’s faulty popcorn vending machine with a pool cue. Image courtesy of Popcorn Sutton Distilling LLC.

Master distiller and co-found of Popcorn Sutton Distilling LLC, Jamey Grosser met Popcorn in 2007, after he became curious about the history and heritage behind moonshine. Read More

Minhas Siblings Craft Their Dream

Siblings Manjit and Ravinder Minhas were only 18 and 19-years-old when they got involved in brewing, distilling, and importing back in 1999. Originally from Calgary, Canada, where the drinking age is 19 (18 in certain parts), the two gained experience working the retail sectors in their parents’ liquor stores in Alberta while attending the University of Calgary for engineering. Though they both enjoyed the liquor business, they were curious about something slightly different: the beer business.

To get started, Manjit and Ravinder sold their shared car so they could afford to purchase packaging and raw goods. In 2002, the duo incorporated a Minnesota brewery called Mountain Crest Brewing Company to create and sell premium beer at discounted prices.

Manjit and Ravinder Minhas. Image via montrealgazette.com

Manjit and Ravinder Minhas. Image via montrealgazette.com

“The most creative beer culture on the planet is right here in the U.S.,” Ravinder said of their choice to move to the U.S. “Look at all the great beers coming out of the hundreds of craft and microbreweries in this country.”   Read More

The History of the Jack Rose Cocktail

An article I wrote for Chilled Magazine.

Rosy and smooth, the Jack Rose’s history isn’t as sweet as the cocktail might have you think. There are various theories about this drink’s origin, the most common being that it was invented and named after the infamous gambler and accused murderer, Bald Jack Rose, who became somewhat of a celebrity in New York during the early 1900s.


Another theory is that the Jack Rose was invented by restaurateur Joseph P. Rose (who once held the title of the World’s Champion Mixologist) from Newark, New Jersey and named by him in honor of a defendant in a trial that was held at the courthouse in his city. Others believe the Old Waldorf Bar Days (1931), authored by Albert Stevens Crockett, which states the drink was named after the pink Jacquemot rose, a flower grown in France. The simplest explanation would be that it was named after the flush of color from its ingredients, but despite the different angles of the Jack Rose’s whereabouts, Harvey’s Famous Restaurant in Washington, D.C. first claimed to be the originator of the cocktail.   Read More

The History of the French 75 Cocktail

An article I wrote for Chilled Magazine.

Just because the French 75 is a champagne cocktail doesn’t mean it’s just meant for sipping at a New Year’s Eve party or at a wedding reception. This drink dates back to World War I, when it was supposedly created by a WWI fighter pilot of French and American origin who thought champagne was lacking in the potency department. The drink was found to have such a powerful kick that he said it felt like being on the receiving end of a French 75mm howitzer artillery piece, hence the name of the cocktail. Coming from a World War I pilot, you can be confident in your masculinity while knocking back one of these.

Image via amctv.com.

Image via amctv.com.

Made from gin or cognac, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar, the French 75 is certainly not for rookies. Read More