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    Reimagined Cocktail Classics

    By Leslie Sbrocco–

    Cockburn’s Tails of the Unexpected “Ruby Soho” Ruby Porto, Portugal $28

    As a port lover, I’m used to sticking with the classics like vintage port and 10- or 20-years old tawny. These are two of my favorite styles of the famed fortified wine. With a rich history dating back centuries, port (or porto as it’s called in Portugal) and the port houses that make them, have built their reputations on tradition. But things are changing in the world of port. New styles, more aging options, and more drinkers are beginning to appreciate the beauty of port, widening its appeal for many.

    Cockburn’s (pronounced cō-burns) has always been on the cutting edge of innovation. Cockburn’s newest lineup of approachable, easy drinking ports is called “Tales of the Unexpected” and ranges from white to ruby to tawny styles. The “Ruby Soho” is purple hued and full of dark berry flavors with a hint of sweetness. It’s ideal to sip alone at the end of a meal, or with blue cheese or chocolate. But, for a creative retro drink, try the following reimagined cocktail classic, the Port & Lemon.

    Fill a tall glass with ice and about two-thirds port. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and another teaspoon of sugar syrup (I like mine without the additional sugar). Top with soda water and stir, then garnish with a lemon slice and a cherry. It’s beautiful to look at and delicious to drink.

    Seedlip Garden 108, Non-Alcoholic Spirit, United Kingdom $32

    If you’re looking to curb or cut alcohol from your drinking repertoire, I recommend tracking down the Seedlip line of n/a spirits. For a company launched in 2015, there is basis in history for this young English producer. Owner, Ben Branson, discovered that more than three centuries ago doctors would distill herbal remedies without alcohol. Branson began experimenting with some old recipes using herbs grown in his garden. From there, Seedlip came to life.

    Seedlip makes a variety of spirit-like sips including the Garden 108, which is a minty blend of rosemary, thyme, and spearmint. I find it has an herbal note reminiscent of a juniper and cucumber-based gin, making it ideal to substitute in a “Gin” & Tonic. It’s a guilt-free delight.

    Author, speaker, wine consultant, and television host Leslie Sbrocco is known for her entertaining approach to wine and food. She has won multiple Emmy Awards for her work on PBS, which includes hosting the series “Check, Please! Bay Area,” “Check, Please! You Gotta Try This!” and “100 Days, Drinks, Dishes & Destinations.”

    Sbrocco Sips
    Published on January 25, 2024