Category Archives: Sips

Enjoy a Taste of Americana in a Glass


CinnamonCitrusIcedTeaJune is National Iced Tea Month, so let’s enjoy a refreshing glass! Tea is the world’s second most popular beverage behind water. While most of the world drinks it hot, 85% of tea served in the U.S. is iced. In fact, it’s likely that iced tea was invented in the U.S. after the Civil War and made popular at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. In the days before air conditioning, hot summer weather was more pleasant with a cold beverage.

Chill out on the patio and enjoy a taste of Americana with this homemade citrus-flavored iced tea.

Cinnamon Citrus Iced Tea

2 tea bags
2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
1/4 cup honey
1 large slice lemon
1 large slice orange
1½ cups boiling water

Prep: 5 to 10 minutes, Serves: 2

1. Place tea bags, cinnamon sticks, cloves, honey and fruit slices in a large glass measuring cup.

2. Add boiling water. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes; strain. Serve warm or let cool and serve over ice.

Let’s Taco About the Fifth!

What are your Cinco de Mayo plans? We have some suggestions for keeping it delicious and simple. Start the evening with a fresh and fruity margarita you can make with local berries – it comes together in the blender in minutes! And our recipe for Honey and Lime Shrimp Tacos uses only one pan for fast and easy prep.

Cinco de Baya Margarita

1½ cups strawberries, hulled
1 (6-oz.) container blackberries
1 (6-oz.) container raspberries
1 (4.4-oz.) container blueberries
1½ cups tequila
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup triple sec
Lime wedge (for garnish)

Prep: 5 minutes, Serves: 4 to 6

Blend all ingredients with ice. Can also be served on the rocks, if desired. Garnish with lime wedge.

Nutritional Information
(based on 5): 300 calories, 1 g protein, 0 g total fat (0 g sat., 0 g trans), 37 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 28 g sugar, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 5 points

Honey and Lime Shrimp Tacos
These sweet and tangy shrimp tacos are the perfect complement to a Cinco de Baya Margarita. Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

8 corn tortillas
1 tbsp. oil
1 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. honey
1½ tsp. Morton & Bassett Mexican Seasoning
Shredded romaine or cabbage
Shredded Jack cheese
Avocado slices
Fresh pico de gallo

Prep: 20 minutes, Cook: 10 minutes, Serves: 4

1. Warm tortillas in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes or lightly fry in a small amount of oil until crisp; fold in half.

2. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add shrimp and cook over medium-high heat for a minute or two on each side or until mostly pink. Stir in lime juice, honey and Mexican seasoning; cook for about 2 minutes more until mixture is thick and glazes shrimp.

3. Spoon into warmed tortillas and top with lettuce, cheese, avocado and pico de gallo.

Nutritional Information
330 calories, 6 g protein, 17 g total fat (45 g sat.), 41 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 15 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 7 points

What Makes Cabernet Sauvignon So Bold?






Curtis Mann, Raley’s Wine, Beer & Spirits Expert
Learn more about what makes Curtis an expert.

It’s a combination of factors that go back to the parentage of the grape. As a descendent of both Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon displays some of the same leafy, green minerality as those wines before it reaches optimal ripeness. For this reason, winemakers and viticulturists – especially in California – like to err on the side of ripeness and push the grape to its sugar limits to ripen out the green flavors.

The result of this high ripeness is usually a payoff of bright blue and black fruits like blackberry, plum and boysenberry. At the same time, the increase in sugar ultimately creates a higher amount of alcohol, which enhances the aromas. And because the Cabernet grape still retains its acid, the wine’s tannins are forward and bright even with the high alcohol.

All these bold flavors make Cabernet a perfect partner for oak. Oak helps round out the tannins, tame the fruit and integrate the acid. Additionally, the type of oak used, from large foudres to small French oak barrels, can have a dramatic effect on the final outcome of the wine. Due to the expense of small barrels, these are usually reserved for the best quality and smallest production lots in the winery.

As far as bottle aging goes, some of these wines can lie down for 20 or 30 years, but most California Cabernets should be enjoyed now or within the next five years. The high alcohol and fruit-forward nature of the wine makes it ready to drink right away.

Over the last 10 years, the trend has been to tame the tannins so wines are more approachable at an earlier age. Most estates realize wine enthusiasts don’t want to wait 20 years to drink their wine!

The key to enjoying Cabernet Sauvignon is picking the correct one. These wines are a good starting point for adventure-seekers looking to expand their understanding beyond the more familiar brands.

Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon, California

Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon Grande Reserve, Chile

Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington

Catena Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina

Daou Cabernet Sauvignon, California


Cheers To The IPA!





Anthony Dyer, Raley’s Beer Expert
Learn more about what makes Anthony an expert.

Created in England around 1780, India Pale Ales, or IPAs as we more commonly know them, have become the most popular craft beer style. IPAs are part of the broader pale ale family of beers, however they can be tricky to categorize as one brewer’s pale ale can be another brewer’s IPA.

There are three things you can count on with an IPA: They tend to be paler in color, stronger in flavor and more bitter than their pale ale counterparts. From a brewing standpoint, the main difference is the quantity of malt and hops used. IPAs use more hops.

To help balance the increased bitterness from the hops, an increased amount of malt is used, but not enough to pull away from the bitter nature of IPA. The increased malt means more sugar for the yeast to feed on, which creates a higher ABV (alcohol by volume) than a regular pale ale. The combination of the increased malt and hops gives the IPA its distinctive strong flavor, increased bitterness and great hop aromas.

As IPAs have grown in popularity, some breweries have taken this style to the extreme and created bigger IPAs, known as Double or Imperial IPAs. Just like a pale ale and an IPA, the main difference between a Double/Imperial IPA and a standard IPA is the amount of hops and malt used in the brewing process.

ColdBrewAs the Double/Imperial IPA name suggests, a brewer will double or even triple the amount of hops in various parts of the brewing process to add even more bitterness. More malts are added to balance and that again increases the ABV in the finished product. While there are no hard and fast rules as to what makes an IPA a Double or Imperial, there are some standard guidelines.

These beers are typically differentiated by the amount of alcohol and IBUs, or International Bittering Units, they have. IBUs measure how many bittering compounds are in the beer. Standard IPAs have about 40-70 IBUs and are around 5.5 to 7.5% ABV while Double/Imperial IPAs can range from 60-120 IBUs and 7.5 to 10% ABV.

Flavor and aroma profiles of IPAs can vary greatly depending on the variety and amount of hops used, giving tremendous room for experimentation and creativity at the brewery. With this wide range of possibilities, it’s no surprise IPA is one of the most brewed and demanded craft beer styles today. Cheers to the IPA!

Put Your Patio to Good Use This Weekend



It’s a lovely time of year to enjoy a cool treat on the patio at the end of the day. This versatile sip can be customized to your taste with champagne or sparkling water and your favorite berry juice. Freeze the berry puree overnight for a frosty treat the next day.

Berry Champagne Slush

2 (6-oz.) packages fresh raspberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar*
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 cup POM Wonderful Pomegranate Cherry or Blueberry Juice
1 (750-ml.) bottle champagne or sparkling water

Prep: 10 minutes, Chill: overnight, Serves: 8

1. Puree raspberries, sugar and ginger in a blender. Stir in juice and pour into a large container; freeze overnight.

2. Stir well with a fork until light and fluffy and freeze again until ready to serve. (TIP: Any larger chunks may be crushed with a potato masher.)

3. Spoon into small glasses and pour champagne over the top.

*Amount of sugar will vary depending on the sweetness of the berries. If you’re opposed to seeds, press pureed raspberries through a fine mesh sieve before freezing.

Nutritional Information
143 calories, 1 g protein, 0 g total fat (0 g sat., 0 g trans), 18 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 mg sodium, 2 points

How to Pair Wine and Cheese Like a Pro



When friends are coming over and you need drinks and appetizers, what’s the easiest, most sophisticated solution? Wine and cheese! But with 180 cheeses and a large selection of wines at your neighborhood Raley’s, Bel Air and Nob Hill Foods, what should you choose?

Our experts are here to help. Raley’s Chef Evelyn and wine and spirits expert Curtis Mann shared suggestions for pairing wine and cheese on KCRA-TV last weekend. Watch their segment online. Want to borrow their ideas for your own get-together? Begin with a theme, like goat cheeses, and then take a stroll down the red wine aisle.

HumboldtFogA superb chevre (that’s French for goat cheese) is Humboldt Fog, luscious and subtly tangy with a thin layer of ash running through it. Pair it with a Pinot Noir like Calera, which is a smooth blend of grapes from nine different vineyards along the California Central Coast.

A fun cheese for your chevre selection is Drunken Goat, or Queso de Cabra al Vino if you want to impress your friends. Originating in Spain, it’s a semi-firm cheese bathed for 3 days in wine made from Mourvèdre grapes. It goes beautifully with Château Pesquié Quintessence Rouge, a blend of mostly Syrah and some Grenache grown in the Ventoux region in France.

Want more cheese and wine pairing ideas? Watch our experts’ segment!

Warm & Wonderful Toddies


Brrr… when the chill catches up with you, a warm, comforting drink hits the spot. Originating in the British Isles, the hot toddy helped its drinker recover from inclement winter weather with a combination of whisky or brandy, hot water and honey or sugar.

There are almost as many versions of the hot toddy as there are aficionados – some include lemon, cinnamon, cloves, flavored soda or fruit juice. Since the ingredients of a hot toddy are less important than the feeling the drink imparts, each one is a unique expression of the drinker’s personal preferences. As the Scots say, “Here’s tae ye!”

SEWinter16CoverFind more toddy recipes in the Winter 2016 issue of Something Extra magazine.

Hot Pear and Elderflower Toddy

4 Raley’s Pear Halves in Juice
3/4 cup pear juice from can
1/3 cup St-Germain liqueur
3 tbsp. water
2 cinnamon sticks
Quartered fresh pear for garnish

Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 5 minutes, Serves: 2

Puree pears until very smooth. Place in a small saucepan with remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, then remove cinnamon sticks. Pour into 2 mugs. Let cool slightly before sipping. Garnish with a quartered fresh pear, if you like.

Nutritional Information
270 calories, 1 g protein, 0 g total fat (0 g sat.), 49 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 40 g sugar, 0 mg cholesterol, 11 mg sodium, 9 points

Happy National Champagne Day!


ChampagnePeachNew Year’s Eve is also National Champagne Day! So break out the bubbly and try this fruity, chill sip. It might have you looking forward to 2016’s peach season…

Champagne Peach

1 frozen peach slice
1 tbsp. peach brandy or peach nectar

Prep: 5 minutes, Serves: 1

1. Place peach slice in the bottom of a 6 oz. champagne flute.
2. Pour brandy or nectar into the glass, then fill with champagne.

Cheers! It’s National Lager Day






Anthony Dyer, Raley’s Beer Expert

Learn what makes Anthony an expert.

PintLagerWhat do Corona, Bud Light and Stella Artois have in common? They’re all lager beers, of course! Lager is a German-founded beer style that’s usually lighter in color with mild flavors. The word “lager” is derived from the German word lagern, meaning “to store,” which refers to the amount of time it takes a lager to ferment.

In the Middle Ages brewers in Bavaria started using a strain of yeast that allowed for beer to ferment at colder temperatures that would have caused ale yeasts to shut down. With the colder fermenting temperature came longer fermentation times. These beers were stored away in caves during winter months and allowed to ferment undisturbed, producing a beer that had fewer by-products than its ale beer counterpart.

Since the beer had fewer impurities it showcased more subtle flavors from the hops and malt blends it was made with. This offered a cleaner, smoother and crisper flavor profile, which makes these beers easier to consume for most people. While this style of beer offers easy drinkability, it also leaves little room for error during the brewing process. Good lagers are much more difficult to produce than ale beers because the liquid in lagers leaves all the flavors of the brewing process right at your palate, good or bad. The smallest errors can cause the beer to be unbalanced and undesirable to drink.

You might think that with the difficulty and time it takes to make a good lager they’d be rare, but that’s not the case. Lagers are the most commonly produced beers in the world even though many of the mass-produced lagers are criticized by beer experts for being bland and flavorless.

With two craft breweries opening every day on average, the craft beer resurgence has many brewers who are developing inventive and innovative flavors in the lager beer style. Look for some interesting variations in the future.

The great flavors and subtle nuances of the lager beer style are truly something that deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Here’s to lagers, cheers!

Happy National Pomegranate Month


PomCaipiroska1Celebrate pomegranates with a Brazilian-inspired sip featuring a festive splash of pomegranate juice. Saúde!

Pomegranate Caipiroska

1 lime
1 tbsp. powdered sugar
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. pomegranate juice

Prep: 5 minutes, Serves: 1

Cut lime into 8 wedges; muddle in a rocks glass with sugar. Add vodka and pomegranate juice; top with ice and stir.