Wine & Spirits

By Stef Schwalb

The sun is finally starting to shine a bit brighter…which means spring is about to bloom in the Big Apple. What better way to celebrate than with cocktails bursting full of fabulous flavors? We’ve got a roundup featuring a few of our faves that serve up some tantalizing taste and are a synch to prepare at home on your own. With Prairie Vodka, Camarena Tequila, and Hiro Sake, there’s something perfect for every palette…

Prairie Vodka ( is an award-winning, certified organic and kosher spirit celebrated for its crisp, smooth taste and aromatic qualities of pear and melon. It is also a first-class companion for homemade infusions, which are a stylish, succulent and simple way to imbibe with indulgence. Prairie Vodka offers plenty of excellent, easy infusion recipes on their website, including Strawberry/Basil, Orange/Tangerine, Jalapeño/Horseradish/Garlic, Honeycrisp, Espresso/Cinnamon and Lemon/Lime. We’re particularly fond of Strawberry/Basil and Espresso/Cinnamon, so here’s the 411 on those to get you inspired.

All recipes and photos courtesy of Prairie Vodka

*9 Strawberries Sliced
*5 Leaves of Fresh Basil
(Serve with Club Soda)
*3 Tablespoons of Whole Espresso Beans
*3 Sticks of Cinnamon
(Try with a White Russian)

Method: Reserve 1/3 vodka, fill with ingredients, top off with reserved vodka, secure cap tightly. Store in refrigerator or a dark cool space for 3–4 days for optimal flavor.

We recently attended a Familia Camarena Tequila ( luncheon downtown, and we were definitely impressed! Not only by the delectable flavor of both the Silver and Reposado premium selections (both 100% Agave), but also by their extremely reasonable price points (a suggested retail of $20) and versatility in crafting a variety of killer cocktails. This six-generation producer sources their Agave from the mineral-rich volcanic soil and temperate climate of Los Altos Highlands region of Jalisco, Mexico, and since we know upcoming Cinco de Mayo is on the minds of so many, we give you Mexico’s most consumed tequila cocktail – the Paloma – crafted the Camarena way.

Recipe and photos courtesy of Camarena Tequila

*2 oz. Camarena Silver Tequila
*1 Teaspoon Agave Nectar
*1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
*4 oz. Grapefruit Soda (i.e. Squirt or Izze)
Method: Combine tequila, agave nectar, and lime juice in a highball glass. Mix well. Fill glass to brim with ice. Top with grapefruit soda and stir gently with a bar spoon. Garnish with lime wheel.

Last but most certainly not least, we’re going to sock it to you by adding premium, hand-crafted Hiro Sake ( to the mix. Because it’s about time we covered this category, and this producer is a great one. Hiro Sake is made in the Niigata prefecture, the premiere sake-producing region of Japan, and offers both Junmai (Hiro Red) and Junmai Ginjo (Hiro Blue). The former is traditionally brewed and served warm or chilled; the latter is created with rice that is polished or milled to remove at least 45% of its original weight, resulting enhanced character and body which make it ideal to serve chilled, on the rocks, or in a cocktail. Speaking of which….

Recipe and photo courtesy of Hiro Sake

Hiro Sunrise
*2 oz. Hiro Junmai Sake
*3 oz. Orange Juice
*0.5 oz. Grenadine
*Cubed Ice
Method: Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add Hiro Junmai Sake and fill with orange juice; stir. Slowly pour grenadine and let settle before serving.

Originally published April 2013
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