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In the spirit: great tastes, cool packaging, and a spot to indulge. Here are summer suggestions for toasting the good life.

NOTEWORTHY EXPERIENCES

Brian Duncan and his business partners Dan Sachs and Executive Chef John Caputo enjoy wining and dining guests at their celebrated wine cafe, BIN 36, with seasonal fare and wine to match from their own private label of the same name. Wine director Duncan offers a delectable selection of international reds, whites, and "bubbles" that he has personally chosen from his travels--and often offers food pairing suggestions on the label. This year he presents a special blend: 2001 Chardonnay/ Pinot Noir, BIN 36 "10th Anniversary Cuvee," a rose blend of cherries, cranberries, and orange-scented tea notes. And like their wines, their prices are also savory.

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Inside the restaurant, one can enjoy casual dining in the Tavern, a more intimate setting in the Cellar, or scrumptious tastes at the wine or cheese bar, where there is a selection of 50 cheeses on the menu. Duncan believes the best way to learn about wine is to try it. That's why all plated treats can be accompanied with the option of a flight--four different tasting pours served at the same time allowing guests to compare tastes; or the purchase of four bottles in a particular category, such as Italian whites--which also makes a great executive gift.

Visit them online (www.bin36.com) for their wine list as well as gift ideas and accessories. There are also restaurant event listings and recipes for sparkling wine cocktails and a BIN 36 mulled wine, with black peppercorn and ginger. In addition, the company holds classes through the BIN School for a variety of wine interests, which includes tours of Italy and Spain.

NEW TO THE MIX

This is not your fathers cognac. Produced from grapes that are first converted into a wine and distilled twice Hennessy Black is made in the same tradition as the other Hennessy brands. But this incarnation, bottled in black with silver lettering, is new and versatile, perfect for mixing and blending with a distinct style even for serving: Enjoy it neat or as a cocktail with ice Hennessy Black presents a light and mellowing offering of fruit tastes and floral aromas a perfect complement alongside other traditional summer spirits

STILL A CLASSIC

Vodka remains a favorite summertime drink. Versatile with broad appeal, vodka is a bar staple for martinis or cosmos, or with a dash of orange or cranberry juice. Grey Goose is a sure crowd-pleaser and can easily be enjoyed neat. The first French vodka, distilled in Cognac, France, it is distinguished by its smooth yet complex characteristics, Its fruit-infused variations simply heighten the experience. Le Citron's tart flavor evokes the lemon harvest of the provincial town of Menton, France. The La Poire blend provides sweet notes under nutty flavor courtesy of the Anjou pear grown in the Loire river valley in France. L'Orange is a burst of fragrant, rich, floral aromas that also engage the palate with a refreshingly familiar fruity taste.

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A HEARTY DRINK

Gin has a long-standing history, but Beefeater 24 introduces a blend that will elevate it beyond the familiar. Distilled in London, theirs is a rich, handcrafted, Artisan cut (a process by which the master distiller takes from the center or heart of the run). The combination of 12 botanicals, such as grapefruit and Seville orange peels, bitter almond, and orris root, as well as rare Japanese Sencha tea and Chinese green tea, provides a smooth, earnest, and distinctive taste. Furthering the experience is its celebratory bottle inspired by a flask owned by James Burrough, a distiller in the 1860s and creator of the original Beefeater London Dry Gin.

SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?

The bottle looks similar to a swanky brand of water, but the contents are much more engaging to the palate, and the bottlers, Voga Italia, suggest the modern, sleek look is the next evolution in design for sophisticated wine drinkers. Their offerings: a crisp, light pinot grigio, a 100% sparkling pinot grigio, and a full-bodied merlot. Their blends are perfect for a variety of spicy and exotic foods--but they would insist on flouting the rules and letting your tastes decide.

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Title Annotation:EXECUTIVE ENTERTAINING
Author:Alleyne, Sonia
Publication:Black Enterprise
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2009
Words:689
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