Welcome to 2023! Pretty wet for a Dry January, eh? But who’s complaining? (Hint: not us!) Check out some of our staff’s weekly picks to help keep you warm!

Our Staff’s Weekly Picks

Anchorage – Heavy

This robust oatmeal stout is indeed heavy but these are the kinds of beers to keep us warm in the thick of winter. Pouring jet black with a head that quickly turns into a thin layer of mahogany, this brew intrigues with aromas of Quaker oats, soft coconut, and mocha coffee with a nice woodiness to round it out. Anchorage’s ‘Heavy’ was fermented and aged in Missouri oak barrels then racked to be finished on toasted coconut, which all leads into flavors of smooth dark chocolate, faint vanilla, and a tad bit of tropical coconut.

Liquid Gravity – Pale From the Crypt

This GABF medal-winning brew in perhaps one of the most competitive categories, Pale Ale, is a well-rounded and flavor-forward beer. While achieving great simplistic drinkability, with a sturdy malt backbone, this West Coast pale ale sings with Mosaic and Simcoe hops, providing notes of citrus, pine, and a nice dank note.

Domaine de Cala Rouge 

World-famous chef and wine purveyor Joachim Splichal has cobbled together a wine perfect for these (thankfully!) rainy days. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan, this wine is dynamic, rich, and remarkably focused. Each sip is rife with flavor, blurring the lines of red and black fruit and backed by sturdy tannins. Pairs well with wistfully watching the rain fall and comfort food!

Dolin Blanc Vermouth de Chambery

Vermouth is the the unsung hero in so many great cocktails – Martinis, Manhattans, and Negronis to name but a few. But it is absolutely delightful over a little ice! Dolin is a lighter style vermouth made from fine wines and botanicals found in the Alpine region above Chambery and this new stylistic innovation, Blanc, is sweetened to the same level as the Rouge, but without caramelizing the sugars first allowing the fresh, crisp features to shine through.

Chinese Laundry Kitchen Dan Dan Sauce

Chinese Laundry Kitchen is a local, family-owned company, and small business bringing tasty pantry items to the greater LA area. Dan Dan sauce is an authentic Sichuanese sauce traditionally used for noodles. It’s spicy, nutty, and umami, with a touch of sweetness. Although traditionally used for noodles, it’s great with rice, buns, dumplings, steamed veggies, stir fry, and more! Not only is this sauce delicious, it’s also made with whole ingredients. Chinese Laundry uses, organic soybean oil, with no preservatives, emulsifiers, or binders. Once you try this sauce, it’ll be a staple in your fridge! 

It seems we say “What a year!” every year lately.  And yet…What a year! 

A fond farewell to the rollercoaster of ‘22 and a fond wish for a canoe ride on a placid lake in ’23.

Happy New Year!

Our Staff’s Weekly Picks

Lowercase Brewing – Champagne Helles

This helles lager is brewed with barley grown in the Champagne region of France and hopped with Alsatian Strisselspalt hops. Pouring a beautiful golden color with a dense cap of foam on top, the aroma is floral, with some underlying spice and earthy notes. The malt profile is lean but substantial attributing to a beautiful body with a great crisp, clean, and slightly sweet flavor in the finish. Don’t expect the effervescence of sparkling wine with the carbonation on this brew but for the beer or wine nerds looking for the closest terroir experience of Champagne akin to beer – this is for you!

Ambitious – Berry Showers

This sour blonde ale from Ambitious is delightfully tart. Conditioned on raspberry puree and Madagascar vanilla beans, you get the full, lush berry aroma on the nose. Upon sipping, the sweet/tart raspberry flavor melds with the body of the beer, and vanilla peeps through in the aroma while providing a mellow sweetness in the flavor. Overall this beer is very drinkable and more fruit-tart than sour making it appeal to true sour drinkers as opposed to sweet smoothie sours. 

Louis Roederer et Philippe Starck 2015:

Brut Nature | Brut Nature Rosé

Well, folks…it’s been a hell of a year wouldn’t you say? And we think it’s only appropriate to bid 2022 adieu with some truly top-tier bubbles! Conceived as an exchange and shaped by friendship, these wines are first and foremost a result of the free-thinking that came out of a meeting between Louis Roederer’s CEO Frédéric Rouzaud, his cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon and the designer Philippe Starck. Wines that capture the freshness of the clay soils in a sunny year perfectly encapsulate this new exploration of a Louis Roederer terroir. The Brut Nature is a fresh, mineral-driven Champagne, that swathes a firm frame of acidity in a raw silk-like texture and finely meshed flavors of crunchy pear, mandarin orange peel, salted almond, dried raspberry, and pickled ginger. While the rosé is vivacious with a minerally overtone and a well-meshed range of crunchy pear, peach skin, pickled ginger, and blood orange zest flavors set on a refined, lacy mousse that ends with a long, creamy finish.

AMASS Mushroom Reserve 030 Gin

With their thinking set firmly outside the box, the craft-tions (a word we just made up!) at AMASS have whipped up what we believe to be the ultimate winter spirit. A limited edition of their perpetual fan-fav flagship gin, this Mushroom Reserve 030 bolsters the fruits of their continued exploration into the use of adaptogenic mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane and Reishi. Rested in charred, new American Oak barrels for 90 days, the gin is then enhanced with a botanical infusion of Shiitake mushroom, cacao, and bergamot. Top notes of umami mushroom and bitter cacao that blooms into charred oak with subtle vanilla and finishes with fragrant grapefruit, bergamot, and coniferous juniper. And with New Year’s Eve upon us, we’d recommend using this in lieu of standard gin for a French 75 or as we’ve renamed it “French Terroir 75”. 

Llano Seco Canario Beans

As the winter weather continues and the new year approaches, what better time to make a warming pot of beautifully cooked beans? Llano Seco in Chino, California specializes in responsible farming and growing heirloom bean varietals. They regularly test their soil, utilize organic-approved methods of cover cropping, and proactively rotate crops to maintain optimal soil health. Just like wine, the terroir in which a crop is grown is just as important as the final product. They also make use of sustainable farming practices such as beneficial insect habitats and natural biodiversity to protect their farmland and surrounding habitats. Canario or Yellow Canary beans are a small oval bean with a thin skin. They’re creamy and rich with a buttery texture. Traditional in Latin American cooking, these beans are amazing in soups, stews, or with protein and rice.

In need of a last minute gift? Check out our weekly picks for this week or stop by one of our locations and our staff can help you build the perfect gift box.

Happy Holidays & Happy Shopping!

Our Staff’s Weekly Picks

Trademark / Pizza Port – Break Buster

As advertised, I get fruity and citrusy aromas along with gummy bears! Hopped with a trio of Strata, Citra and Galaxy hops, this brew has a sweet aroma and semi-sweet flavor but is balanced by a clean body and snappy bitterness. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the beers head brewer, Kane, has been putting out of Trademark and this hits a sweet home spot as Kate cut his brewing chops at Pizza Port San Clemente.

Three’s / Fox Farm – Stasis

 Altbier is the Kölsch neighbor to the north, along the Rhine River in Germany. Generally lesser known than Kölsch because is has a more complex, rich malt nature.. This brew was definitely taken up a notch with the addition of foudre lagering. Taking on notes of delightful dark fruit, rich toasty malts and a sweet but dry finish, make this a delectable beer. Let this warm in the glass to open up and fully develop to enjoy those rich textures.  

Stolpman Angeli Syrah & Pliocene Mourvedre

As we come to the end of 2022 and seeing as how we’re smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season, we can think of no better wines to showcase than these two from our good pals up at Stolpman Vineyards. The Angeli Syrah has booming red fruit intensity that sounds the alarm for a rogue wave of coating, decadent, luxurious texture overwhelming the brain’s pleasure center.  Even in its youth, the wine has no rough edge to soften although there is still an energetic tangerine zip on the finish in its youth. And the Pliocene Mourvedre offers sophisticated refinement on the nose with intriguing red fruit and spice. That Spice carries the torch for the “otherness” of this wine.  Anything but “simple, fruit forward” the cuvee is a tightly wound cocoon urging one on to swirl the glass and take another unraveling sip.

Kings County Straight Bourbon & Whiskey Gift Set

For the unfamiliar, Kings County Distillery is New York City’s premier craft distillery and among the most acclaimed small distilleries in the United States. One of the many facets that makes Kings County so interesting is they’re blending of distilling practices from a variety of cultures into creative whiskeys that remain traditional while defying convention, using Scottish copper pot stills, open fermentation, and local grains to make American whiskeys that expand the category. Need proof? Try a bottle of their straight bourbon, made from 80% New York organic corn and 20% English Golden Promise barley for a high-malt recipe that forgoes the wheat or rye typical of Kentucky bourbons. After aging in a variety of new charred oak barrels for anywhere between 3 and 6 years, the bourbon is carefully blended and produces prominent notes of caramel and vanilla, as well as undertones of dark berries. Or, for the VERY curious, Kings County offers a handmade wooden gift set with flasks of some of their best offerings.

Fishwife Rainbow Jerky Gems

Fishwife’s newest tinned fish is the Rainbow Trout Jerky Gems! They’re considered gems, because they’re the teeny, tiny tenderloin of the Trout, which is considered to be the prime cut. However, because of their size, they’re not suitable for restaurants or fish markets. Fishwife had the brilliant idea to upcycle this cut into their tins. The trout is seasoned to perfection with extra virgin olive oil, lemon, pepper, garlic, and marjoram (think oregano). Their tinned fish is not only ethically sourced, it’s super versatile! Serve over rice, veggies, on a cheese board with crackers, mixed into pasta sauce, and more.

If you don’t have enough sweaters for this little cold snap – not to worry! We’ve got plenty to keep you warm. Come see us!

Our Staff’s Weekly Picks

Casa Agria / Civil Society – Fresh Jets

A friendly collab that’s so nice, they did it twice! (Pun intended!) Mashing Civil Society’s flagship FRESH and Casa Agria’s JETS OVERHEAD makes for a wonderful hazy IPA. Hopped with Columbus, El Dorado, and Citra before being double dry hopped with Mosaic. You’ll find tropical fruity aromas of pineapple and oranges with a nice pine in there, as well. The flavor is extremely smooth and while it’s not a juice bomb, it has a delightful zip of bitterness that makes it incredibly easy to drink.

Homage – Saison Spritz

This rotating fruit and grape saison is a smash! This iteration uses Grenache grape juice from Central California, as well as farm-fresh strawberries that pop off the saison base of this brew. It has a light pink color with a lively carbonation that is both inviting and tantalizing, a nose of earthy strawberry and delicate funk, and a light splash of tartness and minerality that washes over the fruity strawberry. This is a fun rotational that really allows Homage to experiment with different grapes and fruits. A great beer to get wine-minded folk into the complex side of beer.

Pursued By Bear 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon | Blushing Bear 2021 Rosé

While big reds such as Cabernet and Syrah understandably tend to be the wines of choice for cooler months, we ardently believe that there is a place for rosé even when the nights get their coldest and it’s with that in mind we offer our two favorite wines for the holidays from Pursued By Bear. As both an allusion to Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” and a physical manifestation of love for the Pacific Northwest, acclaimed actor Kyle MacLachlan has gifted the world an incredible lineup of wines. The Cab mauls the drinker with robust notes of blackberry, chocolate, and coffee, encapsulating all that is great in domestic winemaking. The rosé bolsters notes of wild strawberries and succulent juicy guava while nectarine and pink grapefruit shine across a beam of bright, crisp acidity creating a mouthwatering impression and a long, textured finish.   

Ki No Bi Dry Gin

 “The Beauty of the Seasons” or Ki No Bi. The poetry in the name of this gin from Kyoto so aptly and elegantly describes the taste experience one embarks on upon first sip. In that moment, the essence and sensations of winter, spring, summer, and autumn harmoniously unify in a bracing gale of citrus, sansho pepper, ginger, and bamboo that tests not only the drinker’s palate but also their perception of the spirit itself. Equal parts warming and refreshing, this gin has achieved an impeccable balance that is sure to be regarded as a leader at the forefront of the “New Wave” style of gin. This is that spirit you’ll want to keep on your shelf and share with guests this holiday season.

Fishwife Smoky Trio Gift Box

Not only does Fishwife make amazing tinned fish, they do it right! Fishwife is a female-founded company striving to produce ethically-sourced, premium quality fish. They source from environmentally conscious fisheries and aquaculture farms. The Smoky Trio features their classic smoked Albacore Tuna from the Pacific Coast, Rainbow Trout from Idaho, and their Atlantic Salmon from Norway. If you’re looking to build a gift box for your favorite foodie, or want to have a decent spread at your next holiday party, come pick up the Smoky Trio! 

We have gifts, we send gifts, we make gifts. If you’re looking for some unique wines, sought-after beers, or great cocktails – we have a gift box for you!

Staff Weekly Picks:

Moonraker – Here Lies…

In this can lies the finest Citra, Galaxy and Nelson hops, RIP. But these hops couldn’t be contained in a can coffin though, as they rise out of the glass and contribute lovely aromas of juicy pineapple, peach ring gummies and ripe canteloupe. The flavor is soft but dank with more tropical notes coming in throughout in the form of cannabis and passion fruit. Another delicious Moonraker offering and we have it on draft in Culver City if you would like to enjoy a fresh glass and escape the holiday madness.

Far Field – Dark Matter

This Imperial Stout with coffee and vanilla is a smooth drinker at 9 percent alcohol. It has a smooth, bitter chocolate aroma with flavor and depth from it’s sturdy malt backbone of Maris Otter, Weyermann Carafoam and roasted barley. Again, depth is a key word with this brew.. providing a good body and flavor, while being inviting without being cloying or coming off as overtly rich. Toasty, dark chocolate, smooth coffee and subtle vanilla all poke through in this brew and end with a slightly sweet finish. 

Lumina 2021 Counoise

Brand new to the scene, Paso Robles based winemaker Janie Willheim has produced three distinct wines of exceptional quality: a Riesling, a Valdiguie and now finally a Counoise. All three are brilliant expressions of the terroir made all the more impressive considering how difficult these particular varietals can be to work with. The Valdiguie and Riesling are no strangers to the Hi-Lo shelves, and we’re now psyched beyond reason to welcome the newly released Counoise to party and complete the trifecta. Compelling to say the least, this wine is a bounty of ripe fruit, balanced acidity and seductive aromatics. The tannic structure hums like a slow draw on a violin and finishes with delicate spice and cranberry purée. 

Don Fulano Imperial Extra Anejo

More and more we’re being asked what a good alternative is to whiskey for a chilly evening sipper and more and more we’re saying “Tequila” but not just your standard Blanco, Repo or Anejo, no, we recommend you go a little extra…Extra Anejo, that is! What makes Extra Anejo so extra is the additional years it spends aging in barrel, at least over 3 years. A perfect example is the Don Fulano Imperial, aged a minimum of 5 years, but contains some tequila that’s been aged for 12! Exceptionally rich and complex with a great combination of elegance and power, this tequila is abundant in fruit notes and spices like clove and cardamom. Velvety, rich and incredibly complex, the Imperial is truly outstanding and is best enjoyed neat and ideally after a hearty dinner.

Jeni’s Boozy Eggnog

According to Jeni, her grandfather loved spiking eggnog with whiskey during the holidays, which is the midwestern way! At Hi-Lo, we love Uncle Nearest, so we were super excited to find out that’s the whiskey they use in their ice cream. Uncle Nearest’s small-batch, Tennessee whiskey is smooth and warming, which compliments the nutmeg and cream custard deliciously. We recommend enjoying a pint near a warm fire surrounded by loved ones!

White Marble Cheese Board

Gift this beautiful marble cheese board to the hostess with the mostess, or treat yourself! This round marble board will elevate the any cheese and charcuterie presentation this season. It comes with a set of three gold & marble knives as well! Be sure to also peep our market section to build your dream board of goodies. 

What is Nouveau Day?

Each year on the third Thursday of November, a wine style called Beaujolais Nouveau hits the
shelves worldwide. This marks Beaujolais Nouveau Day, a celebration of this wine, its release,
and its region. It also happens to be our Wine & Spirits Buyer Mike’s favorite holiday!

What, uh, what’s a Beaujolais again?

Beaujolais is a wine region tucked in the Burgundy region in the French alps. They are known for popularizing a method of winemaking called “Carbonic Maceration” which is a winemaking
process that takes place during fermentation to produce fresh, fruit-forward, low-tannin wines.
Carbonic maceration uses whole clusters of grapes in a sealed, carbon dioxide-filled tank to
start fermentation within each grape.

So wait, what’s Beaujolais Nouveau…?

They are the new wines from the most recent harvest, bottled and sold anywhere from three
weeks to three months after grapes are plucked from the vine. Beaujolais Nouveau, made from
the Gamay grape and vinified using whole-cluster carbonic maceration is a centuries long
tradition started to celebrate the end of harvest and, essentially, kick off the holiday season.
Beaujolais Nouveau wines CANNOT be sold before Nouveau Day, however, the same cannot
be said about their American counterparts…

In the past decade or so American winemakers have decided to get in on the Nouveau Day fun
as well, making nouveau-style wines using a myriad of vinification techniques and grape
varieties. Ideal selections for any and all holiday fare, nouveau wines are meant to be drunk in high volume and in good spirits.

Count me in! How can I celebrate Nouveau Day?

Come hang with us at The Counter in Culver City or Long Beach this Thursday, November 17th from 4-9pm as we celebrate Nouveau Day with a very special flight of Nouveau wines! You can also grab some of our favorite Nouveau wines from this season to make them the star of your Thanksgiving and Holiday feasts. Our Nouveau wines are now available at all locations and available online for pick-up and local delivery!

2022 Las Jaras Slipper Sippers Nouveau

Made from a blend of carbonically macerated old vine Valdiguié and co-fermented Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, this year’s Slipper Sippers from Las Jaras in undeniably DELICIOUS. It’s packed with a ton of red and blue fruit – think red plum, blueberry, boysenberry and pomegranate. This wine is fresh, lively, and super crushable. You’ll definitely be coming back for more. And to top it off, its zippy acidity really makes it compatible with all your holiday dishes!

Broc Cellars 2022 Nouveau

Broc Cellar’s 2022 Nouveau is a gorgeous blend of white, rosé and red. The wine is made of 50% Valdiguié, 25% Orange Muscat and a blend of mixed varieties all brought in and pressed during Harvest. It has an abundance of fresh, bright red fruit with notes of cranberry and tart cherry. This wine is electric and vibrant with a mouth-watering acidity and freshness that pairs perfectly with food.

Angeleno Wine Co. Nouveau 2022

This lovely Nouveau wine from downtown LA’s Angeleno Wine Co. is 100% Tempranillo sourced from the Agua Dulce region in Los Angeles County. This wine is fruity, fresh and meant for easy-drinking. It has prominent notes of cherry, cocoa and coffee with an underlying herbal note. On the palate, it has a softer acidity, giving it a lush, smooth mouthfeel.

Scribe Nouveau of Pinot Noir 2022

Based in Sonoma, CA, Scribe Winery has created a fresh and lively Nouveau wine made purely of Pinot Noir. This wine was made entirely through the carbonic maceration method, which has resulted in gulpable, fruit-driven juice. It has notes of fresh plum, orange peel, and wild mint. This glou glou wine is soft, smooth, supple and very approachable for wine lovers and novices alike!

The “fresh” spirit whose fragrances alone are as enticing as a forest in bloom and whose history is rooted in medieval herbal alchemy. Derived from grain and juniper berries, Gin is one of the most playful and singular to the distiller spirits around due to the freedom to select and utilize virtually limitless combinations of herbs, botanicals and even fruit! For a very long time, it has been, almost uniquely, a British classic, with full stores dedicated to the spirit, in a dizzying array of botanical styles.

Every label of gin is a unique expression of the distiller and the region in which they’re working in or sourcing their ingredients from. The classic “London Dry” gin is still a favorite, but several “New American” distillers and gin styles have been created in an ode to the wonderful expressions of botanicals that are local to California and other regions with excellent horticulture. The list of cocktails that use gin as their base is inexhaustible and contains some of the most popular concoctions on the planet such as the Negroni or the Gin Martini.

With so many classic cocktails to its name, we’d recommend trying something a bit more playful, for example, the Young Martinez

Check out our Young Martinez cocktail kit, our take on the classic Martinez (or keep it classic!):