The Secret to Pairing Wine

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If you’re a wine lover, one of the most exciting parts of a dinner out can be trying a new dish and sampling a few ideal wines chosen specifically for the way they enhance the flavor of the food. Unfortunately, when you’re cooking at home, you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated sommelier to help you choose the right wine for the food you’ve made. However, these basic guidelines will help you achieve similar results on your own.

Step 1—Find the Basic Taste Components


While there are many different taste components found in food and wine, you only need to focus on the six most basic when it comes to pairing the two:


  • Food contains components of acid, fat, salt, sweet, bitter, and spice. Identify the tastes in your dish and simplify it to the two or three most dominant. For example, pasta with sausage and red sauce has strong fat, acid, and spice components, while a green salad with shrimp has acid, bitter, and fat components.
  • Wine contains just three components of acid, sweet, and bitter. Red wines tend to be more bitter, while whites have more acidity. Meanwhile, sweet wines have dominating sweet components.


In addition, you’ll need to consider intensity. Is your food light in intensity, very rich in fats, or high in acids? Are the wines you have on hand light in body, very acidic, or high in tannins and bitterness?


Step 2—Determine if You Want a Complementary or Congruent Pairing


Complementary pairings consider your food’s different flavor components and play against them with contrasting components of the wine. Congruent pairings play up the flavor components of your food with similar components in the wine. Both balance the food and wine on the palate, just in different ways.

For example, a high-acid white wine is a complementary pairing for a rich, cheesy dish like a grilled cheese sandwich or pasta with hollandaise or alfredo because the acid balances out the salt and fat. A congruent pairing for the same dish would be a much creamier white wine like a chardonnay. In general, red wines are more likely to create congruent pairings, while whites create complementary pairings.

Step 3—Use Our Cheat Sheet


If you have your doubts about the complementary and congruent flavors among your dishes and the wines you have to choose from, this quick cheat sheet can help you decide. In general:


  • Choose a wine that is sweeter and more acidic than the food
  • Choose a wine with a similar flavor intensity as your food
  • Pair wines based on the flavors of the sauce versus the meat or pasta
  • Absent a sauce, try these general meat/wine rules:


  • Red wines pair well with boldly seasoned red meats
  • White wines pair well with fish or chicken


The best part about wine pairing, however, is the freedom you have to break the rules. If your favorite wine is a bitter, high-tannin Cabernet Sauvignon, pairing it with a delicate seafood dish is completely acceptable so long as you enjoy it. For more information about the many varietals of wine, you can find at Payless Liquors, ask one of our trained staff. Alternatively, reserve your favorite bottle today via our online order form.




Coffee Cocktails

4 Best Coffee Cocktails

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Depending on who you ask, the “right way” to drink coffee varies by country, by culture, and can even be wildly different within each household. Whether your preferences are light or dark roast, espresso or machine drip, black or with as much creamer as possible, we’d like to present our take on the “right way” to drink coffee—with a healthy dose of spirits in coffee cocktails.

Best Coffee Cocktails


The coffee cocktail offers an ideal start to any evening out, with the perfect blend of caffeine and booze. Similarly, the right coffee cocktail can provide additional warmth to a weekend morning in, with just the right kick to start your day. This list of our favorites provides a variety of ways to imbibe in your preferred coffee and some choice spirits all at once:


  1. The Perfect Irish Coffee. While many people pour a shot of whiskey into a steaming hot mug of coffee and call it an Irish, you’ll need a couple of extra steps to make this drink in the traditional fashion. You’ll need:


  • 1 cup prepared coffee
  • 2 oz. Jameson Irish whiskey
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Chocolate shavings


Start by pouring hot water into two mugs to warm them, and let them sit for two minutes. Pour out the water and add a teaspoon of brown sugar to each. Pour hot coffee over the sugar and stir to dissolve sugar. Add whiskey and stir to mix. In a separate bowl, whisk heavy cream until it forms soft peaks. Pour-over coffee and top with chocolate shavings.

  1. Siciliano. Forget coffee-flavored liqueur and cream in a stemmed glass—this “coffee martini” comes with far fewer frills and even more boozy flavor. You’ll need:


  • 2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1½ oz. Amaro (Campari or Averna work quite well)
  • 1½ oz. cold-brewed espresso (strong)
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • Club soda
  • Orange wheel for garnish


Pour Amaro, vermouth, cold-brew, and simple syrup into a tall glass. Add ice until filled, and top with club soda. Strain into a stemmed martini glass or enjoy over ice.


  1. Coffee Old-Fashioned. This twist on an American staple gives you the warmth of whiskey and the buzz of espresso, all in one glass. You’ll need:


  • 2 oz. espresso (room temperature or cooler)
  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup
  • Dash Peychaud’s bitters
  • Lemon peel


Add espresso, bourbon, simple syrup, and bitters to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and pour over ice in a rocks glass. Twist lemon peel over the drink, rub around the glass rim, and use as a garnish.


Other Coffee Cocktails


You may have noticed a lack of some of the most popular coffee-flavored drinks on our list, including the White Russian and the Colorado Bulldog. Kahlua—the coffee element in both of these drinks—is made by combining Arabica coffee with sugar, vanilla, and rum. The caffeine contents are negligible compared to using coffee itself (5 mg versus up to 200 in a cup of coffee). Therefore, we’ve kept our list to our favorite buzzy and boozy cocktails that include full-fledged coffee.

Need help finding some of the items mentioned in these recipes? Simply place an advance order online, or call ahead to inquire about our stock at your nearest Payless Liquor location. We look forward to serving you.



winter cocktail ingredients

How to Stock Your Liquor Cabinet for Winter Cocktails

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When it’s bone-chillingly cold outside, there’s nothing better than curling up beside the fire with the perfect soul-warming drink. For some, a simple mug of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate will do. However, for the cocktail aficionado, the ideal winter drink likely includes a generous helping of spirits and some cold weather-friendly mixers.

Since the best place to enjoy a few winter cocktails is in the warm and cozy comfort of your own home, you’ll need to put some thought into stocking your home bar for cold-weather drinks. However, unless you aim to build a fully stocked bar that rivals your favorite cocktail hub, there’s no reason to rush out and buy dozens of liqueurs, cordials, and mixers. Make a brief list of your favorite winter cocktails, browse our suggestions below, and use our checklist to build your winter stock list, customized to your tastes.

Popular Winter Cocktails

When it’s cold outside, you want a cocktail that will warm you from the inside—whether that warmth is due to a cozy-hot mixer or the delightful heat of a stiff liquor is up to you. Depending on your tastes, multiple winter cocktails could fit the bill, but these are the most common:

  • Spiced apple ciders, spiked with a generous helping of whiskey, bourbon, or cinnamon schnapps, and winter spices like cinnamon, anise, cloves, and more
  • Mulled wines, infused with those same winter spices
  • Adult hot chocolate, which can be spiked with whiskey or any wintery schnapps like peppermint or cinnamon
  • Hot coffee drinks, including Irish coffee bolstered by whiskey, or even a simple Irish cream and coffee
  • Hot buttered rum, featuring spiced rum topped with butter, sugar, and cinnamon
  • Hot toddies, crafted from whiskey, honey, and lemon juice
  • Old-fashioneds, featuring bourbon, Angostura bitters, orange peel, and sugar
  • Whiskey sours, including your favorite bourbon, simple syrup, lemon juice, and a cherry
  • Martinis, either gin or bourbon, with your choice of vermouth and a lemon peel or olive


What You’ll Need to Stock Your Bar


The best thing about winter cocktails is that the sheer diversity in taste we’ve listed above can be built on a base of just a few spirits, as well as a few ingredients you’re likely to find in your kitchen during the winter months. Use this checklist (ordered from most to least critical) to develop your personalized winter bar stocking shopping list:

  • Whiskeys—you’ll find whiskey in a number of the above cocktails, and it proves a warming drink all on its own. Start with:


  • Kentucky bourbon
  • Irish whiskey
  • Tennessee whiskey


  • Gin—the piney aroma is perfect for the cold season and can be substituted for whiskey in sours and martinis
  • Spiced rum
  • Schnapps to add that flavorful kick to cocoas, coffees, and ciders. Consider:


  • Cinnamon schnapps
  • Peppermint schnapps


  • Irish cream liqueur
  • Red wine for mulling
  • Angostura bitters
  • Dry and sweet vermouth, for martinis and Manhattans
  • Apple juice or cider
  • Hot cocoa mix
  • Lemons, Lemon juice, Oranges
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon sticks and Cloves
  • White and brown sugar
  • Butter


Of course, you may need additional or fewer items as your tastes dictate—there’s no point in stocking your home bar with bottles you’ll never use, and if you enjoy a nice Mai Tai in the dead of winter, we’re not here to tell you you’re wrong. However, the above list will give you a great start and allow you to prepare each of the most popular winter cocktails in the comfort of your home bar. For more recipes, bar stocking suggestions, and insight into what’s new at Payless Liquors, check out our blog and five-star rating guide.



bourbon eggnog

A Very Bourbon Xmas: Bourbon Eggnog

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Can you think of any better way to send off the Holiday Season than with Eggnog?

Well, we couldn’t either.

We’re finishing off our 12 days of a Very Bourbon Christmas with this household favorite recipe for Bourbon Eggnog. Enjoy!

Bourbon Eggnog


● 2 eggs, separated
● 1/4 cup sugar, divided
● 1/2 cup rum, bourbon, or brandy
● 1 1/2 cups whole milk
● 1/2 cup heavy cream
● Garnish: grated nutmeg


1. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with 3 tablespoons sugar until fluffy.
2. Stir in milk, heavy cream, and your spirit of choice.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until soft peaks form.
4. Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.
5. Divide between four rocks glasses or punch or teacups.
6. Garnish each with freshly grated nutmeg.

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Bourbon Sour

A Very Bourbon Xmas: The Bourbon Sour

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For Day 11 of our Very Bourbon Christmas, we’re going to be trying out the Bourbon Sour!

Jerry Thomas made the simple formula for a sour law in his 1862 The Bartenders Guide: spirit, sweetener, citrus.

One of the most popular cocktails in this family is the Whiskey Sour, which can be made with many types of whiskey, but we prefer to make it with a Bourbon instead.

The Bourbon Sour


● 2 ounces bourbon
● 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
● 1/2 ounce simple syrup
● 1/2 ounce egg white (optional)
● Garnish: Angostura bitters


1. Add bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white, if using, to a shaker and dry-shake for 30 seconds without ice.
2. Add ice and shake again until well-chilled.
3. Strain into a coupe glass.
4. Garnish with 3 or 4 drops of Angostura bitters.

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New York Sour

A Very Bourbon Xmas: The New York Sour

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The 9th day of a very Bourbon Christmas has brought to you the New York Sour!

The New York Sour updates the Whiskey Sour recipe with a bit of dry red wine.

The wine lends its aromatic attributes and deep red color to the drink.

Reports trace the New York Sour back to the 1870s or 1880s, although it likely first appeared under other names.

New York Sour


● 2 ounces rye whiskey or bourbon
● 1-ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
● 3/4 ounce simple syrup
● 1 egg white (optional)
● 1/2 ounce red wine


1. Add all ingredients except the wine into a shaker with ice and shake hard until well-chilled.
2. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
3. Slowly pour the wine over the back of a bar spoon so that it floats on top of the drink.

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A Very Bourbon Xmas: The Boulevardier

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On the 8th day of hoping it gets warmer soon… We made a Boulevardier!

The boulevardier cocktail is composed of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Campari.

Its creation is credited to Erskine Gwynne, an American-born writer who founded a monthly magazine in Paris called Boulevardier, which appeared from 1927 to 1932.



● 1 1/4 ounces bourbon (or rye)
● 1 ounce Campari
● 1-ounce sweet vermouth
● Garnish: orange twist


1. Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
2. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
3. Garnish with an orange twist.

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bourbon splash

A Very Bourbon Xmas: The Bourbon Smash

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7 days into our Very Bourbon Christmas we give you… The Bourbon Smash!

The Whiskey Smash is as classic as a cocktail can get.

You can think of it as a citrusy take on its famous cousin the Mint Julep.

It’s a perfect way to dress up your favorite bourbon into a refreshing delight.

Bourbon Smash


● 3 lemon wedges
● 2 ounces bourbon
● 3/4 ounce simple syrup
● 4 mint leaves
● Garnish: mint sprig


1. Muddle the lemon wedges in a shaker.
2. Add the remaining ingredients, plus ice, and shake until well-chilled.
3. Double-strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
4. Garnish with a mint sprig.

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Hot Toddy Recipe

A Very Bourbon Xmas:- The Hot Toddy

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We’re halfway through our 12 days of a Very Bourbon Christmas! We’ve got a home remedy today for you if you’ve been enjoying our recipes a bit too much.

A hot toddy, also known as hot whiskey in Ireland, is typically a mixed drink made of liquor and water with honey, herbs, and spices.

Hot toddies are traditionally drunk before going to bed for the night, in wet or cold weather to relieve the symptoms of the cold or flu.

Hot Toddy


● 1/2 cup water
● 1 1/2 ounces bourbon
● 1 tablespoon honey
● 2 teaspoons lemon juice
● Cinnamon stick, for garnish
● Lemon slice, for garnish


1. In a teapot or a small saucepan, bring water to simmer.
2. In a mug, combine bourbon, honey, and lemon juice to a mug. Pour over hot water and stir to combine.
3. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and lemon slice.

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Sazerac Recipe

A Very Bourbon Christmas: The Sazerac

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On the 5th day of Bourbon Christmas, my true love gave to me… Sazerac!

The Sazerac is a local New Orleans variation of a cognac or whiskey cocktail, named for the Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand of cognac that served as the original main ingredient.



● Absinthe, to rinse
● 1 sugar cube
● 2 dashes Angostura bitters
● 2 ounces bourbon


1. Rinse the chilled old-fashioned glass with absinthe, discarding excess, and set aside.
2. Muddle 1 sugar cube
3. 2 dashes of Angostura bitters in a mixing glass.
4. Add 2 oz bourbon
5. Fill with ice and stir.
6. Strain into an old-fashioned glass.
7. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

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Brown Derby

A Very Bourbon Xmas: The Brown Derby

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For our fifth day of a Very Bourbon Christmas, we’re going to be making the Brown Derby.

The Brown Derby is a three-ingredient cocktail that was named after the Brown Derby hat-shaped Los Angeles diner.

The cocktail was created at The Hollywood Reporter founder Billy Wilkerson’s Vendôme Club on Sunset Boulevard in 1930.

The Brown Derby


● 1 1/2 ounces bourbon
● 1-ounce grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
● 1/2 ounce honey syrup
● Garnish: grapefruit twist


1. Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled
2. Fine-strain into a cocktail glass.
3. Express the oil from a grapefruit twist and drop in to garnish (or garnish with a grapefruit wedge).

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toast to new years

The History Behind Why We Toast to the New Year

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We all have been clinking our glasses together for our New Year’s Eve toast for as long as we can remember. But have you ever wondered where this tradition came from and why Champagne is the drink of choice to say good-bye to the current year and ring in the next?


When It Began

Surprisingly, you have to go back 1,500 years to find the first time alcohol was recorded as being used to toast the New Year. The custom of toasting was a religious event and began as a church ceremony for the elite and wealthy to celebrate a new year’s start. The drink used at that time was described as having a similar taste to that of our present-day Champagne.


The Term Toast

It wasn’t until the late 17th century that the word toast came about. The word evolved from the custom of plopping a piece of toast or crouton in a drink, similar to the way people toss a lime into tequila or some lemon into tea. Most likely, this practice was done to add flavor to the beverage. It was very common, and virtually anything found floating in a drink was referred to as “toast.”


Clinking of the Glasses

There are several theories as to where the tradition of clinking glasses came from. In the early days of Christianity, many believed the bell-like noise of glasses clinking would keep the devil away. Others speculate that by adding the clink, drinkers could get the absolute best experience from their drink. Without the clink, it was believed that the toasts only satisfied four of the five senses. Although research cannot confirm or deny this one, a third theory is that it was believed that clinking glasses would prevent nobles from getting poisoned. A story is told that the clank would splash liquid from one glass to another, reassuring the guest that their drink was safe to drink and had not been tampered with.


The American Toast

Americans caught onto the tradition of toasting rather willingly. For them, the ritual was largely for patriotic purposes. Toasts were commonly directed toward the new republic and the experiment of democracy. For many years after the Revolutionary War, 13 toasts were obligatory. They toasted once for each state, and no dinner or celebration was considered complete without all 13 tributes.


Toasting Today

The ritual of toasting is more popular today than ever, especially when welcoming the New Year. The act of clinking glasses to 2021 is no longer simply a religious event or a patriotic affair, but rather a nod to honoring a person or concept, such as good health, and to the hopeful idea that we shall start anew.


Choose your favorite beverage and raise your glass this New Year’s Eve. Payless Liquors has a huge selection of wine, beer, and liquor for all your New Year’s holiday needs. Check out our website and use our 5-star rating guide to help you make your next selection. Cheers to a Happy and Healthy New Year!



mint julep recipe

A Very Bourbon Xmas: The Mint Julep

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Day 4 of your Very Bourbon Christmas is here! Today we’re going to be making a Mint Julep.

The Mint Julep is the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby, which has helped it become immensely popular.

Tens of thousands of Mint Juleps are served at Churchill Downs in Louisville every year!

With a balance of sweet, smoky, and herbal flavors, the Mint Julep is delicious any time of the year.

Mint Julep


● 8 mint leaves
● 1/4 ounce simple syrup
● 2 ounces bourbon
● Garnish: mint sprig
● Garnish: Angostura bitters (optional)


1. In a Julep cup or rocks glass, lightly muddle the mint leaves in the simple syrup.
2. Add the bourbon then pack the glass tightly with crushed ice.
3. Stir until the cup is frosted on the outside.
4. Top with more crushed ice to form an ice dome, and garnish with a mint sprig and a few drops of bitters (optional).

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