Birthday Bubbly, Chilling Out and Craft Beer for All

I’m writing this week from Calistoga, California, waiting out the dog days of summer in the north end of the historic Napa Valley. This is my fourth trip here (and I’ll have a full report of what’s new, noteworthy and oh-so delicious soon enough), but my four visits is nothing compared with Domaine Chandon, which this year celebrates four decades in the Valley. Moët & Chandon founded the first French-owned winery in the area in 1973. In honor of the occasion, Domaine Chandon has released a nonvintage 40th Anniversary Cuvée Rosé, a winery-only special ($40). But if you can’t run for the vined hills just this moment, you can still toast to another 40 years of Chandon at Tao and Lavo restaurants, at Tao Beach’s Sunday brunch and at Bubbles & Brunch at the Cosmopolitan’s Overlook Grill.

Back at home, Las Vegas has one new master sommelier to count among its august ranks. As if to exemplify the point made by the 2012 documentary Somm—which chronicles the white-knuckled panic that is the exam only 202 candidates have passed in four decades—Nick Hetzle of Sage in Aria was the one candidate in 70 invited to take the increasingly difficult three-part master sommelier exam in Dallas last month. So maybe think twice about trying to one-up Hetzle to impress your dinner guests—he can probably swirl, sniff and spit circles around you!

If the hometown heat is getting to you, too, head to Sugar Factory, which recently rolled out its own cocktail cart. The hybrid cart makes cocktails tableside, but also can give drinks such as the cotton candy-flavored Cosmopolitan and candy-inspired creations including the Jolly Rancher, S’Mores and Hubba Bubba the liquid nitrogen treatment.

Another cooling notion, beer has been called “the most democratic, egalitarian, and open source of all beverages.” Millionaires can make it, and so can you. As of last month, homebrewing is legal in all 50 states. (Thank you, Mississippi!) And now, thanks to the proliferation of the growler, there are more ways to enjoy that experience in your own backyard.

At Total Wine & More in Henderson, a 3-month-old growler station allows you to stock up on draft craft, 12 varieties—includes at least one local and some more exclusive one-offs—using your own growler (32- or 64-ounce glass or stainless steel sealable beer vessels) or purchasing one there for $4-$5. Growler fillups range from $7-$29 depending on your taste. Like Total Wine & More Henderson’s Facebook page to see what’s on tap. Similarly, Whole Foods Market in Henderson got in on the same act with six taps. Fillups will run you $8-$24 with $4 growlers. Like Whole Foods Market Henderson on Facebook to see Friday’s beer updates.

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