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The Spirit of Epicurus' Garden is Alive and Well in Sonoma County
"Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher and founder of the school of thought known as “Epicureanism,” referred to his school in Athens as “the garden.” Though his philosophical letters veered into a great many subjects, the main mission of Epicurus’ philosophy was to help people achieve a tranquil life, free of pain and fear, a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. The ideal of leading a simple life, surrounded by friends, enjoying “the garden,” is one of the guiding principles of Sonoma County resident Marshall Dawson, co-founder of Jardesca aperitiva. Dawson and his business partner, Roger Morrison, launched the Jardesca brand in 2011, having formed a consulting company together in 2006. Each had spent decades in the spirits business, Dawson as a global brand director and Morrison on the agency side. “We both had the idea of the European apéritif moment ingrained in us,” Dawson said. In many European countries, apéritifs are commonly offered before meals to “open the appetite.” They are lower in alcohol than spirits, and often paired with appetizers. Dawson and Morrison had always liked the idea of this pause, a moment to take a breath, enjoy a conversation and a nibble. “Wonderful moments,” Dawson said. Morrison lives in Los Angeles and Dawson in Sonoma, so with their combined California sensibility they set out to create something that matched the outdoorsy, ultra-fresh California lifestyle. And something that did not already exist in the U.S. market. They started tinkering. The partners realized that the idea of an “apéritif” translated differently in the U.S. than in Europe, that it meant something more like a lighter spirited beverage that could be enjoyed during the day—something suited for picnics, for sitting by the pool, for enjoying over brunch. Starts and stops abounded, but the idea of a garden kept returning to the conversation. First, they wanted to come up with the perfect name for their brand. Would they call their drink Jardin, the French word for garden? How could the idea of freshness be built into the name? “–esca” implied a certain freshness to the partners. Ultimately, they combined the two into Jardesca, a one-of-a-kind brand name that summed up the concept they were after. By starting with the brand and not the product itself, the Californians’ vision of what the product could be superseded the European apéritif idea, setting Jardesca up as a definitively Californian beverage. To further distinguish Jardesca, Dawson calls it an “aperitiva,” not the more common “aperitivo.” “It is Californian,” Dawson says. “It is different.” Then it was time to craft a product that lived up to the name. It needed to serve the essential function of an apéritif—or, in this case, aperitiva— to wake up your palate and appetite. For the base, Dawson looked for wines that could be consistent year after year, settling on Viognier. Next, Dawson said he knew he did not want to add traditional bitter flavors, but to focus instead on botanicals. “We didn’t want to cover up incredible California wine, but enhance it and add apéritif qualities.” The additions of pink grapefruit, pink peppercorn and bay laurel were inspired by California."

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17 Best New Years Eve Cocktails to Ring in the New Year With
"Because you've got to have something to toast with at midnight. Whether you're keeping things low key this year or watching the ball drop at a big bash, nothing says "Happy New Year" quite like a festive cocktail. We've rounded up our favorite sparklers, spritzes, and even a coffee-infused cocktail to keep you awake until midnight rolls around. Jardesca Holiday Spritz
  •   3 oz Jardesca White Aperitiva
  •   2 oz prosecco or sparkling wine
  •   1 bar spoonful pomegranate juice
Combine all ingredients over ice and gently stir. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and rosemary sprig."

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Napa Valley Garden Spirits
Wine-soaked aromatic botanicals sparkle in this summery aperitif.
"Looking for a refreshing warm-weather drink? Consider Jardesca California Aperitiva, a new beverage bursting with botanical flavors. Inspired by European aperitifs such as French Lillet or Italian Campari, Jardesca combines sweet and dry wines with eaux-de-vie, or double-distilled, fortified wines produced in California. Infused with 10 botanicals—including pink peppercorn, bay leaf, tangerine, cardamom, and more—Jardesca features viognier at the heart of its white wine blend and taps zinfandel in its red selection. All grapes in the aperitif are grown in the Golden State. Crafted at multiple locations, including a custom-crush facility in Sonoma, Jardesca is the masterwork of Marshall Dawson and Roger Morrison, with help from the acclaimed Bay Area mixologist Duggan McDonnell. After two years of trials, the team hit upon an aperitif that is softer than hard liquor yet fresher and more multifaceted than wine. “We were aiming to Americanize the aperitif,” Dawson says as he whips up the California Spritz sipper, combining a few jiggers of Jardesca and a splash of sparkling wine over ice. He tops the concoction with a fresh orange slice and shredded mint leaves. As pretty to look at as it is refreshing to drink, Jardesca has captured the attention of wine aficionados looking for a lighter, brighter before-dinner drink. “It’s like a garden in a glass,” says Dawson, garnishing more cocktails with aromatic herbs. The colorful bottles are lovely to behold, too. They’re imprinted with swirling vines; a golden garden trellis; and the head of Epicurus, the Greek philosopher devoted to the pursuit of pleasure. In Wine Country, Jardesca is certainly turning heads. It has become a favorite at Single Thread in Healdsburg as well as many other local restaurants. Throughout the summer, admirers can experience the handcrafted, wine-based spirit at Solage in Calistoga. The luxurious Auberge spa resort invites guests to stroll through the grounds in a spa robe with a glass of Jardesca California Aperitiva in hand. Imagine the delicious possibilities. $30. jardesca.com.

Mix It Up

Enjoy this recipe for a vibrant summer sipper. Jardesca California Spritz
  •   • 3 ounces Jardesca White Aperitiva
  •   • 2 ounces sparkling wine
  •   • 1 orange twist
  •   • 1 mint sprig
Mix ingredients together and serve over ice."

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Throw an Unfussy California-Style Holiday Party
"Skip the complicated mains and keep things simple with these quick, delicious recipes. Throwing an effortless get-together is easier than it sounds. Start by compiling a short list of friends—10 to 12 people—and craft a casual yet chic menu of appetizers, a signature cocktail, and a tempting dessert. Next, add a light-­hearted activity to break the ice. At a Sunset ­Secret House Party in Beverly Hills, artist Lindsay Swearingen taught guests simple embroidery, while chef Ashley Rodriguez whipped up dishes from her cookbook, Let’s Stay In: More Than 120 Recipes to Nourish the People You Love. You can follow their lead ­using the recipes and other tips that follow. It doesnt get much easier than this.
Holiday Spritz
This sparkling cocktail is made with Jardesca, a grape spirit infused with botanicals."

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Sophisticated Fall Dinner
"Jardesca Harvest Spritz This refreshing version of a red-wine spritzer (yes, we’ve gone retro here!) is made with Jardesca Red Aperitiva. Produced in Sonoma, California, the aperitiva is a blend of three red wines and a variety of spices. Find it at jardesca.com. Start to finish: 5 minutes
  • Ice
  • 1/3 cup Jardesca red aperitiva wine, chilled
  • 1/3 cup Prosecco, chilled
  • Wide orange twist
  • Sprig fresh rosemary
  • Fresh fig wedge
In ice-filled wineglass combine Jardesca and Prosecco. Garnish with orange twist, rosemary sprig, and fig wedge. Makes 1 serving."