Tailgating Cocktail Recipes

If you love to tailgate, or get together with friends to watch football on the weekend, but you’re not a beer drinker, Eric Steigelman from Bonfire Wines shared some amazing cocktail recipes you can whip up instead.

COCKTAIL: Autumn Bonfire Sangria
PREP: stemmed wine glasses (2), assorted fruit, and pitcher.
• Some people believe that you can use sub-par wine when you’re making sangria, but we think that using quality wine is what makes quality sangria.
• Ember is a sweet red Bonfire Wines blend that pairs perfectly with your favorite fruit for a delicious, fall sangria.
• Sangria is the perfect beverage for a crowd, especially if you’re outdoors and looking for something refreshing to sip. 

For the Spiced Apple Cider:
2 cups apple cider
1/3 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 orange slices (rounds)
For the Spiced Apple Cider Sangria:
3 cups Bonfire Wine Ember red wine blend
2 cups spiced apple cider (recipe above)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brandy (optional) 

For the Spiced Apple Cider:
Mix together all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and then remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Strain before using.
For the Spiced Apple Cider Sangria:
Mix ingredients together in a large pitcher and garnish with orange wheels and cinnamon sticks. To serve, pour over ice.

COCKTAIL: Ignite Raspberry Sparkler  
PREP: Champagne flutes (2), raspberries, Bonfire Wine Ignite, Prosecco, bowl to display extra raspberries.
• If you’re celebrating a big win for your team, you’ll want to break out the bubbles!
• Bonfire Wine’s Ignite, a sweet white blend with hints of natural melon and pineapple, pairs well with Prosecco.
• Raspberries add an elegant touch, so if want to impress with something sparkling; this is the way to go.


3 ounces Prosecco
3 ounces Bonfire Wine Ignite White Wine Blend

Pour chilled Prosecco into a champagne flute and top with chilled white wine. Add two or three raspberries (or your favorite fruit, as desired). Serve immediately.

COCKTAIL: Social Vodka

Social Sparkling Sake (Credit: Facebook)

PREP: Cocktail glasses, cans of social, lemon.
• Social is the perfect option for anyone who is looking to cut down on the sugar and calories in their cocktail.
• The new sparkling sake wine is delicious on its own, but is also a nice way to jazz up a standard vodka soda if the simple cocktail is your usual go-to.
• Social only has four grams of sugar, so it’s great for guests or fans on a low carb diet.

COCKTAIL: Spiced Pear Flip  
PREP: Martini Glasses (2), Lemons, Milagro tequila, agave nectar, cinnamon, pears, Safest Choice pasteurized eggs, bowl for ingredients.
• Cinnamon and pears are two flavors reminiscent of fall and they pair perfectly with a nice smooth tequila.
• One of the brand ambassadors for Milagro tequila passed this on to us and we love how balanced it is, perfectly spiced but not overwhelming.
• We use Safest Choice eggs in cocktail recipes because they’re pasteurized, so you can consume them raw and do not need to worry about foodborne illness.

Eric Steigelman of Bonfire Wines | Bootstrapping in America

Eric Steigelman is the CEO and Founder of Bonfire Wines. They offer affordable wines which come in a unique eco-friendly pouch. Check out more Bootstrapping In America interviews: http://ow.ly/SKWKG For more information, visit http://www.drinkbonfire.com Some of the most interesting stories around are from entrepreneurs willing to take an idea and turn it into a business.

To Reach Younger Buyers, Vintners Think Outside the Bottle

PERSUADING consumers to drink anything other than bottled wine is an uphill climb. Glass bottles are the gold standard, so newer brands are turning to sleek, eco-friendly containers and promoting them through social media to reach younger wine drinkers.

Those in the millennial age group, between 21 and 34, are the target because they have grown up drinking from plastic and are less wedded to traditional wine rituals. And some 51 percent of them drink wine at least once a week, according to data from the Wine Market Council.

Already on some shelves is wine in boxes, in aluminum cans and in plastic. Last month, Southwest Wines in Deming, N.M., began selling wine blends in aluminum containers. Constellation Wines is offering its Black Box brand in mass market outlets like Costco.

As the industry broadens its offerings, some of the innovators are not vintners, but packaging experts who are bringing their expertise to the way wine reaches consumers.

Last spring, Stacked Wines, based in California, introduced individually packaged, stemless plastic cups, which stack vertically and contain chardonnaymerlot and other wines. Matt Zimmer, a mechanical engineer who worked in the bottled water industry for more than six years, came up with Stacked Wines’ packaging.

“We see an industry trend to more convenient packaging,” said Mr. Zimmer, Stacked Wines’ chief executive. He began the company, in Anaheim, with M.B.A. classmates from the University of California, Irvine.

Another entrant in the wine business, Eric Steigelman, a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, drew on his background in flexible product packaging to design a pouch for his Bonfire Wines.

“Millennials are interested in convenience and availability, and some areas like soup and baby foods have been moving to pouches,” said Mr. Steigelman, in Chicago. “Wine seemed to be an area that was looking for innovation, but little had been done.”

The biggest challenge to gaining consumer confidence has been overcoming the perception that wine should come only from a bottle. Wine in other packaging has long been lumped into the undrinkable or barely acceptable category, although some boxed wines are becoming more popular.

Wine drinkers tend to be explorers and frequently decide what to purchase while in the store, unlike other buyers of alcoholic beverages, who settle on their brands in advance, according to a study released this month by Nielsen North America Consumer Group.

New brands emphasize packaging for people who want lightweight, portable and easily consumed wine. Stacked Wines, which is expanding its distribution from California to 46 states starting in January, is using its national introduction as an opportunity to revamp its label to better explain its product, according to Jodi Wynn, a co-founder.

Stacked Wines’ consumers simply unseal the package and drink, with no wine glasses or corkscrew required. The four sealed portions, made using the company’s trademarked Vinoware, fit atop one another. Each holds the equivalent of a glass of wine, and the four combined equal a 750-milliliter bottle. There is no spoilage because the wine is packaged in individual amounts. The company charges about $15 for a stack.


Continue reading the main story


Continue reading the main story

For Bonfire Wines, Mr. Steigelman chose a pouch — which prevents air from oxidizing and spoiling wine — made from federally approved food-grade materials. The pouches are black with a broad stripe of vibrant color running horizontally, and were designed by Planet Studio, a design and marketing company in Atlanta.

To arrive at packaging that would be noticed amid the proliferation of bottles, Gene Keserica, Planet Studio’s creative director, said his team chose fluorescent colors because “we saw that as a way for the packaging to be eye-catching — if you can make someone pause, that gives you a split second to get your message over.”

The label’s look “can have significant influence on a purchase,” said David Turner, president of Turner Duckworth, a brand identity and packaging design agency in San Francisco and London. “Beverage packaging is not purely functional, but a way of reaching your buyer.”

Bonfire Wines is highlighting the portability of its pouch for those who like to share the experience of drinking wine with others. To enhance interaction, Mr. Steigelman added a quick response, or QR, code to each pouch for mobile-phone-carrying buyers to react to what they are drinking and keep in touch with the brand.

The Bonfire wines are produced by Kevin McGuire, a California winemaker, said Mr. Steigelman, who has not yet set a price for them.

After tasting Bonfire’s Ember sweet red wine blend or its Ignite sweet white wine blend, buyers can register their preferences for the next type of wine the company will offer.

Engaging the buyer is important because with such a profusion of label choices, wine buyers can be influenced by samples, promotions and advertising, according to the Nielsen study, titled “Exploring the Alcohol Beverage Consumer’s Mind-Set.”

Brands like Stacked and Bonfire (which is not yet on the shelves) have tiny marketing budgets. To generate, and keep, an audience of dedicated buyers, they are focusing on tastings at locations like local arts and music festivals, and on social media like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

After spending more than a year choosing his wine, packaging and design, and obtaining his liquor licensing, Mr. Steigelman is missing 2012’s top alcohol sales period and will not be selling his pouches until spring.

“So few companies manufacture pouches,” Mr. Steigelman sighed, “and, for now, they are all booked up.”

National Restaurant Association Announces 2014 FABI Award Recipients

March 5, 2014

(Chicago) The National Restaurant Association today announced the recipients of the Food and Beverage Innovations (FABI) Awards, which recognize progressive food and beverage innovations that will make a significant impact in the restaurant industry.

An independent panel of experts, representing a variety of both commercial and non-commercial industry segments, selected the FABI Award recipients based on their exciting benefits to restaurant operators as well as the end consumer. The innovations selected represent new packaging designs, solutions in efficiency and waste reduction, as well as alternatives to satisfy consumer desires for gluten-free, artisan and vegan menu items. The award recipients will be showcased at the 2014 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show on May 17-20 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

“Food and beverage innovation helps advance menu development,  driving customer satisfaction and increasing restaurant traffic,” said Sam Facchini, Convention Chair for NRA Show 2014 and co-founder and co-owner of Metro Pizza. “This year’s FABI Award recipients provide operators with opportunities to improve efficiencies and attract new guest segments by meeting a wide variety of consumer demands. Virtually any operation, of any shape or size, can benefit from one or more of these innovations, making them a must-see part of NRA Show® 2014.”

The 2014 FABI Awards recipients are:

Atalanta Corporation
Skura Nera: Pizza Flour

A modern development of an ancient technique, this distinctive flour blend provides smoky flavor profiles to artisanal style products and can be used to create unique pizza, pasta or bread.

Atalanta Corporation
Sweety Drop Peppers

Discovered growing in the Amazon Rainforest, this new, versatile and unique pepper has a colorful appearance, sweet flavor and can be used to add a signature twist to salads, pizzas, pastas and more.

Bonfire Wines™
Bonfire Wine Pouch™

This new evolution of wine packaging is a versatile pouch that is easy to use, keeps wine fresh for four weeks and dramatically reduces packaging volume and waste.

Chiquita Brands North America
Gourmet Cafe Creative Classics from Fresh Express

Incorporating creative and unique ingredients into classic salad recipes, this new line of salads delivers a great-tasting, healthy and convenient menu option for operators with 15 days of shelf life.

Deya's Gluten Free
Gluten-Free Flour

This gluten free flour blend uses dried egg whites as a key ingredient and is designed as a 1-for-1 replacement without the characteristic differences in texture or after-taste, allowing operators to easily make gluten-free versions of flour-based recipes.

Diamond Crystal Brands
Flavor Fresh™ & House Blend® Liquid Portions Line

A new line of flavorful dressings, sauces and condiments that are low-sodium and transfat-free with no added high fructose corn syrup or Gluten containing ingredients; developed to appeal to K-12 students while helping schools provide healthier menus.

Gardein Vegan Fishless Filets

Made with non-GMO soy and wheat, ancient grains and veggies, these filets deliver the taste, texture and omega 3s of fish with no cholesterol or trans-fat—providing operators a healthy menu option that is a good source of fiber, 100% vegan, and kosher-certified.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
Keurig® BOLT™ Pack

This self-contained pack features pre-measured, ground coffee with a built-in filter—delivering 64 ounces of fresh, consistent coffee in about 2 minutes for increased efficiency and less mess.

Hormel Health Labs - Diamond Crystal Brands
Thick & Easy® HP Shaped Puree's

Designed for people with swallowing difficulties, these pureed meat and vegetable products provide high-protein, low-sodium nutrition without sacrificing taste or visual appearance.

Kiki's Gluten Free Foods, LLC
Gluten Free Deep Dish Pizza

Frozen and packaged to prevent cross contamination, this is the first commercially available gluten-free deep dish pizza, allowing operators to offer a quality Chicago-style pizza that accommodates guests with gluten-free diets.

Schmaltz Products, LLC
Schmacon™ - Smoked & Cured Glazed Beef Slices

Beef’s full-flavored new answer to bacon, this patent-pending product allows operators to deliver a high-quality alternative to pork bacon with significantly less fat, sodium and calories than pork bacon.

FABI Award recipients were chosen by an independent panel of industry experts who represent all commercial and non-commercial segments. The 2014 FABI Judges are:

  • Carlyn Berghoff, CEO, Berghoff Catering & Restaurant Group
  • John Li, Senior Vice President, Research & Development, Bloomin Brands, Inc.
  • Jeff McClure, Director of Culinary Services, Sodexo Education Market
  • Deborah McDaniel, Senior Director, Product Innovation & Development-Menu Development, McDonald's USA, LLC
  • Mary Angela Miller, Administrative Director, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
  • Brad Nelson, Vice President & Corporate Chef, Marriott International
  • Linda Sceurman, National Director of Nutrition & Menu Development, ARAMARK Education
  • William J. Spencer, Chief, Air Force Appropriated Fund F&B Operations, San Antonio, Texas
  • Brian Wilson, Senior Culinary Development Chef, Bob Evans Farms Inc.
  • Ed Wronski, Director, Culinary & Concept Development, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

 NRA Show 2014 will be held May 17-20 and IWSB will be held May 18-19 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. To register, please visit Restaurant.org/Show/Register.


Tailgating Made Easier with Bonfire Wines + French Onion Cheeseburger Recipe

I have to confess that I'm not a huge sports fan. I grew up in a house with 3 sisters (and one patient brother) and none of us were particularly athletic, so sports have never been a huge part of my life. Then I ended up going to college at Syracuse University and our basketball team (featuring one Carmelo Anthony) won the national championship during my freshman year. When that happens, you sort of have to become a basketball fan. Football though, has never really been my thing.

You know what I do love about football season? Tailgating! Or more generally, an excuse to wear a hoodie, eat cheesy and/or fried food, and drink alcohol on a Sunday afternoon. Not being much of a beer girl anymore, I like to class up my day drinking with a glass of wine-- and maybe a classic French spin on your standard cheeseburger.




This French Onion Cheeseburger is a mashup of two tasty and decadent dishes: a grilled hamburger on a toasty brioche bun is topped with caramelized onions slow cooked and flavored with a little beef broth and red wine for that rich French onion soup flavor. I melted nutty Gruyere cheese over the top, which is the perfect creamy and melty cheeseburger topping-- and what you'd traditionally find bubbling on top of your soup crock. It's all finished off with a swipe of spicy Dijon for extra French flavor. It's a fancy looking burger that's actually really easy to put together-- even for a tailgate. Slice your cheese and carmelize the onions at home. Pack them up along with your Dijon and then grill your burgers and rolls onsite, assemble, and enjoy!




And while that covers food, let's talk about drinks for a moment. As I mentioned, I'm more of a wine than beer drinker these days. The only downside is that wine is typically not very convenient unless you're sitting at your dining room table or in a restaurant. It requires an opener and it comes in a big (breakable) glass bottle that's difficult to pack, reseal, or dispose of when you're done... Not ideal for tailgating. That is, unless you're drinking Bonfire wines.

Bonfire is the perfect wine for tailgates, cookouts, picnics, and the like. It comes in a handy and transportable pouch that chills 65% faster than a traditional wine bottle with a built-in spout for pouring-- no corks needed and accidental spills are kept to a minimum. The pouch also holds 1.5 liters of wine, which is the equivalent of 2 bottles. Other perks? The eco-friendly pouch is easy on the environment and a great bargain-- The pouch retails for $15.99-$16.99 (and remember, it's the equivalent of 2 bottles!) at stores like Mariano's and Whole Foods in the Chicagoland area.




Bonfire is available in two varieties: Ignite, a sweet white blend and Ember, a dryer red blend. I paired our burgers with Ember and it was the perfect chilly night dinner-- and would be great to warm you up while sitting in the parking lot outside Soldier Field too!




French Onion Cheeseburgers Recipe


  • 3 Tbs. butter, divided
  • 2 Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves 
  • 2 Tbs. Bonfire Ember red wine  
  • 1/2 cup beef broth  
  • 4 (1/4 lb.) hamburger or bison burger patties
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz. Gruyere cheese, sliced
  • 4 brioche buns
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Melt 2 Tbs. of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions to the pan along with one pinch of salt and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. At this point, onions should be very soft and golden, but not browned or crispy.

Stir in the thyme leaves and pour the wine and half the beef broth into the onions. Stir frequently until broth is absorbed and then add remaining broth and repeat.

Preheat a grill to medium high heat and lightly oil the grates. 

Season burgers with salt and pepper and grill (with the grill cover pulled down) over medium heat for 5-8 minutes on each side or until cooked to desired level of doneness and juices run clear. Top each patty with Gruyere cheese slices. Grill for 1 minute longer or until cheese is melted. 

Melt remaining butter in a griddle or skillet pan over medium high heat. Place each half the brioche buns inside side down until warm and golden brown.

Spread Dijon mustard on the inside of the top halves of each bun. Place a warm cheese burger on the bottom half of each bun, top with onions, and serve.

Tea Time with Brandy: Bonfire Wine

It's no secret that Brandy likes a little drink now and then, but while she may sip a cocktail more often than not, there are times she likes to class things up and pour herself a good old glass of wine.  "I'm not so much a wine snob, per say, but I do require my wines to be smooth, bold, and largely made of alcohol," as Brandy likes to say.  

While she may not be picky about her wines, Brandy does appreciate innovation, so when she recently heard about a new brand, marketing itself as the perfect portable wine for things like tailgating, picnics, and outdoor concerts, she was pretty intrigued.  Bonfire Wines, founded by Chicago-based entrepreneur and packaging industry veteran Eric Steigelman, are wines that are not only unique in taste but available in eco-friendly and convenient pouch packaging.  The wines come in two varieties, Ember (a red blend) and Ignite (a white blend), and retail between $15.99 - $16.99 at local Whole Foods and Mariano’s.  The wine in the Bonfire Wine pouches chills in 65 percent less time than a traditional bottle and its built-in spout lets you enjoy wine by the glass while keeping the rest fresh for four weeks.  Each pouch holds 1.5 liters (the equivalent of two bottles of wine). 

"Say what you like about boxed or bagged wines," Brandy said as she triggered the spout to pour out the Ember variety into her extra large glass, "But box, bag, or bottle is certainly no indication of the quality these days."  Brandy found the wine to be pretty smooth, a little acidic, but generally pleasantly drinkable, and she really enjoyed the spout technology, as it was much less unwieldy than a traditional cork.

To pair with the wine ("You're supposed to pair food with wine so you don't look like a total drunk," Brandy says) Brandy pan fried a New York strip steak with simple salt and pepper seasoning, then sauteed some butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and portobello mushroom to make a sort of fall vegetable hash.  The fat in the steak as well as the crisp, earthy fall vegetables were a great match for the full bodied red.  "It may seem like a nice dinner, but I wouldn't be opposed to having this for brunch either," Brandy mused, "Fry up a couple of eggs and call this a steak skillet!"

Brandy has now become a pretty big fan of Bonfire wines, as she especially appreciated their portable nature, which quite possibly means her quilting circle and knitting guild meetings might never be the same.

The writers of this blog were provided with product free of charge in exchange for an honest review.