Mixing Hot Chocolate Right for the Kids

Kids with hot chocolate – Columbia Distributing

When the air outside is a bit chilly, nothing beats cozying up inside with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. If you usually enjoy traditional hot cocoa, why not try out some new fixings? Here’s how to mix hot chocolate right for the kids.

Start With the Base

When working with hot chocolate mixes, you often have the choice of adding in water or milk. Whereas regular milk will afford a creamier, more decadent drinking experience, you can also choose to mix in water or nondairy milk – like rice milk, almond milk, soy milk or coconut milk –to accommodate children with food sensitivities and allergies.

Dress Up Your Hot Cocoa

What’s better than sipping on warm hot cocoa? Dressing up each drink with custom add-ons. After whipping up a batch of hot chocolate, add a scoop of the child’s favorite ice cream for even more creaminess, or top off the mug with the classic addition of marshmallows. Other ways to enhance your hot cocoa include:

  • Adding a cinnamon stick
  • Stirring in some flavored coffee creamer
  • Folding in a dollop of peanut butter
  • Mixing in a peppermint candy
  • Topping with whipped cream and chocolate shavings
  • Steeping strips of orange rind for a citrus kick
  • Whisking in malted milk powder
  • Adding a splash of eggnog

Give Kids Their Chocolate Fix

Are you ready to test out some new hot chocolate recipes? At Columbia Distributing, we offer a range of products and hot chocolate mixes from premium brands, letting you add hot cocoa recipes to your kid’s menu that are sure to delight. To learn more, contact us today.

The Lost Art of the Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy Tray – Columbia Distributing

When cold and flu season rears its head, many people turn to cough syrup and other over-the-counter remedies to find relief. However, did you know there’s a traditional drink that’s been consumed for over two centuries and is said to help alleviate cold symptoms? It’s called the hot toddy.

What’s a Hot Toddy?

The hot toddy is a mixed drink traditionally made of alcohol, water, honey, lemon juice, herbs and spices. While recipes may vary, the hot toddy is usually drunk as a nightcap, as a way to warm up in wet or cold weather or as needed when cold and flu symptoms kick in.

Each ingredient in a hot toddy provides its own health benefit. The alcohol serves as a decongestant, while the honey helps soothe sore throats. The lemon juice provides a healthy dose of vitamin C. Plus, the water provides much-needed hydration, while the herbs and spices you choose to incorporate can boost the immune system and help clear up a host of other symptoms.

Modern Twists on a Classic Cocktail

While the hot toddy was traditionally made from whiskey, modern takes on this old-timey beverage can call for apple cider, tea and other unique ingredients. Here are some hot toddy recipes perfect for the colder months:

  • Apple Cider Rooibos Hot Toddy: This recipe combines apple juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, fresh ginger and rooibos tea for a hearty kick.
  • Healing Hot Toddy: Juniper berries, chili flakes and anise set this nonalcoholic hot toddy apart from the pack.
  • Hot Apple and Cinnamon Toddy: Reminiscent of warm apple pie, this hot toddy recipe uses apple cider, cinnamon, lemon juice, cloves and ginger.

Beat the cold season by adding a hot toddy recipe to your winter drink menu. Find everything you need to recreate your favorite hot toddy recipe from Columbia Distributing. We offer a range of alcoholic and nonalcoholic brands to meet your specifications. Contact us today to learn more.

Pairing BBQ And Craft Beer For A Meal To Remember!


Americans have a love of barbecue that is legendary. Whether it’s brats or burgers, Memphis style ribs, or pork shoulder mopped with traditional Eastern North Carolina vinegar sauce, there’s a cooking style to meet every taste.

Like barbecue, craft beers aren’t pigeon-holed into any one style or location. Craft beers pair with a variety of foods from grilled meats to desserts. Choosing the right beer for barbecue is an art. Eating delicious barbecue while sipping the perfect beer can make any meal memorable.

Let’s look at four outstanding craft beer and barbecue pairings that can take your next barbecue to a new level of deliciousness!

1.    Memphis BBQ paired with Santa Monica Brewery Surf Ninja Imperial Stout

Memphis barbecue is big on pork and piles on the dry rub which is typically sweet with just a little heat. “Memphis-style” sauces are usually thin, tomato-based, tangy and sweet

American stouts such as Santa Monica Brewery’s Surf Ninja Imperial Stout are the perfect beer for Memphis-style barbecue. They offer a malt-laden flavor that can clear the sugary tang and pair beautifully with the smokiness.

2.    Kansas City BBQ and Garage Project Ayinger Dunkle Weisse

Kansas City barbecue is cooked low and slow over hickory. The sauce is famous for “sticking to the ribs of both animal and man.” Tomato-based with brown sugar or molasses, Kansas City sauce is a complex layering of sweet and sometimes spicy flavor.

The beer for Kansas City-style barbecue is a strong roasted malt brew like Garage Project Ayinger Dunkle Weisse. It offers a nice balance between malt sweetness, complementing the molasses, and hop character which emphasizes the spice.

3.    Eastern NC Style BBQ and Waddell’s Scottish Ale

Famous for slow pit cooked whole hogs that spend a day over the coals, Eastern North Carolina barbecue uses a vinegar based sauce that lathers the hog, from first heat until it’s finished. This all day low-and-slow basting gives the meat a deep rich tanginess with layer after layer of earthy spice.

Scottish ales like Wadell’s are the perfect beer for barbecue cooked with a vinegar based mop sauce. It works great with slow-cooked proteins and offers a malty sweetness that pairs well with the sour tang of a vinegar-based sauce.

4.    The “Great American Burger” and New Holland Brewing Dragon’s Milk

Who doesn’t love a burger? It’s a grilling staple! A properly dressed burger gives you four of the five basic tastes: salt (cheese) sour (pickles) sweet (ketchup) and umami (meat). The taste that’s missing is bitterness and that’s where the beer comes in!

New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk is a dark stout that features a roasty malt bitterness that mingles with deep vanilla tones. Because it’s fermented in bourbon barrels, it also has a delicious oaky taste that compliments any burger.

As a basic rule, contracting flavors work exceptionally well to enhance each other. Much like wine, darker, more robust beers like stouts, porters and IPAs work well with grilled meats. Seafood or chicken often pairs well with light and crisp flavors like wheat or fruit beers.

No matter what grilled goody is your favorite, you can’t go wrong pairing it with a delicious craft beer!



Craft Beer Ingredients by Season

seasonal craft beer by Columbia Distributing


In the past few years, the rise of craft beer has been startling — in fact, the total number of breweries in the States rose by almost 20% from 2013 to 2014; signaling the growing popularity of the many types of flavor profiles. The market has been trying to meet the demand, and so marketing your craft brew has been easier if you do it by season.

What Does the Season Matter?

The reasoning is actually somewhat similar to the wines you should drink with different kinds of meat and chocolate; some tastes simply complement others better. As examples, it is generally acknowledged that you want to save your darker, more involved beers for the cold wintertime crowd, and your lighter beers for the spring and summer. Incorporating this into your plan will have a distinct difference in results when marketing your craft brew.

Summertime Examples

If you’ve been in business for an length of time, then you’ve probably already got a solid plan in place for marketing your craft brew; something that incorporates search marketing in your local region and even paid advertisements. The next step is to tailor the flavors such that the seasonal ones dominate. In spring and leading into the summer, you should opt for fruit beers because of the lightness they confer to the cocktail. A cool shandy — lemonade and beer mix — goes a long way on a warm summer day.

Wheat, classic pilsner and pale and hoppy beers also work for summer evenings. You’ll appreciate the citrus flavor and fleeting spiciness at a summer barbecue, for example. Make the correct measurements for the additives, though, because you do not want a heavy brew this season.

Fall Brews

The gathering clouds and markedly cooler days make way for pumpkin, maple and amber brews. Autumn is the perfect time for nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice cocktails to liven up the spirits (pun intended). The lightness of summer is gone, and American renditions of the great German beer festival known as Oktoberfest crop up in towns everywhere. Consider adding appropriately colored banners when marketing your craft brew in the online space — they will attract more attention because of the season.

Winter Brews

The season of the heavy beer, as it were. Winter is the right time to brew those thick Imperials and Stouts and Porters that were much too heavy as summertime fare. These beers are like the Old Norse meads from the time of Thor and the Asgardians — they WILL leave you full and warm — and drunk, if you have as many glasses of this as you did of the classic Pilsners last summer.

An American favorite is eggnog-inspired spirits, which are more of a dessert beer. Lastly, Winter is also a great time for bourbon and chocolate/coffee mixtures to your liquor. Market these variously-flavored brews at the right time and you should see your bottom line go up.

Need an Energy Boost? Try These Energy Drinks

Columbia Dist Energy Drinks


A lot of people depend on their morning fix of caffeine to get the day started. For most, this comes in the form of a cup of coffee. In fact, many people may drink coffee throughout the day or even at night as a way to maintain their energy levels so that they can stay productive while at work.

However, coffee isn’t your only option. You can get the energy boost you need by enjoying wellness drinks or energy drinks, many of which also contain caffeine, the essential ingredient to an energy boost. The following are a few examples of wellness drinks and energy drinks that will have the same effect as coffee:

  • Red Bull – Red Bull is one of the most well-known energy drinks out there. It’s also the original energy drink. Studies have shown that Red Bull energy drinks not only provide a boost of energy but that they also improve mental capacity, which makes them a great alternative to coffee if you’re working late into the night. While Red Bulls contain a number of ingredients that are said to help improve energy levels, it’s the caffeine that really does the trick. A single eight-ounce can of Red Bull contains 80 milligrams of caffeine.
  • Wired Energy Drinks – Wired Energy Drinks produces a whole line of different energy drinks. One particularly unique offering is their Wired X B-12 Rush. Not only does one of these cans contain 100 milligrams of caffeine, it also provides 3,000 percent of your B12 daily value and 500 percent of your B6 daily value. This allows for an energy boost that’s more sustained than a lot of other options on the market.
  • Vita Coco – Coconut water is a great way to stay hydrated, but if you’re looking for an energy boost, then consider the Vita Coco Cafe drink. An 11.1-ounce carton of Vita Coco Cafe contains 120 milligrams of caffeine. It also happens to be a delicious blend of coconut water and coffee. There are several different variations available, including Original Latte, Vanilla Latte and Mocha Latte, the last of which actually has a bit more caffeine due to the cocoa powder in it.
  • Bai Drinks – If you’re looking for natural drinks that can provide a caffeine boost but that don’t contain food coloring, chemical compounds or potentially unhealthy additives, then Bai Drinks are a fantastic option. Although they do contain caffeine, they don’t contain nearly as much as most energy drinks do. Each Bai Antioxidant Infusion drink, for example, offers 35 milligrams of caffeine – about as much as a cup of green tea, which is generally enough for a small boost of energy.

It can be difficult to get through the day – or to even get the day started on the right foot – without the help of a little energy boost. Fortunately, coffee is not your only option. These are some of the excellent energy drinks and wellness drinks we offer here at Columbia Distributing.

Understanding The Origin of Tea and Tea Benefits

Green Tea in a Cup.

Nothing refreshes and soothes like tea — the second most popular beverage in the world, after water. From organic, to ready-to-drink varieties — tea’s benefits are far-reaching. All tea, except the herbal varieties, are derived from the camellia sinensis plant. Its five categories include white, green, oolong, herbal and black tea. Its history is intermingled with different cultures and global leaders. A look at tea’s history and benefits:

The Origin of Tea

Did you know that tea was first brewed over 5,000 years ago by the Chinese emperor and scientist Shen Nung? However, as delightful as this discovery was, it Tea was too costly to be enjoyed by ordinary citizens, but all that changed in the 14th century, with the decline of the Mongolian empire.

Europe got its first taste of this beverage when the Portuguese began trading with China in the late 16th becoming more popular than ale in Great Britain.

A Buddhist monk first introduced tea to Japan. In the 19th century, the English Duchess of Belford popularized the concept of afternoon tea. The Dutch introduced tea to Americans, who started selling it in the late 1600s.

Tea Benefits

This wonder beverage is rich in antioxidants and several vitamins, making it beneficial for healing, and preventing several ailments. The high volume of antioxidants in organic tea flushes out harmful toxins. Green tea benefits include preventing dental caries, slowing down the aging process, and combating stress.

This tea blocks cancer-causing polyphenois compounds, and may lower hypertension, and elevated cholesterol levels. Sipping on a cup of green tea may also help increase your good fats. It’s ideal for stimulating your metabolism, alleviating body aches and tiredness, cleansing your bladder and kidneys, and detoxifying.

Oolong tea has a high volume of flavonoids, and helps lower hypertension. You can boost your immune system with black tea. This tea may also prevent cavities and cancer. It helps ease and expand your arteries, so blood flows easier to your heart. This decreases your stroke risk. Or try white tea to combat bacterial infections.

Herbal teas or infusions act as sedatives and stimulants. Brew a cup of red or rooibos tea to alleviate insomnia, irritability, or depression. This tea contains no caffeine, making it ideal for relieving nervous tension. Say goodbye to yeast infections and mouth ulcers with Echinacea tea. It’s also used to treat varicose ulcers, herpes, and skin problems. Use peppermint tea to alleviate menstrual pain and flatulence. It’s also great to use for the flu, or to relieve motion sickness. You can also eliminate gallstones with this tea.

Chamomile tea is well known for its calming effect. It’s also great for easing menstrual cramps and treating mouth ulcers. Many suffering with gastrointestinal issues have also turned to this marvel for relief. It alleviates heartburn, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. Use ginger tea for colds and flu and asthma. Eradicate migraines, motion and morning sickness, too. Ginger tea also serves as a mild laxative, and can treat heart disease. Our kombucha tea is also perfect for fighting candida, and improving your mood. It serves as a probiotic, which improves your digestion.

Sift through our range of organic, kombucha, and ready-to-drink teas here.



The Best Alcoholic Ice Cream Treats

alcoholic ice cream treat

We all know that an ice cold beer is one of the best ways to cool down on a hot summer day (or night). However, sometimes you might be in the mood for a delicious ice cream treat as well. If this is the case, why not combine the two and enjoy an alcoholic ice cream treat?

Alcoholic ice cream treats have become all the rage in recent years, especially following the sudden burst of interest in craft beer and artisanal ice creams over the past decade. The following are just a few of the alcoholic ice cream treats that are available all over the country that you should try out this summer if given the chance:

BuzzBar Ice Cream Bars

Buzzbar is a family-owned ice cream maker out of Vermont that combines all-natural dairy ice cream with various spirits to create some absolutely unique alcoholic ice cream bars. Some of their alcoholic ice cream bars include their Vanilla Daze, which combines vanilla ice cream with cognac, their Bourbon St. Chocolate, which combines chocolate ice cream with whiskey, and their Majestic Mango, which combines mango and lime sorbet along with silver tequila.

Additionally, their ice cream offerings are a lot healthier than many traditional non-alcoholic ice creams since they don’t use any chemical preservatives or high fructose corn syrup (and they are GMO-free to boot!).

Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream

The combination of ice cream and beer or ice cream and liquor is probably something that you’ve heard of before. However, it’s less likely that you’ve ever heard of wine ice cream, or have ever even considered combining the two. Somehow, Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream has managed to do so with delicious results.

Mercer’s has ice cream offerings for all types of wine, including sparkling wine, white wine and red wine. Some examples of their ice cream flavors include Red Raspberry Chardonnay, Strawberry Sparkling, Chocolate Cabernet and Cherry Merlot, just to name a few.

SnöBar Ice Pops

SnöBar offers both alcohol-infused ice cream and alcohol-infused ice pops. Their motto is “a full cocktail in every serving,” which means you know exactly what to expect! While they have several delicious ice cream flavors, it’s their ice-pops that steal the show. Each one of their ice pops is based on a well-known cocktail. They offer Margarita ice pops, Mojito ice pops and Cosmopolitan ice pops.


These are just a few of the alcohol-infused ice cream treats that we highly recommend you try out this summer if you get the chance. You can always make your own alcohol ice cream treats as well. Even if you don’t want to go through the trouble of making an alcohol-infused ice cream, it doesn’t take that much effort to make a delicious beer float!

Of course, there’s no substitute for an ice cold beer, which is why you should be sure to check out some of summer seasonals that we carry here at Columbia Distributing as well.

Five Great Craft Brews with Outstanding Flavor – Columbia Distributing

Glasses of beer and ale barrel on the wooden table. Craft brewery.

Over the past decade or so, there has been a surge in the numbers of craft beer created by smaller independent breweries. Located in almost every corner of the United States, they have created a veritable paradise of beer flavors for the discerning connoisseur. While we hesitate at Columbia Distributing to name any one particular brand as the very best, we do recognize true quality when we see – and taste – it. Here are five of our favorites:

  • Coffee Cinnamon B-Bomb – This strong ale was rated both the “Best Beer” in Washington state and the “Best Beer in the World in 2015. For an extra kick of flavor, the brew masters at the family-owned and -operated Fremont Brewery age this ale in whiskey barrels for up to 2 years. Try it with venison, lamb, duck or any food with a pronounced flavor.
  • North Coast Stellar IPA – It is rare to find a pale ale that really distinguishes itself from its peers but North Coast has a created a masterpiece with their Stellar IPA. It is not only mild on the bitterness scale – rated as a 59 IBUs – but also includes more than a hint of the pine flavors reminiscent of its roots amidst the forests of Northern California. We love it with seafood.
  • Lost Dune Summer Ale – The creator of this summer ale, the New Holland Brewing, has been “pouring its heart out” for over a century. This particular brew combines a variety of citrus notes overladen with a strong taste of coriander. It pairs well with tangier foods such as jalapeno jack cheese or Peking Duck.
  • Easy Day Kolsch Inspired by traditional German ales, this light but crisp brew is perfect on a hot summer day. It melds a toasty malt background with a spicy hop finish. There is a hint of orange that makes this beer perfect for mild dishes such as Chicken Paillard or mildly seasoned prime rib.
  • Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout – This thick and creamy stout from the Rogue Brewery has it all – a roasted malt background accentuated with a strong dose of hops as well as sweet overtones of vanilla, coconut and cherry. This beer pairs well with anything off the grill including smoked sausage or pulled pork.
  • BONUS !!! – Woodchuck Hard Cider – We know this is not technically a beer but it still is a great all-around great adult beverage. With a medium body and a fresh apple-infused finish, this cider is perfect when paired any strong cheese or chocolate-flavored dessert.

These five beers are just a small sampling of what is available our Portland, OR and Kent, WA distribution hubs. We stock over a thousand brands of domestic and imported beers. For more information on these particular brands and on dozens of other flavored craft brews, please contact us at Columbia Distributing. We can be found online at ColDist.com or reached directly at 800.949.5997.

Stay Cool With a Summer Ale

Summer Ale-Columbia Distributing

Different types of beers are better suited to different times of the year. For example, a thick stout beer is much better suited to the winter than it is to the summer. So what should you drink to stay cool now that the summer is here? Summer ales, of course!

What is a Summer Ale?

The fact that a summer ale is perfect for the summer weather is kind of a no-brainer. It’s all in the name, after all. But what exactly makes a summer ale a “summer” ale? The main characteristic of a summer ale is a light and crisp taste. Breweries will get this taste by combining wheat and barley together. Every year, some of the best breweries in the world prepare new summer ales for the summer season.

Summer Ales That You Should Try

The following are a few of the summer ales that we highly recommend now that temperatures are beginning to rise:

  • Fremont Summer Ale – Fremont puts out a new summer ale every year that never tastes the same, which is a testament to their refusal to settle. This year’s Summer Ale is crisp and piney without being overwhelmingly fruity or bitter.
  • Samuel Adams Summer Ale – Samuel Adams is well known for producing a variety of seasonal beers every year. This year marks the 21st year that they are releasing a summer ale. Their Summer Ale is an American wheat ale style beer that has a crisp and citrus-y flavor due to its lemon peel and grains of paradise ingredients.
  • New Belgium Sunshine Wheat – This American pale wheat ale by New Belgium is actually a year-round beer, but as the name implies, it’s an excellent choice for the summer season. Sunshine Wheat is a crisp, filtered wheat beer with a flavor profile that exhibits notes of coriander and orange peel tartness.
  • Deschutes Hop Slice – The Hop Slice is a unique summer ale put out by Deschutes, a brewery out of Oregon. The beer is something of a cross between an amber and an IPA. With a floral head, sharp hints of lemon, and semi-dry finish, this is a beer that’s perfect for sipping slowly on a warm, lazy afternoon.
  • New Holland Lost Dune – If you’re in the mood for a beer that’s a little bit fruity, then Lost Dune by New Holland is a great option. Lost Dune is a summer fruit ale that releases an impressive combination of aromas that includes lemongrass, wheat and blueberry. Although it has a bit of a sharp front, the beer does transition to a creamier center. The Lost Dune’s flavor profile includes spice and citrus, with maybe a light hint of scotch.

These are just a handful of the wonderful summer ales that are being produced by some of the country’s leading breweries this year. For more information about the summer ales or the brands that we carry, be sure to contact us at Columbia Distributing today.

Mimosa recipes for the Morning

A mimosa in the morning is that little bit of heaven that gives you an energy boost and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Mimosas are a must-have for any brunch, but if you are a frequent brunch goer or mimosa drinker it can be easy to get a little bored with a classic mimosa. The great thing about mimosas is that they are easy to elevate, that classic orange flavor is easy to work with and compliments many other flavors.

Here’s our ideas for a mimosa for every taste:

For the purist

If you prefer to stick to your classic mimosa, but want to elevate it try substituting your orange juice for a high-quality orange juice. This can make a huge difference in the quality of flavor.

Calypso Classic Mimosa

For a classic mimosa try mixing Calypso Orange juice with champagne. Calypso Orange Juice is 100% juice and made with the finest ingredients.

For those that sparkle

If you want a morning mimosa with more fizz and a little bit of sparkle try substituting the orange juice for a sparkling water. You can easily make a mimosa with any fizz and flavor you want in this combination.

Sparking Strawberry Kiwi Mimosa

For a fun refreshing morning twist on the mimosa, try substituting a sparkling water for orange juice, we suggest Yerbae Kiwi Stawberry. Great for morning and great for summer.

For the bold

For a bold morning mimosa try using a flavored orange juice or an orange soda. This will give your mimosa a new flavor while still keeping true to the classic mimosa recipe you love.

Honey Orange Mimosa

To kick up the classic mimosa recipe instead of orange juice substitute Rogue Soda in Honey Orange. The Rogue Soda Honey Orange is a refreshing craft brew with a bite of citrus finished with a floral touch, it’s your new favorite orange soda.

For brunch with a bang

If you like your mimosa to have a little more edge you can make your own version of a mimosa with spicier substitutes for orange juice and harder substitutes for champagne.

Pink Gin Mimosa

If you’re looking to kick your morning mimosa up a notch and have brunch with a bang. Rogue Spirits has developed a cocktail that fits the bill called Pink Gin and Juice. It’s a combination of Rogue’s award winning Pink Spruce Gin, grapefruit juice and orange juice.

Fruit Salad Cider Mimosa

For something different and a twist of both flavor and color try Rogue Fruit Salad Cider in your mimosa. With a purple color and a rich berry flavor the fruit salad cider will elevate your morning mimosa to a whole new level.

Whether you enjoy your mimosas with a classic flavor or prefer mimosas to have a little more edge there is guaranteed to be a mimosa for you. For more cocktail recipes and to learn more about top quality unique brews and booze check out www.chillist.com and look for our flavors in a store near you.