The 5 Best Nightcaps to Drink Before Bed

Sometimes the only way to unwind from an exhausting day of work is by sipping yourself to sleep with a cocktail in hand. A drink before bed calms the nerves, relaxes the body and takes your mind off the stresses of the day. The practice has earned so many fans, it gained its own name over the years—the nightcap.

Often rich and boozy—and sometimes warmed to perfection—a proper nightcap cocktail exudes coziness and allows for extended sipping. Think of the nightcap as a grown-up lullaby: It’s meant to be consumed slowly and deliberately rather than chugged haphazardly.

The next time you need a little help getting some shut eye, mix up one of these five soothing cocktails before light’s out. Sweet dreams, cocktail lovers.

Rum Flip

The definition of a rich, hearty cocktail, the Rum Flip combines the healing powers of three potent ingredients: a whole egg, rich ground nutmeg and a sturdy base of rum. Not only will its heavy texture and flavor restore you after a long day, but it also has the power to rock your taste buds gently to sleep.

Brandy Alexander

Anyone who has a sweet tooth will appreciate the Brandy Alexander—the grandfather of dessert cocktails. Using heavy cream rather than a whole egg, it comes together with a blend of chocolaty crème de cacao and fruit-forward cognac. And don’t worry. This cocktail also benefits from a topping of spiced goodness from freshly grated nutmeg.

Sazerac

The classic Sazerac forgoes super-rich ingredients to channel one of the simplest nightcaps of all: a measure of your favorite dark spirit. But crafting a cocktail instead of sipping on a dram of scotch or Cognac allows for more complexity and, well, flavor. The Sazerac delivers a punch of both by blending rye whiskey, absinthe and bitters for a sipper you’re sure to dream about.

Black Manhattan

Sure, a traditional Manhattan is a delicious way to cap off the night, but the Black Manhattan is even better. Tossing out the vermouth in favor of amaro allows for a different balance of flavors—and just the right amount of midnight mystery—that signals the time to relax and wind down.

Hot Chai Tea Toddy

Most nightcaps may call in the powers of brown spirits to get you ready for bed, but this steaming, spiced drink takes a different approach with a stiff measure of gin. Though gin’s bright botanicals might typically awaken the senses, it has the opposite effect when paired with ultra-cozy chai tea, honey and warm apple juice, helping to lull you right into a restful night’s sleep.

 

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5 WAYS TO MAKE BAD WINE BETTER

Bad wine. There’s so much good wine in the world that bad wine seems such an exceptional tragedy. But as we have all experienced at parties, receptions and your BFF’s ultra-cool gallery opening, bad wine does exist. Maybe there’s even a bottle or two of it in your kitchen that an unfortunate soul brought to your recent dinner party, with nothing but the purest of intentions (bless their heart).

But alas, this wine makes your left eye twitch just a little and it burns on the way down. Not cool. However, now you’re left with the regrettable task of dealing with this unpalatable bottle. It is booze, and it is in your house, so the idea of throwing it out is heartbreaking. Time to get creative. Use those brain cells! Or, just read below.

 

1. Wine Spritzer

Don’t laugh! Wine spritzers are delicious and the best part is, they’re easy. Granted, this works best with white wine (or rosé!) and sunshine, but we have to make accommodations for the suddenness of this leftover bad wine you have. Here’s what you need: about 3/4 of a glass of wine and the rest club soda. Serve over ice, with a wedge of lime, mint leaves or, if you have your fancy pants on, a dash of an artisanal aperitif like the amazing Imbue Petal & Thorn.

2. Mulled Wine

Now we’re talking warm wintery goodness, and also a good use for that leftover red. Any recipe for mulled wine you come across (like maybe this one) has a basic theme of fall flavors in a pot with some wine. So don’t get too nervous about having any exact ingredients on hand. Take your bottle of wine, dump in a large pot and add any combination of the following: apple cider, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, a rind or two of an orange, whole cloves, star anise, a splash of brandy or port, a bit of honey (if not using cider to act as a sweetener). Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes while you enjoy the smell wafting about your house. Perhaps pretend to be Betty Draper for a few minutes. Then enjoy your beverage while warm. Money.

3. Put a Penny in it

No, really. Now, this is a very specific situation we’re talking about here. If you have a bottle of red wine that smells remarkably like rotten eggs, onions, matches or skunks, swishing a penny around in the glass is an old winemaker’s trick for getting rid of this issue. These smells are called mercaptans, which is a five dollar word for issues. Natural byproducts of fermentation can get a little stuck in the wine’s aromatics. Many times they will go away on their own, but the copper in the penny will neutralize it. Make sure you’re using a penny that’s older than 1982, and give it a whirl.

4. A Kalimotxo

Call-ee-MO-cho. Sometimes it’s best to rely on pure simplicity, that which will never fail you. A Kalimotxo is a Spanish Basque country classic: red wine and cola, about a 50-50 ratio. Some claim adding a squeeze of lemon will brighten the overall palate of this no-frills beverage. Serve it over ice and put away your preconceived notions of what you think it might taste like. This could be the biggest pleasant surprise you’ve ever encountered. Side note: we suspect that this combination of hair-of-the-dog, carbonation and sugar may be a secret hangover cure. Let us know what you come up with.

5. Cook with it

If all else fails, save this not so great wine for cooking before you toss it. It will have endless uses: sautéed mushrooms & onions? Wine. A jar of spaghetti sauce? Wine. A turkey or chicken brine? Wine. Steak sauce? Wine. Are you sensing a pattern? Just don’t give up on that bottle. It will prove its use to you.

 

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BOOZY PUMPKIN PIE MILKSHAKE

Step aside pumpkin spiced latte – this boozy pumpkin pie milkshake is exactly what you need this fall season!

 

 

Boozy Pumpkin Pie Shake
 Servings
 milkshake
INGREDIENTS
½ cup milk
½ tbsp pumpkin spice
 cup puréed pumpkin
INSTRUCTIONS
ADD all ingredients to a blender.
BLEND until smooth.
POUR into a glass. Garnish with whipped cream, pumpkin spice and graham cracker and enjoy!

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Two Great Vodka Recipies

Two Great Vodka Recipes to try. I highly recommend Kozuba & Sons Vodka to make these drinks really Special.

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Saint Anthony

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 3/4 oz B&B Liqueur
  • 2 1/4 oz Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut or other sparkling wine
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon

Method:

Add Vodka, liqueur, bitters and lemon in mixing glass.
Shake and pour into chilled martini glass.
Top with sparkling wine and garnish with lemon wheel.

Garnish: Lemon Wheel

Glass: Martini

Spiced Pear

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz  Vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz Rothman & Winter Orchard Pear liqueur, or similar (such as Mathilde Poir)
  • 1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 barspoon of St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram

Method:

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and shake vigorously with ice to chill.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish: Garnish: Slice of fresh pear, if available, or a lemon twist

Glass: Coupe

 

THE HISTORY OF THE LONG ISLAND ICED TEA

Back when I first started drinking, I was slightly shocked when I learned that Long Island Iced Tea isn’t iced tea at all – I had heard of its potent powers and knew it was an alcoholic drink, but I simply thought that it was a spiked iced tea. In search of getting the booziest bang for my buck as an undergrad, the LIIT quickly became my go-to at an average of 22 percent ABV.

A Long Island Iced Tea is traditionally made with vodka, tequila, rum, triple sec, gin and a splash of Coke – the soda gives it the color of iced tea, and the sweetness of the triple sec calls to mind the flavor of sweet tea. Robert “Rosebud” Butt claims to have invented the powerhouse drink as a contest entry in 1972 – the challenge was to make a mixed drink with triple sec (is it me, or does that not seem like a challenge?). He entered the contest while working at the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island, hence the name.

A similar drink was created in the 1920s in Long Island, Tennessee and includes whiskey, four other types of liquor and maple syrup. Though not exactly the same, you get the idea – a lot of liquor, a little sweetness. This drink, dubbed the “Old Man Bishop,” was mixed up by a man of the same name. Sources speculate that during the Prohibition era, people wanted their smuggled drinks to pack a punch, and its resemblance to iced tea would make it easy to sip in public.

In the 1960s, recipes for the Long Island Iced Tea appeared in Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook (1961) and American Home All-Purpose Cookbook (1966). This was the first time a recipe for the spiked tea appeared in print, though these versions seem to have a few additional ingredients – simple syrup and lemon juice.

Make your own at home with the traditional recipe below – but be careful!

*The History of the Long Island Iced Tea
INGREDIENTS
½ oz vodka
½ oz light rum
½ oz tequila
½ oz gin
½ oz triple sec (or other orange liqueur)
2 oz cola
lemon or lime slice, for garnish
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INSTRUCTIONS:
SHAKE alcohol together and pour over ice.
TOP with cola.
GARNISH with citrus.
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THESE BOOZE-FILLED ADVENT CALENDARS REALLY HELP YOU GET INTO THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT

Whether the holiday season means endless relatives asking if you’re still single, or endless amounts of turkey and eggnog, this is one of those times of the year when you don’t need an excuse to drink. To celebrate, we’ve picked some booze-packed advent calendars to kick off the holidays.

Aldi Advent Calendar

The cult-favorite budget grocery store is offering an advent calendar this year that’s filled with 24 mini bottles of red, white, sparkling and rose wines, including Merlot and Chablis. Reportedly, the still wines will be French and the sparkling varieties will be from Italy and Spain. Sadly, Aldi’s wine calendar will only be available in the United Kingdom, but if you’re hopping across the pond, you’ll be able to scoop one up starting Nov. 1 for around $67.

Craft Advent Box 

Though this box doesn’t come filled with beer, it’s specially designed to hold 24 bottles – fill it up with your friend’s favorite brews (or limited edition beers!) and make their holiday season even more festive.

Douglas Laing Whisky Advent Calendar

Perfect for the Ron Swanson doppleganger in your life, this calendar isn’t cheap, but comes with 24 mini bottles of top-notch Scotch whisky. If you’re not a fan of the stuff, Master of Malt also offers a variety of boozy advent calendars including bourbon, gin, rum, and tequila.

Edinburgh Gin Advent Calendar 

If you have any gin and tonic lovers in your life, this is the calendar for them. This festive calendar is packed with a variety of 25 small bottles of clean, fresh and spicy gins, made with aromatics like juniper, pine, lavender, spice and citrus.

Heritage Distilling Co. Spirits Calendar

For that person who will drink anything, this calendar is loaded up with an assortment of the brand’s American-made spirits like bourbon, vodka and gin to make every day of advent a surprise. The box features an adorable holiday design, so no gift-wrap is necessary.

 

MOONSHINE IS MAKING A COMEBACK

I know when I hear “moonshine,” I think of bathtub gin and Prohibition. And though “moonshine” was originally a slang term for incredibly high-proof spirits (often produced illegally), it’s now defined as “clear, unaged whiskey.”

Moonshine has been officially legal in the United States since 2010, and is most often made with corn mash as the main ingredient. Complex reports, “Moonshine is essentially an un-aged whisky, traditionally clear with a hint of corn. It is perfect for sipping or using as a substitute in cocktails.” Since the liquor is not aged, it’s bottled straight off the still and can absolutely not be aged in barrels.

Some new products have hit the market that make moonshine sound actually, well, appealing. Huffington Post points out that the idea of “legal moonshine” is kind of an oxymoron – one of its original defining factors was its illegal-ness, though it wasn’t always illegal. Today, moonshine is made from malted barley and rye instead of corn, and comes in a rainbow of flavors.

Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine is bottled in on-brand Mason jars, and comes in several 100 proof flavors like Blackberry, Apple Pie and Hunch Punch. They also sell Moonshine Cherries, which are maraschino cherries soaked in Ole Smoky’s original moonshine, creating highly alcoholic cherries floating in a “lingering sweet nectar.”

Midnight Moon Moonshine is distilled from American corn, and the fruit-flavored varieties come in jars that are hand-packed with berries, cherries or peaches, so there are no artificial flavors or colors. I don’t think many moonshine drinkers are health-conscious, but I appreciate the effort.

The brand still uses Junior Johnson’s recipe – his ancestors were some of the first to make moonshine in Appalachia in 1791 during the Whiskey Rebellion – and the family carried on that tradition for decades after. Junior himself was actually a Nascar driver, but was arrested in 1956 for a moonshining conviction. President Ronald Reagan granted Junior a presidential pardon 30 years later, and his moonshine making tradition has been able to continue.

If you’re not one for drinking straight moonshine out of a jar, you might get lucky and find the stuff stirred into a craft cocktail at a bar near you. In Washington D.C, Crimson Whiskey Bar is reportedly featuring several drinks made with moonshine. A vendor at the New York State Fair this year was selling Moonshine Mules on tap, made with Black Button’s Apple Pie Moonshine, Ginger Beer and a lime garnish.

Butcher Bar in New York City’s Lower East Side offers three moonshine cocktails, including a mimosa made with champagne, orange juice and strawberry moonshine; the Old Fashioned Apple Pie, made with (you guessed it) apple pie moonshine, muddled cherries, oranges, bitters and cinnamon; and the Full Moon Rising, which features 100 proof moonshine, lime, pineapple and grenadine.

Have we finally found an alcoholic beverage that’s more American than – dare we say it – Bud Light? Take a sip and you can be the judge of that.

 

Image credit: http://www.juniorsmidnightmoon.com/spirits/original/

National Vodka Day 2017

Hard to believe that vodka was often called flavorless and that the biggest debate was “Shaken vs. Stirred”.

Celebrate with Flavor!

Vodka fusion, the art of fusing your own flavors into regular vodka, used to be the best way (and a fun way) to get flavored vodka. It’s still a fun way, but you would be hard pressed to come up with an original flavor any more….

Care for a little vodka with that flavor? With dozens to choose from thanks to increasing demand you’d be hard pressed not to find a wide assortment of flavored vodkas these days. Given that the spirit is virtually flavorless and odorless, it makes sense that distillers would want to inject some yum factor into this top-selling Soviet-inspired libation.

Naturally, thanks to free enterprise, we have an assortment of wild and wacky flavors to mention starting with maple syrup, root beer float, s’mores, PB & J and – an obvious homage to the breakfast cereal Fruit Loops – Loopy. More savory but no less sweet versions include smoked salmon, chili peppers, bacon, espresso, cucumber, rose and buttered popcorn.

A list of some of the new, wild flavors you can now look for on the shelf of your favorite retailer to toast National Vodka Day! Not a complete list – In just five years 115 new flavored vodkas have been introduced according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). ….and you need to check for availability in your area, but they are all real!

Smoked Salmon www.alaskadistillery.com
Fluffed Marshmallow www.smirno.com
Cucumber www.squareoneorganicspirits
Cookie Dough www.pinnaclevodka.com
Peanut Butter & Jelly www.vangoghvodka.com
Orange Cream, Whipped Cream www.burnettsvodka.com
Cotton Candy, Whipped, Chocolate Whipped www.pinnaclevodka.com
Rose www.sputnikvodka.com
Chili Pepper www.absolut.com
Bacon www.bakonvodka.com
Espresso www.vangoghvodka.com
Root Beer www.threeolives.com
Cupcake, Devil’s Food www.cupcakevodka.com

Celebrities Love Vodka Too

Because celebrities need to be seen and positioning your vodka with a personality is good for business, celebs such as Justin Timberlake, Puff Daddy and Bruce Willis have been endorsing various brands of premium vodkas. The deal Puff Daddy inked with beverage giant Diageo for Ciroc vodka could make him more ridiculously rich than he already is.

Dan Aykroyd may be the first celebrity to manufacture his own vodka, an additive-free product made in Newfoundland that’s quadrupled distilled and filtered seven times, the final three times through diamond crystals. The bottle is distinctive for its clear-glass human skull shape

History of Vodka!

The word vodka stems from the Russian word, voda, which means water. Rarely consumed outside of Europe before the Second World War, vodka would eventually draw many hard liquor fans with its flavorless and versatile appeal.

Today, vodka is made from many different things such as beets, potatoes, wheat and even grapes. The final product doesn’t depend on the ingredients so much as it depends on the methods of production. You’re unlikely to be able to taste the difference, since by law vodka is not even permitted to have a distinctive taste except for those that have been added in after distillation.

Because it’s filtered of many dangerous chemicals and has less of an after-effect on the body, many view vodka as one of the least dangerous alcoholic beverages. Still, thanks to an alcohol volume that ranges from 35 to 60 per cent, it is one of the more potent drinks, able to intoxicate quickly and effectively.

Ironically, unlike the drink itself, it’s not really clear where vodka was created, though many associate the clear drink with Russia. Its birthplace has also been linked to the grain-growing regions that surround Poland, Ukraine, Belarus as well as Finland and other Scandinavian countries. Still, it’s said that the taxation on vodka in Russia helps cover a large portion of the government’s revenue. The fact that vodka consumption in Russia is greater than any other country in the world must help must help.

The birthdate of vodka is pegged at around the 12th century. Made initially for medical purposes, it wasn’t until the 1350s that the drink gained a reputation for its intoxicating properties.

In Russia, people believed the drink held its own spirit and it was used at religious ceremonies and events. A vessel sometimes containing more than a gallon of vodka would be passed around and those who refused to drink would be considered sinful. By the 1600s, it was custom to drink vodka at Russian Imperial banquets, where all meals started with bread and vodka.

During Czar Peter’s reign there was a custom that each foreign ambassador attending the courtyard should drink the ‘Cup of the White Eagle,’ a nice euphemism for this drink of vodka, which totaled a whopping litre-and-a-half of the tipple.

History has seen its share of great debates: Kennedy versus Nixon, Coke versus Pepsi and then, of course, in the world of martinis, there’s Vodka versus Gin.

Booze nerds will debate till the end of time which libation is best in the classic cocktail popularized by the likes of James Bond and M*A*S*H’s Hawkeye Pierce. And once they’ve settled that score, they can begin all over again on whether your martini should be shaken or stirred.

The original martini was a gin concoction, stirred not shaken, so as not to bruise the gin. But James Bond ordered his shaken not stirred, and would eventually order vodka martinis, a directive that 007 creator Ian Fleming could never have predicted would stir up the cocktail world.

Although the original Russian Vodka Martini is still popular, colorful, flavored vodka martinis are a big trend among younger drinkers, as well as the vodka veterans. Unlike gin, vodka has a neutral flavor which allows it to easily mix with other flavors to make a wide variety of flavored martinis.

NOSTROVIA!

Moonshine

Most often associated with high proof and illegality, moonshine is now available in liquor stores across the country and it looks like it’s here to stay. Legal moonshine, that is, which is to say liquor made above board and in the style of illegal moonshine.

And moonshine has plenty of regional variations. Speaking just for My Old Kentucky Home, the river country of Western Kentucky has a half corn, half sugar version, while in the Southeast, the better known “corn in a jar” 100% corn whiskey style is prevalent. The Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia are known for a rum-like, all sugar moonshine, and up in New England moonshine might mean a spiked, high proof version of apple jack.

Some will tell you that legal moonshine isn’t moonshine at all, because the key distinction is the illicit nature of the spirit. People are entitled to their opinions, but my thinking on that is two-fold. First, between Thomas Jefferson’s repeal of the hated Whiskey Tax and the Civil War, there were no Federal excise taxes on spirituous liquors. In many parts of the country, moonshine was still called moonshine and it was perfectly legal.

My second thought is that if someone wants to tell a distiller face to face that making moonshine using the family recipe is inauthentic (and there are plenty of them out there doing that) just because they have the licenses and pay taxes, they are welcome to do that. I don’t think that’s the case, so I’m won’t.

Since moonshine can mean so many things, knowing what’s what is tricky, and few experts pay serious attention to the category. With that in mind, here are several choices of the clear stuff that won’t let you down.

Tim Smith’s Climax

climax moon.jpg

The Discovery Channel’s program Moonshiners has boosted the profile of a handful of distilleries, both in and out of the United States, and none more so than that of its star, the overalls-wearing Tim Smith. His product isn’t just hype, though, and is a fine example of a cross between a bourbon distiller’s white dog and Southern corn in a jar. It’s candy corn sweet, just a little grainy, but also a little spicy, and satisfies neat, on the rocks or as a mixer.

Ole Smoky Original

ole smoky.png

Made on the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains, Ole Smoky’s line of moonshine liquors are the most widely available in the U.S. This 100-proof corn whiskey is pretty strong, but smooth and pretty far from being the rocket fuel of legend. The corn character in this Appalachian offering presents itself as a campfire-roasted corn on the cob, buttery and just a little toasty.


Sugarlands Silver Cloud

sugarlands silver.jpg

One of Ole Smoky’s local competitors is this item, and it presents a different twist on moonshine style with its corn and sugar recipe. Ole Smoky is a corn whiskey and Tim Smith’s hooch uses a little sugar for flavor, but Sugarlands uses sugar as a major ingredient alongside corn. The result should be looked at as a hybrid of corn whiskey and rum.


Manhattan Moonshine

manhattan moonshine.jpg

As both the name and the classy art deco bottle imply, this stuff was designed for Yankee sophisticates, and therefore has cocktail-making in mind. Getting away from Southern traditions, it uses oats and no corn in the mash bill. If you’re familiar with oatmeal stout, imagine how that flavor will play out in spirituous liquor and you’ve got the idea.

Troy & Sons Platinum

troy and.png

Made from heirloom corn in the very outdoorsy city of Asheville, North Carolina, this is the stuff you use to change the minds of the “moonshine is nasty rotgut” crowd. It’s smooth, light and tasty.


Casey’s Cut Total Eclipse

caseys cut.jpg

The Casey’s Cut Distillery in Hopkinsville is on the epicenter path of the total eclipse coming on August 21, and the best place in Kentucky to see this astronomical event. To mark the occasion, they’ve made a 100-proof expression of their Western Kentucky style moonshine, which is made of half corn, half sugar and with the wagon bed still that is symbolic of the area. Pick some up and wait for the lights to go out.


Copper Run Overproof

copper over.jpg

Most legal moonshines are bottled at 100 proof or less, so they don’t live up to the image of a liquor you could run your car on. Missouri’s Copper Run Overproof comes closer at 120 proof. It’s made from a wheated bourbon style mash bill, giving it a flavor that is corn and fruity sweet, as well as a (mercifully) clear finish.

 

By Richard Thomas

 

8 POTENTIALLY IRRESPONSIBLE WAYS TO OPEN A WINE BOTTLE

We’ve all been there. You’re staring into the kitchen drawer where the corkscrew should be. It’s not there. And you have absolutely no idea where it has run off to. Chances are it’s near the same place as the land of the lost socks. No matter. Here are 8 effective – and potentially irresponsible – things you can use to open a wine bottle.

Two Paper Clips and a Spoon

Unbend the middle loop of each paper clip leaving a U-shape at each end. Wedge one end of the paper clip between the cork and the bottle, pushing it down into the bottle until the end of the U is beneath the cork. Repeat with the other paper clip. Rotate the paper clips and pull upwards, so that the free ends of the U’s will push into the cork. Twist the upper U’s together, and place spoon underneath them. Pull hard.

A Knife

Insert the knife at a 45-degree angle. Twist upward. Be gentle.

A Shoe

Place the wine bottle into the heel of a thick-soled shoe (think: sneakers). Firmly but cautiously, slam the shoe repeatedly against a wall until the cork begins to pop out of the bottle. Once the cork is about three-quarters of the way out you should be able to pull it the rest of the way by twisting with your hands or pliers.

A Hammer and Nails

Gently tap two or three nails into the cork. Use the back of the hammer to pull the cork out.

A Bike Pump

Insert the pump-needle between the cork and the edge of the bottle. Pump slowly until the cork begins to pop out. Again, once the cork is most of the way out try twisting it the rest of the way with your hands or pliers.

A Metal Shirt Hanger

Twist a metal shirt hanger into a corkscrew shape using pliers. Screw into bottle and pull out.

A Blowtorch

Point your fiery wine key at the neck of the bottle, just below the cork, pointing at an upwards angle. Slowly move the flame up to nudge the cork out.