Lizard Lounging (in a Lounge)

I think a lot of people underestimate the beauty of wines with noticeable sugar levels. The first thing that comes to mind when most people think of sugar in wine is dessert wine like port. While that makes sense, the genre is expansive. 

There are wines that have added sugar in them – like most Champagnes (called dosage) and there are wine-based spirits, like vermouth and amari, which have a specific ratio of wine to sugar and, depending where you are in the world, to a base spirit. Sometimes grapes are left out in the sun to naturally concentrate their natural sugars like straw wine, and some are just picked later on the vine. Winemaker Chad Westbrook of Iruai Wine told me that the primary ferment for the Lounge Lizard took a bit longer than usual (hence the name), so it became an ode to the off-dry styles of the late 80’s and 90’s. This might just be your new fave summer wine, so enjoy it by itself super cold on a thirst-quenching day. 

At multiple points in history, sweeter wines were popular owing to the fact that high levels of sugar work as a preservative. And I imagine back in the earlier days of big wine production, sugar also masked a lot of unwanted flavors. I personally love pairing riper wines with spicy food…especially since the pandemic drastically changed my spice tolerance. Astoria’s Water Boiled Beef is a favorite to eat with a sweet juicy red or spatlese Riesling. My point being that sweeter wines have a place in the world and you should not be afraid of wines that are sweet or ripe tasting. 

These wines can also be used in combinations that still allow you to see their personality. The first thing that comes to mind is to create a vermouth or cocktail with them. You can make a Dirty Martini to Manhattan riff. Easily swap out any dry or sweet vermouth in a cocktail and you'll have a cocktail that's almost perfectly not too dry and not too sweet. I tried out a few different recipes and this is what I found what works best for what I like:


The Lizard Man’s Martini (use our Summer Cocktail Kit)

Botanicals and alpine notes are harmonious together. The Southeast Asian botanicals in Jin JiJi really compliment the alpine notes in Lounge Lizard. Making it a dirty martini only made sense.

1.5 Jin Jiji India Dry Gin

1.5 Lounge Lizard

.25 pickled red onion brine (I made a quick pickle with some Southeast asian herbs)

SHAKEN NOT STIRRED - James Bond style

Grapefruit zest

Enjoy neat or on a large rock 


French/Wisconsin Old Fashioned 

1.5 Cognac  

2 Lounge Lizard

Artemisa (Sumac) bitters

Orange zest


No Regrets Pale Negroni

I couldn't get away with not making a Negroni. The ratio of everything really brought out a softer side to the mezcal and green herbs in the wine. I'm not a fan of using Campari for Negronis, even though I know that is the CLASSIC recipe. I played with the specs a little and came up with this white Negroni.

1.5oz Lounge Lizard

1.25oz Mezcal Banhez ensemble

.25 Salers


Lastly, equal parts dark rum and Lounge Lizard with an orange twist will make you feel like you're getting ready for a sexy night out ….or in. This will work for other rums but Equiano is one of the driest dark rums I've ever had and it pairs perfectly with Lounge Lizard. It was almost like drinking chocolate covered fruits. It made the rum even smoother and fruiter. 


Words and recipes by Anisah Baylor.

  • Anisah Baylor