Category Archives: Spirits

Craft American Vodka Tasting Notes

Scrolling through Saveur.com today, I noticed a web component to my article that appeared in the March issue.

Photo by Anna Stockwell for Saveur.com

Victoria, Ethan and I made tasting notes for close to 20 different American vodkas and our favorites are featured on the site.  In addition to the Hibiscus Rose Vesper, I submitted these recipes as well:

Vintner’s Fizz
2 oz. Vintner’s Vodka
1.5 oz. St. Germain
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 egg white (equivalent of 1 oz.)
Pinch of salt
Barspoon of superfine sugar
1 oz. seltzer

Combine all ingredients except for seltzer and dry shake.  Add ice and seltzer and shake again.  Strain into chilled martini glass.

Celery Cider
1.5 oz. Organic Nation Vodka
2 oz. apple cider
Dash simple syrup
Pinch of celery salt
3 dashes celery bitters
Juice of one lime

Combine all ingredients over ice, shake and strain into a rocks glass over ice.  Garnish with a celery salt rim.

Unnamed Coffee Deliciousness
2 oz. Vermont Gold Maple Vodka
1 oz. espresso
1 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. heavy cream

Combine all ingredients over ice, shake and strain into chilled martini glass.  Garnish with grated nutmeg.

Bottoms up!

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PM Picnic

My friend Thomas sent me the link to this video with the comment, “This is as bad as the Flinstones advertising for Winston.”

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Salon pics

A big thank you to Anne, Ethan, and Marcella and her team for putting together a fantastic event this past Sunday!

I remembered to take a picture before diving in.

This was the line-up:

1st pairing
rupert
consider bardwell farm
west pawlet, vt
raw cows’ milk

mellow corn
heaven hill distilleries
bardstown, ky

 2nd  pairing
cabot clothbound cheddar
aged by jasper hill farm
greensboro, vt
pasteurized cows’ milk

hudson four grain bourbon
tuthilltown spirits
gardiner, ny

3rd   pairing
pleasant ridge 16mo.
uplands cheese co.
dodgeville, wi
raw cows’ milk

us * 1: unblended american whiskey
michter’s american whiskey co.
bardstown, ky 

 4th  pairing
winnemere
jasper hill farm
greensboro, vt
raw cows’ milk

mckenzie rye whiskey
finger lakes distilling
burdett, ny

5th   pairing
bayley hazen blue
jasper hill farm
greensboro, vt
raw cows’ milk

templeton rye
templeton rye spirits
templeton, ia 

6th    pairing
shaker blue
old chatham sheepherding co.
chatham, ny
raw sheeps’ milk

death’s door white whiskey
death’s door distillery
madison, wi

Ethan and Anne doing their thing. Anne told us about the 22,000 sq ft cheese-aging cave in VT, how cheddar is made (did you know cheddar is both a noun and a verb?) and how those blue-green veins get into the center of a big wheel of cheese. Ethan compared the harmony of wine and cheese pairing to the grace that Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire shared, while noting that pairing cheese with whiskey was more akin to the "grace" that Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield shared.

Happy guests Tim, Michael, John and Alice

Some take-aways:

*When you pair Winnemere with McKenzie rye, the finish is similar to an atomic fireball (in a good way).

*The surprise pairing hit was #6:  white whiskey and strong blue – who would have thought? 

*I need to get a bottle of Mellow Corn and Michter’s #1 for my house.

Looking forward to the next Salon in 60 days!

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USQ Martini Bowl

From the website of Union Square Wine & Spirits:

Event Date: Saturday, February 05, 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Description of tasting:
Join USQ to kick off Superbowl weekend with one our most spirited tastings of the year! Martini Bowl 2011 is set to erupt with over one dozen selections offered in classic and seasonal martinis!  Whether you like them dry, extra dry, dirty, or totally twisted, cocktail connoisseurs are encouraged to stop by The Salon for an afternoon of imbibing pleasure!  Attendees may look forward to Swedish stylings from Martini Bowl 2010 champion Karlsson’s Gold Vodka and Heavy Water Vodka, a juniper-fueled UK Invasion from the #1 contender for the 2011 title Bulldog Gin and Hendrick’s Gin, as well as righteous elixirs from Uluvka Vodka, DH Krahn Gin and Double Cross Vodka!  This year’s Bowl features a full roster of New York State spirits as well!  Supporters of local libations will be pleased to sip and savor Finger Lakes Distillery’s Seneca Drums Gin and Vintner’s Wild Berry Vodka, Westchester’s own Comb Vodka and Comb 9 New York Gin, Long Island’s LiV Potato VodkaBreuckelen Gin, and the Hudson Valley’s Core Apple Vodka

Here’s what we’ll be serving:

Come join us for a tipple this weekend!

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Frommer’s visits the Finger Lakes

Brian and Thomas at the distillery. Photo courtesy of Amy Zavatto.

Amy Zavatto, one of the writers for Frommer’s Community Blog, Between Bites, recently wrote a piece titled, “Sipping Whiskey in the Finger Lakes“. 

On assignment for a wine job, she stumbled upon Finger Lakes Distilling on her way out of town. 

She got a tour and did a tasting and reports that her favorites were the Seneca Drums Gin, the Cherry Liqueur and the McKenzie Rye.

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Happy New Year!

We’ve just gotten back from a trip to Thailand.  Two weeks without checking work email or turning my cell phone on has made me feel pretty amazing.  I’m recharged and thirsty for all of the adventures 2011 will bring.  Some photos for your amusement.

We landed in Bangkok at 8 am on Christmas Day and after checking in to our hotel, we headed straight to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, where they sold everything from electronics, to furniture, to baby squirrels (as pets!). This is our first cockail, a Singapore Sling.

An unfortunate name for this white spirit, made from grain.

For New Year's, we headed to Koh Phi Phi Don Island and this was a sign we found on one of the main streets. We got close to plenty of fish on the trip, but we didn't kiss any.

Red Bull style beverage with a beach-worthy name. Tastes pretty much identical.

Heineken was everywhere. I especially like the name of the drinking water.

Two "James Bond Martinis" at the Vertigo Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel. You can see the entire city from 59 floors up.

Our last night included a meal at Bo.lan. This was one of their signature cocktails - Thai whiskey, ginger, lemongrass. Tasty stuff. Tried looking for the recipe on their website, but no luck. Inventive tasting menu worth checking out.

Other beverage notes: Carnation makes street coffee delicious; lots of canned coffee beverages, particularly from Nescaféand Birdy; the Coke Light tastes better than our Diet Coke. 

I returned very thirsty for wine, as it was hard to find and (relatively) expensive.  Apparently, there’s a 100% tax on it and a hotel manager told us most folks probably wouldn’t bother to carry it, except that most tourists are expecting it to be available.  Some wine is being made in Thailand, though I only saw it on one wine list and it was out of stock when I tried to order it.  We purchased a bottle at the airport, but because of increased security at the Dubai airport on one of our legs back, we had to give it up.

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Not a bad way to start a Monday

At 10 this morning, Ethan Kelley and I sat down with an editoral assistant from Saveur and tasted through 22 American, artisanal vodkas.

Some of the line-up. The base ranged from barley to wheat to rye to potato to maple syrup to corn to milk sugar to grape. One was even filtered through lava.

We compiled tasting notes and food pairing suggestions and we’ll be working on some cocktails, too.  Most likely, the article will feature 12-15 of the ones we sampled.  Stay tuned!

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