Saturday, December 16th I will be doing a tasting at Joe Canal in Lawrenceville NJ from 12:00 – 2:00 pm
- Laird’s Applejack86
- Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye Whiskey
- Crop Vodka
- Farmers Gin
3375 US Route 1 South Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
In life there are certain accomplishments that are sometimes quantified by the quality of the spirits that you sip. If you doubt the words of a rum expert, all you need to do is look at the groaning shelves at your favorite package store. Rum has just about exploded in popularity in recent decades after a hundred or so year slumber. Sure you could count on a booze-cruise rum punch while sailing with your friends in the islands- you probably want to forget what highly manipulated rum can do to your gut and your aching head. But this is not a piece about what happens when you drink manipulated, (read: lousy) rum on a stern of a pitching sailboat. This is about drinking some of the very best rum that money can buy. And while you’re learning about what is special about Foursquare Rum, the suggestion is first and foremost, that you are worth it. This is not booze-cruise rum, nor is it rum that deserves a place on the very top shelf of your bar, never to be opened. Why? Fear perhaps has much to do with it. You do deserve to drink Foursquare. Recognize this fear of the unknown and you’ll come to a magical place where quality and cost become a misnomer. Where success is not measured by expense, but by quality. Where experience matters, like that picnic boat you ogled over in your youth, or the first time you experienced a glass or two of really well aged wine, or slurped some really rare Scotch Whisky. It’s important to note that while Foursquare is not inexpensive, there are rums on the market that far exceed it in cost. Many of these pretty label and fancy bottle rums are manipulated in some manner. Why is that? Because they can, it’s because they are permitted, because no one really cares to know. From caramel coloring to sugar being re-added for a sweet mouth-feel, to globs of thick glycerin to even out the creaminess across the palate- to all sorts of things that would get a rum judge in trouble, just by mentioning that so-and so’s rum is being manipulated.
Sherryfest is returning to New York!
Lovely evening at the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club!
Single Malt Scotch Tasting
Saturday October 21, 2017 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
A Virtual Cruise to the Isle and Highlands of Scotland- A Single Malt, Scotch Whisky Tasting
Back by popular demand, Warren Bobrow, noted international judge, journalist and food writer, the “Cocktail Whisperer” will share his knowledge of Single Malt, Scotch Whisky. From the Isle to the Highlands, you will taste 12 different Scotch whiskies, from the bland to the beautiful. From the bottles that you can buy anywhere to something special from his own stock. Warren will have us tasting the difference between the stuff your father drank and the fine bottles we should be drinking!
The cost per person will be $35.00 for tasters. Accompanying tea-totalers and designated drivers will be admitted free. This tasting is limited to the first 30 members and their guests to register.
This is sure to be an educational and memorable event.
The tasting will be followed by a Scotch themed dinner at the club. Have your kilts pressed and dust off your bag- pipes for a wonderful evening.
CHECK OUT THE DINNER MENU!!
My influence for writing Whiskey Cocktails is one of a most circuitous nature. Whiskey has rough and tumble roots for me. Initially I looked at whiskey as something that was rough and harsh across my palate. I wasn’t a whiskey fan until a couple of years ago. Rum was more my forte, I was a rum judge for the Ministry of Rum in 2010. I also wrote about food, and, of course wine. It’s very tough to make a living being just one more voice in the room of food writing or even wine writing.
I’ve always admired the craft spirits entrepreneur. The person who does something with his or her hands that doesn’t involve pushing a pencil across a desk for their entire career. Distilling is one of those fine arts. It’s possible to be a great distiller but to lose focus on the art of business. A micro-distiller must be more than just a distiller- they must be focused on sales, marketing, science, art, customer service and of course, just putting the time in doing what they love.
Jersey Spirits Distilling Company, located in typically “Jersey-style” commercial office park set just a few miles from thundering routes 46 and 80. They are hand distilling tasty, award winning spirits one drop at a time. Founded in 2005 by a tight group of passionate Jersey residents, this Jersey-centric distillery may not be on everybody’s radar just yet. But don’t let that stop you from discovering something that is quite delicious and surprisingly well made. From the gleaming tasting room with a little history of distilling in New Jersey on the walls to the tenaciously designed distillery, this is an extremely impressive operation. They are a distillery mind you, their license says that no food is prepared here aside from some Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers-a cheese driven compliment to their communicative spirits.
A Successful Tale
We’re back from Tales of the Cocktail and we wanted to share with you photos from the event. Enjoy!
‘Meet the Distillers Happy Hour’ With Warren Bobrow mixing up the drinks, and our very own Draga Culic, helping pour — the guests were in for a treat this year.On Thursday, July 20th at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans, the event circulated over 300 thirsty guests including mixologists, trade, media and distributors. We served three simple, but delicious cocktails. Our star cocktail of the evening, Pink Grazz, with Ramazzotti Apertivo Rosato with fruitations pink grapefruit, a splash of seltzer, topped with a grapefruit slice. The second cocktail, a Ramule, with Ramazzotti Amaro, ginger beer, topped with an orange slice. Lastly, our Mexicotti City, with Ramazzotti Sambuca and Mexican coke.
All in all, the event was a great success!
“Meet the Distillers Happy Hour”
With Warren Bobrow mixing up the drinks, and our very own Draga Culic, helping pour — the guests were in for a treat this year.
On Thursday, July 20th at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans, the event circulated over 300 thirsty guests including mixologists, trade, media and distributors. We served three simple, but delicious cocktails. Our star cocktail of the evening, Pink Grazz, with Ramazzotti Apertivo Rosato with fruitations pink grapefruit, a splash of seltzer, topped with a grapefruit slice. The second cocktail, a Ramule, with Ramazzotti Amaro, ginger beer, topped with an orange slice. Lastly, our Mexicotti City, with Ramazzotti Sambuca and Mexican coke.
All in all, the event was a great success!
If your answers are yes, no, no and no, then you’ll probably be hungry – and hopefully thirsty by the time you finished reading. Why? Because cheese is not pretentious, nor is it only for dessert! In fact, cheese is something that is made by hand in the same manner as it has for hundreds of years- and cheese is created by farmers! There are certainly machine-made cheeses, but for the intent of this article, all the cheeses in the classes at the French Cheese Board in Manhattan are made by hand in the ancient fashion of the cheese maker. So, you should not be mystified.
Far from mystified, what is needed to truly TASTE cheese is to cut off your ability of smelling the cheese first. There are many taste receptors in our mouths that are incredibly sensitive, but unfortunately most cheese is tasted with our noses first. And if you can close your eyes while you are tasting cheese, there is another whole set of senses that are fooled by your visual sensibility.
Located in the trendy-eastern fringes of SoHo, where the old city collides with Nolita, the French Cheese Board in its handsome and sleek space. It is filled with ample sunlight and is a very friendly place indeed. This outpost of French culture in the Big City, seeks to demystify cheese by taking cheese out of its usually pretentious context completely. Instead of merely snacking on cheese, they suggest carefully tasting cheese, but not overwhelming the plate with superfluous parts. Instead of a grilled-cheese sandwich, serving a small cheese slice- served simply with dried fruit, plain crackers (so not to overpower the delicate flavors) and perhaps some rugged coins of dry baguette will more than suffice as an accompaniment.
The ancient style of making cheese, on a cheese board, or alone- Goat Cheese is a fine way to start a meal. I tend to prefer a combination of old and new goat cheeses, carefully rolled into a log and then further aged in straw- in a special cheese cave. This amalgamation of funky and sweet calls out for a number of liquid accompaniments. Many of the liquids that I suggest for goat cheese are not wine. Goat cheese, especially aged (chalky and funky in the somewhat barnyard nose) takes to the more botanical style of gin with a tongue in cheek sense of humor. There is nothing that I enjoy more in the summer months than a gin and tonic with a nice crumbly goat cheese between my fingers. For the gin component I’d suggest the Barrel Aged Barr Hill Tom Cat (style). A couple months in new American oak translates to a richening and deepening of the already sensuous quality inherent in each sip of Barr Hill Gin. A touch of vanilla, toasty oak and raw honey reveal themselves into a tangle of sweet and tangy across the palate. Couple with that a cane sugar tonic water such as Q-Tonic (from Brooklyn no less), a hunk of lime and you have the next wave of cheese sophistication. This is the way I want to start my next meal, with elegance and candor.
A firm, well aged, mountain-style cheese from the French Alps calls out for a whisky from Japan that mimics in its own inimitable way the magnificent Scotch Whiskies from the other side of the globe. For a firm, yet oily cheese such as these highly expressive examples from the extreme altitudes of the Alps, a richly textured whisky provides back-bone against the creamy firmness of the hand-made cheese. The Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is distilled drop by precious drop from a Coffey still dating to the early 1960’s. A Coffey Still is a type of Pot Still made of copper. It makes richly textured liquor that has a warm nutty flavor in its approach. Similar on the flavor wheel to the earthy quality of the French- mountain cheeses. A fine match for stimulating the palate before or even after dinner.
Francois, the gregarious and ever-smiling “Professeur de Fromage” comes from a long line of cheese makers. His studied and conversational flair for history is filled with humorous narratives and beneficial hints to the history of cheese. All of these made even more interesting because of the ultimate enjoyment of the finest cheeses available and he does this without any pretentiousness. He demystifies the different varieties, goat, sheep, cow- and breaks each one down into its unique components of flavor. Sour, sweet, tangy, umami- what? What is that? I think it’s the indescribable flavor. The one between here and there. Confusing? Perhaps it is- but after taking a most basic class at the French Cheese Board you’ll certainly be less confused, and considerably more knowledgeable in the art of cheese as more than a metaphor.
Getting back to how flavor is revealed, Francois offers you a mask to cover your eyes with a and your nose is closed with a kind of swimmer’s nose clip. This is to encourage textural feeling the surface of the cheese through your fingers, neither smelling the cheese, nor viewing it.
Is the cheese dry, soft, grainy, crumbly, wet, sticky, polished…?
The list of textures goes on and on.
French cheese comes in all forms, from hard, used for grating, to liquefied and unctuous, meant to be spooned and savored. There are many varieties and no, cheese is not just for dessert. It makes for an incredible aperitif with slivers of black footed Spanish Iberico Ham, meant to stimulate the thirst and the appetite.
For nibbling on Iberico Ham and Washed Rind Cheese I would suggest a slightly salty “Fino” Style Sherry such as the Bodegas Grant “La Garrocha” Fino Sherry NV (Andalucia, Spain) The crisp and aromatic nature of this nearly bone dry sherry will cut the fat both of the cheese and the pork flesh with alacrity.
Sure, you can enjoy cheese without a blindfold on and certainly without a nose clip blocking your passage to the ability of scent. But isn’t it interesting to dismiss most French cheeses because they may be overly assertive in aromatics. That is certainly a fact of life when dealing with washed rind cheeses and still others that turn into liquefaction through aging and cannot be eaten without a spoon, it would just be too sloppy! But delicious!
Cheese and the study of cheese is as easy as taking a walk down to the French Cheese Board, conveniently located at 41 Spring Street in Nolita. Bring and open mind and taste yourself into another way of being. One that embraces the passion for hand-made cheese!
Cheers from all of us at
If I was to suggest several must haves for Father’s Day, I would recommend some items that are esoteric, yet attainable on the national market. And why my recommendations? I have, according to many, the abilities as a “taste-maker” so please allow me that small slice of an opportunity to share some of my Father’s Day gifts for the home cocktail bar.