Kiuchi No Shizuku: A gin-like spirit from Japan

16 Mar
Photo by Kevin Chan (http://flickr.com/crumbs)

Photo by Kevin Chan (http://flickr.com/crumbs)

Last night I dined at EN Japanese Brasserie, which serves some of the most authentic cuisine this side of the Pacific Ocean. In addition to the sweet and spicy Local Honey cocktail ($18), made with Yamazaki 12-year-old single malt whisky, Beefeater gin, honey, wasabi and bee pollen, I sampled a small pour of Kiuchi No Shizuku ($15) from Japan’s Kiuchi Brewery, the producer of the Hitachino Nest beer line. As a gin fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this 43-percent abv spirit, which is distilled from Hitachino Nest White Ale, a Belgian-style brew that features coriander, nutmeg, orange juice and orange peel. Additional coriander, hops and orange peel are incorporated during the distillation process, after which the spirit is aged in oak barrels for six months. The finished product is a pale golden color with a refreshing botanical flavor that’s reminiscent of gin minus the juniper. I sipped it over ice and loved the crisp taste of citrus and herbs, with a slight sweetness that mellows into a dry finish. I would also recommend drinking the spirit mixed with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and soda. Kiuchi No Shizuku is imported to the United States by specialty beer and spirits purveyor B. United International and can be found at Drink Up NY for $17.99 a 200-ml. bottle.

Rum Shaker: A tour of rums from Puerto Rico hits East Coast

8 Nov

Rum Shaker: A tour of rums from Puerto Rico hits East Coast

No longer just for fruity blended drinks to be enjoyed while on vacation, rum is the main ingredient in some of my favorite classic cocktails, including the Hemingway Daiquiri, the Mai Tai and the Dark & Stormy. And many aged rums are great for sipping like you would a good Scotch or Bourbon. The versatility of this spirit is a reflection of its various origins, which span the world, though most distilleries are concentrated in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. With so many rums to choose from, where does one begin?

Considering that Puerto Rico produces 77% of the rum consumed in the United States, the home of Ricky Martin is the perfect place to start. Fortunately, Rums of Puerto Rico is bringing a taste of the island stateside this month as part of a four-city East Coast tour that’s stopping in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. The NYC event takes place on Friday, November 22, at SOB’s (200 Varick St.) in the West Village, starting at 7 p.m. For a cover charge of $10, you can sample a slew of Puerto Rican rums, including Ron del Barrilito, Ron Palo Viejo, Ron Llave, Ron Caliche, Black Roberts, Pitorro and several other brands. Plus, sip signature cocktails while dancing to tunes by DJ DNGR GRDN (download a free Taste of Rum mix!), then test your flexibility with a limbo contest and salsa dancing. There will also be a chance to win a trip for two to the Taste of Rum Festival in San Juan in the spring of 2014, courtesy of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co.!

© 2013 Amber Drea and New York Drinkie. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Brunch And Bubbly: Sotto 13’s new DIY Prosecco bar puts a spin on Mimosas

22 Feb

Italian small plates and pizza venue Sotto 13, located in a residential section of 13th Street in the West Village, has launched a new prix-fixe weekend brunch with unlimited cocktails. For $25, you get any two tapas and one side or a wood-fired pizza, plus all-you-can-drink Bloody Marys, Mimosas, Raspberry-White Peach Bellinis, Sangrias and Screwdrivers. My favorite brunch cocktail is the Bloody Mary, and Sotto 13’s is perfectly spicy and flavorful.
For an additional  $15, you can spruce up your Mimosas with the DIY Prosecco Bar, a tray that contains mixers like blood orange juice or lychee puree, modifiers such as Aperol and a fig-infused vodka, and an array of garnishes, including pomegranate seeds, candied ginger and skewered blackberries. If you opt for à la carte service, you can get a full bottle of Prosecco and the additional fixings for $55.


The brunch itself comprises Italian-style breakfast foods served in small dishes that are meant for sharing—Sotto 13’s tagline is “Social Italian.” Selections include the Egg Benedict with Pancetta, the French Toast with berry compote and Vermont maple syrup, and the Tuscan Egg, which is poached and served on rosemary focaccia that’s soaked with pomodoro sauce and topped with Parmigiano cheese. I couldn’t get enough of the Cacio e Pepe, comprising soft-scrambled eggs mixed with caciocavallo cheese and black pepper, and the Fennel Sausage & Roasted Peppers. I also loved the Baked Crispelle—crepes containing spinach, ricotta and a creamy tomato sauce.


If pizza is more your style, Sotto 13 offers Margherita, Wild Mushroom, Spicy Fennel Sausage & Caramelized Onion, Spinach & Artichoke and Di Parma, made with mozzarella, arugula and prosciutto di Parma. They also serve pastas, salads and other Italian-style tapas, as well as specialty cocktails that aren’t part of the all-you-can-drink deal like the Tomatillo Bloody Mary, which I highly recommend.

© 2013 Amber Drea and New York Drinkie. Photos courtesy of Sotto 13. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Baking With Booze: Maker’s Mark gingerbread cookies with Bourbon cinnamon glaze

9 Dec

These boozy cookies were a huge hit at my holiday party! Here’s the recipe:

Maker’s Mark Gingerbread Cookies With Bourbon Cinnamon Glaze

Makes 40 cookies using 4 1/2-inch-tall Maker’s Mark bottle cookie cutter

Cookies:

3 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 stick of butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 tbs white vinegar
1/4 cup Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Mix flour, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon and ginger in a bowl and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar in a separate bowl. Mix in egg, molasses, vinegar and Bourbon and incorporate well. Add dry ingredients and combine until dough forms. (If dough seems too dry, add 1 egg white.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide dough into three pieces, wrap in parchment and refrigerate for at lease one hour. On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 3/8-inch thick and cut with cookie cutter. Gather scraps and repeat until all dough is used.

Place cookies on nonstick or greased cookie sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool.

Glaze:

2 tbs Maker’s Mark Bourbon
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
24-30 drops red food coloring

Combine Bourbon, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until mixture becomes a soft glaze, about three minutes. Mix in food coloring. Gently dip the bottle neck of each cookie, front down, and allow glaze to drip slightly to mimic the Maker’s Mark wax. Lay flat until glaze hardens.

Serve with a spiced cider, such as Rittenhouse Wassail Punch.

© 2012 Amber Drea and New York Drinkie. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

The New Black: NOIR NYC exudes a 1930s supper club vibe with modern touches

28 Jul

NOIR, the upscale restaurant and nightclub that opened in the old Nikki Beach space in June, hearkens back to its early 20th-century origins, first as an opera house and later as a speakeasy. The design attempts to recreate the old-school glamour of Sinatra’s hey day with tile flooring, marble staircase, dark wood banisters and leather banquettes. The elegant dining room takes up the first floor, while the glitzy lounge area comprises the second story.

The bar program features $220-to-$300 punch bowls that contain 20 servings and a premium spirits cart offering top-shelf Cognac and whiskies, including Scotch, which can be pour over a signature Macallan ice sphere.

The drinks menu highlights handcrafted cocktails ($15) developed by award-winning mixologist and beverage director Adam DelGiudice, who previously worked at the Florida Room in Miami’s South Beach. The list features twists on classics and original concoctions, including the Manhattan En Noir, made with rye whiskey, vermouth, Port, Grand Marnier and bitters, and the Five Point Sour, mixing Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, applejack, lemon juice and a float of red wine. NOIR also offers an extensive wine list.

I started with the Garden Variety, which blends vodka, muddled strawberries and basil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice and white pepper. The cocktail perfectly balances the fresh fruitiness of the strawberries with the acidic tang of the lime juice and vinegar. Plus, the basil and pepper exude herbal and spicy aromas.

I also tried the sweet and floral Lavender Aviation, made with gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and house-made lavender syrup, as well as the tart and refreshing Ghost of Mary Pickford, comprising light rum, lime and pineapple juices, and house-made grenadine.

The cuisine—from Michelin-starred chef Jean-Yves Schillinger—combines American and French elements. Items include salmon and arugula flatbread pizza, Kobe beef sliders, red snapper with Asian sauce, and salmon, tuna and steak tartares, the last of which is topped with raw quail yolk.

NOIR is definitely the place to take a date, meet colleagues for drinks or host an extravagant birthday party in Midtown. Whatever the occasion, it’s sure to impress.

© 2012 Amber Drea and New York Drinkie. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Booze-Fueled Bacchanal: Manhattan Cocktail Classic takes over NYC once again

6 May

Kicking off May 11 with an extravagant Gala at the New York Public Library, the third annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic hits New York City for a five-day celebration focused on the joys of drinking. While many MCC events are sold out, including the aforementioned Gala, there are still tickets available for plenty of exciting educational seminars, tastings, dinners and parties. New York Drinkie has rounded up 16 top picks from the remaining program schedule.

SATURDAY, MAY 12

Women Behind Bars: A History of Women in the Spirits Industry
1:00 p.m. at Pegu Club in Manhattan, $50

Lynnette Marrero, Meaghan Dorman, Kitty Amann and Misty Kalkofen of The Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails discuss the impact that women have had on alcoholic beverage consumption throughout the years, from the Temperance Movement and Prohibition to the current classic cocktail resurgence. Pernod Ricard supplies the libations.

Hands-On Distilling Workshop: The Art & Science of Distilling
1:30 p.m. at Cacao Prieto Distillery in Brooklyn, $75

Learn the ins and outs of small-batch distilling during this three-hour seminar led by Cacao Prieto’s Daniel Preston, Randal Murphy, Jan Chelminski and Alex Clark. Afterwards, enjoy a tasting of the company’s cacao rum and cacao liqueur at nearby bar Botanica.

Gentleman’s Cocktail Crawl
1:30 p.m. at various locations in Manhattan, $55

Sponsored by men’s clothing store Bonobos, this cocktail crawl includes six complimentary cocktails at bars like The Living Room at the W Downtown, Bar Seven Five at the Andaz Wall Street and The Empire Room in Midtown. Women are welcome, and the drink tickets also serve as raffle tickets, which make crawlers eligible for upscale prizes, such as Bonobos clothing, iPhone cases, hotel stays and round-trip tickets to London.

Fortify Yourself: Unlock the Secrets and Wield the Power of Port, Sherry and Madeira
2:00 p.m. at Terroir Murray Hill in Manhattan, $56

Fortified wines aren’t just for dessert or old ladies anymore, and this event offers a crash course in the three main regions: Spain’s Jerez and Portugal’s Douro Valley and Madeira. Guests receive four tastes of each style, for a total of 12 different wines, providing an overview of the category’s history, range and characteristics.

Behind the Bar: Boutique and Craft Spirits With Brooklyn Gin, Fidencio Mezcal and Bittermans Spirits
4:00 p.m. at Whitehall Kitchen & Bar in Manhattan, $60

Emily Cavalier, founder of culinary and cocktail-pairing pop-up series Midnight Brunch, hosts this event, which brings together three craft spirits producers to discuss the business of boutique distilling. Drinks and dishes are courtesy of “New British” restaurant and gin haven Whitehall.

Esquire’s Summer Music Issue Launch Party featuring Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Tanqueray
6:00 p.m. at The Lamb’s Club in Manhattan, $50

The latest “Next Iron Chef” winner Geoffrey Zakarian serves up summer hors d’oeuvres, and Tanqueray gin provides seasonal concoctions for this party celebrating the launch of Esquire’s music issue. Proceeds from the iTunes downloads of five songs created specifically for the magazine by artists like Rhett Miller and Chris Daughtry will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

SUNDAY, MAY 13

Pork Out Punch Party
11:00 a.m. at Union Pool in Brooklyn, $30 entry fee includes a free T-shirt (RSVP to poppmcc@gmail.com)

This all-day soirée and fundraiser, hosted by The Bon Vivants, features pig and punch-style libations, courtesy of Crown Royal Black Canadian whisky, George Dickel Tennessee whiskey, Ketel One vodka, Pimm’s No. 1, Don Julio Tequila and Zacapa rum. Proceeds from the T-shirt sales will be donated to KIPP NYC, which gives urban students the tools to graduate high school and attend college, and music will be provided by brass band The Stumblebums, along with DJ Eleven and DJ Ayres of The Rub.

A Taste of Contemporary Scotland in New York
1:00 p.m. at Highlands Gastropub in Manhattan, $60

Highlands beverage director John McCarthy and principal Donal Brophy lead a brunch paired with anCnoc single malt Scotch and Caorunn Scottish gin. Drink handcrafted cocktails and enjoy Scottish cuisine while learning about the country’s culture.

Suntory Japanese BBQ and Cocktails… Celebration of Spring!
4:00 p.m. at The Summit Bar in Manhattan, $25

Discover the art of Japanese whisky with Yamazaki, Hibiki and the newly introduced Hakushu. This indoor “tako matsuri,” or kite festival, features a blending station where attendees can create their own bottle of Hakushu 12-year-old, cocktails from mixologist Greg Seider, Japanese ice cut using chainsaws and knives, yakitori-style barbecue from BondSt chef Marc Spitzer and DJ Kimiko Masuda.

Pisco Portón and Dans Le Noir Present Dining in the Dark
5:00 p.m. at Dans Le Noir in Manhattan, $50

Pisco Portón is partnering with Dans Le Noir’s New York City location for a lights-out evening of eating and drinking. With the sense of sight eliminated, guests can experience the heightened aromas, tastes and textures of the Peruvian grape-based spirit paired with and incorporated into various cuisines.

Handcrafted Cocktails: Create Homemade Ingredients, Syrups, Cordials, Infusions and Accompaniments
5:00 at Macao Trading Co. in Manhattan, $35

Renowned mixologist Dushan Zaric demonstrates techniques for creating an array of homemade cocktail ingredients, including syrups, cordials and infusion. Learn how to make your own grenadine and never rely on store-bought mixes again. Plus, all proceeds from ticket sales will benefit City Harvest.

Sunday Soulloon with G. Love
6:00 p.m. at The Tippler in Manhattan, $60

Drink some “Cold Beverages” courtesy of The Tippling Bros. while listening to live tunes from ’90s alt-funk favorite G. Love and Miami roots rocker Brendan O’Hara. Pickled eggs, pretzels and other bar snacks will also be served to soak up some of that special sauce.

MONDAY, MAY 14

You Choose the Next Iron Bartender
12:00 p.m. at Huckleberry Bar in Brooklyn, $50

Team up with one of four mixologists for a chance to win prizes. Each bartender will prepare a cocktail using White Pike whiskey and Finger Lakes Distilling’s spirits and ingredients selected by his or her audience participants, who enjoy complimentary drinks and small bites while they watch.

Urban Tiki, Redefined
1:00 p.m. at PKNY in Manhattan, $25

Step into a Polynesian paradise in the East Village and indulge in super strong tiki cocktails, courtesy of Sailor Jerry spiced rum. As you partake, PKNY’s Richard Boccato, Valentin Gonzalez and Kigan Joseph will relay the history of Don The Beachcomber, Trader Vic and Sailor Jerry.

The Darkest Night: Bowmore’s Evening at The McKittrick Hotel With a Performance of Sleep No More
7:15 p.m., 7:45 p.m., 8:00 p.m. at The McKittrick Hotel in Manhattan, $125

Experience the site-specific theatrical performance “Sleep No More” with a dram of Bowmore 15-year-old Darkest single malt Scotch in hand. Described as an interactive Kubrickian “Macbeth,” the dark, voyeuristic, choose-your-own-adventure-style show allows masked viewers to be both observers and participants. Once you’ve gotten your fill of the strange spectacle, make your way to the hotel’s bar and lobby for more Scotch libations—created by cocktail historian David Wondrich and Fred Sarkis of Sable Bar & Kitchen in Chicago—paired with chocolate and oysters.

TUESDAY, MAY 15

The Indy Spirits Expo
5:00 p.m. at Crimson Club in Manhattan, $50

This year’s closing night party is the Indy Spirits Expo, which features scores of small-batch spirits and boutique brands from all over the country. Sample all the artisanal gins, whiskies, rums, vodkas and liqueurs you can handle during the three-hour event.

© 2012 Amber Drea and New York Drinkie. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Vegas Drinkie: Reviving vintage cocktails and class in the Nevada desert

8 Jan

Sin City is certainly known for its decadence and debauchery, but all I care about are its drinks. On a recent trip, I decided to check out some places off the beaten path, aka The Strip. A new restaurant called The Barrymore had opened inside the Royal Resort, a small hotel on Convention Center Drive, just north of many of the large casinos. With a combination of 1950s supper club classiness and modern elegance, The Barrymore offers an eclectic menu of American cuisine, alongside an extensive wine list (with 50 selections priced less than $50 a bottle) and delicious signature cocktails ($10.50).

I started off with the Basil2, made with Basil Hayden Bourbon, Dolin Dry vermouth, fresh sour, lemon syrup and Thai basil, served in a Martini glass. It was a balanced blend of rich whiskey, sweet citrus and herbal notes.

I followed up with the Funny Guy, comprising Zaya rum, Cointreau, orange juice and Old Fashioned bitters. The drink was tasty and refreshing.

After dinner, my friend Candice and I headed downtown. Local mixologist Tobin Ellis of Bar Magic had recommended Downtown Cocktail Room (DCR), a dark lounge located on Las Vegas Boulevard at Fremont Street. DCR reminded me of New York’s speakeasy-style spots, with mustachioed or vested bartenders, intimate booths and tables, and hand-crafted drinks ($8 to $11).

The cocktails are rated according to their level of approachability, ranging from
1 (easy) to 5 (advanced palate). I ordered the Leeki My Tiki, a Level 1 concoction featuring Pisco, tiki bitters, cranberry juice and egg white. The warming spices, winter fruit and velvety texture made for a satisfying drink.

Candice tried the Funky Pear Medina, which at Level 2.5 (somewhere between approachable and mildly complex) was a bit too much for her. However, I enjoyed its mix of rum, amaro, pear purée, sparkling wine and nutmeg—sweet and slightly minty, with a brightness from the fresh fruit and bubbly.

I wish I’d had more time to explore Las Vegas, but I was happy with what I did experience there. On my list for next time: The Chandelier and Vesper Bar at The Cosmopolitan and Herbs & Rye on Sahara Avenue. Viva Las Vegas!

 © 2012 Amber Drea and New York Drinkie. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

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