Category Archives: Classes and seminars

Come out and see me sometime – classes, book parties and more

Lots of events coming up in the next few weeks! Please mark your calendar and come out to say hello.

Sunday, October 27 - “Foodie & the Beast” show on Federal News Radio, Washington DC:  I’ll be making drinks (for the entire studio!) and talking about Cocktails for a Crowd with charming host Nycci Nellis on the “Foodie and the Beast” show on Federal News Radio. (11 am-noon. If you’re in the DC area, listen live at 1500 AM; if not, find the audio online here. ) 

Monday, October 28 - Lecture on The Secret Financial Life of Food, at The World Bank, Washington DC:  Q&A with moderator Yurie Tanimichi Hoberg, Senior Economist in the Agriculture and Environmental Services Department of the World Bank. (12:30-2 pm,  at The InfoShop at The World Bank in Washington, DC. Open to the public; bring your ID.)

Tuesday, November 5 – Fresh Ideas for the Holidays cocktail party, with Erica Duecy, The Beacon Bar, NY:  Don’t settle for the same-old mulled wine at your holiday party. Join Erica Duecy, author of the newly-released book Storied Sips and me for fresh cocktail ideas to spice things up. We’ll have live jazz, passed nibbles and cocktails from both of our books, so come thirsty! (6-8 pm, Hotel Beacon NYC, 2130 Broadway at 75th St. Please RSVP: shari@bayerpublicrelations.com.)

Friday, December 6 - Cocktails for a Crowd – Holiday Entertaining class at Astor Center, NY:  A hands-on cocktail-making class! Whether you’re planning an elegant holiday soiree or a laid-back New Year’s Eve gathering with friends, learn how to make big-batch cocktails to impress your guests, without breaking a sweat. Don’t wait too long to sign up, the August class sold out quickly.  (6:30-8 pm, December 6 at Astor Center. Purchase tickets here.)

Saturday, December 14 Holiday Cocktails for a Crowd class at Mohonk Mountain House:  As part of Mohonk’s annual “How To” Holiday Weekend (Dec 13-15), learn to mix and make traditional holiday cocktails to get everyone in the spirit. (5 pm, December 14 at Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, NY. For reservations, please call 855-883-3798.)

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Cocktails for a Crowd book signing – 8/11 at Salt & Sundry, Washington DC

This Sunday, I’ll be in Washington DC, signing books from 2-3:30 PM at one of the most beautiful housewares stores I’ve ever seen:  Salt & Sundry, inside Union Market. I already have my eye on some new glassware.

We’ll also be sampling cocktails from the book and bites provided by The Red Hen. Mark your calendar now!

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August 5, 2013 · 10:58 am

Low Octane Libations: “cocktails are balanced libations that bring people together to celebrate life.”

From left to right: Amanda Boccato, Greg Best, Joaquin Simo, Kirk Estopinal

This good-lookin’ crew was my panel from Tales of the Cocktail. We had assembled to talk about “Low Octane Libations” — and although I’ve long been a fan of lower-alcohol cocktails, there’s nothing like hearing the gospel straight from the bartenders. In retrospect, I think this topic hit a sweet spot, sandwiched among seminars and tasting events that focused on vermouth, sherry and other lower alcohol options, and I’ve been tickled to see post-Tales roundups listing “lower alcohol” as a trend in the making.

Although I was preoccupied with moderating the panel, I did manage to scribble down some insightful comments from the panelists. Highlights included:

  • Amanda Boccato, brand ambassador from Lillet, noted that “historical cocktails can be reinvented using lower proof spirits as the base, such as a Lillet Julep.” Unprompted, later on in the session Joaquin Simo of Pouring Ribbons noted that he had tried out a Lillet Julep spiked with Green Chartreuse. “It was so good,” he said.
  • This comment, from Greg Best of Holeman and Finch:  “As stewards of cocktail culture, we’re obligated to define cocktail culture endlessly. No one ever said it has to be boozy with bitters – there’s no rule.” Then he paused to define what cocktails are: “Balanced libations that bring people together to celebrate life.” The audience applauded!
  • Joaquin Simo on the rising phenomenon of Bartender’s Choice cocktails: “It’s an opportunity to bring out that coffee-infused vermouth – not Red Stag. If [guests] are giving you that much latitude, let’s not abuse it.”
  • Kirk Estopinal’s Pineau de Charentes Cobbler. All the cocktails were top-notch (and props to our Cocktail Apprentice leader, Christopher George and his team for making that so), but I especially loved how he defined the garnish:  as “good snacks on top.” His cobbler was topped with a quarter-wheel of lemon,  sprinkled with bitters and then sugar. How to get more guests at bars drinking cobblers? Here’s Simo’s idea: “Tell them the Cobbler was the Cosmo of the 1800s.”
Here’s the drink recipe:
Pineau de Charentes Cobbler  (Kirk Estopinal, Bellocq)
1 1/2 oz Ferrand Pineau de Charentes
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup (1:1)
¾ oz Calvados or Cognac
Boston Bitters-coated lemon pieces, for garnish
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Add all (except garnishes) to a tin and shake hard with big ice. Strain over crushed ice and top with garnish.

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July 25, 2013 · 3:58 pm

Talking and tippling with the 3 “Vermouth-kateers”

The "Vermouth-kateers":  Carl Sutton, Neil Kopplin and Andrew Quady

The “Vermouth-kateers”: Carl Sutton, Neil Kopplin and Andrew Quady

Julia Child splashed French vermouth into much of her cooking. James Bond added Italian vermouth to his famous “shaken, not stirred,” martinis. But American-made vermouth is what’s now taking the cocktail world by storm.

So on April 8, it was my pleasure to moderate a panel of West Coast wine and vermouth producers, “Fountain of Vermouth,” at the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference in San Francisco.

The three panelists- who jokingly refer to themselves as “vermouth-kateers“-  were Neil Kopplin, a former bartender and current partner of Portland, Oregon’s Imbue Cellars, who makes his Bittersweet Vermouth with Willamette Valley Pinot Gris; Carl Sutton, owner of Sutton Cellars in Sonoma, Calif.; and Andrew Quady, a Madera, California-based winemaker who also produces vermouth under the Vya label.

Quady first provided the attendees with a definition of the aromatized, fortified “wine-but more than just wine,” including an overview of some of the botanicals used to flavor it.

That was followed by a lively debate between Kopplin and Sutton, who have divergent philosophies about what makes for good vermouth. Sutton said he starts with both wine and brandy that is “absolutely neutral” in character: “I want a completely blank canvas, something I can project onto.” He then adds as many as 17 ingredients for flavoring.

Kopplin, for his part, insisted that since the wine makes up 75-80% of what’s in the glass, it should be “the bright shining star” that the botanicals are selected to complement. He fully expects his vermouth to change from year to year, he added, since he switches up the base wine with each vintage. This year, he’s using local Pinot Gris; next year, the base will be Sémillon.

To cap it all off,  Sutton mixed up a round of Bamboo cocktails for the crowd – here’s the recipe:

Bamboo Cocktail

1½ oz. Lustau amontillado sherry

1½ oz. Sutton Cellars dry vermouth

2 dashes orange bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir together all ingredients with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass.   Garnish with a lemon peel twist.

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History or hooch? Chicago – I’m coming your way!

 Chicago area friends:  I’m so excited to be heading to the Windy City next week! Here’s my schedule – whether your taste runs to history or hooch, please mark your calendar.  I hope to see you while I’m in town.

Monday, April 22:  Lecture on The Secret Financial Life of Food, with the Culinary Historians of Chicago. 

I’ll be giving a talk about my book, The Secret Financial Life of Food, at an event presented by The Culinary Historians of Chicago.

Since so much of agricultural commodities history took place in Chicago, I’m especially thrilled to have an opportunity to talk about grain, cattle and other food-related futures here. And I fully expect to learn a thing or two from this particular group!

Location:  Kendall College (900 N. North Branch St., Chicago, IL)  at 6:30 pm.

Tuesday, April 23: Drink.Think heads to Chicago!

I’ll be hosting Drink.Thinka literary reading event about all things drink. Come out and hear your favorite Chicago-area beverage and food writers read from their work. We have a great line-up of writers, authors and industry pros coming out for the event. Admission is free, plus we’ll have some complimentary whiskey tipples on hand. (Win-win!)

Location:  Tavernita, 151 W. Erie St, Chicago, IL. Come out at 6pm to drink; the reading starts at 7pm.

See you in Chicago!

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NYC friends: an All-American Whiskey and Cheese pairing event

Though I haven’t yet seen the new film about Abraham Lincoln, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what Lincoln might drink.

That’s because I have the joyful task of procuring whiskeys for an upcoming event in honor of President’s Day:  A President’s Day Toast to American Whiskey and American Cheese! This event, to be held on Monday, February 11, is produced by the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance, an organization of which I’m proud to be a member, and will be hosted at The Flatiron Room,  a new “whiskey and spirits parlor.”

Heather Greene, an outspoken advocate of women and whiskey, will be talking about the hooch; cheese expert Diana Pittet will be explaining the cheeses.

A few seats are still available — but this is a limited-seating event, and truly, they won’t last long. So if you’re interested in attending, I suggest booking sooner rather than later. (And yes, boys are allowed!)

I don’t want to spoil the surprise by telling you exactly what will be poured — but I can tell you this:  we’re doing four whiskey pours, paired with four cheeses, all of American provenance. There might be a fifth “bonus” pour (shhhh). But here’s a little hint as to what’s going in the glasses:

A delectable single barrel bourbon that retails for $400 to $500 per bottle. (if that’s not worth the price of admission, I don’t know what is!)

One of the few American-made single malts around. And this is a special one:  smoky like an Islay Scotch, and just snagged a prestigious award for best artisan whiskey! I was pleasantly surprised that the distillers were willing to part with a bottle for our event – this will soon be a tough whiskey to get.

My new favorite bottled-in-bond rye whiskey for my new favorite cocktail, the Final Ward.

A locally-made bourbon finished in sherry casks. Think caramel mixed with dried peaches and plums. It’s delicious, trust me, and there’s a great story behind the bottle too.

That’s all I’m going to say about this event. Snag a ticket while you can.

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Literate drinking: Drink.Think heads to San Fran on Feb 5!

image courtesy Monica BhideDrink.Think is going on the road…to San Francisco!

If you’ll be in the Bay area on Tuesday, Feb 5, I hope you’ll come out to Cantina to enjoy a drink and hear an amazing group of writers read from their work about beverages.

In addition, Karlsson’s Vodka and Santa Teresa Rum will be pouring samples of their products.  (The regular bar also will be available.)

Date & Time:  Tuesday, February 5, 2013.  The bar will be open starting at 6pm – the reading starts at 7pm.

Location:  Cantina, 580 Sutter St at Mason St, San Francisco, CA

Admission: FREE admission and samples of Karlsson’s Vodka and Santa Teresa. Drinks will be available for purchase.

Featured Readers:  Curated by wine and spirits writer Kara Newman, participants include:

  • Camper English, cocktail/spirits writer for San Francisco Chronicle, Details.com andFine Cooking
  • Courtney Humiston, columnist, 7×7 Magazine and founding editor, TableToGrave.com
  • Duggan McDonnell, writer, bartender and boozy entrepreneur
  • Gayle Keck, food and travel writer
  • Virginia Miller, food and drink correspondent, San Francisco Bay Guardian and blogger, ThePerfectSpotSF.com
  • Jill Robinson, travel writer, San Francisco ChronicleAmerican Way and more
  • Michael Shapiro, freelance travel writer, National Geographic Traveler and Islands magazine
  • Stevie Stacionis, wine writer and Director of Communication at Corkbuzz Wine Studio
  • Liza B. Zimmerman, editor-at-large Cheers and contributing editor to Wine Business Monthly

I hope to see you at Cantina on Feb 5 – come thirsty!

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Calling all Mad Men – join me on 12/8 for Classic Cocktails at Mohonk

Join me as I channel my inner Joan Holloway (yes, vintage 1960s attire may be involved) for a Mad Men-inspired, hands-on Classic Cocktails class at beautiful Mohonk Mountain house on Saturday, December 8 at 5:00 pm (cocktail hour, of course).

All the details are below – including a special “Friends-of” discount just for you. (We’re friends, right?) Click on the image to see a larger version. Hope to see you there, martini glasses in hand!

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Literate drinking – Drink.Think returns on Oct 16

After a one-year hiatus, I’m delighted to announce that Drink.Think  is back!

If you’ll be in the New York area on Tuesday, Oct. 16, I hope you’ll come out to Casa Mezcal to enjoy a drink and hear an amazing group of writers read from their work about beverages.

In addition, Montelobos Mezcal will be pouring samples of their new mezcal. The product comes to market this month, so you can be among the first to try it. (The regular full bar also will be available.)

Date & Time:  Tuesday, October 16, 2012.  The bar will be open starting at 6pm – the reading starts at 7pm.

Location:  Obra Negra, below Casa Mezcal - 86 Orchard Street, NY, NY

Admission: FREE admission and samples of Montelobos Mezcal. Books will be available for purchase and signing; full cash bar available.

Featured Readers:  Curated by wine and spirits writer Kara Newman, participants include:

  • Jenny Adams, cocktail/spirits writer for Imbibe Magazine
  • Alia Akkam, drinks writer and editor
  • Jennifer Fiedler, Associate Editor, Wine Spectator Magazine
  • Caren Osten Gerszberg and Leah Odze Epstein, editors of Drinking Diaries anthology & blog
  • Michael Neff, bartender/co-owner of Ward III/Rum House, and writer at Serious Eats
  • Peter Joseph, author, Boozy Brunch
  • Rosie Schaap, Drink columnist, New York Times Magazine and author, Drinking With Men
  • Laura Weiss, author, Ice Cream: A Global History

I hope to see you at Casa Mezcal on Oct. 16 – come thirsty!

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My new book – coming Nov. 20

Exciting news! My new book, The Secret Financial Life of Food, will be available in bookstores on November 20, 2012.

…If you’d like to pre-order a copy, you can do so on Amazon (and thank you!)

…If you’re a journalist or blogger and would like a review copy, galleys are now available! Please go to this link and click the “Request!” button. 

…If you’d like to hear more about the book, I’m giving a brief preview talk at the Culinary Historians of NY’s season opener meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 12. Event details are posted here. 

…If you’re a fellow boozehound and you’re wondering, “Hey! Where’s the hooch?” Let me assure you, spirituous history abounds in this book. In brief, The Secret Financial History of Food focuses on commodities markets from a culinary perspective, and chapters focus on topics such as the former “Butter and Egg Men” and the rise and fall of pork bellies. But this book also gave me an excuse to talk about whiskey trading (grain and corn chapters, thank you), wine futures, and perhaps my favorite discovery during the long research months: the nearly-forgotten American Liquor Exchange, which set prices for wine and spirits post-Prohibition.

…Last but not least:  if you’d like to arrange for an interview or speaking engagement related to the book, please email Meredith Howard at Columbia University Press (mhoward AT columbiauniversitypress DOT com) or me (kara AT karanewman DOT com).

Whew! That was a lot of information. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

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