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.

You’re invited to Drink.Think!

Drink-dot-WHAT?

On Wednesday, October 19, I’m hosting an event for drink and food writers. — the first spoken-word event dedicated to celebrating what we drink!

If you’ll be in the New York area, I hope you’ll come out to Lolita Bar to enjoy a cocktail, and hear some amazing writers read from their work about beverages. Here are all the details on where, when, and most important, WHO is reading. You can also find writer profiles and more on the Drink.Think site.

Date & Time: Wednesday, October 19, 2011. Come by at 6:30 for a drink – the reading starts at 7pm.

Location: Lolita Bar – 266 Broome Street at Allen St., NY, NY

Admission: FREE admission, but drinks are on you, buddy.

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

Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Where You’ll Find Me This Weekend

There’s no need to stay thirsty this weekend!  (okay, long weekend, since I’m including Monday). Here’s what I’ll be up to – please come out and say hello!

Saturday, December 11: Holiday Spirits Bazaar (Brooklyn, NY). A one-night shopping and tasting extravaganza, benefiting the Museum of the American Cocktail. I’ll be signing & selling books, and serving up some Sparkling Ginger Daisy Punch!  Buy tickets here.

Sunday, December 12: Heritage Radio Network. Along with cheese expert Diana Pittet, I’ll be talking with cheesemonger Anne Saxelby, host of “Cutting the Curd,” about monastic heritage in cheeses and liqueurs. 

Monday, December 13: Monastic Liqueurs and Cheeses, a lecture and tasting event with cheese expert Diana Pittet and me, presented by The Culinary Historians of New York. (National Arts Club, Gramercy Park, New York — Excuse me, but have you seen what the NAC looks like all decked out for the holidays?!? Wow.) An amazing raffle basket also will be available, including a limted edition 500th anniversary bottle of Benedictine. Buy tickets here.

Scenes from the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (#MCC)

Greetings from Hangover Central the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, a multi-day fete celebrating cocktail culture.  The event is only at the halfway point, but already I’ve got some photos and stories to share.

For me, the main event was “The Spirited Whey,” yesterday’s seminar on Monk-Inspired Cocktails & Cheeses, which I co-presented with cheese expert Diana Pittet. I’ll have more on this soon, but I’m happy to report that the room was filled to capacity, all the spirits and cheeses arrived (plus some last-minute surprise add-ons), and we’ve been getting lovely feedback that the audience had a good time. (whew!)  

But a quick story:  For “The Spirited Whey,” we had hunted for a great cocktail that showcased two particular liqueurs with monastic heritage:  Benedictine and Chartreuse. We found one in the Monte Cassino, Damon Dyer’s award-winning drink crafted for Benedictine’s recent 500th anniversary event.  It’s a lovely drink made with rye, Benedictine, yellow chartreuse, and loads of lemon. And yesterday, minutes before our presentation, I spotted it on the bar menu at Astor Center, ground zero for most of the MCC events.

So I ordered one and introduced myself, (yep, it was Damon behind the bar!) and explained that we were about to feature his drink. What impressed him most:  Diana had done the research to figure out the meaning of the drink’s name (it’s a the name of a monastery).  He later popped into our seminar to talk about how he came up with the drink.

Damon Dyer in action, making a Monte Cassino

The finished Monte Cassino

Other highlights:  The “Hotel Bars” panel hosted by Elayne Duke.

Charlotte Voisey demonstrates how to "throw" a drink.

My favorite drink from the session: The Black Cherry Sling, from Bemelmans Bar (The Carlyle)

And of course, you know I woudn’t miss Tad Carducci’s seminar on Spice:  The Fennel Frontier.

The drink with the hottest profile was the Little Market, made with tequila, guajillo chile syrup pineaple, Yucateca green habanero sauce, and a pico piquin (chile salt mixture) rim for “extra depth and heat.”

Hot Stuff! The "Little Market" cocktail

But my personal favorite was the Masalarinha (a riff on the caipiriha), made with cachaca, fresh lime, Garam Masala syrup, and garnished with a cinnamon-dusted wedge of pineapple. (I need to add this to my list of curry-spiked cocktails.)

The Masalarinha

Diana relaxes with a full line-up of drinks from the Spice seminar (ok, they're not ALL hers!)

3 spring seminars for cocktailians

Spring is (finally) in the air….which means spring cleaning and fresh starts.  Here are 3 painless, and yes, cocktail-oriented classes for keeping your resolutions on track.  What do you want to change this spring?

Resolution #1. CHANGE CAREERS. Like to write? Like to drink? Like to get paid to do both? Sign up for my April 14 evening class,  A Spirited Discussion: Writing About Spirits and Cocktails, at the Institute for Culinary Education. If you’ve ever wondered how to break into the business, this is the class for you.  Note:  registration for the class closes Monday, April 5, so don’t put this off for too long.

Resolution #2. MORE EXERCISE. Join the  Historic Hotel Bars & Restaurants Walking Tour, with the 92nd St. Y Tribeca. Savor the history –and perhaps a drink –at some of New York’s beloved watering holes and meeting places of the early 20th century. Dates:  April 15 (almost sold out! ) and June 15.

Resolution #3:  LEARN SOMETHING NEW.   Among the dozens of exciting seminars at the upcoming  Manhattan Cocktail Classic, Look for “The Spirited Whey:  Monastic Cocktails & Cheese,” on May 16 with cheese expert Diana Pittet and me. We’ll be sipping Benedictine, Chartreuse, and more monk-inspired tipples, as well as an array of cheeses.  And yes, you’ll get a virtuous (and painless) dose of history along with your drinks.  Tickets went on sale last night, and are likely to sell out quickly. (Pssst…use the code MCCFan to get a special 10% off all MCC events, including the Gala.)