Jim Beam. Booker Noe. Evan Williams. Henry McKenna. John Jameson. Hiram Walker. The list goes on. The whisk(e)y industry is seemingly dominated by men, and I was given another chance to appreciate that at the “Women in Whisk(e)y” event at Sissy’s. We heard from the following:
Victoria MacRae-Samuels, Vice President of Operations at Maker’s Mark Bourbon
Vicky Stevens, Global Brand Ambassador for Laphroaig Scotch Whisky
Tish Harcus, Brand Ambassador for Canadian Club Whisky
Stella Lacken, Brand Ambassador for Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
With the smell of Sissy’s delicious fried chicken hanging in the air, the women shared their paths to their current positions with their respective brands along with how their love of whiskey was forged. I was happy to share with Victoria after that my mother was actually the person who turned me on to whiskey (she’s a huge Maker’s fan) … she even gave me Whiskey Women for Christmas, which they all recommended we read.
WIN FOR DALLAS: Tish from Canadian Club even let us know the women in Dallas are ahead of the WORLD when it comes to their love of whiskey. (Way to go, ladies.)
To get us through the late lunch, Sissy’s served us some goodies. Along with some of Sissy’s delicious bites, we were treated to tastings of Maker’s 46, Laphroaig, Canadian Club Sherry Cask, and Kilbeggan and cocktails made with each.
To continue the day of awesomeness, I was lucky enough to stop by the Maker’s Mark happy hour at Bolsa that they put on for their local ambassadors. (P.S. If you’re not an ambassador, sign up now.) While there, I had another chance to chat with Victoria from Maker’s Mark and she deemed to snap a picture for me to send to my mom. (HI, MOM!)
The day of awesomeness ended with dinner at Smoke, where we were treated a traditional Scottish song to start the night. (Don’t you love his kilt?) Each delicious and well seasoned course of BBQ was accompanied by tastings of the four whiskeys and cocktails that showed off how they lend themselves to mixing, and we were treated to another round of addresses from the whiskey women.
Chef Scott Gottlich and Andrea Maricich and Mixologist Seth Brammer “Breakfast In Bed” Cooking Demonstration
This was my first experience with a cooking demonstration, so I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. The menu sounded decadent, and considering that it combines two of my absolute favorite things on this planet (my bed and breakfast foods), I was eager to attend. We walked into The Second Floor’s Privé private dining room and were greeted with a drink buffet of coffee, fresh squeezed juices, teas, a fire and roses strewn across the table. (Let’s just say that it was fittingly romantic.)
The chefs gave a short introduction and put an emphasis on learning the techniques they were about to share with us. They explained that, of course, once you master the techniques you can play with recipes for all tastes and occasions. They demonstrated each dish, and then we were delivered a sample from the back kitchen. You know … to make sure they did it right.
First Course: Red Velvet Crépes with Cream Cheese Mousse Filling and Raspberry Coulis Watching these chef’s make crépes made it all seem so simple. It’s all about the batter … if you can mix it right, you can really make any flavor–sweet or savory. The coulis only took about five minutes to reduce, and it made such a fresh alternative to syrup or Nutella. (Not that we’d ever consider replacing Nutella … we aren’t communist.) When it came time to sample this dish, there was definitely something left to be desired … in that I wanted five more helpings. They included orange zest in the filling, which was so refreshing and cut right through the richness of the cream cheese and chocolate batter. The raspberry coulis was the perfect combination of sweet and tart. Let’s just say I had to resist the urge to lick the plate.
Tip from the chefs: Make sure to turn the pan in a circular motion to spread all of the batter thinly and evenly. This ensures even cooking and a proper crepe.
Second Course: Oysters Eggs Benedict with Tasso Ham, and Wholegrain Mustard Hollandaise Sauce
This was another twist on a classic breakfast dish. Since this was one of the dishes Chef Maricich served when interviewing for her position at The Second Floor, I knew this was going to be a winner. The chefs went into detail about how exactly to mix the eggs and fat to emulsify properly in order to make the perfect hollandaise. They added stone-ground mustard and Tabasco to give it a little zing, and then moved on to poaching the eggs. They brought out the sample, and the portion was huge! The oysters were perfectly battered and crisp, yet still juicy. Unfortunately they served us regular Hollandaise and I was so disappointed. (I guess this served as more motivation to make the dish on my own.)
Tip from the chefs: Use a bit of vinegar and create a vortex of spinning water in the pot to helps keep the egg together and round.
Third Course: Lobster and Asparagus Omelet with Fontina Cheese and Arugula Salad This was by far the easiest of the dishes to prepare. (Which means I may try it first.) The lobster was fresh, sweet and not overcooked, and the asparagus added texture. There was plenty of cheese and it oozed out of the center with every bite. It was very rich, but considering the fact that this was all for a special occasion, I didn’t mind. (Who am I kidding? I never can have enough cheese, regardless of the occasion … gluten intolerance be damned.)
Tip from the chefs: You may add water in an omelet, but no milk! Milk is reserved for scrambled eggs and will change the consistency of the omelet.
Then it was time for cocktails! Mixologist Seth Brammer came out and demonstrated
A) a slew of drinks with fresh ingredients that were just what we all needed to liven us up for the remaining presentation, and
B) a bunch of pretentious drink-snob jabs while simultaneously being so full of knowledge and expertise that he was himself a real pretentious drink snob.
It was the perfect combination … not only did I learn how to make the best quality, fresh squeezed and strong mimosa, a made-from-scratch Bloody Mary and the tried-and-true Irish Coffee … I now know how and where orange juice is made and why it never really tastes like real oranges, what vodka ratio is the best for a true bloody mary (4 parts mix to 1 part vodka) and how to whip cream just perfectly thickened enough for any dish or drink. In Seth’s own words, “people don’t whip their own cream anymore, and that’s what’s wrong with America.” (Amen, my friend.)
Tip from the mixologist: In order to make the cream float on top of the coffee in an Irish Coffee, flip a spoon upside-down and pour the cream over the back of the spoon.
After we all had each of the three cocktails, the chefs came back out and did a quick demonstration of a simple and classic “Egg in the Hole” paired with The Second Floor’s own maple-cured salmon. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to eat this dish! This was a huge menu, and Chef Maricich even joked that she maybe “bit off more than she could chew.”
In the end, I could have certainly bitten off and chewed even more because this entire spread was top-notch. I’m looking forward to practicing and mastering the techniques they shared with us!