Category Archives: New York City

“Discovering the New York Craft Spirits Boom” Launch

Moving to New York City from a state flowing with craft brews, local spirits, and wines lining either side of the highway through the heart of Texas Hill Country, I didn’t believe there was a land more proud of their distilleries. Texas is a state that wears its pride on its sleeve as a badge of honor; whereas, New York is the kid everyone knew was talented, but now they’re charming everyone with a whole new bag of tricks.

Wednesday night, All the Tastes of New York threw an intimate launch party at Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse to kick off their book, Discovering the New York Craft Spirits Boom by Heather Dolland. The evening featured tastings from over 20 local craft distillers along with passed hors d’oeuvres and first-hand discussion on the importance of “Farm to Glass” movement. Guests enjoyed sips of gin, moonshine, vodka, cider, bourbon, and more… each went down smoothly with a bite of slider and helping of chicken parm. My favorite cocktail of the night goes to a spicy blend of Port Morris moonshine muddled with jalapeño dubbed the “Salma Hayek”. However, I could sip (or gulp) a whole bottle of Sorel, the wheat spirit distilled with hibiscus, ginger, nutmeg, cassia and clove, and sweetened with cane sugar from distillery Jack from Brooklyn.

The book Discovering the New York Craft Spirits Boom dives deeply into the movement “Farm to Glass”, sharing the journey of 30 craft distillers, their journey to success, and what it means to grow locally in terms of spirits. The book is set to release on July 4, 2015 for $29.95 and will be available through retailers such as Amazon.com. You may not be able to get your hands on a copy just yet, but you can read below to gain a little insight into Heather’s background, what this “Farm to Glass” movement is all about, and what you should be sipping on this summer.

Could you give me a little more of your background and how you got into the wine and spirits industry? What interests you most about it? I am the founder and owner of All The Tastes of New York, a startup firm that organizes and hosts themed “food crawl” dining experiences at some of Manhattan’s top restaurants. Launched in 2012, All the Tastes of New York enables groups of eight to 30 participants to enjoy appetizers, entrees and desserts at three restaurants within walking distance of each other.

For more than 8 years, I was also a Brand Ambassador for many premium wine and spirit brands. Working with these brands and creating Food and Wine Festivals to promote them, led to my awareness of the increasing number of distillers in New York State. After getting to know many of these craft distillers, I was inspired to tell their story.

What do you hope to achieve with your book? By writing this book, I will like to aid in the awareness of what it means to be a craft distiller and help support this budding New York industry. Because my business focuses on promoting brands, my desire is that we can grow together.

What is your connection to the “Farm to Glass” movement? Why do you think the importance is behind it? For years we have heard about eating local and the farm to table movement. Now with the influx of craft distillers, we are able to drink local and embrace the farm to glass movement. It’s important to remember that the Farm Distillery Act that passed in 2007 to make distilling easier in New York State, was about allowing farmers to increase the value of their crops. Many of these distillers make Vodka and Gin distilled from New York apples and Whiskey and Bourbon from New York corn. A large number of these distillers come from generations of farmers.

What is your go-to drink and food pairing? I really do not have a ‘go-to’ food and drink pairing. I have a tremendous love of food and drinks. Most of this is the joy of creativity and exploring new tastes and flavors. I rarely eat the same food and drink combination because I thrive on new experiences!

Do you have a favorite spot in the city to grab a drink? One of my favorite spots to have a drink is Middle Branch. A speakeasy in Murray Hill.

What is your top summer cocktail recipe? I am very fond of Tequila and generally spicy cocktails. My top summer cocktail is a Passion Fruit Margarita with Jalapenos.

All The Tastes of New York
allthetastesofnewyork.com
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Discovering The New York Craft Spirits Boom
Pre-order/purchase at Amazon.com

 

Lobby Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental (New York City)

My sister and I remembered the amazing experience we had more than eight years ago at this bar.  We were there with friends and were absolutely floored by the view overlooking Central Park from the southwest corner in the Time Warner building.

The service is impeccable and the drinks are well-mixed.  Order a drink and a couple of their tapas-style appetizers and watch the sun set over the park.  It really is one of the best places to do it in the city.  Just make sure to get a spot by the window!

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Lobby Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental
MandarinOriental.com
80 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023
(212) 805-8800

HOURS:
9am – 1am (Sun – Thu)
9am – 2am (Fri & Sat)

TEA: 2:30 – 4:30pm (Daily)

 

The Chester (New York City)

I don’t know who Chester is, but I really like that dude.  I was lucky enough to try out The Chester while in NYC this past April and have been haunted by some of the delicious dishes I had since.  The Chester is an unassuming little restaurant in Midtown (with another location in The Meatpacking District in the Gansevoort) with traditional American fare … with a twist.

We hit The Chester up for brunch because we couldn’t have a big a dinner since we were running a half marathon the next morning.  (Seriously.  We’re nuts.)  So we opted for a not-too-late brunch and hit it hard.  Because … carbs are important.  But, their dinner menu sounds absolutely amazing–I mean Orange-fennel Salad, Squid Ink Tagliarini, Eggplant Toast, Pork Belly … ugh, why didn’t we go for dinner?!

Their brunch menu has some of the more traditional options, but who needs traditional when you can have Breakfast Eggrolls!?  They were packed with scrambled eggs and veggies and were fried to a perfect crisp.  We also opted for the Blistered Shishito Peppers (lemon zest, fried garlic, and maldon sea salt).  My sister said that, without a doubt, they were the best shishito peppers she’d ever had. I’d really have to agree.  The garlic added a bunch of flavor and the best little hint of texture.  I went with The Sawdust (Rosemary-infused Ketel One, Moet, lemon juice, and agave) to start light and it was a great choice.

The cocktail menu offered some classic options but mostly slightly remixed options.  The West Side, Roosevelt, and Hellfire were all tempting!

Entrees were a challenge.  I mean … how do you choose between Eggs Benedict on a cheddar scone topped with chorizo hash and Banana Pancakes with rum-caramelized bananas and salted caramel?!  I mean … my mouth is watering and I’m about to look at flights to head back up there right now.  Luckily, someone had recommended their Fried Chicken (sweet tea brined chicken served with blistered shishito peppers and Thai dressing), so I at least had a hint.  The sweet tea brine gave it a subtle sweetness that was irresistible.  When the waitress came to clear our plates, I actually said to her “Don’t look at me … I’m hideous” because I’d gotten so into the chicken that I, quite literally, had it all over my hands and face.

My sister went with The Burger (hanger steak, pimento cheese, and miso-Russian dressing served on a homemade buns with steak fries) and really enjoyed it.  (I actually don’t know if I’ve ever seen her eat as much as I did that day.  No judgement.)

If I had ANY room left, I’d have opted for some of their fresh oysters. They offer a selection of East Coast and West Coast oysters.  (Which look amazing.)

The drinks at The Chester were all unique, yet classic.  Since we had a big race to run the next day*, I followed-up the meal with The Cobblestone (Tanqueray, mint, cucumber, rhubarb bitters) instead of dessert.  It was all I could do to resist the Sweet Ginger (Jameson, mont, honey-ginger syrup, and lemon)

The Cobblestone
The Cobblestone

The restaurant itself was HUGE–especially for a New York City space.  There were two full bars offering both liquor and a selection of local beers–one in front with windows that allowed an open facade for beautiful spring days and one in the back of the restaurant … for less pleasant days.  The Meatpacking space looks a bit brighter and offers a large, wood patio.

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I’ll be hitting up the Meatpacking location on my next visit to The City, so stay tuned for another report!  (Apparently they have a club, The Arthur, hidden inside.*  That’s happening.)

 

THE CHESTER
TheChesterNYC.com
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Midtown
45 East 33rd Street, NYC 10016
(212)201-1228

Gansevoort Meatpacking
18 Ninth Avenue, NYC 10014
(646) 253-2284

*The Arthur: Reservations required after 11 p.m. Contact: info@paigegroupny.com.