Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DrinkUpNY at the 2012 Indy Spirits Expo

On Tuesday, May 15th, DrinkUpNY excitedly made the trek from our Brooklyn store to the 2012 Indy Spirits Expo, an annual event which highlights some of the great boutique spirits on the market. This year's expo took place at the Flatiron District's Crimson Nightclub - an elegant, multi-level venue located on the corner of Broadway and 21st Street. The space was surprisingly large compared to anything typically found in NYC, and was comfortably crowded with enthusiastic producers, eagerly pouring their spirits for thirsty patrons.

We met up with Dave Schmier, the organizer of the Indy Spirits Expo, to find out what inspired him to create such an event:

"As an Indy Spirits producer myself, I've experienced the hardship of taking your vision to a marketplace dominated by 800 pound gorillas on both the supplier and wholesaler sides of the business. The Indy Spirits Expo started as a way to get through the clutter and reach consumers and members of the trade directly. The event is purposely a low budget, grass roots affair designed to be affordable to even the smallest micro distillers, importers and brand owners.

I enjoy getting people together to taste great spirits and to see my fellow Indy Spirits producers share their ideas with the consumers, as well as each other. This year, it was great to see brands that are striving for recognition alongside brands like Tito's Vodka who have already achieved a great level of success."

We did our best to visit as many booths as possible, but unfortunately were not able to see everyone... which is not really a surprise when the guest list featured over fifty excellent producers:

80 Strong Bourbon, American Gin Company, Antica Sambuca, Avellino Spirits, Balls Vodka, Bimber Vodka, Breckenridge Distillery, Brinley Gold Rum, Breuckelen Distilling, Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, Caledonia Spirits, Catskill Distilling Company, Cockspur Rum, Cornstar Whiskey, Corsair Artisan Distillery, Craft Distillers, Darnley's View Gin, Death's Door Spirits, Depaz Rhum, Dragon Bleu Vodka, Dutch's Spirits, FEW Spirits, Fidencio Mezcal, Harvest Spirits, Iceberg Vodka, Jewel of Russia Vodka, Karlsson's Vodka, Koval Distillery, Luna Nueva Tequila, Macchu Pisco, Montanya Distillers, Orange V Vodka, Peach Street Distillers, Philadelphia Distilling, Prohibition Distillery, Pür Spirits, Q Tonic, Redemption Whiskey, Regatta Ginger Beer, Riverboat Rye, Scorpion Mezcal, Spicebox Whiskey, St. George Spirits, St. Lucia Distillers, Temptation Bourbon, Tito's Vodka, Tuthilltown Spirits, Vermont Spirits, Viaguara Vodka, Wahaka Mezcal, Warwick Valley, Wemyss Malts & ZU Vodka.

Our first stop was Colorado's Breckenridge Distillery, who cleverly set up their booth within feet of the check-in table. They were pouring their vodka and bourbon, but what really caught our eye was Breckenridge Bitters, a product not yet available for sale in New York. Created from a blend of carefully selected spices, herbs and roots, this bittersweet aperitif is delicious on its own, but will certainly make an impression when mixed.

We then wandered over to our friends at Prohibition Distillery, where they were pouring their Bootlegger 21 New York Vodka, followed by Breuckelen Distilling, where we sampled their gin, wheat whiskey and high rye whiskey. Next up was St. George Spirits, who were offering a taste of their absinthe, along with their gins and whiskies.

Drink in hand, we then visited the tables of Macchu Pisco and Pür Spirits, who were working together to serve an interesting cocktail combining Macchu Pisco, Pür Blood Orange Liqueur and soda. We then went on to visit a few producers that are new to New York, as well as a few whose products are not yet available - Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, FEW Spirits, Luna Nueva Tequila, Peach Street Distillers, Wahaka Mezcal and Caledonia Spirits.

By then our palates were begging for mercy, but we completely ignored them and went on to visit Karlsson's Vodka, Vermont Spirits, Tuthilltown Spirits, Warwick Valley Distillery, Koval Distillery, Harvest Spirits and Philadelphia Distilling, before winding down the evening with La Clandestine Absinthe. They were serving an excellent cocktail called The Clandestino:

- 1.5 oz of La Clandestine Absinthe
- 3 Key limes
- 3-4 tablespoons of sugar
- crushed ice

Cut the limes into four parts each and remove the seeds. Use a muddler to crush the limes and sugar. Combine with absinthe and ice, shake, and pour.

On our way out, we again caught up with Dave Schmier who was pleased with the result: "The turnout was great, large enough to make a difference, but small enough so there was still a lot of good one-on-one conversation between the exhibitor and the guests."

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Leblon Cachaça & Cedilla Açai Liqueur

Cachaça, the national spirit of Brazil, is one of the fastest growing spirit trends in the US, and one of the most widely consumed spirits in the world. Since cachaça is created from sugarcane, it is often considered a rum, but the key difference between the two is the way the base ingredient is processed. Unlike rum, which is traditionally distilled from molasses, cachaça can only be distilled from fresh-pressed, unprocessed sugarcane juice, which lends a subtle sweetness and a distinctive vegetal note to the finished product. To further the distinction, Brazilian lawmakers signed a decree that established cachaça as the official and exclusive name for Brazilian cane alcohol, which they hope will eventually be recognized worldwide.

One of the most esteemed brands of cachaça is Leblon, winning five consecutive Gold Medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Awards (2005-2010) and being awarded the "Top Cachaça" Double Gold Medal in 2010. Leblon's exclusive microdistillery is located in the center of Minas Gerais, the premiere cane and cachaça region of Brazil. While many industrially-produced cachaças leave much to be desired, Leblon takes the time to create a truly exceptional spirit.

The sugar cane is harvested by hand from Maison Leblon's own cane fields and quickly pressed in less than three hours. The cane juice is then delicately fermented using proprietary yeasts and micro-distilled in artisanal copper alambique pot stills. The spirit is then rested in vintage XO Cognac casks for up to six months, and artfully blended by Master Distiller Gilles Merlet to maximize taste complexity and aroma. The result is a lively, distinctive cachaça with rich herbal aromas complemented by hints of coconut, pineapple, citrus fruit, baking spice and a hint of caramel. The palate is rounded and full-flavored, with complex notes of citrus, vanilla, pepper, butterscotch and spice layered over robust sugar cane character. Enjoy Leblon in a Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil.
Leblon has also recently released Cedilla Açai, a delicious liqueur created by macerating organic Amazonian Açai berries for one month in Leblon Cachaça. The final step is to blend the resulting spirit with touches of native ginger root, Brazilian orange peel and a touch of natural cane sugar, creating a bold fruit-forward liqueur with complex berry, chocolate and spice notes.

Try the Açai Caipirinha, a delicious variation of the classic, using both Leblon Cachaça and Cedilla Açai Liqueur:

2 oz Leblon Cachaça
1 oz Cedilla Açai Liqueur
½ oz simple syrup
6 lime wedges

-In a mixing glass, muddle the limes and simple syrup.
-Add Cedilla and Leblon Cachaça.
-Fill with ice, shake well and pour contents into a rocks glass.
-Garnish with a lime wedge.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!