Sunday, September 10, 2017

Liv’s Best Bet

By Warren Bobrow

Hudson Spirits is the veritable old man on the mountain for craft distilling in NY State. If you haven’t yet tasted the 1st  pot still distilled bourbon made in NY since the dark, bad days in Prohibition, then you owe it to yourself to start here.  Why?  Because bourbon doesn’t have to be distilled in Kentucky to be absolutely delicious, and dare I say, authentic.  You may also find that Hudson Baby Bourbon is one of those products in the bourbon world that actually gets better as it grows older. Maybe it’s the small bottles.  I mean, they come in regular 750’s now, but I have one of their original 375’s. Whatever you have, just enjoy it. But you shouldn’t be like me and save it for a rainy day.  One of the benefits of working in the spirits industry is that the samples received often far exceed one’s ability to drink them all.  Having the role of a tastemaker has some integral drawbacks.

One of these drawbacks is finding unopened of tasty spirits was hidden behind other bottles.

My little 375ml bottle of Hudson Baby Bourbon sat, forlorn for over two years without being reviewed. Fortunately, bourbon is one of those products that calls out to drinkers the world over, so my lack of speed really didn’t hurt anyone.  And Hudson Baby Bourbon will taste delicious, year in and year out- playing to many different audiences and thirsts.  The traditionalist, who will want to taste the perfect grains without any embellishments. 

The millennials and their soon to be successful friends- will want to explore the best mixers that money can buy.  They should go no further than to enjoy something truly delicious that I just discovered.  It’s an un-soda, something that is refreshing, crisp, friendly and local-if Vermont is local. (That is certainly good enough for me, and they are USDA Certified Organic)

A naturally flavored seltzer type product made from Birch sap which is jam packed full of antioxidants, oh- you don’t want to hear about that stuff I know, it’s good for you, I know that- although I cannot tell you it will do anything but give you a burst of energy.  All I can tell you is that SAP is unlike anything else on the market.

This lightly carbonated product taps into quality spirits with great cheer and celebration! So I recommend using a quality spirits, such as the Hudson Spirits Baby Bourbon Whiskey.  But don’t go overboard.  You don’t need very much of either ingredient.  There is much restraint that is necessary with such quality ingredients.

So, please let me stress simplicity.  Hudson Baby Bourbon, aged in small new, American oak barrels has wonderful notes of toasted, caramelized nuts, darkly scented wildflower honey and toasted brioche smeared with late harvest quince jam. Add a splash of the Birch SAP seltzer and the flavors grow deeper and more exotic. These flavors just need to be together.  Alone, without a whole lot more.  It’s just not necessary.

I’ve never been one for a mixed drink with more than ten ingredients.  Or five.. four even, because when I’m behind the stick- and it gets busy- and the weeds are growing higher than you can see- that’s when simplicity is the key.  I don’t want to teach you your job, but get it down fast- because this new ‘un-soda’ is what you should be drinking today, now, this very moment in time.  And if you have a bottle of Hudson Baby Bourbon, preferably bought from DrinkupNY, you’ll know exactly what quality is about.  Hand-made means something to me.  From hand-made whiskey to the mixer that drives it down into your memory.  Everything is made with passion. 

Whiskey and soda was your grandfather’s favorite drink. May I suggest bringing it into the 21st century?  I have a delicious suggestion that won’t take this drink too far into the weeds.

This cocktail inspires me to make the best drinks that I am able, with the simplest ingredients possible.

Liv’s Best Bet
Ingredients:
Segments of roasted blood orange- Roast blood orange cut in half, soaked in Angostura (about ¼ cup) for an hour at 350. Cool and segment (cut into little pieces)

3 oz. Hudson Spirits Baby Bourbon Whiskey
4 oz. SAP Sparkling Birch Water Beverage (just Birch water, a touch of fizz and citric acid to keep things nice and fresh)
Bitter Truth Spiced Chocolate Bitters
Hand cut Lemon Zest- NO PEELERS, EVER. 
Prep:
Ice down a tall glass- aka: Collins Glass with ice and water- discard when frosty
Add a segment of the roasted Angostura orange to the glass
Mash down with a muddler- not too much- this is not a race- but do it with alacrity!
Add a spear of ice or a few nice cubes that don’t smell like garlic pasta (PRO-TIP: keep your ice in a freezer bag until ready to use)
Add the Baby Bourbon Whiskey
Pour over the SAP Sparkling Birch Water Beverage
Garnish with a lemon zest and a stainless-steel straw
Serve with a smile and an honest to goodness belly laugh!

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Beach Weather is Upon Us

By Liza B. Zimmerman

With hot weather digging down on most of the South and East Coast it is time for us to lighten up on our wines. I drink much more white and lower-alcohol reds in the hot months and would invite you to do the same as well. The last thing you need in a heat wave is a super-over-proof California Cabernet.

Adam Padilla, who is a chef at the CIA in St. Helena has a few answers. “There are a variety of wines well suited for a day at the beach, especially if you draw inspiration from islands and coastal regions around the globe – such as Galicia, Santorini, Provence, Minho, California and Marlborough. Look for the varietals that hail from those regions and the wines the locals drink all summer long.”

I couldn’t agree more the Albarinos and crisp Vinho Verde’s from Northern Portugal and Spain are some of my favorites. They also pair so well with a wide range of seafood. The really often taste like sea spray in a bottle.

Padilla also likes brisk, crisp, higher-acid whites such as Loureiro (Vinho Verde), Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Assyrtiko and Picpoul. I adore the Rhone whites, such as Picpoul and Marsanne and Roussane almost any time of the year. Regions like Paso Robles and Lodi are also making some great white Rhone-inspired wines.

“Since acid helps to cuts through fat, and sugar [and fruit] can help balance salty foods, the wines above can be versatile pairings for everything from chicken salad sandwiches, to garden fresh pesto pasta salad, panzanella with mozarella, homemade potato chips, and summer fruit salads. Crisp, minerally whites also go especially well with oysters, clams, paella and fresh seafood dishes,” adds the chef.

Going Red
If you want to enjoy reds during the summer it’s nice to go with brighter, lighter wines. “A high-alcohol, full-bodied red may not be the most ideal pairing for a hot, sandy summer day,” says the chef. “The wine should be fun, lighthearted, shareable, chilled, and – most importantly – not too serious.”

Ones that can be served slightly chilled like a Beaujolais Cru, Lambrusco or Chinon are all great choices. Padilla agrees, adding that summer is time for “Light, bright, fruit-forward reds with low tannins such as Carignan, Counoise, Frappato, Grignolino, Gaglioppo and Gamay.”

Or as a stand in for a red try a rose made from the same grapes. “Drier, direct press [non-saignée] rosés made with Grenache/Garnacha, Cinsault and Carignan such as those from Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon, and coastal California. Saignee is French for bleed and describes a method French of removing some of the juice from the must so the resulting wine light or bright pink not red.

“Another fun idea is to bring along a bottle of aperitif wine –similar to vermouth. Just add some club soda and fresh fruit and you have yourself a nice, refreshing spritz [which will also help keep you better hydrated],” jokes the chef.

Additional things to think about for beach consumption can also include how alcoholic the wine is. “Low alcohol is also important with summer wines. It’s easy to get dehydrated while out in the sun, and wine with high alcohol content could exacerbate that problem. Screw caps are also a bonus, since they’re easy to open and reseal.”

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Say Cheese!

By Warren Bobrow

Are you mystified by cheese?  Do you see a cheese plate and instinctively think that it’s an expensive dessert?  Have you ever taken a cheese class?  Would you know that cheese goes really well with spirits? 

If your answers are yes, no, no and no, then you’ll probably be hungry – and hopefully thirsty by the time you finished reading.  Why?  Because cheese is not pretentious, nor is it only for dessert!  In fact, cheese is something that is made by hand in the same manner as it has for hundreds of years- and cheese is created by farmers!  There are certainly machine-made cheeses, but for the intent of this article, all the cheeses in the classes at the French Cheese Board in Manhattan are made by hand in the ancient fashion of the cheese maker.   So, you should not be mystified. 

Far from mystified, what is needed to truly TASTE cheese is to cut off your ability of smelling the cheese first.  There are many taste receptors in our mouths that are incredibly sensitive, but unfortunately most cheese is tasted with our noses first.  And if you can close your eyes while you are tasting cheese, there is another whole set of senses that are fooled by your visual sensibility. 

Located in the trendy-eastern fringes of SoHo, where the old city collides with Nolita, the French Cheese Board in its handsome and sleek space.  It is filled with ample sunlight and is a very friendly place indeed.  This outpost of French culture in the Big City, seeks to demystify cheese by taking cheese out of its usually pretentious context completely.  Instead of merely snacking on cheese, they suggest carefully tasting cheese, but not overwhelming the plate with superfluous parts.  Instead of a grilled-cheese sandwich, serving a small cheese slice- served simply with dried fruit, plain crackers (so not to overpower the delicate flavors) and perhaps some rugged coins of dry baguette will more than suffice as an accompaniment. 

Cheese served simply on a cheese board become a compliment to dinner, not solely a means to an end after dinner when you are already full.

The ancient style of making cheese, on a cheese board, or alone- Goat Cheese is a fine way to start a meal. I tend to prefer a combination of old and new goat cheeses, carefully rolled into a log and then further aged in straw- in a special cheese cave.  This amalgamation of funky and sweet calls out for a number of liquid accompaniments.  Many of the liquids that I suggest for goat cheese are not wine.  Goat cheese, especially aged (chalky and funky in the somewhat barnyard nose) takes to the more botanical style of gin with a tongue in cheek sense of humor.  There is nothing that I enjoy more in the summer months than a gin and tonic with a nice crumbly goat cheese between my fingers.  For the gin component I’d suggest the Barrel Aged Barr Hill Tom Cat (style).  A couple months in new American oak translates to a richening and deepening of the already sensuous quality inherent in each sip of Barr Hill Gin.  A touch of vanilla, toasty oak and raw honey reveal themselves into a tangle of sweet and tangy across the palate.  Couple with that a cane sugar tonic water such as Q-Tonic (from Brooklyn no less), a hunk of lime and you have the next wave of cheese sophistication.  This is the way I want to start my next meal, with elegance and candor. 

A firm, well aged, mountain-style cheese from the French Alps calls out for a whisky from Japan that mimics in its own inimitable way the magnificent Scotch Whiskies from the other side of the globe.   For a firm, yet oily cheese such as these highly expressive examples from the extreme altitudes of the Alps, a richly textured whisky provides back-bone against the creamy firmness of the hand-made cheese.  The Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is distilled drop by precious drop from a Coffey still dating to the early 1960’s.  A Coffey Still is a type of Pot Still made of copper. It makes richly textured liquor that has a warm nutty flavor in its approach.  Similar on the flavor wheel to the earthy quality of the French- mountain cheeses.  A fine match for stimulating the palate before or even after dinner. 

Francois, the gregarious and ever-smiling “Professeur de Fromage” comes from a long line of cheese makers.  His studied and conversational flair for history is filled with humorous narratives and beneficial hints to the history of cheese.  All of these made even more interesting because of the ultimate enjoyment of the finest cheeses available and he does this without any pretentiousness.  He demystifies the different varieties, goat, sheep, cow- and breaks each one down into its unique components of flavor.  Sour, sweet, tangy, umami- what?  What is that?  I think it’s the indescribable flavor.  The one between here and there.  Confusing?  Perhaps it is- but after taking a most basic class at the French Cheese Board you’ll certainly be less confused, and considerably more knowledgeable in the art of cheese as more than a metaphor. 

Getting back to how flavor is revealed, Francois offers you a mask to cover your eyes with a and your nose is closed with a kind of swimmer’s nose clip.  This is to encourage textural feeling the surface of the cheese through your fingers, neither smelling the cheese, nor viewing it. 

Is the cheese dry, soft, grainy, crumbly, wet, sticky, polished...?

The list of textures goes on and on.  
French cheese comes in all forms, from hard, used for grating, to liquefied and unctuous, meant to be spooned and savored.  There are many varieties and no, cheese is not just for dessert.  It makes for an incredible aperitif with slivers of black footed Spanish Iberico Ham, meant to stimulate the thirst and the appetite. 

For nibbling on Iberico Ham and Washed Rind Cheese I would suggest a slightly salty “Fino” Style Sherry such as the Bodegas Grant “La Garrocha” Fino Sherry NV (Andalucia, Spain)  The crisp and aromatic nature of this nearly bone dry sherry will cut the fat both of the cheese and the pork flesh with alacrity.

Sure, you can enjoy cheese without a blindfold on and certainly without a nose clip blocking your passage to the ability of scent.  But isn’t it interesting to dismiss most French cheeses because they may be overly assertive in aromatics.  That is certainly a fact of life when dealing with washed rind cheeses and still others that turn into liquefaction through aging and cannot be eaten without a spoon, it would just be too sloppy!  But delicious!

Cheese and the study of cheese is as easy as taking a walk down to the French Cheese Board, conveniently located at 41 Spring Street in Nolita.  Bring and open mind and taste yourself into another way of being.  One that embraces the passion for hand-made cheese!  

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Whites

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Now that the days are longer and the sun is out we may all enjoy more white wine on the patio and with dinner. Brighter flavors and higher acidity levels often work beautifully with lighter summer foods and can even tame some of those tough vegetables such as asparagus and artichokes.

Some of my favorite summer whites include Muscadets from the Loire Valley, white Bordeaux and Sauvignon Blancs from almost anywhere: especially South Africa. These mineral-driven wines can stand up to all kinds of salads, raw and cooked fish dishes and delicious cheeses. Rhône whites are also among my favorites with varietals like Marsanne and Viognier way up there on the summer delicious scale.

Ideas from an Expert
Nicole Rolet is a New Yorker who owns the Chêne Bleu vineyard in the Southern Rhône Valley. Her tastes run to “Roussannes that smell like Provençal summer fruit baskets: apricots, peaches and melons and I also the delicately perfumed Viogniers.” She added that U.S. domestic producers are also hitting a home run with “gorgeous White Grenache and other Rhone-styles whites of cool microclimates such as Santa Barbara.”

“If I’m relaxing by the pool [which winemakers rarely get to do!], there are lots of crisp whites to choose from—a light bright Loire Valley wine like Sancerre, a springy Sauvignon Blanc or a mouth-wateringly dry Riesling from Alsace, Germany or the Finger Lakes or a new, improved Pinot Grigio, recovering from the excesses of quantity over quality of the last decade,” she added.

These wines, she noted, are “crying out to be paired with food… summer salads, seafood or even a nice cheese platter, since over here [in France] we often prefer rich whites with cheese to reds. With food our wines really earn their keep.”

Temperature is Key
With summer whites, as much as winter reds, serving them at the right temperature is going to make all the difference. If you keep the whites a little warmer than usual you may see that they are generally more expressive in the glass. A trick they use in Texas, mostly for the reds in the hot months, is to serve them in chilled decanters which keep the wines fresher than they would be strait out of the bottle.

Rolet confirms the same rule about giving summer whites a little warm up in the glass. “As a rule of thumb, I always enjoy drinking good quality whites a bit warmer than recommended, so their perfume really lifts from the glass and when you sip it you get to fully experience the full palette of flavors. “

During the peak heat of summertime you will want to do your wines as much justice as you do with your foods. Serve your whites at their peak of fresh, but not super-chilled, accessibility. Trust me that you won’t regret it this season.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Jean Baptiste Philémon Lemaire Punch

By Warren Bobrow

If there is any liquor that makes me salivate, it would have to be Rhum Agricole.  Perhaps it’s the freshness of the core ingredient, the sugar cane itself.  The juicy-fruit quality of the mouthfeel, the creamy texture... the way it rolls around my mouth- for example... very intriguing.  There is life in Rhum Agricole, just like there is life on Martinique.  It’s vibrant and exciting.  Just imagine, not so long ago, in 1902- the town of Saint-Pierre and 30,000 residents ceased to exist because the local volcano decided that day was going to be the day that it just exploded!  You can almost feel this tension (terroir) of volcanic ash in the sugar cane that grows up the sides of the massive Mount Pelée. 

Rhum Agricole is different in a few basic ways from the booze cruise rum that most Americans have to contend with when ordering their rum based drinks.  Without belaboring what is rum and what is not rum, let’s just assume for a moment that the difference between Agricole and Industrial is probably going to be the base spirit.  Industrial to me means sugar- molasses.  Whereas Agricole is fresh, agricultural, free-run juice.  You know, the good stuff.  I am constantly explaining that dark rum doesn’t necessarily mean old (it actually gets lighter as it ages, fooling most consumers who think their dark rum is old rum) and Agricole is pure because of its AOC.  The AOC or appellation d'origine contrôlée means that the Rhum (in this case spelled with an h) is pure according to laws of the French Government.  That is, without drilling down too far, good enough for my belly, and it should be good enough for yours too. 

So, I beg your attention, if only for a quick glance while deciding which rabbit hole you are going down at this very moment, so my time is short indeed! 

Neisson L'Esprit Blanc Rhum Agricole speaks to me in the quality of the ingredients, plus rolling in at 70% abv or 140 Proof, this is not a Rhum for the meek.  You will certainly control your own fate when making ‘ponch’ with this magical elixir, truly wrought out of what was blown to smithereens in 1902. 

I’ve taken some oranges and limes and roasted them in the toaster oven, sliced in half, sprinkled with Demerara Sugar and light Balsamic vinegar.  Roasted at 350 for an hour, set to cool and then sliced into quarters.  The following is a take on the Ti-Punch (or ponch) as you can dream about and try by ordering your exceptional Neisson Rhum from DrinkupNY today!

Jean Baptiste Philémon Lemaire Punch
(Governor of Martinique in 1902)
Ingredients:
Quarters of your oven roasted limes and oranges
2 oz. Neisson L’Esprit
1 oz. Cane Sugar Syrup (preferably the stuff from Martinique, although you can make a dark simple with 1 cup of Demerara Sugar to one cup of boiling water, simmer and then let this cool, very slowly until quite dark, you can add a bit of vodka to the sugar syrup and it will last nearly indefinitely (pro-tip)
½ oz. White Balsamic Vinegar – for digestion of course!

Preparation:
Mash your oven roasted limes and oranges (the skins have all the oils in them!)
Add a portion of cane sugar simple
Add some white balsamic
Add some Neisson L’Esprit
Add a handful of ice
Continue until content

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Rosés to Pair with Fish

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Now that springtime is in full bloom, crisp whites and roses seem to pair perfectly with just about everything. I just came back from a fantastic visit to Galicia in Northern Spain where I had some of the freshest seafood of my life. Everything from stripped bass to enormous hunks of octopus are served right from the ocean onto your plate in a matter of hours.

One of the region’s better-known local dishes is Pulpo la Gallega, which is a mix of octopus and potatoes slathered in paprika and olive oil. It pairs beautifully with the local rosés as well as the fresh and intense rosés made in neighboring Navarra.

While white wine is more often the go-to pairing for many seafood dishes, rosés—both still and sparkling--can have their charm and pairing affinities. First and foremost tuna and salmon, cooked almost any way is a no-brainer choice to enjoy with these wines. The fattiness of the fish has great synergies with the bright red fruit flavors in many rosés. Since Pinot Noir is considered a perfect wine with salmon, and consumed in copious amounts in the Pacific Northwest, why not try a rosé of Pinot Noir?

If you are eating Japanese or Peruvian and are having raw tuna or an Asian-inspired tuna-based ceviche, rosé is natural pairing. Sparkling rosés are ideal as the bubbles refresh the mouth for another bite of delicious raw fish

Notes from an Expert
Charlotte Tissoire, the head sommelier assistant at the Le Pressoir d’Argent Gordon Ramsay in London had a few ideas to share on pairing rosé with seafood. With tuna she recommends trying a rosé from Provence in the South of France. These wines tend to have “a certain richness and will be nice with the meaty texture of this special fish. As a 100 percent Mourvedre it will typically bring a long structure on the palate and a sappy and salty finish.”

“With a trout cooked in a rich sauce, it will be nicer to choose an older vintage of rosé so as to bring more structure in mouth, and to have something more opulent,” she adds.

Sparkling rosé wines will perfectly match with fresh starters like a lobster salad or a fish tartare; she notes stressing the flexibility of these wines. Clams or mussels in a rich, butter-based sauce would also be perfect with a still or sparkling rosé

Great rosé pairings are not limited to just fish and classic seafood. With “anchovies and sardines let’s try a Bordeaux rosé, “ she recommends. The region’s big and full-bodies wines tend to contrast nicely with the saltiness of both types of fish.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Milk Punch with Denizen Rum

By Warren Bobrow

The Miami Rum Fest is the premier event of the rum world.  A gathering of personalities who flock from across the globe to experience the calling that only comes with rum.  I just spent the better part of three days sharing my experiences in rum with nerd and tiki heads who speak this unique language of sugar cane spirits.  Unlike whiskey or gin- or Scotch- and all its derivatives, rum-heads are a colorful bunch.  They are decidedly un-serious about their craft surrounding the mystique of rum. Many of these aficionados are former scientists, blue-water sailors, pilots and abundantly, self-made adventurers who follow the Rhumb line around the globe in search of this precious, yet misunderstood elixir.  Whisky tends to be more snobbish in its personality although these spirits do share a certain synergy.  That would be the aging medium.  You see, the ex-bourbon casks that they age rum- are also used for Scotch Whisky and dare I say- the tempestuous cousins, Tequila- and Mezcal.  They share a symmetry that cannot be ignored.  There is bourbon in there- the trick is to imagine how much is revealed with each subsequent charring.  But I digress. 

I believe to learn about rum you have to attend events like the Miami Rum Fest.  There are more years of rum expertise in the room than in many of the events I’ve been fortunate to attend.  Rum Geeks, Rum Heads, Tiki Heads, Shrunken Heads... They’re all there.

Spending time in the company of so many passionate people teaches me great lessons about what I know and do not know about rum.  I watched how they tasted the spirits- the measure of sipping, the attention to detail- when to sip and when to spit- and what to eat within each tasting.  You don’t want to get blasted- that wouldn’t be cool.  And your palate?  That’s another story entirely.  I’m a professional, but even I get palate fatigue, so eat a cracker.  Normally I’d have a plate of real world food- barbeque comes to mind.  Something Pan-Asian in character- fish sauce- fermentation- food meant to awaken my palate and bring the rum into another space.  A place of history when sailors plied the unknown oceans of the globe- finely twisted on rum.  The perfect foil against the doldrums, when your nose is stuffed full of salt air and everything tastes like the sea. 

That is why I drink rum.  There is this product on the market that can approximate the experience of being out at sea.  It’s a saline spray- about five blasts of this stuff and your nasal passages are in the cut between Jost Van Dyke and Anegada.

Rum tastes better out at sea.  I know- this is where I learned about rum.  Heading out to uncertain waters on a yacht far too ambitious for my young self. 

Rum should be unforced.  I learned from the rum-fest that the best rums are the ones that speak a language.  A science would over intellectualize the process.  When you think of rum, you imagine an inexact science.  It’s not pretty- the distillation of rum from molasses.  The yeast is essential, the time in the barrel also important.  Too much rum is colored with caramel for my taste.  I understand the reasoning though.  I can’t wrap my hands around manipulation of the sugar, but again- commerce is a powerful determinate- one that I can only surmise. 

That leads me to the cocktails that I enjoy with rum.  Classic drinks sometimes sing a deeper tune and rums that are not overly manipulated speak more clearly in this regard.  I’ve found that the rum, simply named Denizen.  It’s something of a secret, this rum.  At least in the US market.  The company that created it has been around for hundreds of years.  Quietly performing their art for a very well-heeled audience without fanfare or pretentiousness.  Just like rum itself- passion in the craft of blending and securing the finest base spirits and doing the very least to reveal flavor.  Denizen is crystal clear in color- perhaps for my taste a bit too clear- since I prefer my rum to have some stuff left in it.  However, for the American consumer- Denizen is far better than most of the ‘clear’ rums on the market.  And it actually has lineage behind it of roughly four hundred years in the rum business!  They know a bit about rum I’d say. 

I cannot divulge the actual source of rum; I can say it is produced in Trinidad.  The nose is fruity and the mouthfeel is creamy and full.  There are bursts of starfruit and wet stones. The finish is richly textured and reminiscent of roasted plantain and freshly crushed nutmeg.  I often mix Denizen with coconut water ice, a touch of vanilla paste and a splash of heavy cream, shaken hard and served with a slice of grilled pineapple.   This is rum that speaks to my optimistic nature.  Rum that excites my palate through its simplicity- the way it tastes without color added to approximate age.  I think it’s about eight years old- and absolutely no color added.  Nice touch if you ask me.  And it’s elegant.  Certainly elegant enough to serve as a digestive in a snifter for dessert.  Gorgeous stuff.  Lucky me to have a bottle to sip on- although it’s getting low!   I do recommend tasting in a Neat Glass.  It offers something that no other glass offers on the market.  That is a different opinion. 

Pretty Much an Optimistic Milk Punch
Ingredients:
4 oz. Denizen Rum
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
2 oz. Coconut milk
2 oz. Coconut Cream
Coconut Water ice- that is regular coconut water-frozen and crushed in a Lewis Bag-canvas to wick off the moisture...
Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters

Grilled Pineapple- Slice a pineapple into the appropriate size spears, grill over hard wood charcoal until caramelized- set aside to cool

Preparation:
Fill a Boston Shaker ¾ with regular bar ice
At the same time- prep your serving glasses by adding about 10 shakes of Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters to some funky looking glasses, then topping with the coconut water ice- set aside

Add the vanilla paste, the coconut milk and the Coconut Cream along with the rum to the shaker.  Cap and shake hard for 30 seconds
Strain into your funky glasses filled with coconut water ice
Garnish with the charred, grilled pineapple spear
Serve and immediately start another batch for quick service on the uptake.  Brilliant!

Get yourself tickets next year to the Miami Rum Fest.  It’s a lovely way to spend the weekend with friends, and friends not yet met. 

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Gantous & Abou Raad Arak

By Warren Bobrow

The language of travel supersedes the need to actually speak the semantic of the place.  As does travel, the need to fill the belly with more than just laughs- actual food- should take precedent over dialogue.  The same holds true for strong drink.  I always recommend taking some food when imbibing and the conversation will just flow- as marvelous as the food and drink that fills the gut- and the soul!

Arak (Middle Eastern in derivative)-distilled from grapes and anise seed, as opposed to Arrak- distilled from sugarcane (popular in Southeast Asia) is what fills my gut and my heart.  Arak is the last thing on my lips- and the first thing into my memories.  It is mystical and aromatic with memorable herbal elements of more than just licorice.  There are history lessons to be learned with each measured sip of Arak.

DrinkUpNY is fortunate to carry the classic Arak: Gantous & Abou Raad Arak

In my research on the topic, Arak is the same final product as Ouzo and Raki.  They are all created from grape based alcohol that is rectified and flavored with the same ingredients.  Anise Seed is used like juniper in gin and it gives Raki, Ouzo and Arak their signature flavors of licorice and reminiscences.  There is a certain Terroir in these liqueurs and they truly taste of the place where they are produced.  It’s quite uncanny actually.  I can taste the friendly nature of the people who make each drop.  They seem to beckon me to the table to enjoy a sip or two against the blistering heat. 

A favored way to enjoy Arak, as well as Ouzo and Raki is in a slender glass with a drizzle of water to release the volatile oils and aromatics.  Ice is usually not produced, nor is it offered as ice would have been impossible to attain and keep cold in the often arid temperatures of the Middle East where Arak is permitted and celebrated.

I’m a fan of flavors and tastes that evoke a far off place.  In this regard, I’m calling attention to this region of the world.  More out of a metaphor for conversation though the filling of the belly. Then as an added benefit there is good food and fine drink such as this Arak. 

And as health is my metaphor, may I suggest a portion of freshly crushed carrot juice to act as a determinate for the potent Arak?  Absolutely.  And because Arak is frequently no less than 50% alcohol, it needs very little to unleash the fire held deeply within. The grape base is aged in clay amphorae like they made wine 5000 years ago!  Talk about history!

Gantous & Abou Raad Arak is produced in a place further afield in the Middle East, this case is Lebanon, where the finest Arak is produced using the most historic methods including the use of copper pot stills and low temperature, through multiple distillations and the infusion of anise seed. 

Phoenician Carrot Frappe
Ingredients:
3 oz. Gantous & Abou Raad Arak
2 oz. Freshly crushed carrot juice
Crushed Ice
Fresh mint- (drop cut end in boiling water for 10-15 seconds, then store in ice water cut end down)

Preparation:
To a Burgundy Wine glass- add the crushed ice
To a Boston Shaker- add the Arak and the carrot juice- add bar-ice to fill ¾ and cap, shake hard for 15.5 seconds.  Double strain over the ice in the Burgundy glass
Garnish with the fresh mint, add more ice to the glass, if necessary

Serve with a full stomach and empty your mind

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wines to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for a Fortnight

By Liza B. Zimmerman

This holiday to honor the Irish has become one that almost all of us like to celebrate. I don’t bear the cold like I did when I was a kid to watch the parade but do love to fete the holiday inside with a couple of good bottles.

One of the ways to pay tribute to it is by drinking wines with Irish names as many producers from Napa to New Zealand and Australia having Irish roots. Another fun way to honor the day is to start it off with a little Vinho Verde from Portugal. This fresh and fizzy white isn’t actually green but it is a lovely pairing to start off a meal.

I also asked two sommeliers in San Francisco what some of their favorite picks are. “If you view Saint Patrick's Day as a celebration, I would suggest celebratory wine. Bubbles of any type will suffice, but there is nothing like true Champagne for a celebration,” says general manager and wine director Jon Kelble of Maybeck’s in San Francisco.

I couldn’t agree with him more that bubbles are great for any occasion. The sparkling lineup has just grown vaster year after year with lots of lovely cremants, proseccos, cavas and even delicious Lambruscos from which to choose.

“One of the things that I love about Champagne is it is easily, and happily, consumed on its own, but there are also bigger and richer styles that can be enjoyed with food. There are some Blanc de Noirs and Rosés that can be paired with heartier dishes,” adds lead sommelier David Castleberry from restaurant RN74. Some of the bigger, more fruit-forward styles can pair with almost every dish in a meal, even lighter meats or tartare.

Two Perspectives
You could go the full-on traditional route with food and wine pairing. At Maybeck’s a classic meal of corned beef cheeks with braised cabbage and roasted potatoes is served that Kelble would pair with an austere Austrian Gruner Veltliner or Riesling. He adds that “any of the more mineral based and higher acidic Pinot Gris, Rieslings or Gewurztraminers that inhabit those borderlands. Alsace also produces many excellent Cremants to continue the bubbly celebratory theme.”

Cremants from Alsace and the Loire Valley have long been favorites of mine. They deliver a lot of flavor for their price points. Another trifecta of regions to seek out good Rieslings is in the Finger Lakes region and both the Okanagan Valley and Niagara-on-the-Lake regions of Canada.

Since most of the country is just defrosting from winter by the end of March you might just want a big, hearty red to keep you warm. South African and Chilean blends are some of my favorites as they really show off the ever-improving wine making techniques in the two oldest of the two New World wine making countries.

Sláinte to you all. Let’s toast to the holiday all month long.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Eden "Heirloom" Ice Cider

By Warren Bobrow

Ice Cider is one of the most exciting things to come out of the Northern American Climes since downhill skiing!  Well, that would be stretching the winter-esque verbiage just a tad, but bear with me here just for a moment.  I’m thrilled to share with you my passion for a dessert wine so unique that an entirely new flavor profile has to be honed within your brain.  Unless you’ve spent any time in the Normandy (northern-decidedly un-touristy) region of France or in the frozen tundra of upper New York State and Vermont, it’s highly unlikely that the words Ice Cider would mean anything to you.  But please allow me to introduce you to a product that is certainly as elegant as ice wine.  But costs a 10th as much!

As a comparison, Ice wine is one of the scarcest forms of wine in the world- and it is understandably expensive.  The grapes have to freeze on the vine without turning to black goop- it’s a process that already is expensive because the grapes (either Vidal or Riesling) are not an easy grow in the cold climates.  Enter the much more durable apple.  Apple cider has only been produced in the Niagara Peninsula and just beyond.  The art of freezing the freshly crushed juice before fermentation is an art that many have never heard of, much less tasted.

That is until the Eden Cider Company in Vermont radically changed the way that cider can be enjoyed.  Instead of drinking a glass of apple cider lightly fermented in a glass like beer or champagne, or sparkling-style-mixed with Guinness in a velvet- a miniscule portion of ice cider is a veritable revelation of flavor. 

Ice Cider is concentrated goodness that only gets better over time.  Just like German ice wines age over decades, Ice Cider can be laid down for longer than you would imagine.  They are durable things that taste delicious on release too!  For 29 bucks, DrinkupNY has something that very few people have ever tasted, much less know exactly what Ice Cider tastes like. 

Heirloom Apples are not to be eaten un-cooked!  That sounds so foreboding, when actually- heirloom apples are precisely the kind of apples that go into cooked foods.  They have flavor far beyond the apples that you reach into a tree and freshly pick.  Heirlooms are concentrated and tart.  Some may say that they are bitter across the palate and quite drying.  Others may want you to steer clear of heirlooms all together because they are quite ugly to look at.  Whatever the case may be, the apples that make up the Eden "Heirloom" Ice Cider are things of rare beauty.  Because no matter what they look like, heirlooms create liquid pleasure that goes down your throat, drop by drop into liquid driven dreams.

Sometimes you’ll want to mix with the Eden Heirloom Ice Cider and I’d say- go right ahead. 

Rolling, Tumbling and Cascading of Pearl’s Infinite Wisdom
3 oz.  Eden Heirloom Ice Cider
2 oz. Guinness Foreign Extra Stout- left to go flat overnight
4 oz. Sparkling Cider

Preparation:
Into a pre-chilled Burgundy Glass:
Add the “flat” Guinness
Float the sparkling cider on top
Finish with another float of the Heirloom Ice Cider
Serve and prepare another… They’re so good!

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Wines to Pair with Hearty Winter Meals

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Winter is my favorite time to use my crock-pot. These cold and rainy months you will find me slow-braising meats, making up different kinds of chili and cooking oxtail until it failing off the bone. These are among the richest foods in town and are a delight to pair with a wide range of wines.

While I am often drawn to intense red blends, from Bordeaux to California and Syrah-based gems, there is also room for some great whites here with these winter pairings.


Jason Alexander, managing partner at the two San Francisco restaurants The Progress & State Bird Provisions says that “Despite the season, we always seek to select wines that seek that elusive state of ‘balance’ with higher-toned fruit, moderate alcohol, bright acidity and tannins that are integrated.”

He adds that while, “The menus at both restaurants are intensely guided by the seasons and the team at our farm. Winter, though often associated with braises and hearty dishes, is really more driven by bitter greens, citrus and mushrooms [at the restaurants].” Given the dishes’ vegetal focus whites work well as pairings.

“For white wines we seek out grape varieties with texture and depth, but that shy away from wood and high alcohol [Chenin, Chablis]. For red wines we look for wines that are forceful and layered while also not driven by alcohol and wood influence [Nebbiolo, Syrah],” says Alexander.

In terms of red pairings, Alexander tends to choose “more savory red wines including Nebbiolo from the Alto Piemonte, Syrah from throughout the Rhone and cool-climate, thick-skinned grapes from California.” Twist my arm, they all sound delicious.

On his menu, he pairs dry, spiced BBQ lamb ribs with preserved lemon and curried ghee with a 2008 Nebbiolo, and Applewood-smoked squab with chili vinegar with a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley.

Day-to-Day Pairings
With fatty meats you will want to choose wines with generous tannins that will help to break them down as you eat. Cabernet Sauvignon is a great pick for meat-centric dishes, and those wines can be from anywhere from California to Chile.

South African blends are also favorites of mine, and I have great memories of enjoying them with Springbok, a local antelope. I tend to prefer those without Pinotage, South Africa’s unusual, signature grape. The South Africans are also making great, smoky Syrah as are many producers in Eastern Washington.

For pork dishes, without red sauce, you can do as they do in Alsace: pair some dry, aromatic Rieslings with your meal. Rieslings produced in Alsace tend to be drier than those from Germany, but feel free to experiment. Aromatic whites like Gewurztraminer, and esoteric ones like the Northern Italian Kerner, also go well with simple pork dishes.

Whatever you choose to pair with those big cozy meals make sure you enjoy them in good company.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Kings County Distillery Chocolate Flavored Whiskey

By Warren Bobrow

Oh, of course by the name alone- I disagree.  This rare form of joy in a tiny 375ml. bottle is not to be believed if you just read chocolate.  If you were to further read the label, unfortunately it speaks of some confection, a sweet flavor-untarnished by smoke or char, that above said, chocolate.  So I disagree in point, but not in effort.  Not at all.  Because the chocolate element is not candy and it’s not sweet.  It’s bitter.  I love bitter chocolate.  It’s from the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory, a place famed for their craft chocolate.  They evidently do some milling of raw cacao in their Brooklyn chocolate effort, and there is some waste product that makes a way into the expressive ‘moonshine’ whiskey lurking over there in the light.   All you need is a clean glass, a paring knife (thanks to Gary Regan for keeping me on the straight and narrow regarding cutting an orange zest) and an orange that is not green and bruised.  Some good ice is a start- don’t go offering me quarter cubes- they are the worst- taking advantage of your guest?  Don’t even get me started on bad ice.

I’m a huge fan of those cheap silicone trays that go in the freezer.  You should be double bagging them so they don’t taste like that plate of garlic shrimp that went into the blue phase weeks ago...  You know the one.  When working with fine spirits your efforts are only as good as your ice.  And if your ice smells like feet or ammonia, well too bad for you.  I tried to teach you to make it good or not make it at all. 

Kings County is making some of the most authentic ‘flavored’ whiskey I’ve ever tasted.  The composition is organic New York corn and malted Scottish barley.  It’s dry on the finish- has some pepper in there, a touch of caramel.. some smoke follows quickly, a touch of milk sugar- the corn is pronounced but not overly assertive.  There is a tactile sense of foreboding, like something will be coming down the road and it might not be what you expected.  That would be the dry nature of the corn whiskey itself.  It’s flavored for a reason though.  And the aging time is shorter than you might want to know.  As long as it takes to walk from the distillery to your car?  So, what is Chocolate Whiskey?  It’s not like flavored vodka, although the basic ingredients are virtually the same.  Different gravities at work.  Kings County gets it.  This is not flavored vodka! They absolutely have my support since I don’t write about flavored vodka.  Ever!

I love it in the following drink.

The Navy Yard: Be is to Bop 
Ingredients:
3 oz. Kings County Distillery Chocolate Whiskey
6 oz. Roasted Blood Orange Juice- split blood oranges, sprinkle with sugar and Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters, roast for ½ hr. at 350, cool and juice
2-3 large cubes of ice
2 oz. plain seltzer
Blood Orange Zest

Preparation:
To a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with bar ice:
Add the Roasted Blood Orange Juice
Add the Whiskey
Add the Aromatic Bitters
Cap and Shake hard for 15 seconds

Pour into two coupes
Test for bitter- add more if necessary
Splash of seltzer, pinch the blood orange zest over the top and serve

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential. 
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world. 
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Wines for Valentine’s Day

By Liza B. Zimmerman

One of the biggest, and most commercial, holidays is just around the corner. Whether you are single or happily engaged in a relationship you will want to have some wine on hand for the occasion.

Bubbles are a classic. Everything from Prosecco to Champagne is always festive and perfect for the occasion. A little something red and bubbly, like a Lambrusco or a sparkling Shiraz from Down Under, would also be fun alternatives.

Jill Zimorski, the former wine director at Chicago’s Alinea restaurant, says that she always loves “Particularly Rose. It's great with everything but there's no denying it's a wine of occasion and the sound of a bottle of champagne being opened is one of the sexiest sounds ever.”

She prefers the classic over “obvious choices like Beaujolais St. Amour or Chateau Calon-Segur with the heart on the label.” I agree but think the Beaujolais Crus are pretty delicious to share with wide range of foods on Valentine’s Day or pretty much any other day of the year.

Big Reds for the Evening
Big, heady reds are always sensual for this day of the year. I find Rhone Syrahs to be some of the sexiest choices out there. The same could be said of the Syrahs from Eastern Washington and the Columbia Valley.

“I think a lot about aroma, so wines with really great, distinctive aromatics are super romantic/sexy to me--really good Barolo with age...where it's all truffley and heady...Brachetto, sweet or dry versions that straight smell like roses, but not in the cloying way that Gewurtztraminer sometimes does,” adds Zimorski about her favorite picks.

The earthy, dark-fruit driven wines of the Loire and the salt-of-the-earth Barberas of Piedmonte are always delicious. They are great pairings to open up a meal with slices of prosciutto or some mushroom-filled puff pastry snacks.

South African blends are also some of my favorites. They can combine tantalizing notes of earth, berries and cassis. While we are over in Africa Morocco is also making better and better wines, some of which feature my beloved Syrah.

End it Off Sweet
You may want a vino da meditazione, what the Italians call a wine to ponder to finish the evening. Marsala and Madeira, from Southern Italy and Portugal respectively, are two of my favorites. Their caramel notes seem to go on forever as the wine slides down your throat.

Passito di Pantelleria, another Southern Italian pick, is also a gem. There’s also always Port for a classic nightcap.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Wines to Warm You Up after Ice Skating

By Liza B. Zimmerman

When I was a little kid I used to love to go to Wollman rink in Central Park and do loopty loops with my friends. When that closed for renovations we went, on special occasions, to Rockefeller Center. It would a special treat to have a hot chocolate or even breakfast at one of the restaurants that facing the ice skating rink.

Now that I am a grownup my post-skating choice of beverage has changed a little. Nothing says winter, and celebration, like sparkling wine. I am really enjoying exploring cremants from different areas in France: although the Loire and Alsace remain favorites.

A little rose bubbly is never bad either, and pairs with so many kinds of foods. Some of the classic California sparkling houses make lovely versions as do many of the great Champagne houses.

Other Winter Whites
As oysters are so good and fresh—and great for lunch after a twirl on the ice—another festive way to celebrate would be pairing them with some of the wines with which they go best. The sea-smacked flavors of the whites of the Loire, especially Muscadet, are always great with them. The layers of salinity in the mollusks and these wines are phenomenal when they mix in the mouth.

Other favorite whites include those clean and fresh Northern Italian gems such as the well-known pinot grigio and the esoteric—and delicious—Kerner. A little bone-dry Riesling from Alsace or one with a hint of residual sugar from Germany is always a delight.

Big Reds to Warm You Up
When it gets colder out I do shift to drinking more hearty reds. If you are heading in for a lunch by the fire—at home or a cozy restaurant—after skating earthy reds are a great way to start a meal. The tobacco-infused and tangy, red fruit-driven reds of the Loire, almost any region, are always favorites of mine to start a meal. The Beaujolais Crus are also such gems and sometimes don’t get the respect they deserve with all the ruckus in fall over the Beaujolais Nouveau.

If you want your reds even bigger go for some Syrah-based blends. While this gem of a grape is often misunderstood in the states, producers in the Rhone know just how to produce these fruit-and earth-packed wines. Walla Walla is also making some stunning examples as are many producers in California. An interest in the grape certainly seems to be on the rise as when I judged the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in January we had a big group of Syrah-based, domestic red blends: many of them were delicious.

Cabernet Sauvignons are also great after a little workout on the ice. I tend to prefer the blends from California and Right Bank, Merlot-heavy versions from France. All of these are good with rich meat dishes like stews and roasts. Zinfandel is another great, cool weather grape that pairs with lots of hearty winter food.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Wines for the New Year

By Liza B. Zimmerman

We all like to celebrate the passing of any year with memorable wines. However this year--given its combination of political and cultural loss of beloved musicians and other icons combined with political friction worldwide--is one to which many of us may be happy to say goodbye. So let's send it out with some festivities, including great wines.

We should all toast the New Year with wines that we love. For me, my favorites of all time would range from Champagne to the Loire Valley's austere whites and gracious reds and dipping down to Piedmont's simple Dolcettos and Barberas. Let's not forget about South Africa and Chile's stellar red blends and almost anything made anywhere in Portugal.

I encourage you to seek out and experiment with new wines and food pairings. It is always better done in company, so you can veto and embrace what you like about wines in a group. A great retailer can provide you with a mixed case to do just so.

Advice from a Sommelier
Jill Weber, owner and founder of Philadelphia's Jet Wine Bar and Rex 1516, loves to have big meals to celebrate the  holidays. She says that she "always pair the wine to the food. If I’m making a Bagna Cauda [a typical Piedmontese dipping sauce made of olive oil, anchovies and garlic] for a celebratory meal, I’ll pair that with a Barolo from Piedmont."

She adds that an intensely local dish such as Bagna Cauda is not one  that everyone would make all year long as it is super-garlic driven. Above and beyond serving wines linked to specific culinary pairings she adds that Proseccos produced in Congeliano, in North-Eastern Italy, are also another favorite of hers. It is also a favorite of mine.

Most Proseccos have a fair amount of finesse but those from Congeliano do even more than some of the best in the bunch. I would equate them with some of the  best sparkling wines produced outside the Champagne region of France: think Alsace and the Loire Valley.

For Weber most types of bubbles are phenomenal with tamales. However with her carnitas tamales, "I recommend a Lambrusco. And for the chicken green chili tamales, a Prosecco is perfect." Light meats, such as pork, with a hint of chilies do brilliantly with  fizzy wines of either color. Lambrusco is also an ever-ideal match for most  holiday  foods.

Weber is also a fan of "oysters with something sparkling or a crisp white that’s rich in saline and minerals." My favorite wines with these babies from the sea would include Muscadet, because you can almost smell the sea salt in it, as well as Loire Valley Whites and most sparklers (particularly Champagne).

Happy New Year from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.