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 
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

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,, 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.