Here's The Jist:

As a Drink Editor I receive a lot of requests for restaurant, bar and nightlife recommendations. So I started a blog to chronicle Chicago's social scene which eventually morphed into New York's drinking and dining scene. After years in Chicago, I'm now a full time resident of NYC, the East Village to be exact. Look forward to sharing the latest and greatest from the wine & spirits world, straight from the Big Apple.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Appleton and Avenues at the Peninsula

Exquisite food commands perfectly paired cocktails. And that’s just what I experienced last week at Avenues at the Peninsula. To introduce Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum to the Chicago scene, a group of twelve joined Master Blender, Joy Spence, for a dinner and cocktail pairing featuring the Appleton Estate Reserve Blend. Steve from Chicago cocktail Mecca, The Violet Hour, was on hand to serve up several artfully prepared, delectable drinks that whet our appetite and left us wanting more. Executive Chef, Curtis Duffy (love), was the mastermind behind our multi-course dinner.

To open the palate, we were greeted with a flute of the Royal Aperitif made with Appleton Estate Reserve (a luxurious blend of 20 select aged rums), a half ounce of honey syrup, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a pop of Champagne.

We moved on from the lobby reception to a private room where we were made privy to the exceptional cuisine and culture of Avenues. It must be said that the precision with which the Avenues staff operates is nothing short of extraordinary. Dressed in black, they enter a room from tallest to shortest in perfect stride; they swoop in like silent ninjas to rescue fallen napkins; water glasses are refilled without a droplet being spared.

It’s no surprise that Appleton has chosen Avenues as the venue to showcase their esteemed spirit. It was quite the celebration.

Paired with the the King Crab first course, the Jamaican Cobbler was a refreshing blend of Appleton Estate Reserve, dry sack medium sherry, Massenez Crème de Peche, a sugar cube and garnished with ruby red grapefruit pieces.

We moved onto the second course of Iberico Pork Belly (did you know the rare, black Spanish pigs only eat acorns?) and matched the tender pork with the Bless Up: Appleton Estate Reserve, Carpano Antica (a special, high-end red vermouth), Aperol (a traditional Italian orange liqueur aperitif), a splash of Averna (an herbal liquor) and a dose of white crème de cocoa. All of the ingredients are combined over ice and are stirred until freezing. The contents are then strained in to a chilled cocktail glass and garnished with an orange peel.

The Bless Up was similar to a Manhattan in that the flavor profiles of the rum were sweet like bourbon and left a pleasant after taste that complemented the salty texture of the pork belly.

And with desert came the Perfect Pour, a two ounce taste of Appleton Estate Extra 12-Year-Old served neat. The 12-Year-Old is aged for a minimum of 12 years in oak and exemplifies the divine characteristics that can be achieved through time intensive oak aging.

Jamaican (as in you’re-makin’) me crazy!

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