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.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Macallan and Lalique: $460K for Charity:Water

I popped by Southeby's for a glimpse (wish it was a taste) of a rare single malt Macallan that was being auctioned off to benefit one of my favorite charities. The Macallan and Lalique set a record for a bottle of whisky sold at auction, with all proceeds going to charity: water, an organization that provides access to clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. The Macallan 64 Year Old in Lalique: Cire Perdue sold for $460,000. It's one of the most unique collaborations to date between The Macallan and Lalique, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting Scott Harrison's (founder) non-profit. Lalique’s bespoke, one-of-a kind crystal decanter, created using the “cire perdue” or “lost wax” method, houses the oldest and rarest Macallan ever bottled by the distillery, a 64-year-old single malt whisky. It's been on a 12-city “tour du monde” since April, and each stop along the way has raised funds and awareness for charity: water.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rémy Martin Hosts Mad Men Dinner

Paying homage to the classic gentlemen, Rémy Martin, a cognac best known as an after dinner drink, reinvented their time honored spirit and incorporated it into fine cocktails. Gone are the days when Rémy is sipped neat post-dinner - it's a lovely base spirit that can be and should be used as the foundation of a classic cocktail (Sidecar or Manhattan). I'm currently obsessed with the Gold Rush (Remy 1738 Accord Royal, Lime Juice and Honey). The intimate seated dinner at the Lambs Club was an exclusive tasting of Rémy Martin's 1738 Accord Royal hosted by Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser and the show's Emmy Award-Winning Costume Designer, Janie Bryant. Loved it. For additional deets on the evening check out the recap's from Blackbook and the Wall Street Journal.

2010 Stella Artois World Draft Master Competition

I had the privilege of being one of five U.S. media to travel to London to experience the Stella Artois Draft Master Competition. It was three days filled with fish & chips, pub crawls, beer drinking and a mastering of the 9-Step Pouring ritual. Stella takes pouring beer seriously. It's an art form; similar to decanting wine, pouring a beer in specific manner will reap the most flavor rewards. Chris Meyers from Madison, Wisconsin was crowned the winner and he’ll be traveling around the world educating culinary types re: the 9 - Step Pouring Ritual.

2010 Stella Artois World Draft Master Competition

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Whisk(e)y – American, Canadian and Japanese

Jack Daniels Old Tennessee Whiskey sets itself apart thanks to the charcoal mellowing process used during distillation and the proprietary barrels used to mature the spirit. The classic spirit is smooth and easy on the palate. No wonder it’s synomous with American, albeit Southern, culture – it’s the never ending crowd pleaser. Although the spirit is distilled in Canada, Canadian Club whisky was one of Al Capone’s favorite indulgences. During Prohibition, Capone funded the building of a tower in Canada that was used to signal when he could safely cross the Detroit River to pick-up bottles Canadian Club. Now, it’s the only Canadian whisky that’s pre-barrel blended before aging to allow the flavors to marry resulting in an exceptionally smooth and mellow spirit. Japan is making its mark with Suntory’s Yamazaki single malt whisky (12 and 18 yrs) and Hibiki (12 yrs) – two expressions that are popping up in some of Chicago’s most stylish cocktail bars. Whether it’s served neat, on the rocks or in intricate cocktails, whiskey lovers have come to enjoy the newcomers from Japan. When searching for the perfect nightcap, opt for the Yamazaki 18 year old as it complements chocolate dessert and has notes of toffee, honey and butter cream.

Best places in Chicago for Whisk(e)y:
Sunda and Bar DeVille for both Yamazaki expressions - 12 yr old and 18 yr old
The Gage for the Finish Line, made with Russell's Reserve 6 yr rye whiskey, spiced simple syrup and Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Delilah’s continues to offer the most robust whiskey selections in the city
Fountainhead offers over 100 bourbons, Canadian, Irish and American whiskies.

Bourbon Cocktails

Basil Hayden's small-batch bourbon has a unique flavor, derived from a family recipe that dates back to 1796, which uses twice as much rye as traditional bourbons to create a smooth, balanced blend. Aged eight years, it has a relatively mild 80 proof which means that it can be sipped neat or can be used as a base for a traditional cocktail. It’s is part of the small batch bourbon collection, a celebrated group that also includes, Booker’s, Baker’s, and Knob Creek and continues to be a favorite for both aficionados and culinary enthusiasts. Similarly, Jim Beam, a Ketucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, is a great introduction the bourbon family. Aged for two years, Jim Beam is versatile, easy on the palate and a great base spirit for cocktails. Bulleit Bourbon is winning the hearts, minds and palates of Chicagoans. Found in cocktails all over town, Bulleit, similar to Basil Hayden, has a unique recipe with high rye content that creates a certain dryness with a smooth distinctive character.

Best places in Chicago for bourbon cocktails:
C-View for the Ginger B made with dried cherry and vanilla bean infused Jim Beam, ginger beer and Hum botanical spirit
The Southern for The Presbyterian, which incorporates Jim Beam Rye, club soda and ginger ale or the Georgia Julep, which blends Bulleit, peach schnapps, mint and bitters
Longman & Eagle for an Old Fashioned, made with Bulleit
Big Jones for the Northern Woods, made with Woodford Reserve bourbon and Fee Brothers barrel-aged bitters and a splash of amontillado sherry

Julie Reiner, expert mixologist, shares her two favorite Basil Hayden bourbon cocktails for the fall.

Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Buck
2 parts Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
¾ part Lemon juice
½ part Pineapple juice
¾ part Simple Syrup
1 part ginger beer

Directions: Shake and strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel and candied ginger

Sir Hayden’s Smash
2 parts Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
½ part Cio Ciaro Amaro
¾ part Fresh Lemon Juice
¾ part Simple Syrup
Mint Leaves

Directions: In a mixing glass, muddle 3 blackberries and 8-10 mint leaves in ¾ part Simple Syrup. Add Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, Cio Ciaro Amaro, and Lemon Juice. Shake and fine strain into a wine glass over crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and a blackberry.

Some More Scotch to Keep you Warm

With five expressions, each unique in character and personality, the Johnnie Walker family proves that there’s something for everyone. The blended scotch collection consists of the Red, Black, Green, Gold and Blue Labels, with the latter being the eldest (aged 30 – 50 years) and consequently the most rare and most expensive.

Best places in Chicago for Scotch:
Sable at the Hotel Palomar for The Glenrothes collection
Maggiano’s pours all labels within the Johnnie Walker family
Duke of Perth for The Classic Malts lines of Single Malt Scotches
Gibson’s for Macallan Single Malt and The Glenlivet Single Malt

Lovely for Fall

The Glenrothes, one of only three Speyside Malts to hold ‘top class’ status recently introduced three new single malt scotch expressions that have aficionados going gaga. The Glenrothes Alba Reserve, the first certified kosher expression from the distillery, is matured in American oak refill bourbon casks, which produces a rich, sweet single malt. The Glenrothes Vintage 1998 has hints of cinnamon and results in an expression that’s smooth on the palate. The Glenrothes Vintage 1994 was released to complement the wildly successful Vintage 1991 which – as anticipated – will soon be unavailable. It’s the most stimulating and uplifting expression from the Glenrothes family and is the ultimate post-dinner drink.

How is one to get the best out of the Glenrothes vintages? “Enjoy each expression neat,” says Nathalie Phillips, The Glenrothes Brand Manager. “I like to add a few drops of water which opens up the aromas and nuances.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chambord Vodka Launch at Ganesvoort Park Ave

When an aerialist is pouring drinks you know it's a good party. This proved to be true at the launch of Chambord Vodka at the new Gansevoort Park Avenue. It's an interesting brand extension from a spirit dedicated to flavor v. vodka, a distinction that the brand manager as quick to make. I used the raspberry flavored spirit as a foundational element in a fall sangria that I made when entertaining several friends recently. It was a hit. Try this holiday season and do pop by the new Gansevoort - if only for the views of the Empire State building. Very cool.

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week