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.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Shine On - The Original Moonshine

Throw your pre-conceived notions out the door. The Prohibition era may exist on PBS specials and HBO but gone are the days of bathtub gin and low quality D.i.Y. moonshine. I recently sat down with Chuck Miller, master distiller of The Original Moonshine and Shem Blum, Brand Ambassador (and mixologist at the Boom Boom Room at the Standard) for a tasting at Macelleria - a steakhouse in the meatpacking district in Manhattan.

Meat and Moonshine?

You bet.

In fact, during happy hour Macelleria has a promo where they offer up a side of Smithfield Virginia Ham as a small bite to accompany a Moonshine cocktail - a fitting combination given both brands’ commitment to local food and ingredients.

Miller, who donned plaid and a cowboy hat (love), spoke to his family’s long standing tradition of distilling this storied American spirit.

But what is Moonshine?

The Original Moonshine is clear corn whiskey, hand-crafted from 100% estate-grown corn and distilled four times in a Prohibition-era copper pot still. At 80 proof, the Virginia distillery prides itself on sticking to an all-natural, gluten-free, proprietary recipe. The whiskey is charcoal-filtered which produces a pure and smooth flavor.

Moonshine is a gateway spirit. It has more flavor than vodka, it’s not as polarizing as gin and is not as aggressive as a brown spirit such as bourbon or scotch. For newbies, first try it neat, at room temp. Then add a couple of ice cubes to open it up. And finally, segue into a cocktail with Shine as the base spirit.

It’s versatile, approachable liquor that will undoubtedly be incorporated in my next Bloody Mary or mixed with apple cider.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cupcake Vineyards

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of dining with Adam Richardson, Chief Winemaker for Cupcake Vineyards at the oh-so-chic Setai Hotel on 5th Ave. It was an intimate dinner of about 10, where we wined and dined and covered off on the inspiration behind the name "Cupcake" for a winery and discussed the best methods for nurturing young and old vines.

Adam showcased a stellar selection of his Cupcake wines, including several new vintage bottlings - delish and to die for when paired with the Italian cuisine from Ai Fiori.

Since it's introduction in 2008, Cupcake wines have seen strong growth. After chatting with the charming Aussie, it's evident that this is due in part to Adam. Australian born and trained, he brings an international perspective to bear on winemaking. By sourcing grapes from the places around the world where they grow best -- Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand's Marlborough, Prosecco from Italy's Prosecco D.O.C., Chardonnay from California's Central Coast, for instance -- he is able to craft a unique lineup of high quality, regionally expressive wines of place.

And they're affordably priced - $15 a bottle (at max).

A personal favorite is the Red Velvet, a blended red with notes of chocolate and deep rich blackberries - it's smooth, just as the name implies.

The label has a fantastic selection of wines, perfect for any occasion - from a fall dinner party to weekend brunch.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

L3 Lounge at the Empire Hotel - Fashion Week

It's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week so NYC is ripe with celebs, athletes and rockstars. On Monday night they descended onto the Penthouse suite of the Empire Hotel for the first ever L3 Lounge presented by New Era and hosted by celebrity stylist, Phillip Bloch. The chic suite overlooked the steps of Lincoln Center and was transformed into a fashion oasis for men (and this girl). Brands such as DL 1961 Premium Denim and New Era hats (yep snagged a fab white Yankee hat that made it into the night) were readily avail and John Allan’s Salon offered complimentary services. Dewar's Scotch was flowing behind the bar and it kept the party going with signature cocktails like the Dewar's Smash - very light and refreshing - kind of like a scotch mojito. I didn't see them...but spotted at the lounge was Gabe Saporta (lead singer of Cobra Starship), Sex and the City Alum, Mario Cantone, 30 Rock’s Scott Adsit and the Real Housewives of NYC couple du jour.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fashion Week: The Kim Crawford Dispatches

This week is all about fashion and Kim Crawford Wines is the exclusive vino of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center (Feb 10th - Feb 17th). The Wine Bar is a haven for celebs, designers and jet-setters. It's a faux pas to eat at Fashion Week (I learned that at my first fashion weekcouple of ye when I was noshing on a cupcake at a Betsey Johnson show...hey at least I was wearing Thakoon and leather...) so drink up my friends...drink up.

This season Kim Crawford Wines has partnered with NYC nightlife guru – Mr. Patrick Duffy – to host and curate exclusive events in the space. Stay tuned for more deets on those events.

Crowds came out for the fashion week kickoff event of The Heart Truth Red Dress Collection. Kim Crawford Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc were the varietals du jour and could be seen in the hands of Patti LaBelle, Dita Von Teese, Camilla Alves and Matthew McConaughey - who sent their reps out to beg for bottles to bring back to them. One bottle, two glasses each.


After walking the catwalk Eve, Taraji P. Henson and Ann Curry, who, when asked about how she felt when walking the runway for the first time, said “I was petrified. Totally petrified. But I just kept telling myself ’I am here to love you all, I am here to love you all.”

We love you too, Ann Curry.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beefeater Winter Edition

Wanna know what winter tastes like?

For some palates, gin is a tricky spirit. More often than not imbibers either love it or hate it. I’d venture to say that it’s the botanicals and unique flavor profile of the spirit that has the tendency to overwhelm or scare newbies. Some are haunted by their Gin & Tonic college days and others can’t handle a traditional gin martini. But gin is a lady, albeit a complex one, and for
some reason I picture gin having the personality of Mae West.

I also happen to heart gin. I’m fascinated by the vast array of proprietary botanical recipes that
distillers employ to set their spirit apart. And as I headed to the Lamb’s Club in New York last
month, I was eager to try the latest display of gin craftsmanship – Beefeater Winter.

Master Distiller Desmond Payne opted to combine the traditional tastes and flavors of winter
to bring the limited edition gin to life. Cinnamon, nutmeg, pine, and Seville Orange peel were
combined with the classic flavors of Beefeater London Dry to create the winter edition. It’s
only available in New York and San Francisco but that shouldn’t deter any one from getting out of the vodka rut and reaching for the nearest bottle of gin (I like Beefeater, New Amsterdam and Bombay Sapphire).

Don’t be intimidated by the spirit. When in doubt go for gin and lemon San Pellegrino
sparking water with a sprig of mint.


Beefeater cocktail combo’s to try:

24:75 – Beefeater 24, Sencha Tea syrup, lemon juice, champagne
French 75 – Beefeater, lemon juice, simple syrup, champagne
Ruby Negroni – Beefeater, Campari, Tawny Port, raspberry syrup, prosecco

For more info and additional drink inspiration visit