New York Cocktail Expo

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This past Sunday August 19th, I attended the New York Cocktail Expo. This event hasn’t been around very long since the expo first held in April 2016 in Rockville Center, Long Island.

This event showcased beverage trends with 50+ distilleries and Queens (one of the five boroughs of New York City) restaurants and bars serving spirits and cocktails. There was also a “best cocktail” competition.

The event was held at the Melrose Ballroom at 36-08 33rd Street in Astoria, Queens, a couple of blocks from the subway station.

Fortunately for me, I arrived a little early and was able to secure a spot near the front of the line because soon the line snaked around the block. After the mandatory bag check and weapons pat-down, we were let in to the cavernous event space.

There were three floors of spirits and mixed drinks. The main floor was crammed with tables serving the non rum spirits of whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila and even grappa. At each booth you could have sampled a mixed drink made by one of the local bartenders or have the spirit as is. Most of the mixed drinks were a little too fruity for my taste so I sampled most spirits neat. The second floor was the “tiki room” with rum and rum based cocktails while on the third floor the rooftop patio.

The venue was jam packed and people were having a good time.

 

 

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Secret Summer Cocktail Party 2018

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On Sunday, August 12th I attended the 4th annual Secret Summer cocktail festival. It’s the country’s only “farm to bar” cocktail festival where this years spirit companies consisting of Suntory Whisky, Brugal Rum, Brockman’s Gin, Hanger 1 Vodka and Blue Point Brewery concocted cocktails using locally grown ingredients.

The event was held at the The Foundry, a restored 19th century foundry located at 42-38 9th Street in Long Island City in the shadow of the Queensborough bridge .

Party goers were able to stroll the open air courtyard plus any of the five rooms in the building and stop at one of the cocktail stations for a drink. A DJ played in the main room while strolling musicians played in the courtyard. Food trucks were on hand to feed hungry patrons.

The weather forecast was not optimal as rain was forecast for the weekend but on this Sunday, the rain clouds stayed away and it was sunny, hot and humid on this August afternoon.

 

Some cocktails I sampled:

Tasogore Toki

Toki whiskey, sparkling sake, Bernard Ranches’ sustainably grown citrus, green tea & koppert cress pequino syrup.

Lavender Lemonade

Hanger 1 vodka, “grow nyc” lavender reduction, Bernard Ranches sustainable citrus lemonade, sparkling water, market lavender stalks.

Spicy Mai Tai

Brugal extra dry rum, market lime, homemade almond Orgeat reduction, Shaquanda hot sauce, Andrew’s rooftop honey, brugal 1888 float.

Perfect Serve

Brockman’s gin, Fentman’s tonic, blueberries, grapefruit peel.

Plum Gose-arita

Chipotle tequila, Umeshu plum wine, lemon, plum preserves, salt, blue point beach plum gose.

 

Musical lineup:

DJ Kieren Taylor

Hungry March Band

Sitar & Tabla

Moon Hooch

Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Drums

 

 

Chefs & Champagne 2018

 

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On Saturday July 28th I attended the 28th annual James Beard Foundation’s Chef & Champagne gala. It’s a huge foodie fest with 35+ Chef tastings washed down with free-flowing wines from Wölffer Estate Vineyards, beer from Heineken and cocktails with Tito’s vodka. This years Champagne sponsor was Boizel which poured their Brut Reserve. At the event they held a silent auction and announced the recipient of the 2018 Christian Wölffer scholarship. The guest host this year was Padma Lakshmi.

The gala is part of JBF’s year-long “rise” celebration; “a salute to the countless ways our food community rises to meet the world’s challenges and make it more delicious, diverse and sustainable place for all”. The foundation was named after cookbook author, teacher and champion of American cuisine, James Beard. They maintain the James Beard House at 167 West 12th Street in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.

The festivities, as usual, were held on the grounds of the Wölffer Estate Vineyards on the South Fork of Long Island just east of the town of Bridgehampton at 183 Sagg Road in Sagaponack.

It was a typically hot and steamy July evening but fortunately the rains stayed away.

Some of what I sampled:

 

Gregory Goudet  SAGE RESTAURANT GROUP: Grilled Oregon Albacore with lemongrass, galangal, chile and lime. (My favorite)

Audrey Villages  2 SPRING: Shrimp Po’Boy with lemon aioli and lettuce cup.

Barbara Sibley  LA PALAPA: Tacos de Barbacoa, guajillo braised brisket tacos.

Alex Baker  YVE’S: Mussels Provencal with cherry tomatoes, garlic croutons and parsley.

Angie Rito, Scott Tacinelli  DON ANGIE: Vitello Tonnato.

Roxanne Spruance  KINGSLEY: Grilled Angus Beef short ribs with pecan Barbacoa sauce, heirloom lettuce, buttermilk and goat cheese.

Janice Booth, Jeff Mcinnis  ROOT & BONE: Wood grilled oysters with greenneck butter and charred bread.

Ayesha Nurdjaja  SHUKA: Whipped Feta with watermelon and pistachio Dukkah.

Patti Jackson  DELAWARE & HUDSON: Duck Bratwurst with spiced peaches, mustard, chowchow and turnip sauerkraut on pretzel roll.

Tom Fraker  MELISSA’S PRODUCE: Tropical crab crostini with mango jelly.

Emma Bengtsson  AQUAVIT: Grilled Isterband sausage sliders.

Stephan Bogardus  NORTH FORK TABLE & INN: Corn soup with truffles.

Hillary Sterling  VIC’S: Marinated Albacore tuna with harissa, black olives, hazelnuts and mint.

Matthew Woolf  RAINBOW ROOM & BAR 65: Olive oil poached King salmon with charred leek emulsion, jersey corn puree, black garlic and corn crackling.

Jessica Craig  L’ARTUSI: Blueberry tartlette with lemon thyme and almonds.