Pozole & Mezcal

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

On Saturday afternoon February 29th, Jimmy Carbone’s Food Karma Projects, a producer of food and craft beverage events, held the first ever Bowl of ‘Zole pozole festival. The event was held at Bibi restaurant at 110 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The event brought together 10 chefs who cooked their versions of Pozole for people to sample and to accompany all that were 50 different Mezcal from 20+ producers. 

Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup (stew), associated with special occasions, festivals and family. Traditionally made with pork and hominy, it comes in three versions, blanco (white), rojo (red), and verde (green). It’s Mexican comfort food, something that grandma would cook for you.

Mezcal is an alcoholic spirit from Mexico made from the agave plant. It is similar to tequila and while technically all tequila are mezcal, not all mezcal are tequila. Tequila must use a single varietal of agave (blue agave) and be made in the state of Jalisco, while Mezcal can be made using up to 28 different varieties of agave and mostly produced around the city of Oaxaca put produced in other States as well. With tequila the agave heads are baked in above ground ovens while in Mezcal the agave is cooked in the traditional method in pits dug into the ground. Cooking in those in-ground pits is what gives the Mezcal its smoky flavor profile. The permitted use of many types of agave and wider geographic production area results in a greater variety of styles of the spirit than in tequila. Many are still made in the traditional method at small production family run operations which means that with the exception of a small handful of labels, many of the brands are not widely distributed and were not familiar to me. 

I have to admit that this was the first time I had a comprehensive tasting of Pozole as it’s an under the radar Mexican food choice. They are traditionally made with pork but there were versions made with chicken and seafood as well. I was able to sample the different versions of the stew and it was the perfect food choice to have on a chilly Winter Saturday afternoon. 

Some of the Pozole I sampled:

La Esquina chef Gonzalo Rivera: Vuelve a la Vida Pozole, Maine lobster, mussels, clams, organic hominy, fennel, toasted sesame, & chile de arbol oil, smoky hoja santa broth.

Balvanera chef Fernando Navas: Pozole rojo with radishes, avocado and fresh oregano.

Bacado chef Ivy Stark: Pozole rojo with braised short rib.

Hotel Indigo chef Chai Trivedi Kitsch: Rojo, matzo ball Pozole. 

Mesa Coyoacan chef Ivan Garcia: Shredded pork, hominy, guajillo, ancho chile broth, radish, oregano. 

Toloache chef Julian Medina: Pozole verde, heirloom hominy, green curry, coconut milk broth, thai basi, lemongrass, salsa macha, been sprouts. 

While Mezcal can be made from several types of agave, the “workhorse” is the Espadin varietal and many of the spirits on hand were made from that type of agave. I tried to sample as many made from agave other than Espadin.

Some of the Mezcal I sampled:

Ilegal Mezcal, espadin Fidencio, tepextate
Machetazo, cupreata Sombra, espadin
Banuelos, masparillo, tepemate El Silencio, joven, black
Del Maguey, arroqueno. wild tetextate Wahaka, tabala, madre cuishe
El Buho, tepeztate, jabal, ensamble Siete Misterios, arroqueno
AC, agave de cortez Mezcal Vago, cuixn, ensamble

 

 

Sake & Amaro

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I go to a lot of wine/spirit/cocktail events and I have different expectations for every event I go to. There are the events that are geared for industry professionals and non industry enthusiasts. They usually serve the higher end and eclectic spirits. Many are open to consumers and spirit neophytes and those tend to focus on quantity more than quality. But they are a good way for the neophyte to learn more about wine ands spirits and they usually make for a fun party. I’ve had my expectations met, I’ve had them exceeded and sometimes the event did not live up to my expectations.

I recently attended an event that was more the latter than the former. It was a “Best Of” beer and food event in Brooklyn. Buying a ticket gained you entrance into a spartan, bare bones industrial floor space with a handful of beer vendors and food vendors that you had to purchase food to sample. It didn’t keep my interest peaked for too long and I spent less time at the event than on the commute to get there.

Fortunately the event was held at Industry City located at 36th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Industry Center is a complex of commercial buildings dating from the 1890’s that has been repurposed as a retail and commercial space. You can easily spend that day shopping, eating and drinking and when the weather is nice, relaxing in the outdoor spaces.  It’s also home to breweries and distilleries.

The Craft New York Act of 2014 eased the regulations for opening a brewery or distillery in New York State which has resulted in a boom of those businesses in the state especially if they use local agriculture to make their products. Distilleries and Breweries have opened once again in New York City.

In Industry City if you walk over to building 5/6 you’ll find a few and since I didn’t spend too much time at the beer and food event, I stopped by a couple to sample a few spirits.

 

Standard Wormwood Distillery

This distillery produces sprits and liquors using New York State grown ingredients particularly wormwood as a base. Wormwood was a formally banned ingredient traditionally use in the production of Absinthe. I had a flight of spirits/liquor which included a Rye, an Agave, an Amaro, an Apertivo and a Wermut (vermouth).

 

Brooklyn Kura

This is the State’s first Sake brewery. They make several craft Sake and serve them on tap in their minimalist tasting room complete with a view of the brewing vats in the background.

I had a glass of the Bluedoor Junmai which was described as “umani laden, rich, clean”.

 

Oldies Bar

Next door to the Sake bar, they have the largest selection of New York spirits in the city, in fact those are the only spirits they are allowed to serve. I had a craft old fashioned.

 

 

 

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Fest 2020

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The 10th annual Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival was held on Saturday January 18th.  It was a change of venue this year with the event moving from The Tunnel in Manhattan to the Brooklyn Expo Center at 72 Noble Street in Greenpoint.

The motto of the festival was “Brew it. Taste it. Sip it. Pork it”. It was an all afternoon event of “southern fried good time” consisting of whiskey, beer and BBQ. At the event there was a “Beast Cage” serving exotic meats and a “Shrine to Swine” for whole pork worship. Various seminars were held throughout the afternoon. 

Since this is one of the only real BBQ events in the city, the impending snowstorm didn’t stop the barbecue connoisseurs from lining up outside the venue to get in. I was able to sample a wide range of ‘cue including ribs, brisket, pastrami, wings and pulled pork sliders.

It was an all-American whiskey list with most producers pouring a Bourbon and a Rye though I felt not as many as in past events. Craft beers and hard ciders rounded out the beverage list. I was able to attend the Bulleit seminar. My favorite whiskey of the afternoon was Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye, it was bold and smooth. 

 

Producers I sampled from:

Bulleit Maker’s Mark
Elijah Craig Larceny
Four Roses Knob Creek
Basil Hayden’s Koval
George Dickel I.W. Harper
Deadwood Balcones

 

 

Rye & Cider

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

This past weekend of December 7-8th I was able to attend a couple of Holiday beverage events.

On Saturday afternoon I attended the Brooklyn Whiskey and Spirits Festival which was held at the Brooklyn Expo Center at 72 Noble Street in Greenpoint Brooklyn. The event offered over 100 styles of whiskey and spirits.

I have to admit, that these spirits events are more or less cookie cutter events with many of the same purveyors in attendance, I’m getting to recognize many of the people pouring (and they’re recognize me!). I have to say though that this event had a better selection of spirits than the last whiskey fest I attended a couple of weeks ago.

Most American whiskey producers make several styles of whiskey including Bourbon, Rye and Blends. At this tasting I decided to focus on Rye whiskey for the afternoon and was able to sample a few nice ones. As an outlier I tasted a few aged rums which I enjoy. I particularly enjoyed the X.O. and V.S.O.P. rhum agrigole from Clement Rhum in Martinique. Rhum agricole is made from fresh cane juice instead of from molasses and makes for a more polished drink, the type that you sip on its own.

On Sunday afternoon I attended the Fruit & Grain beer and cider festival. The event was a benefit for Raices, a nonprofit agency and was held at the Second event space at 849 6th Avenue in midtown Manhattan.

The theme of the room was 1960’s “Flower Power” complete with the requisite groovy, psychedelic art poster. They poured mostly local craft beer from 30+ brewers, ciders from 12+ New York State cideries and a handful of spirits. My focus this afternoon was on ciders and they had some familiar labels as well as ciders from small, “mom & pop” cideries. An interesting outlier was a local distillery based in Brooklyn, St. Agrestis that makes amaros and a prepackaged Negroni.

 

Whiskey Fest Rye

Catoctin Creek Rye 80°, 92° Pinhook Rye Humor Cask Strength 97°
Taconic Distillery Straight Rye 95° Uncle Nearest 1856 100°
Deadwood Rye 83° Minor Case Straight Rye 90°
Coppersea Straight Malt Rye 96° Koval Single Barrel Rye 80°
Cutwater Whiskey American Rye 90° Duke Founders Reserve Rye 98°
Sagamore Spirit Double Oaked Straight Rye 112°  

Fruit & Grain Cider

Sündtrom Cider: Sauer, Sponti Wildarc Farms: Blackbird, Kitchen Sink
Eve’s Cidery: Albee hill ’18, Darling Creek ’18, Beckhorn Hollow ’18 Bad Seed: Old Elmer Barrel Aged, Bourbon Barrel Aged
Metal House Cider: Ammir, Arista Angry Orchard: Magril
Floral Torrantes: Suburban Maraines Descendant Cider Co.: Succesion
Rootstock Cider Works: Dry, Original, Dry Hopped Graft Cidery: Farm Flor, Forest & Flor, Amber City
Nine Pin Cider Works: Signature, Ginger Westwind Orchard: Russety Russet, Classic
Orchard Hill Cider Mill: Verde, Pommeau  

 

 

NYC Autumn Whisky Fest 2019

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

On November 16th I attended the New York Whisky Festival. This was one of the many spirit-centric festivals that are taking place around the New York area at this time of year.

The festival was held at The Tunnel at 269 11th Avenue on the West side of Manhattan. It’s a former indoor rail terminal that has been used as a nightclub, event venue and commercial space.

There are many such festivals held around this time of year and like most things some are better than others. Some of the festivals are geared toward the experienced drinker who are looking to experience some high end and esoteric spirits while other festivals are geared more to the novice drinkers that are looking for more of a party with some spirits thrown in. The latter tend to showcase 2nd tier or unknown labels for the spirits. This festival was more of the latter than the former. In my opinion, the most interesting whisky at the event were the single malt French whisky from Rozelieures, while solid stalwarts such as Taconic Distillery, Koval and Slaughter House were on hand to pour some quality spirits. I attended the afternoon session and the crowd on hand were enjoying themselves.

Some of what I sampled:

 

Rozelieures  Single Malt French Whiskey Springbrook Rye, Bourbon
Slaughter House, Straight Edge, Whipsaw Catoctin Creek Bourbon, Roundstone Rye
Glen Grant Single Malt Scotch 12yr, 15yr, 18yr Taconic Distillery Founders Rye, Cask Strength Rye, Barrel Strength Bourbon 
Koval  Oat, Millet, Bourbon, Single Barrel Duke Bourbon, Founders Reserve
Uncle Nearest 1856, 1884 Whisky Coppersea Rye, Straight Whisky
J. Riddle Peated Bourbon American Craft Distillers 1420 Bourbon
Town Branch Single Malt Whisky, Bourbon Black Button Distillery Bourbon
Catcher’s Rye Misunderstood Ginger Spiced Whisky

 

 

New York Irish Whiskey Festival

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

On November 2nd I attended the first annual New York Irish Whiskey Festival. It’s America’s first Irish Whiskey Festival and promised 25+ brands to try plus live music and “Irish Grub”.

It’s was hosted by the team behind The Dead Rabbit which has been named the best bar in the world. They decided that Irish Whiskey should have its own festival to showcase what Irish Whiskey can be.

The history of Irish Whiskey sales have gone up and down and back up again. Before Prohibition it had been the largest selling type of whiskey in the U.S. which was its largest market but politics in Europe and the enactment of the Volstead Act caused the Irish Whiskey industry to fall off a cliff. It has seen a resurgence in popularity going from US sales of $74 million in 2003 to $1billion in 2018.

The Irish Whiskey Act of 1980 states that Irish Whiskey must be triple distilled and aged exclusively on the island of Ireland at no higher than a ABV of 94.8% and must be aged a minimum of three years in wood. They are generally unpeated. The four types of whiskey are single malted, single pot still, single grain and blended whiskey.

I was looking forward to attending this tasting because most of my experience with Irish Whiskey has been with the Jameson and Bushmills that are available at every bar in town and I wanted to try new brands and whiskey styles.

There are no rules for what type of wood the whiskey is permitted to be aged in so to be globally competitive, the Irish Whiskey industry has been experimenting with aging in different types of barrels and wood. That includes casks that were used for Madeira, Sherry, Bourbon and Rum to name a few and types of oak such as American, French, Slovenian, Irish and even Japanese oak (Glendalough 13yr single malt). Many are aged in one type of barrel and finished in others. This in addition to the pot still whiskeys which are uniquely Irish.  

Many of the producers on hand make several whiskey, from a basic blend to the aged single malts to whiskeys aged in the different casks. I found most of those in the middle categories as the most interesting. In general many of the whiskey I sampled were very smooth with a lot of nuances going on in the glass, in other words, good sipping whiskey.

The event was held at Pier A Harbor House at 22 Battery Place in lower Manhattan. It’s a restaurant and event space inspired by the old oyster houses of New York with an expansive view of New York harbor.

 

Brands that I sampled:

Proper Twelve Egan’s
Lambray Glendalough
Tullamore Dew Pearse
Teeling Samual Gelstone’s
The Dead Rabbit Knappogue Castle
Sexton Bushmills
Roe & Co West Cork
Clonakilty The Pogues
Kinahan’s  

 

 

Rum Fest New York 2019

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Rum is a distilled spirit made from sugar cane juice or its byproduct molasses. Generally, there are three styles of rum based on nationality. Spanish style rums tend to be lighter, English style rums darker and richer and French style rums which are a controlled product governed by an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlle) and uses only free run sugar cane juice.

Rum Lab is a website that caters to all things, rum with rum themed articles, and interviews with people in the rum business. Their motto is “teaching the secrets and history of rum”.

They also host rum festivals in Miami, San Francisco, Chicago and Puerto Rico. On Saturday June 15th, they hosted the New York City rum fest which was part of rum week in the city.

The event which was held at Metropolitan West, an event space at 639 West 46th Street on the west side of Manhattan.

There was an extensive selection of rums from around the world with an diverse collection of white, aged, flavored rums and rum cocktails. Many of the Caribbean and South American countries were represented but there were rums from countries that are not usually associated with rum production such as the U.S., Sweden and Java.

.

Some of what I sampled:

English Harbour (Antigua): 5yr, 10yr

The Real McCoy (Barbados): 3yr, 5yr, 12yr

Mount Gay (Barbados): Black Barrel, XO

Four Square (Barbados): Empery, 2007

Montaya (Colorado): Exclusiva, Aniversaria

Dictador (Columbia): 12yr, 20yr, XO, Perpetual

Centenario (Costa Rica): 12yr, 18yr, 20yr

Karukera (Guadeloupe): Gold, Rhum Vieux Agricole, Rhum Blanc Agricole

Smith & Cross (Jamaica): Traditional Rum

The Funk (Jamaica): Heavy Pot Still Rum

Wray & Nephew (Jamaica): White Overproof Rum

Worthy Park (Jamaica): Single Estate Reserve

Rhum J.M. (Martinique): V.O., V.S.O.P.

Maggie’s Farm (Pittsburgh): Queen’s Share

Don Q (Puerto Rico): Vermouth Cask Finished, Single Barrell 2007

Havana Club (Puerto Rico): Anejo

Admiral Rodney (Saint Lucia): Princessa, Royal Oak, Formidable

Kronan (Sweden): Swedish Punsch

The Scarlet Ibis (Trinidad)

Plantation Rum: Guyana 1998, Trinidad 2009

Diplomatico (Venezuela): Single Vintage 2002, Ambassador

Santa Teresa (Venezuela): 1769 Solera Rum

Pusser’s Rum: Original Admiralty Rum