New York Cocktail Expo 2019

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

On August 18th I attended the 3rd annual New York Cocktail Expo. The Expo which began in Rockville Center, Long Island in 2016 has grown to be New York’s premier cocktail festival, “the most attended cocktail event in New York”.

The event was held at the Melrose Ballroom located at 36-08 33rd Street in Long Island City, Queens, a short walk from the “N” train. It’s cavernous (and dark) music venue space where on this day all three floors were full of spirits and cocktails.

The 3rd floor held the “Rum Room” which was decorated in tiki style with many wearing an Hawaiian shirt. The floor was full of rum with many of the usual favorites such as Diplomatico, Appleton Rum, Plantation Rum and The Real McCoy and some off the radar brands such as Soggy Dollar, Stroh and Transcontinental Rum Line to name a few. The two other floors in the rest of the venue were packed with various whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila, cachaça, specialty liquor, beer, cider, and quite a few locally made apple brandy.

There was a cocktail competition and a Tiki Throwdown going on with Mixologists from local restaurants and bars participating so every table had a particular specialty cocktail to sample as well as whatever spirit was being poured. Consumers had the chance to vote on their favorite.

The winner of the Best Cocktail of the Year went to Bartender Leah Moss of Tooker Alley in Brooklyn using spirits from Balcones Distillery.

The winner of the Tiki Throwdown was Paradise Lounge in Ridgewood, Queens using Plantation Rum.

The event last year had one long session and was quite crowded, this year they decided to break the event into two sessions which made for a more manageable crowd size, I attended the evening session.

 

 

 

Secret Summer Cocktail Party 2019

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

On Sunday afternoon August 4th, I attended the fifth annual Secret Summer cocktail festival. It was promoted as “the country’s only farm to bar festival dedicated to sustainable cocktails” using locally sourced ingredients. The event was produced by High-Life Productions and RAPT Hospitality.

The event was held again for the fifth year at The Foundry, an event space located at 42-38 9th Street in the the industrial waterfront area of Long Island City, a stones throw away from the Queensborough (Ed Koch) Bridge. The Foundry is a restored 19th century foundry, literally a brick fortress with an outdoor courtyard and several rooms.

Each of the rooms (or experiences as they called it) was dedicated to a particular sponsored spirit with mixologists on hand to make several signature cocktails with that spirit. New this year was a travelling trailer from Suntory whiskey which housed a tasting room with a rooftop sitting area.

Spirits used in the many cocktails that were available to sip on included: Suntory Whiskey Toki, Haiku gin, Roku gin, Huku vodka, Westward whiskey, Uncle Nearest whiskey, Aldez tequila, Gem & Bolt mezcal, Aperol, Mr Black coffee liquor, Chinolo passion fruit liquor, Toma Bloody Mary and Blue Point beer.

One of the non alcoholic options available were coffee drinks from Elmhurst Coffee Bar made with various non-cow milk products such as oat milk, walnut milk and hemp milk.

I would say that this is one of the best cocktail parties of the year in the city. You were able to spend the afternoon wandering around the many rooms and courtyard sampling cocktails while being entertained by immersive performances, aerialists, local artists, live music and DJ’s.

It was a typically hot and humid August afternoon so my go-to drink for the day was the classic gin & tonic made with Roku gin and London Essence tonic.

 

 

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

 

 

 

Rum Fest New York 2018

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

On September 29th, the Rum Lab.com held their 2nd annual rum festival in New York City. They have produced similar festivals in Puerto Rico, California, the Midwest and Seattle. The Rum Lab is “focused on becoming the official rum expo throughout the northern east coast.”

Rum is made around the world but most associated with the Caribbean. Generally, there are three principle styles of rum in the Caribbean that reflect the terroir, climate and who colonized the country. There is the Spanish style ron which is molasses based and are generally lighter in body, the English style rum which are also molasses based and tend to be bolder, and the French style rhum agricole which are based on sugar cane juice and have many of the place of origin rules that wine have, they tend to taste of herbs and the earth.

The event was held at Sounds of Brazil, a music venue located at 204 Varick Street in lower Manhattan. There were a good selection of rum from around the world and since I enjoy aged rum, I began the tasting by trying whatever was the oldest rum at the table.

Some of what I sampled:

Montanya (Colorado): Oro, Exclusiva, Anniversaria.

Owney’s (New York City) Distiller’s Reserve, Superior Quality.

English Harbor Reserve (Antigua): 5yr, 10yr, port cask finish, sherry cask finish.

Chairmans’ Reserve (St. Lucia): The forgotten cask, 1931.

Ron Barcelo (Dominican Republic): 30yr Anniversary Reserve, Imperial.

J Bally (Martinique): 2002.

Clairin (Haiti): Sajous, Vaval, Casimir.

Diplomatico  (Venezuela): Single vineyard 2002, Ambassador.

Plantation Rum (Barbados): XO 20th Anniversary.

Clement Rhum (Martinique) VSOP, XO.

Flor de Cana (Nicaragua): 18yr, 25yr.

Rhum JM (Martinique): 1999 Reserve.

Denizen (Jamaica): 3yr, 8yr.

Barcardi (Puerto Rico): Limitada.

Boukman (Haiti): Botanical Rhum.

 

 

New York Cocktail Expo

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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.

 

 

Secret Summer Cocktail Party 2018

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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

 

 

Cochon 555 New York 2018

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cochon 555 is a multi-city culinary tour to “further the conversation of heritage pigs on dinner tables across the nation” and whose goal is to “support family farmers and to educate influencers ultimately making them a better, more knowledgeable teacher”.

The 14 city tour kicked off in New York City on January 21 with a “friendly competition for a cause” featuring 5 chefs, 5 pigs and 5 winemakers.

The event was held at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi at 851 6th Avenue in Manhattan and showcased pork centric dishes from local restaurants (and the outlier steak tartare bar) and competitions that involved bartenders, sommeliers and butchers.

Of course to wash all that down were punches, Manhattans from the Manhattan Project and international wines some of which included:

 

2016 Mariotti Campi Rosato

2015 Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc

2015 Ronco dei Tassi Sauvignon Blanc

2015 Antica Chardonnay

2013 Antica Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Chateau Carbonnieux Rouge

2005 Marquis de Riscal Rioja Gran Reserva