Spirits Mothers: Tanteo is (Very Good) Tequila Made by Women

 

 

One need only look at the Best Director Oscar nominations to realize how badly underrepresented women still are in certain high profile industries. Perhaps not surprisingly, Tequila is another one of them.

The tequila business has actually been run by an elite class for generations. But Jalisco’s Tanteo is literally changing the face of Mexican made tequila. Currently, 80% of the workers in the distillery are female, with a particular emphasis on hiring single mothers and widows, as well as providing space for and access to child care. In fact, the distillery considers itself a cooperative, and individual votes are cast to confirm or change who is in charge on a regular basis.

Current Tanteo distillery head Cristina Cortez explains, “Apart from creating a truly excellent tequila, Tanteo also embodies the spirit and the hope intrinsically captured by Juanacatlan’s women’s hands. We are women who are committed to hard work and turning everyday experiences into unforgettable moments.”

 

 

In the early 2000’s Juanacatlán, Jalisco, a small town about forty-five minutes outside of Guadalajara, was in trouble. Local jobs were scarce, and the town’s residents couldn’t find work. Along came Tanteo, which rolled out its first bottles in 2009. Focusing on the US market, three versions of spicy tequilas were born: jalapeno, habanero and chipotle. Using all locally sourced chilis, the distillery was able to establish connections with local farms, which only reaffirmed the close relationship the people have with the soil and their own communities.

They soon planted agave, which can take up to seven years to fully mature, just down the road from the distillery. The La Cienega region, well known for rich soil, enabled Tanteo to add agave into the cooperative portion of their practices. This allowed them to maintain quality harvesting practices, only cooking the agave in small batches, using traditional methods like brick ovens and double-distillation.

 

Jalisco 

 

Says Neil Grosscup, CEO and Master Blender, “We support ethical growing and harvesting of agave, sound bottling processes, intelligent operation-line design and a healthy work environment.”

Recently launched, although in reverse order, is a Blanco Tequila with a slightly higher alcohol content, made to mix well, but also delicious straight up. Bright and light with hints of black pepper and a definite earthiness, the terroir is clear and rich.

And every sip comes complete with an ethical production foundation which one can feel good about.

“I am always seeking to do the right thing,” Grossup explains. “I’ve always been interested in growing families and communities.”

 

 

Tanteo Tequila Margarita Recipes 

 

Pamplemousse Margarita

1.5 oz Tanteo Blanco
.5 oz Grapefruit Liquer
1 oz Simple Syrup
.5 Grapfruit Juice
1 oz Club Soda
Combine over ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled double highball glass. Garnish with grapefruit peel.

 

Golden Ginger Margarita

1.5 oz Tanteo Blanco Tequila
.5 oz Monin Turmeric syrup
.5 oz Ginger Syrup
1 oz Fresh lemon juice
Combine over ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

 

 

Tippling Trends: Low ABV Liqueurs Are on the Rise, Led By Milan’s Fernet-Branca

 

 

 

This time of year is notorious for unkept resolutions and vague attempts at “dry January.” While we support you, whoever you are, we think it’s also the perfect time to dive into low ABV (alcohol by volume) liqueurs. And perhaps the perfect post-holidays digestif might be Fernet-Branca, created as a health tonic in 1845, and still maintaining an almost zero sugar content. Although made in Milan, it has become the national drink of Argentina and a favorite in San Francisco.

Its digestive properties are well documented. Take Suburbia Today circa 1962, which recommends a splash of Fernet-Branca as a cure-all for “overeating, flatulence, hangovers, gas pains, [and] lifting yourself off the floor when you’ve mixed oysters and bananas.”

The acclaimed liqueur turns 175 this year, and while few would combine bananas and oysters these days, that hasn’t affected the company motto: “Novare serbando: renew and conserve.” And Edoardo Branca, the sixth and current family member in charge of the brand, has just reestablished offices in Manhattan. The first order of business? Making a custom in-house bar for the Branca team and visitors.

 

 

While the love of Fernet is renewed daily, it’s distilled in Milano, comprised of the original and proprietary blend of herbs, including bitter orange peel, star anise, cardamom, laurel and saffron (In fact, the Branca distillery purchases 75% of the world’s saffron—and at $5000 a pound, no less). Its sharp yet distinctive bite and signature hue are utterly distinctive.

With the New York move, Edoardo hopes to also showcase other labels in their portfolio, like Brancamenta, a mint version of Fernet, house distilled Stravecchio Branca, or “the oldest” Branca brandy, and Carpano Vermouths like Antica Formula and Punt e Mes. With America’s growing love for amaro and low ABV liqueurs in general, this makes perfect sense. According to last fall’s Nielsen reports, Carpano Vermouths are growing four times the overall category rate, and are being used in everything from Manhattans to Negronis. Top trends show that a splash in your next spritz or even a little on the rocks is on the way. And while Fernet has earned its name, Carpano Vermouths will always be the chicest member of the family.

Here, Edoardo Branca shares his personal recipe for what he calls a Reverse Negroni—for those times when you want to a cocktail without the aftermath—and a few other Fernet-forward classic tipples.

 

 

Fernet-Branca Cocktails 

 

Reverse Negroni

1 oz. Bitter
1 oz. London Dry gin
¼ oz. Fernet-Branca
Glass: coupe
Directions: In a mixing glass, add all ingredients and stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.

 

Hanky Panky

1.5 oz Dry Gin
.75 oz Antica Formula
2 dashes Fernet-Branca
Directions: In a mixing glass, add all ingredients and stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.

 

Fancuilli Cocktail

1.5 oz Rye Whiskey
.75 Punt e Mes
.25 oz Fernet-Branca
Over a Large Ice Cube With Orange Peel
Directions: In a mixing glass, add all ingredients and stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.

 

Toronto

2 oz Rye Whiskey
.5 oz Fernet-Branca
.25 oz Simple syrup
1 dash Angostura
Lemon twist
Directions: In a mixing glass, add all ingredients and stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.

 

 

Savannah Epicurean: Five Hotspots in the South’s Sultriest City

 

 

It’s no surprise that Southern Charm, the Bravo reality show replete with drawling beauties, flashy cars and two-hundred-year-old mansions is set in Savannah. The “Hostess City of The South” has a charm that is as real and thick as the local honey.

So famous for its sprawling cemeteries that it is sometimes referred to as a necropolis…or city of the dead, the ghost tours are packed with people eager for a glimpse of the spectral and supernatural. And while plenty of people still come here for its ghostly attractions, don’t let that fool you – the formerly sleepy but historic river town has ballooned in popularity, and was one of American Express Travel’s top trending destinations for 2019.

The real draw is actually the distinctly southern food and drink – but like everything else in Savannah these days, the biscuits and grits are getting a decisive update. The classics remain, but on our last visit, we checked out a few hotspots where tradition and innovation sat comfortably together on the menu. And the arrival of chic boutique hotels, new art galleries, and celebrity chef restaurants is definitively changing Savannah for the better.

Here were some of our faves.

 

Perry Lane

A relatively new member of The Luxury Collection, Perry Lane Hotel is bringing the class. Part of AMEX Travel’s Fine Hotels & Resorts program, the rooms are filled with plush white linens and cozy reading nooks, with a few carefully selected antique books stacked close by. Located in Savannah’s historic district, there are three very different food and beverage venues to service the 167 rooms. Touting itself as the kind of place to “welcom[e] everyone in with a crooked smile and a glimmer in her eye,” each space has locally sourced art collections and rotating activations, telling their own versions of the story of Savannah. And partnered with an American Express Travel & Lifestyle Concierge, they can secure last minute reservations at the newest and hottest tables.

 

 

Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market

The Perry’s floor restaurant showcases locally-sourced, high-quality ingredients. Half wine market/café and half sit down eatery, the weekend jazz brunches are lively and decadent affairs, with twists on classics like jalapeno hollandaise over poached eggs or the smoked and cured brunch tower, boasting bagels with avocado mousse and herb schmear. Dinner leans more heavily on the French culinary influence, with dishes like coquilles St-Jacques, and rabbit ragout with house-made pappardelle – or whatever wild foraged mushrooms happen to be in season. All expertly mated with something from the quite impressive international wine selection.

 

 

Peregrine

A trendy rooftop bar actually feels a bit like your old backyard – tropical plants, lawn games, a year-round swimming pool – it has frozen cocktails (Death on Credit is made with espolòn blanco, st. germain and lime) paired with Filipino chicken sisig tacos an a daily ceviche selection. But it’s the elegant views over historic Savannah that truly steal the show.

 

 

The Collins Quarter

Opened in 2014, this café introduces Australia’s clean flavors and coffee obsession into Savannah’s buzzy brunch scene. Named for Melbourne’s famed Collins Street, the lines literally wrap around the block on weekends. The coffee program is helmed by Anthony Debreceny, who found and trained local coffee and food connoisseurs on their mission. Those staff now direct hungry diners on how to order off of the Aussie influenced menu, with dishes like the signature Avo Toast with smashed peas, or vegetarian bubble and squeak, all with a southern twist.

 

 

The Grey

When acclaimed chef Mashama Baiely and restaurateur Johno Morisano partnered to create The Grey, also in Savannah’s historic district, they had no idea of how popular their new take on southern dining would quickly become. Housed in a refurbed Art Deco Greyhound Bus Terminal from 1938, Bailey utilizes her unique style of blending elements of Port City Southern food with her NYC background, employing local and seasonal ingredients. A finalist for a James Beard Award for Best Chef in 2018, she is definitively raising the bar in this very traditional Georgia city. And whether it’s for the shaved country ham with braised leeks or the signature smothered quail with blackening spice and creole sauce, the wait for reservations is unquestionably well worth it.

 

 

 

From Lenny Kravitz Vintage to Moët Imperial: A Perfectly-Timed Champagne Edification

 

 

As we look back at 2019, full of political intrigues and off-kilter tweets, it’s safe to say that this was a trying year. Yet, there is one overwhelmingly bright shiny bubble at the end of the tunnel: the fall of 2019 was a truly epic time for champagne – so epic, in fact, that it resulted in an early harvest, since the grapes’ sugar content clocked in at twice the norm.

Only those grapes grown in the Champagne region, of course, can be turned into actual Champagne – but each house specializes in their own varietals, with classic fermentation processes and unique techniques (We visited Reims earlier this year to witness some of those in person.). Picked by hand, pressed, blended and bottled, each year produces its own completely unique flavor profile, that always culminates in something delicious…but occasionally also truly extraordinary.

 

 

What does that mean for Champagne produced in 2019? According to Vincent Chaperon, cellar master of Dom Perignon, “a vintage with a moderate yield and very promising quality.”

But while we’re waiting for those to mature, here are some incredible bottles from the heady years of the Oughts (has another decade really just gone by?), matured and ready to pop this New Year’s Eve/Day. The price tags can be hefty, but if we’re expecting the ’20s to roar, then we surely have to ring them in appropriately magnificently.

 

 

Moët & Chandon – Moët Imperial 2004

Known as the largest and most diverse domain in Champagne, with 800 base wines every year, each individual batch of juice is analyzed, tasted and classified by cru, variety and quality. The Imperial is specially crafted from three to four blends specially made every year, and highlights the best of the best in Champagne. With small, fizzy bubbles, this will satisfy even the most particular palate.

 

Dom Ruinart Rose 2004  

A subtly aromatic and shimmering rosé Champagne with a distinguished structure and velvety texture, Dom Ruinart Rosé 2004 is ripe red fruit and freshness in a glass. Ruinart has a long history of producing rosé Champagnes, having created the first more than 250 years ago. The 2004 is crisp and complex and is only the 19th vintage rosé champagne from the maison.

 

 

 

Krug Clos du Mesnil 2004 

Another 100% Chardonnay, made with grapes harvested in 2004. Founder Joseph Krug first believed that a house of Champagne should always “adhere to a craftsmanship without compromise in order to consistently offer the best, regardless of climate variations.” The Krug Clos du Mesnil 2004 is crisp and clean, made with grapes from a single walled plot of vines in the village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, with all harvested in the year 2004.

 

 

Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame Rose 2008”

You’ve probably seen the classic Veuve Clicquot bottle with the official pantone yellow label. The house was known for being run by the grande dame of the champagne industry, Madame Clicquot. In 1818, she created the first-ever blended rosé, using an innovative and now widely used method. In 2008, after a cool and rainy spring, the grapes ripened with an abundance of sugars, and by adding Pinot Noir, resulted in a bold, bright flavor that was soon named after Le Madame.

 

 

Mod Sélection Réserve Vintage 2008

“We have purposely waited to release these special blends,” Brent Hocking, Founder & CEO of Mod Sélection Champagne (Drake is a partner), says about this vintage, “to ensure optimum quality and purity – and we believe they’re worth the wait.” With ripe fruits like orange peel, dried apricot and pineapple that open to reveal notes of brioche, nutmeg and clove, this champagne packs a punch. Full bodied without heaviness, the line is in partnership with Maison Pierre Mignon.

 

 

Mod Sélection Rosé Vintage 2008

A deep-salmon hue redolant with a heady mix of fresh red fruit like strawberry and plum, followed by honey and ginger. The combination of strict selection processes at harvest, the most delicate extraction of first press, along with respect for the fermentation process, ensure a pure expression of balance and flavor only found in Champagne. Since 1892, the legacy and learning of five generations of growers comes together in an exclusive enclave of the Vallée de la Marne. Awarded Robb Report’s “Best of the Best” Award, the only hard part is not buying a case.

 

 

Dom Pérignon 2002 – Plenitude 2

Dom Pérignon is singular in its exclusivity and available only as a vintage, using a mixture of the best grapes to represent the unique character of the seasons. Each year, the Chef de Cave, or master winemaker, reinvents the house style with different grapes, creating a new vintage. With near perfect growing conditions in 2002, the year stands as a remarkable moment for Champagne’s history. The vintage is a clean yet simultaneously robust and round flavor that is worth every penny.

 

 

Dom Perignon Vintage 2008 Lenny Kravitz Limited Edition

Lenny Kravitz brings his legendary style and creativity to an inspired vintage champagne with this special bottle. Re-imagining Dom Pérignon’s shield label in hammered metal, the rockstar/designer gave it a uniquely contemporary vibe. Let love, and bubbles, rule.

 

 

Six Questions w/ Exalted Peruvian Chef Pia León

 

 

Chef Pia León may not yet be the most recognized name in New York’s culinary scene, but in her hometown of Lima, Peru she’s a legend. Named 2018’s Best Female Chef in Latin America by World’s 50 Best Restaurants, she’s taken the rich food culture of a diverse nation to create something utterly new. Kjolle, her first solo restaurant, has become renowned for plating simultaneously familiar and yet also surprising gastronomic experiences to the Peruvian palate.

Now she’s brought those flavors to NYC. Indeed, thanks to the Priceless pop-up on St. John’s Lane, featuring some of the best bars and restaurants in the world. And thus, a taste of Lima has never been more at hand.

 

 

Chef León has been since 2009 cooking at Central, generally regarded as the best restaurant in Peru – and possibly all of  Latin America. But Kjolle, named for a hearty mountain flower, is where she established the uniqueness of her own cuisine, reflecting her passion for her home country’s ingredients. Peru, for instance, boasts around 4,000 indigenous varieties of potatoes and tubers – sourced from the towering Andes to the Amazonian jungle – as well as many hard to find grains and unique herbs.

We enjoyed a chat with her, before she generously revealed the secrets behind two of the most popular dishes currently being rhapsodized over by diners at Kjolle.

 

 

 

 

So what can diners expect at the New York pop-up?

Fresh baked bread and butter topped with cacao nibs and local salt, raw scallops with guanabana pulp and lime, or a tart of layered and thinly shaved roots in a delicate pastry shell made of a mixture of Peruvian grains. Even the pork belly is paired with cassava, yucca and and mole, but topped with locally sourced rocket and edible flowers.

What inspired you to come to New York and set up at Priceless?

It’s a great platform to communicate our concept and ideas about Kjolle to a different audience. It has been a really positive experience working with such a very professional and dedicated team, that is willing to understand and show Peruvian products in a way that hasn’t been done before.

How is the dining experience different from back home?

It’s very similar actually, since the idea was to replicate the restaurant in New York, and for people to feel like they’re in Lima. We even brought part of the team from Lima to NYC. But we also had the opportunity to make it different by mixing Peruvian ingredients with local ones we have access to here in the city, which has been exciting.

How have the local products been received?

The local products have been of very high quality, and we’ve been glad to work with different ingredients and adapt them to our menu in our own way.

What ingredients are exciting you right now?

The quality of the meat here in NYC is great, the fish we’ve been receiving is so fresh and tasty. Most importantly, the vegetables and roots are amazing, between all the colors, quality and variety. And a big plus is to be in a city where you can find so many different ingredients from around the world!

What are your goals for expansion, if any?

I would like to eventually replicate Kjolle and share our concept with many other cities for short periods of time. I haven’t thought about making something permanent outside of Peru…but you never know.

 

 

 

 

SHORT RIBS AND BURNT CORN

To cook the short ribs, start with an andean dressing. You will need:
  • 5kg yellow pepper
  • 100g chincho
  • 100g Huacatay
  • 100g Muña
  • 50g garlic
  • 300mL White vinegar
  • 10g Pepper
  • 10g Cumin
  • Salt
Blend all the ingredients together. Reserve.
Clean the short ribs. Take each rib and cover them with the andean dressing. Place them in a pot, and cover half of the pot with water (even better if you have a chicken stock). Slow cook the meat for 8 hours, or until the meat softens.
Once the meat is cooked, take the ribs out and use the cooking juice to make a sauce. Strain the fat out of the cooking juices, reduce what’s left and add demi-glace sauce to serve.
You can let the entire rib for each plate, or you can cut in in cubes to make a smaller and more presentable dish.
For the corn garnish:
  • 1L Cream
  • 200g Butter
  • 10g garlic
  • 20g White onion
  • 1kg Blended corn
  • 200g Corn kernels
To make the corn pure, start cooking the garlic with white onions in a frying pan with a little bit of oil. Once everything is cooked and soft, blend all of the ingredients adding the butter and cream.
Reserve the pure in a pot, cover with film paper until needed.
On the other side, cook the corn kernels in salted water. They must be cooked but still firm. Strain the water out of the corn kernels, place them on a trail. You can either use a torch or a frying pan without any kind of fat, to slightly burn every corn kernel on each side.
Reserve the burnt corns.
To plate, place the Short ribs in the middle of a round plate and cover them with hot sauce. Coat the piece of short rib with the corn pure. Use the corn kernels to decorate. You can save some of the herbs to burn them and use them as a decoration too.

 

 

 

Razor clams from Huarmey

INGREDIENTS
Razor clams
  • 160 units razor clams
Purple tiger milk
  • 150g razor clam broth
  • 80g lime juice
  • 60g pickled mashua juice
  • 10g salt
  • Olive oil
Razor clam stock
  • Razor clams shells
  • White wine
  • White onion
  • Celery
  • Green apple
Pickled black mashua
  • 500 mL water
  • 500 mL White vinegar
  • 500g sugar
Pickled Macre pumpkin
  • 200g macre pumpkin
  • 100g panela sugar
  • 100ml wáter
  • 100ml White vinegar
Amazonian chalaca sauce
  • 50g cocona
  • 1 sachaculantro leaf
  • 50g tomato
  • 50g red onion
  • 15mL lime juice
  • 15g salt
Preparation
Razor clams
  1. Clean the razor clams and reserve the shells for the stock.
  2. Cut the razor clams in small pieces (1cm long)
  3. Reserve the razor clams in cold storage with a towel to keep them dry
Razor clams stock
  1. Cut the onions, celery and apple in mirepoix
  2. In a pot, cook the vegetables and apple with some vegetable oil.
  3. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the white wine, and before it evaporates, add the razor clams.
  4. Pour some water (until it covers the razor clams), let it boil. Strain and reserve in cold storage.
Purple tiger milk
  1. In a small bowl, pour all the ingredients.
  2. With a hand mixer, emulsify the liquids with olive oil. It has to have a consistent yet liquid texture.
Pickled mashua
  1. With a mandoline, slice thinly your mashua form the longest side.
  2. Pour the ingredients of the pickling juice in a pot and boil them.
  3. Once the pickling juice is ready, poru them on to the mashuas so they can briefly be cooked. Keep them in cold storage.
Pickled macre pumpkin
  1. In a pot, mix the sugar, water and vinegar. Let it boil.
  2. Once the pickling juice is ready, let it cool down.
  3. Cut the macre pumpking so you can slice it through a mandoline. We recommend in pieces of 10 cms long and 2cm wide.
  4. Pour the pickling juice in the sliced macre pumpkin. Vacuum everything together so the pumpkin can absorb the juice.
Amazonian chalaca sauce
  1. Dice all the ingredients in a small brunoise.
  2. Mix them all together and add the lime juice and salt.
  3. To finish the sauce, cut thinly the sachaculantro leaf and add it to the sauce.
Plating
  1. Place around 8 units of cut razor clams in a wide-open plate. Put some sea salt on the top of each piece of razor clam.
  2. Pour some of the purple tiger milk.
  3. Strain the macre pumpkin and the pickled black mashua. Roll them and place them in 5 different spots in the dish (5 pieces of mashua and 5 pieces of pumpkin)
  4. Top your dish with some of the chalaca sauce, it should cover all the spots where you can see the purple tiger milk.
  5. To finish your dish, as a garnish, burn some jungle nuts and slice them really thinly with a mandoline. Place around 8 slices per plate.

 

 

 

 

Epicurean Montreal: Where to Eat Now in Quebec’s Culture Capital

Above image: Capsa

 

 

Montreal is a small city with a large reputation – a rep that has mainly to do with the quality of life, which includes rolling green parks, stunning architecture, friendly people…and a bountiful food scene. Much like the rest of Quebec Province, Montrealers take immense pride in using local and sustainable ingredients whenever possible, giving their cuisine a uniquely regional flavor. Not to mention the locally brewed beers and local wines sold in specialty shops around the city.

With almost six thousand restaurants and three hundred gourmet food markets, there is always something uniquely delicious waiting just around the corner. And while change comes in Montreal at a manageable pace, we made another visit recently to discover some new fave dining spots – and as ever, were not disappointed.

 

Dandy

Branded the “new brunch spot for Vieux Montreal” (meaning, the historic part of the city), this light and airy restaurant crafts coffee and cocktails with an Italian influence. And some of the best biscuits and baked goods in the city, along with their specialty œufs pochés all are perfectly complemented with a Campari spritz or two. Also, don’t miss the Vol-Au-Vent Du Moment. The strikingly designed space features dramatic arches, globe lamps, bright orange banquettes and mod schoolhouse chairs.

 

 

Beau Mont

Beau Mont is the latest venture from Normand Leprise, famed chef and restauranteur of Toque and champion of Quebecois ingredients. Located off the beaten track in Parc Extension, the sprawling but welcoming dining room is the setting for local market cuisine, featuring seasonal vegetables and refined techniques – plus, there’s an extensive wine list. The space is a work in progress, with a dedicated area acting as a showcase for the growing pool of local artisan-producers.

 

 

Pullman Wine Bar

Sophisticated design, lush décor and a fascinatingly staggered interior make for a place of uniquely low-key luxury. Pullman claims to have over 350 wines, sold by the glass or bottle, including an impressive selection of natural and hard to find bottles. Snacks come sweet or salty, yet all are simple and refined and change seasonally. The grand aioli has a rotating variety of seasonal vegetables from fresh to pickled, and the steak with chimichurri is uncommonly tender and well cooked. Servers are extensively schooled in pairings, ensuring that plats are enjoyed with a perfectly matched cuvée.

 

 

Capsa

This garden level restaurant brings dazzling Portuguese flavors to the city’s Latin Quarter. Located in the hip new Boxotel, it features a daily three-course-menu lunch offering, with dishes like vegan mushroom risotto and braised pork with clams. Highly recommended is their Francesinha, basically a Portuguese croque monsieur, made with house chorizo and a shimmering pan sauce. Capsa is located a little of of the way, but it’s worth the detour for their fresh “crafted” salads alone.

 

 

Spade & Palacio

This is the locally founded company that puts on “non-touristy tours,” taking guests to parts of Montreal they may not otherwise see. These include visiting various murals painted by local artists, bike tours and a variety of unique food tours. One of latter, the Beyond the Market Tour, begins in a handful of small, local restaurants like Los Planes on Bélanger Street, where Salvadoran pupusas (flatbreads) are filled and hand shaped, then drenched in sauce and spice at the eater’s discretion. The tour shifts to a local beer and cheese bar, multiple stops at the Jean-Talon market and a fried chicken picnic in Little Italy. With samples of locally made cheese, gelato and even 5th Wave coffee, no food corner is left unturned.

Are ‘Sound Aged’ Spirits the Next Big Tippling Trend?

Images courtesy of Quadrant Bar & Lounge

 

 

For better or worse, trendy cocktails have gotten very…sciency. But what if actual science could be applied to aging the booze itself?

As it turns out, Chris Mendenhall, lead drinks alchemist at Quadrant Bar & Lounge, tucked into the Ritz Carlton Washington D.C., realized the possibilities of aging liquor not with time, but with sound. A self-proclaimed curious mixologist, he was “always seeking ways to expand [his] knowledge. Sound-aged liquor was a journey down a ‘Google black hole’ that led to learning about technology that is being introduced into the spirit world.”

So, what is sound-aging? It’s a way of infusing sound waves into spirits, which mimic the effects of, well, aging. Mendenhall has a special process that injects wood into the spirit directly, pushing it through like a sieve. Sounds easy, right?

 

 

But according to him, “It took my team and I about a year to develop the recipes and ratios using the device we purchased.”

So what’s the benefit of sound aging? As far as he’s concerned, it’s educational. “The sound waves allow us to impart characteristics of time and help educate the guests on what whisky is, how it’s made, what re-casting is and why it all takes time.”

His most favored cocktail so far is the sound-aged negroni which he describes as, “a negroni for those that don’t like negronis, and a new twist for those that do.”

By pushing the liquor through the wood itself, all the subtle characteristics of that wood are that much more prevalent. Chris introduced a combination of wood soaked in cabernet to round out the sharpness of the newer liquor, and created a caramel-like aged flavor which mellows the finish.

 

 

So, what are the best sound-aged liquors?

“My favorite is the sound-aged Bourbon #1,” he says, “It is best showing guests just how whisky is made and what time does to whisky.”

It also happens to be made with 120-proof nine-year-old Kentucky bourbon that he processes with a customized homogenizer that “ages” spirits in under thirty minutes. According to him, the best way to enjoy it is, “neat with a sample of the unchanged base.”

The Quadrant Bar & Lounge itself is a testament to the changing face of downtown Washington D.C., which although steeped in history, has lately been enthusiastically embracing innovation. Though he doesn’t much care for “cocktails that use crazy ingredients, but instead those that you see and taste, and know that someone put a lot of thought and effort into creating – whether it be simple or complex.”

For our further enlightenment, we asked him to further elaborate on four of more popular sound-aged spirits.

 

Bourbon Style #1

An example of a pure age reflection, this bourbon shows the true power of the machine without added variables such as wood chips to mimic a cask. The“base” is a 120 proof, nine-year-old Kentucky bourbon. After being sound-aged, the “change,” yields a more mellow bourbon with pepper, leather, and vanilla notes.

Bourbon Style #2

This seven-year-old Kentucky bourbon has a “base” of 107 proof, and after being sound-aged with American Oak chips soaked in a 10-year port, the “change” yields a sweeter, richer bourbon with caramel notes.

Whiskey Style #1

The “base” is a 90 proof Tennessee sour mash whiskey. After being sound-aged with French oak chips soaked in sherry, the “change” yields an incredibly smooth whiskey with notes of corn and vanilla.

Rye Style #1

The “base” is a 100 proof, four-year-old American rye whiskey. After being sound-aged with French Oak chips soaked in cognac, the “change” yields bold hints of pepper, orange and chocolate.

 

New Favorite Cocktail: The ‘D.C. Flower Delivery’ at Cherry @ the W Washington D.C. Hotel

 

 

When we hit the reopening party for the W Washington D.C. hotel in July, there were a few really good take aways from the festivities. First, that they have one of the best room service burgers in the world, something which we happened upon via a conversation with Queer Eye‘s Antoni Porowski, who was also in attendance, enlightening us that, “You can tell a good hotel by the quality of a room service burger and fries. They have wedge fries, steak style cut, crispy AF – and you can get a raclette burger. I love a good raclette, it just oozes right off.”

We were also reminded that if you ask in the right way, you can get celebrities to do really strange/hilarious things (though we pretty much always knew that).

“[The W] had the brilliant, weird, quirky but awesome idea to do a [room service] mukbang video,” Porowski told us – and the decadent results are forever parked on the hotel’s YouTube channel.

 

Cherry restaurant

 

Perhaps more importantly, Chef de Cuisine William Morris’ of the W’s stylish new Cherry restaurant, makes a cherry pie (he gave us the recipe) that you would possibly sell your soul for. As Porowski described it, “Crispy, beautiful lattice, vanilla bean ice cream. It’s perfect, I was genuinely excited to eat it.”

But we also discovered a new favorite cocktail for fall, the extravagantly titled DC Flower Delivery. Its festival of flavors, from elderflower to peach to fennel, certainly make it a singular creation in terms of taste. But it was the presentation that ultimately seduced us – with its edible flower garnish, and elegant tissue paper wrapping.

We highly recommend sipping it in situ. But should you not have plans to make it to D.C. any time soon, we at lat convinced the Cherry team to give up the secret formula behind this ethereal creation, so you might significantly dazzle your guests at your next dinner party.

 

DC Flower Delivery

1 oz Civic Vodka
1 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
0.75 oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
0.75 oz Don Ciccio & Figli Finocchietto Fennel Liqueur
2 dashes peach bitters
Method: Add ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and strain into a coupe glass.
Add edible flowers as garnish, and tissue paper to the outside of the glass to look like a flower
bouquet.

 

BlackBook Exclusive: Modern Médi Recipes From Terrance Brennan’s Chefs Club Residency

Chefs Club

 

Multiple James Beard Award winning chef Terrance Brennan opened Picholine to instant acclaim in 1995 – but it now almost seems like a whole other lifetime ago. In the interim, his beloved E. 32nd St. restaurant Artisanal (closed in 2017) was the first in the US to have its own cheese aging cave inside.

But 2019 finds him the current resident at the epicurean temple that is Chefs Club, where he’s created the refined but approachable Côte Médi. The malleable space has been transformed into a seafood lovers paradise, filled with sizzling pans and open flames that result in exquisite char grilled langoustines and seared jumbo scallops with sabayon and black truffle.

 

Chefs Club

 

Considering he’s practically a New York culinary icon, it’s funny to see him back on the line working night after night in the kitchen. But Brennan is lit up with new vitality, practically buzzing – and working side by side with his talented sous chefs and cooks he says, “fills [him] with energy. And the sophisticated clientele invigorates me!” It’s all a prep for his next big move, which is a permanent location for Côte Médi in the city.

He maintains, “it’s all about the ingredients.” But of course, locally sourced sea urchin for fondue or tender tentacles of grilled octopus don’t come easily. He boasts relationships with local fisherman, farms and artisans, which provide the freshest products possible.

 

Chefs Club

 

So other than a new home, what’s next for him and the Côte Médi team?

“In terms of specific ingredients,” he enthuses, “I’ve been really excited about a few dishes I’m working on with various kinds of plankton. It’s the foundation of the ocean’s ecosystem, producing fifty-percent of the world’s oxygen! It’s a unique ingredient.”

Chef Brennan’s team is at Chefs Club through September 28th. But should you not be planning to be in Gotham between now and then, he was gracious enough to share a few of his most coveted recipes with BlackBook.

 

Melon Granite with Lime Espuma

Ingredients
2c cantaloupe juice, from one small melon
¾ of sweet desert wine
Juice of limes, about 1/4c
Zest of 1 lime
1c heavy cream
1Tbs sugar
Procedure
1) Mix the melon juice, wine and half the lemon juice and place it in a shallow not reactive
plan and place in the freezer. Using a fork scrap the granite every half hour until the
granite is frozen, about 2 hours
2) Bring the lime juice and sugar to a boil and mix until the sugar is dissolved, chill
3) Add lime sugar mixture and zest to the heavy cream and place in a isi canister and
charge two times
4) Divide the granite into 4 small bowls and top off with lime espuma, serve immediately
**If one does not have an isi canister you can whip the cream using a whisk or machine

 

 

Cucumber Gazpacho with Crab Salad

Ingredients
3c peeled medium diced cucumber
1c white grapes
¼ Greek yogurt
1/2c cashews, raw
2ea garlic cloves
1/4c olive oil
Salt
Cayenne pepper
Procedure
1) Place cashews in pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 min, drain
and chill
2) Place all the ingredients in a blender and process for 1 minute, strain through a fine
mesh chinois and chill
3) Divide soup into 4 soup plates, place crab in center of bowl and pour soup around

 

Crab Salad

Ingredients
6oz lump crab meat
3tbs Greek yogurt
2tsp sumac
1tbs lemon juice
1tbs shallots, finely diced
2tbs dill finely chopped
2tbs extra virgin olive oil
Procedure
1) Gently mix all the ingredients together, being careful not to break up the crabmeat,
refrigerate until ready to use.