MCC: Whistling Through History

My next event was Whistling Through History – a talk about the history of rye whiskey sponsored by Toasting the Town, a weekly email list about NYC history and cool events happening around the town (free to sign up at that link!). That covers the History.

As for Whistling:


Yep, Whistle Pig was also a sponsor. The first time I ordered this whiskey, I did it just because of the name – but then I discovered that it’s really good!

The event was on the lower level of the Park Avenue Tavern, where I also found:


These private taps seem like they’d be a threat to my liver and my wallet, but I’d still like to get some friends together and take over a booth.

Anyway, Sonoma County Distilling had some really nice whiskey, and it should be available in NYC now. And we got to try straight samples of their 3 whiskeys (rye, wheat, and corn), and mixed drinks made with their rye from the bar (more on that later).

Unfortunately for the history portion of the evening, the space was not set up for a lecture. I heard a few interesting tidbits (George Washington made rye whiskey! They used to filter whiskey with blankets!), but I could barely hear through the post-work Midtown crowd, and I could see even less. The speaker cut it off after less than 10 minutes. :(

Then it just became an open bar with Sonoma rye, which was a great concept… but the drinks were terrible. This is NOT, I must emphasize, the fault of the whiskey. The bartenders just didn’t know what they were doing – I got an Old-Fashioned with a dumptruck of sugar, muddled with cherries, and topped with club soda(!). It was undrinkable. So I went back to the bar:


(I don’t actually care that much about stirred v. shaken – it was just one more thing wrong.) The ingredients ratio was the real problem:


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Glady’s. 788 Franklin Ave. at Lincoln Place in Crown Heights. 2/3 or 4/5 train to Franklin Ave. (718) 622–0249‎. Open for lunch Fri–Tue, noon–3 pm. Open for dinner Mon–Thu, 5:30 pm–11 pm; Fri, Sat 5:30 pm–midnight; Sun, 5:30 pm–10:30 pm.

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Other Half Brewing tap room


Other Half Brewing Company. 195 Centre St. between Smith Street and Hamilton Avenue in Carroll Gardens. F/G train to Smith/9th St. (347) 987–3527‎, Open Fri, 5 pm–9 pm; Sat, noon–8 pm; Sun, noon–6 pm.

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A bit more on bitters


Brooklyn Bitters is in the process of locating a new production spot (And, said Mark “It’s a pretty boring process behind the scenes – the excitement starts when you start drinking it!”

Hella Bitters started in Williamsburg, but it recently made the jump to Long Island City. I wandered through an industrial stretch of the neighborhood to meet the founders and check out their spot, which was filled floor to ceiling with spices and other aromatics.

hellabitters1 hellabitters2

Hella Bitters is currently running a Kickstarter for its “Craft Your Own Bitters” kit. It ends in 21 hours (I really should have finished this earlier), so move quick if you want one!

In other news, the bar “Extra Fancy” in Williamsburg also has drinks made with both kinds of bitters!

Hella Bitters:

Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters:

Noormans Kil. 609 Grand St., between Lorimer Street and Leonard Street in Williamsburg.  (347) 384-2526,

Biblio. 149 N. 6th St., between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street in Williamsburg, (718) 384-8200,

Extra Fancy. 302 Metropolitan Ave., at Roebling Street. (347) 524-0939.

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MCC2014: Vermouth!

I don’t like vermouth. I like some drinks that contain vermouth, but… it’s kind of like salt. It can be an ingredient, but you’d never consume it on its own.

But there are some people who disagree with me (I know! I was shocked too!), and so I went to the panel “Great American Vermouth Revival: Elevating Classic and Modern Cocktails”, in hopes that learning more about it would increase my appreciation.

The first tid-bit, from vermouth maker Adam Ford of Atsby Vermouth, is that the FDA definition of vermouth is:

“an aromatized, fortified wine with the characteristic flavor of vermouth.”

In other words:


Obviously, that leaves a lot of leeway when it comes to flavor. Generally vermouth is divided into “sweet” (Italian) or “dry” (French), but American vermouth makers have been developing a unique take on it. Franky Marshall, bartender at the Dead Rabbit, said:


Also, the name comes from the German word for “wormwood.” Neat.

The panel also spent some time discussion the martini. Some of the oldest recipes call for 2-to-1 vermouth-to-gin, but today it’s usually 1-to-3 – and mid-20th Century drinkers changed that to 1-to-7, 1-to-15, or even less. Let’s face it, every story you’ve ever heard about the martini is about how little vermouth people can put in it.

But the ultra-dry martini is a mistake that’s become a bit of folklore. Amy Zavatto, from Edible Manhtattan, said:


Another reason for the public’s aversion to vermouth: It goes bad. Vermouth is a wine, so once the bottle opens, it’s going to turn sour and bad in a few weeks. Most people’s first experience with vermouth is a dusty bottle from the back of the liquor cabinet that’s half-turned to vinegar.

Bianca Miraglia, founder of Uncouth Vermouth, gets frustrated when people ask exactly how long a bottle of vermouth will last if kept in the fridge:



Several repeats of this experiment established that vermouth is just not the drink for me.

But at least I learned enough to toss out my parents’ ancient, opened bottles of vermouth when I went to visit last week. And I’ll get some fresh stuff for my next Manhattan!

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The Adirondack


The Adirondack. 1241 Prospect Ave. at Reeve Place in Windsor Terrace. F/G train to Fort Hamilton Parkway. (718) 871–0100. Open Mon–Thu, 3 pm–2 am; Fri, 3 pm–4 am; Sat, noon–4 am; Sun, noon–2 am.

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Brookvin. 381 Seventh Ave. between 11th and 12th streets in Park Slope. F/G train to Seventh Ave. (718) 768–9463. Open Mon–Thu, 5 pm–midnight; Fri, 5 pm–1 am; Sat, noon–1 am; Sun, noon–midnight.

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Croxley Abbey


Croxley Abbey. 63 Grand St. between Kent and Wythe avenues in Williamsburg. (718) 387–4290. Open daily, 11 am–2 am.

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MCC2014: The Tasting Room

A brief glimpse of the Industry Invitational tasting room (there were about 25 booths – this is just a portion):



One of the more interesting tables was the Old Spirits Company:


Owner Edgar Harden visits estate sales and private collectors to get old-school bottles of liquor. Because recipes have changed over time, an Overholt Rye from 1950 is going to taste different than one bottled today. So if you’ve discovered a recipe from 1920 and you really want to know how it tasted, you should track down liquor from that time!

However, says Harden, the taste won’t be exact because the liquors age in the bottle, much like wine, generally getting mellower and lighter in alcohol.

Also, those vintage bottles look pretty cool:



Next: Vermouth!



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Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club


Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. 514 Union St. between Nevins Street and Third Avenue in Gowanus. R train to Union, or F/G train to Carroll. (347) 223–4410. Open Monday–Wednesday, 6 pm–midnight; Thursday and Friday, 6 pm–2 am; Saturday, noon–2 am; Sunday, noon–midnight.

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