Westchester: Whiskey County, USA
Wakey, wakey, Westchester! Your county has just turned brown—Westchester is currently going apey for whiskey. Just this past month, Mamaroneck’s new wine bar, Bar’Lees, opened with an arm-long list of whiskies, mainly Scotch, though its extensive roster also offers all the heavy hitters in American whiskey. Bar’lees joins Pour in Mount Kisco and its fetishistic, fantasy baseball line-up of rare, boutique and locally distilled American whiskies. Pour offers the full run of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, which you literally can’t buy anywhere else for any amount of money. Plus, at Pour, you’ll also find other rarities like Hirsch’s 16 year, 23 year, etc, etc. Also excellent, locally distilled bourbons like McKenzie and Delaware Phoenix.
Okay, so you don’t really see yourself hanging around in bars, even swank, candlelit wine bars? Turns out that the “Mad Scientist of 16th Street” (namely, Restaurant’s North’s co-owner, Stephen Paul Mancini) has pulled together the world’s most wine-geeky flight of spirits to honor the brown stuff. His thoughtful sampler is designed to demonstrate the action of time and wood on neutral spirits, and mimics the process of making whiskey. Mancini is cask-aging Tuthilltown vodka himself and offering it in the flight at different lengths of exposure to oak. “The thought process was to start the flight with the classic vodka drink and then end it with the classic bourbon drink because the vodka is such a neutral spirit, it really becomes almost bourbon as it ages.” Best still, though infinitely educational, Mancini’s flight (pictured here) will also get you drunk.
Then, at Crabtree’s Kittle House, there is the Balcones whiskey that’s taking the drinking world by storm. You may have heard about this Waco, Texas, distillery whose single-malt Scotch won the top prize, “Best in Glass,” in a blind UK whiskey competition over Scottish whiskies. This upset echoes the famed “Judgment of Paris” that preferred Chateau Montelena (a California winemaker) to French entries in the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. Tongues are wagging about Balcones.
Still not convinced? Check out Harrison Wine Vault, which debuted its Whiskey Room last fall. This section of the shop (which stores its wine in a re-purposed bank vault) showcases 200 whiskeys, with more brands arriving every day. Best still, Harrison Wine Vault offers informative classes and seminars (see HotDate, below) and the ability to purchase bottles while still buzzed from the class.
So, why has drinking brown turned into Westchester’s new black? There is a panoply of reasons. Laws restricting distilleries have been lifted, locavorianism has morphed into locadrinkianism, and the world of small-batch whiskey is the perfect landing spot when you age out of the beer-geek cult. Soon, Westchester might even have its own, home—grown whiskey. Comb/Still the One is rumored to be aging some of its Port Chester distilled spirits. Won’t you join me, Westchester? We’ll all drink to that.
Um, So, Yeah, This Part’s About Whiskey, Too
So this space is usually devoted to upcoming events and dinners, often wine- or beer-related. This week we have two whiskey-related events because, as I say, whiskey is the thing right now.
TONIGHT! Scotch Seminar at Harrison Wine Vault with Ed Kohl
January 28, 6:30 pm
$15 (may be applied toward purchase)
Look for Ed Kohl to sample a wide range of Scotches selected to demonstrate the different styles of the spirit. A few items on offer: Kilochoman 100% Islay Spring Release, Chieftains Glenrothes 12 year, The Arran 10 year old, The Arran Machrie Moor Peated Malt.
Suburban American Whiskey Tasting and Dinner
Peter Pratt’s Inn
February 1, 7-10 pm
From the site, “Join Suburban Wines and Elana Effrat, spirits portfolio manager from Martin Scott, for a night of exploring the new wave of American whiskies. Each month, a new distillery opens up in the United States, pushing the envelope of what defines our bourbons, ryes, and corn whiskies. We’ll sample bourbon from Colorado and West Virginia to blue corn whiskey from Texas. Or ever have a malted barley smoked with peat, beechwood, and cherry wood? What happens when brewers distill and malted barley mixes with straight bourbon? These questions and many more will be tasted, tested, and answered on February 1.” Highlights of the whiskies on offer are: Breckenridge Bourbon, Smooth Ambler Old Scout Bourbon, Great Lakes Kinnickinick Whisky Balcones Baby Blue, Corsair Wry Moon Smooth Ambler Old Scout Rye, Balcones Smoked Corn Whisky Brimstone, Corsair Triple Smoke, Balcones Rumble Cask Reserve (cask-strength distilled wildflower honey, mission figs, and turbinado sugar). Click here to purchase tickets.
Celebrate the Super Bowl with Peter X. Kelly at X20 and Restaurant X
February 3, 5 pm
$125 per guest (exclusive of tax & tip)
From the invitation, “Peter X. Kelly invites you to celebrate Super Bowl XLVII at X2O and Restaurant X. We will watch as the Ravens and the 49ers march into New Orleans on February 3. There is still a chance to book now for our annual, wildly popular Super Bowl Bashes! Perhaps the only more exciting place to watch the game will be the Harbaugh’s Family room, but it’s doubtful that they are serving cowboy rib-eye!
The clock is approaching the two-minute warning—LIMITED space is still available for these fabulous Super Bowl parties. So unless you want to get left in the cold like (sadly) the Giants and (comically) the Jets, call for reservations to get your seats.”
Super Bowl XLVII Menu
Sushi Bar nigiri, sashimi, maki rolls & sushi – at X2O in Yonkers
Raw Bar oyster, clams, shrimp – at Restaurant X in Congers
Jumbo chicken wings, roquefort dip
Parsley & cheese sausage in a blanket
Prosciutto & fontina pannini
BBQ pork & jalapeño jack quesadilla
Sabrett & Niman Ranch hot dogs on brioche buns with red onion marmalade
Beer-batter shrimp, ginger & horseradish
-The Line of Scrimmage-
truffled popcorn, garlic chips, honey-roasted nuts, crisp tortillas
-The Red Zone-
Cowboy rib-eye sauce Béarnaise, gratin of Gruyère baked potatoes, creamed spinach
Roast rack of lamb rosemary jus
honey-glazed ham Dijon mustard sauce
Tortellini with pecans and prosciutto
Sautéed breast of capon, wild mushroom risotto and Madeira
King salmon ragout of orzo & broccoli rabe
Cold antipasto—sopressata, copa, salami, mozzarella & grilled vegetables
Classic Caesar salad
-The End Zone-
An array of passed desserts
Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar, Congers, NY
Please call for reservations & information
X2O – Xaviars on the Hudson, Yonkers
Please call for reservations & information
Pulled Pork Sandwich From SmokeHouse Grill in New Rochelle
Yes, absolutely, you could cook for the Super Bowl. In fact, you probably should: You should get up at 4 am to start smoking your pork for pulled-pork sandwiches. Meanwhile, you should cut 10 pounds of chicken wings into recognizable “flats and drumettes.” At some point, you should also press masa into tortillas for nachos. Or not. You could just call Smokehouse Tailgate Grill, a happy little bar and grill that was started by rival sports fans who got together over tailgate parties. There, you’ll find it all, from wings to giant, sloppy wedges. Best of all, there’s no cooking, and, after the game, no real cleanup. You can trot your exhausted butt off to bed.