Outside the Shell Proved That There’s No Better Combo Than Cocktails and Oysters

From gin martinis to an array of whiskies, the afternoon event at Pier A Harbor House was a study in this particular pairing.

On Saturday, October 14, Pier A Harbor House was home to an Edible Manhattan and Collective bacchanal. The second floor had been taken over by oyster shuckers, spirits purveyors, beer makers and more for Outside the Shell: An Oyster and Libation Pairing Event.

Billion Oyster Project was in attendance, collecting shells for their initiative to restore the once glorious oyster population of New York Harbor.

From the moment you walked through the doors, you were greeted by Guinness, pouring its traditional brew, Blonde American Lager, and 200th Anniversary Export Stout, before you moved on to an Islay Dry Gin from The Botanist. Their representative encouraged you to rub one of their many vials of herbal scents on your hand before sipping your sample in order to shift the character of the deeply botanical spirit. Luckily, the next room was filled with sliders (oyster po’boy included) and endless platters of massive potato wedges from Pier A’s in-house restaurant, so you could line your gut in preparation for what awaited you as you continued to slurp your way through the seemingly endless rooms.

Not to be missed were Fords Gin’s two cocktail fountains, one serving a 50/50 martini (to be self-garnished with your choice of olive or lemon peel) and the other a punch. Most were going for that martini, its refreshing bite always the perfect complement to briny oyster. That’s why the treasure awaiting you at the end of this gustatory journey was a bar stocked by Pernod Ricard, serving a Plymouth Gin and Lillet Blanc Fifty Fifty, a drink called Dynasty featuring Absolut Elyx and homemade yuzu cordial, and an Old Fashioned with Lot 40 Rye Whiskey, simple syrup and orange bitters. You picked your poison and headed out onto the terrace for a view of the Statue of Liberty, ideally full and happy, to regain the desire to make your way through the gauntlet once again to try all the things you might have missed. And what you missed were likely the Johnnie Walker (with Fever Tree Club Soda or Ginger Beer), Singleton and Port Charlotte whiskies, all excellently rich ways to ease your palate out of an overstimulating afternoon.

As you emerged back into the real world that Saturday evening, you probably wanted to just head home and relax. We wouldn’t blame you. There’s not much you can improve upon when you’ve spent an afternoon eating oysters and sipping cocktails made with classic (and not-so-classic) spirits.

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Alicia Kennedy is a Long Island–born, Brooklyn-based food writer and recipe developer.