Good Spirits at Almond Pairings and Commentary

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For our inaugural Good Spirits event in 2010, we paired six restaurants with six amazing spirits at Almond on E. 22nd St., and captured commentary from master city mixologist Jim Meehan, of PDT.

Here are the results of their handiwork:

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ST. GERMAIN & GRAMERCY TAVERN
Chef Mike Anthony, Bartender Jeremy Lawry
EAT: Celery root and carrot terrine with pickled apples
DRINK: Orange Blossom, made with St. Germain, Fee orange bitters, Wölffer Estate Vineyards sparkling wine, orange twist.
St. Germain is a French-style artisanal liqueur made from fresh, handpicked elderflower blossoms.

MEEHAN SAYS: A sparkling aperitif cocktail is a smart pairing with Chef Michael Anthony’s bright, balanced cooking. Orange pairs well with carrots; the herbal bite of the celery will be lifted by the elderflower liqueur, and the bright apple notes in the wine should marry nicely with the pickled apples in the terrine.

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TUTHILLTOWN HUDSON FOUR-GRAIN BOURBON & IL BUCO
Chef Igacio Mattos, Mixologist Blythe Lang
EAT: Persimmon, fennel, and hazelnut salad
DRINK: The il Buco Sour, made with Tuthiltown Hudson Four-Grain Bourbon, fresh persimmon, fresh lemon, Sagrentino Passito, fresh thyme, and simple syrup
Tuthilltown Hudson Four-Grain Bourbon is distilled twice from corn, rye, wheat and malted barley, and aged in small barrels.

MEEHAN SAYS: The New York Sour: a whiskey sour with a float of red wine, started appearing in newspapers and cocktail books around turn of the twentieth century. This twenty-first century New York Sour ups the ante with the addition of fresh persimmon and thyme. It seems as though the cocktail is the main course here!

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RHUM J.M. & ALMOND NYC
Chef Jason Weiner, Bartender Steve Barth
EAT: Crepinette of lamb neck with celery root puree and a kumquat-basil marmalade
DRINK: J.M. Ginger, made with J.M. Rhum Agricole Blanc, fresh pear puree, ginger infused simple syrup, house made red wine sorbet, and a ginger sugar rim.
Rhum J.M. is an agricole style rum made from free-run sugar cane on an 18th-century estate in Martinique.

MEEHAN SAYS: Food and wine were seldom seen apart until cuisine savvy bartenders started butting in. Sometimes the best cocktail pairing with a dish is either your favorite cocktail or your most daring drink. In this case, it seems the chef decided to bring wine to his cocktail party: we’ll see if there’s room for everyone.

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HEARTLAND BREWERY & NUTS + NUTS
Brewmaster: Kelly Taylor
EAT: Roasted, flavored cashews
DRINK: Cornhusker Lager, Indian River Light, Mr. Atlas Imperial Pale Ale, Sumatra Porter
Heartland Brewery, New York City’s first American-style brewpub, offers classic and seasonal beers created onsite by brewmaster Kelly Taylor, including a new limited-release keg series.

MEEHAN SAYS: Amidst all the high fallutin food and cocktail pairings, the humble conglomeration of beer and nuts: two old friends, will be a beacon of reason in the night.

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SOMBRA MEZCAL & ROCKING HORSE CAFÉ
Chef Jan Mendelson
EAT: Tamal con camarones, a roasted sweet corn tamal with Mexican white shrimp, chipotle butter and avocado pico de gallo
DRINK: La Sombrilla Roja, made with Sombra Mezcal, Campari, fresh grapefruit, lemon, and lime
Sombra Mezcal is a micro-batch, single-village spirit made from organically farmed espadin agave from the high Sierra of Oaxaca, Mexico.

MEEHAN SAYS: Oftentimes, a country’s native spirit pairs best with the regional cuisine: in cooking terminology, if it grows with it, it goes with it. In this case, the chef has diligently chosen Mezcal, an agave-based relative to Tequila that is distilled from the fermented honey pressed from fire roasted espadin agaves. If the smoky Sombra doesn’t tame the tamal, the bittersweet Campari and citrus surely will.

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TUTHILLTOWN SPIRIT OF THE HUDSON VODKA & ILILI
Chef Erik Osol
EAT: Smoked venison carpaccio with hummus, pine nuts, green apple, and cinnamon chile oil
DRINK: Sidon Rose, made with Tuthilltown Spirit of the Hudson Vodka, green apple juice, rose syrup, and soda.
Tuthilltown Spirit of the Hudson Vodka is produced from 100 percent Hudson Valley apples, at New York’s first post-Prohibition distillery.

MEEHAN SAYS: In northern Europe, vodka is traditionally paired with caviar and pickled fish because of its ability to cleanse the palate between bites: not even the most flavorful wines can compete. In this pairing, the floral apple vodka highball should be a refreshing backdrop to the dish that provides sweet subtlety to the spicy chili and smoked venison.

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HENDRICK’S GIN & RESTO
Chef Bobby Hellen
EAT: Fennel and juniper lamb bacon with beet and caremized yogurt.
DRINK: Will-o’-the-Wisp, made with Hendrick’s Gin, Green Chartreuse, fresh lemon juice, thyme infused simple syrup, and peach Lambic Belgian beer.
Hendrick’s Gin is a small-batch gin, hand-crafted in Scotland, and infused with cucumber and rose petals.

MEEHAN SAYS: A daring dish deserves a complex counterpart. The herbal bite of the gin, thyme syrup and bittersweet Chartreuse will pair nicely with the beets and juniper as the acidity of the Lambic and yogurt attempt to tame the gamy bacon. This one’s a peach.

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DALLIS COFFEE, LONG ISLAND BRANDY & GUS SODA
with RONI-SUE’S CHOCOLATES & WILLIAM GREENBERG DESSERTS
EAT:
Manhattan, Dark and Stormy, and Margarita cocktail-inspired chocolates, tea and honey lollipops by Roni-Sue’s Chocolates
EAT: Black and white cookies from William Greenberg Desserts
DRINK: Dallis Coffee (brewed in Bodum press pots) with Sono Rinata Long Island Brandy, as well as assorted GuS Sodas.
Dallis Coffee, a 100-year-old coffee roaster in Ozone Park, Queens, sources beans from around the world to supply cafes, restaurants, bakeries, delis, catering companies and universities throughout New York City; Long Island Brandy is made with 100 percent merlot wine from Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue, and distilled at Long Island Spirits in Baiting Hollow; GuS sodas are distinctive and adult-appropriate, made with real juice and real flavor extracts, in refreshing varieties.

MEEHAN SAYS: Pastry chefs have been cooking with spirits for over a century.  In the past few years, New York pastry chefs such as Johnny Iuzzini, Sam Mason, Pichet Ong and Will Goldfarb have taken it to the next level with cocktails as their muse in the kitchen: make room for Roni-Sue’s cocktail confections. The Italians take their espresso with grappa after dinner: it’s called Café Corretto, or coffee corrected. I can’t think of a better way to end my night.

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