Blog: Edible Manhattan's Good Spirits
Tuesday night, Edible Manhattan presented what has become an annual rite of passage as the spacious 82 Mercer Street played host to “Good Spirits,” an annual event where talented food artisans are paired with mixology-minded spirits vendors to accordingly complement each other. It’s certainly a good thing that the event lasted three hours as the space was jam packed with tables from different restaurants, food vendors, and spirits companies. While at first the event seemed a bit daunting, we made sure to jump right in and got started at Williamsburg’s Cadaqués Tapas Bar, who were plating a combination of sea urchin terrine, seafood, potato salad, lemon creme fraiche, and herb oil. This eclectic dish was accompanied by a shot of El Buho Mezcal and a chaser shot of natural tomato, vegetable juices, a splash of claim and citrus (basically a one sip twist on the Bloody Mary). This unique dish set the tone for the evening and we became certain that a night of flavorful food and delicious cocktails was yet to come.
Food and drink pairings like Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto’s deliciously sliced cured Fiore di Parma and Porchetta Toscana Piacenti with LiV Vodka’s simultaneous pouring of their Carcano cocktail: vodka infused with rosemary, grapefruit juice, lemon and lantieri franciacorta, was the first of many exceptional marriages of flavors. The rosemary added a unique and refreshing element to the classic cocktail and subsequently became one of our favorite drinks of the evening. Other favorites that we noshed on included Dutch Kills, who actually don’t yet serve food at their Long Island City establishment, prepared a succulent Italian style pulled pork shoulder sandwich with Italian herbs, wine, and tomatoes, Perry St. and their outstanding rice cracker crusted tuna with a sriracha citrus emulsion, and Anfora’s Italian Banh Mi, packed in with mortadella, Bolognese Bianco, pickled carrots, onions, peppers, cilantro, and chili mayo on a crusty ciabatta bread. Also of note, East Village haunt Veselka, served a ‘Varnyky Pierogi,’ a potato pierogi with Vermont cheddar, maple glazed bacon, and a dollop of maple-tinged sour cream. Perfectly cooked and served as a fluffy pouch of goodness, the pierogi was paired with a powerful ‘Golden Klenovka,’ made with Vermont Gold Vodka, sticky maple syrup, organic black tea, and a splash of club soda. The tasty beverage brought out some of the best flavors in the pierogi and vice versa.
It must be said that Edible in conjunction with the staff at 82 Mercer did an outstanding job in the preparation and execution of “Good Spirits.” With the tables lining the walls, the center space was left open for attendees to stand and taste what was in front of them. Lines were relatively minimal and although some of the restaurants ran out of food quicker than we anticipated, there was a multitude of other options from which to sample. Vendors like Rick’s Picks (pickled vegetables), Monument Lane (peanut butter, chocolate chip cookie with pig cracklings) and Uncle Jerry’s Pretzels (handmade pretzels) provided some smaller, lighter fare to chew on in between pairings in the main space.
Surprisingly however, we found another smaller room and although it was no secret, we decided to check it out before word got out and things got crowded. Drawing us in immediately was the enticing aroma wafting from the scent of Dallis Bros. Coffee, whose Aztec revenge mocha – a spicy, sweet coffee beverage made with espresso and FAIR was excellent. And right next to the coffee was Knipschildt Chocolatier handing out locally-made artisan chocolates, including a rich honeycomb chocolate as well as truffles with raspberry and chipotle salt. The chipotle in the truffles delivered an interesting kick without being overpowering, and the combination of all the flavors resulted in a truly exceptional chocolate.
With our favorite restaurant and dessert vendors out of the way, it’s time to shine a light upon the boozy concoctions that made us sway happily…or perhaps it was drunkenly. The evening’s best included Hudson Whiskey’s ‘Nolitan’ made with Hudson Baby Bourbon, averna, house made pomegranate bitters and garnished with an orange peel, Hendricks Gin’s refreshing and delicious ‘Sanguenilla Special,’ mixed with gin, hibiscus hop infused mead, solerno blood orange liquor, gran classico bitter, blood orange juice, lemon juice, and soda water, and finally, ‘The Belle Star,’ a drink made from White Pike Whiskey, inventively infusing juiced red bell peppers, oranges, Campari, local Hella peach sassafras, and Hella citrus bitters into an incredible drink. Each sip packed a punch but the flavor of the whiskey still held strong as a smooth and oaky whiskey that would have sufficed on its own.
Whew. After a whirlwind of running from station to station and drink to drink, it’s time to look back reflectively. Edible Manhattan’s Good Spirits was organized incredibly well even though the event was sold out and the use of metal silverware both made slicing and dicing the samples much easier and also cut back on wasteful plastic utensils. Impressively executed with phenomenal food and drink options, Edible’s got a knack for delivering a fantastic value, seemingly perfected at each of their New York City events. Although we left the 82 Mercer space completely satiated, we have a renewed hunger for Edible’s next events.
- Terry Ballou