Blog: Edible Manhattan's 4th Annual Good Spirits
With the 4th Annual “Good Spirits” event Thursday night, the folks at Edible Manhattan proved once again that they understand the perfect combination of professionally crafted spirits paired with mouth-watering food, evident from the minute guests entered the event at 82 Mercer. The space was engaging with its rustic brick walls, its wooden floors, a dark almost majestic style lighting, and an open space right in the center surrounded by tables upon tables of food and cocktails. The spacious venue and the delectable eats being served inside played as a perfect pick-me-up after what seemed like a long and grueling workweek for attendees.
Inside, a smattering of some of New York City’s finest and trendiest restaurants filled up each of the two rooms at 82 Mercer and similar to years past, each restaurant would prepare a dish to pair with a distinctive drink made from one of the represented distilleries on hand. The many tables proved almost exhaustive here, so picking and choosing became a must if I had any chance of lasting until the event’s conclusion. That said, my favorite overall experience came from our friends from across the river at Fort Reno. The fine Brooklyn establishment served up a “Barbecued Rabbit” served with pickled fennel and wrapped in a delicate pancake. This succulent dish was accompanied with a drink known as the “Cacao Prieto,” which was a mix of Widow Jane 7yr Bourbon, blood orange and cardamom, and then lightly flavored with a hint of Cacao Rum. Although I am usually not a big fan of Bourbon, truth be told “Cacao Prieto” may have converted me. The smokiness of the rabbit with the deep flavor of the bourbon was a perfect match for even a conservative eater’s taste buds. Also worthy of mention, Union Square Events’ Chef John Karangis was serving up a tasty “Smoked Leek Potato Pierogi,” which was garnished with trout roe and caraway nage. Not only was the dish visually appealing- with the contrast of the bright orange color of the roe and green garnish- but it was also incredibly satisfying. Your taste buds slowly drift away with the creamy texture and smoky body of the pierogi, but are quickly kicked back into gear from the saltiness of the caviar. This dish paired nicely with the nearby “Bootlegger 21 NY Vodka” muddled with some fresh basil, simple syrup and soda.
As the food pairings began to slow me down, sipping on different cocktails really allowed me to explore my likes and dislikes. And the most interesting drink that I had all night was Sorel, self-described as “The brightness of Brazilian clove. The warmth of Indonesian cassia. The heat of Nigerian ginger. The woody bottom of Indonesian nutmeg. The full, aromatic body of Moroccan hibiscus. Pure cane sugar. The finest 100% organic grain alcohol.” Frankly, it was unlike anything that I’ve ever tasted but the spices made it feel both comforting yet complex at the same time. Speaking of comfort, the West Village haunt Whitehall was on hand slinging a refreshing gin drink with hints of lavender, honey and lemon that was absolutely delicious. Having had the pleasure of dining at Whitehall in the past, time and time again I have enjoyed their beautifully crafted cocktails. Paired with this drink was a raw oyster, doused with bright green fresh seaweed. I heard some excited yummy remarks around me, but for me, this oyster did not do it. I would have preferred something a little more acidic on my oyster as the seaweed made it a little too ‘oceany’ for me. However, the presentation was stunning as the pearly white oyster shells laid on a layer of moss creating a gorgeous contrast of colors.
Interweaved within the tables of savory food, there were the occasional and most welcomed sweets. I must admit, I did hit up a table for repeat tastings and Evelyn’s Kitchen, a baked goods and catering company, had to bare the brunt of my sweet-toothed hunger pangs. Standing up to its tagline of being “dangerously delicious,” their strawberry orange crumble meshed a sour cherry cordial glaze and a triple chocolate sour cherry cordial truffle crunch all rolled up together in coconut. The desserts were perfectly balanced without being overly sweet. Coolhaus meanwhile was also nearby, doling out samples of cookies and ice cream. I ended my journey through a jam packed 82 Mercer with Coolhaus’ “Whiskey Lucky Charms” ice cream and a peanut butter cookie enveloped in both of my hands, now entirely satiated from head to toe.
While it’s unfortunate that “Good Spirits” comes but once a year, Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn are constantly hosting events in and around the City boroughs equally as delicious and fun. But “Good Spirits” itself, to no surprise, was another in a long line of these particularly fantastic events. The lines were manageable, the space was sufficiently roomy without being too crowded and the cocktails and food kept flowing- a perfect combination to pick up anyone’s night. By the time the event had run its course, I headed for the door, feeling pretty “Good” myself.
- Alexandra Leavenworth