Blog: Village Voice Holiday Spirits Cruise
Amid autumnâ€™s rainiest evening, hundreds of festive guests braved some of mother natureâ€™s most challenging conditions on Thursday night, boarding The Hornblower Infinity Cruise Ship for a trek around the Hudson River. The 3rd Annual â€œHoliday Spiritsâ€ cocktail event would again go off without a hitch presented by The Village Voice where more than two dozen wineries and spirits purveyors would dole out some unique and tasty concoctions to the waiting hands of a particularly hungry audience. Setting sail for some two hours, the trip toward the Statue of Liberty would be hindered some by the weather, but the overall jovial atmosphere inside the vessel would have a spirit that refused to be suppressed.
A sea of umbrellas would flood the shipâ€™s coat check as a sopping wet crowd comfortably boarded the sizable structure. Equipped with commemorative tasting glasses in hand, there was no shortage of options for guests to sample. Varietals from Brooklyn Winery and Barefoot Wine and Bubbly proved to be particularly easy drinking, while a beer selection sponsored by Asahi was perfectly suitable to wash down the numerous pastas, barbecue and Asian-inspired offerings available at any of the dinner buffets on each of the shipâ€™s three levels. But when guests werenâ€™t posing for pictures at the Village Voice photo booth or enjoying the live salsa band performing in the Rums of Puerto Rico Lounge, there was a multitude of refreshing drink options for guests to wet their whistle.
Fortunately, the brunt of the spirits being poured during the evening were produced locally in the New York area and so sipping on the likes of Queens Courage Gin and Manhattanâ€™s Atsby Vermouth would prove even more satisfying. Tanteo Tequila proved to be an immediate favorite early on in the evening. Their fiery â€œJalapeno Margaritaâ€ was prepared with plenty of kick at the back end of each ice cold glass. Enhanced by some tangy lime juice and fresh agave nectar, the tequila was undoubtedly smooth despite its usual propensity to be a fairly intense liquor. On the other end of the spectrum, weâ€™ve been following the story of Barrowâ€™s Intense Ginger Liqueur for many years and as such, really enjoyed servings of their â€œIntense Hot Apple Ciderâ€ was a nicely unique method of utilizing their brand. The drink was a wonderfully seasonal cold weather beverage, with just enough ginger liquor to be noticed amid the subtly sweet, piping hot serving.
Speaking of cider, Titoâ€™s Handmade Vodka has a knack for concocting stand out beverages whenever they serve at tasting events and their mint-focused, chilled cider aboard the ship was no different. Loaded with ice, the sweet apples made the silky vodka almost unnoticeable as we downed pour after pour of the stuff- to the delight of the friendly staff on hand. But the eveningâ€™s finest cocktail by our estimation came all the way from Mexico, where Scorpion Mezcalâ€™s â€œHot Smokinâ€™ Chocolateâ€ was truly innovative. The typically smoky Mezcal Reposado was drowned in hot Mexican chocolate and garnished with tiny marshmallows or whipped cream depending on attendee preference. But the end result was an array of complementing yet complex flavors that managed to be a fairly balanced and utterly satisfying cup of spiked â€˜hot cocoa.â€™ Typically, we steer away from different mezcals, but Scorpion managed to make all of the ingredients work in this instance.
As the pouring rain pummeled the ship making it nearly impossible to step outside to enjoy any of the picturesque views of the Manhattan skyline, guests inside didnâ€™t seem to mind. DJ Tim Martell worked the first floor crowd into a tizzy with a makeshift dance party on the first floor while other guests made sure to grab seats right from the get go and didnâ€™t move much from their tables all evening- these tables were prime real estate. Nevertheless, those of us left standing managed to revel in the festive atmosphere aboard the ship, on a night that was hardly ideal, but was one that all guests seemed to really enjoy as a result of the efforts of the participating staff and purveyors. In whatâ€™s become the official kickoff to the countdown of the holiday season, the team at Village Voice once again delivered despite the conditions working against them initially.
- Dave Gendelson