When I heard about a trip called Shootin' & Drinkin', I knew I had to check it out. What a wacky combination. The trip to the Hudson Valley is offered by a cool new Manhattan-based outdoor adventure company called Urban Escapes, and combines clay shooting and whiskey tasting—though not at the same time, I was assured by Bram Levy, the director and also one of the guides. The day starts with a two-hour lesson on clay shooting (basically firing a shotgun at clay targets). After riding through the forest in golf carts stopping at various stations to shoot clay discs, the group calms their adrenaline rush with a tasting of artisanal vodkas and whiskeys at Tuthilltown Distillery in nearby Gardiner, New York. Not all of Urban Escapes' trips are so Wild West. River tubing and wine tasting down the Delaware River sounds a lot more low key.
© Sarah Kaufmann
Makes 1 drink
1 ounce Grand Marnier
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
2 dashes rosewater
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the Grand Marnier, grapefruit juice and rosewater and shake lightly. Strain into a chilled coupe and top with Champagne.
Star Boston mixologist Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli recently launched a “Do Try This At Home” series of cocktail classes at Craigie on Main's bar in Cambridge that is part history lesson, part hands-on cocktail laboratory and part cocktail tasting. Just back from last weekend's Tales of the Cocktail event in New Orleans, Tom hosted the first two-hour class, “Bar Meets Apothecary: Drops, Dashes and Ounces—the Impact of Bitters.” Future classes will focus on vermouth and the savory-drink pantry. Tom is also contemplating a winter-warmers lesson for November.
© Diane Bondareff
“We thought it'd be fun to do interpretations of iconic foods from each city on Southwest Airlines' new flight routes from New York,” says Sisha Ortúza, 'wichcraft's chef and co-owner (with star chef Tom Colicchio). Ortúzar came up with a menu that includes an NYC meatball parm sub, a Chicago bratwurst with sweet sautéed onions and (my favorite) a Baltimore soft-shell-crab sandwich with watercress and a tartar sauce made with lemon aioli and house-made pickles.
Now if only Southwest would offer the sandwiches on their flights, I might be inspired to bust a rhyme—although a couple of the ginger margaritas at The Southwest Porch might do the trick.
I got to know Mike Harney when I co-authored his book, The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea. He's fun company, as well as refreshingly unpretentious when it comes to talking about tea, so I'm looking forward to the tea-tasting class he'll be teaching on July 25 at the International Culinary Center of the French Culinary Institute in NYC. During the first part of the class, Deconstructing Earl Grey, he'll serve samples of the different Chinese and Indian black teas that go into the classic blend, along with its signature bergamot citrus. If all goes according to plan, he'll end the evening with tea cocktails from FCI's own mad scientist, Dave Arnold.
© Wendell T. Webber
Gingery Fuji Apple Soda (above)
Green Tea Soda
Almond-Tea Milk Shakes
Prune Whip Shakes
© Bill Bettencourt
With one of my coworkers planning a wedding, a hot topic in the Test Kitchen has been catering companies and all the add-ons they offer. There's the ubiquitous chocolate fountain (which has grossed me out since I learned that it takes gallons of oil to keep it flowing properly) and the late-night coffee bar. My colleague Kate Heddings has not stopped talking about the mashed-potato bar she encountered at one wedding, with toppings ranging from chili to caviar. The latest add-on in Austin? Snow cones. But instead of flavoring the shaved ice Snoopy-style, with artificially colored, faux-fruit-flavored syrups, local event-planning company Caplan Miller uses liqueurs like Kahlúa and Baileys Irish Cream.
When I told F&W spirits correspondent Jim Meehan that I was going to Belfast, he told me the city is home to one of the world’s best cocktail bars, at the Merchant Hotel. Sean Muldoon is the bar manager and brains behind “The Bar,” and his ambitious cocktail list reads like a guide to the art of mixology, with definitions, a glassware chart, historic illustrations and even some recipes. But the item on the list that immediately drew my attention was the Platinum Level Mai Tai, surely one of the world's most expensive drinks at 750 pounds (about $1,200). Muldoon makes it with 17-year-old Wray and Nephew rum—one of the key ingredients in the original Trader Vic’s Mai Tai. The bottle is one of just 12 and dates back to the 1940s; only one measure of rum is left in it. I decided to leave it for a true cocktail connoisseur (and someone with deeper pockets), and settled for the 10 pound ($16) Silver Level Mai Tai, mixed with Inner Circle Green Dot rum. It was great—and a welcome break from all the Guinness I’d been drinking.
© Kirsten Strecker