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Just as I was getting into writing up those Summer recaps, the Autumn season arrived with a bang. First, the NYC wine business rocketed one day after Labor Day (which was great!) and then came Sandy (which was so very not) … that freak storm that upended all sense of normalcy, for some much more than others.
When such natural disasters occur, there is always a scramble for flashlights, matches, D batteries and ice, but what about that emergency BEVERAGE kit?? What did we DRINK to get us through those ten days without power?
Here’s a few items that worked for us:
- The French Coffee press was crucial: just add water and pre-ground coffee. We KNEW we would lose power, so I ground enough for a two-week supply. Or if tea is your bag, ditto. If nothing else, remember this first bullet point!
- Obviously, nothing that required ice or chilling was practical, so we looked to red wines from the cellar that were layered, rich and soul-satisfying: Amarones from Valpolicella, Bandols from the south of France and Barolos from Piedmont–all perfect comfort wines. (Let’s just say our wine cellar is much more depleted than it was on October 30th!)
- A fine Bourbon, Single Malt or Armagnac. Enough said. Pick your preference, but sipping a small glass of these brown spirits by the fire were a great alternative to yelling (to no effect) at our local utility company.
So now as we head into what I fear is going to be a long, bone-chilling winter, I will hold onto those summer recollections and write them up when there is need for a little warmth and nostalgia.
While visiting one of my accounts last week, I stumbled upon one of the coolest cocktail gifts available (at least in the NY market): The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Travelers Set.
And what exactly are bitters? Basically defined, a bitter is a base spirit flavored (infused) by something that imparts a bitter note or flavor to that spirit, be it root, vegetable, spice, seed or fruit. Depending on its alcohol strength (usually around 45%), it can be either served as an aperitif or digestive. Either way, it’s a must-have for anyone dabbling in the art of cocktails, although some are delicious on their own (such as Amaro, made from a mix of Italian herbs, roots, bark and orange peel). In short, bitters are your spice kit. They can intensify existing flavors or add that little ‘something special’ to a standard cocktail.
Almost all bitters originated for ‘medicinal’ purposes in the early nineteenth century, usually for help with digestion. Some of the most famous bitters are closely guarded family secrets, such as Angostura Bitters from Trinidad or Fernet Branca from Milan.
But I digress. This well-packaged traveling kit comes with five 20 ml bottles (probably just enough to help one endure a one-way trip to Japan or New Zealand!):
- Orange Bitters
- Old Time Aromatic Bitters
- Creole Bitters
- Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters
- Original Celery Bitters
Stay tuned as I dabble with each of these, cocktail reports to follow …
The adage ‘you are what you eat’ applies to what you drink too!
My aim is to help you to drink responsibly — by actually paying attention to what’s in your glass, mug or stein.
When you take the craft, culture, history and science of drink into consideration, you are not only catering to your senses and appetites, but your intellect too.
It’s an enlightening exploration, a knowledge quencher for all those with a thirst for the good stuff whether the good stuff means wine, spirits, coffee or tea. We’ll dive deep into the world of premium, crafted drinks. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey, saluté!