Ben Scorah

Dizzy Recap: WhiskyFest New York

Nov10 024 “Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough.” –Mark Twain

Toasted vanilla, sweet sherry, cedar. Prunes, dark chocolate, charred fruits. Cracked pepper, moss, smoky peat. What is there not to love about the spicy, tongue-tingling world of whisk(e)y? Clearly, not a thing, as the 12th Annual WhiskyFest New York at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square was wall-to-wall packed with whisky drinkers Tuesday night. With more than 200 exhibitors pouring drams of single malts, blended whiskies, bourbon, rum, beer, and other spirits, this was one dizzy affair.

Upon entering the boisterous scene, I made a beeline for the USBGNY booth to sip on some scotch cocktails before diving into straight pours. As expected, the drinks were complex and delish--I sampled Meaghan Dorman's "Bagpipe Dream" (Compass Box Asyla scotch, fresh lemon juice, ginger maple syrup), Jolene Skrzysowski's "Rustic Plums" (Woodford's Reserve bourbon, Domaine de Canton, plum wine, pear nectar), and Hal Wolin's "2009 Scotch Odyssey" (Glenmorangie 10 Year scotch, Laphroaig scotch, mole bitters, demerara syrup). I also had a fantastic Old Fashioned by USBGNY President Jonatha Pogash, but forgot to write down the ingredients.

John Glaser, creator of Compass Box Whisky, said the recent evolution of fine scotch as an ingredient in cocktails has made for a positive addition at WhiskyFest. "You would never have seen this five years ago," he said.

So which whiskies did I try? Let's see, from what I can recall there was Michael Collins Irish Whiskey Single Malt, Compass Box Spice Tree, Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or, Ardberg 10 Year, The Balvenie Portwood 21 Year, Glenrothes 1991 (they were out of 1985),  Tullamore Dew 12 Year, Blanton's Single Barrel bourbon, Highland Park 18 Year, Yamazaki 18 Year, and a most delicious Signatory Glen Grant 1976 from the Bar & Books booth. I also had Zacapa Rum, BrewDog Paradox Smokehead stout aged in Scotch casks, and more scotch cocktails mixed by kilted bartenders from St. Andrews Restaurant & Bar. There were so many more drams I wanted to try, if time and liver capacity were of no concern.

The crowd was, from my approximation, 90 percent male, 40 percent Orthodox Jewish (maybe more), and 70 percent over the age of 40, not that it matters or anyone's counting. Thanks to Malt Advocate for organizing the event and to Kate Laufer for the invite. Slainte!

Ben Scorah, GQ's New York Bartender of the Year, Places in Vegas Finals

Ben Scorah at Beekman Bar & Books We're a bit spoiled here in NYC--we have many of the best bartenders in the country serving many of the best cocktails in the country. So although New York really has nothing to prove, it's always nice to see one of our own go head to head with the top slingers in the land.

Earlier this week, Ben Scorah, mixologist and managing partner of Bar & Books, was sent to The Palms at Las Vegas to compete in the "Most Inspired Bartender" competition sponsored by Bombay Sapphire Gin and GQ. Ben took the New York title at STK two weeks prior, where his "Vienna Cocktail" beat more than a dozen competitors. He will appear in GQ's November issue, along with 40 others from across the U.S. who were selected to go to Vegas. There, Ben made it to the top 10 final found, meaning that he will also appear in GQ's December issue. However, the top prize went to Christian Sanders of The Living Room at the W Hotel in Miami. Christian's "Green Sour Hour," containing celery juice, dill paste, and Himalayan black salt won over the judges:  Bacardi’s Giles Woodyer; Bombay Sapphire's Global Mixologist, Merlin Griffiths; Style Correspondent Brett Fahlgren, for GQ magazine; and world-renowned mixologist, Tony Abou-Ganim.

Nonetheless, I tried Ben's "Vienna Cocktail" at Beekman last week, and I found it a "most inspiring" take on the Negroni, so cheers to him for taking it all the way to Vegas. Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin 1/2 oz. blood orange juice 3/4 oz. Aperol 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica) 1/2 oz. simple syrup

Shake and serve up in a chilled cocktail glass with a flamed blood orange zest and a spritz of Zirbenz Stone Pine liqueur.

Ben Scorah's Vienna Cocktail

Dizzy Recap: Nirvino & Bols Genever

Bols Genever, Dutch grain spirit. All photos by Leo Borovskiy of Lush Life Productions. Earlier this week, Nirvino, a social networking site (and mobile application) that encourages users to recommend and review drinks, hosted a Bols Genever cocktail party at Beekman Bar & Books. Created in Holland during the 16th century, Genever is the original recipe for gin, although the white spirit tastes very different from the London Dry style of gin. Made with maltwine (distilled from corn, rye, and wheat), and various botanicals (including ginger, coriander, and, of course, juniper berries), Bols Genever has a rich, slightly floral, malty flavor and is very smooth and neutral. Relaunched last year, the spirit has been a hit with NYC mixologists and won the Best New Spirit award at this summer's Tales of the Cocktail. It's especially relevant to the classic cocktail revolution since Genever was one of four main ingredients called for in many cocktails created by the pioneer of American bartending, Jerry Thomas.

For the Nirvino event, Ben Scorah, mixologist and managing partner of Bar & Books, mixed cocktails that would normally feature scotch whisky and used the Bols Genever instead. Guests were encouraged to sample three different concoctions--a Green Apple-Infused Old Fashioned, a Dutch Blood & Sand, and a Holland Razorblade (Bols Genever, lemon juice, simple syrup, and cayenne pepper).  A laptop was connected to a large flatscreen TV that scrolled live reviews by Nirvino users of the cocktails, so everyone could see that the Blood & Sand was clearly the crowd favorite.  Tal Nadari and Katie Darling of Lucas Bols Spirits were on hand to share more information about Bols Genever, and at the end of the event, two Nirvino users were chosen at random to win bottles of Bols Genever and cocktail shakers. Tomas Delos Reyes, the NYC representative for Nirvino, says these cocktail events will be happening monthly, so if you want to join in, just sign up as a member at

Bols Genever is a crowd-pleaser.

Tomas Delos Reyes of Nirvino and Tal Nadari of Bols.

Ben Scorah's Green Apple-Infused Old Fashioned.

Dizzy Recap: The Dalmore Tasting

Ben Scorah of Bar & Books, The Dalmore Master Blender Richard Paterson, and David Blackmore of Glenmorangie. Like a rockstar on summer tour, The Dalmore's Master Distiller Richard Paterson swept through New York yesterday to pour some delicious drams of the Highland single malt whisky for those in-the-know before heading off to Chicago, Dallas, and Florida. I was in-the-know thanks to Twitter (it was my first "tweetup," actually), and I was pleasantly surprised to see several friends at the tasting at Keen's Steakhouse. Sadly, I missed the tasting of an extremely rare Dalmore 62-year-old (one of the most expensive single malts in the world), but I did enjoy a few drams of Dalmore 15-year, which was exquisitely smooth. Richard recommends just adding a few splashes of water (no ice!) to lower the alcohol content a bit, and let the whisky roll over the top of the tongue. Aged in Spanish oak sherry casks, the 15-year has notes of Seville orange, toffee, and vanilla, with a prominent orange aroma. Richard suggested pairing a taste of The Dalmore with bittersweet dark chocolate, and I have to say, this was the highlight of the evening. The third generation of his family to serve as Master Blender of the 170-year-old distillery in Alness, Richard really is a master of his craft, and it's easy to see why he has achieved such a rockstar status. Now if I can just get myself to Scotland in the near future to drink scotch by the sea with the wind whipping my face. Slainte!

The Dalmore 15 year.

Tweeting and greeting.

A dram will do!