What's that, you say? The Food Network's NYC Wine & Food Festival ended a week ago? Well, my apologies for the late recap, but I've been busy, mmmkay? (I just returned from a blogging conference in Vegas--blogging on that to come).
After covering just the Grand Tasting last year (which you can read here, if you wish), I was psyched to attend four events this year: Chelsea Market After Dark, the Grand Tasting, a gin clinic, and a tequila clinic. I'll start by telling you about the first two, which were both massive exhibits in wine, spirits, and beer (all courtesy of Southern Wine & Spirits).
Of course, this year, I came with more of a cocktailian perspective, so when I arrived at the After Dark event, which took over Chelsea Market, I was pleasantly surprised to be handed a Sidecar right away. Appropriately enough, Food Network's saccharine Sandra Lee was signing her cocktail party book next to piles of what I can only assume were "semi-homemade" cupcakes. I also caught a glimpse of Guy Fieri posing for pictures with fans in a clubby lounge area. Other than that, the focus for the night was on the food and drink that's available in and around the Chelsea Market (Morimoto's yellowtail pastrami was especially addictive). Throngs of people crammed the winding aisle throughout the building to taste and sip everything in sight, as well as grab shwag like mini bouquets of flowers. After trying some Georges DuBoeuf wines and Palm beer, I stumbled into the Chelsea Market Wine Vault, where I was stoked to see St-Germain reps handing out small cups of the elderflower liqueur mixed with champagne as well as in a white sangria. And who did I meet behind the St-Germain booth? None other than Robert Cooper, creator of the liqueur and a third-generation distiller whose father introduced Chambord liqueur. I asked Rob when he thinks his highly-anticipated Crème Yvette will hit the shelves, and he said that it's still in the production process and will be launched later this year/early next year--so sit tight, kids!
The following day I attended the media preview of the Grand Tasting, which took place in a sprawling tent at Pier 54 along the Hudson River for the second year in a row. Presented by ShopRite, there were nibbles and signature dishes all along the way, and of course, aisles and aisles of premiere wine and spirits. After learning my lesson last year (better to sip and spit than overindulge), I was picky about which spirits and cocktails I tried, but highlights included: Atlantico Rum, Don Q Rum, Tommy Bahama Rum, Partida Tequila, Cabo Wabo Tequila, Yellow and Green Chartreuse, Sagatiba Cachaca, Aperol, Glenlivet 18, and Svedka Vodka. At the Svedka booth, I had a déjà vu moment when I ran into master mixologist Alex Ott, who was handing out artfully-garnished flavored vodka cocktails just like he did last year.
In the end, I still indulged a little more than I should have, especially considering I had plans to drink Maker's Mark later that evening, but it was all in the name of research, I swear!