Before the Purge: International Spirits Competition, Veritas, 5 Ninth, Rouge Tomate

December, as usual, turned out to be a party-packed month with opportunities for feasting galore. Since I knew come January I would be operating in a different mode, I might have been a little extra indulgent with my choices. Here are the highlights of my adventures: tastings at the New York International Spirits Competition held at Brooklyn’s new distillery, where I discovered some unique spirits; Magnum Monday at Veritas’ dinner with $25 glass of exquisite wine; cocktail samplings from the launch of the new and SO improved 75th Anniversary Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide, which should be mandatory literature at every home bar; a holiday party at Junoon; dinner at Rouge Tomate; and the finale, New Year’s Eve celebratory dinner at 5 Ninth (photo above)—where the Pan Roasted Black Cod served with Pureed Celeriac, Leek Veloute, Tarragon and Chili Jam was unforgettably delicious—and gets my vote for top 5 best tastes of 2011. See details below plus more photos at this link.
The New York Distilling Company, also has a bar connected to it. Stop in at Shanty for a full range of cocktails and a distinctive selection of craft brewed beers.

At Veritas, I chose the Maple-Brined Wooly Pig with charred tomato and wilted butter lettuce to go with my glass of Clos des Papes 2001.

This cocktail by Jonathan Pogash is one of the many found in Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide. I made sure to serve a version of this to my guests around the holidays.
Candied Apple Martini
1 oz Plymouth Gin
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz apple cider
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with apple.
(I just used ground cinnamon, but to make the syrup: Boil 1 cup Demarara sugar and water. As soon as water boils add 4 cinnamon sticks. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cool, strain and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. The batch at the party also had a little bit of Amaretto in it. Very holiday-ish!)

The bread at Junoon is amazing! This one is the Garlic Naan. Head over to 24th street to try their seasonal specials. 

Rouge Tomate was probably the healthiest stop on my party-line. We ordered the Seasonal Toasts: Wild Mushroom cow’s milk ricotta, leek, thyme; Heirloom Cauliflower basil, pine-nut, beldi olive; Spaghetti Squash peekytoe crab, apple, jalapeƱo

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