Dram It! 8 Restaurants for World Whiskey Day

The first Saturday in May may be all about big hats and horses, but the third Saturday in May gives us yet another reason to celebrate Kentucky: World Whiskey Day. It’s said that the spirit made its way to Louisiana from the heartland and got it rich color and flavors as it aged in barrels along the journey. Today, the tipple’s ripple is felt all over the world — most recently in exclusive Japanese blends — and there are flavors and flights of fancy for everyone from the novice drinker to the expert. Here’s where to get your 1- or 2-ounce pours, specialty cocktail, or an eye-popping $50 pop to toast this dram fine day.

GreenRiver, Chicago, Illinois
GreenRiver’s name and extensive Irish whiskey list may celebrate Chicago’s connection to the Emerald Isle, but head bartender Julia Momose is putting a unique spin on it by mixing flavors that are an homage to her Japanese heritage. Growing up in Kobe, she was inspired by both her mother’s passion for hospitality and an adventure through the city’s winding streets that led to a small bar, where the magician behind the counter was hand-chipping spheres of ice for cocktails. Today, the Ivy League design grad makes cocktails her own art, especially using Japanese whiskey. Two of her favorites are the Gray Wolf, her take on the Old-Fashioned, in which 12-year single malt Yamazaki replaces the traditional bourbon and is paired with Benedictine, Demerara, Plum Vinegar, and Angostura Bitters, and the Cullerton Street, with Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky, Pineau des Charentes, Curry, Barley, Verjus Blanc, and Fukujinzuke. Make a reservation at GreenRiver.

Restaurants for World Whiskey Day

Tremont 647, Boston, Massachusetts
Bostonians cooking for a little comfort food in the tony South End have looked no further than chef-owner Andy Husbands’s approachable cooking at Tremont 647 for years, but neighboring Cambridge is about to share in the wealth with his brand-new BBQ joint, Smoke Shop. Whiskey is just one of the ways he’s seen what used to be considered “jug-swilling stuff turned into this object of desire, with maple, caramel, oak, cherry, and vanilla flavors,” Husbands said of Tremont 647’s extensive bar menu. “When we think about refinement, we think about wine, but we’re seeing it so much with craft now — beer, craft (whiskey) bourbon, and now barbecue. People are really fascinated by how things are made local or small-batch.” That includes Bully Boy, a subtly sweet Boston brand that many diners have been asking for. Husbands turns the tables with his new venture and the James Beard semifinalist is putting an upscale spin on an American staple with seasonal specials like beer-poached shrimp and award-winning recipes for ribs and brisket. Make a reservation at Tremont 647.

Restaurants for World Whiskey Day

Capo’s Chicago Pizza & Fine Italian Dinners, San Francisco, California
The whiskey menu may be global at Capo’s, but it’s strictly the California mindset that puts it on the map. “We have a large community of adventurous drinkers here, and they’re craving something more than your average Jack and Coke,” says bar manager Elmer Mejicanos. With more than 100 varieties, there’s plenty to choose from: local Anchor Distilling Company’s 25-year-old Old Hirsch Rye, Chicago-based Koval White, and Nikka Single-Malt Yoichi from Japan. New offerings are helping draw new imbibers, Mejicanos says, but there will always be a core legion of fans. “Whiskey is part of U.S. history. It’s one of the spirits that, regardless of the new trends, it has always been around. In the last five years, craft cocktails bars have started focusing on getting cocktails back to what they used to be in the thirties and forties, so it’s a no-brainer that whiskey is be one of the main spirits people focus on.” Got an Old-Fashioned state of mind? Capo’s lets you select your own spirits, bitters, garnishes, and sweeteners. Or, try a whiskey flight or interpretations of classic cocktails like Fools Gold, made with Templeton Rye whiskey, green chartreuse, fresh lemon, artisan root beer, and absinthe, or the Friendly Fire with bourbon, pineapple gum syrup, celery seeds, agave nectar, fresh lemon, and dry curacao. Make a reservation at Capo’s Chicago Pizza & Fine Italian Dinners.

Restaurants for World Whiskey Day

Jimmy’s An American Restaurant & Bar, Aspen, Colorado
There’s nothing like a little whiskey to warm up ski bunnies or take a nip out of the mountain air on a summer’s night, and Jimmy’s (and Jimmy’s Bodega) have spirits for all seasons. Among the most popular is Woody Creek Distillers’ Rye Whiskey, which is made from local Colorado rye and aged in American white oak barrels and is popular in the Goldenrye, mixed from La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, and lemon. Or, order the Jimmy Mac, a high-end mix of Scotch and Irish whiskeys, like 18-year-old Glenfiddich and 15-year-old Tullamore, with Averna Amaro, Benedictine liqueur, and orange bitters. Owner and spirit aficionado Jimmy Yeager is so passionate about whiskey (his “first love”) that he recently took his entire bar staff on one of several field trips to get first-hand tastes and tours in Ireland and Scotland at Hendricks, Kininvie, Balvenie, and other distillers. Yeager also enjoys making his own ice cubes with two-inch-square crystalline cubes or spheres. “Personally, I like serving whiskey over a Macallan ice ball — it creates a nice ‘wow’ factor, and it’s also elegant,” Yeager says. Looking for an excuse to book an Aspen getaway? Whiskey may be your answer since Jimmy’s has a few bottles of one-of-a-kind Four Roses Bourbon, courtesy of Kentucky distiller Jim Rutledge, who helped to create the recipes and hand-pick the barrels. Make a reservation at Jimmy’s.

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12 Fresh Spring Dishes Showcasing the Best of the Season

Chefs love spring. Can you blame them? The days grow longer and warmer, and menus are finally doffing their comforting winter finery for lighter and brighter fare. Root vegetables and hearty braises are giving way to lighter offerings featuring a range of tasty, tender greens. Here are some of the best fresh spring dishes, sprouting up on menus near you.

Peas and Carrots, Finch & Fork, Santa Barbara, California
Finch & Fork typifies the casual, produce-forward cuisine of Santa Barbara and so do chef Siao’s Peas and Carrots. It’s the classic vegetable pairing like you’ve never seen it before, with burrata, golden oranges, Marcona almonds and green goddess dressing. It’s a playful dish, but also drop-dead gorgeous. Make a reservation at Finch & Fork.

Spring Dishes

Kale Caesar Salad, The Kitchen Step, Jersey City, New Jersey
Executive chef Ryan DePersio says, “With its peak season approaching, you’re probably seeing mint pop up at your local farmer’s markets or in your grocery store. Mint’s hardy, cool, and sweet flavor profile makes it one of the most versatile of herbs and one that plays perfectly in both sweet and savory dishes.” Mint is the unexpected green in the Kale Caesar Salad. The combination of the kale’s slight bitterness with the buttery nuttiness of Gouda and the bright, clean coolness of mint transforms the more traditional heavy Caesar salad into something much more refreshing. Make a reservation at The Kitchen Step.

Spring ingredients

Saffron Chitarra Pasta, Navio, Half Moon Bay, California
Dungeness crab season finally opened the end of March in Northern California, and Navio at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay offers a dish by Chef Jason Pringle, Saffron Chitarra Pasta with fresh-caught Dungeness crab, confit fennel, and lemon. According to executive chef Xavier Salomon, “We are thrilled that we are able to serve fresh, local-caught Dungeness crabs again. Our guests love and appreciate them, and they are easily our number one selling item on the menu when they are in season.” Make a reservation at Navio.

Navio

Poulpe Grille, Gaspar Brasserie, San Francisco, California
One of the best dishes on the menu right now at this intimate French spot downtown is the octopus. The Poulpe Grille features charred-yet-tender octopus, and the bright green accents to the dish add clean levity. It’s served with spring peas, fresh dill, and green garlic. Make a reservation at Gaspar Brasserie.

Spring ingredients

Tomato and Burrata, HEXX Kitchen + Bar, Las Vegas, Nevada
Executive chef Matthew Piekarski’s favorite springtime dish is Tomato and Burrata. Piekarski roasts Campari tomatoes to concentrate the flavors. The dish is served with creamy burrata, sourdough toast, olive oil, and a truffle honey reduction. “Every ingredient is light and simple,” says Piekarski. “But together, the flavors sing in perfect harmony — the perfect complement to a warm, spring day.” Make a reservation at HEXX Kitchen + Bar.

Spring dishes

Spring Citrus and Olio Nuovo Salad, Shed, Healdsburg, California
Fine dining Chef Perry Hoffman has landed at the more casual Shed in Healdsburg where he enjoys sourcing ingredients from local gardens and uses lots of fresh herbs and greens. His love for foraged ingredients is so great; he’s even teased by his staff for his propensity for adding blossoms to almost every dish. His Spring Citrus and Olio Nuovo salad features Hass avocado, and the first of spring greens. Make a reservation at Shed.

Spring Dishes

Lamb Belly with Huckleberry and Cipollini, Oriole, Chicago, Illinois
Lamb belly paired with huckleberry and cipollini is the final savory course in the 15-course tasting menu at Oriole and features an ingredient that is a true harbinger of spring — ramps. This tender green is a member of the wild onion family. The lamb is brined for 24 hours and then cooked for three days confit-style, so the result is meltingly tender. Make a reservation at Oriole.

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Heroes in a Half Shell: 9 Unique Tacos for #TacoTuesday (or Any Day)

Tacos are so awesome that they get a day of the week – Taco Tuesdays. This means there are dozens of days a year when you’re practically required to down a taco (or five; we won’t judge). But why content yourself with shells packed with the usual suspects, like pollo asado or ground beef? Chefs are filling their freshly griddled tortillas with far more interesting ingredients – from duck and Wagyu steak to vindaloo sausage and grasshoppers (really). Here are 9 unique tacos you won’t find on the menu at your local Chipotle.

Johnny Sánchez, New Orleans, Louisiana
Remember make your own taco night? Your mom or dad would put all the components out on the dining room table and you got to play taco chef? Chefs John Besh and Aarón Sánchez have created a similar setup for this DIY dish. Starring fire-roasted amberjack served whole, it arrives with charred avocados, crispy sweet potatoes tossed in jalapeño vinaigrette, and more, so you can make yours just the way you like it. Make a reservation at Johnny Sánchez.

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Nacional 27, Chicago, Illinois
Hawaiian poke – raw fish salad – is having a moment. This secret off-menu taco features tuna poke dressed up with oil, red wine vinegar, ginger, and chipotle powder. It’s topped off with avocado and jicama salsa and served in a gyoza shell. Make a reservation at Nacional 27.

Unique Tacos

Sushi Garage, Miami Beach, Florida
The Far East meets South of the Border in this inventive taco. Chef Sunny Oh uses a perilla (sesame leaf) instead of the traditional tortilla. He folds into it minced toro, kizami wasabi salsa, and sushi rice mixed with crispy shallots. It’s both delicioso and oishii. Make a reservation at Sushi Garage.

Unique Tacos

Kuro, Hollywood, Florida
Chef Alex Becker didn’t want to use your average Angus in his tacos. So, he upped the ante by subbing in Wagyu instead. They’re brightened with spicy cilantro, soy shallots, and aji amarillo aioli. Guests can squeeze on some fresh lime juice to add an acidic pop. Make a reservation at Kuro.

Unique Tacos

Oyamel, Washington, D.C.
Trust José Andrés to come up with a taco that defies stateside convention. He piles a corn tortilla high with chapulines, which sounds dainty and delightful when you say it in Spanish. Before you take a bite, let us translate. It means “grasshoppers.” Let us reassure you though, the crunchy insects taste like what they’ve been sautéed with – shallots, chipotle purée, and tequila – more than anything else. Also, if you were in Mexico, downing a few of these tacos would be no big deal as they’ve been enjoying the little hoppers for centuries. Make a reservation at Oyamel.

Unique Tacos

Kachina Southwestern Grill, Westminster, Colorado
The kitchen crew found inspiration in Native American cuisine when they conceived the Mojave Navajo tacos. Rich duck confit, crispy duck skin, and Manchego cheese get a lift from pickled cactus and spicy sweet chipotle agave. In keeping with the theme, the taco forgoes a tortilla for housemade fry bread. Make a reservation at Kachina Southwestern Grill.

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Perfect Pairings: Chefs Share Their Favorite Craft Beers #CraftBeerWeek

American Craft Beer Week 2016

Beer – it’s what’s for dinner. These days, more chefs want diners to pair pints with their food rather than a bottle of wine. But what brew goes best with what bite? In honor of American Craft Beer Week 2016, we sat down with four beer-loving toques to have them pair their favorite craft beers with their favorite dishes.

Peter Smith, The Sovereign, Washington, D.C.
“I like sour beers. The super hoppy stuff doesn’t do it for me. I love Cantillon’s Gueuze. The tartness and the lemon go well with our mussels, especially the ones I prepare with saffron, smoked sausage, roasted garlic, and fennel. The beer cuts right through the spice. Bitterballen are basically croquettes filled with shredded short rib and chicken liver, breaded with pumpernickel and sourdough crumbs, and fried. I like them with De Ranke’s XX Bitter. It has a toasty note that goes well with the fried dough, it pairs well with the beef, and adds a little funk to the liver. If I’m having the Liegeoise salad, I go with Blaugies’ Saison d’Epeautre. It’s a little on the bitter side, but it’s still yeasty and bright. It cuts through the fat of the poached egg yolk and cuts off the sharpness of the vinaigrette.” Make a reservation at The Sovereign.

American Craft Beer Week 2016

John Critchley, Brine, Fairfax, Virginia
“My ideal meal is a burger, a dozen oysters, and a beer. When I was first talking to restaurateur Travis Croxton who owns Brine, I said, ‘We have to have a raw bar, a wood grill, and good beer.’ We have all three. I had never paid too much attention to Guinness or other nitro beers, but I love Flying Dog’s Bloodline, a blood orange IPA. I like the aroma and the creaminess that comes from the nitro. It goes down well with our house burger, which is dusted with vegetable ash, seared on the plancha, and then topped with sweet and vinegary red onion marmalade, Honeysuckle cheddar, and a lettuce slaw featuring a ‘Big Mac’ style sauce. Feed the Monkey, an orange hefeweizen from Jailbreak Brewing Company in Maryland, is another favorite. It’s a crisp, fruit forward wheat beer. I have that with our lambs and clams dish featuring merguez sausage, harissa, and crushed chilies. The beer cuts right through the spiciness. If I’m just having raw oysters, I have a Port City Optimal Wit. It’s clean and crisp with a lot of aromas of wheat and citrus. I could drink that beer anytime.” Make a reservation at Brine.

American Craft Beer Week 2016

Kyle Bailey, Sixth Engine, Washington, D.C.
“I used to hate beer when I was in high school because we’d drink the worst beers. I’d wonder, ‘What’s the point of this?’ The first time I had Two Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewery, that’s when I finally got beer. Now I love it. Ocelot Brewing Company out of Sterling, Virginia, has a great IPA called Vandals. It’s hoppy, grassy, and herbal. I pair it with our goat cheese tortellini with ramp pesto accompanied by carrots braised in orange juice and crispy housemade pancetta. These are big, bold, a touch heavy flavors but still springtime tastes. The beer’s hoppy, grassy notes go well with the black pepper rich ramp pesto and the goat cheese with its creamy tartness. DC Brau’s Zehn von Zehn, a collaboration with Port City Brewing, is malty and delicious. I drink it with our butter-poached shrimp featuring a Romesco sauce made with red pepper, tomato, almond, and bread. It comes with Israeli couscous, salt-roasted sunchokes, and seared spring onions. The brininess of the shrimp and the bread in the Romesco go well with the maltiness of the beer. Lastly, I love 3 Stars Brewing Company’s Peppercorn Saison. It has a little bit of spice, but it’s bright and clean. I pair that with our deviled eggs topped with fried oyster and smoked trout roe. The bright, clean effervescence of the saison cuts through the dish – especially the Old Bay seasoning the yolks.” Make a reservation at Sixth Engine.

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