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Chicago - Alinea and more

Here's a recap of my eating and drinking tour of Chicago recently. Alinea, Pops, RM, Avec, Vera, and more!

Day 1

I got to the city after an unpleasant, big city reminder, of watch where you sit on public transit with a piece of gum somebody left on the sit. Oh Chicago, you really know how to treat people. After getting checked in to the hotel and cleaning off the gum, I went straight over to Pops for Champagne and met my friend Moriah who works for Hart Davis Hart.

 

Pops was a fantastic contrast to Ambonnay. Much bigger, full of people, noisy, and a bunch of bartenders who were efficient but not particularly friendly or interested in discussion. I don’t understand how you have a list like theirs and have servers that don’t want to engage the guests. Different philosophies I suppose. Their bottle list is great and covers a lot of styles and producers. Their glass pour list was good, but felt a bit safe. I ordered the wines I’ve never had and coupled with my knowledge of the other champagnes on their list, I was a bit disappointed. There was nothing that was really inspiring, just lots of good choices that would make most people happy. I get it, particularly since they’re in the touristy area of Chicago. Nevertheless, it was a bit of a bummer, although it did provide a nice contrast to Ambonnay. The one thing I did really enjoy was they offered 3 and 5 ounce pours, which made it easier to try a few different wines.  This might be a good one to add to the mix at Ambonnay.

 

After Pops we went up to Osteria Langhe in Wicker Park. It was a good neighborhood joint that felt like it could be in Portland. I was a bit saddened by this though. One of my favorite things about travelling is experiencing what other people are doing in their cities, I don’t want to visit my own city with a slightly different package. Moriah was kind enough to bring a bottle of Chevillon Vaucrains 05, which was great and we bought a bottle of Henriet-Bazin BdN, which was big and delicious, showing off its roots in Verznay/Verzy. The food was tasty, and reminded me that Portland is so spoiled with its great natural ingredients that we don’t cook as well as we should. We just let the ingredients take center stage, whereas in other places they have to be better cooks, and that was certainly the case here.

 

After dinner we met up with Moriah’s boyfriend Greg, who works for Kermit Lynch and some French winemakers at a jazz bar. Despite a rude beginning it was a pleasant way to finish off the night.

 

Day 2

 

I woke up with a hangover, what a surprise. I bundled up and went over to Intelligencia for a bit of coffee to get my day going. Its funny to see the Chicago brand of coffee nerd/hipster. Seemed a bit more curated and twee than the Portland version. With a bit of caffeine and Advil on board I hopped on the train and went back to Wicker Park. I just walked around looking at shops and the neighborhood. It brought back a lot of memories of growing up in the Midwest, different architecture, ascetics, and building materials.

 

I tried to go to Cumin for some Nepalese food, but they only had a buffet and that was too much food for me. I wandered some more and ended up at Xoco, which is one of Rick Bayless’ joints. I had the 3 Floyds Zombie Dust IPA which was an awesome beer and sikil pak which is like pumpkin seed hummus that’s pretty spicy. They served it with jicama and cucumber sticks, and it was awesome and I definitely want to make it here.

 

After the snack I continued up Milwaukee Ave to Red and White, the wine shop. One of the owners came into Ambonnay a week or so before I went to Chicago so I went to check it out. It was a well thought out shop with plenty of good wines, but it showed me how sad the wine culture is in Chicago. Lots of people told me this was one of the best wine shops in the city, and while good, I guess I expected more considering the size of Chicago. I recognized most of the wines and they’re available across Portland in bars, shops, and even grocery stores. Again, I feel like Portland is ridiculously blessed. So this isn’t a knock on Red and White as much as a knock on Chicago, you guys need to get your act together and sell more great wine. From Red and White I wandered up to Logan Square, poked around and then headed back downtown for a nap.

 

After a refreshing nap, I got up and went to Avec, good on them for opening at 3:30. I was the first one in the door and by the time I left it was pretty full, impressive. I had the famous stuffed dates, and they’re really that good. Pretty incredible, particularly the sauce! Afterward I had a fantastic salmon dish that was cooked perfectly, meaning the salmon was actually rare. The food was well worth the trip and you should stop in if you can, the wine list on the other hand, left a bit to be desired. They tried really hard to make an affordable list with lots of interesting wine, but it was trying really hard, and the wines just weren’t that interesting.

 

After Avec, I went around the corner to Sepia. I went because they had one of the Illinois Sparkling Wine Co wines by the glass. It was the Franken, which was Chard grafted on to some crazy domestic rootstock. The wine was impressive texturally and clearly well made but not necessarily with best grapes for bubbles. Definitely worth having a glass if you can find it. After my quick one and done I went back to the hotel to meet my friend Kristin who flew into hang out with me.

 

After throwing her stuff at the hotel, we went over to RM Champagne Salon. Like Pops, RM was very different than Ambonnay. It was also crowded and loud, but it was darker and seemed to be focused on a hipper crowd where as Pops was slicker and focused on tourists and moneyed downtown people. I liked the look of RM a bit more, but it was hard to get a feel since it was crowded. Unfortunately their list was a bit lacking. For a place called RM, they only had 2, maybe 3, grower champagnes on the list. I don’t really care one way or the other, but it did strike me as odd given their name. Like Pops, the bartenders couldn’t seem to care about the champagne, they were just slinging drinks. A bit of a shame that both places are champagne focused, yet not really delivering as far as staff goes.

 

After RM we wandered around, looked at Girl and the Goat, packed, and then found Momotaro, which we were going to check out when we saw their “bar” sign, which looked way more inviting. We went down and found their izakaya, which was a ton of fun. Great atmosphere with bartenders who wanted to make conversation and tell you about all the cool stuff they serve. We had their tuna air toast, which air toast might be one of my new favorite names for food. Its just fun to say and gives so much possibility of what it could be. Say it out loud, air toast! See, fun! Afterward we enjoyed some fried squash that was sprinkled with bonito flakes. Because of the heat of the dish, the flakes moved, almost danced. It was fantastic and awesome! I’d go just for the dancing bonito flakes.

 

Moving through our bar hop, we ended up at Vera, which I had a few people recommend. They really do have a great by the glass sherry program. Well worth checking out. The staff was great and the feel of the place was welcoming.  Just skip the sherry on tap, its definitely a neutered version of sherry. I wish I had more room in my stomach to eat there, their menu looked cool. 

 

On the way back to the hotel we rolled the dice to get in to Aviary, but the wait was long, and in hindsight I’m glad we didn’t because we were already well into the booze.

 

Day 3

 

Slept in a bit, planned the day, and realized we might just get lucky and be able to get into Avec for brunch. I’m not one to do the same restaurant twice unless its great, and I wanted Kristen to experience the stuffed dates. The brunch was pretty great, but I must say the Avec folks recommend ordering too much food. I guess a lot of people that come there are big eaters. The papas bravas were awesome! The dates were awesome, again! The Moroccan pancake was great, the chicken wings were fine. The paella was good, but we probably could have skipped it. Overall it was delicious and gave us enough fuel that we only needed a small snack until our 9:30 reservation at Alinea.

 

Next we walked off some brunch and stopped at the Bean, neither of us had seen under a grey sky before, a totally different experience, and in many ways more compelling. Next, we went to the Art Institute to see one of the Penetrables of Jesus Rafeal Soto. It was amazing, playful and thought provoking all at once. We also stumbled upon the Ethel Stein, Master Weaver exhibit. Her work was incredible and well worth seeking out. I couldn’t believe that someone could create these pieces with a loom. Wow. 

After so much art goodness, we needed some liquid stimulation. Kristen wanted to see Pops after RM, so we headed in that direction. Along the way we found Eataly. Amazing, huge, almost too much to take in. We had a couple of the beers they brew on site, and they were delicious. We moved along to Pops, which was pretty much the same experience for me, except that it was much less crowded. Being less crowded didn’t make the bartenders anymore personable though.

 

After this we went back to the hotel to get ready for the big dinner.

 

I must say Alinea was an incredible experience, well worth the money. I’m not sure how much to share, because so much of it is an experience. Surprise, wonder, joy, playfulness, challenges to what fine dining should be. I absolutely recommend going They took fantastic care of us, and did it in a playful manner. If you want to see what I ate and drank, I have the menu at Ambonnay. Also we had both the meat and the vegetarian dishes, and they were pretty similar, each having a couple things I liked better than the compliment across the table from the other menu. I don’t feel like you’d lose out on doing one versus the other, in fact I might go with the veg menu if it wasn’t for the fish spine and fin in the meat menu. The rutabaga was way better than the pork belly.

 

They exemplified the service style I like best, extremely detail oriented while being warm and welcoming. I’m so glad the service wasn’t stuffy. I want great service to be both technically great while being warm and friendly. I strive for this at Ambonnay, and I feel like I achieve it to the degree I want for my place more often than not.

 

 

Day 4

We were pretty tired from a late night full of amazing, so we packed and got everything ready to leave then drug ourselves to Intelligencia. A bit of caffeine helped, but good god it was cold that day so we just wanted to stay inside. Unfortunately I didn’t read the hours on the David Bowie exhibit very well, and it was closed. We ended up going back to Wicker Park and wandering around. It was cold, cold, cold, and no fun to be out. We ultimately went to Piece and had a pizza and some good beer

 

Afterward we went back to the hotel and grabbed our stuff and went to the airport really early. A bit lame maybe, but we were tired and couldn’t think of much else to do. It was actually pretty fun bouncing around O’Hare and having time to appreciate the neon walkway many times, having drinks at a few different crappy airport bars, meeting people, laughing, and just enjoying the ridiculousness of hanging out at the airport. The Frontera Tortas food is actually great for airport food so make a stop if you’re there.

Decanting Champagne

Decanting Champagne

 

On Saturday May 3rd, I teamed up with Riedel to do a decanted champagne comparison. The side by side of Demarne-Frison Goustan Brut Nature from bottle and decanter was awesomely nerdy! This was the first good experience I’ve had with decanting Champagne.  In the past I’ve always felt that decanting does more harm than good because the wine ended up losing too much of its fizz.

I chose the Demarne Goustan because I have a lot of experience with this wine and know its much better on day two when its had time to breath and unwind.  I also had a range of decanters to chose from and ultimately decided on Riedel’s Black Tie Bliss decanter.  I chose this model because it has a small base which limited the amount of surface area for the bubbles to escape.  I also chose this it because its compact enough to keep in the refrigerator. This experiment lasted for several hours and the wine needed to be kept cool.  Finally, I served the wine in Riedel Riesling/Sangiovese glasses to allow the aromas to come out of the glass while not losing too many more bubbles.  This glass is a nice half way point between a flute and the burgundy stem that is the usual Ambonnay glass.

The results of this tasting were fascinating. Immediately after opening the first bottle and decanting the second, the wines were clearly different.  The decanted wine was more evolved and expressed the aromas and flavors that I appreciate so much on day two – rich almond and honey tones, raspberries, and limestone minerality.  The taste from the bottle was tight and the flavors were concentrated on a lot of dusty earth, limestone minerality, and hay. 

The other piece of the experience rests with the effervescence.  The Demarne from the bottle had an aggressive mousse that was a bit overwhelming in the mouth, whereas the decanted version was much more elegant. The decanted wine still had plenty of fizz, and frankly was more enjoyable as a result of being decanted both in terms of flavor and bubbles.

Fortunately, there was enough of the wines left two hours after opening them to revisit.  The wine in the bottle had opened up more and was starting to evolve into the richer tones of nuts and honey, and the mousse was starting to calm down and become pleasant.  The decanted Demarne continued to evolve as well the barrel notes became more noticeable, some earthiness emerged, both of which made it fascinating to drink as the honey, almonds, and raspberry notes were all still showing as well. Unfortunately, the bubbles were waning. The wine wasn’t flat, but it wasn’t particularly lively either.  Essentially this is the experience I had the other times I decanted Champagne.  Enhanced flavors demand the sacrifice of bubbles. 

Overall, I appreciated the experience of the side by side, however I am still hesitant to recommend decanting champagne regularly.  I think you have to know the champagne in question rather well to know whether it will take to decanting. If the wine is tightly wound and very effervescent decanting is worth considering, but if it’s a delicate champagne or one that made in a lower atmosphere style, then I would avoid the decanter.  Either way, you need to drink the decanted champagne quickly if you want to enjoy the fizz. The experiment further confirmed that serving champagne in burgundy stems is a good compromise.  The glass helps open the wine without sacrificing too much of the mousse.   

 

 

Champagne vs Prosecco

Since we’re moving into summer, I thought it would be appropriate to write a bit about summer time sippers.  Champagne is my true love in the world of fizzy wine, but during the hot summer months this love can be a bit much.  During this warmer time of the year I often recommend Prosecco.  I dig Prosecco because its lighter and demands less of me than Champagne.  Champagne usually is complex and has lots of depth, often times its rich and can be heavy.  Its also hard on the wallet.  I think everyone should drink more Champagne more often, but I wouldn’t call it a patio pounder. 

This is where Prosecco comes in.  This fun little wine hails from the Veneto in NE Italy, about a hour north of Venice.  Its made in a different style, with a different grape, and doesn’t spend anywhere near the amount of time aging that Champagne does before release.  As a result, its lighter, playful, fresh, easy, and much more affordable. 

Here’s a little head to head chart of the differences between these two styles of wine.

Region/Country

Champagne – Champagne, France

Prosecco – Veneto, Italy

Grapes

Champagne – Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay – alone or blended

Prosecco – Glera

Production

Champagne –traditional method – secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle

Prosecco – Charmat method – secondary fermentation occurs in tank, then the wine is bottled under pressure

Aging Prior to Release

Champagne- 15 months minimum up to 10+ years

Prosecco – 3-9 months

Sweetness

Champagne – most Champagne is Brut(6-12 g/l of sugar), but extra brut(less than 6 g/l) is gaining in popularity

Prosecco – most Prosecco is Extra Dry(12-17 g/l)

Cost

Champagne - $40-$3000 – mostly between $40-$75

Prosecco - $8-$50 – mostly between $8-$20

Best Time to Enjoy

Champagne – anytime is ideal

Prosecco – hot summer days, back yard bbq’s, large parties where the guests are more important than the wine, Bellini’s

Champagne and Strawberries

Now that its late Spring/ early Summer, and strawberries are everywhere I thought I’d take a look at one of the most popular pairings with Champagne. – strawberries and Champagne. Why is this?  What makes these two items so complimentary? 

This question may have a good answer on a chemical or molecular level, but since I’m a sommelier and not a scientist, I’ll answer it from my experience. 

Strawberries and Champagne in their current form don’t actually pair that well together.  Strawberries for the most part have become flavorless, hard, and rather boring.  There are exceptions to this, particularly the strawberries in Oregon, as well as other places in the world that don’t use the new varieties that are designed to look pretty and have a long shelf life.  The old varieties of strawberries aren’t as uniform in shape and size, nor are they as pretty.  Their shelf life is horrible, but they are fantastically flavorful.  They also tend to have a great deal of sweetness, that is tempered by the acid in the fruit. 

Champagne in its current form is also not particularly friendly for this pairing. These days, Champagne tends to be quite dry, if not searingly dry.  Anytime you have something that has lots of acid, like Champagne, and you mix it with something sweet, you’ll end up with an unpleasant puckering sensation in your mouth.  Think orange juice right after brushing your teeth. 

Then how did this pairing come to be?  You have to look to history for the answer.  In the 1800’s and early 1900’s Champagne was much sweeter.  Historically, Brut Champagne didn’t even exist.  Most champagne had a dosage of  at least 30+ grams per liter of sugar. For the US markets it was higher, and for Russia, they used 200-300 grams per liter of sugar.  By comparison, today most Champagne has 6-12 grams per liter.   When you combine something sweet with something of equal or greater sweetness, it creates a very pleasant experience. 

Beyond the differences in Champagne, historically, strawberries were grown for flavor with less emphasis placed on visual appeal or shelf life.  So in older times, they had very flavorful berries with poor shelf life.  This means that only the people that grew the fruit and the very wealthy could truly enjoy strawberries due to the difficulty and cost of transporting and storing these delicate fruits.  This is where the luxury component of this pairing originates – people had to have significant means to have both fresh strawberries and Champagne at the same time. 

Now apply all of this information to this classic pairing.  These days the strawberries are boring and pretty but don’t have a lot of sugar or flavor.  When paired with modern Champagne, you’ll get that pucker from mismatched sugar and acidity.  Which has lead many people to believe this is actually a poor pairing.  However when you take very flavorful strawberries, like those from Oregon, and pair them with a sweeter style of Champagne like a extra dry or demi sec, the pairing is profoundly delicious!  The sweetness in the berries is fantastic with the sweetness in the wine creating harmony and delight. 

Finally, many people like to put the strawberries in the glass with the Champagne.  I don’t recommend this for a couple reasons.  First the strawberry flavors can over power the Champagne when left together, so you’re essentially neutering this fantastic wine.  Second, the berry in the glass gives more surface area for the bubbles to rise from, which will make the wine go flat more quickly.  Just have the strawberries on the side and enjoy a bite and a sip together. 

Should you want to enjoy this pairing yourself, Ambonnay is currently serving Viridian Farms strawberries with Louis Roederer Carte Blanche Extra Dry NV Champagne. 

Drinking in NYC

Obviously I did my best to experience the dining scene in New York, but I really went out of my way to experience the drinking cultures of the city.  Partly because I like to drink, but mostly for research as to how other bars do things, I felt compelled to punish my liver.  Here’s the run down of where I went and my thoughts, I’m not pulling punches as most of the places I went were awesome.  There were a couple duds though.  I’m going to list them in the order of my trip, so unfortunately some toward the end of the trip are competing with expectations set from the beginning of the trip.

Terrior E.Vil – Without a doubt my favorite wine bar in the City.  Everyone behind the bar knew their stuff, and knew how to have fun while doing it!  This place could easily fit in Portland, which might contribute to me liking it, but it did it with an attitude that Portlanders might find a bit off putting.  It was more in your face than most places here.  The wine list is, frankly, balls out crazy.  There were wines I hadn’t heard of and I go out of my way to taste obscure and esoteric wines.  If you are in Manhattan you need to go here.  I had more tastes of more awesome wine than I can recount here. Huge credit to Jeff and Russell.

Flute – One of the three Champagne bars in Manhattan. I went to the Gramercy location, they also have a midtown location.  This place wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either.  I had been warned that the Champagne bars in New York were more nightclub/loungey than wine bar.  Its true.  Flute was a bit more of a lounge that looked like it was designed by a bored, middle aged housewife with too much money and an appreciation of Champagne.  The staffers were cute, but not particularly knowledgeable.  I had a glass of Lanson black label brut.  It was served in a horrible flute, even by flute standards - hotel brunch heavy weight with a short stem, yuck!  It’s a big producer that isn’t available in Portland.  It was as uninspiring as the surroundings. 

Proletariat – The gang at Terrior recommended this place for beer.  I hadn’t intended to drink much beer during my trip, but their singing recommendation prompted me to change plans.  I’m glad I did, it was awesome!  The passion and knowledge the bartender had for beer makes most beer places in Portland look like the junior varsity, which is saying quite a lot.  While I was there a few of the brewers of NYC came in, and the bartender, Cory, informed me I was looking at half of the NYC beer brain trust.  Amazing. If this place was in Portland it would be packed to the gills.  I had Del Ducato via Emilia lager, Thornbridge Kipling Pale, and Hitachino Nipponia.  Super Awesome! 

The Beagle – The cocktail list looked good, but I was there for Sherry.  They had a great sherry list, and lucky I was there for Happy Hour when it was half price.  Worth a stop if you have time.  I had the “I Think” en Rama Equipo Navaros Manzanilla and the “Solear en Rama” Barbadillo Manzanilla.  Both delicious.

Booker and Dax at Momofuku Ssäm – I didn’t think I’d actually get to go here but my new friend said it was right around the corner from the Beagle, and we popped over.  It was a cool bar, with some awesome cocktails.  I had the Gin and Juice which was a playful sparkling take on the “classic”.  Then I had the lechuga which is gin, lemon, and bibb lettuce.  Hell yeah!  That was delicious, and “healthy”! 

Corkbuzz – This is the big deal, newish wine bar in New York, run by one of my fellow F&W Sommelier of the Year recipients.  The list was impressive, and I wish I could have had more of the by the glass wines, but I was there with a friend and to hang out with one of the somms, so we went to the bottle list.  We did make a brief stop at Val de Mer Rosé from the glass list, which is made by a young gun of Chablis with the help of Moutard in Champagne.  Cool little wine.  After 10pm at Corkbuzz is Champagne Campaign, so all Champagne bottles are half off.  Worth going for that alone.  We had a bottle of Marguet Rosé 2007 from Ambonnay, pretty delicious juice.  I’m hoping someone brings this producer to town soon.  Beyond the wine, the space felt like it needs more time to settle into itself.  It felt a touch sterile, and I think more people having more fun over time will help this place develop a personality as a space rather than just letting the wine do all the work. 

Angel Share – I didn’t even know about this place but my friend took me there after Corkbuzz for a cocktail.  It’s a hidden bar, but it didn’t feel gimmicky.  For the life of me I couldn’t tell you what I drank.  Good conversation does that, plus I had quite a bit to drink by that point. I do remember it was tasty and well thought out.  If you have extra time its worth seeking it out behind the Japanese restaurant.  

Terrior Tribeca – I had some time to burn before going to Bubble Lounge, and this Terrior was right there.  I got there right when it opened so it was quiet.  The staff were nice enough, but not particularly engaging.  If I hadn’t had the E.Vil experience to bolster my view of Terrior I would have thought this place was fine, with a great list but blah other wise.  Actually the space itself was pretty cool, good bones. 

Bubble Lounge – Ugh.  I really don’t even want to write about this place.  It was a depressing place that showed a lot of wear and tear.  I was there when it first opened so it was hard to get a read on the clientele, but the staff was battle worn and could have given a shit less if I was there.  Their list was uninspired with a lot of big house plonk.  I had a glass of Alain Thienot Brut, it was fine.  The bathroom really sealed the deal – it reeked of bleach and had mirrors on 4 walls, it practically begged you to do drugs and have sex in there.  Given the industrial amount of bleach, I’m guessing people do that regularly all night every night.  Barf. 

Pearl and Ash – I ate and drank here, but saved it for the drinks section because I thought it was really more about the wine.  It was recently written up in the NYT and the reviewer talked about how people tend to buy bottles and share.  When I saw the list I understood why, the glasses were good and priced fairly by New York standards, but the bottle list was stupidly cheap!  I had a good discussion about the perlage preservation system with the somm/owner, Patrick. He’s super fun and knowledgeable.  I would definitely be happy to go have a drink with him.  I ended up ordering the Gaubicher & Chaussard You are so Bubbly from the Loire for $37!  Tons of fun, ended up sharing with my bar mates and getting some Foillard Morgon in return.  Great time eating and drinking fun wine. Highly recommended.  The food is not a second thought except in this write up, the octopus, skate, and “peas and carrots” were all awesome!  After Terrior E.Vil this was my favorite wine place in the city. 

Amor y Amargo – this is tiny bar dedicated to cocktails made with bitters.  It’s a ballsy concept and the drinks were good.  I ran into an old friend behind the bar, so she just poured me a couple fun drinks.  I liked it but didn’t completely understand the hype behind it. 

Death & Co – I’ve heard about this place, but again didn’t expect to go.  It just happened to be next door Amor y Amargo, so of course I had to go!  It was without a doubt cool inside.  I was impressed, sexy and dark, totally lived up to its name.  I just let the ladies behind the bar pour me whatever they thought was best which ended up being a Guns and Rose and Devil Inside.  I remember liking them but I was toasty by this point.  I’d go back for sure.  I’m glad they took such care of me because if I hadn’t be a buzzed, I would have been in a lot of pain on my walk home with the impressive blisters I had by that point. 

Bluebird Coffee – skipped breakfast the next day, just had coffee on the way to Le Bernadin.  Best coffee I found in the city.  These guys care and make good espresso. 

Bar Boulud/Boulud Sud – I tried to go to Bar Boulud but they were closed between lunch and dinner.  Lame.  I went next door to Boulud Sud.  Such a difference being in Midtown vs LES.  Everything was a bit more accessible and friendly for a older, wealthier crowd.  A bit tame for my taste.  Alfred Gratien Rosé was pleasant though. 

Ten Bells – Lots of people recommended this place to me, and frankly I didn’t quite get it.  The service was bad, the wine list was only on a chalk board that was hard to read, and the wine glasses were total crap.  They might as well have just used juice glasses, it probably would have been better.  They wines were good, not amazing.  Just naturally made.  I could see how people could have a really memorable night here if the server likes you and steers you well, but my experience was lacking.  Go to Terrior E.vil.  At least my drinking buddy was fun to hang out with, I can’t imagine going here alone.

Terrior E.vil – After dinner at Hearth, I went back because Jeff from Sunday night saw me at Hearth and made me promise to come back.  It was just as awesome as the first time, plus this time I got to meet Kim who also is a certified ass kicker.  Go here! 

Pouring Ribbons – My final bar in NYC, and it was a gem.  Both the guys behind the bar were great, one of whom was an owner who had been lured away from Death & Co.  They’re drinks were great.  I had a Mutiny Suppressor which as delicious and then the Sprezzatura Royale, which along with the lechuga from Booker and Dax were the two most memorable cocktails I had.  This one was made with lambrusco and amaro and was awesome!  The bar itself still felt like it was settling into itself and developing its personality.  I have no doubt that this place will develop a personality.  In the meantime just go and have some kick ass drinks. 

There you go, my liver abuse in full detail(not counting all the wine at lunch and dinner).