A Higher End Happy Hour at These Popular NYC Restaurants

With the weather slowly cooling down, it’s about time for New Yorkers to enjoy the after-work hours, easily sipping libations with co-workers or friends. Sometimes, what you need is something exceptional, yet uncomplicated. Here are 5 of our favorite happy hours that will be sure to please:

 

ALDAMA

Mexican hot spot Aldama is the perfect place to sip perfectly crafted cocktails, made under partner and beverage director Christopher Reyes (formerly of Employees Only and Cosme).  Aldama is offering happy hour every day of the week from 5 pm to 7 pm, with refreshing, $8 cocktail creations like the Citrus Fizz and the staple Margarita, and snacks like tacos, guacamole, and ceviche tostada available for $10.

 

BUBBY’S

A Tribeca staple for over 30 years, Bubby’s is well-known for its family-friendly brunch, but a happy hour at Bubby’s shouldn’t be missed. Grab a seat at the bar, and choose from a selection of wine, beer, or classic cocktails (Margarita, Negroni, Pickled Martini, Rye Manhattan) available for $10, and hearty snacks include nachos, mac and cheese balls, chicken wings, and deviled eggs for only $7.

 

 

THE STANDARD EAST VILLAGE 
Available every day, The Standard East Village has launched a brand new happy hour menu. Sip wine over charcuterie, or sample a specialty curated cocktail like the crowd favorite jalapeño-infused tequila-based cocktail the No Problem, paired with $2 Oysters, spice nuts, or newly Fried Chicken Sandwich with a B&B pickle, bibb lettuce, a special chili-lime aioli served on a Hawaiian roll. Happy hour is available Monday- Thursday from 4-6 pm, Friday-Saturday 4-5 pm.
KATANA KITTEN 
Known as one the best cocktail bars in the city, it’s surprising they have a happy hour at all. Keeping with the Japanese theme, the 4-7 pm daily happy hour features a $6 house cocktail, $5 Sake, $5 Sapporo, and $5 Hot Dog with Japanese pickles and mustard.

 

 

 

Great Jones Distilling Co.

You will want to check out Great Jones Distilling Co.’s very own happy hour, dubbed “Prohibition Hour” where all cocktails (like the Hangar One NY Vodka Fruit Cobbler) and light bites, such as local burrata toast, smoked bacon croquettes, and BBQ chicken wings are $11 from Tuesday-Friday from 4-7 pm.

The Other Red Pinot

Late summer, early fall (aka “the shoulder season”) is a perfect time to try new wine varietals. While the hot summer months can lull us into a strict diet of rose and Sancerre and the colder months beg for bigger reds to pair with our winter comfort foods, the shoulder season lends itself to virtually anything. If you have been wanting to expand your wine horizons and try new varietals, now is the time to do so.

 

I recently took my own advice and tried a varietal that I have only had a handful of times—Pinot Meunier. If you haven’t heard of this varietal—a cousin to Pinot Noir—don’t fret. Not many people have. Pinot Meunier can taste very similar to Pinot Noir with classic strawberries on the nose, medium body and earthiness, however it typically has higher acid levels—despite having similar sugar and alcohol levels.

 

Pinot Meunier also enjoys the same cool microclimates that Pinot Noir does, thriving in the fog and limited sunshine that make areas like Burgundy and Carneros so ideal. If done right, Pinot Meunier has layers of bright red fruits, spice and an earthy elegance, yet with more savory notes than Pinot Noir.

 

Pinot Meunier reminds me a bit of Gamay in that it is often overlooked by consumers (most wine lovers are probably not even aware of the varietal) yet sommeliers are well aware of it and its versatility with food. While it has plenty of fruit—strawberries, raspberries, cranberries—it also has some mushroom notes that can work well with rustic chicken dishes and richer pasta dishes.

 

Pairs with many foods

I recently tried the Bouchaine Pinot Meunier from Carneros at a restaurant in New York with “Gnocchi di Semolino alla Romana”—a classic, simple Gnocchi with Gorgonzola cream sauce dish—and it paired beautifully. While Pinot Meunier does not have quite the tannins that Pinot Noir does, it has just as much, if not more acidity, making it a great choice for higher fat content dishes. If you like your reds with plenty of acidity but do not always yearn for a Cabernet of Bordeaux style wine, try Pinot Meunier and you may be pleasantly surprised.

 

 

 

 

Tasting Notes:

Bouchaine’s 100-acre estate vineyard lies on the southern border of Napa Valley’s Carneros district, overlooking the San Francisco Bay with the city visible in the distance on clear days. Fog, wind, and the cold night time temperatures of this unique geographical area lend a distinctive regional identity to this Pinot Meunier.

 

According to Bouchaine, The 2019 growing season was a “Goldilocks” vintage—not too cold, not too hot. Late rains in May and some storms threatened the vines, however sunshine eventually won that battle resulting in a very consistent growing season.

 

Bright red fruits—strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and even pomegranate—waft out of the glass, leading to more earthy and savory notes of mushrooms, roasted meats and leather. Light tannins and ample acidity on the palate result in a very approachable wine that can pair with many foods. The Bouchaine Pinot Meunier—with it’s bright fruit and ample acidity—will go very nicely with a rich pasta dish (cream sauce over red sauce) or a classic French Roast Chicken Jus.

 

How This Mineral Water Went From Local Cult Favorite to Worldwide Phenomenon

Founded in Monterey, Mexico in 1895 Topo Chico’s uber-bubbly mineral water is now a world-wide brand. The story of this seemingly innocuous sparkling water that was born in Mexico, raised in Texas and is now flourishing on multiple continents—thanks in part to its acquisition by Coca Cola in 2017—dates back over 125 years.

History of production and relationship with Coca-Cola

Speaking of its parent company Coca Cola, Topo Chico and Coca Cola have a relationship that dates back about 100 years. In fact, long before Coke acquired Topo Chico, Topo Chico actually acquired the licensing rights to bottle Coke in Mexico, roughly 100 years ago. Needless to say, they have been working with Coke for many years so it’s not a big surprise that Coke decided to acquire them.

When Topo Chico was founded in 1895, it sourced and bottled the water from a spring near a small mole-shaped hill that it was named after. “Topo” means “mole” in Spanish and “chico” means “small.” 127 years later, it still sources water from the very same “Cerro del Topo Chico” spring. 

The minerals matter

Topo Chico is not just ordinary sparkling water, like seltzer or club soda. It is actual mineral water, containing naturally occurring minerals and electrolytes like Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese. For comparison sake, “La Croix” sparkling water (another popular brand) is simply seltzer and does not contain any minerals. So what’s so special about these minerals? Sodium is needed for blood regulation (absence can cause serious impairment of bodily functions), regulates bodily fluids and transmits electrical impulses in the body; Calcium is an important nutrient and major component for bones and teeth; Magnesium aids in digestion, helps muscles recover and promotes a sense of calm; Potassium provides fuel for the heart and promotes kidney and nervous system function; Manganese is an antioxidant that benefits your bones and increases collagen production (healthy looking skin).

I’m not saying drinking Topo Chico everyday will solve any of your health problems but it certainly won’t hurt and the extra mineral intake could have some positive effects—if nothing else the electrolyte-laiden water will help keep you hydrated.

It now comes in 3 flavors but you may like the original

In addition to their original unflavored version, TC also comes in three litely flavored mineral waters; Twist of Lime, Twist of Grapefruit and Twist of Tangerine—all zero calorie. 

 

 

While Topo Chico’s flavored versions are quite popular, their original unflavored water tastes quite good too. The naturally occuring carbonation, while plenty effervescent (more on this in a sec), has a softer mouthfeel than other sparkling waters, as if the bubbles are smaller but greater in quantity, leading to a texture that is mellow and inviting. Also, despite the minerals, TC also has a very mild, neutral aftertaste, if any at all—something I would imagine most people want in a sparkling water. I know I do. Less is more when it comes to a water’s taste.

It all about the bubbles

While less may be more on the aftertaste, more is more when it comes to carbonation. Yes, Topo Chico’s secret weapon—you guessed it—is in its bubbles. Simply put, the naturally occering carbonation in Topo Chico is more explosive and lasts longer than other brand I have tried. No wonder it is a cult-favorite for consumers and bartenders alike who like a vibrant Vodka Soda or Tom Collins with ferocious fizz that doesn’t go flat.

Leave an open bottle of TC out overnight and the next day it will taste like you just opened it. And while all mineral waters naturally contain sodium—which can be off-putting to some people—the sodium level in TC is fairly low and provides a thirst-busting sensation (Gatorade’s secret thirst busting recipe has ample sodium for a reason).

What is Ranch Water?

You cannot make an authentic Ranch Water cocktail without Topo Chico. What is a Ranch Water you ask. It’s simply a tequila and soda with lime—a popular drink these days due to its low calorie, low hangover appeal. It is only a Ranch Water though if you use Topo Chico. It is also the unofficial cocktail of Texas—which is the unofficial home-away-from-home of Topo Chico. Yes, Texans love their Topo Chico and likely have played a big part in TC’s meteroic rise in popularity over the past decade.

 

Ranch Water Cocktail

Photo Courtesy: Valerie’s Kitchen

 

In March of 2021 Topo Chico released a lineup of Hard Seltzers onto the market—hardly a surprise in today’s hard seltzer crazed world. The flavors include: Tangy Lemon Lime, Exotic Pineapple, Strawberry Guava and Tropical Mango. Almost a year later TC released a new lineup of hard seltzer “Margaritas” (with salt, lime and tequila flavors) in four tropical flavors including Signature Margarita, Tropical Pineapple, Strawberry Hibiscus, and Prickly Pear. Seperately, during the same launch campaign, TC released their highly anticipated “Ranch Water” Hard Seltzer. Inspired by the taste of the popular cocktail recipe made famous by Texas bartenders, Topo Chico Ranch Water Hard Seltzer features real lime juice and a refreshing, crisp taste.

 

Topo Chico Hard Seltzer Margarita Variety Pack

 

Oysters and Beer in the East Village

While the space inside this East Village eatery may be small, Upstate offers one of the largest assortments of east and west coast oysters available in NYC. From the Long Island Sound to the Puget Sound, Upstate’s friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to guide you through their vast medley of shelled delicacies. Whether you prefer briny, coppery, milky, or floral – or haven’t the faintest idea what any of that means – they’ll help you mix and match over 20 oyster varieties with their similarly impressive selection of craft beers. Come during Happy Hour, and $12 will get you a pint and six oysters. And if that’s not enough to entice you, Shane Covey, Upstate’s genial and gracious owner, will swing by at the end of your meal and give you a piece of whiskey cake made by his wife.

 

upstate

 

95 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003

Where To Enjoy Small Bites and Fun Drinks In NYC

A Higher End Happy Hour at These Popular NYC Restaurants

From $2 Osyters at The Standard East Village to Buratta Toast at Great Jones Distilling Co, You Can’t Go Wrong at These Top Spots

With the weather slowly cooling down, it’s about time for New Yorkers to enjoy the after-work hours, easily sipping libations with co-workers or friends. Sometimes, what you need is something exceptional, yet uncomplicated. Here are 5 of our favorite happy hours that will be sure to please:

 

Standard East Village

 

The Campbell At Grand Central—Still A Treasure Sans The Apartment

If you travel through Grand Central Terminal every day and find yourself scratching your head right now, don’t worry—that was sort of the point. Touted as one of Grand Central’s top hidden secrets by Travel + Leisure, this opulent space has never needed trickery to retain its speakeasy status.

 

The Campbell at Grand Central

 

Raw Bar Hopping – 8 Great Oyster Bars in NYC

The most coveted oyster varieties from both North American coasts are appearing on the menus of Manhattan eateries in fresher, tastier and more robust selections than ever before. Here’s our list of top eateries in NYC shucking these delicious and ecologically powerful bivalves, and more.

Aqua Oyster Bar

 

6 Easy Rooftop Bars in NYC

Like any good idea in New York City, once it’s out, everyone wants in. The proliferation of rooftop bars and restaurants in NYC has been a great thing, as many hotels, restaurants and building owners have realized just how valuable their rooftops really are.

 

The Refinery Hotel Rooftop

5 Beautiful Bottles of Booze for Your Home Bar

With spring here, no doubt you need a bar refresh with interesting, light libations. Here are a few bottles we love for your home bar this spring:

 

 

Gray Whale Gin 

This consciously crafted spirit is the perfect gin for any occasion.  Made with six sustainably sourced botanicals that can be found along the gray whale’s 12,000-mile migration path, Gray Whale Gin gives back through a partnership with Oceana- the world’s largest organization for ocean conservation. Corn-based and Gluten-free,  it’s like sipping California sunshine in a glass.

 

 

 

iichiko shochu

Japanese spirit iichiko shochu has released a beautiful, limited-edition bottle inspired by cherry blossom season. The light, rich flavor comes from the use of exceptionally soft, iron-free water that is naturally filtered through 1,000 feet of volcanic rock and emits a pleasant nose of white peach, golden plum, and sea breeze.  Traditionally enjoyed with food, iichiko can also be served either on the rocks or in cocktail form, like a chu-hi (or shochu highball), mixed with soda and fruit juice. Only 600 units of the limited edition are available on Drizly, Reserve Bar, and select stores nationwide.

 

Kástra Elión
This beautiful, simplistic bottle embodies the spirit of the Greek islands with premium vodka. Handcrafted in Greece, the olives are hand-picked from the Nafpaktos region of Greece and mixed with mineral-rich spring water from the Crystalline Rock in Mount Taygetus (the highest peak in Southern Greece, creating a flavor profile with subtle notes of olives, pepper, and a buttery finish.

 

 

Equiano Rum 

 

Expand your rum horizons with the addition of award-winning Equiano Rum, the world’s first African and Caribbean rum. The premium aged rum is a limited batch blend from one of the best-emerging distilleries in the world, Gray’s in Mauritius, and the world-renowned Barbadian distillery – Foursquare. 100% natural rum, with no spices, no additives, and no added sugar, this unique spirit also gives back 5% of global company profits to ground-level freedom and equality projects annually.

 

 

 

 

Jefferson’s Ocean Aged At Sea® Rye Whiskey

Every home bar needs a whiskey, and the newest addition to the Jefferson’s Ocean family is a rye that has been aged at sea.  The liquid is a fully mature rye whiskey that was double-barreled (75% in char 3 barrels and 25% in toasted barrels) and then placed on ships to travel around the world as part of the unique finishing technique for which the Ocean series is known. With the barrel combinations, find hints of marshmallow and toffee on both the nose and palate, accented by leather and tobacco with a long, lingering finish of spices and cinnamon. $79.99

 

This article was originally published on Pursuitist. Republished by permission. 

6 Easy Rooftop Bars in NYC

Like any good idea in New York City, once it’s out, everyone wants in. The proliferation of rooftop bars and restaurants in NYC has been a great thing, as many hotels, restaurants and building owners have realized just how valuable their rooftops really are. Continue reading

Four Mother’s Day Brunch Spots in NYC

Treat mom to the very best this year, with brunch at her favorite restaurant. From uptown chic to downtown cool, we have all of our favorites:

 

For the Brooklyn Foodie: 

Aldama | 91 South 6th Street, Brooklyn 11249 |

From Christopher Reyes comes Aldama, the chic, highly-rated eatery where food and drinks take on a new art form. Chef and partner Gerardo Alcaraz (from three-Michelin-starred Martin Berasategui in Spain) highlights beautiful dishes like Pescado Zarandeado and Carne Cecina at this chic Brooklyn eatery.

This Mother’s Day, the Aldama team welcomes Luis Valle of the beloved Mexico City destination, Don Vergas Mariscos, for a one-day-only pop-up with five dishes from the Don Vergas Menu, available in two separate seatings: 11 am – 1 pm, and 2 pm – 4 pm. Reservations can be made through Resy HERE.

 

For the Italian Riviera Lover:

Casa Limone | 20 E 49th Street, New York, NY 10017

Take mom on a trip underneath a canopy of flowers with pops of cheerful yellows and blues at Casa Limone, the bold Southern Italian restaurant led by Michelin-starred chef Antonio Salvatore. For Mother’s Day brunch, feast on a three-course, prix-fixe menu for $65, which includes a complimentary mimosa for all those 21+.

Choose from a selection of Antipasti, such as Zucca e Burrata (roasted squash, Pugliese burrata, pumpkin seeds, bottarga) and Carpaccio di Salmone (wild salmon, fennel, sun-dried tomatoes, radishes); Mains such as Margherita Pizza (fior di latte mozzarella, tomato, basil), Tagliata e Uovo (steak and eggs, salad, fries) and Lobster Benedict (Maine lobster, poached eggs, hollandaise); and Dolci such as Tiramisu, Meringata di Limone, and Gianduja. Typically closed on Sundays, Casa Limone will be open on May 8th for the special occasion, serving Mother’s Day brunch from 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. The full menu may be found here, and reservations may be made on OpenTable.

 

For Trendy Downtown Chic: 

Saint Theo’s | 340 Bleecker Street, New York NY 10014

 

Saint Theo’s, the new coastal Italian restaurant from owner Robert Goldman, partner Kyle Hotchkiss Carone, and executive chef Ashley Rath offers a menu inspired by Venice and the Italian coast, including elevated housemade pasta, and savory egg preparations, and daytime sweets. New and favorite dishes include Cherry Tomato spaghettini ($24), Mozzarella in Carrozza ($15), Baked Eggs, three eggs, parsley pesto, fried sage ($19), Frittole (fried dough with apricot jam, creme fraiche $19),  and Fried Tomato Sandwich (fried heirloom tomatoes, arugula, mozzarella, prosciutto, aioli $20). Reservations open two weeks in advance on Resy.

 

Decadent Delights: 

Cathédrale | 112 E 11th St, New York, NY 10003

Treat mom to a decadent brunch at Cathédrale at Moxy East Village. The restaurant will be creating a special experience for mom, starting with complimentary Prosecco upon arrival, and special items for Mother’s Day like Eggs Benedict with poached lobster and caviar and served with truffled fingerling potato and a special Crepe Suzette pastry for mom. 

 

This article was originally published on Pursuitist. Republished by permission. 

Derby de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo—the Mexican holiday to commemorate their victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862—and the Kentucky Derby—the most famous horse race of the year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY—are always in the same week. In case you are not aware, Cinco de Mayo is always on May 5th, while the Kentucky Derby is always on the first Saturday of May.
Continue reading

5 Happy Hour Spots in NYC with Interesting Apps

With the weather slowly warming up, it’s about time for New Yorkers to enjoy the after-work hours, easily sipping libations with co-workers or friends. Sometimes, what you need is something exceptional, yet uncomplicated. Here are 5 of our favorite happy hours that will be sure to please:

 

photo by @by_dre

 

ALDAMA

Mexican hot spot Aldama is the perfect place to sip perfectly crafted cocktails, made under partner and beverage director Christopher Reyes (formerly of Employees Only and Cosme).  Aldama is offering happy hour every day of the week from 5 pm to 7 pm, with refreshing cocktail creations like the Citruz Fizz and the staple Margarita, and snacks like tacos, guacamole, and ceviche available for $10 or less.

 

BUBBY’S

A Tribeca staple for over 30 years, Bubby’s is well-known for its family-friendly brunch, but a happy hour at Bubby’s shouldn’t be missed. Grab a seat at the bar, and choose from a selection of wine, beer, or classic cocktails (Margarita, Negroni, Pickled Martini, Rye Manhattan) available for $10, and hearty snacks include nachos, mac and cheese balls, chicken wings, and deviled eggs for only $7.

 

 

THE STANDARD EAST VILLAGE 
Available every day, The Standard East Village has launched a brand new happy hour menu. Sip wine over charcuterie, or sample a specialty curated cocktail like the crowd favorite jalapeño infused tequila-based cocktail the No Problem, paired with $2 Oysters, spice nuts, or newly Fried Chicken Sandwich with a B&B pickle, bibb lettuce, a special chili-lime aioli served on a Hawaiian roll. Happy hour is available Monday- Thursday from 4-6 pm, Friday-Saturday 4-5 pm.
KATANA KITTEN 
Known as one the best cocktail bars in the city, it’s surprising they have a happy hour at all.
Keeping with the Japanese theme, the 4-7 pm daily happy hour features a $6 house cocktail, $5 Sake, $5 Sapporo, and $5 Hot Dog with Japanese pickles and mustard.

 

 

 

PORTALE

Understated, yet sophisticated Portale by Chef Alfred Portale features an extensive happy hour menu from Tuesday- Friday from 5-6:30 pm at the bar, serving up 14 classic cocktails ($12), wines ($10), and beers ($6). Small bites include crostini, arancini, and sliders ($8-$14).

Raw Bar Hopping – 8 Great Oyster Bars in NYC

From authentic raw bars, to rooftop dining, to the cozy confines of Grand Central’s favorite speakeasy, here are some GLR articles dedicated to fun and easy NYC spots to grab small bites and great drinks in cool places.

Raw Bar Hopping – 8 Great Oyster Bars in NYC

The most coveted oyster varieties from both North American coasts are appearing on the menus of Manhattan eateries in fresher, tastier and more robust selections than ever before. Here’s our list of top eateries in NYC shucking these delicious and ecologically powerful bivalves, and more.

Aqua Oyster Bar

 

A Higher End Happy Hour at These Popular NYC Restaurants

From $2 Osyters at The Standard East Village to Buratta Toast at Great Jones Distilling Co, You Can’t Go Wrong at These Top Spots

With the weather slowly cooling down, it’s about time for New Yorkers to enjoy the after-work hours, easily sipping libations with co-workers or friends. Sometimes, what you need is something exceptional, yet uncomplicated. Here are 5 of our favorite happy hours that will be sure to please:

 

Standard East Village

 

The Campbell At Grand Central—Still A Treasure Sans The Apartment

If you travel through Grand Central Terminal every day and find yourself scratching your head right now, don’t worry—that was sort of the point. Touted as one of Grand Central’s top hidden secrets by Travel + Leisure, this opulent space has never needed trickery to retain its speakeasy status.

 

The Campbell at Grand Central

 

6 Easy Rooftop Bars in NYC

Like any good idea in New York City, once it’s out, everyone wants in. The proliferation of rooftop bars and restaurants in NYC has been a great thing, as many hotels, restaurants and building owners have realized just how valuable their rooftops really are.

 

The Refinery Hotel Rooftop

Best Hotel Bars In Miami

Miami is known for its hotels—dating back to the 60’s when Sinatra, Martin and the rest of the Rat Pack frequented town. Not much has changed as many of the choice bars in town still remain inside Miami’s posh hotels. While caribbean themed bars may emanate throughout other parts of the sunshine state, Miami’s bar scene is much more sophisticated. Continue reading

A Locavore’s Dream in Chapel Hill

The farm-to-table concept is more than just a passing fad; rather, it’s a movement here for the long haul.  While some restaurants are in their infancy in terms of creating farm-to-table business models, perhaps starting with a few menu items that feature local foods or a installing compost bins, others are far ahead of the curve. Continue reading

The Largest Nobu in the World is in The Four Seasons Hotel in This Small Country

Qatar!

The stunning 26,000-square-foot Nobu, the famed sushi empire from Michelin-starred chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, is part of the Doha Four Seasons and floats on its own mini-island in the Qatar Gulf, rising like a coiled shell crossed with a starship from the future.

 

Stunning Design

Inside, seven separate glamorously designed dining areas comprise a 134-seat main room, two private dining rooms, two bar lounges, and a 38-seat rooftop venue. Chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa’s recipe for success combines his formal sushi training with a love of travel and global cuisine.

 

 

 

 

World-class Cuisine

The architectural masterpiece, designed by the NYC-based Rockwell Group, showcases the very best in fine dining, featuring Nobu’s world-famous cuisine matched by panoramic views of the alluring Arabian Gulf.

A practitioner of new-style Japanese cuisine, the Nobu menu includes innovative flavor pairings, such as yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, lobster with wasabi pepper sauce, and perhaps Chef Matsuhisa’s most notorious recipe – the black cod miso.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nobu Doha does nothing but impress. A destination as a whole; the world’s largest Nobu is not just a restaurant, its the venue for an entire evening.

Offering a truly exclusive culinary experience, found nowhere else, the tri-level Nobu Doha boasts the largest of its kind in the world and is the only Nobu at a Four Seasons in the Middle East.

The Right Way to Open Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Not all food and wine traditions—like grilling certain meats, decanting certain wines, or “popping” the cork off of a champagne bottle—results in a better product. Champagne is supposed to open with a bang, right? Not necessarily. In fact a huge celebratory “pop!” is actually a sign that it was opened by an amateur. Experts contend that a bottle of champagne opened with skill will make only a very small popping sound, or perhaps none at all.

Here is how to open a champagne bottle like a pro:

Chill thoroughly – Properly chilled champagne will fizz and/or froth over less
Towel dry the bottle – if there’s condensation to ensure a good grip and prevent slippage
Cut the foil – using a knife, only tearing with fingers after you’ve scored the foil.
Tilt and aim – Tilt the bottle to 45 degrees and aim it away from yourself, others, and anything breakable (like windows)
Hold the cork down – with one hand while twisting open the wire cage with the other
Twist the bottle – with one hand while continuing to hold the cork down with the other
Listen – for the sound of air escaping to signal that the bottle is open. There may also be a small cloud of gas.

The pop can be fun when among friends in a party atmosphere but if opened gently and quietly the champagne will have more bubbles and taste better. As the old saying goes “The ear’s gain is the palate’s loss.”

Once you’ve successfully opened the champagne the next step is pouring it. For the best results make sure the bubbly has been chilled to the proper temperature, 46º F – 57º F depending on age, and then further preserve the bubbles by using a ‘beer-like’ technique and pouring the liquid down the side of a tilted champagne flute.

 

How to Open Champagne

 

This article was originally published on Pursuitist. Republished by permission. 

5 Thanksgiving Wines From Carneros (Or Close)

“Thanksgiving Wines” has become an annual favorite of mine to write. I enjoy the challenge of trying to find wines that pair well with a Thanksgiving meal—and informing my readers of my choices—because, quite frankly, not many wines do. This Cabernet will go perfect with some turkey, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole…said, no one.

 

Of course, big reds like Cabernet would not be the varietals I would look to in this situation, but even some subtler reds or whites can be a difficult task for this once-a-year feast.

 

I tend to favor American Chardonnay because Thanksgiving is an American holiday and while Chardonnay may not be a match made in heaven for this cuisine, it works about as well anything else. And since I don’t think Chardonnay pairs all that well with much, why not use it in this instance. The key is to find a Chardonnay that has good minerality with little oak and only a small percentage of malolactic fermentation. There is no reason to have a fruity, oaky, butter ball wine with your marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes. It’s too much. And favor soil (terrior) over fruit. The more Burgundian your chardonnay is, the better.

 

I also enjoy some white Rhone varietals with this meal as well as Sauvignon Blanc, but I would advise the same as with Chardonnay—look for minerality and acidity, over round, oaky, buttery wines.

 

If you go with a red, Pinot Noir from California or Oregon (again, we are going domestic on this holiday) is always a safe bet. Syrah and Zinfandel, which have lighter tannins, can also work provided they are cooler climate ones. Warmer climate reds from places like Paso Robles, for example, can run very high in alcohol and brix (sugar) levels which can put you to sleep on your father-in-law’s couch a little sooner than you anticipated.

 

So with that in mind, for this 2021 iteration I am focusing on the cool climate, under-appreciated Carneros region of California (with one wine from nearby in Napa Valley). I love the range and variety of wines that come out of the Carneros region. Situated on the southern border of both Napa and Sonoma and just north of the San Pablo Bay it has a sort of “goldy locks” climate with hotter temps to the north in Sonoma and Napa and cool air coming off the bay to the south. While most of the region is known for cooler climate varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, there are micro climates in Carneros that allow for the growing of myriad varietals—Syrah, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and even Riesling.

 

Ok, enough of the foreplay. Here are my 2021 Thanksgiving wines:

 

 

2018 Bouchaine Las Brisas Vineyard Riesling ($38)

As I mentioned, Carneros has a wide range of varietals that can grow in the region. One of these is Rielsing—a varietal that thrives in southern Germany and Alsace, France and is beloved by many somelliers for its complexity and food friendliness. But Carneros has cool enough sites for this grape and the Las Brisas Vineyard is one of the most suitable in all of California due to the fact that the region is often covered in fog until mid-day. The Las Brisas Riesling from Bouchaine showcases beautiful floral notes, white peach and tangy apple notes with just enough acidity to compliment your turkey with gravy as well as your sweet potato pie.

 

2019 Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc ($22)

More and more Napa Valley wineries are experimenting with non-Bordeaux varietals and I love that. While not quite as many micro climates as Sonoma there are still plenty of micros and soil types in Napa to allow for all sorts of varietals, including most of the Rhone varietals.

 

The Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc comes from the Somerston Estate in the Napa Valley, a 1,682-acre property with 244 acres of hillside vines, located in the east of Pritchard Hill. When done correctly, white Rhone wines have a lovely bouquet of stone fruits (particularly peach) and white pepper with floral notes and minerality that I love. This Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc is no exception, with intriguing floral aromatics, ample acidity, and flavors of peach, apple tart and Crème Brûlée on the finish.

 

2018 Etude Grace Benoist Ranch Estate Carneros Pinot Gris ($24)

I consider Etude to be one of the forefathers of the Carneros region. Established in 1982, the winery has been a top Pinot Noir producer for decades. And while Pinot Noir still dominates Etude’s varietal lineup, the winery actually produces quite a few different varietals and blends including Cabernet, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Rose and even a sparkling wine—and they’re all good.

 

Etude’s Pinot Gris— grown at their Estate “Grace Benoist Ranch” vineyard—has actually become quite popular (a staple on many menus in Northern California) as it’s extremely consistent, food friendly and varietally correct. This classic Pinot Gris offers solid acidity with aromas of pear, apple, stone fruit and white flowers on the nose. Delicate notes of spice, citrus and peach dance on the mid palate while classic Carneros minerality lingers on the long finish.

 

Ram’s Gate Estate Pinot Noir ($85) 

Located at the epicenter of three of Sonoma’s greatest AVAs, Ram’s Gate’s estate vineyard borders the Sonoma Valley to the north, the Sonoma Coast to the west and Carneros to the east, and is the proverbial “Compass Rose” of Sonoma. Like most of the region, the signature morning Carneros fog rolls in off the San Pablo Bay and the wind-rich location creates a “temperature controlled” impact on the estate that is ideal for Pinot Noir.

 

This wine erupts with a bouquet of cherry, tobacco and clove on the nose. Subtler, classic Pinot Noir notes of strawberry, anise and holiday spices come through on the palate. This wine should work with anyone’s version of a Thanksgiving feast, whether you fancy white or dark meat; sweet potato pie or classic mashed potato with butter; peas or a green bean casserole.

 

2018 DuMol “Hyde Vineyard” Carneros Chardonnay ($75 – $90)

If you read my “Talking Turkey—With Wine” article from last year I covered another “Hyde Vineyard” Chardonnay. If it seems redundant for me to cover another one this year, that’s fair. But the truth is, Carneros is currently making arguably the best Chardonnay in California (Aubert, Donum, Tor and Hyde de Villaine all make world-class Chardonnay here) and the superstar Hyde vineyard is probably the best of the best, turning out high quality Chardonnays on the most consistent basis. So why not touch on it back-to-back years.

 

DuMol’s “Hyde Vineyard” Carneros Chardonnay has lots of pineapple (tropical fruits are indicative of this vineyard) elegant floral notes, and lemon zest on the nose with wonderful acidity and limestone minerality on the long, long finish. The wine is extremely complex with integrated acidity and flavors that unfold fluidly. It should go wonderfully with your Thanksgiving meal but can also be relished afterward while you settle into a football game or talk politics with family and friends.  Your only issue with this wine will be finding a bottle of it, but if you do, it’s worth the price.

 

Enjoy your Turkey Day and be safe!

 

 

 

 

 

Fried Chicken & Champagne at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc

If dining at a Keller establishment is a must, two other options exist in Yountville. Ad Hoc is much less expensive than the Laundry but still gets stellar reviews for its four-course menu of ever-changing selections featuring local ingredients.

 

 

Keller opened Ad Hoc in 2006 as a casual dining venue to showcase the American comfort food of his childhood. The name Ad Hoc literally means “for this purpose,” and derives from Keller’s original purpose for the restaurant—to temporarily fill a space while his team developed a different restaurant concept. Yet from the start, Ad Hoc was loved so much by the locals and visitors to the wine country alike that it stuck around and is now one of the most popular restaurants in the valley.

 

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The daily-changing four-course menu, featuring classic American dishes like fried chicken, pot roast and barbeque, is handwritten nightly on chalkboards throughout the restaurant. All courses are served family-style to increase both the conviviality of the Ad Hoc experience and to further recreate the casual comfort of home. The wine list also features many of the local vintners—many of whom can be seen frequently dining at the low key restaurant.

 

 

 

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St.
Yountville, Calif. 94599
(707) 944-2487

America’s Most Coveted Shellfish

Move over Maine lobsters. An even more revered, more sought after New England shellfish has stolen the culinary spotlight for a few fleeting months. Fresh-caught Nantucket Bay scallops – arguably the best and most coveted seafood in America – are now arriving at select restaurants and seafood shops throughout the country, and they won’t be here for long. Continue reading