Tag Archives: BOOZE

Gild Hall by Thompson Hotels: Financial District

What can I say about Gild Hall by Thompson Hotel that hasn’t been said about Kate Upton’s breast? Beautiful, perfect, large, comfortable, cozy and I spent a night with them… One of those is not true, but seriously this might be one of my favorite hotels in New York City.

Last week my fiancé and I had our engagement shoot, which we were doing in Dumbo and ending the shoot over by the Brooklyn Bridge. The location was perfect, as this hotel sits in the Financial District, over on Gold ST and Platt ST. If you are looking to explore downtown, i.e. The Seaport, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, World Trade Center, One World Observatory …etc, you cannot beat this location. Additionally, if you are looking to explore outside the Financial District you have many subway lines within a few blocks. Even though I live a few neighborhoods north, staying in this area gave us both such a different perspective of the city.

The day prior to checking in, I called to ask them if they could assist me with some requests. Since we were doing our engagement shoot (also looking for a great photographer, check out ours here at Denise Wine Studio) we wanted to have a chance to wear multiple outfits without having to go up to Nolita and get changed. I spoke with Justine, and she was able to provide us with early check-in. Along with that, she was extremely helpful and friendly and was able to meet our requests. When we arrived, we received the same great customer service from the staff. They were quick to help us grab our luggage, and help us to our room.

The hotel itself is absolutely beautiful, from the minute you arrive to the second you check out, you will be extremely pleased. Once you make your way through the front door, you see their double-level library filled with books and artwork, hardwood floors, plush couches and really cool chandeliers. Exposed Brick surrounds the check in desk, along with distressed wood and leather couches.

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Across from the lobby you will find the restaurant, Felice, which is a New York City based Italian restaurant which specializes in Tuscan cuisine with four locations throughout Manhattan. They have forty seats, along with their upstairs wine lounge La Soffitta. The food from Felice can be ordered via room service, which we tried later on, and was unbelievable. Felice, a lot like the hotel, also features really cool chandeliers, these however are built using the jugs that are from their wine production. Along with having a bottle or two downstairs, our suite also featured a few bottles of their offerings including Felice Bianco, Felice Rosso, and Felice Rose.

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Now to our suite, The Thompson Suite, which was ridiculously beautiful. When you walk in, there was one bathroom and a hallway that lead to the bar, living room, and to the right the bedroom. The first bathroom, which was a smaller version of the master bathroom, just as nice but just smaller. The bar came fully stocked with pretty much anything you need for a good time. For liquor they had Ciroc, Buffalo Trace, Knob Creek, 10 Cane Rum. In the fridge they had a few different types of Brooklyn lager, mineral water, and some sodas. A full selection from Candy to Condoms were also behind the bar, along with some bottles of Fred Water to help chase away that hangover in the morning. The bar overlooks the luxurious living room area, which feature comfortable leather couches, a large Samsung TV, animal hides, and all the makings to host a fun party.

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Off the living room you have the bedroom, which features the same twelve-foot ceilings that run throughout the room. However the main focal point is the bed. The king size bed is wrapped in 400 thread count sheets, and finished with a fancy leather headboard. The bed itself was so comfortable, but the view of the suites decor was one of my favorite parts of my stay here.
The bedroom also featured a nice desk in the corner, along with an iHome Dock (iPhone 5 Compatible), some leather-bound books, and beautiful lighting from the lamps to the chandelier hanging over the bed.

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The master bathroom was massive! It was partially tiled with glass tiles, with chrome accessories, and marble running throughout the bathroom. When you first walk in theres a double sink and private bathroom stall. Just when you think thats it, you walk around the corner to find a large walk in rain shower, along with a stand alone clawfoot tub. They provide C.O. Bigelow products in the bathroom, and also provide a cool shaving kit from Dollar Shave Club for a small fee. I really think the bathroom was larger than my apartment, and definitely a lot nicer.

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All in all, if you’re looking for a hotel in New York thats close to everything and not the size of a shoe box, definitely consider Gild Hall. Definitely impresses the lady and set a great tone for the rest of the night.

Abita Brewing Company: One of My Favorite Breweries In ‘Merica

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As you can probably tell by now, I am pretty obsessed with Abita Amber. It is definitely one of my favorite beers, and I was convinced the best Abita product – until a shipment from Abita arrived at my apartment.Came home from dinner @ Kuma Inn (Followed by Drinks at Los Feliz and Spitzers), walked into the mail area and saw a huge box addressed to yours truly, Hedge Fun NY. In a semi-drunken state I ran into the apartment and opened up the box like a kid discovering the awesomeness of Christmas. Cutting through the tape, and throwing packaging peanuts everywhere, I got down to the bottom and found 6 six-packs of three different types of Abita Brews (36 Beers for all you non-mathletes) and a beer koozie. They sent Abita Bock, Abita Restoration Pale Ale, and Abita Wrought Iron IPA. In a burst of excitement I threw them in the fridge, and there they sat getting cold until the right night to give them a try.

A week later, I decided to have my buddy Nick come over and give me his opinion on these Abita beers. Since he works at Brinkley’s, thought it would be a good idea to involve him since he knows beer. Also, similar to my article on Anchor Brewing Company, I had Nicole drink some of the beer to see her comments. The night prior we ordered Mile End Deli, so we figured this was a perfectly good time to order it again and start the drinking process.

In their package to me, and on their website, they have a great display of color/bitterness – ‘Color and Bitterness Comparison Chart’. I put this below so you can check it out as well.

Abita Restoration Pale Ale
Type: American Pale Ale (APA)
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 5.2%
Chart: Color 9 / IBU 25

Side Note: Abita’s brewery is located in Abita Springs, LA about 30 miles north of New Orleans. Through their sales of Restoration they have raised over $550,000 for hurricane relief efforts. Round of applause gentlemen, now back to the beer…

The Restoration Pale Ale is brewed with pale, caramel and carapils malts. It is liberally hopped and dry hopped with Cascade hops. Fresh out of the bottle and into a pint glass, the beer pours a cloudy gold color. Nicole mentioned it was more orange, which she may have been right considering I stare at Bloomberg and Excel sheets all day. Picked up some of the floral aromas from the Cascade Hops, and I was ready to drink.

From the initial appearance and reading the ingredients, I was expecting it to be similar to the Anchor Brewing Company Liberty Ale. After tasting I realized they were similar but definitely not the same. Similar to the aroma we all picked up a citrus, piney, hoppy taste on the backend that  left the bitterness of the grapefruit/lemon zest taste in your mouth. Definitely a characteristic of most IPA, but where as some ales overdue it I find the Restoration Pale Ale to be mildly bitter, which left us all with the same conclusion: We can drink 1 or 2, definitely not something we can drink all night. Abita suggests pairing with fish, and different types of cheeses. We had it while eating a ‘Smoked Meat Sandwich‘ on rye bread from Mile End Deli – think the two went well.

Abita Wrought Iron IPA
Type: Indian Pale Ale (IPA)
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 6.9%
Chart: Color 9 / IBU 80

Remember back before the weather was below freezing, and their wasn’t snow blanketing the side walks? While walking through Central Park, you would see something called grass. This beer smells like freshly cut grass, so much so I am using it as an air freshener in my apartment because I miss warm weather.

This IPA is forged with the intensity of Apollo, Equinox and Mosaic Hops. Brewed with pale ale malt, the beer pours a golden/copper color, not much different than the Restoration Ale. The name Wrought Iron comes from the color of iron when it’s being forged – thinking outside the box with that one.

One sip in Nicole’s face looks like a little kid eating a Shock Tart for the first time. She hates bitter IPA’s, and with an IBU of 80 safe to say we should have known she was going to  dislike it. But still fun to see her reaction.

Nick seemed not to mind the beer. Being around a multitude of different beers, he has definitely tried his fair share of IPA, i.e. having Ithaca Flower Power  IPA on tap.

For me, this was a one every once in a while type of beer. Abita suggest pairing the Wrought Iron IPA with meats, luckily my diet consist of 98% Red Meat, 2% Bread/Potatoes. As mentioned earlier, we were eating smoked meat from Mile End, and the two definitely went well. The overpowering of the malts by the hops gave the bitterness and piney resin feeling, so biting into smoked brisket and mustard was an awesome mix with it.

Abita Mardi Gras Bock
Type: Bock
Availability: Seasonal (Jan – March)
ABV: 6.5%
Chart: Color 13 / IBU 25

Let me start off by saying, this is one of my new favorite beers – and a contender for my favorite Abita product over Abita Amber. I never thought those words would leave my mouth, but I love this Bock Beer. I also think I might like this as much as Shiner Bock, which is another thing I thought I would never say. When we finished drinking the beers, we all said Abita Mardi Gras Bock was the best of the three.

Once poured into a pint glass we were able to see the amber/auburn color, and with a color of 13 it is just a few shades away from Abita Amber. Abita Bock is brewed with pale, pilsner and caramel malts and German Perle hops. This combination is great, and the beer goes down smooth. I didn’t even realize the size of my gulps until I would be done with a bottle after a minute or two.

From the first taste you pick up the malty sweetness and caramel, a bit of a bread taste – which I thought may have been left over from the rye bread on my sandwich. But once the sandwich was long gone I realized it was part of the beer.

I am a little confused as to why Abita lists this as having an IBU of 25, which is the same as Abita Restoration Pale Ale. I tasted no hoppy bitterness as all, and for Nicole (who hates IPAs) and Nick (knows all things beer) not to notice it further confuses me. From drinking so many IPAs lately, and having my mouth punched with that piney resin everyone loves so much, this was exactly what I needed. Considering my love for Amber, Bock, Brown, and Dark Beers – I think this is the reason I enjoyed this so much.

The only true complaint I have about this beer is that it is not produced all year-round. I wish they would send me over a 6 month supply along with some of the Abita Turbodog that I have been wanting to try that the waitress at Balthazar steered me away from … But that’s a whole different story all together.
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Draught 55: Beer After a Long Day in the Office

Majority of the week, around 4:00PM you are itching to get out of the office and get a drink. Sometimes, you don’t want to go anywhere crazy/bougie, and just want a beer – thats when I goto Draught 55. Located on 55th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, this is a perfect location for majority of finance workers in Midtown. This place has become a bit of a local watering hole for the guys in our office, and with 42 Craft Beers on Draught + an additional few dozen in Bottles/Can – you now know why. Also, they generally rotate the selection and bring in new beers on a regular basis – so the options are pretty endless.

When you eventually get hungry – they also have a pretty awesome food menu. I have drunkenly consumed the Apricot Beer Glazed Soft Pretzel, Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Rogues Chipotle Ale Chili Nachos, Flash Fried Calamari, Wings, Beer Battered Mozzarella Sticks, and some other items – and all have been really delicious on a buzzed stomach.

If you are looking for low-key, beer, talking with co-workers, and eating some bar food – you will definitely like Draught 55.

Here are a few beers I have tried over the past few months:

  • Stone Brewing Company: Arrogant Bastard Ale (7.2% ABV): First time having it on draught, last time at Minetta Tavern I had it out of the bottle. This beer puts the ‘strong’ in American Strong Ale, and definitely has one of the hoppiest bites you will taste. The beer has a nice red/amber color to it with citrus (grapefruit) bitterness. Kind of similar to their Levitation Ale – but more hoppy. Can drink one every once in a while, not an everyday/all night beer.
  • Founders Brewing Co: Founders Black Rye (7.5%): Dark with a tan head, tastes of coffee, rye, chocolate, and some pine hops.  Well balanced and medium body, would drink again – and on draught @ $7.00, that is no brainer.
  • Goose Island Beer Co: Matilda (7.0%): Poured this out of the bottled and into a glass, and was surprised about the color – orange/amber color, which I did not see coming. This is a Belgian Ale, with some complex flavors which I can say are definitely unique. Little to much of that fruit taste – one time was good enough for me.
  • Smuttynose Brewing Company: Imperial Stout (9.8%): chocolate, coffee, roasted taste – with a little sambuca/black licorice taste to it. Good Russian Imperial Stout, and at $8.00, pretty good bang for your buck.
  • Innis & Gun: Oak Aged Beer (6.6%): This UK Export picks up the oak flavor from the aging process with some caramel, vanilla, and toffee. Definitely strange, one time was good for me.
  • River Horse Brewing Co: Tripel Horse (10.0%): Happy to support these guys out of Ewing New Jersey, and to drink local. Not much of a Belgian Style Ale person, but this beer is intriguing – vanilla, clove, citrus, and hops with a little bitterness on the back-end.

Stop in, have a beer, and let me know what you think – as I mentioned they constantly rotate in beers.

Anchor Brewing: America’s First Craft Brewery?

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In 1849 German brewer Gottlieb Brekle (hence Brekle’s Brown Ale) settled in California. Purchasing a saloon a few years later in San Francisco, this later on became the brewery known know as Anchor Brewing – which officially was born in 1896. Over the next couple dozen decades, the brewery witnessed two of it’s founders die in freak accidents, The Great San Fransisco Earthquake, Prohibition, the brink of bankruptcy – and being shipped in a box delivered to the lobby of my apartment. My life is pretty awesome.

I open the fancy box, which was shipped from my friends at Dog and a Duck, and threw the beers right into the fridge. The other night while my fiancé was over, I figured this might be a good time to taste the beers. She isn’t a beer drinker, but on occasions she will order one. Additionally, I will usually make her try my beers sometimes if they are good to see what she thinks. She has been getting pretty good at picking out details of each beer, so I felt like this was a good idea since the Anchor Brews would be something she would probably like.

Anchor Steam Beer
Type: California Common / Steam Beer
First Brew: 1896
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 4.9%

This is the flagship beer, and as you can see was first brewed the year Anchor Brewing  was founded. The beer gained early popularity prior to the years of Prohibition, and in fact was the reason the company was saved from the brink of bankruptcy by one of its fans, an Stanford Graduate named Fritz Maytag. By the 1970s, the brewery began pumping out bottles of this recipe out of its newer locations.

The beer pours a golden, almost burnt auburn color with a thick white head. The Anchor Steam Beer has a blend of pale and caramel malts, which provides a bit of malty sweetness with a hint of biscuits. There is also a slight taste of minty, fruity taste (citrus/apricot) however not as much as I tasted in the Liberty Ale. The hops, which are Northern Brewer, which gives mild bitterness but far from overwhelming. Nicole mentioned she tasted something familiar, the only thing she could relate it to was Blue Moon. The smell of the beer is nice, mix of floral and fruit smell, which makes sense due to the taste mentioned above. The beer is finishes extremely crisp, and very refreshing. The carbonation level is almost perfect, and I think this would be a great beer to drink on a hot day. Highly recommend this beer, and after drinking it is no wonder why the company has been around for so long built of the back of this beer.

Liberty Ale
Type: American IPA
First Brew: 1975
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 5.9%

Although considered an IPA, this beer is extremely well balanced. The ale is brewed with pale malted barley, cascade hops, and a special top-fermented yeast. Liberty Ale is also goes through the process of dry-hopping which is the practice of adding fresh hops to the brew during aging. During this time period, Anchor Brewing also produced some of their other beers including Anchor Porter, Old Foghorn Barley Wine Ale, and it’s first annual Christmas Ale. For reasons such as this, they believe they are America’s first craft brewery/micro brewery – and to be honest, they are putting up a pretty good argument.

Once we put the glasses up to our mouth, we smelt the citrus, earthy, and pine smells from the cascade hops. The taste, was exactly like the smell – but with less bitterness then I expected considering there was a prevalent aroma of grapefruit and pine. The carbonation, which the company describes as ‘champagne-like bubbles’, makes the beer very drinkable. I recommend this as well, this was Nicole’s favorite due to the lemon-zest and resinous taste. If you girlfriend drinks beer, or is willing to try beer, this is a good beer to have her try.

Anchor IPA
Type: India Pale Ale
First Brew: 2014
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 6.5%

This is one of Anchor Brewing’s newest beers, and they included the press release in their package. From reading over the details, you can see the company went out to establish an IPA that stands out from the overcrowded space. According to their Brewmaster, Mark Carpenter,

“Right now a lot of Pas are so hop forward that your palate can only enjoy one because of the high bitterness . Our IPA will have a strong hop flavor so you know you’re drinking an IPA. But, the combination of malts we’re using are strong enough to hold up to the bitterness, allowing you to enjoy more than one.”

Once I poured the beer, I was able to tell there was a huge difference in the color from the other two beers. The first two, poured a golden/auburn color, this more of a bronze caramel color. I think the best way to describe the Anchor IPA is calling it the ‘Liberty Ale on Steroids’. Some of the same characteristics, but more intense – for example the piney hops taste. This is due to Anchor using Cascade hops, like the Liberty Ale, but with some additional hops as well. Also, they use five hops during the dry hopping process. The hops give a bitter bite to the beer, and the strong metallic after taste. Way to much of an IPA for Nicole, however if you are big into IPA’s, this is definitely the beer for you.

Where to Find?

On their website, they have a great Beer Finder App, which shows you where you can finder their products. After searching a 1 mile radius from Soho, I can see this a long list of places where I can find their beers. This includes both restaurants, bars, and stores.

Luke’s Lobster + Coney Island Brewery + Boat

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Looking for a fun idea, call the girl and ask her if she wants to do something a little different. There are currently three days left, so act fast before they are sold out May 19th, June 2, and June 16

Basically the guys @ Luke’s Lobster have teamed up with Coney Island Brewery, and the people of Clipper City for a Lobster & Beer Fest. For $150, you and whomever you decide is worthy enough, get to take part in Maine-Style lobster rolls (2 per person), chips, pickles, coleslaw, and potato salad. Thirsty, they are being supplied by one of my favorite NY Breweries. Also, you will be on a boat, which will be cruising around the waterways of New York City.

You can buy the tickets through Gilt City here.

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Club A Steakhouse: Fantasy Football Dinner

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The other week we held our annual office fantasy football dinner, where the bottom half of the pool picks up the tab. We have a weekly pick em league, with over 30 guys, so it’s safe to say you want to be on the top of the table. The bill per loser can really rack up, especially when some people go for the jugular, i.e. Porterhouse for 2 for 1, or bottles of Opus One. For me, win or lose, I do it for the networking and face time.

The past few years the dinner has been held at Smith & Wollensky, but this year my boss decided to change it up. He has his assistant look into private rooms at Del Frisco’s, Quality Meats, Maloney & Porcelli, Keens… I think even at one point the idea of STK Midtown was thrown around. However, due to the dinner being scheduled around some pretty important people and the size of the group, none of the above were able to accommodate us. That’s when we came across Club A Steakhouse, which was close to the office and has a private dinning room on the second floor that we would be able to fit the group.

Earlier that morning, in true sore winner fashion, my boss sent out an email to all the winners/losers advising on how to maximize tonight’s eating potential by not filling up for breakfast and/or lunch. I definitely took note, and ordered a light lunch from Certe around 11:00, so I would be starving.

We all walked down 58th Street and saw the trees outside Club A wrapped in lights, which made me realize I passed this place the other day going back to my apartment from Home Depot. We walked in, and quickly realized this place loves the color red. There was red ceilings, red walls, red seat cushions… Also, they had a ton of velvet. They had enough velvet to make velour suits for the whole borough of Staten Island. With the decor of red, gold, and velvet, I felt like I was in Tony “Scarface” Montana’s Miami Mansion – I was waiting to see a globe with the words ‘The World is Mine’ on it. So we walked up the stairs into the ‘Living Room’ section – which could seat up to 45 people. As you could have guessed, more red and velvet, and a fireplace which was nice.

The feast was about to begin and I was starving. I ordered a Chimay as we waiting to order. Haven’t had a good Trappist beer in a while, and wanted to see what the good old Belgian monks have been brewing. As soon as the waiter took our order we saw the first rush of appetizers come to the table, thick cut bacon and seafood towers. The bacon was unbelievable, cut about 1/4 of an inch thick, and was getting some great reviews from the table. It was tender, juicy, and had a nice charred outside. From every angle I was able to see people cutting the bacon and stuffing it into their mouths. The steak sauce they provided went well with the smokiness of the meat. Since going to to Club A, I have been contemplating stoping their for lunch just to get some swine – and at $5/slice it’s extremely tempting. Onto the seafood towers, which were massive. I honestly do not remember how many of these we ordered but all that remained was crushed ice and the discarded inedible carcasses of the shellfish. The platters included U7 Shrimp (which means 7 shrimp per pound so they were huge), Lobster, King Crab Meat, and Colossal Crab Meat. Seafood was all extremely fresh and before I knew it I was ducking out of the way of pieces of shells flying from fellow employees cracking open massive lobster claws.

Once the shared appetizers were cleared from the table, we received our personal appetizers. I went with the Tuna Tartare since the waiter talked it up so much, and it didn’t disappoint. The portion was massive, which was worrying me as I had a huge steak coming soon. Then I realized I am a bottomless pit, and ate the heaping mountain of raw tuna. We had a nice pause so we can all digest, and continue drinking before the main courses came. I drank another Chimay, followed by some Red Wine since the waiters kept refilling my glass – I mean, why not, I did come in the top 15 of the pool, and I was not chipping in for the bill.

Prior to the main courses, a slew of waiters came into the private room like something out of a movie. They were dropping down on the table the family style sides, which included 5 Cheese Truffle Mac, Onion Rings, Creamed Spinach, Jumbo Asparagus, Mash Potatoes, Garlic Herb Fries, and Hash Browns. Then came out the meat, I ordered Prime Dry Aged Porterhouse Steak for 3, to split with someone. The steak was good, however was a little over cooked – more towards medium, which was a little disappointing. This is something I could expect at a regular restaurant – but not somewhere with ‘Steakhouse’ in the name. I didn’t let this ruin the experience as the steak was still pretty good. I would say I ate my fair share of the Porterhouse, would even go as far to say I ate around 65% of it. The sides were all great, the best were definitely the hash browns and onion rings – definitely recommend ordering them.

After dinner we finished with some dessert and a Lagavulin 16, was going to order the Laphroaig 10, but as mentioned earlier I wasn’t paying…

Bartending Tips: Oak Barrel Aged Manhattan

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We can’t all make a fancy old fashion like the one in my article on FortyFour at The Royalton Hotel. But, if you want to impress some of your friends look into the below.

A few month’s back I got my buddy a Whiskey Barrel from Bluegrass Barrels for Christmas. He is a bartender at one of my favorite bars, Brinkley’s in Soho, and he sent me over the other the concoction he is making in his 2 litter barrel. He is letting it age for 4-6 weeks, and then bottling them up. Order a barrel, give it a shot and let me know what you think.

619 ml Bulleit Whiskey

619 ml Hennesy

619 ml Dolin Sweet Vermouth

139.75 ml Benedictine

25 Dashes of Peychaud Bitters

25 Dashes of Angostura Bitters

Barraca: Tapas That Was Okay…

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The other night we went to dinner with my fiancé’s friends – and were supposed to goto Rubirosa, but they couldn’t accommodate us. We choose to get some tapas, and coming down from my high of Saturday Nights Toro Trip, I was excited to crush some small plates. They chose Barraca, which is owned by the Quimeria Group – also own Macondo and Rayuela. So I did what any normal food obsessed person would do, and checked around a few websites to see how the food. Saw a bunch of 4s out of 5, and a 21 on Zagat.  So I was looking forward to giving it a shot, and embarrass Nicole while I eat like a beast in front of her friends.

Once we got on to Greenwich, I knew exactly what place it was. Feel like I passed a couple hundred times, usually going to and from the Meatpacking District. Place has some nice curb appeal, decorated nicely with some plants in the windows. Once you walk in, you see the bar area which was pretty busy – large glass containers filled with their multiple types of sangria concoctions. While in the bar area we were smelling the dishes as they were coming out of the kitchen – in my head I took mental note of what items I should order.

Once we sat, the waiter gave us both their regular menu and Restaurant Week menu. Knowing we would like to do multiple dishes, we decided to go with the regular menu. The girls ordered a pitcher of sangria, and the guys ordered Mahou because Barraca ran out of Estrella. This was actually a nice change, I haven’t had Mahou since my Madrid trip two years ago and always choose Estrella when I see it.

We then began the ordering, and I tried to mask my excitement when everyone ask me to order a few things. We held onto the menus to order again after the first round of items came. The excitement started to drift away once I tasted the food, it wasn’t bad – but it wasn’t great. It was, ‘okay’ at best. Thinking it was just me, I asked Nicole and she described it as ‘just okay’ as well. The best part I would say was the Idiazabal cheese – which says a lot considering I am not a big cheese person.

Below is some of the items we ordered:

The Good

  • Charcuterie Board: We chose Jamon Serrano, Manchego, and Idiazabal. Everything was good, with the smokiness of the Idiazabal making it really standout as my favorite.
  • Suquet: grilled monkfish, clams, mussels, artichokes, shrimp, almond ‘picada’. This was good, went pretty fast since there was five of us. The fish was good, and enjoyed the broth.

The Okay

  • Patatas Bravas: Crispy home fries spicy tomato sauce, and aioli. Pretty good, definitely not as great as the Patatas Bravas at Toro.
  • Croquetas De Jamon: Croquettes with Seranno ham. Its pretty much impossible to mess up a croquette, its potato and fried. Was good, definitely nothing special.
  • Datiles con Bacon: dates wrapped in bacon with blue cheese.
  • Carne a La Brasa: Skirt Steak, salsa verde, fingerling potatoes, roasted shallot, and crispy kale. Was cooked nice and red on the inside, wish I would have ordered this solely for myself.

The Disappointing

  • Calamar a la Plancha: Grilled squid, and possibly one of the worst octopus dishes I have ever had. The presentation looked great, long tentacles with peppers. One bite into it, kind of wish I didn’t. Coming from the Octopus Plancha the other night at Toro, Barraca’s version was extremely disappointing. The seasoning was totally off, some pieces with Mediterranean spices but kind of just tasted like someone threw Frank’s Red Hot Sauce on it.
  • Canelon de Pato: tube pasta filled with duck, duck liver, orange, and manchego cheese. This was pretty bad as well, kind of felt like these were pre-stuffed and sat in a fridge for a while until some unlucky prick ordered it. I would stay away if you end up going to Barraca.

Wine Wednesday: Louis Jadot

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Want to impress your girlfriend’s family with a good looking bottle of wine without spending your bonus check? Walk to your liquor store, and pick up pretty much any bottle of Louis Jadot. Not only does it look vintage, fancy, and more-expensive than it really is, the wine is really good. I personally have been drinking this vineries’ wines for years. When I am drinking red, which I usually am, I go for either the Beaujolais  (Around $13/per bottle) or the Pinot Noir (Around $20/per bottle). On the rare occasion I have white wine, Pouilly-Fuisse is a great bottle.

So next time you are forced into going to one of those dinner parties, or family parties, drop one of these bottles in the hands of the host – and look like a boss.

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Forty Four @ The Royalton Hotel: Best Old Fashion Ever

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Back around the holiday’s we were invited by LARGE BANK to goto their Client Appreciation Night at Forty Four in The Royalton Hotel. The Morgan Hotel Group definitely did not skimp on the decor of this hotel lobby, with their 20 Foot Fireplace and sunken lounge areas, this is definitely a nice place to grab a drink after work. This is the second year in a row the LARGE BANK decided to host this event there, and although I found this to lack an originality – I found the hidden gem of Midtown West.

Their Hickory Old Fashion 2.0 keeps me coming back to this venue. This made with Bulleit Bourbon, Black Dirt Applejack, Crown Royal Maple, honey water served over a large block of ice and garnished with the smoke of a cherry wood chip. Before they serve the drink, they light a piece of cherry wood and capture the smoke in a glass – covering the drink, which traps the smoke. After a few moments, they release the top cup, and serve the drink (Video Here). From the second you put that cup to your nose, you get the smell of that sweet cherry wood smoke. The taste, is fucking superb! I have had Old Fashions all over New York City, including Brooklyn Bars that specialize in the art form – i.e. Rye in Williamsburg, and Forty Four definitely has THE BEST OLD FASHION in all of New York. If you feel you have something better, please let me know. Until then, I will be getting some second-hand smoke from my Bulleit Bourbon.

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Laphroaig 10: The Smoky Single Malt

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It is currently  19 Degrees in New York City, and dropping down to 10 degrees around 10:00PM. Cold weather means no happy hour, straight back to apartment for binge watching Netflix and binge drinking Single Malts. Over the past few years I have been drinking some peaty scotches/whiskeys. The best, and most reasonably priced, is by far Laphroaig 10.  The minute a glass is poured you can see most people’s reaction to the strong smoky scent – kind of like huffing a camp fire. Definitely keeps you warm and makes you feel that smoke – with some tastes of seaweed. I either drink neat, or with one or two cubes which helps open up the flavor.

It is definitely an acquired taste, and you will either hate it or love it – so keep that in mind before buying a bottle.

In regards to a similar bottle, you could pick up a little older of a bottle and get Lagavulin 16 – but it will run you an extra $30, for a very similar taste. Both are made in Islay, and are made next door to each other – so save the money and go with Laphroaig 10.

Stone Brewing Company: Levitation Ale

Had this for the first time yesterday while at Mercer Kitchen, second time having something out of Stone Brewing Company – the first was an Arrogant Bastard while at Minetta Tavern. This is definitely more subtle than Arrogant Bastard, being close to 3.0% lower in ABV, definitely cannot consider it an American Strong Ale. The Levitation Ale seems to be considered a Amber Ale or a Red Ale, however definitely has more characteristics of a Red IPA. You pick up the hops from the beginning of the sip, with a little bit of a citrus tasted to it with tones of caramel and toasted malt. On the end, you pick up some of that bitter aftertaste you would expect from an IPA. Definitely would consider this more of a session beer rather than something you can drink all night, but would suggest it if you like both Amber Ales and IPAs.

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