Items tagged with 'drinks'
The leaves have turned, the sun's setting earlier, and the air grows colder. It's wine season, folks. Time to hide from the cold by crowding into a cozy winery and warming yourself with sips of Riesling.
And, as it happens, a winery might be closer than you think. The Altamont Vineyard & Winery -- llocated along the Albany/Schenectady county line -- is a small venue that's been in operation since 2006.
But its grapes were established long before that.
Chuck Schumer was at Golden Harvest in Kinderhook today pushing for legislation that would change the way the feds regulate and tax hard cider. Zzzzzzzzz... yeah, doesn't sound super exciting, but this clip from the press release explains why it could be important (emphasis added):
Schumer was joined by Golden Harvest Farms owners Alan and Derek Grout as he launched his proposal, the CIDER Act (Cider, Investment & Development through Excise Tax Reduction Act), to update the definition for hard apple and pear cider in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) that would increase their allowed alcohol by volume from 7 percent to 8.5 percent, encompassing significantly more hard cider products and allowing them to be labeled and taxed like hard cider, rather than wine. Schumer's proposal would also address existing tax issues related to carbonation levels in hard cider, and would put the new definition in line with that of the European Union, so producers can better compete with European products abroad. Hard cider is a value-added product that is sold around the same price every year; therefore hard cider gives producers a stable source of income when apple crops suffer due to weather and other unforeseen factors. New York apple producers are increasingly interested in producing smaller, artisanal batches of hard cider, but cite the cost and difficulty to comply with the IRC definition as significant impediments to expanding their businesses.
New York is the second largest apple producer nationwide, harvesting a total of 29.5 million bushels annually from over 650 farms and 41,000 acres across the state. In recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of hard cider, many apple producers have turned to producing this craft beverage as a method to keep apple orchards profitable, generate new economic development opportunities, and attract a new visitor demographic to their farms. There have been an increasing number of hard cider producers as a result, starting with a few producers a few years ago to over 20 today. And Schumer highlighted that number should only continue to grow, as a significant number of apple farmers are interested in adding this popular product, and have sought out advice and expertise from the Cornell Cooperative to do so.
So, short story: Changing the federal rules could make it easier financially for orchards to make cider -- which could help provide new revenue to keep orchards going, and provide the rest of us with something interesting to drink.
Golden Harvest/Harvest Spirits: Schumer was at Golden Harvest because of its Harvest Spirits distillery, which already makes excellent spirits from apples (and other fruit) -- and it sounds like Harvest Spirits is also interested in getting into the hard cider business, as well.
Earlier on AOA:
+ More fizz for the cider business in New York
+ Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany
+ Eat this: Old Sin Cider from Slyboro Ciderhouse
+ Eat this: Peach Jack from Harvest Spirits
+ Poking around at Harvest Spirits
The Cuomo admin announced Thursday that the governor has signed the Farm Cideries Bill. The legislation extends a range of opportunities and tax advantages to cideries that "farm" breweries, wineries, and distilleries in the state already had thanks to other recent legislation. From the press release:
The Farm Cideries bill authorizes the establishment and licensure of farm cideries for the manufacture and sale of cider made from crops grown in New York State and would exclude licensed farm cideries from the sales tax information return filing requirements. In order to obtain a farm cidery license, the hard cider must be made exclusively from apples grown in New York State and no more than 150,000 gallons may be produced annually. Farm cideries will be allowed to offer tastings of and sell not only cider, but also beer, wine, and spirits made from New York products. In addition, because farm cideries may also sell products such as mustards, sauces, jams, jellies, souvenirs, artwork, crafts and other gift items, these businesses, much like farm wineries, will become destination locations that will promote tourism within their communities. Also, the need for apples in the manufacture of New York State labeled cider would create a sustained demand for products from New York's farmers.
Here's a practical example of what all that means: The Farm Cider Bill opens the way for Nine Pin Cider -- the startup cider maker in North Albany -- to eventually open a tasting room and retail shop at its location on Broadway. (When we talked with Nine Pin founder Alejandro del Peral earlier this year, the Farm Cider Bill was a key part of their business plan. They had been eagerly anticipating its signing.)
For much of the last century hard cider has kind of been a fringe product compared to beer, wine, and spirits. But it has a long history in this country -- Johnny Appleseed wasn't setting up those orchards for eating apples -- and was once very popular. It never recovered its status after Prohibition, though. [Serious Eats] [Slate]
But the beverage has been on the comeback in recent years. New York State is even promoting a "cider revival." And if you look around this area, you can see signs of it taking root here (again). There's the aforementioned Nine Pin. Hicks Orchard in Granville is planting more than a thousand new trees for its Slyboro hard cider. The Rogers Family Orchard near Johnstown is setting up a hard cider operation. And apparently Saratoga Apple is considering it, too. [Nation's Restaurant News] [Post-Star] [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]
Hey, you gotta do something with all those apples.
Earlier on AOA:
+ Nine Pin Cider Works
+ Last year the founders of the Albany Distilling Co. told us about how the state's Farm Distillery Bill helped open the way for their business
Check it out: There's a meadery in Duanesburg called Helderberg Meadworks.
Mead? You know, the alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey, first produced by people thousands of years ago.
Blurbage from Helderberg Meadworks' about page:
This is not your average mead. It is not flavored, sweetened and processed to appease the masses. My mead is a tribute to the classic, my interpretation of the beverage that the Norse explorers would have made. Fermented to fruition until the yeast perish of their own doing, oak aged and full of natural honey flavor.
Perish of their own doing... very Viking.
We heard about the meadery via Greg Back's In the Name of Beer blog -- he recently stopped at the meadery to talk with its founder, Peter Voelker, and learn about the process of making it. Greg writes of the mead:
It's delightful. There is a raw and feral quality to it that is completely lacking in any other mead I've tried. It is unrefined, but in exactly the way that works for me. The honey shines through brilliantly, and the floral aroma that Peter is looking for is present both on the nose and in the strong sweetness up front. It isn't a sugar bomb at all, but instead there is raw honey in the initial taste that is tempered by oak notes at the back end.
There are a lot of interesting details at his post, it's worth a read.
The mead is available at a bunch of local outlets here in the Capital Region.
photo: Helderberg Meadworks
Lucas emails with a specific outdoor dining/drinking question:
I'm looking for places in Albany where I can enjoy a beverage on a patio; however, because of the inconsistencies of the weather here, I'm looking for places in particular where the patios are covered. What places around town do you suggest?
This reminds us that we really need to update the outdoor dining map. (Like, really.) So your suggestions will help not only Lucas (and others), but also help us update the map.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Rum was an important commodity in the colonies, produced in a variety of important cities, and Albany was no exception. The Quackenbush Still House made rum in what was then Rensselaerswyck, which today encompasses much of downtown Albany. The distillery stood not far from our current front door, just south of us, where a parking garage now resides. Before construction started on the garage, the site was excavated in 2002 (much, much more information can be found here). The original Quackenbush distillery operated from around 1758 to 1810, when the popularity of rum (in Albany, not elsewhere) declined in favor of other spirits (whiskey, most notably).
And from its product page:
Back then, Caribbean molasses were mixed with water from the Hudson River and allowed to ferment with wild yeasts in huge, open wooden vats (the remains of which can still be seen at the New York State Museum) before being distilled and bottled. Our Original Albany rum follows this tradition, with a recipe from that era and molasses from the Caribbean - but with an updated production line (and different water).
On Saturday the distillery will be open for tours, as well as tastings and sales of ADC's other products. But not the rum. It can't be sold at the distillery because it's not made from New York State products -- so it's only available at retail stores and bars (including the nearby Albany Pump Station and Olde English).
There's a also new exhibit at the nearby Albany Visitors Center of artifacts from that 2002 excavation. And at 1 pm on Saturday an archaeologist will be talking about the 18th century distillery.
Earlier on AOA: Talking with founders of the Albany Distilling Co.
photo: Albany Distilling Co.
Jason Bowers spent years tending bar at Capital District pubs known for their beer selections -- places like The Lionheart Pub and The Van Dyck. And the longer he tended bar, the more he noticed something about his customers' ordering habits: New York brews like Brooklyn Brown were being ordered as often as big-name imports like England's Newcastle Brown.
I have a very Irish mouth.
That is, I enjoy salt and can handle more than most in my food and drinks, but heat -- not so much. It took me years to be able to eat the pepperoni on my pizza. Then I trained to work my way up from mild to hot salsa and sriracha.
Jose Malone's watermelon habanero margarita.
A spicy Margarita? Yes.
I had to try it.
Autumn is a great time of year to visit local farms and bring home an amazing harvest of meats, cheeses, and late season veggies.
So AOA and Creo are planning to gather some of that harvest for a 5-course farm-to-table dinner on Thursday, October 18. Chef Brian Bowden will create a menu using products from farms around the Capital Region -- and the farmers will be at the dinner to talk about the ingredients in each dish, how they're grown or produced, the thought that goes into them. The whole night should be fun, interesting, and delicious.
You'll also have an opportunity to pair the dishes with a handful of New York State wines.
Here are details on the menu, the farms, the wines, and how to sign up...
In the last nine months John Curtin and Matthew Jager have done a lot of drinking.
They've also done a lot of traveling, marketing, researching, tweaking, and distilling -- all in the service of creating a new product. And now, the founders of the Albany Distilling Company are ready to share that product -- a "new make" whiskey -- with the Capital Region.
You might remember Matthew and John from earlier this year -- and how their "manly dream of owning a bar" morphed into creating a distillery adjacent to The Albany Pump Station.
Now they've got 800 bottles of their Coal Yard "white whiskey" ready to go, a grand opening scheduled for Friday, and plans to put their products on the shelves of bars and liquor stores throughout the Capital Region.
We stopped by for a taste and a look at how things are shaping up.
It's fall and we are in apple country. Huzzah! These are the golden months of life in the Capital Region.
While this year's apple crop may have suffered greatly from the mild winter, the early thaw, the spring frosts, hail, and drought, that shouldn't keep you from making the annual pilgrimage to an apple orchard.
There are apple cider donuts, of course -- a glorious treat that are best enjoyed as close to the source as possible. But there are some orchards that also offer other, more unusual, products from apples.
It's everybody's favorite season!
No, not fall -- pumpkin season.
It seems that as soon as the air gets a chill, we begin to see pumpkin everything -- breads, pies, soups, ice creams, beer. You can't toss a gourd without hitting something made with pumpkin. So, what to try first?
Here are some favorites to maximize your pumpkin enjoyment this fall.
AOA is taking a little R & R this week. While we're enjoying a little summer, we've rounded up a few experts to share their tips for making summer fun simpler. Enjoy!
One of our favorite ways to enjoy summer is with a cool cocktail out on the patio/deck/porch/stoop. So we checked in with New World Bistro Bar bartender Nick Ferrandino for help on making something delicious, but a little bit different. A Mayflower -- made a bit like a mojito, but with different ingredients.
Let's put the name aside for a moment.
What's important to know is that this is the essence of summertime in a glass. Because regardless of what anyone else says, nothing says summer as much as biting into a ripe and juicy peach as the nectar drips down your chin and arm. It's sweeter than the first sweet corn, it's juicier than even the ripest of strawberries, and it's more satisfying than the plumpest tomato. Nobody can be unhappy while eating a perfectly ripe peach.
This latest creation from Harvest Spirits in Valatie has been in the works for about a year, but was released just last week. Officially, it's a peach-flavored brandy, and it is indeed packed with the flavor of whole peaches. Calling it "peach flavored" however really does it a disservice, and actually it's not quite a brandy either. Technically, it's a peach infused applejack. But that too doesn't fully get to the heart of this spirit.
The story of how Peach Jack came into existence begins with an experiment gone awry.
Beer enthusiasts will travel a bit to drink at a bar and restaurant, but the most gonzo beer appreciators like to travel to the source. A visit to the TAP New York festival this past April was a reminder of how easy that is to do if you live in the Capital Region.
One downside to beer festivals is that an hour into the tastings most palates are ruined, and the rest of the evening is spent coping without peripheral vision as you polka dance with strangers and speak/scream drink orders. In contrast, brewery tours allow you to taste beer, pair it with food, and learn something about its production.
After the jump, some tips on brewery tastings and a list of some local favorites with details on what to taste, when to visit, and some side excursions to turn a brewery visit into a day trip...
Joey asks via Twitter:
I'm searching for some good happy hour specials. So hard to find. Perhaps a post on local places w/happy hour specials?
A similar topic, Albany-specific, came up about a year and a half ago. We're curious any good happy hour spot around the Capital Region.
Got a suggestion for Joey and other thirsty people? Please share!
photo: Flickr user Dana Moos
Last St. Patrick's Day was a memorable one, to say the least, but for all the wrong reasons. It's a great holiday -- just one better celebrated without destruction, arrests, and bunch of other regrettable behavior. The celebration shouldn't leave an unsightly pockmark on a city and region with a proud Irish history.
So, to help reset the course of St. Patrick's Day in the Capital Region, here are a bunch of local ways to celebrate the holiday. From music, to food and drink, dance, history, and shopping, use this guide to make the most of the time of year where everyone is Irish, if only for a day.
Almost every guy thinks about it at one time or another, says Matthew Jager. The "manly dream" of owning a bar. And that's how it all started out.
Matthew, who teaches at The College of Saint Rose's business school, and his buddy John Curtin, a leadership trainer and former English teacher, were hanging out at the Albany Pump Station, having a couple of drinks, when one of them said, "Hey, you know what we should do? We should open a bar!" And the other one said, "Yeah!"
Eighteen months and $300,000 later, they do not own a bar.
Instead, they own a distillery -- The Albany Distilling Company -- in a building right next door to the Albany Pump Station. A few months from now they're hoping to put their white whiskey on the shelves of bars and restaurants around the region.
Have they ever made whiskey before? No. But this little hitch doesn't seem to worry them.
After stumbling across what looked like a wine display in the World's Largest Walmart, Emily emailed with what we can only imagine was some distress:
Walmart wine? Did some law get passed that I missed?
The short answer: no.
The longer answer is... uh... tacky.
The clock is ticking.
Before you know it summer will be over, people will start gravitating back to the indoors, and all the undergraduates will return to the area's colleges and universities. That means over the next few weeks, some of the establishments that are generally reserved for our seasonal student population are a lot less, shall we say, boisterous.
When was the last time you checked out the deck at Sutter's Mill & Mining Co. in Albany?
It's huge. But it's not its size that's remarkable. It's the mature trees that are bursting through the surface of the deck to provide patrons with remarkable coverage of cool shade. And while I may choose to eat my meals elsewhere, little is better on a hot summer day than sitting in the shade with a cool beer and some crisp fries.
For that, Sutter's is a gold mine. Not only do they have Ommegang's Rare Vos on tap, served in a proper glass, but they also make Brew City Fries to go with it.
Last night we were home writing, checking email, getting ready for all the things we had to do today -- when it suddenly occurred to us that there was a mechanical bull down the street. What were we doing at home?
So we put on our boots and headed over to opening night at City Beer Hall -- the new bar in the old Ogden's building at Howard and Lodge Streets in Albany -- to check the place out and see the bull in action.
Clearly there is something deeply flawed with the people involved with the Hudson-Chatham winery. Not only because they're making wine from grapes grown just an hour outside of Albany in the heart of apple country -- but they are making wines nobody has ever heard of.
Whatever they are afflicted with must be contagious, because I think that's a great idea.
Pssst. Hey, buddy.
Wanna try some beer?
I'm gonna send you to a place that doesn't have a street address, and you can buy beer only on Saturdays from 11-2. And no bottles -- only growlers. But don't worry, they'll hook you up.
If you're looking for a brew pub or a fancy tasting room, you might be disappointed with Chatham Brewing. If you're looking for good beer, you won't be.
Updated: The FDA issued warning letters today to the makers of these drinks, indicating the caffeine is an "unsafe food additive."
For the last week or so, New York has been buzzing about caffeinated alcoholic beverages such Four Loko. Last week, Chuck Schumer urged the state Liquor Authority to ban the drinks. This week, the company that makes Four Loko voluntarily offered to remove the product from New York stores. Yesterday, Schumer announced the FDA would effectively ban the drinks. And then early this morning the company behind Four Loko said it's pulling the caffeine from the drinks.
Yet, with all this buzz, we hadn't talked to anyone who had -- you know -- actually tried the stuff. And while we admit, we'd never had a desire to try it before, the idea that we might not be able to made us wonder if we were missing something.
So -- while the drinks are still legal-- AOA bought a few, assembled a panel of tasters, and checked them out.
Next week is the last event of the season at SPAC-- the big Wine, Food and Ferrari Festival.
And the central event is the Grand Tasting on Saturday, September 11th from 1 to 5:30. More that 100 Italian and international wines will be available for sampling, there will be wine and cheese seminars, delicacies from local chefs and lots of Ferraris and other beautiful cars. Not a bad way to kill an afternoon.
Over 35 importers of Italian wines and food products will be offering tastings. Tickets to the Grand Tasting are $75 a piece -- but we've got 4 pair to give away.
Gourmet food, fine wine and fancy cars had us daydreaming about living like the other half does. Which brings us to the question we'd like you to answer to enter the drawing:
How do you "live rich" in the Capital Region?
Maybe it's where you go to splurge or treat yourself when you've got a few extra dollars. Maybe it doesn't cost anything at all but makes you feel like a million bucks. Anyway, tell us what it is and we'll enter you into the drawing. And of course, let us know what's so great about it in case we want to try it too. That part's not a requirement, but it's more fun to share.
The deadline to enter is Friday, September 3rd at 8PM.
Very, very important: One entry per person. You must answer the question to be eligible. You must post your comment by 8 pm on Friday, September 3rd, 2010. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winners will be notified by email by noon on Saturday-- and must respond by 5PM Tuesday, September 7th.
It's party time.
Say you're having anywhere from 5-25 friends, family, or moderately tolerable neighbors over for dinner.
What do you do about the bar? Wine, cocktails, aperitifs? If you can't hire a bartender for the night (and chances are you can't), you're on your own.
So here are a few stores that I enjoy patronizing for my party libations.
Plenty of people brew their own beer, but Patrick Boegel takes home brewing a step further.
The Delmar home brewer has been crafting his own beers for about ten years -- but last year he decided to start growing his own hops.
Hops are one of the main component of beer -- and they're a really important part of how the beer tastes, but most home brewers just buy them.
So why did Patrick Boegel start growing his own? To get him through the great world hops crisis of 2007.
Track, schmack. Don't get us wrong, the race course is pretty and can be a lot of fun, but when we can steal a little summer time in Saratoga, we prefer hanging at the Victoria Pool.
We've mentioned the pool before, but here's why we like it so much.
The "better bottle bill" that was part of the recent New York State budget includes a provision requiring all redeemable bottles sold in the state to carry a special New York barcode. As you might imagine, this hasn't gone over well with bottlers.
And now there's this from the Brewers Association:
The cost to produce a state-specific label with a unique UPC and the inventory and shipping challenges that presents, will mean many small breweries will be forced to pull their beers out of the New York market because the cost of doing business in the state will be simply too high.
Several brewing companies have already weighed in on this issue with the Governor, explaining they would have no choice but to discontinue distribution of their beers.
The complaints about the barcode rule already seem to be getting traction. State legislators have been talking about delaying the rule -- or even dumping it all together.
photo: Flickr user mfajardo
If popular retro-themed activities like adult kickball or spelling bees in the bars just aren't doing it for you -- or if you just want a drink to compliment them -- try the pop rocks cocktail at dp.
This sweet drink is a slightly more sophisticated way to relive your childhood.
Last week we headed over to Proctor's to see Sweeney Todd and we discovered this fun little makeshift wine bar called Signatures.
We were actually a little afraid to go in at first because the spot used to be an exclusive room for Proctor's patrons only.
But these days rabble like us can get in, have a drink before a show, and write on the walls.
So Abby asks:
Passover is later this week and I'm in need of a good bottle of wine to bring to a seder. Can we get some leads on where to find something that tastes better than cough syrup aka Mogen David wine?
Well, there's always Manischewitz... kidding. Ahem.
We checked out a few of the local wine shops and liquor stores to get recommendations. Got any other ideas? We'd love for you to share.
Here's what we found:
So we've been known to drink a little wine here at AOA. We admit it. We also, sadly, admit that we have a bit of trouble differentiating our sauvignon blancs from our gewurztraminers. OK, actually, we have trouble once we get past "red or white."
Fortunately, that's not a problem for Ian Egas. He's the sommelier at Albany's swanky 677 Prime. Ian took time out from aerating and decanting to share some secrets about buying wine in the Capital Region, what your neighbors are drinking -- and Prime's $3000+ bottle.
Yep, one bottle. Yeah.
Maybe you're rooting for the Steelers. Maybe you're rooting for the Cardinals. Maybe you don't so much -- you know -- care. But you will care if there's beer at the Super Bowl party.
According to the folks at the Beer Institute (yeah, there is such a thing) 3.5 percent of beer sales come from Super Bowl weekend. So how will you get the best bang for your beer buck this weekend? AOA went beer shopping to help you out. (Yay, beer shopping.)
My doc says I should relax and cut down on the caffeine, so I was especially looking forward to visiting Teavana, which just opened this weekend at Crossgates Mall.
So what exactly is "a heaven of tea"?
On day five of AOA's holiday gift guide -- a little holiday cheer.
The 2008 gift pack from Cooperstown's Brewery Ommegang: three 750 ml bottles (one Hennepin, one Three Philosophers and one Chocolate Indulgence Stout), plus a special Ommegang glass.
OK Romantics, here's the best place for you to have a drink in the whole entire Capital Region. If you haven't been to The Adelphi yet, seriously, you gotta go.
Alright, maybe the drink prices are a little steep (from $8 to $10) but they make their signature daiquiris ($9) with fresh cream, so it's tough to drink more than one anyway. And you can practically get drunk on the atmosphere of the place.
OK, we're not martini connoisseurs . We've been known to order them shaken, not stirred, straight up with a twist just because we've heard it before. But we're also not fond of sticky fruity drinks with lots of juice and umbrellas in them. If you like a summer drink that's dry and cool with just a hint of citrus and a few bubbles, you may just find your new favorite cocktail at DeJohn's on Lark Street.
That's where we found ours.
It's coming--really it is. The wine shop on Lark Street just got the thumbs up from the liquor board. Empire wines, a popular neighborhood shop, outgrew the space at the corner of State and Lark about a year ago. New York State liquor laws prevented them from owning two stores, so they were forced to shut down the Lark Street location. New owner Mark Brogna has been waiting for approval since January. He's been keeping the neighborhood updated on the progress with signs in the window. Today we noticed that the crossed fingers switched to thumbs up. Hang on to your corkscrews, Mark says there will be wine before the summer is out. (Thanks Colleen!)
OK, we're not Bloody Mary connoisseurs or anything, but we know what we like. And we like the Bloody Marys at Cafe Madison.
Don't ask the bartenders. They won't share the secret to this tomatoey/peppery concoction. They will tell you they start with a basic Bloody Mary mix, but then they have a little fun with it.
What we like most about this particular tomatoey/peppery concoction is the consistency. It's thicker than your typical Bloody Mary, with just the right amount of horseradish, pepper, lemon and, of course, vodka. Not too spicy -- but spicy enough.
Sip one on a Sunday morning and you may find yourself in some powerful company. We're not naming names, but apparently at least one very tan Albany celeb is a fan.