Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Partida and Tequila Ocho at Rivera

Last night, was the best tequila tasting I've ever been to. Okay, so my tequila tastings to date are a bit limited. I must admit, that it's never been my favorite spirit, though it certainly has been growing on me more and more as of late, and last night at Rivera may have transformed me into a true tequila lover. For those who don't know, Rivera has become THE go-to place for quality tequilas and tequila based cocktails. And one can hardly say enough good things about Partida tequilas. I've been somewhat familiar with them for a while thanks to the likes of former brand ambassador Damian Windsor, who now focuses on his newest venue the Roger Room (go if you haven't). Tequila Ocho, I hadn't tasted until last night. I had only heard of it and their goal to familiarize the consumer with tequila terroir.

Terroir, a term more often used when referring to wine, simply refers to the set of conditions which play a part in the growing of the agricultural product to be fermented and/or distilled. So for wine, it refers to how one malbec grape vine grown in Europe produces a wine much different from the same grape grown in Argentina due to differences in elevation, days of sunlight, average temperature, rainfall, soil composition, etc. In fact, this particular difference in terroir is a great example (in my opinion) because Malbec grown in the old world is useful pretty much only in blends, whereas in Argentina, it's great on its own. However, terroir can often differ vastly even when plain geography does not. Many claim that the terroir of one vine can differ from the terroir of another mere meters away.

Anyway, the concept of terroir is now becoming more and more accepted as applying to various spirits, and Tequila Ocho definitely believes (and demonstrates) that this should very much be the case for fine tequilas. Tequila Ocho offers quality platas, reposados, and anejos (and allegedly, extra-anejos in the not too distant future) with specific vintage years from single estates, or "ranchos". Very tasty product. Get your hands on every vintage you can find. A couple certainly stood out as superior, but none disappointed in the slightest.

While all of the tequilas were well worth having, the highlight of the night would probably have to be finally getting to try Partida's extra-anejo, the 3-year-old, $300, "Elegante". Simply put, aptly named. All in all, a good night.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Any Dry Sherries?": A Lesson Learned

Been really busy with work lately, but I've got a few minutes, so I thought I would share a learning experience from behind the bar recently. A nice couple sits down at the bar waiting for the restaurnt to open so they can be seated. Before I can get them a beverage list, they ask "any dry sherries?" Then I have that moment which I'm not too fond of, and until I was actually bartending, rarely happened. That moment is the moment I realize that I've been asked a booze-related question and that I don't know the answer. Thankfully, I'd happened to notice at some point that there was a bottle of oloroso behind some ports on the backbar. So, I quickly retrieved it, showed them the bottle, and they agreed that this was acceptable. They liked it, but when I got a minute to look at our spirits list a little later, I noticed that we had an amontillado listed along with the oloroso. Like most Americans, I don't know much about sherry, but I was pretty sure that amontillados were drier than oloroso. Upon conferring with my beverage director that evening, I was informed that the amontillado was stored in the fridge. Well, at least I know now, and will be ready should the couple return or other like-minded, like-palated customers take up a seat at my bar. In the end, they still enjoyed their sherry, and I learned something new. All in all, a new bartender success.