Raising A Glass Or Two At The DISCUS Party

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I went to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS) holiday party in New York this week. The gathering, held at the New York Yacht Club, promised a sampling of the latest superpremium spirits and holiday cocktails from leading brands, and it did not disappoint.

For one thing, I finally tasted Beam Suntory’s Yamazaki whisky, the 12 year and the 18 year old. I love whisky (and whiskey), and it does live up to the hype, especially the 18.

Kelso, TN-based Pritchard’s Distillery had a table promoting its whiskeys and rums (who knew they made rum in Tennessee?). I tried the company’s Sweet Lucy bourbon liqueur, which was sort of like a Grand Marnier dusted with peach and apricot.

I also had a taste of Monkey 47, a gin made with 47 botanicals–many sourced from Germany’s Black Forest. The brand, which launched in Europe in 2010 and was brought it to the U.S. earlier this year by Sidney Frank Importing, has enough juniper so that you know it’s a gin, but also a fair amount of citrus and spice.

Monkey 47, which is distilled from molasses that adds a sweetness to the finish, is pricey—about $45 for a 350-ml. bottle. So I’m not sure I would use it in drinks, but I did appreciate the Black Tie Cocktail that barman Willy Shine was making with it (shown above): Monkey 47, Dolin dry vermouth, Maraschino liqueur, Regan’s orange bitters, with an absinthe rinse and lemon peel/oil.

As for other cocktails served, I liked Bacardi’s A Holiday Pairing, with Grey Goose La Poire vodka, Amontillado sherry, Montenegro, cinnamon syrup and lemon juice. “There’s a lot going on in here,” noted my colleague Bruce about the drink, but it all worked together.

I ended the night with a Toasted Caramel Toddy that the folks at Constellation Brands were mixing up. Made with Black Velvet Toasted Carmel whisky, Earl Grey tea, an orange twist, whole cloves and dusted nutmeg, it was sweeter than I normally like, but the fresh spices and tea notes added interest.

There were plenty of cocktails I didn’t get to try, like the Mexican Hot Chocolate that bartender Pam Wiznitzer (most recently of the Dead Rabbit) was mixing up with Casamigos tequila, and lots of new spirits from the major suppliers that I missed. There’s always next year, though.

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