Sunday I joined the Micro Spirits Odyssey, part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, courtesy of In With Bacchus and Dave from Orange V Vodka. It was an all-day event with tastings, seminars, and food at Butter restaurant.
I'm not much of a cocktail or liquor drinker--I do enjoy bourbon and Scotch every now and then, but a bottle will last six months in my house--so, this event was not necessarily geared toward my tastes. However, I was surprised by what I found. All of the spirits being tasted were produced by small distillers (mostly from New York), and most of the people working the tables were the distillers and owners of the spirits.
There were a lot of fruit-flavored spirits and cordials at the event. I never realized what a difference real fruit makes in the distilling process--it tasted nothing like the flavor liquors I'm used to; it was far superior. Thanks to Philadelphia Distilling for providing me with my first taste of Absinthe (Vieux Carre), which was a fairly enjoyable spirit. Unfortunately, it's difficult tasting straight liquor all day and only the Macchu Pisco table had a cocktail ready for tasting. I had to go to the bar for the rotating cocktails.
The cocktails being served were nothing like what I've seen at the bars. They were muddling fresh fruit like blueberries and strawberries and adding flavored bitters. Some of these drinks had six or seven ingredients. One in particular had too many flavors. The only one I really enjoyed was the Darling Clementine, made with Colorado rum. Of course, I also missed out on trying a few others.
The biggest surprises I had during the day were courtesy of Greenbar Collective and Long Island Spirits. Greenbar makes Crusoe organic spiced rum, which was the smoothest rum I've ever tasted. And it had a great mix of distinct spices. They also make Jasmine and hibiscus liqueurs, which are quite sweet but would make great cocktails. Long Island Spirits changed my opinion of vodka--they produce LIV potato vodka (made from Long Island potatoes). I was resistant to trying vodkas because I don't really like the taste. But LIV had a light, smooth, and pleasant taste--a vodka I would actually enjoy drinking every now and then.
Unfortunately, most of the spirits at the event are not available in New Jersey yet. But I now know there are spirits out there that I can enjoy.