Now that I’ve eaten my way through somebody else’s list (Time Out New York), I’m ready to compile my own 100 spectacular things I’ve tasted in 2012. Look for another five dishes every few days.
NUMBER 45: SORACHI ACE from BROOKLYN BREWERY
Ok, so this is not a drinking blog, but I’ve spent much time searching for the best beer in the city (come on, it’s liquid bread) and what do you do while you eat? Drink! And I’ve found some deliciously quaffable concoctions along my journeys.
Named for the rare Sorachi Ace hops that was developed in Japan, Brooklyn Brewery initially released this unique saison beer as a 750 ml bottle feremented beer and this year started offering it as a draft option. It stretches the imagination of what beer can be with a spicy citrus/lemongrass flavor followed by a clean champagne yeast finish. It’s endlessly drinkable and pairs brilliantly with all types of food. Sparkling wine better watch its back. Price Varies
|79 North 11th Street (between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue),
NUMBER 44: DRINKING VINEGARS at POK POK
This year Andy Ricker took the city by storm by bringing his beloved Portland concept Pok Pok to NYC. First, he opened an Asian chicken wing storefront in the Lower East Side, then a full-on replica of his original restaurant in Brooklyn, and then finally replaced the chicken wing joint with one dedicated to Pad Thai.
I’ve enjoyed his Thai creations in Portland, but strangely the only thing I’ve sampled here was one of the famous drinking vinegars. These elixirs have been served at every one of the restaurants and for good reason. In addition to a variety of health benefits, they pair perfectly with the food. The soda water is mixed with an intense acidic vinegar syrup that comes in flavors such as pineapple, tamarind, raspberry, and pomegranate. Not too sweet, not too tart, but totally refreshing. Price: $4
|127 Columbia Street (between Kane and Irving Street),
Columbia Waterfront, Brooklyn
|137 Rivington Street (between Norfolk and Suffolk Street),
Lower East Side
NUMBER 43: HOUSE GIN AND TONIC at AMOR Y AMARGO
My new favorite bar is Amor y Amargo, which specialize in bitters and digestifs. When I think bitters, I think darker, spicier cocktails with funny names from the 1930’s. I certainly don’t think of something as pedestrian as a gin and tonic.
But, boy oh boy, this is no ordinary gin and tonic. Using a custom-made tonic cordial (which infuses quinine into alcohol rather than water) is just the beginning. After gin is mixed in, they generously include Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit bitters (think the grapefruity character of beer hops), and maraschino liqueur. It’s then chilled and served on draft. While very simple, this gin and tonic has a light sweet grapefruit finish rounding out the bitter, herbal qualities making this the most complex and delicious gin and tonic you’ll ever taste. Price: $12
|AMOR Y AMARGO|
|443 East 6th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue B),
NUMBER 42: PALO NEGRO at CLOVER CLUB
In the relaxed, jazzy lounge of the Clover Club, you’re able to sip some of the best cocktails in Brooklyn. The only problem is trying to make a decision from their long detailed menu (not to mention all the possible secret off-menu cocktails they offer).
I took my waitresses advice and ordered the Palo Negro – translating to “black stick”. This strong libation was exactly what I wanted. Reposado tequila gives the cocktail its backbone, but the flavors are balanced with black strap rum, nutty Palo Cortado sherry, some orange liqueur for acidity, and raw brown sugar. Sweet, spicy, and warming matches the atmosphere and makes it too easy to stick around for another. Price: $13
|210 Smith Street (between Baltic Street and Butler Street)
NUMBER 41: UNIMPERIAL IPA from BARRIER BREWERY
American craft brewers have gotten pretty creative over the years inventing new styles like Black IPA’s and Wheat Wine Ales. These beers are full of surprising flavors and are far removed from the mass produced flat tasting beer of a few decades ago (sadly, those can still be found around the country).
I think Barrier Brewery is the most creative of our local breweries (they brew on Long Island, but distribute widely across the city) and their Unimperial IPA is the most impressive yet. A traditional IPA is very high in alochol, which is needed to balance the intense bitter hoppiness. Somehow, Barrier created a beer that is just as piney and grassy, but very low in alcohol (4% alcohol). Amazingly still balanced (and quite delicious), I could drink these all day. And thanks to another American craft brewery, we need to re-write the style book. Price: Varies
|BARRIER BREWING CO.|