Spirited Resolutions for 2019

Spirited Resolutions

Perhaps it’s a cliché, but as December edges towards the precipice of a new year, it’s seems only natural to reflect on the last 12 months and to take stock: stock of personal achievements or moments spent in celebration, the number of steps taken in earnest towards a greater sense of self or what next year’s course—charted or uncharted—might have in store.

Here at Skurnik, stock can also be assessed quite tangibly by regarding the bottles on our back bar and considering how we best imbibed in 2018. As our spirits portfolio grows, so too does the palpable promise of continued discovery relating to all things distilled.

Here, our friendly Skurnik spirits team reflects upon what we found ourselves most passionate about in 2018, and also what we hope to cheers with in the year ahead. We look forward to both new and continuing love affairs with distillates that span a wide array of countries, categories, ingredients, and styles, fortified by the knowledge that these spirits contain value far beyond what can be measured in glass.


Adam Schuman, Spirits Portfolio Manager

Q: What did you enjoy drinking in 2018?

A: In 2018, I officially over-indulged on Dirty Greenhook Gin Martinis, served up with three olives. The floral quality of Greenhook American Dry is beautifully juxtaposed by olive brine. It’s basically an excuse to drink olive juice without people judging me, and with my newly discovered gluten allergy, Dirty Gin Martinis with a bowl of steamers and a piping hot basket of French Fries are just what the doctor ordered.

Dirty Greenhook Martini

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice until well incorporated and ice cold. Strain into a coupe and garnish with 3 olives.

Q: What would you like to drink more of in 2019?

A: Speaking of my delicate stomach, in 2019 I plan on drinking more Amaro. The healing/digestive properties of amari do wonders for the belly both before and after the meal. Two of my favorites are Caffo’s Veccio Amaro Del Capo and Antica Torina’s Amaro Della Sacra. Both are packed with warm spice for the winter weather and its corresponding cuisine. Del Capo is a bit lighter in style, leading with a cooling, citrusy top note, then dipping into tongue-tingling baking spice, palate-coating chamomile, and lightly bittered herbs. Amaro Della Sacra is notably richer and rounder, leading with cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and vanilla, before drying out with herbs and chinchona.


Gina Wren Verga, Assistant Portfolio Manager

Q: What did you enjoy drinking in 2018?

A: 2018 was the year of mezcal for me. Even though our portfolio has exploded with some of the best whiskies that money can buy from around the globe, my personal collection of mezcal now rivals my scotch collection. Brands like El Jolgorio, Nuestra Soledad, Tosba, Real Minero, Mezcalosfera, and Rey Campero in all of their varieties grace my booze shelf. They are all so thought-provoking and delicious in their own particular way.

Q: What would you like to drink more of in 2019?

A: My first love in the world of spirits is Scotch whisky and I would like to delve deeper into the particulars. There are so many cool distilleries that I’m just now learning of because they’ve been eclipsed by the blends to which they contribute; distilleries like Miltonduff, Glen Keith, and Teaninich, for example. Independent bottling labels such as Single Cask Nation and Exclusive Malts allow us all to taste whiskies that rarely have official distillery releases. Call me old-school, but nothing comforts me more than a neat pour of a great Islay or Speyside whisky on a cold winter night. Thankfully, we’ve got plenty on hand!

 


Justin Briggs, Spirits Specialist

Q: What did you enjoy drinking in 2018?

A: My steady, Kaitlin, can’t get enough of Bigallet Thym, so that’s been a staple in our home cocktailing. For me…I just fell in love with Neversink Apple Aperitif (their take on Pommeau).
Skurnik’s Jamaican Rum options really kicked up a notch this year with the addition of Worthy Park Estate, now sitting alongside Rum Fire from Hampden Estate. With cocktails, I always come back to a Mai Tai or a Daiquiri. In fact, always a daiquiri. Nearly any daiquiri.

Mai Tai

Rum-Bar Daiquiri

Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a coupe.

Q: What would you like to drink more of in 2019?

As far as cocktails are concerned, I really want to keep working on stirred, clear cocktails that have totally unexpected flavor profiles. I love it when it looks like a martini, is served like a martini, but tastes nothing like a martini. Fun game to play. I always start the year thinking I want to focus on low-ABV highballs, but pretty quickly I’m just reverting back to daiquiris all the time. Maybe this year I want to try and force myself NOT to have daiquiris! But maybe that’s just some sort of self-punishment. If it ain’t broke…

Martiki (Amended from The Luau in Hollywood, 1953-1978)

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a Nick & Nora and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

 


Ginger Warburton, Spirits Specialist

Q: What did you enjoy drinking in 2018?

A: In January of 2018 I was lucky enough to join one of our import partners, Charles Neal, on a trip to France. The point of the trip was to learn ALL about Calvados, Cognac, and Armagnac. We would wake up at 8:00 am every day and tour the countryside in a nine-passenger van.

 

My take away after meeting almost five brandy producers a day for seven days was that not only are these spirits artfully created with love by real humans, but I also really enjoy drinking them! During the trip I received some bottles as gifts and also got to shop for some selections of my own, and while my bar is chock full of amazing distillates, my night cap is usually a pour of one of these lovely brandies. My boyfriend enjoys a cigar with his Armagnac and we walk through south Williamsburg sipping and smoking after dinner, almost every weekday.

Q: What would you like to drink more of in 2019?

A: I think probably more brandy!


Amanda Elder, Spirits Specialist

Q: What did you enjoy drinking in 2018?

A: With Japanese drinking culture continuing to captivate the New York bar and restaurant scene, I found myself in 2018 not only learning about Shochu, but also mixing with it for the first time. It’s easy because of Shochu’s delicate flavor and nuance to simply see it as a substitute for vodka in workhorse cocktails, but that would be doing the individuality of this spirit a disservice. One of the things I like most about Shochu is that it forces you to think very carefully about how to balance it with other flavors in order to complement its character instead of just covering it up. In the context of cocktails at least, it’s like the shy kid at the party that has tons of cool stuff to talk about if only you’re willing to listen. The lineup of Mizu Shochu from Munemasa Distillery is distilled to a slightly higher than traditional proof, which strikes a great compromise for a spirit that was never traditionally envisioned as a cocktail component.

 

Barley Shochu Highball

Combine all ingredients in a highball over ice. Top with 1 oz. of tonic and stir lightly to incorporate. Garnish with a lemon wheel and mint sprig.

Q: What would you like to drink more of in 2019?

A: Now that I’m a good clip past my one-year anniversary as a member of the Skurnik Spirits Team, I can see my approach to cocktails changing. Where once I was enamored of infusions and specialty syrups as ingredients, I have, by necessity, had to workshop creating thoughtful cocktails with ready-to-use ingredients that can be recreated by any bar with access to our portfolio. I recently returned from the same brandy tour of France that Ginger traveled in January, and a number of my travel companions helmed from the lauded Bar Agricole in San Francisco. They have a very purist approach to cocktails that is rooted in an impressive knowledge of classic recipes. They’ve inspired me to go back to the beginning, so to speak, and refresh my knowledge of the pre-Prohibition and early 20th Century gems on which the entire cocktail canon is built.

 

Bombay Cocktail (Amended from The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930)

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a Nick & Nora and garnish with an orange twist.