Thursday, December 31, 2009
USBGNY Distillery Tour
Locations: Blue Coat gin and Tequila's restaurant In Philadelphia
Date: December 13+14th, 2009
It was a spotty sprinkled morning and I was on my way to my first American distillery. I pulled up to our chartered bus for the USBGNY folks, and a few of them was outside chatting about how great this tour will be in Philly. We had to wait for a few members, with one of the usual suspects, John Pomeroy.
When everyone finally made it, we headed to what I like to call Manhattan's "6th borough". The weather went from sprinkles to rain, but that didn't matter to us, because we was inside the bus having a lovely light breakfast along with donated spirits. Yes, drinking around 10:30 am people! I can't think of no other way to get this trip started with people like the USBG folks!
The 2 hour or so trip was filled with a lot of laughter and craziness. we had a bit of a detour en route to Blue Coat, but we found our way. Upon entering the distillery, we was greeted by the master distiller, Robert Cassell, the vice president, Tim Yamall, and the president, Andrew Auwerda.
Everyone relaxed for a few and then the discussion of the distillery process began. Next, we had the pleasure in tasting the fine products: Penn 1681 Rye (vodka), Vieux Carre(absinthe),and the Blue Coat(gin). I had no idea that they had more than gin, but it was a grand surprise. I enjoyed their spirits at the tasting and I couldn't believe how good the absinthe was along with the vodka and gin!
Our gracious host treated us to a lunch at the distillery and then opened the floor to a discussion on their products and various other questions that arose in general about spirits. After the discussion, we had the tour of the distillery and bottled our own Blue Coat gin mini bottles! That was fun and educational for them to give us that opportunity.
At this time, we was ready to check in at the downtown Marriott and get ready for the next event. We had an arrange roommate assigned to everyone, but a few of us kinda changed that around. John Pomeroy, aka "Pom Pom" wanted to share with me, Adriana, and Meaghan. One out of the four of us couldn't make it to this trip, therefore Pom moved on in with us. He had brought his bar kit and booze and I brought a nice bottle of rhum to liquidfy our friends when we returned from the events.
After our make shift mini bar set-up was complete, we walked over to Apothecary for our "happy hour". Tad Carducci(master mixologist) along with his USBG Philly bartenders created some mean cocktails for us that made everyone smile. I munched on the appetizers and chatted with our Philly friends and then the Philly president, Phobe Esmon gave us our official welcome and then we imbibed on a few more cocktails, until it was time for us to go to dinner at the Tequila's restaurant.
At Tequila's, we had a 5 course meal in the their private room given by the restaurant owner, David Suro-Pinera. He greeted us warmly and began a special power point presentation as the cocktails and courses began to come out in the dining room. David's topic was on "How Tequila is Made" featuring the brand he stands behind on, which is Siembra Azul.
The presentation was very educational and concise. His message and what I walked away with, was the men behind the agave farming. These men work very hard under the Mexican sun daily, while farming these large blue agave's in precise execution. The farmer's are not appreciated as they should be and work under extreme conditions. These people are the soul of the tequila!
After Tequila's, we began our "cocktail crawl", which included 4-5 bars that I can remember, including this awesome hookah bar! Me and a group of us cutted away from the main crew and enjoyed some middle eastern/ Indian music, while dancing with the hookah in our mouth and drinking shots of American whisky! O baby-that was the icing of the night.
At the last bar, we was serenaded with Frank Sinatra's, "New York" song by the wonderful Pen and Pencil bar staff and the Philly customers. The USBG crew was all there and we shouted the song from the top of our tonsils and waved our hands in complete appreciation! It was a friggin blast people. I wish you was there, but at least you can imagine what that must of been to us, in that moment!
When the singing and drinking was over, we headed back to the hotel for the "after party". We told everyone to meet us in our room in 15 minutes for drinks and sure enough they came in full force at the same time and more of the drinking ensued in the wee hours of the morning.
When we finally woke up, me and my roomies gathered ourselves and made it to the Hendrick's gin breakfast. Yes, a gin breakfast with our members creating Ramos Gin Fizzes to get us going! After breakfast, we got onto the bus and headed back for the city. A lot of people was tired and most was passed out. The remaining bunch was in the back making jokes until our belly was hurting! I know I laughed all the way back to the city, thanks to my friend Matt Stinton, who is an under cover comic.....
As we arrived to our drop off point in Herald Square, we took the remaining donated bottles and headed straight to the first event of the day, O yeah, more boozing and It was the St. Germain Holiday ping -pong party!
For pix on this event, become a fan on my Face ook page: Libation Diaries with Carmen
Also, I want to thank USBGNY and our Philly chapter, Apothecary, Tad Carducci, David Suro-Pinera, and Tequila's restaurant.
To be continued...........