In Cocktails Drinks Entertaining Food and Drink Mens Issues Mens lifestyle Mezcal Pelotón De La Muerte Mezcal Summer Drinks

Aimed To Please: Pelotón De La Muerte and the Mezcales De Leyenda Mezcal Family


If asked, you can say a lot of things about New York City.  Some of them may be nice, some of them can be negative and then you could stay appropriately neutral.  However, my guess is that you won't be that neutral when asked what your favorite this or that, here or there is.  Your niceties will surely be linked to why one should check out this eatery and what to order there whereas your negatives will most likely dictate why one must avoid this bar on that street at this time of night.  It's true that the locals know where to go and what to enjoy and imbibe and thusly avoid and ignore completely.  Kismet happens when a sweet piece of 'here' collides with a sweet piece of 'there' at a wonderful location and propels you into an experience that you'll be likely to recount, nicely of course.

Much to my delight, I had such an experience earlier this week that brought together three phenoms of craft, artistry and culture.  Tucked above Freeman's Restaurant on Freeman's Alley in the Lower East Side is Banzarbar, a quaint little 8 month-old speakeasy-style bar & small plate eatery that features uniquely cultivated cocktails from celebrated master mixologist Eryn Reece.  I arrived at Banzarbar for an intimate tasting experience and introduction to Pelotón De La Muerte Mezcal Artesanal.  
                               Danny Mena                                  Eryn Reece

Produced by Mezcales De Leyenda, what makes Pelotón De La Muerte Mezcal special is its inclusion into a tenured family of mezcal producers that aim to produce this Mexican-birthed spirit in respectful, time-honored and authentic ways.  To do this one must know craft, procedure, tradition and the land that Mezcales De Leyenda with its over ten years of production and partnering with local producers has sought out to showcase and preserve this diverse spirit.  The producers under Leyenda follow the guidelines for growing, harvesting, roasting, milling, fermentation and distillation that were established for authentic mezcal yet what makes this spirit extraordinary are the dozens of varieties of agave found throughout the nine states of Mexico.  This creates quite complex and distinct flavor profiles for these artisanal mezcals that can differ not just from one agave type to another but also by the elevations at which they are grown.  

My barstool at Banzarbar was a launchpad into the noble complexities of Leyenda mezcals that started with a passionate recounting of mezcal, journeys and history from Danny Mena, the revered NY-based Mexican chef, restauranteur and partner in the Mezcales De Leyenda distillery.  Mena gave us a walk through five different mezcals offered by Leyenda with the first being the amazing Pelotón De La Muerte-Mezcal Joven Artesanal.  This award-winning smoky, clean and semi-dry mezcal is great to sip and even replace tequila in cocktails for a more grown, sexier drink.  The label of Pelotón De La Muerte, which means Brigade of Death, was the flag used by the insurgents during the Mexican Revolution in honor of the founding father of Mexican independence, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.  Then came Montana-Mezcales Unicos, a bold soothing sipper with vibrant cleansing verdant notes followed by San Luis Potosi-Mezcales De Leyenda, a flavorful mezcal with slight peppery notes with a clean almost sweet finish.  Don Anatascio-Grandes Leyenda and Guerrero-Mezcales De Leyenda both showcase how the distillery offers the complexities of one type of agave in two different mezcals.  Don Anatascio is herbal and crisp with a preparation and fermentation process of a lower-elevation agave that gives it a faint and interesting cheese-like aromatic.  Then although that aromatic is present with Guerrero now there's a fuller profile with orange, briny, herbal and smoky notes with a smooth finish to this higher-elevation Sierra-Madre mountain range sourced agave.

Mena then handed us over into the hands of mixologist Reece, who just three months ago crafted the world's first ever signature mezcal cocktail as recognized by the Mezcal Cocktail Mission Cocktail Competition.  Her winning cocktail which features Pelotón De La Muerte is the "Nighthawk", a deliciously simple and smartly combined trio of just three ingredients.  Check out the recipe below:

Nighthawk

2 ounces           Pelotón De La Muerte Mezcal
3/4 ounce          Sweet Vermouth 
1/4 ounce         Coffee Liqueur
Garnish with an orange rind.


This drink is just superb.  The clean yet smoky mezcal works perfectly with the toasty coffee flavor which then stands out due to the sweetness of the vermouth.  The bitter and citrus bump of the orange balances nicely with the bitter & sugary infusion of the coffee.  It made for such a sexy and distinguished cocktail.

An intro into a wonderful catalogue of mezcals and insightful dialogue in the form of conversation and cocktails gave this New Yorker some great perspective for the next time I'm queried to suggest, reflect on and celebrate Gotham City.  Go with the advice of the ones who know and make your evening even better with the sweet satisfaction that is mezcal.  Pelotón De La Muerte Mezcal is available now at select wine and spirit retailers in New York City like Astor Wines.  For more information check out the Mezcales  De Leyenda website here and as always, please remember to drink responsibly.

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In Cocktails Drinks Entertaining Food and Drink Recipes Rosa 22 Summer Drinks Wines and Spirits

Roses Are Red, Rosés Are Stella: Rosa 22 Aperitivo Rosé from Stella Rosa


Every so often I find myself in a bar, be it dive or upscale, at an afterwork event with cocktail sponsoring or at home with a yen for a spirit to cherry-top my bothersome day.  At said bars, with dives I stick to the easy cocktail that can't be ruined whereas at the upscales I may tend to go with a glossy top shelf-based specialty cocktail.  At those sponsored events I'll look for ingredients that I love first, then compare them to the ones that aren't necessarily my first choice and then finally assess how the spirit holds up in them.  When at home, I'll concoct a drink to rival the day's severity.  This can be anything from white wine for a manageable day to anything from cognac or mezcal for an exhaustive unnerving day.  

Many often pair their drink to match the weight of their day, but what about a new drink that's undiscovered and untasted. Well if you're anything like me then you begin to contemplate exactly where said drink would fit into the library of situation & spirit mash-ups that systematically dictate the heft of your drink.  I thought of this when I first sampled Rosa 22 an Aperitivo Rosé from Stella Rosa of the esteemed Riboli Family Wine Estates.  With Stella Rosa being the number one American-imported Italian wine, Rosa 22 emerges as an amazing aperitivo rosé that, rather than being infused, is steeped and extracted of all natural fruits similarly to a cup of tea for 60 days in stainless steel before undergoing cold stabilization for a crisper more clarified rosé.  Immediately upon tasting this, I sort of swooned.  Rosa 22 is floral and sweet with a refreshing flavor profile that evokes nice oral and nasal sensations like walking through a flower garden.  What's delightfully characteristic is that much like exploring a garden, there is an offset to the presence of sweet with subtle bitter notes and an underlying hint of tartness from ingredients like mandarin orange, peach, orange peels and aromatic botanicals.  

What you're left with is a great cocktail that I found to be thoroughly satisfying on its own but with a special enough platform to create full cocktails.  The flavor of Rosa 22 is so distinct and pleasing to both your sweet-seeking and cultivated palettes and can become a tremendous flavor component to cocktails with neutral spirits or spirits with similar notes like vodka, gin and wines like prosecco.  Getting back to where I would place Rosa 22 in my situation/spirit library, I thought this would be great with brunch, at an outdoor Summer soiree or perhaps at the end of a great, eventful  and lesser frenzied workday when you just want a celebrate with a great apperitivo accompanied with a superb meal.  With that on the brain I thought of creating one of my signature cocktails, but chose to just showcase what I love about Rosa 22; its organic loveliness.  Please check out a simple way to enjoy Rosa 22 below with the R22 Cocktail:

R22 
2 ounces         Rosa 22
1/2 ounce       Fresh Lime Juice
1-2 sprigs       Fresh Mint (my added touch)
Splash            Soda Water (Seltzer)
Ice
Lime Wheel (garnish)


This easy and simple cocktail is a great way to experience the natural beauty of Rosa 22.  It's fragrant  with a pleasant full-bodied sweetness that is perfectly balanced with the citrus tartness of the lime and the verdant pop of the fresh mint.  I must say that when I cracked open this bottle, it didn't last the day.  Rosa 22 is really that enjoyable and an ultra pleasant sipper over ice with lime to mellow out your day.  Check with local finer wine and spirit retailer for Rosa 22  availability or check here for national availability and as always please remember to enjoy responsibly.

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In Cocktails Drinks Food and Drink National Tequila Day Recipes Summer Drinks Tequila Viva XXXII Wines and Spirits

An Agave-Based Escape: National Tequila Day & VIVA XXXII Tequila


No matter how you feel about the current state of American politics, I think we can all agree that when nationalism gets a bit too heavy, we all need an escape.  A brief time, a sun-shiny day, a commemorative week in which we can hang up our opinions, views and angsts for the time-being and do something collectively celebratory.  It's enough to keep us from going completely insane and just enough of a buffer to hold us over till the next national outrage, public outcry or imperialist move.  Where would we be without the ideas and implementation of National Days?

Well for one, we'd have one less thing to enjoy and one less thing to reminisce on.  Be it National Hot Dog, Banana Creme Pie or Snickerdoodle, these days seek and serve to tell us not to take ourselves so seriously and to remember to relish and imbibe in the wonderful delicacies of life.  Not that I needed a reason, but National Tequila Day is another great excuse to drink up (responsibly), wax on about the days when you could do shots like a pro and celebrate that agave-based spirit that gave us margaritas and sunrises.

Oh, did I mention that today, July 24th, is National Tequila Day?!?  The perfect day to discover this wonderful spirit, relive its revel-making goodness or unfold the layers of its herbal depth.  The absolutely wonderful VIVA XXXII Tequila is an award winning tequila that truly and excellently shows the range of the spirit in a platform way.  From their meticulously blended clear and pure Joven to their oak barrel six month-aged Reposado to their three year-aged deep Extra Añejo, VIVA XXXII Tequila has a cultivated complexity that comes through with a purity and richness that sets it above the rest as a benchmark tequila.  

Since it is National Tequila Day after all, I couldn't let the occasion pass without sharing a cocktail recipe with you folks.  For this cocktail, I used VIVA XXXII Reposado and since it's the high time of Summer, I also decided to use a refreshing seasonal staple.  Watermelon!  Check out the cocktail recipe below that I have dubbed the 'VIVA Melon Fix'.

VIVA MELON FIX

1 1/4 ounces  VIVA XXXIII Reposado Tequila 
1 1/2 cups       Fresh Grilled Watermelon
1 ounce           Fresh Lime Juice
6-8 sprigs       Fresh Mint
2 ounces         Simple Syrup 
Ice cubes
Chipotle Peppered Salt




Heat grill or grill pan to about 350 degrees then coat the grill surface with olive or grapeseed oil.  Lay down small/medium wedges of watermelon (about 2-3) and grill for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side.  Let the wedges rest for a couple of minutes (cut a small wedge from one of the wedges and set it aside) then cut the wedges off the rind and place them into a blender and chop them until juiced.  Then strain the juice and toss the pulp.  

Next, in a cocktail shaker add the fresh mint, simple syrup (I did mine with coconut sugar) and fresh lime juice then lightly muddle together.  Fill a mason jar with ice then pour in contents from the shaker, add watermelon juice and tequila then stir.  Add the small wedge of the grilled watermelon that was set aside to the rim of the jar, lightly sprinkle it with a dash of the chipotle peppered salt and then add a sprig of fresh mint as a garnish and serve. 

The smokiness of the watermelon juice hits you right away, but is balanced nice by the syrup and the weight of the tequila.  I chose the VIVA XXXII Reposado because of its herbal and roasted flavor which I thought would give the cocktail a grown and mature weight to the airy freshness of the watermelon.  The syrup is a nice touch since grilling the watermelon took down the sweetness but the flavor remained with a newly added smokiness.  The mint and lime add nice pops of freshness in a verdant way as does the dash of chipotle peppered salt in a briny/spicy way.

Well I've helped you solve one tequila conundrum for today, just make sure you schedule the Über beforehand to avoid any other since it always best to drink responsibly.  VIVA XXXII Tequilas are available at your finer wines and spirits retailers.  Enjoy National Tequila Day!

www.VIVA32.com

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In Men's Clothing Men's Fashion Mens Spring/Summer 2019 Review Menswear New York Fashion Week New York Mens Day NYFWM

All For One And One For All: New York Men's Day Spring/Summer 2019 Collections Recap


Do designers ask who their customer is anymore?  I ask this since a popular American brand can appeal to both disposable-incomed teens in Japan and new-money middle-agers in New England just as how a highbrow European brand can have clients ranging from affluent day traders to downtown fashion 'night-people', but sell-out to trend-seeking 'hype-beasters'.  Yesteryear's worries of stocking more bathing suits and cabana shirts in Palm Beach than in New York have taken a backseat to the more attuned reality that it's kind of getting dicier to decipher just where and how a designer's clothing will reach its final home.  For a designer to consider that their customer could be anyone and anywhere, how does one market to a target customer that could be several men rolled into one?

Maybe they don't have to and that's probably the beauty if it too.  That you may live in a small town in Northern Europe and connect with the aesthetic that a brand is selling with their inky metropolitan club-going verve is the infectious beauty of culture, be it something you connect with or oddly enough find yourself wanting to.  Then perhaps the broadening of menswear in this global age of accessible information, e-commerce & social media has created broader opportunities for designers to fiscally reach their bottom-lines while simultaneously driving home their brand's lifestyle & aesthetic.  I thought of this as I attended Agentry PR's 'Men's Day' presentations during the recent New York Mens Spring/Summer 2019 Collections that debuted here this week.  Yes, mood-boards came into 3-D existence and fabric & trim magically formed jackets and trousers, but with all the different kinds of men finding their voices worldwide, do designers really have to convince anymore or do they just have to get it out there with enough exposure to just watch the men come?
                                                                 70s in swing at David Hart


                   David Hart                                                     Vanessa Zhang


            Vanessa Zhang                                         Krammer & Stoudt


It has to be a clever bit of both.  Some men know what they connect with and some men will always need some help figuring that out.  How fitting that modern menswear has become a motley cruë of tailoring in several silhouettes, sportswear that can look like the day but be priced like an expensive night and ensembles that fit the body of a man but caress his inner (and sometimes outer) feminine-mystique.  The case for tailoring was true at David Hart, where the wide-lapeled, saucy jacquard-wearing swanky 70s party host came to life and at Vanessa Zhang who loosened up the idea of a suit and merged it with almost caricature-esque sportswear shapes.  The appeal of sportswear just makes sense on a worldwide scale as the suit today is not all that's worn when closing deals and throwing around ideas.  The wabi-sabi Japanese vibe from Krammer & Stoudt was comforting to a level that gave the collection an artistic and informed zen quality while Sundae School offered up a collection of more Eastern references with remixed quilting and soft 'east meets west' tailoring.  The vibrant heavily printed collection with nods of Mexican motifs and cheeky floral pair-ups was retail-friendly and handsomely executed at Descendant of Thieves.  There was more slick sportswear from Agent with darker artisanal pieces that made the soft sheers, cozy bombers, inky plaids and fresh pleating moody yet very laid back and inviting.  
                                                                         Sundae School


                                              Descendant of Thieves


                                                                                 Agent


There was some fabulous usages of color, explosive prints and watercolor-esque shredded/printed surface treatments worked onto sportswear staples at Taakk and a toned down 80's color swinging on  summery and clean-silhouetted separates from HBNS.  The athletic edge at Bristol was on par with the current trend in mens sportswear updated with special added touches like reverse surfaces and slouchy layering.  The band on chill mode was the scene at Limitato with their artsy introspective printed tees and trim cuts in a dark & brooding and highly wearable collection.  Rounding out the collective for Men's Day was This Is Sweden, whose conceptual and slightly avant collection of reworked denim styles and tailoring themes were for the one who thinks a bit outside the box.
 Taakk

HBNS

 Bristol

In this day and age, there's room for many kinds of aesthetics to be received into the menswear arena.  I could say that the collections at Men's Day set the tone for the creations displayed this week, but it was more that they just added to the narrative that speaks on subscribing to the unique voice of a collection instead of subscribing to a collective voice that gets lost in a crowd.
 Limitato

 This Is Sweden

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