My wife and I went to Down and Out in the East Village to try their crazy “double dozens” oyster happy hour. They currently offer two varieties of oysters for $1.50ea, but when you order a dozen, you get a second dozen for free. Essentially, they’re $0.75ea, which is the cheapest I’ve seen them in town!
We tried both the Kusshi (small ones, west coast of Canada) and Glidden Point (pictured above). My wife preferred the Kusshi, and I liked the ones from Glidden Point.
We also tried their “oyster pan roast,” which is a really nice bisque-like oyster and potato soup. It might not be much to look at in the photo, but I assure you it was delicious!
We also got down on their blue claw crab cake sandwich, which was nice and tasty, topped with a home made slaw.
They also serve a lot of high end canned fish items, like these sardines.
Their deviled quail eggs are good too. These come eight pieces per order.
Lots of these food items are discounted at happy hour, like the oysters. The happy hour runs daily from 4pm-7pm, and they also offer two different beers for $3, as well as discounted cocktails.
Most notable about this place, however, is the great whiskey selection, which includes some very rare, vintage bottles that the owner/bartender Josh secured from various estate sales.
He gave us some samples of a few really nice old bottles, like that Canadian Club from 1940! Soon there will be an entire separate menu of vintage whiskeys here, which will nearly double the current selection of whiskey on the menu. Stay tuned!
Bustan means “garden” or “orchard” in Hebrew, Arabic and ancient Aramaic. The Upper West Side restaurant named as such boasts a pan-Mediterranean menu that features dishes from the shores of Southern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa, which are home to those languages. Bustan stands out in New York City’s sea of Mediterranean restaurants with its multicultural approach to food and drink, where diners are encouraged to explore and ask questions about their diverse menu.
My wife and I came in for Sunday brunch at noon and the place was already almost full. But the restaurant is spacious, so you won’t have to throw elbows just to cut your food. You may want to make a reservation, though, because the people who live in this neighborhood obviously know how good the food is at this joint.
We started with a pair of bloody marys that had Mediterranean spiced rims.
We enjoyed these. They had the right amount of heat, and the mix was a nice, thick, tomato blend that they must have made in-house, because it was really fresh.
Since I’m on drinks, I may as well mention that they have a really interesting and unique cocktail menu that further highlights Mediterranean flavors. And the bar is a great place to sit and eat as well. There’s a beautiful wide grey marble topper and plenty of seating. They also have a pretty incredible whisky selection as well.
We snacked on some homemade focaccia bread before our entrees came out. This was spiced with the same stuff from the bloody mary rims, along with some toasted and minced rosemary. Really delicious! And its served warm, with a bowl of olives.
We also tried these burekahs, which are spiraled rolls of doughy pastry style bread with feta and minced kalamata olives inside. Super tasty!
I ordered the green shakshouka for my entree.
Shakshouka is a baked egg dish from the region, often made with tomatoes. This green version featured creamed spinach, artichoke, fior di latte and white truffle oil. It also comes with homemade pita.
I was half expecting something heavy and salty, given the cheese and cream elements, but this was light and mild. I really loved it, and the addition of truffle oil really brought a wonderful earthiness to the dish. All you people looking for a healthy protein boost, this is the way to go! There had to be about four or five eggs in this baby. You get a lot of satisfying food for your money with this dish ($18).
My wife went with the potato pancakes entree. A large white plate is covered with one huge, crispy potato pancake, and then topped with two eggs (cooked any style you’d like) and three rolls of really high quality smoked salmon.
The best way to enjoy this dish is to eat a little bit of everything with each bite, so that the saltiness from the cured salmon seasons the pancake and egg with a its natural brine.
This dish also comes with labaneh, which is a thick, tart, creamy, yogurt-like cheese that almost mimics the cream cheese that us NYC locals might eat with lox or smoked/cured salmon. It is a perfect pairing for this dish.
But one other savory item that’s a must try here is the hummus.
This stuff has won awards. In fact, I might as well mention Bustan’s overall awards for best restaurant in the upper west side (2014) and diner’s choice top 100 neighborhood gems in America (2015). This place is no joke.
Anyway, this hummus is super creamy, and the addition of tahini sesame paste gives it a massive flavor boost. I actually recommend getting this as an app for the table to share before diving into those delicious entrees.
But you absolutely MUST save room for dessert, because this next thing is my favorite ice cream dessert that I’ve ever had.
It’s two scoops of vanilla gelato on a bed of candied pistachio nuts, dates and crisped rice, which is then topped with shaved halvah!
It’s called the Turkish sundae, and I get really excited when I see halvah used in anything, since I always loved eating it as a kid.
Clearly I loved that dessert, but I’ll be back in very soon to try the sticky toffee pudding, which consists of dates, walnuts, banana and tiramisu gelato. In fact several items on their dessert menu are really interesting, as are the entrees. Bustan is truly breaking the mold for Mediterranean fare and offering up lots of dishes that celebrate the entire region’s diverse food culture. Get up here ASAP and eat!
Note: I was invited to dine as a guest of this establishment and received a complimentary meal. This was not in exchange for a positive review; all opinions expressed are my own.
I’ve been a fan of Widow Jane for a few years now, but I recently had the chance to taste a bunch more of their offerings at their distillery in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
It also doubles as the Cacao Prieto chocolate factory, so don’t go assuming that I popped the wrong photo into this post by mistake.
Anyway, we tasted ten different bottles of booze. Five (left) were heirloom whiskies, which I liked a LOT, so I will talk about them first.
The Wapsie Valley bottle had a corn-forward flavor profile that was smooth yet strong. If you like a pure corn bourbon whiskey, then this should be your go-to selection, if not the blue corn version that I will get to later…
Bloody Butcher is a corn varietal that is red in color, and that is the namesake of the next bottle. This had a bit more character in the flavor to me, slightly peppery in fact.
The corn, as you can see below, is a nice vibrant blood red color:
The next two whiskies are “High Rye,” which means that they have a bit more rye in the mash than the previous two. This first one is the rye’d version of the Wapsie Valley from above. I liked this one better, because I think the addition of rye adds more interesting flavors and spices to the booze.
Same goes for the High Rye version of the Bloody Butcher: a much nicer drink. In fact this was one of my favorites of the day.
The last one we tried, and my other favorite, was the Hopi blue corn whiskey, of which I forgot to take a stand-alone photo. While this (and the other heirloom bottles) are pricey for only 375ml ($135-$145), the flavors are intense and rich, and worth the money in my opinion. This blue corn bottle offers some smoke that you might get from an islay single malt scotch, but rounded out nicely with the sweetness of corn. Absolutely amazing.
As it turns out, my wife had a shot of the Hopi bottle so I’m including that here:
For the regular tasting flight, we first started with a pair of rye mash, American oak aged whiskies. This first one was crisp and clean.
The second one here gets hit with some apple wood slats during the last stage of aging, which give it a nice sweetness and refreshing quality in the final taste. You can even smell the apple a bit.
This next bottle is the one you probably see most commonly in liquor stores and bars in the area, and it is the one that I was familiar with before this tasting. The water comes from a limestone mine in New York, and it is aged for ten years in new American oak barrels.
For some additional info on this bottle, I pulled the following from Caskers.com:
“To build a great city, you start with the toughest foundation known. The greatest structures in New York City, from the gargantuan caissons of the Brooklyn Bridge to the 27,000 ton pedestal of the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building itself, are held fast and strong by natural cement made from limestone from quarries located in Rosendale, New York.
The last Rosendale limestone mine closed down in 1970 and its owner, A.J. Snyder, who was as tough as the limestone he quarried, passed away shortly thereafter. His widow, Jane, was beloved in the community for her kindness and pure spirit, and so when Snyder passed, the Rosendale Limestone Mine became known as the Widow Jane Mine.
To make a great whiskey, you start with the finest water available. Following on the heels of the tremendously successful Widow Jane 5 , 7 and 8 Year Old Kentucky Bourbons, Widow Jane 10 Year Old Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon uses water from the same limestone quarries in Rosendale that were mined tocreate New York’s greatest architectural achievements. The sweet water, along with hand-selected ten-year old Kentucky bourbon, is imported to Brooklyn where Daniel Prieto Preston, inventor, aerospace engineer and founder of Cacao Prieto (a chocolate maker and distillery!), creates Widow Jane Bourbon. Preston brings Widow Jane 10 Year Old Bourbon to proof by hand using water from the Widow Jane Mine and then fills and labels each single-barrel bottle by hand. Bold and complex, the whiskey benefits from its Kentucky heritage, but it’s the smooth, mineral-rich New York water that gives the whiskey its unique flavor profile.
Widow Jane Whiskey is a true New York City whiskey, evocative both of one of mankind’s greatest achievements — New York City’s skyline — and Brooklyn’s artisanal, craft spirits movement. Both urban and urbane, Widow Jane Whiskey is New York’s very own — a signature whiskey of the world’s most magnificent and maddening metropolis.
Each bottle is hand-numbered — pick up one of these rare treasures today.”
Okay, so this next bottle is actually a chocolate flavored rum. This shit was so tasty. I would drink this on the rocks or direct from the freezer, or even mixed / blended with some vanilla ice cream for a boozy dessert.
And for you coffee lovers, this Colombian coffee flavored liqueur was also included in the tasting. I’m not sure if it has any caffeine, but it tasted exactly like espresso, but with a boozy kick.
Get out here for a tasting. I definitely recommend all of the heirloom whiskies. They were all really great.
WIDOW JANE DISTILLERY
214 Conover St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Shake up with ice and pour over some rocks. It starts out looking cloudy and light brown, but then it darkens up as it settles. A riff on this if it is too strong is to mix in a little bit of milk, but then the whole dynamic changes.
These were a smash hit on Thanksgiving. I must’ve made a half dozen of them for family members that took a sip of mine and then wanted their own. To me, it tasted like liquid brown sugar. My sister said it tasted like chocolate covered black cherries. My wife said it was a very “Fall/Autumn” drink.
This is a simple twist on an Old Fashioned that I decided to make with the tail end of a bottle of whiskey and some hibiscus tea that my wife brewed and left in the fridge. Other ingredients include agave syrup, sugar in the raw, lemon juice, lime juice and candied ginger.
I put some ice, whiskey, sugar, lime juice, lemon juice and agave in a shaker and shook the living fucklights out of it. Then I poured it over an ice sphere (because cubes are for pussies) and garnished with a couple of pieces of candied ginger that I had sitting in the cabinet.
The result was a great, sour-yet-sweet, tangy take on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail.
This page is dedicated to the greatest liquor around: whiskey. Aside from a dirty, dry, gin martini, a glass of scotch and/or whiskey is probably the greatest thing to happen to the male sex since the discovery of female tits, ass and vagina. Read and learn all about these great accompaniments to dinner.
You may sometimes see it spelled “whisky,” or generically (and often erroneously) referred to as “scotch.” You might also see scotch lumped in with things like bourbon or rye. Shit, you’ll even see single malts confused with blends. But words have meanings, my friends, and this is where you will learn them, and where you will find my opinions about which are the best.
Whiskey/Whisky: Whisky is alcohol that’s been distilled from fermented grain mash. All whiskey must be distilled at a minimum of 40% and a maximum of 94.8% ABV. The spelling is generally different based on which country it is from. A nice rule of thumb is that countries that do not have an E in their name do not spell whisky with an E. Examples: Scotland/Japan = Whisky; America/Ireland = Whiskey
Grain Whisky: Whisky made, at least in part, from grains other than malted barley.
Malt Whisky: Whisky made primarily from malted barley.
Irish Whiskey: Yup, you guessed it… whiskey made in Ireland. It must be distilled to an ABV of less than 94.8%. Additional rules are that it must be aged three or more years in wooden barrels, and if two or more distillates are used the whiskey must be labeled as a “blend.”
Scotch: The mash must be barley, it must be from Scotland, and it must be aged in oak barrels for three or more years at an ABV of less than 94.8%. Pretty simple.
Single Malt: Essentially this just means that the whisky is a product of a single distillery. A single-malt Laphroaig may contain whisky from many barrels produced at their distillery, but it must contain whisky produced only at Laphroaig.
Blended Malt: Also known as vatted malts, these are a blend of single malts from two or more distilleries.
Single Grain: Very misleading. It means barley and one or more other cereal grains were used, produced only at a single distillery (similar to single malt).
Blended Grain: Blend of single grains from two or more distilleries.
Blended Scotch Whisky: A mix of both single malt whisky and single grain whisky, sourced from several different distilleries.
Single Barrel: This is a whisky from a single barrel, unmixed with other barrels. Very rare.
Bourbon: Grain mix must be at least 51% corn, and bourbons are from the USA and aged in new charred oak barrels. Straight bourbon is a bourbon that has aged two or more years. While most bourbon is made in Kentucky, it is not a requirement. Bourbon can be no more than 80% alcohol (160 proof) and no more than 62.5% when put into casks for aging in new charred oak barrels.
Tennessee Whiskey: Straight bourbon made in Tennessee and filtered through charcoal.
Rye: In Canada, there must be some rye in the mash. In the USA, however, there must be at least 51% rye in the mash, and they must be aged in new charred oak barrels. Like bourbon, straight rye is a rye that has aged two or more years. Rye can be no more than 80% alcohol (160 proof) and no more than 62.5% when put into casks for aging in new charred oak barrels.
I have two distinct likes when it comes to scotch. I enjoy the extremes of the spectrum: creamy and sweet like butterscotch, and super medicinal and peaty.
Let’s start with the peaty ones: Laphroaig 10 is like baseball glove leather, and I mean that in the best way possible. Very smokey and definitely an acquired taste. I absolutely love it.
That, Ardbeg (both the 10 year and the Corryvreckan) and Lagavulin are my favorite of the smokey, peaty varieties.
I have a great book called “Michael Jacksons Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch” that I found to be very useful (Not Jacko – some other dude). It also rates them out of 100. Lagavulin 16 (their most common) gets like 96/100. That’s pretty fucking amazing for a bottle that typically costs $75-$100 (depending on how hard you are being raped in cities). Tasting anything higher ranked is going to cost you a shitload of scratch. In fact, I don’t think I’ve tasted anything rated higher than Lagavulin. Get it. It’s fucking totally mint.
For the smoother types: I like Macallan 18, Glenlivet 21, Balvenie Double Wood 12, and Glenmorangie 18.
That Glenlivet 21 is as clean as a freshly shaved snatch too, assuming there was a shower taken afterwards, and no STDs or weird rashes… One Christmas Eve I drank nearly half a bottle of GL21 and had no hangover whatsoever the next morning. Happy Birthday Jesus!!! The smoothies I listed here are all a bit more expensive (though Balvenie is not) but well worth it.
The Macallan and Glen Livet 12 years are nice to start with if you’d like to try something smooth as well, but I prefer the Balvenie Double Wood by far at that price point. They call it “double wood” because it has two hard cocks. No… because it is aged for most years in oak casks, but then finished in sherry casks, so it has a unique flavor.
Scotch Flavor Map
I came across this pretty cool chart thing a while back, and kept it handy for quick reference. This gives you a little visual of the flavor profiles people often discuss with scotch:
Regions of Scotch Production
There are essentially four main regions of scotch production in Scotland, and each region has flavors that are often typically associated with their scotches.
Speyside: fruity and delicate. The valley of the river Spey is often associated with flavors like vanilla, honey, apples and pears.
Lowlands: fresh, light. These malts are fragrant, floral, taste of cereal and are light in color.
Highlands: smooth and floral. In the west, you have some maritime influence in the flavor, and in the central highlands you get some honey and heather.
Islay/Skye Islands: peaty and briny. These robust malts are laden with the medicinal / iodine aromas of the sea.
One thing I like to do: drink the first half of my glass neat, then throw one or two ice cubes in and allow the flavors to change. It’s like having two different glasses of scotch in one, because the ice and water allow the scotch to open up (kind of like wine), and different aromas and flavors can be more easily detected.
Another cool thing I learned at a tasting: splash a little scotch on the palm of your hand and rub your hands together like Mr. Miyagi. Then smell your hands. All sorts of aromas are unleashed. You’ll smell florals, vanillas, nuts, wood, etc. Very cool.
An interesting trick: suck air in through your teeth as you have some scotch in your mouth and on your tongue. The break-up and aeration of the liquid will release aromas and flavors that you might have otherwise missed.
Most important: take your time. I sometimes see scotch amateurs order a nice scotch and then shoot it fast. What a waste! Don’t be that fucking guy.
Organize a tasting: maximize your exposure to various scotches. If you’re anything like me, you have a bunch of buddies who love to drink. Chances are, a good crew of them dig scotch. Call them up and organize a scotch tasting. Everyone can bring their stash and you’ll have a really big selection to work with. Check out this selection we amassed last Christmas. Fuck yeah! I think we had 30 bottles total when a last minute arrival showed up, and it was something he brought back from China. Sweet!
A final note: scotch isn’t for everyone. Some people just don’t like this shit. Tastes are subjective, but tastes do change over time. I always hated tequila, for instance. But I respect the spirit and understand how tons of variety exists in the product lines. In fact I’ve recently started to come around to tequila through my enjoyment of aged mezcal. Maybe you’ll come around to scotch if your first impression is bad. Keep trying. You never know – your taste buds might have adjusted and now you might love scotch if you tried some good ones.
For a more in-depth dive into terminology, check out THIS SITE. Start at A, and work your way through Z. Do it. Don’t be a bitch.
This is a really fucking simple drink recipe that packs a lot of flavor. I call it “The Smoky Mountain Beehive” for a few reasons. It is “smoky” from the peaty scotch. It is “Smoky Mountain” because of the Tennessee whiskey aspect. And bee-cause of the honey flavor, I went with beehive. See below:
1 part Laphroaig (or any other equally peaty scotch)
1 part Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey whiskey (or you can double the Laphroaig and add some straight honey into the mix)
1 part orange liqueur
1 part orange juice
1 part seltzer
Pour contents over ice into a shaker. Shake the fuck out of it. Pour contents of shaker into a lowball and drink up. I like this with rocks, and it can be garnished with an orange peel or some other bullshit.
I guess this can serve as the Johnny Prime Christmas post. Some of you may have seen some links of this thing floating around this year (or maybe last year, if you’re cool like me). My wife gave me this as an early Christmas gift in 2012. I didn’t drink them at the time, thinking that I might save them for a special time. But when this year rolled around, I figured what the fuck – may as well drink them now. A whisky a day keeps the steak cravings at bay, and I decided to use the empties as Christmas Tree decorations. There were some really fucking great scotches in this collection. Seriously. Take a look at some of the vintages. Bottles for some cost upwards of $200. Only bad thing: the advent calendar only has 24 days rather than 25. Not sure if that is traditionally the way the calendars worked. My only real experience with them is digging the molded chocolates out each day as a kid, or looking at the pictures behind the windows without really reading the scripture. So anyway… Merry Christmas. Here are all the whiskies, in all of Jesus’ birthday glory, each day with some taste notes I jotted down along the way. The pictures get a little more creative and interesting as you get toward the end.
a mix of medicinal with a slight fruity nose
smooth and creamy up front with a slight peat and smoke sting at the back end
robust and peaty without overpowering
smooth, creamy and round, hints of caramel or vanilla
peaty, medicinal, but not blowing out the taste buds