Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic

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Having attended a few cocktail conferences this past year I can safely say that food and drink conferences are my favorite kind of events. So of course I am over the moon about the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic that is coming September 12-13th. A weekend of getting to know amazing chefs, learning about food and wine trends in Cincinnati and around the world, and grand tastings every night? Yes please!! I am especially excited about the Four Bourbons, Four Ways being hosted by Molly Wellmann. Tickets are on sale now and are selling fast so get yours today. Here is their official press release with all the important info.

Cincinnati Food & Wine Classic Tickets On Sale Now

First Local Celebration to Offer Grand Tastings, Demos, Competitions, Seminars and After-Parties

Cincinnati, OH – Tickets for the first-annual Cincinnati Food & Wine Classic in Washington Park from September 12-13 are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at www.cincinnatifoodandwineclassic.com.

“This is a two-day epicurean event designed to capture the energy and enthusiasm of Cincinnati’s dynamic food scene,” says Courtney Tsitouris, co-founder of the Classic. “We’re showcasing local culinary talent and ingredients alongside nationally recognized chefs, wine and spirit experts, beer connoisseurs, authors, journalists, and network personalities.”

The Classic will include two completely different grand tastings on Friday and Saturday evening. Friday celebrates Cincinnati’s “Porkopolis” heritage with Pork Chopped, a competition judged by Andrew Knowlton of Bon Appétit, Keith Pandolfi of Saveur, and Top Chef Masters judge Francis Lam.

 

Saturday’s grand tasting will celebrate Cincinnati’s finest dining. Culinary demonstrations, wine and spirit seminars, panel discussions, chef competitions, book signings, and a Rising Star brunch take place Saturday morning and afternoon; and five individually themed VIP after-parties at downtown venues will cap off both evenings. A portion of proceeds will go to the Freestore Foodbank, the event’s non-profit partner.

“The word is out,” says Donna Covrett, co-founder and executive director with Tsitouris. “We have a vibrant food, wine, and brewing community that’s getting noticed by others. We’ve piqued the interest of publications such as Food & Wine, New York Times, USA Today, Travel & Leisure, and more as a beautiful city with a quirky-cool community of creative, talented, artisans of all sorts. It’s something to be proud of, explored, and shared.”

 

Local and national talent has already been confirmed for the event. Names include (but are not limited to):

 

Jean-Robert De Cavel + Daniel Wright + Michael Paley + Paul Sturkey + Julie Francis + Nate Appleman + Megan Ketover + Jonathon Sawyer + Keith Pandolfi + Jose Salazar + Tony Ferrari + Edward Lee + Todd Kelly + Stephen Williams + David Falk + Anne Kearney + Andrew Knowlton + Francis Lam + Elias Leisring + Nick Marckwald + Jeremy Lieb + Owen Maass + Levon Wallace + David Cook + Cristian Pietoso + Anthony Lamas + Joy Wilson + Jimmy Gibson + Stella Parks + Joel Molloy + Charles Redmond + Rom Wells + Ned Elliot + Anita Hirsch + Mark Bodenstein + Hideki Harada + Michael Worth + Ryan Santos + Kyle Johnson + Paul Barraco + Jim Cornwell + Pat Lafrieda + Vic Vegas

Tickets are priced as follows:

 

  • Grand Tasting Pass ($125): Friday Grand Tasting or Saturday Grand Tasting
  • Saturday Savor Pass ($190): Saturday Grand Tasting and 20+ Saturday Educational Experiences (culinary demos, wine and spirit seminars, panel discussions, competitions, and book signings)
  • Weekend Revel Pass ($290) Friday Grand Tasting, Saturday Grand Tasting, and 20+ Saturday Educational Experiences
  • VIP Pass ($390): Friday Grand Tasting, Saturday Grand Tasting, 20+ Saturday Educational Experiences with priority seating, exclusive VIP lounge, VIP swag bag, and admission into one VIP after party

 

For more information about scheduled talent, event programming, and ticket purchases, visit www.cincinnatifoodandwineclassic.com.

 

About Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic

Founded in 2014 by Donna Covrett and Courtney Tsitouris, the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic is a celebration of Cincinnati’s Porkopolis and fine dining heritage as a longstanding destination for Midwest food, beer and spirit excellence. The inaugural event, located at the doorstep of Music Hall in the historic Washington Park, features local, regional and national chefs showcasing local flavors through tastings, demos, seminars, and parties across the city. For a complete look at what’s in store, visit http://www.cincinnatifoodandwineclassic.com, or follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. #CFWC14

Fifteen Minutes of Fame with New Riff

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New Riff Distillery has only been open a few weeks but they are already putting that beautiful new event space to good use. Tuesday evening I was invited to attend the first of what looks to be a very interesting new series hosted there by New Riff’s Creative Director Amy Tobin. 15 Minutes of Fame brings together four notable Cincinnatians under a common theme and then gives them 15 minutes to talk about that theme. Last night’s word was STYLE and the guests all delivered that in spades.

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The speakers were mixology expert Molly Wellmann, local tattoo artist Chris Sanders, Butcher Betties owner Alison Hines and fashion designer Amy Kirchen. It was a phenomenal group of speakers. They all spoke eloquently on the theme and were both entertaining and inspiring. I loved how a common thread of individuality and self-expression came through even with subjects as diverse as high fashion and killing your first chicken. 

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The event came with one cocktail, an unusual wine and popsicle combination, and lasted for about two hours including time for questions from Amy and the audience. It was a very enjoyable evening and I left feeling once again how vibrant and exciting Cincinnati is these days. The next 15 minutes of Fame will be held in August. The guests have not yet been announced but the theme is REEL and we’ve got a hint that this will include both the film and the fishing variety.

Bourbon Classic 2014

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The Bourbon Classic was held last weekend in Louisville, Kentucky. The event drew bourbon fans from around the country to join with distillers, bartenders, restaurants, and media representatives in celebrating all things bourbon. I was lucky enough to be among them and I left feeling very lucky to be living so close to bourbon country.

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The Run Down of Events:

The event began Friday night with a cocktail competition that paired local bartenders, chefs, and sponsor distilleries in pairing bourbon cocktails with small plates of food. The cocktails were great that night but the food was outstanding, including the best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had. Saturday afternoon began with a welcoming question and answer session with master distillers. MC’ed by Fred Minnick, author of Whiskey Women and bourbon authority for the Kentucky Derby Museum, the question and answer session featured Wes Henderson (Angel’s Envy,) Fred Noe (Jim Beam,) Jimmy Russell (Wild Turkey,) Harlen Wheatley (Buffalo Trace,) Tom Bulleit (Bulleit Bourbon,) Drew Kulsveen (Willett,) Willie Pratt (Michter’s,) Daniel Preston (Widow Jane,) Colin Spoelman (King’s County,) and Dave Schmier (Redemption.) This event was easily the highlight of the day for me. Listening to stories, learning more about the industry, and even witnessing some moments of tension on stage was all fascinating.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in “Bourbon Classic University.” Guests got to attend two classes during the sessions including ‘Bourbon Recollections…A Trip Through Time’ with Fred Noe and Fred Johnson, as well as a variety of other classes like bourbon pairing with cheese, entertaining with bourbon tastings, bourbon and beer, bourbon and chocolate, and home bar essentials.  The final event was a night of bourbon tastings, with books signings from well-known bourbon authors like Charles Cowdery and Joy Perrine.

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Highlights:

You can read a more detailed and bourbon-focused recap of the event over on Bourbon & Banter and Charlie and discussed the event in detail on The Charlie Tonic Hour, but here are a few of the best moments of the event from my point of view.

– Hanging out with Jonathan Piercy of “What’s Cooking Now” and his lovely wife throughout the weekend.

– Spending time with Molly Wellmann at Friday’s cocktail event and seeing Tom Bulleit call her up to take a bow at the distiller’s welcome on Saturday. He credited her, along with countless other bartenders across the country, in helping to bring about the bourbon revival.

– Getting to talk once more with Wes Henderson from Angel’s Envy. Such a down-to-earth and great guy.

– Sitting in an audience and listening to stories from legends of the industry like Fred Noe and Jimmy Russell, as well as hearing the perspectives and explanations of newer and/or non-producing brands.

– Attending a session on bourbon tastings with a rep from Blanton’s that will help me when contacting bourbon tastings in the future.

– Talking with bourbon lovers from around the country and starting to feel more like I am a part of a wider, boozy community.

– Leaving the over priced after-party at Milkwood to go drink bourbon and sodas at a dive bar called The Levee.

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The Bourbon Classic was a success all around, despite the notable absence of one of my favorite distilleries, Four Roses. At a length of just a day and half, give or take a promotional dinner or hung-over breakfast, it is a perfect amount of time to immerse yourself in bourbon and the perfect balance between educational and drinking events. Bourbon lovers in Cincinnati who are ready to take their knowledge and enthusiasm to the next level should definitely look into making the drive south for next year.

San Antonio Cocktail Conference in Seven Cocktails

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Well I survived the San Antonio Cocktail Conference for 2014 and I have finally sobered up enough to write about it. I was initially invited to attend the San Antonio Cocktail Conference because of my writing for Bourbon & Banter, (and for full disclosure I should let you know that they paid for my ticket and my hotel room,) but I can’t go to something like that without bragging about it to my Queen City friends. The four-day event consisted of educational cocktail sessions lead by some of the biggest names in the industry during the day and amazing parties each night where spirit brands had their own bartenders whipping up cocktails to show off their products. A full recap would take far to long so I decided to pick seven stand out cocktails from the weekend as a way of telling the story.

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The Imbibe 75 and the Come & Take It

The first two drinks of the weekend happened at the Imbibe Happy Hour at the Esquire Tavern. These two drinks really stand out in my mind as being some of the best of the weekend but that could be because they were the only two drinks I had while completely sober. The Imbibe 75 was a take on the classic French 75 cocktail but with the addition of lemongrass and cilantro for a really fresh taste. The Come & Take It was made with Glenroth Select Reserve whiskey, ginger liqueur, pineapple, lime, bitters, and garnished with a Luxardo cherry. Both were excellent and the band that night was great. The Esquire Tavern should absolutely be a stop if you are ever in San Antonio. 

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Angel’s Envy Manhattan at the Evolution of Barrel Aging Class

On of the things I was most excited about for SACC was to meet Wes Henderson and attend his class on the evolution of Barrel Aging. The class did not disappoint. Not only did I get an hour and half of hearing Wes discuss creating Angel’s Envy, his father Lincoln Henderson, and the changing field of barrel aging whiskey, I also got to try a selection of really fine whiskeys including Angel’s Envy cask strength and rye whiskeys. All of that and then they brought out an Angel’s Envy Manhattan. I would have normally thought that Angel’s Envy was too sweet a bourbon to use in a manhattan but this one was wonderfully balanced. I also got a chance to sit down and interview Wes Henderson for Charlie Tonic and you can hear that whole interview here.

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Palma Fizz in the Home Mixology Class with Sasha Petraske

One of the embarrassing things for me was how often I attended an event with someone at SACC and only later realized just how big a deal they really were. Such was the case with my first class of the session, a home mixology class led by none other than Sasha Petraske, the man behind Milk and Honey and one of the leaders of the cocktail revival movement. I learned a great many wonderful tips and tricks for my next cocktail party and got to try one of his signature drinks, the Palma Fizz, made with vodka, lime, ginger, rosewater, and seltzer. I loved how the rosewater added a strong dimension of smell that completely changed the way the other flavors interacted.

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The Pink Lady in the Women Behind Bars class

The Women Behind Bars was a seminar that looked at a history of women from both sides of the bar. The session, lead by Ladies United for the Presevation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC) looked at women’s historic roles as tavern keepers, prohibitionists, customers, and bartenders while the audience sipped on a few vintage cocktails. The Pink Lady was my favorite of the two. Made with gin, apple jack, lemon, egg white and grenadine, it is a wonderfully sophisticated drink. I really appreciated how well prepared this cocktail was considering they were making it in such large batches. That foam head is not always an easy thing to perfect in a cocktail.

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Martini made by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric of The 86 Co. and Employee’s Only

Another memorably interview of the weekend was when Charlie and I sat down in the media room with Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas. These two legendary bartenders started Employee’s Only in NYC, which won best cocktail bar in the world in 2011, and have since gone on to create The 86 Co., a bartender-focused spirits company.  If you still don’t quite understand why I was geeking out about this go watch the documentary, Hey Bartender, which features the two of them heavily. Having now had a cocktail made for me by these two, I feel as if I’ve truly arrived. You can hear that interview in Episode 109 of the Charlie Tonic Hour.

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One of the best parts of the evening parties, aside from all the free drinks, food, music, and dancing, was getting to try new spirits that are not yet available in Ohio or even Kentucky. This cocktail from Friday night’s event Texas Spirits Night, was one if just many gorgeous drinks featuring Texas-made spirits. Made with Red River Rye Whiskey, it was a simple cocktail.  The anise and amaretto added sweetness without overpowering the whiskey and I loved the elegant little star floating as a garnish.

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Charlie as an Old Fashioned and me as a Gin and Tonic

Two of my favorite drinks of the weekend were not the kind you can drink. We attended two different events at The Brooklynite, a very hip bar near the riverwalk in San Antonio, and the drinks at both events were incredible. But at the after, after, party we attended there on Friday we go the chance to have our caricatures drawn by Dave Stolte. His book, “Home Bar Basics (and Not-So-Basics),” has been nominated for best cocktail book by Tales of the Cocktail and now we have a picture of ourselves as two of our favorite cocktail by him. It is one of my most treasured souvenirs of conference.

So there you have it. I wish we lived in some kind of a Star Trek future where you could reach into the pictures I post try them all yourself. There were so many other amazing drinks and events from the weekend that I am leaving out. If you want to see and hear everything head over to www.charlietonic.com where you can hear all the interviews and see pictures from each day of the event. And if you are looking for a starter cocktail conference I can’t recommend San Antonio highly enough. It has a beautiful city, great weather, friendly people, and a weekend of amazing drinks. I am counting down till next year already.

Cincinnati Represented at San Antonio Cocktail Conference

San Antonio Cocktail Conference

 

I am very excited to announce….ok I take that back. Excited doesn’t even begin to cover it. I am ecstatic beyond belief to announce that I will be attending the San Antonio Cocktail Conference this coming holiday weekend. This is the third year for the conference, which is the first of it’s kind in Texas. These kinds of events draw bar owners, mixologists, liquor reps, writers, as well as regular people who are just passionate about cocktails.

Modeled on the wildly popular Manhattan Cocktail Classic and New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail event,  San Antonio’s own Cocktail Conference was the first of its kind in Texas. Every year, we bring together top bartenders and cocktail aficionados for four days of educational seminars, guided tastings and cocktail parties.  Conference proceeds benefit HeartGift San Antonio and ChildSafe.

The classes read like my dream college schedule. I am especailly looking  forward to Evolution of Barrel Aging with Wes Henderson of Angel’s Envy, one of my favorite bourbons, as well as Women Behind Bars: A Spirited History of Women in the Cocktail World. Every night there are tastings, parties, and of course the whole beautiful city of San Antonio to explore as well. Special events include the Original Cocktail Competition where bartenders from across the country will show off their own creations. I look forward to bringing back new spirits and books to review for you and information on cocktails trends we will be seeing soon in Cincinnati, as well as some crazy stories to share.  Be sure to follow me on twitter to see the whole crazy weekend unfold in real time.

New Year’s Eve in Cincinnati

It is the annual dilemma we all face at this time of year. What to do for New Year’s Eve? I have already decided to opt out and will be celebrating at home with children and a bottle of Blason de Bourgogne that I picked up at Trader Joe’s but if you are still looking for a fun way to ring in the new  year here are a few classy events that I would love to be attending this year.

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Maribell’s Eat + Drink
New Year’s Eve 2013, Keeping it Local!

I was invited to this event by the sous chef at Maribell’s. I was surprised to learn that NYE is her favorite night to work and after she explained why I can believe it. It sounds like a night with a great atmosphere and I’ve always enjoyed the food I’ve had at Maribell’s. In addition, I can vouch for them having some of the nicest staff and a great bar menu to boot. For New Year’s Eve they are doing a four course meal featuring locally sourced ingredients for a bargain price of $55. Call 513.321.9111 for reservations.

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The Symphony Hotel
Symphony New Year’s Eve Celebration

Another event for the foodies here. Since it is located on the somewhat unfashionable side of Over the Rhine, The Symphony Hotel remains something of a hidden treasure in Cincinnati but they are working to get their name known. I had a stunningly good brunch there a few months ago, so I have kept an eye on them ever since. For New Year’s Eve you can enjoy a five course meal that includes a champagne toast at midnight for $65. To make dinner reservations, call 513-721-3353.

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Madtree Brewing
Happy Tuesday…And NYE!

For those of you who would rather celebrate the end of the year with beer than champagne, The Brew Professor has put together a nice list of beer-related New Year’s Eve events but my personal pick goes to Madtree. Those boys just know how to have fun, I love their beer, and any event that features  Hall and Oates is an automatic win. Taste 513 will be serving food such as pork belly tacos, bulgogi slammers, and PsycHOPathy mac-n-cheese. A no cover and relaxed alternative to the high pressure events at other locations.

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Arnold’s Bar and Grill
New Year’s Eve at Arnold’s with Hot Magnolias

Arnold’s is a great place to enjoy a drink any day of the year and when you add some old school creole/cajun jazz by the Hot Magnolias it is down right awesome. I caught them playing Arnold’s a few weeks ago and it was magical. Make reservations at 513-421-6234. There is a $10.00 cover to be in courtyard but it includes music, party favors, and a toast and snacks at midnight. Even if you miss it NYE, be sure to check out Hot Magnolias next time they are playing in the courtyard. You won’t regret it.

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Fountain Square
New Year’s Eve Blast

As usual Japp’s and Neon’s are cover-free for their New Year’s Eve events. I recommend starting out there and then winding your way down to Fountain Square for the big count down at midnight. There will be food and drink vendors on the square and ice skating is free starting at 8 pm. That way you can get a head start on your New Year’s resolution to exercise more while at the same time enjoying your last night of guilt-free indulgence. But if that doesn’t sound special enough you can add a VIP package from Via Vite to get dinner, two drinks, champagne, and most importantly, a heated tent.