Weekend Wine Tasting & Antiquing

On Saturday I scored a copy of the Esquire Drink Book from 1956:

My wife and I went to North East, Pa. with her folks and not only hit up some antique shops, but also bought a couple bottles of wine along the way.

Here in Jamestown, we live near the Lake Erie Wine Trail — so weekend tasting is a regular part of summers in Chautauqua County.

We started at South Shore Wine Company, which is a winery located in North East that’s part of the Mazza group of wineries. Mazza has two other locations, both in Chautauqua County, my favorite of which is right across from Johnson Estate Winery — but more on that in a bit.

The South Shore location was a great place to visit because the main room is in an underground, cavernous, stone room that’s just neat to experience. And even better, there’s wine to taste while you’re taking in the history.

I tasted two wines and three meads, their Gruner Veltliner and Noiret for wines — and also their honey mead, raspberry honey mead and a carbonated mead called “Hops & Honey,” made with hops and more.

The gruner veltliner was very good and I wish I would have gotten a bottle, but the appeal of having some honey mead was more appealing. Not getting a bottle of the gruner veltliner just means I’ll have to go back soon, and I wonder if the other Mazza locations sell that same gruner veltliner that South Shore was selling.

Wine Links:

— Lake Erie Wine Country

Chautauqua Wine Trail

— South Shore Wine Company

Johnson Estate Winery

Tasting Bar:

Earlier I mentioned that one of the Mazza sites is located right across from the Johnson Estate Winery.

Those two sites are located right on Route 20 in Westfield and are a couple of my favorites because they offer more than just wine to taste — they have spirits.

The Mazza location has its own distilled spirits to taste, made and marketed under the Five & 20 name. The Johnson Estate Winery doesn’t distill spirits, but it does have what it calls a “New York Statr Spirits Tasting Bar.” Basically, there’s a second station in the winery’s tasting room where you can taste boozes which were made in New York State.

I tasted three whiskies there Saturday:

Whiskey Tasting :

Bootlegger 21 New York Bourbon Whiskey — 

Hudson Double Charred Whiskey — 

77 Whiskey Rye & Corn

At Mazza, in addition to wine and spirits, there’s a launch party for their brewery’s first beers this weekend — making Mazza and Five & 20 the first combination winery, distillery and brewery in the state.



Book Review: Old Man Drinks

I found this book on the “Bestsellers Under $3.99” section on iBooks. I don’t remember what it cost exactly, but it was worth the couple of bucks I paid for it digitally:

20140703-122248.jpgOld Man Drinks: Recipes, Advice and Barstool Wisdom
Written by Robert Schnakenberg

Every cocktail book has its selling point. Some try to cram in as many recipes as possible. Others list classic cocktails and cite the drinks’ original recipes. And still others play up a certain aspect of drinking.

Case in point, on a recent weekend trip to Buffalo I came across a book called “High Heels and Highballs.” I almost bought it. I’m a sucker for cocktail books and an even bigger sucker for gimmicks. It’s no surprise then that I had to download this book as soon as I saw it.

Sure, iBooks was selling it at a discounted price, but had I come across it elsewhere, I’m sure I still would have given it a chance. Not only am I a sucker for gimmicks, but I’ve got a passion for old-timey cocktails (and not only that, but retro pulp and detective noir type ne’er-do-wells). There’s none of that last bit in this book though, and that’s fine. There are plenty of old-timey (and classic) drinks, but the old men in the book are more of a blue collar nature — not the down-and-out yet beloved literary types I’m more fond of seeing in print.

The cocktail recipes in this book are broken up with pictures of hard-drinkin’ old men whose quotes run from comical to sad to just plain nonsensical. I won’t get too critical of the “old men” in this book. They’re there to provide some color. I understand that. Their contribution though isn’t so much advice and barstool wisdom as it is little snippets of their lives.

Here are a couple of examples:
• “You have champagne tastes and beer pockets.”
• “I can’t believe I just threw you down the stairs in front of my grandson’s guidance counselor.”
• “Tacos make me very angry.”

More times than not, the “old men” quotes sounded more like snippets of things overheard in a bar than advice or barstool wisdom. There were a few gems that shone through though, yet even they were more like cute little catch phrases than what I’d expected from the title.

The text of the book is written in the same sort of “salty old dog” style as the old men’s quotes, but the actual written part of the book does it to better effect.

Overall, I can’t criticize this book too much as it succeeded in doing what any worthwhile cocktail book needs to do in order to have value — it introduced me to some cocktails I’d never heard of or tasted before, such as the “Mahoney” and the “Obituary.”

As with any cocktail book though, it never hurts to double check the recipes printed with other sources. This book, for instance, says to shake a Manhattan and credits Col. Joe Rickey with the gin version of that drink. I’ve always read that you should build” Manhattans and read that Rickey’s first Rickey was whiskey-based. Still, even with little red flags like those, this book was still a worthwhile read and a welcome addition to my shelf.

Leave a comment