Andrew Quady’s notes on the Vya Tasting Room at 2012 Tales of the Cocktail

My daughter Allie recently blogged about the drunken botanist seminar, presented by Amy Stewart and moderated by Eric Seed. Amy’s new book, (same name as the seminar) will get people thinking about how plants affect alcoholic beverages.  I love plants.  They mesmerize me and as I listened to Amy talk about plants and alcohol and the amazing products which man has produced from them, my brain started clicking off all the things which haven’t yet been made which might taste great and need to be tried out and I felt very glad to be in the vermouth business, one branch of winemaking where the addition of plant materials “botanicals” to wine is mandated.

Amy’s blog The Drunken Botanist has excerpts from the book including cocktail recipes and selected information about spirit based products such as Chartreuse.  Her book, I imagine, will also get into vermouth. She might say that Vermouth is a ready-to-drink cocktail: you can drink it neat, chilled, or on the rocks. That’s how its drunk in France, Italy, Spain, and Argentina where a glass of vermouth is the most common aperitif.  Here and in the U.K., we usually mix it with spirits and we call that a cocktail.

I’m not knocking cocktails in favor of drinking vermouth straight because both have their place and at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans we sponsored a Tasting Room with four talented “mixologists” who prepared some fantastic vermouth driven cocktails. I am impressed and inspired by the drinks they came up with that set off different aspects in Vya. Chantal Tsang, from the Tabard Inn in Washington DC used Vya Extra Dry to make a classic vermouth cocktail called the Chrysanthemum using the original recipe from the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. Katie Nelson, from the Columbia Room in Washington DC made an aromatic Fancy Sour using the Vya Sweet Vermouth. David Wolowidnk from West Restaurant in Vancouver, B.C., updated the traditional Boulevardier with grapefruit infused Bulleit bourbon and Vya Sweet. Lauren Mote from Kale & Nori in Vancouver, B.C. capitalized on Vya Extra Dry’s affinity for herbs, influencing it with chamomile in her inventive Twitch cocktail.Our tasting room was flooded for the entire three hours and it was so exciting to see Vya as a part of cocktail history.

Thank you to the bartenders and to all who helped to make it happen.

– Andrew Quady

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