Most buildings in Chelsea look the same: huge warehouses taking up entire city blocks, exposed brick at street level painted over in a single color (doors and windows included), similarly non-descript trucks and scaffolds making tunnels of the sidewalks. There’s not a whole lot of signage in that neighborhood south of 30th street: you just have to know where you’re going. And if you do, you can find something entirely unique.
The folks over at Edible Manhattan presented their Seventh Annual Good Spirits event on Thursday, March 3, at La.venue on 28th street, and the result was a perfect balance of old standbys and new introductions. Which should be easy enough to do with an event like Good Spirits, in which cleverly made custom cocktails are paired with small helpings of delicious dishes, all prepared by chefs and mixologists local to the New York area.
I won’t regale you with the list of vendors and ingredients, since Edible Manhattan has already done that for me. Instead, let me describe to you the scene, and what you might see and taste should you go next year (and a bit of what you missed out on this year).
La.venue, though well hidden in a dark warehouse, is a bright gem of a host for the event. Atop worn wooden floors, in between exposed brick walls, and below unshaded light bulbs connected by white pipes, I alternated between whiskey and gin, drinking the former neat and the latter mixed within some expertly made cocktails.
I was able to try white bourbon for the first time, this from George Dickel, which is very much like what I’m used to, if a bit sharper. I took a taste of Neversink’s apple brandy, and was pleasantly surprised by the cool of Black Dirt Bourbon.
I’m not too keen on drinking straight gin myself, so I opted for complex take on a simple drink: the Blood Orange & Rosemary Gin & Tonic, from Brooklyn Gin. Amongst the aforementioned blood orange and sprigs of rosemary were real juniper berries, and I wrote a mental note to self, a pro-tip from an actual professional: juniper berries are a great, authentic addition to any gin & tonic.
Across the way, the Manhattan Cricket Club, with the help of Burke & Wills and Tommyrotter Distillery, took their own citrusy twist on a classic, mixing gin with soda and orange pulp, and aptly named it the Tommyrotter Collins (featured image).
Good Spirits is an ideal destination for any brand of drinker: the experienced tastemakers, the maven mixologist, the ambitious amateur, the intellectually curious, and everyone in between, kind of like me, who loves a well-made drink, but not the bill that comes with it. Here, in this bright basement on a dark night, I let my curiosity get the best of me, and I enjoyed the best of Manhattan.