GSN Wrap-Up: Philanthropic Foodies Pop-Up Syracuse, NY

This year’s Philanthropic Foodies event held at the AAA Four Diamond Award Syracuse Marriott (formerly the Hotel Syracuse) offered an elegant and spacious setting for the fundraising Central New York community. In fact, the event was held in separate locations on the first floor which offered two different styles of live music to enjoy while sampling the local goodies. Instrumental piano renditions of mellow pop hits by Jimmy Cox provided the background in the lobby area near the silent auction tables. The Persian Terrace room featured two bands (Professional Victims & Fondu) during the event playing everything from alt-rock to disco.  Each of the rooms featured over 15 different stations where guests could sample tapas sized servings from local chefs along with libations from local distilleries, breweries, cideries, wineries and coffee roasters.

The selection was eclectic and the food was tasty. It took us nearly two hours to try a bit of everything. We then put our bids in at the silent auction, which had some serious bidding wars going on. We also took the opportunity to look around the hotel for a bit. Having originally been built in 1924, the hotel was completely restored to its original look a few years ago, and offers guests a chance to step back in time, yet with all of the modern conveniences we’ve grown to expect.  It really was a fantastic venue for the event.  We can’t wait for next year’s celebration!

Below you can see some of the various drinks we enjoyed, along with some of the foods that each were paired with. (Photography by Alheydis K.)

What’s Brewing: Elysian Def Leppard Pale

Rock & Brews Restaurants have teamed up with Def Leppard and Seattle-based Elysian Brewing Company to introduce Def Leppard Pale to their customers and are offering fans a chance to win tickets to see Def Leppard on tour this year. Known for handcrafted American food, a mix of more than 100 craft and classic styles of beer on tap and in bottles, and their authentic rock-inspired, family friendly atmosphere, Rock & Brews Restaurants throughout the United States will be the first restaurant brand to offer Def Leppard Pale. In celebration, Rock & Brews Restaurants have a variety of promotions planned, including an opportunity for fans to win tickets to see Def Leppard in Los Angeles, as well as a chance to see the band on tour in many Rock & Brews’ markets. “Rock & Brews celebrates everything that is rock and roll and is the perfect place for fans to indulge themselves with a cold Def Leppard Pale,” said Joe Elliott, lead singer of Def Leppard.

Def Leppard Pale was brewed by Elysian Brewing Company in partnership with Def Leppard to fuse the infamous malt bodies of British ales with the mysteria of Pacific Northwest hops. The launch of the beer was timed to coincide with the Def Leppard 2018 tour.

GSN Thoughts: Slightly hazy. Cream colored head. Patterned lacing. Fruity hop aroma. Balanced flavor with a definite hop burst followed by slight sweet caramel malt, and finished with citrus peel that has a lasting bitterness. Traces of grapefruit and peach and a hint of pine throughout the taste. The beer has a dry quality that pairs nicely with the abundance of flavor. Medium carbonation and body. The malt balances well with the West Coast hop flavor. Not overly strong at 6% ABV, and a good brew to sip on while listening to classic rock.

Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew

GSN Alert: July 27th – National Scotch Whisky Day

756Scotch is a whisky that has a wide variety of styles and flavors, which I unfortunately don’t have the time to get into here.  But, this is what you need to know.  There are five regions in Scotland which produce whiskies: Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside; and there are five styles of Scotch: blended grain, blended malt, blended Scotch, single grain and single malt.

GSN has reviewed several Scotches over the years including: Aberlour, AuchentoshanBenRiach, BowmoreCutty SarkGlendronachGlenrothes, Glen Garioch, LaphroaigMonkey Shoulder, Pig’s Nose and Sheep Dip.

If you’re looking to try a Scotch cocktail, GSN recommends the classic, Blood and Sand.


GSN Review: Heaven’s Door American Whiskeys

Spirits Investment Partnership (“SIP”), in partnership with Bob Dylan, recently announced the debut of Heaven’s Door, a collection of super-premium craft American Whiskeys. Bob Dylan’s first and only brand partnership, Heaven’s Door will be an ever-evolving portfolio of handcrafted whiskeys in collaboration with different master distillers and blenders from across the country.

The genesis of Heaven’s Door came when spirits entrepreneur Marc Bushala, CEO of SIP, read that Bob Dylan had registered a trademark application for “Bootleg Whiskey” in 2015. Bushala embarked on a mission to connect with the artist and explore ideas. Through a mutual friend, a meeting between the two was arranged. Together, they developed the idea of creating a whiskey collection that would be the perfect blend of art and craft, incorporating Bob Dylan’s artwork in the packaging.

“Rather than make a single whiskey or work with one master distiller, we thought it would be far more interesting to work with various master distillers and blenders to make whiskeys that would each have their own unique signature,” Bushala explains, “By working with different whiskey artisans for each new expression, the portfolio would be more diverse and eclectic.”

“We both wanted to create a collection of American whiskeys that, in their own way, tell a story, “said Dylan.  “I’ve been traveling for decades, and I’ve been able to try some of the best spirits that the world of whiskey has to offer. This is great whiskey. I am happy to be partnering with Marc and our entire team as we bring Heaven’s Door to the public.”

After years and countless iterations of blending and finishing, Heaven’s Door arrived at its first three expressions. The trilogy includes a Straight Tennessee Bourbon, a Double Barrel Whiskey, and a Straight Rye Whiskey finished in “Cigar” Barrels from Vosges, France.

Heaven’s Door bottles feature Bob Dylan’s distinctive iron gates that he created in his studio, Black Buffalo Ironworks, from objects found on farms and scrap yards across America. Complementing the mainstay portfolio, next year Heaven’s Door will introduce The Bootleg Series, showcasing Bob Dylan’s paintings on proprietary bottles. The Bootleg Series will offer rare whiskey stocks and special blends, available in extremely limited quantities.

In 2019, Heaven’s Door will open its distillery and brand experience center in a 140-year-old church in Nashville where Dylan recorded four albums and made a lasting impact on the Music City.

The inaugural Heaven’s Door expressions are:

TENNESSEE STRAIGHT BOURBON – Heaven’s Door Tennessee Bourbon utilizes 30% “small grains” to complement the character imparted from spending almost seven years in new American Oak barrels.

STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY – Breaking with convention, Heaven’s Door finishes its Straight Rye Whiskey in toasted oak cigar barrels, harvested and air-dried in the low-lying mountain region of Vosges, France.

DOUBLE BARREL WHISKEY FROM TENNESSEE – Comprised of a distinctive blend of three different whiskeys, the Heaven’s Door Double Barrel finishing process utilizes hand toasted, new American Oak barrels for a secondary aging worthy of another year’s wait.

Heaven’s Door Tennessee Bourbon (90 proof)
Visual: Medium gold.
Nose: Compact package of intensely pungent oak laden mash bill. Welcoming and friendly, like a favorite uncle.
Taste: Nicely sweet, with a hint of cinnamon. A very smooth entry that leads into a spice cake flavor. The oak never overwhelms the distillate, rather it enhances what was already there.
Finish: Medium long, with the curious cinnamon “red-hot” candy-like flavor.
Overall: Very easy to drink and with enough of a difference in character, as to make this a welcome addition to your back bar.
GSN Rating: A-

Heaven’s Door Straight Rye Whiskey (92 proof)
Visual: Deep gold.
Nose: Loads of fresh cracked rye spice out of the gate, followed by a softer, sweet nose.
Taste: Again, a refreshing sweetness which rounds out any possible rough edges from a typically robust straight rye. Ryes tend to have an overabundance of high notes, but this one is tempered.
Finish: Medium long, and with a bit of the spice hanging on to remind you that you’ve just had rye.
Overall: I really like this one, and would love to try a 100 proof version just to see what else comes out.
GSN Rating: A+

Heaven’s Door Double Barrel (100 proof)
Visual: Deep gold.
Nose: Oak, oak, oak. A powerhouse in the glass. You can tell this one is pushing the boundaries.
Taste: Sprightly oak stave colors the whiskey with a maple butter and brown butter flavor. A warm and soft whiskey that proves that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  It all just works incredibly well together.
Finish: Medium long, with the barrel character finishing things off at a slow pace.
Overall: Very well done, and despite the second resting period, nothing is out-of-place. A special whiskey that barely needs any water or ice.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Heaven’s Door

GSN Review: Owney’s Rum

The saying goes that true classics never go out of style and rum, America’s first spirit, is having its moment. Introducing Owney’s Rum, a blended white rum inspired by Prohibition-era rum runners. These self-imposed entrepreneurs were infamous for smuggling coveted aged Caribbean rum into the U.S,, and in an effort to extend the reserves, blended it with locally distilled spirits. Owney’s pays homage to the style of rum most commonly enjoyed in New York City speakeasies during this period in American history.

Owney’s Rum and its distillery, The Noble Experiment NYC, were both founded in 2012 by New York native, Bridget Firtle, who left a successful Wall Street career to pursue her passion for rum. The first release, known as Owney’s Distiller’s Reserve Rum, is an unaged white rum completely made in New York City. It is distilled with three ingredients: non-GMO sugar cane molasses, yeast and New York City water. The new Owney’s Rum is a blend of Owney’s Distiller’s Reserve and two year-old cask aged Dominican rum that is blended and bottled in New York City. There is no other white rum quite like it – smooth but with a true New York City edge.

Owney’s Rum is named for the notorious New York City hustler, Owen “Owney” Madden, who made his biggest mark bootlegging and rum running up the East Coast throughout Prohibition. It is often said that “knowing Owen Madden in the 1920s was like knowing the mayor.” Bridget drew inspiration from his legacy and decided to pay homage to him by creating a one-of-a-kind rum. 

The unique bottle and “sun purple” color are custom designed and inspired by vintage bottles from the early 1900s when it was common for glass to turn purple in the sun, giving it a highly valued and unique antique look. The label illustration features the face of the namesake and a skyline that depicts both Manhattan, where Owney conducted his business, and Brooklyn, the home of the distillery.

“It has long been a dream of mine to bring rum distilling back to New York,” said Bridget Firtle, founder and head distiller of Owney’s Rum. “After all, the first American distillery on record operated over three centuries ago in New York. Owney’s is the ultimate salute to great rum, New York City and those who live by their own rules.”

Owney’s Rum (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Grassy, sugarcane funk. Clean, sweet and full of character.
Taste: Round and slightly dry, with a light sweetness and minerality. Not rough, but somewhat rustic in character.
Finish: Medium-long, with some mild sweet notes of rock candy.
Overall: A light rum that has a solid body and will stand up in more complex cocktails.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Owney’s


GSN Alert: Upcoming Event – Philanthropic Foodies, Syracuse, NY, July 29, 2018

Photo courtesy of John Carnessali

Everyone loves a pop-up food and beverage event! For the seventh year in a row, Philanthropic Foodies will be hosting one of Central New York’s premier culinary showcases.  Over a dozen of the area’s best chefs and restaurants will be serving samples of their amazing appetizers, main courses and desserts. But, that’s not all, you can refresh your palate between tastings with an eclectic variety of beverages featuring everything from local spirits, cocktails, wine, beer and coffee.  

Last year, we had the chance to attend the event at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, which made for a unique and fun-filled afternoon. All the attendees had the chance to stroll around the zoo, as well as go on the large patio for some welcome Syracuse sunshine. Indoors, there were several stations offering tasty treats, as well as live music and the large auction (we won a few items!).

Chef Chance Bear

One of the highlights of any event like this is to get a chance to meet and talk with the local chefs and producers of beverages. Last year we got a chance to chat with Chance Bear who has cooked at the James Beard House on four different occasions! As well, we conversed with some of the representatives from 1911 Spirits who make some very interesting apple based spirits, and local brewers from Empire Brewing & Middle Ages Brewing. We ended the evening with some coffee samples from Peaks Coffee Co.

If you are interested in trying some world-class food and beverage from the heart of New York State in a world-class setting, there is no better event to attend!

Syracuse Marriott Hotel

This year’s event takes place on Sunday, July 29 from 4:00 to 8:00p.m., at the Syracuse Marriott, 100 East Onondaga St. which was recently awarded the AAA Four Diamond Award. Advance sale tickets are $100 per person, or $125 at the door. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

In between sipping, sampling and socializing, attendees can also bid on silent auction offerings, many of them food-focused. For auction information go here.

Since 2012, Philanthropic Foodies has raised more than $200,000 for local nonprofits. This year’s proceeds are earmarked for the Friends of Dorothy House, a hospice house for people with AIDS, and The Shamrock Animal Fund, a 501c3 not-for-profit fund that helps pay for veterinary care for animals in need that have owners with financial limitations who reside in Syracuse and Central New York. 

GSN Alert: Winners of the 2018 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards

2018 Spirited Award Recipients

American Categories

Best American Bar Team
Presented by William Grant & Sons
Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co., Miami, FL

American Bartender of the Year
Presented by Bacardi USA
Yael Vengroff, The Spare Room, Los Angeles, CA

Best American Brand Ambassador
Presented by VinePair
Anne Louise Marquis, Campari America

Best American Cocktail Bar
Presented by Pernod Ricard USA
Lost Lake, Chicago, IL

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar 
Presented by William Grant & Sons
The NoMad Bar, New York City, NY

Best American Hotel Bar
Presented by Bacardi USA
The Broken Shaker Miami at The Freehand, Miami, FL

Best American Restaurant Bar
Presented by Woodford Reserve
Clyde Common, Portland, OR

Best New American Cocktail Bar
Presented by Pierre Ferrand Cognac
Navy Strength, Seattle, WA

International Categories

Best International Bar Team
Presented by The House of Angostura
The American Bar, The Savoy, London

International Bartender of the Year 
Presented by Bacardi USA
Joe Schofield, Tippling Club, Singapore

Best International Brand Ambassador
Presented by G.H. Mumm
Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador

Best International Cocktail Bar
Presented by Pernod Ricard USA
Happiness Forgets, London

Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar
Presented by Rutte
The Clumsies, Athens

Best International Hotel Bar
Presented by Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association
The American Bar, The Savoy, London

Best International Restaurant Bar 
Presented by Mandarine Napoléon
Sager & Wilde, London

Best New International Cocktail Bar
Presented by Pierre Ferrand Cognac
Coupette, London

Writing Categories

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication 
Presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation
The Daily Beast, Half Full Section

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer
Presented by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
M. Carrie Allan, The Washington Post, Imbibe, and more

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book
Presented by Gra’it Grappa
Meehan’s Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History or Spirits
Presented by Cocktail Kingdom
By the Smoke and the Smell by Thad Vogler

Best Broadcast, Podcast or Online Video Series
Presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation
Life Behind Bars

Global Categories

Best Bar Mentor
Presented by BarSmarts
Andy Seymour, Liquid Productions

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient 
Presented by Maverick Drinks
Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal Jabali

World’s Best Cocktail Menu
Presented by Peroni
Dandelyan, London

World’s Best Spirit Selection
Presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation
Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co., Miami, FL

World’s Best Bar 
Presented by Italicus
The American Bar at The Savoy, London

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award 
Presented by William Grant & Sons
John Lermayer

Congratulations to this year’s winners!