This Hudson Valley Cocktail Will Warm You with the Sun of Spain

Spanish Warmth

To warm my bones on a cold chilly night, I created this sumptious cocktail that brings together the fine flavors of a well crafted Hudson Valley whiskey and warmth from southern Mediterranean Spain.

This cocktail is a variation on the venerable Manhattan. The crisp deep flavors of Taconic Distillery rye, and the colorful notes of the P. Quiles Vermouth Rojo say clealy this is not your dad’s Manhattan.  Stepping in to round out the drink, adding balance and another flavor element, the Lustau Amontillado dry sherry is the finishing touch to perfection.

Paul and Carol Ann Coughlin and Gerald Valenti are the exciting people who create the wonderful Founder’s Rye Whiskey, in a bow to the history of our region it is named for our “Founding Fathers.”

From the finance industry to farming was a move driven by a longing to work the land which brought the Coughlins to purchase a Duchess County farm with fertile fields and natural spring water. Here with Gerald Valenti they founded Taconic Distillery.

Farm Land

Distilling great whiskey is no easy feat, there are many steps which must be executed with precision,  and of course the very best ingredients must be used. This rye is created to the highest standards, aged in virgin American white oak barrels it has bold, smokey, spicy, yet surprisingly smooth, flavors with a mildly sweet finish.

It is a strapping base for the vivid mouth filling flavors of Primitivo Quiles Vermouth Rojo.  From the Alicante province south of Valencia on the Mediterranean sea, this aromatized and fortified wine is made with the efficacious Monastrell (Mourvedre) grape and a secret recipe of botanicals, Wonderful as an apéritif, fabulous for cocktails. Created by one of the greats of Spanish wine, Senor Don Primitivo Quile. His bodega (wine cellar not a NY convenience store) in Monovara, has existed since the 1700’s.

Primitivo Quile

If you think of vermouth as awful tasting stuff stuck in the back of a cupboard or bar, you are right and wrong. Yes crappy cheap vermouth that is allowed to spoil does taste awful. But fine vermouth like this one, stored cold is a wonder to behold.  There are so many fabulous Vermouths available today, just waiting for you to discover and fall in love.

These two liquors would easily make a perfect cocktail, but they were each a little too dominant. I sipped and realized that one more element was needed.

Of course it had to be of equal stature, and a fine Spanish sherry seemed like it would be just the right thing.  You see like vermouth, sherry is a much maligned drink. It is not just for cooking, the better sherries are truly divine.

In the warm Andalusia region in southern Spain with coasts on the Mediterranean and Atlantic Bodegas Lustau was founded by a humble man José Ruiz-Berdejo in 1896. This winery has come to be regarded as the finest producer of sherry in the world.  The Amontillado Los Arcos Solera is a dry sherry with nutty, honey flavors, crisp and delicious.


Spanish Warmth

The recipe:

1 1/2 oz Founders Rye

1 1/2 oz  Primitivo Quiles Vermouth Rojo.

1/2 oz  Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos Solera

Very cold spring water ice

stir well over ice, server straight up or on a large spring water ice rock.with a twist of lemon.

Cheers! Enjoy!


Taconic Founder’s Rye can be found at many better liquor stores in the area.

Primitivo Quiles Vermouth Rojo was found at the exceptional Suburban Wines in Yorktown Heights.

The  Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos Solera we found at the excellent Artisan Wine Shop in Beacon.




A Fabulous Wine from One Far Away Hamlet to Ours

ColleStefano Verdicchio di Matelica
Life here in our precious hamlet of Garrison, NY is filled with many pleasures. This week we loved a wine from another pretty hamlet, one in Italy called Collestefano in the Province of Macerata of the Marche region. Paired with a homemade dinner locally sourced.

It was a white wine called Verdicchio, made with the Italian wine grape of the same name, primarily grown in the Marche region of central Italy. Very popular in the US during the 60s and 70s, distributed in an iconic green fish shaped bottle. Sadly greedy commercial interests let the quality of the wine diminish and so did its market.Verdicchio Fish Bottle

Fortunately that has changed and today very fine Verdicchio wines can be found in most better wine shops. It is a wine I promise you will enjoy.

Noted Italian wine writer Ian D’Agata  asserts in his book Native Wine Grapes of Italy that Verdicchio “is arguably Italy’s greatest native white grape variety.” We agree.

This one from the Matelica DOC, is delightful.  We had it with a dinner at home of orecchiette pasta with sauteed shrimp with swiss chard, onion, pine nuts, garlic, EVO and Pecarino Romano cheese. All ingredients but the pasta and pignoli nuts from our Cold Spring Farmers Market and local gardens.

Orecchiette with Shrimp Kale Onions Pine Nuts

Made by Fabio Marchionni who in 1998 took over the estate that had been in his family since the 60s.  He had recently gained a degree in Enology and completed a wine apprenticeship in Germany.  The children of Italian wine families always seem to come back home.

Over the years with the help of his parents and devoted wife Silvia, Fabio has built a very successful winery which he may pass on to their daughters, Elena and Serena.

Colle Stefano_0

His wine, Collestefano Verdicchio di Matelica, imported by Hudson Valley based Polaner Selections.  An importer, by the way we have come to trust.  We purchased it at Suburban Wines in Yorktown Heights.

It is on Decanter’s Magazine 2015 Top 13 Verdicchio Wines List

Made with 100% estate fruit form a vineyard  that enjoys a cool dry climate that is on the Esino River between the foot of Appenine Mountains and the coast of the Adriatic sea. It is certified organic.

The wine is accurately described like this.

“Medium-bodied with crisp acidity and good structure with flavors of apricots, peaches, minerals, mint, almonds and flowers all make an appearance in this soft, caressing white. This is well balanced and meant enjoy now but will cellar for over the next 3-5 years. It is clean and refreshing on the palate, and leaves a long, pleasing finish.”

Suburban Wines Yorktown Heights

Polaner Selections



The “Bunueloni” a Unique Cocktail from a Very Unique Filmaker

BunuelMartiniI think Luis Bunuel would have been very comfortable here today in the Hudson Valley.  We enjoy his outlook on life.

He once said.  “If you were to ask me if I’d ever had the bad luck to miss my daily cocktail, I’d have to say that I doubt it; where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead.”

And as are we with a drink of his own design. Negroni # 80 “The Bunueloni”


Bunueloni with Olives



As Much as We Love the Hudson Valley, McLaren Vale Keeps Calling

McLaren vale, sweeping vines from samuels ridge winery
McLaren Vale, Samuels Ridge Winery – image source:

They say Mclaren Vale is the unique marriage of a premier wine region and beach lifestyle has created a melting pot for all things culinary, vinous and artistic. You could say that the Hudson Valley is a unique marriage of a great wine region and river valley lifestyle and so on.

Well bringing this back home, during a trip to Australia I fell in love with the rich, robust, Shiraz wines of this region. I buy them when ever I see them at a reasonable price. This one found at Dylan’s in Peekskill was not just reasonable it is a steal.

Mclaren Vale Shiaz

Wines from this region are exciting and delicious and pair well with many dishes, even a Tonkotsu Ramen we had last night.

Dylan’s Wine Cellar

Mclaren Vale



Stagnant Employment & Wages? Not in the Hudson Valley Food & Beverage Biz!


You may live here and probably know. It is not hard to notice. Seems like everyday we see a new restaurant, brewer, food maker or purveyor etc. popping up in the Hudson Valley.

Recently we got the real stats.  Presented at the exciting 2015 Hudson Valley Beer, Wine, Spirits & Cider Summit, an annual event of the Hudson Valley Food & Beverage Alliance “fueled by” Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation.

So the news is this, over 57,000 people are employed by HV based Food and Bev businesses which represents growth of 20% in employment numbers over the last five years with a healthy 7.5% growth rate in wages.

Why does this make us happy? Continue reading Stagnant Employment & Wages? Not in the Hudson Valley Food & Beverage Biz!


Cocktails in Grand Central

Cipriani Dolci Serious Drinks

If you find yourself with some time before your train back north there are some nice places to enjoy a cocktail before your departure.

We were in the City for a day of shopping, strolling movies and dinner. A little celebration for our 30th wedding anniversary. It was about 8:45 and our train was not departing until 9:24.

We tried The Campbell Apartment, a fabulous bar and restaurant set in what was once the private office and salon of 1920’s tycoon, John W. Campbell. But, the patrons were three deep at the bar and the noise level was too loud. Campbell Apartment

The Campbell Apartment

So we wandered across the hall to Cipriani Dolci, both are easily accessed from the Vanderbilt Avenue entrance of Grand Central.  Here we found an uncrowded bar and enjoyed two excellent cocktails.

Cipriani Negroni

A classic Negroni

We have a special place in our heart for the Cipriani establishments, they bring back sweet memories of sipping Bellinis at Harry’s Bar in Venice.

Harrys Bar in Venezia

Our first visit to Harry’s was in June of 1985, the year we were engaged and married.

Cipriani Dolci

The Campbell Apartment

The Cipriani Negroni


News of Whitecliff Vineyard – Hudson Valley Wine

Whitecliff Sign

It has been more than three decades since Michael Migliore and Yancey Stanforth-Migliore, founders and owners of  Whitecliff broke ground on their vineyard in Gardiner, NY and now they have something new and exciting on the horizon. At a point when many might be contemplating retirement Michael and Yancey have their eyes on loftier goals. Read More 

Continue reading News of Whitecliff Vineyard – Hudson Valley Wine


Domaine De Verquier Rasteau Rouge a Beautiful Wine From Another Valley


We love Hudson Valley wines and we really love Rhone Valley wines. We drink a lot of them and they are all good, but once in awhile something comes along that I want to shout about.

This beauty has incredible drinking pleasure at a value price that you won’t believe. It is available at Viscount in Wappinger Falls where I am going tomorrow to get some more!    Continue reading Domaine De Verquier Rasteau Rouge a Beautiful Wine From Another Valley