A couple months ago Christa Seychew told me she was working on an industry night that would be geared towards getting local chefs, bartenders, line cooks, dishwashers and other people in the food biz to hang out on an off night and enjoy some food and drinks. Even the general public would be invited (the events are free!), so civilians like myself who just love good food would be able to attend these events and maybe learn something new.
Well, that idea became a reality Monday when Christa and Seabar combined forces to put together IN, an industry night that will be held on the first and third Monday of every month at Seabar from 9pm to midnight. For their first event they decided to start it off right with a theme of cocktails, one of the biggest up and coming trends in Buffalo’s dining/drinking scene. Drew Love (Cantina Loco), Chef James Roberts (Park Country Club), Tony Rials (Mike A’s at the Lafayette Hotel) and Jon Karel (Vera Pizzeria) all put on a show for the audience, first explaining what cocktail they were making and the ingredients/preparation that went into it and then serving free 2oz samples. As you can see, Alli got some great pictures of the event throughout the night.
Drew Love (above, top) made El Otra Mundo (The Other World) that was made up of Del Maguey Vida, Cynar, fresh lime juice, orange and grapefruit bitters and truffle salt foam with grilled grapefruit garnish. The mezcal gave the drink a strong smokey flavor and the truffle salt foam was a powerful kick on the edge of your tongue. It was intense but I really liked it.
Chef James Roberts came up next and brought along his trusty canister of liquid nitrogen, he explained to the crowd that to freeze alcohol you need to bring the temperature down to the negative 30 to 60 degree Celsius range (depending on alcohol %). He made a Nitrogen-cooled Caipirinha Brasileira which was made up of sugar cane and key lime force-infused Brazilian Cachaca sorbet, house-made caramelized sugar cane soda and finger lime caviar. While the other drinks were pretty intense and really tested my palate, this one I probably could have drank all night. It had slight bitter kick mixed with frozen sorbet and sweet sugar, but the finger lime caviar was incredible and every now and then you’d get tiny explosions of intense lime juice in your mouth.
Next up was Tony Rials (pictured top of post) who was making Sippin’ On My Yak (all pitted up), a cocktail comprised of Hazelnut washed cognac, toasted apricot pit cognac, Amaro Bassano, hazelnut bitters and Chartreuse with compressed apricot garnish. Another strong flavored cocktail, I slowly sipped this one over time and really enjoyed the complex flavors going on. Having some help from Mike A’s Chef Edward Forster, he applied the sweet compressed apricot garnish on the side of glass that helped give the cocktail a sweeter kick.
The final cocktail of the night was from the man who has arguably raised the bar for Buffalo’s cocktail/drinking scene in the last year, Jon Karel (pictured above) from Vera. His drink of the night was The North Star, which Alli and I were lucky enough to sample before the event. Simply put, think of the best whiskey sour you’ve ever had and this drink still isn’t close. The cocktail had an incredibly smooth taste with all of the ingredients fitting perfectly together, no specific flavor dominated the drink. I know I’ll be ordering more of these when the drink appears on the fall menu later this year. The North Star is made up of Rittenhouse Rye, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, egg white and absinthe with cinnamon, Angostura bitters and a star anise garnish.
The event was a complete success with Seabar absolutely packed with people (at times making the place pretty damn warm). Lake Effect Ice Cream brought along some Honey Pot ice cream that was inspired by Vera’s drink of the same name. The ice cream has a delicious blend of bourbon, sweet vermouth, fresh lemon, bitters, and Fiegel Apiary’s honey. It was delicious, incredibly sweet and like Erik said, a “one scoop at a time” type of treat (on a side note, its no secret we love Lake Effect Ice Cream and Erik and Jason are really doing amazing things with new flavors and sundae combinations, their new ice cream collaborations with Vera are ridiculously good). The Richert boys from Smoke on the Water brought some samples of their BBQ and I absolutely fell in love with a bacon sandwich that I tried, I can’t wait to stop by the new North Tonawanda restaurant. Kegworks were handing out copies of Imbibe Magazine and raffling off cocktail themed prize packages and author Christine Sismondo was on hand to taste each cocktail and even gave her thoughts at the end of the night. Lloyd Dos showed up later on and were slinging some El Gordo tacos, which was exactly what I needed.
We had a blast trying some delicious cocktails, chowing down on some great food and hanging out with some of our favorite chefs and even getting a chance to meet some new people. The next event is planned for August 6th with an Olive Oil theme, can’t wait.
p.s. enjoy this video I took of Jon Karel explaining sours.