The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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THE MESSAgE House Cocktails et between the bustle of Manhattan’s Union Square and the tranquility of Gramercy Park, The House is easy to miss. The former carriage house, now a jewel box of a bar and restaurant, has enjoyed an understated existence since 2007. Upstairs, it’s romantic dining, but downstairs, the bar mixes it up with hipsters, neighborhood residents and, on a recent visit, lots of people wearing black berets amid the 1940s décor. GM and Wine Director Alessandro Piliego, says his small but selective beverage program focuses on the classics. A native of Italy, Piliego turned to his country’s favored apéritifs for inspiration—Campari and Aperol. Fruit-based and infused spirits—“anything with nectar”—are in demand, so he created a small menu of cocktails with the feminine palate in mind. Cosmos, he says, are “out the window.” S “People are looking for elegance and a little spike in their cocktails,” he says, adding that VeeV and St-Germain will be on the spring menu along with Campari and Aperol. —Lana Bortolot Aperol Spritz 2 parts Prosecco 1 part Aperol Mix in a brown sugar–rimmed wine glass; top with soda and garnish with a fresh orange slice. Alessandro Piliego with his Aperol Spritz. BYOB: Boost Your Own Business T o keep customer interest up, some restaurants offer incentives when it comes to wine dinners. SpiritLand Bistro in Santa Barbara, CA, is one such operation. Leslie Thomas, the restaurant’s marketing representative, launched a monthly BYOB event that marks SpiritLand as the only place in Santa Barbara—and only the second restaurant in the state—to host such an event. The BYOB event calls for each guest to bring a bottle of wine based on a designated theme: Super Tuscan, Cabernet or late-harvest Zinfandel, to name a few. Serving up to 58 bottles of wine, the BYOB event offers customers the opportunity to taste at a lower price, opening their eyes and taste buds to new wine styles and wineries. Leslie Thomas of SpiritLand in Santa Barbara. 1 / the tasting panel / april 2010 In turn, the restaurant prepares a gourmet organic four-course meal to match the wine theme. Family-style seating encourages interaction and promotes a community feeling of fun. An industry expert (usually a local winemaker) will entertain between courses, giving background on the wine theme and the food pairing. —Flora Kontilis PHOTO: LANA BORTOLOT PHOTO: BOB DICKEY

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