The NoMad Bar in NYC, Whiskey Tasting and World Whisky Day
“World Whisky Day” is celebrated the third Saturday in May and it got me thinking. First, my love / hate journey with whisky (or whiskey) and the fine cocktails we enjoyed at The NoMad Bar in New York City. And then I went even further down the rabbit hole of deeper thoughts about parents, growing old and living life to the fullest every day.
Do You Love or Hate Whiskey?
Are you a whiskey drinker? I was not. In fact I disliked it immensely. Just the smell made my nose crinkle in disgust. That all changed when I began my #MakeSomedayHappen journey, and more importantly when I started saying YES to trying new things.
I attended a few tastings and whiskey pairing dinners. And, I learned more about the whiskey varieties out there. Who knew there were so many? Each with their own defining characteristics, depending on which part of the world they hailed from. You got Irish whiskey, Kentucky Whiskey, Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, Scotch, and even Japanese. This is one of the more complex spirits out there so clearly I decided I could not possibly hate all whiskey.
With a properly crafted cocktail, I managed to discover what I liked. Now my drink of choice is often an Old Fashioned, made with bourbon. I’ve been on a search for the best Old Fashioned in Orlando ever since. I’ve also grown fond of Whiskey Sours after sampling delicious cocktails at Raglan Road and Soco Thornton Park in Orlando. Two bars that have vast whiskey selections.
In this process of discovery, I identified why I hated whiskey so much. Ever get that wet band aid smell when whisky is in front of you? Ugh! It’s enough to make you disavow any drinking of this brown spirit whatsoever. That medicinal smell is usually a sign of a peaty or smokey whiskey.
Scotch – i.e. whisky from Scotland where they spell it without the “e” – is known for this smokiness. Those from the Islay region in particular, I learned have the highest levels. Now I know to stay away from Islay whisky when I see it in the cocktail description. This is all a matter of taste, of course. Islay Scotch is loved by many. Maybe one day I will graduate to that level but I’m not there yet.
On the other hand, bourbon – i.e. whiskey with an “e” from Kentucky, made of at least 51% corn – does not have as much of those smoky elements and has a more caramel molasses flavor profile. That’s been my choice. Whiskey conundrum solved.
Which kind of whiskey do you like? It’s no doubt a popular spirit. Interestingly enough, did you know India is the highest consumer. “Indians consumed 1.5 billion litres of whiskey in 2014, completely dwarfing the United States’ 462 million litres, according to a research note from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.”
Musings about Whiskey and Growing Old.
“In those days the best painkiller was ice; it wasn’t addictive and it was particularly effective if you poured some whiskey over it.”George Burns
Searching for a whiskey quote to use in my “World Whisky Day” Instagram post, I was reminded how much I loved watching George Burns with my dad. As a little kid, I didn’t understand much of what he was saying but I thought he was hilarious. Especially as I watched dad heartily laugh out loud (way before LOL was a thing).
Later in my teens, I loved George in the movies “Oh God!” and “Eighteen Again”. I imagined him as the grandfather I never knew. He lived to a 100 years old, always chomping on his signature cigar. A fact my dad often referenced when we would ask him to quit smoking. Interestingly enough, it was not the cause of Burns demise or my dad’s. And this is where the rabbit hole led me, and the big picture life lessons come in.
The George Burns quote that resonates most with me is this one:
“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”George Burns
As I’ve watched my parents and uncle’s health and daily quality of life decline in their golden years, I’ve seen how important it is to “stay young” both mentally and physically. Doing what you love, constantly learning, exploring and staying active seems to be the key to “not getting old.” I hope this lesson sticks because I’m ok with birthdays but I don’t intend on getting old.
Today I raise my glass and say “cheers” to all who refuse to grow old. And to my dad, from whom I inherited my love of TV comedies and game shows (as well as adventurous food, but that’s for another post).
The NoMad Bar in New York City
At The NoMad Bar in Manhattan, my foodie travel friends Lisa (@tastecooksip), Rachelle (@thetravelbite) and I enjoyed fine crafted cocktails in the kind of dark and luxe bar you expect to find in NYC. We had rushed out of a disappointing “Instagram-worthy” bar around the corner and were so happy to discover one of “Top 50 Bars in the World.”
What Level of Whiskey Taster Are You?
Their cocktail menu is the kind you study for a few minutes, in a state of mixed confusion and awe. Then you simply ask the bartender for a recommendation. From classics to reserved, light to dark spirited, it offered options for every palate. We also quickly identified which level of whiskey drinkers we were.
The Entry Level Whiskey Palate:
The appropriately named “Start Me Up” featured bourbon and rum with Strega, honey, ginger, lemon and orange bitters. It was an easy sipper and tasted like the perfect cold remedy. But in a good way.
The Advanced Whiskey Palate:
The “Improved Whiskey Cocktail” with Irish Whiskey, Islay Scotch, Demerara, maraschino and Absinthe was a fine cocktail for the hearty whiskey drinker. The one who likes peaty. (I saw Islay and stayed away from this one!)
The Non-Existent Whiskey Palate:
If you just can’t get yourself to try whiskey, then vodka will do just fine. “Rethink Breakfast” was an interesting cocktail. It certainly didn’t equate vodka with boring. Here’s the cocktail description from the menu and tell me what you think: “Absolut Elyx, Brioche, Coconut Water, vanilla malt, coffee grounds.” Sometimes you wonder if the person writing the menu just wants to throw you a curveball. It had a cereal milk-esque flavor to it (hence breakfast) and the coffee grounds were purely used as garnish on the giant ice cube. Thank George Burns! (i.e. God!)
I hope my whiskey journey helps you on yours. Oh and one more thing. Don’t miss the Truffle Fries.
NoMad Bar is located inside the NoMad Hotel but it does have a separate street entrance. If you’re in New York City, plan a visit, explore the world of craft cocktails, enjoy a whiskey drink or a vodka drink and Go #MakeSomedayHappen.
If you were like me and hated whiskey, I hope I’ve inspired you to live a little and go to a whiskey tasting. If you’re a fan, I hope you’re amused by my whiskey journey. Most of all I hope we all avoid getting old by living life every day. Let me know either way in the comments.
As George would say: “Say Goodnight Gracie!”