Friday, June 06, 2008

Astor Center: The Imbiber’s Paradise

The Met. Broadway. Buggy rides in Central Park. New York has some cool must-do’s for the average tourist. However, for those of us impassioned by wine, spirits, food and what to do with them – the Astor Center is our Mecca.

Arrive at 399 Lafayette Street, and take the stairs down to enter a wonderland of wine and spirits. Bottles and brands abound – I even saw some labels I’d never heard of in the vodka aisle. (And, I thought I was pretty on top of things!) Sample wines at the sample station, peruse the shelves of organic wine and spirits and journey the world one sip at a time by filling your cart with a plethora of imported vintages. It makes me wish drinking didn’t make me intoxicated, only so I could sample more at one sitting!

But… what really blows the mind is upstairs.

The Study is built for tastings. It has flush sinks at each station and large plasma TV’s above the instructors station for a bird’s eye view of close-ups.

The Kitchen is a marvel of stainless steel built for hands-on training. (The CIA uses this 1100 square foot space, as well, I might add...)

The Gallery is an event space used for everything from wine education to private events. The brick-and-beam space lined with large widows looking onto the street below rivals that of any swanky SoHo hotspot.

This Saturday, New Yorkers have the opportunity to take Mixology classes at Astor Center with Jonathan Pogash – someone I both like and respect in the world of cocktails. A few days ago, I tried one of Jonathan’s newest inventions (not yet named!) when I swung by World Bar to say hello. It was a delicious concoction of Square One cucumber, St. Germain, Sage and… something else… but I had two so I don’t entirely recall… Only let me tell you that is was both tasty and inspired.

Register for his Crafting Summer Cocktails which takes place Saturday, June 7. Or, try Elements of Mixology on June 21. Pogash has grown up in the liquor industry, and knows a thing or two about a great drink. He is also a cocktail consultant, Gary Reagan’s right-hand man at Ardent Spirits and a hellova nice guy to boot!

Oh – and be sure to welcome Jonathan to the worldwide web. His site is Cocktail Guru, and he has recently caught the “blogging bug” as well.

The Astor Center is also the new home for the B.A.R. training, which I hope to undertake this Fall! In addition to putting another feather into my mixology cap, it is a great excuse to get to hang out at the Astor Center and use their state-of-the-art facilities. That’s a pilgrimage I can get behind!

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