The bar was full before 5 p.m. with people anxiously lined up on their stools and one thing on their mind.
I was obviously not the first to order the Pappy van Winkle.
“I’ll get that for you as soon as we get it up here,” said the bartender patiently.
Char No. 4 had sent an email that they would be serving 13-year Pappy van Winkle rye starting at 5 p.m. on Friday the 13th. It was two minutes to 5. We were counting.
Pappy van Winkle, also known as “Pappy” in the whiskey world, is not just a whiskey. It is THE American whiskey, and bottles of any kind and year are difficult to come by. People share memories of it like a good first kiss. They talk about sightings and upcoming appearances in hushed voices so too many people won’t hear. And I had yet to try it.
Another Thanksgiving, another excuse to put whiskey in pie. Our cousins hosting Thanksgiving graciously allowed me to bring desserts, so I could try some new recipes. In addition to an old but much-loved standby – the butterscotch pumpkin pie - I also made an eggnog tart with a bourbon coffee sauce and a gluten-free apple crumble with whiskey.
The morning of my wedding, I found myself seated on the bathroom floor of my hotel room filling flasks with whiskey in the semi-darkness. Brides get married with a variety of secrets to hide. Mine was a backpack full of glasses with our names and wedding date etched on them in the closet with matching flasks that I was now trying to carefully fill without spilling or making much noise to get it all packed before my soon-to-be-husband woke up.
If all went well, I wanted to give a surprise whiskey toast after the ceremony. If all did not go well, we would want the whiskey anyway. We had planned a Yosemite wedding for October in the beautiful afternoon autumn light. The government had other plans for us, however. They had closed the national parks as part of the government shutdown, and we had been relocated outside the park. All of our desperate tweeting for them to reopen the government had yet to work, so we had no choice but to sneak a wedding into Yosemite.
A lot of things I heard about getting married did not excite me – dress shopping and 6 a.m. boot camp and seating charts.
But one thing I didn’t know is how much whiskey people give you. If I had know that marriage = whiskey, I would have done it sooner and more often.
Portland is known for breweries, but now its distilleries are starting to claim their own place in the national trend of craft whiskies. The delicious Temperance and the smoky McCarthy’s are delightful local brands I’ve tasted from the City of Roses. Add to this list Hogshead from McMenamins’ Edgefield distillery.
“The whisky got struck in traffic – it will be here soon,” promised Mike Neff, one of the owners of Ward III and the Rum House and leader of our whisky culinary tour.
I wasn’t worried. Plenty of whisky was behind the bar at Ward III, which at 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon was mellow and quiet as the other tour guests trickled in. The event was part of the Manhattan Cocktails Classic, and it drew a mix of friends, couples, and singles, ready to taste some fine Scotch and wander around Tribeca.
“Ah!” said Mike and stopped his pacing to run outside for the goods.
How many different whiskies can I drink in 2.5 hours?
Answer: A lot, if my evening at Whiskey Live in NY is any indication.
Whiskey Live is kind of what I imagine whiskey heaven would be like. At the entrance, someone hands you a glass. You walk into a room filled with whiskey and unlimited pours (nobody seems to use or care about the tickets they hand you). And people everywhere want to talk about whiskey. Throw in some bagpipes and chocolate, and it’s kind of perfect.