10-4-10 Interview with Carey Jones, Author of Brooklyn Bartender

Brooklyn Bartender: A Modern Guide to Cocktails and Spirits author Carey Jones is the focus of this installment of my 10-4-10 series. Ten people involved an some aspect of the spirits industry responding to ten questions.

Brooklyn is experiencing a renaissance that is magical and Carey expertly captures the essence of this now widely popular borough of New York City. Here we go…

 

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Photo by Lucy Shaeffer

 

1.Congratulations on your book. It’s so much more than the usual list of cocktails. I’m dealing with Brooklyn envy at the moment! Tell us a little about your book, perhaps what you consider the highlights.

Thanks so much! The idea with this book was to capture today’s vibrant Brooklyn bar scene — not just in terms of the drinks themselves, but the amazing men and women behind them, their beautiful establishments, tricks of the trade and bartender lore. The book contains 300 recipes from bars around the borough, all tested and arranged by spirit. The idea is that everyone, from a novice to a professional mixologist, can find drinks at their level, and recipes they’ll want to make again and again.

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2.Have you spent time behind the bar either professionally or while working on the book? If yes, tell us about it.

I’ve worked service jobs but not behind the bar. That said, my husband is an accomplished bartender, who has run cocktail programs for many New York bars of a similar caliber to the establishments in this book. (None in Brooklyn, though!) Having first watched how he works, then collaborated with him professionally — we do a weekly cocktail column for the Food & Wine website, and a monthly cocktail video for the Saveur website –has offered me a real insight into the craft. I’ve learned a lot of the mindset that goes into creating cocktails, understood the industry from a pro’s standpoint — and I’ve now got my own stirring and shaking technique down!

3.Single malt scotch is my go-to spirit, do you have a go-to spirit or cocktail?

I will never say no to a properly made Negroni. In fact, I might go make one right now…

4.What cocktail and/or spirit trends to you see building currently?

It’s amazing how quickly trends pop up — if you’d told me a few years ago I’d be writing about cocktails made with activated charcoal or blue Curaçao, I’d have thought you were insane. What I find more interesting, and more enduring, is the very slow process by which drinkers at large become more comfortable with a spirit. A decade ago, very few people thought of tequila as anything other than a shot or a margarita; now, even casual cocktail drinkers know that there’s a whole world of high-end tequila. I see a similar process happening with rum, and though this isn’t a spirit, sherry.

5.Do you have a favorite cocktail bar outside of Brooklyn? Outside of the USA?

Oh boy. Ward III in Tribeca is my enduring favorite; Bar Goto in the Lower East Side, my current obsession. The most surprising cocktails I’ve had recently were in a tiny bar called Bar Trench in Tokyo. The drinks are unbelievably intricate and when you read them, or even see them, you might think they are too complicated — that drink comes inside a birdcage?  It as how many ingredients? — but every drink is focused and balanced and just so, so on point. Surprising flavors that work beautifully.

6.Is there another cocktail book in the pipeline?

Working on the proposal now — I’ll be thrilled to share more info when I can!

7.I recently created an infographic on the pairing of single malt and cheese. Have you discovered any interesting pairings?

Interesting! I think pairing food with spirits can be incredibly difficult — wine and beer are inherently more food-friendly. But I’m always game to try. Green Spot whiskey with an aged Irish cheddar is my idea of a perfect dessert, so I can see how Scotch would work as well!

Oh, wait — half an ounce of a single malt like Bowmore 12 poured over an oyster, and done as a shot, is brilliant — the salinity of the Scotch and the oyster all in one go.

8.Are there any public engagements coming up for you during the next few months?

Not planned at the moment, I’m taking time to focus on my next book proposal.

9.Following up on your comments about the Food and Wine website, how did your career as a food and drink writer get launched and where do you want to take it?

During my college years I knew I wanted to be a writer, and interned for several media companies, then began writing freelance while still in school. After graduation I pursued writing full-time. When you’re just starting out, every article you write is a result of a pitch you sent an editor (even if it’s one assigned article for every 50 pitches.) So it focuses your attention pretty quickly — nearly all of my pitches were about food, drink, or travel, which told me quite a bit! I was lucky enough to land a full-time job at the food publication Serious Eats, first as the New York editor, then the managing editor, a positon I held for a number of years. By the time I left, I was looking forward to turning my focus from running a food site to writing about topics across a broader range — food, spirits, cocktails, and travel.

To me, the most rewarding projects are long-form — whether books, or writing more substantial articles than the average one piece. I’d like to get to a point where I can wholly focus on one project of my own choosing at a time, whether solo, or a collaboration with my husband. And we wouldn’t say no to a television show!

10.How can readers keep in touch with you?

I can be found on Twitter @careyjones, Instagram @carey_jones, and Facebook at writercareyjones.

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Special thanks to Carey for sharing her road to the Brooklyn Bartender! Now I want to find the time to test the 300 recipes – what a goal to strive for.  I raise a glass to Carey and the thoroughly enjoyable Brooklyn Bartender.

 

 

 

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10-4-10 Series Interview with Kilchoman’s James Wills

kilchoman-bottlesThis is the fifth installment of my 10-4-10 series of interviews with people who are swirling winningly in the wide world of whisk(e)y. Up this time is James Wills, son of Kilchoman’s founder  Anthony Wills.

I had the extreme pleasure recently to partake in tasting a selection of Kilchoman whiskies at Federal Wine and Spirits in Boston during Kilchoman’s Land Rover driven East Coast Tour. Two expressions found their way home with me…the wallet does have, unfortunately, its limits.

Thanks again to James for taking the time to provide detailed and thoughtful answers to my ten questions, and here goes..

1. For those who are unfamiliar with Kilchoman, tell me about its history and what sets you apart from other distilleries.

Kilchoman was the first new distillery to be built on Islay for over 124 years when my father established it in 2005. We call ourselves Islay’s Farm Distillery, the idea behind Kilchoman was to mirror the grass root traditions of Scotch whisky production, we do that by producing some of our whisky from barley grown and malted here at the distillery, producing our ‘100% Islay’ single malt at Kilchoman, from Barley to Bottle. We are a family run operation, my entire family is employed by the distillery, myself and my two brothers are the sales and marketing team, my mother works in the admin department and my father is the founder/Managing Director.  We are the smallest distillery on Islay, we produce about 180,000 litres each year. At the moment, all of our expressions are peated.

2. How would you characterize the Kilchoman whisky style?

I would say our style of single malt falls between the big heavily peated Islay associated with the likes of Laphroaig and Ardbeg whiskies and the lighter styles such as Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain.

3. Where do you see Kilchoman in five years?

That is a very hard question to answer, so much as changed over the previous five years it’s impossible to say what will happen next but I hope our whiskies will continue to grow in popularity….and I’m still in the job.

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4. You are currently on the September-October East Coast Tour. How much time do you spend on the road promoting Kilchoman whiskies?

I have never tallied up the number of days spent on the road but getting out and about, meeting people and promoting Kilchoman face-to-face is a big part of the job and we enjoy it. The whisky industry is full of interesting people and when I tell my friends I’m off on a promotional tour of the US East Coast I don’t think they feel sorry for me!

5. 2017 is not far away, do you have any specific festivals or events that you will be attending in the United States during the year?

2017 is still quite far away in our book, this is the busiest time of year for us, once we hit the end of November we will start to finalize plans for next year. The best thing to do is check our website, all our tasting tours and events are published well ahead of time.

6. Since the release of your inaugural bottle in 2009, what has surprised you most about the whisky business?

How friendly and welcoming the industry is, people often expect there is a fierce rivalry between distilleries and there is to a certain degree but no one lets that get in the way of a good time.

7. When I tasted the inaugural bottle while on Islay in 2009, new distilleries seemed far and few between.  Since then there has been an explosion of new distilleries across the globe. How has this explosion impacted, if at all, Kilchoman?

I think it has certainly made people more willing to try single malt from new or different distilleries than those they have tasted in the past. I don’t think that any of the new distilleries have detracted from Kilchoman, that is probably because we are the only new Islay distillery. That looks likely to change and when it does perhaps my answer would change as well but I shouldn’t think so. The real boom in new distilleries has only really been in the last 2-3 years.

8. I have five (actually now seven) different Kilchoman expressions and enjoy them all. Is there one that you are especially proud of? Why?

It’s very hard to pick one, it would probably be either the Inaugural Release (our first ever) or the Inaugural 100% Islay (our first 100% Islay.) There was such a build up to these, all the time, effort and investment had done into getting to that point and it was very rewarding to see the positive reaction.

9. Beyond Kilchoman, do you have a go-to bottle in your personal whisky cabinet?

My go-to is always Kilchoman, of course I drink other whisky but the association I have with Kilchoman makes the drinking of it all the more enjoyable!

10. Pairing whisky with cheese, chocolate or special meals is an interesting way to introduce whisky to newcomers and fans alike. Do you have at recommendations for pairings with any of your varied expressions?

I would recommend pairing lighter flavours such as citrus, seafood, tropical fruits, herbs and soft cheeses for the Machir Bay, 100% Islay and any of our other bourbon cask matured expressions. for our sherry cask expressions of Kilchoman I would lean towards richer flavours such as dried or cooked fruits, cured meats, game, spices, dark chocolate and mature cheeses.

 

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Anthony Wills leading the tasting

 

Bits and pieces shared by Founder Anthony Wills during the East Coast Tour:

  • The Land Rover was designed by Mrs. Wills’ family in 1948, based on Jeep and tested on Islay.
  • Kilchoman does not sell any whisky to blenders.
  • Kilchoman purchases its bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace because of their consistency.
  • Kilchoman is now in 40 different markets around the world.
  • The distillery produced 50,000 litres in 2006 and will produce 200,000 in 2016.
  • Machir Bay is the biggest volume seller.

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My two new Kilchoman bottles are:

  1. The Tour bottling – a vatting of Machir Bay at 58.9% cask strength. This is a 2008 Vintage with hints of butterscotch. No water need be added to this bottle. $80 price range. I rank it a 4 out of 4.
  2. The 100% Islay, 6th edition – there is peat on the nose, an earthy finish with a lovely fruity and lightly peated palate. $120 price range. I rank it a 3 out of 3.

Many thanks again to James Wills for participating in my 10-4-10 series. I raise a glass to all that is Kilchoman!