On Thursday of last week, we were invited to attend a media and trade tasting organized by The Tasting Panel Magazine at British gastropub Waterloo & City in Culver City. This event included a tasting of a large sampling of the double gold medal winners (both wine and spirits) from the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition and some delicious appetizers prepared by the gastropub, but our attention was drawn to another aspect of the event.
We tasted most of the wines, enjoying the De Tierra Vineyard 2007 Pinot Noir “Silacci Vineyard”, the Sequana Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir “Sarmento Vineyard”, the Paradise Vineyards 2006 Malbec, the Robert Hall Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cakebread Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. For us, the best of the day were the Baehner Fournier Vineyards 2007 Estate V3 and the Niner Wine Estates 2007 Fog Catcher (Niner winemaker Amanda Cramer was honored with the André Tchelistcheff Winemaker of the Year award). Yet, we became distracted (in a good way) by what began to happen just outside on the patio.
Harlem Kruiden Liqueur had been asked to sponsor a Harlem Shot Competition called “Make Your Best Shot!”, inviting a dozen bartenders from various bars and restaurants around Los Angeles (and one from as far away as Ventura County) to develop, mix and present their best cocktail (in a tall shot glass) using their liqueur, which is a secret herb blend the Dutch call kruiden (meaning herbal). “Harlem” is an anglicized version of the name of a town called “Haarlem” just outside Amsterdam. There is definitely some bright orange in the flavor, but there are more complex flavors in its profile that we can’t totally identify.
Harlem has some recipes using its liqueur on its website, but not the ones created for this event, which were detailed in a handout. We liked most of them, but our favorites were the Harlem Lemon Shot (a mix of Harlem, Triple Sec and lemonade in a sugar rimmed glass), the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity (Harlem, Ketel One Oranje, cranberry and pineapple juices and sprite), the Harlem Iced Koffee (Harlem, Kahlua, Frangelico and cream), the Harbucks (Harlem, Amaretto and Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino) and the Harlette (Harlem, a special cucumber juice, mint, lime juice and ginger syrup). Someone suggested that the Harlette be renamed the CoolCumber as it was the most refreshing drink of all.
Harlem is best served very chilled and we found that, unlike wine, it is best if you sip (or gulp) but don’t spit—swirling and sniffing are optional, of course.
Disclosure: We were granted complimentary media passes to this event.