Whilst warming the barstools at Herbs & Rye doing research on owner Nectaly Mendoza’s new method for making the Ramos Gin Fizz–incidentally, my septuagenarian great aunt’s favorite cocktail–I noticed that Campo de Encanto pisco is the only product on the new Herbs & Rye menu to be mentioned by name. (That is, outside of unique products that sort of own their category such as Bols Genever, Cherry Heering and Grand Marnier.) It might have something to do with the fact that Mendoza once flew down to Peru to help blend a batch during Encanto’s infancy. But Mendoza’s pisco knowledge is not limited to one brand. Indeed, the Peruvian government has made him a pisco ambassador along with the nine other American bartenders who recently flew down to Peru for La Diablada Pisco’s Become a Shaman Bartender Invitational, in which Mendoza took first. His cocktail, the Dia-Blanca, combined La Diablada with another Peruvian specialty, quinoa (after all, the United Nations has named 2013 the International Year of Quinoa). Also in the mix were cream, nutmeg, cinnamon, all-spice, bitters, condensed milk and honey, garnished with whipped cream and raisins soaked in Peruvian Amargo Chuncho bitters. La Diablada will become the second pisco named on the new Herbs & Rye menu, in the classic Pisco Punch, on October 11.
That same day, I’m heading to Denver for my second Great American Beer Festival. Last year, I signed up so late that I was relegated to the frat party that is the Sunday afternoon session. This time I’ll be trolling the massive space during Saturday’s members-only session for brewers and homebrewers, hopefully tagging along with our local guys and gals to see what beers light them up. If you’re heading to Denver, check out the free festival app, My GABF, for Apple and Android. It’s as essential to navigating the 600-plus breweries and 3,000-plus beers as a pretzel necklace.
If you’re not Denver-bound, but you consider yourself a budding hophead or beer nut, download Untappd, a sort of Foursquare for beer. It’s actually from the same designers, so Untappd enjoys all of Foursquare’s robust location abilities. Now you can brag to all your friends exactly which fresh-hopped Holy Grail of beers you’re downing at exactly which incredible beer mecca. Plus you can rate the beer, earn badges and post a photo of your smug beer ‘stache. If they’re going to “toast” your post (like “liking’ on Facebook), they really should have all the info.
And while you’re in the App Store, download Delectable, which lets you scan your wine bottle and “check in” at that wine, tag friends you’re drinking with and where. Now if only there was an app for checking into cocktails. I’d be the mayor of Manhattan in no time!