Clusters of parched mouths and grumbling bellies huddled around the stainless-steel, communal kitchen on Friday September 10th in the center of the 6,500 square foot event space on the second floor of the Andaz 5th Avenue hotel, swirling glasses of wine, clinking glasses of local liquor, grabbing at canapes and mini-sandwiches and talking of Fashion Week's firm hold on all of New York City.
Hosted by Andaz, Vogue culinary editor Jeffrey Steingarten and Momofuku's celebrity chef David Chang, the event packed over 1,000 people into the brand new mid-town hotel's acclaimed event space, serving up endlessly delicious hor d'ourves: braised pork ribs dripping in a carmelized sweet and sour sauce and fried red onion flakes; pork belly squares folded into fluffly, steamed buns; Benton's smoky mountain ham on thick and crunchy crackers; kimchi apple salad; and mini-cups of frothy, whipped tofu with heirloom tomatoes.
Outlining the open kitchen where cooks and chefs served the appetizers as if it was a house party, local representative poured artisanal liquors including Laird's Applejack Brandy (which is featured on Andaz Wall Street's bar menu), three corn-based whiskey by Hudson Whiskey, Big Fire by R. Stuar Pinot Grigio, pear and plum brandy from Clear Creek Distillary, and a 127 proof, 18th century rye whiskey from Old Potrero, a brand owned by Fritz Maytag, owner of Anchor Steam brewery.
The real treat of the evening, however, was the brainchild of Andaz itself. In a small, far-off room past the stone courtyard was an elegant bar wrapped in burnt almond leather with smoke billowing over from the bartenders, where they chilled their featured cocktail, The September Issue, with liquid nitrogen. An amazingly well-balanced drink, The September Issue is packed with McKenzie Rye whiskey from Fingerlakes, NY, Clarified Concords, water, lemon, root liquor and maple syrup, where it starts with the zing of the lemon and finishes strong with the maple syrup, which stays with you until the next sip. The chunks in the drink aren't pieces of fruit, though. The liquid nitrogen is so cold that the drink creates its own, edible ice cubes.
As party-goers floated back to the crowd with clearly the highlight of the entire show, you could see the crowd's heads turn and ears perk up, trying to find out where these people got that amazing drink.