I am woefully, woefully behind in my blogging. I could explain all that’s gone on since my last few real posts, but it would just take time away from writing about the food… and you want to hear about the food, don’t you? (Or, in this case, the booze…) In late April, I was invited to a gin tasting at Oceana, a Michelin-starred seafood-focused restaurant in midtown. The sommelier there apparently has a deep and unabiding love for gin – something I totally understand – and personally curates the gin list, which, at the time of my tasting, was around 40 different kinds and counting. You might think gin is gin is gin, but to gin drinkers, this is laughable. Each gin uses its own blend of botanicals, which leads to subtle differences that are showcased, muted, or emphasized based on the type of drink you’re mixing.
Personally, I prefer Bombay Sapphire as I tend to mix slightly floral, fruity drinks for myself. I often use elderflower syrup (from Ikea, about $6 for a bottle that lasts a while) or liqueur (St. Germaine is my preferred brand) alongside citrus (lemon, lime, orange) and seltzer as my companions to gin, and they really work beautifully together. Other gins have more herbaceous notes, which don’t work quite as well for my palate or personal tastes, but are really nice with tonic (I’ve discovered I do not care for tonic – luckily, I already had my malaria vaccine [I got it before I traveled to Peru], so I don’t need the quinine!). Really, there’s a gin for everyone – even self-proclaimed gin haters just need to find the right one.
But anyway, enough of my espousing the lovely qualities of gin.
As I was one of the first to arrive, the sommelier and I had a conversation about what types of gin I prefer, and what drinks I like. He told me he knew just what I’d like, and brought out the classic French 75 cocktail – which is right up my alley: champagne, gin, lemon juice and sugar. (He used Bombay Sapphire, which made me smile.) I actually recreated this at home shortly thereafter, enjoying its combination so much! (Using sparkling wine though, not champagne, and omitting the sugar as the prosecco I chose was already fairly sweet.)
We then started the evening with some gorgeous oysters of which I sadly could only snap a blurry photograph, but I assure you these were fresh and delicious – especially when adding the passion fruit mignonette. Seriously, that was a great mignonette… yum.
As this was back in April – a chilled spring onion soup with snap peas, gin, lime.
Gin cured salmon – which was excellent! – with roe on dill brioche.
Asparagus tartelettes with Tanqueray #10 juniper crème fraiche – I really loved the crisp shell, the creamy crème fraiche, and the bright asparagus – this worked together so nicely that I think I single-handedly ate an entire tray.
See? They didn’t even make it to my plate.
Then we ended with something else that speaks to the things I like: grapefruit & gin “fizz” – gin granite and a carbonated grapefruit cloud. YUM. We also had a cordial which I failed to photograph, but contained St. Germaine, gin, and lemon with seltzer. Yes, please!
While many of the items above are no longer available (sorry! it’s been a while…), the gin program is going strong. I feel comfortable recommending Oceana because with such delicate bites and attention to detail, you know that the rest of the menu is sure to be great as well.
If you can, definitely go and check out their Just Gin program. It’s pretty awesome.
PS I totally forgot, silly me. They actually have house-made tonic – which, though I said I didn’t care for tonic much, I did try theirs and found the citrus one absolutely lovely (no surprise there). They also have bitter, spicy, and sweet… all of which are unique and very tasty as well. The level of thought put into the littlest things just shows that they take their cocktails seriously here – something I respect very much.
Please note that I attended this tasting courtesy of Oceana’s PR team – thank you for the hospitality! – but was not required to post about it nor did I receive monetary compensation to do so.