Unnatural Natural Almost Disasters

Upon returning to NYC from New Mexico the god almighty above said let insanity be done upon Brooklyn, in accordance with the prophecy, for Tristan has cometh back.  Bah, just kidding, I wish I could take credit for first an earthquake and then a hurricane, but alas while I have the power to get thee drunk I can not, yet, shake the world.  Yet it is true, as I sat at the distillery one fine afternoon I took note of what I thought was the familiar feeling of a subway train trundling down a tunnel just under the building, and yet come to think of it there isn’t a train near the distillery… it must be the freight elevator and someone unloading crates onto it, ‘damn trucks,’ I thought to myself.  It was the shuddering of the bottles quietly tinkling on the shelves as they shivered against each other that made me look around and rest eyes on our tubs of liquid begin to roll back and  forth with visible waves of corn and barley sloshing against their lids, something weird might be happening.  Trying to make sense of this nonsense I finally stumbled my way over to a window to set my eyes upon the street lamp looking like a damn metronome, at which point I admitted to myself that yes in spite of being on the east coast I was experiencing my first earthquake, so I made way way to the door frame where I stood watching inexperienced Brooklynites bounce down the hallway laughing at the absurdity of a New York quake.  Although it lasted much longer than I would have thought possible, it left as fast as it came, rolling in as large waves to shake up my bourbon and my afternoon.  Even though it did leave me a little off balance for a little while the biggest fallout was easily the mass movement of social media outbursts.  Following the earthquake it was apparent that more people ran for their phones then for cover, which left me with endless entertainment all day.

The Apocalypse is coming, here’s why:

Following our shake up my father posted on my facebook wall, ‘watch out for the hurricane that’s coming next.  haha.’  A jest.  A poke at the fact that Brooklyn should be too cool for earthquakes.  So I found myself bunkering down one fine night a week later with my friends, 10 gallons of water, 10 gallons of bourbon, some canned food, and three 12 packs of beer watching as our good friend Hurricane Irene thrashed not overly violently against our house.  The true fallout from Irene were the 3 days prior to it actually hitting us.  With the blitz on stores for canned food and water, as well as Rittenhouse Rye which was wiped form all liquor store shelves, people’s emotion were actually running on high and you could see it in everything.  It was a palpable feeling wafting through the streets on the day before it was supposed to hit us, excitement and dread actually hung in the humid air.  It sounds dramatic, but walking the neighborhood that morning watching people bustle around in an overly quiet and inward mood, feeling the weight of the oppressive humidity, there was something vaguely electric in the air that made your heart beat faster the longer you lingered out unprotected in the world.  I’ve heard it described before but never felt such an eerie energy actually pulse through a community.  Much like the unsettling emotions stirring around outside, the opposite was equally as strong upon entering the safety of home.  The comfort of seeing the girls lounging idly on the couch, hearing soft weathery music playing through the speakers, and enjoying gentle rain against windows were all amplified by the tangible tension outside, it created such a warm sensation of safety.  In the end it turned out to be just a good excuse for NYC to take a weekend off, the best possible result.  Although our night filled with friends, cocktails, and Tears for Fears karaoke seemed to resemble any normal night, there was a depth created by the uncertainty of what might happen that seemed to elevate it to an event, luckily this time the hurricane gave to us an awesome night rather than the potential nightmare that it threatened to unveil.  What better time is there to open the good bottles of booze and thaw out the emergency stash of Hatch green chile then when you are locked up in a house with your best friends about to face certain doom.

I am now waiting for a dinosaur to knock on my door, as it seems the next logical step in the end of the world.

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Digging In

I am digging my claws in and not budging an inch.  Finally I seem to have gained a permanent home in a good neighborhood, a good schedule, and a healthy disposition.  Addie and I have taken up residence in the highly sought after, cooler than you but not trying to be, tree lined, Italian flag painted, vinyl sided, overly caffeinated, booze saturated, neighborhood of Williamsburg.  We have found ourselves in a two family home on a quiet street which most importantly has its own stoop.  The apartment itself is normal in such a way that you have already seen it, two bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, some hardwood floors, enough windows to keep it light… you have seen it a hundred times in your life, it is to a T, an apartment.  Outside though… outside is another story all together.  Stairs.  Big wonderful stairs that perch above our street and below our trees and happen to be the ideal spot to drink a beer, eat a baguette, read a book, talk to friends, and people watch.  Summer evenings and mornings should always be based around a fine stoop, and it’s nice to find that friends flock to stoops (and beer) like moths to a flame.  What’s even better is Jack the Terrier who graces us occasionally with his regal self lounging across our bottom step, it’s nice to once again have a good dog around, even better when you don’t have to walk, feed, or clean up after him.  Swing by sometime and grab a beer, there are plenty of steps to pull up and take a load off.  Soon enough Addie will have finished her Stair Chair creation, a chair with the back two legs chopped to the level of the stairs so you can sit it on the stoop anywhere and sit properly.  Diagrams and instructions to follow some day.

I am going to attempt to shorten my posts in order to make them more frequent.  While a novel length post summarizing all of the previous months is more convenient, I don’t think it is able to strike the finer points of a story.  So for tomorrow: the distillery, and a cognac tasting at Daniel.

Pictures to come as soon as I gather them from my herd of electronic companions which are apparently frying my brain with radio waves.  Until then, please enjoy this song from Wye Oak, my current obsession.  You need this album.

Kick It Into Gear

And we’re back…  Chaos reigns supreme over these last few weeks, but it brought with it a rush of  exciting new adventures!  Finally finding a stride in my working life between the distillery and the new bar I have been able to focus in on some new projects that are long over due, and at the same time build in a little tiny bit of leisure time.  In spite of a looming transition to a new location the distillery seems to be flying along with some really neat new things.  You can now finally find our bourbon on shelves around the city for sale at liquor stores and bars!  Last Friday I jumped into our ever steadfast Metro Moonshine Mobile, Lisa to friends, and zipped through the bridges delivering our first round of the brown stuff to our awaiting accounts.  As it turned out it was actually quite a nerve wracking moment for me as I realized we were finally submitting to the public what we had been working on since the beginning, it was now subject to very wide scrutiny.  That being said it is now out in the world for all to enjoy, and I am anxiously awaiting feedback.  While you can find our Bourbon and Moonshine most everywhere now it is time for me to start working on some other projects.  Recently we began new partnerships with friends to begin working on some cool new releases, which won’t be available for quite some time, but none the less are fun to begin tinkering with.  It is a hard thing to wrap my head around creating some really cool new things to know that they won’t be available to the world for at least 1-2 years, damn the aging process!

Amor Y Amargo is finding its place in the New York bar scene.  Our new little tiny bar is beginning to truly carve out a niche for itself and has found its way onto quite a few publication pages.  Every Saturday night my good friend Chris Elford and I post ourselves behind the bar playing random eclectic music including, but of course not limited to, Tears for Fears, Grizzly Bear, Kanye, Bon Iver, Decemberists, Naked and Famous, Beatles… the list is weird and long.  To the beat of many different songs we pour bitter and amaro based drinks out to friends, family, and customers in what usually escalates to what can only be described as a crowded neighborhood house party.  Our little bar fortunately seems to draw an unusual crowd of nice, interested, and respectful people!  You can’t help but talk to everyone in the bar due to its small size and intimate setting, and that you may or may night be plied with very strong drinks.  It really does amount to being a great time from start to finish, so come find us on Saturdays!

Scotch.  I have talked much about Single Malt Whisky hailing from Scotland.  Scotch is my drink of choice, I drink it regularly and it brought me into my profession, I love Scotch.  Last week I was fortunate to be invited along to a tasting held in the West Village featuring 12+ single malts from every region and style in Scotland.  Hosted by Macallan and Highland Park, both favorites of mine, we enjoyed a non biased (not brand specific at least) tasting of some of the worlds greatest drams.  At 12:30 on a Thursday afternoon I met up with some good friends to be ushered around the world of scotch one taste at a time.  We all sat down to an awesome spread of food, and then were instructed on proper tasting techniques.  After wrapping our heads around being presented with 12 cups of whisky, we dove in.  From Balvenie to Springbank to Highland Park 25… we nosed, chewed, sipped, and drank our way from Lowlands to Highlands.  If you are interested in the actual tasting notes please let me know.  After stepping away from our tables somewhat carefully we then all gathered around the keystone of the day: Highland Park 30 year, and proceeded to pass around the bottle.   All in all, a day to be remembered.

I have lately struck up some new projects through the distillery that have put me in contact with some cool new people around Brooklyn.  Our new friends at Brooklyn Winery in heart of Williamsburg just recently released their first wine, which include an awesome Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot, and in their honor through a gala at their beautiful facilities.  Drinking wonderful wines and mingling a night away with fun people who like to make booze, not a bad way to spend an evening.  I’m really excited to work with these guys on some new stuff coming up soon!  If you haven’t been over to their wine bar or to see their wine making facility it is definitely worth the trip.

Finally summer is upon us!  The heat has been coming and going with the rains but on the occasional clear and warm day we are attempting to take full advantage of the season.  Our park adventures have already taken us up to Central Park with a thermos (or 3) filled with cocktails, alongside a spread cheeses, baguettes, and fruit needed to sustain us for some of the best people watching anywhere in the city!  It truly is nice to have a large area of green to escape from the concrete heat, it is so easy to forget that you are locked in the center of a huge metropolis.  If we can’t make the trip up to the park at least we can always find a cold beer on the block and enjoy a Williamsburg fashion show from open windows.

Much much more to come… Tonight we are off to see the Decemberists play at Prospect Park, a concert that I have waited years to see!  Be on the lookout for our bottles of booze, just yesterday picked us out in Maxim Magazine, things are on the way up.

Moonshine and Mousse

It is hard to remind yourself that sometimes when there is nothing particularly spectacular going on it doesn’t mean that you are being stagnant.  After a whirlwind year of constant adventure the slower times can seem a little unproductive and often leave me very restless at the end of a day focusing on what I am not doing rather than what I am headed towards.  Luckily both Shannon and I have the luxury of working  in the industry we want to end up in allowing us to gain experience while working on other projects on the side.  Every now and then it is nice to get little reminders that things are moving forward.  Last night my sister and I headed down to SoHo for a dessert sitting at the French Culinary Institute featuring our very own Chef Shannon Tebay and her pastry class peers!  Over the past few months it has become all too obvious that Shannon has a knack for pastry.  She has translated a talent for art, a precise hand, and seemingly limitless creativity into edible delights which constantly fill our fridge.  Night after night I get to indulge in tarts, trifles, and truffles and I have yet to stop being impressed, but to go and see Shannon in her element at the helm of a professional kitchen serving fine dining quality plates is another level of awe all together.  Shannon’s Creme Yvette Mousse dessert was supremely decadent, and an awesome reminder of what she has accomplished in such a short time.

Producing something physical, whether it is a beautiful dessert or a barrel of bourbon, is a nice way to remember that you are actually working towards a goal.  When I am not sure what it is I am actually doing in New York I find that wandering through the room where our bourbon barrels are stacked at the distillery reminds me of results that you can’t actually see come to fruition.  The reason I originally sought out work in a distillery was an infatuation with the lore and legend of every single bottle of single malt I have ever tasted, seen, or know of.  Every single bottle of spirit was tended to with great care by some one for years just so that I could enjoy it for a moment.  4… 10… 12… 21 YEARS of work went into a small bottle of alcohol.  You can’t help but admit that the knowledge of someone watching over that very drop of liquid in your glass somewhere across the planet over a decade ago doesn’t make it infinitely more precious.  It’s the thought that someone might scrutinize or romanticize an unknown random bottle of the bourbon that I make at the distillery that makes me care about every single step of everyday of work.  Hopefully I can imbue as much history and care into my bottles I as get from the spirit I myself enjoy.

Lately we have been getting quite a lot of attention from local, national, and international media.  It is flattering to find our bottle popping up in places I would have never thought to find them, thank you J. Crew.  Most recently we had a TV crew from Tokyo do a story about us for the local news:  I thought you might enjoy the clip, so here is our distillery from a different sounding point of view:  Click Here To Watch!

For everyone back home here is a real look into the distillery and our products, just click each link to take a look:

Video Tour!

Cool Pictures

 

Here are some pics from the new (yet to be named) place, unfortunately I was unable to hold the camera still… not sure what was going on there.  Hopefully I will be able to dig up some good pictures of Shannon’s supreme dessert work in the next couple of days!

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The Adventure Continues: Year Two

Welcome to the 2nd year of the Wandering Willey!  February 26th marked the 1 year point for the blog.  There were 103 posts over the 365 day span, not too bad for year 1!  I am going to attempt to improve upon consistency again now that we have have settled into our new apartment, and hopefully stay in better touch with the world.  So here is to another year of good events to write about and to you the reader for sticking with us.  Cheers!

And on that note, let’s start this new blogging year with a bang:

"You can Sarran Wrap anything," Shannon Tebay.

We have officially moved!  We have set out the last of the moving boxes and bubble wrap at the curb, hung everything on walls, and stocked the pantry.  Our journey from the East Village to East Williamsburg was fairly uneventful, with careful planning and packing we were able to hire movers (the only way to go when 5 flights of stairs are involved) to get the job down in under 6 hours.  After saying goodbye to the old apartment last Sunday there is no looking back.  It is truly amazing the amount adventure contained in that silly little apartment perched above Avenue A.  Shannon, Dan, Addie, and all of the friends we had come and go have used that place as a launching pad for more excitement than anyone has a right to experience in just 14 months.  Time to start all over again in Brooklyn!

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC, NY.  We now live on the 4th floor of a red brick building above a jewelry shop.  During the process of moving out to the new borough it quickly became obvious that it was going to be a little different scene.  Not only are simple things quite different, as in the temperature is considerable colder when you are unprotected by the towering city, but also the architecture is radically different, the noise level is drastically reduced, and most blatantly and almost oppressively the blue sky returns!  It actually stratles me every time I look out of the window and see nothing but blue sky, I hadn’t realized how much I missed it.  We now get to see a real sunset every night!  Already the transition has been a little bitter-sweet, I have found that while Brooklyn has welcomed us with arms wide open I do already miss some things about the East Village.  When moving out of an old place it seems that it is hard to remember why it is we were moving, and only after settling into the new place did I come to understand the charm and unique beauty of our old neighborhood.  Moving forward from the city, there are tons of benefits to our new neighborhood!  Already we have located the plethora of great bars, restaurants, and cafes.  We have a grocery store right across the street!  Anyways, I can’t wait for the weather to let up so that we can actually figure out our new spot.

The Apartment: Small.  About 650 sq. ft. 1 Bedroom sitting atop of a large brick building (tallest on the block) with a view of the Manhattan skyline and the Williamsburg bridge!  It is no small thing being back in an apartment where things actually work, i.e. the sink works, cabinets have handles, the counters are marble and not porous stained vinyl, and there aren’t nails coming through the floor!  One thing has really made our new place a good place for me: sunlight.  We actually get bright morning sunlight in the kitchen and warm afternoon light in the living room.  Pair the sun with some blue skies and finally I can relax a little after escaping the concrete sidewalks and towering buildings.  Here are some pictures of the move and the new place slowly being assembled.

Much more to come this afternoon and over the next couple of days.  Check back in on updates about work, school, and new adventures.  We hope all of you guys are doing well.  Much love from Brooklyn/