Wine & Cocktails

I do not consider myself a wine connoisseur, but I do enjoy a nice bottle with friends or a generous glass with a meal, be it humble or gourmet. I enjoy wine.

I also enjoy discovering new wines and learning about wines and winemaking. I was fortunate enough, very fortunate indeed,  to have enjoyed working as a food server in some very fine dining restaurants in NYC such as The Soho Kitchen and Bar on Greene Street and  French bistro style Pastis on Gansevoort in the meatpacking district. (You might remember Meryl Streep’s character making reservations there in “The Devil Wears Prada”.)

Both restaurants had extensive international wine offerings, particularly Soho Kitchen and Bar which, reportedly, had the largest wine list in North America,  and took great pains to educate its floor staff on the A to Zs of wines, beers, and spirits. 

There were required seminars taught by professional sommeliers who taught us the wine regions of France, Italy, Spain, Germany, the US, Australia, and Chile and the grape varietals grown in each. We learned how each geographical location, its climate and the terrain, determined what type of varietal could be grown there and the effect it would have on the color and taste of each. We learned the grape varietals used to make each wine, the wine making process, and why sparkling wine can only be called champagne if it comes from France! Most importantly we learned food pairing, how to present and pour the wine,  and which glass to serve with the different wines and apéritifs.

The grape varietal I learned to love the most was the exotic, aromatic Viognier, a rare wine difficult to find here in the US outside of NYC.

I would like to explore wines, cocktails, and the history and modern trends of each in this section with presentations and articles from sommeliers, mixologists, and restaurateurs. Look out for some interesting and fun times!

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Jack Daniels

Jack Daniels. One of the world’s finest, if not THE finest, Tennessee whiskeys. What people are beginning to discover is that Jack Daniels was created as the result of an unusual, atypical partnership that is part on an infamous era of AMerican history. A slave, Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green, was the Master Distiller and creator of the recipe that made Jack Daniels a famous international brand. Mr. Green shared and taught his recipe to Jack Daniel, the adopted orphan son of Mr. Green’s slave owner. The sharing of knowledge helped create an enduring, profitable relationship of trust and respect. A wonderful story of two people from polar ends of the universe finding common ground and creating something uniquely special.

The First Master Distiller of Jack Daniels Was a Slave Named Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green!!

I love this story, not just because it tells the story of yet another undiscovered contribution of an African-American to the history, culture, and economic power of America, rather, this story underscores the very premis of The Colorful Raconteur – storytelling in the key of LIFE!

In the 19th century, in the city of Lynchburg, in the southern slave state of Tennessee, a wealthy plantation owner paired his adopted ward, one young Jack Daniel, with his master distiller, Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green, a slave. Mr. Green created the recipe for the internationally famous Tennessee whiskey and taught it to Jack. The rest is, although belatedly revealed, history.

For me, what’s so remarkable about this story is that Jack Daniel always gave full credit to Mr. Green for creating the recipe and acknowledged him as his mentor. There was never any deception, theft, or underhanded grift usually associated with such relationships. 

This is a powerful story that needs to be repeated as often as possible for the lesson learned: these two totally different people found a commanlity that bound them together as friends and business partners and simultaneously creating history. This could have just as easily resulted in a story of infamous tragedy. But it didn’t!  

I believe that the sharing of stories can help humankind find those commanlities which can ripple into tidal waves of change.