Raising the Bar: Tastings at Vintry Wine & Whiskey

20091230vintry_collage.jpg

[Photos: Tia Kim]

I rarely venture into the Financial District. However, when I heard there was a new bar, called Vintry Wine & Whiskey, offering eighty wines normally served by the bottle in two ounce and five ounce tastings, I was intrigued. Whiskeys from around the world further piqued my interest, but when I heard there was a small plates menu that included lobster stuffed mushrooms, I was out the door with my Metrocard. It was a cold night with a blistering wind that followed me underground, but the trip was not made in vain.

20091230lobstermushrooms.jpg

The Lobster Stuffed Mushrooms ($14, 4 to a plate) were delicious, but not in the creamy, cheesy way I had expected. Stuffed with chunks of lemon segments and topped with tomato and basil, the little lobster bites were bright and sharp in flavor. It was a tad more acidic than I would have wanted, but it was nice, light start to the night.

20091230knishes.jpg

A huge fan of knishes, I also ordered the plate of mini Knishes ($12, 4 to a plate). Sliced and layered with smoked salmon, with crème fraiche and an osetra caviar garnish, the knishes were indeed cute, but served cold and lacking a crust, it didn't win me over.

20091230gnocchi.jpg

The Sheep Milk Ricotta Gnocchi & Lamb Ragout ($11), on the other hand, didn't disappoint. The delicate ricotta gnocchi were soft and airy and the shredded lamb was tender to the bite. Tying everything together was a drizzle of basil oil which matched the freshness of the ricotta and the peppery bite of the ragout.

20091230champagne.jpg

As for drinks, I couldn't leave without having a few tastings. Since this is the time of year for champagne, I tried two ounces of the Taittinger, Cuvée Prestige Brut, Rosé, Reims, N.V. ($10) and it was beautiful sparkling wine with lots of red berry notes. Unfortunately, even for a tasting, it is pricey, so if you're on a budget, a two ounce tasting of the drier Paul Cheneau, Blanc de Blancs, Cava, Brut, Spain, N.V. ($4.50) is a better value. It tasted more expensive than it was, and most importantly, it didn't give me a headache.

20091230bubinga.jpg

For those who want to take the whiskey route, but don't like whiskey straight up, the Flaming Bubinga ($14)—named after the redwood the bar is made out of—is a colorful mix of Highland Park twelve year old single malt scotch, Blume Marillen apricot eau-de-vie, lemon, and blood orange. Tasting heavily of apricots and citrus over a subtle background of woodsy scotch, this is a good gateway drink for the whiskey-shy.

20091230apple.jpg

Having a good time and wanting to linger, I ordered the Apple Tarte Tatin ($8). The crust was a little flimsy, but the apples were caramelized a deep buttery brown that tasted as good as it looked, and was made even better by the rich vanilla ice cream on top. It was almost the perfect end to the night. The perfect end was the Vintry Hot Cider ($8), spiced with cinnamon and spiked with Dewar's. If the heat of the sweet cider doesn't warm you up, the smooth scotch whiskey definitely will. The Financial District may not be as far away as I thought.

Vintry Wine & Whiskey

57 Stone Street, New York NY 10004 (map) 212-480-9800
vintrynyc.com