Review of The Village Voice 2nd Annual Holiday Spirits Tasting Event on The Hornblower Infinity Cruise Ship, Pier 40 @ West Houston St., Manhattan, NY

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 By: Tom Partington

Thursday, November 20th 2014
As we approached the riverboat Hornblower Infinity at Pier 40 at West Houston Street for the Village Voice Holiday Spirits Tasting Event, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.  Would it be one of the loud party boat events that can be seen (and heard) regularly blaring up the Hudson? Or would it be a tasting event primarily sponsored by large name-brand distilleries?  As it turned out it was neither.   Once we looked past the garish pulsating lights of the Infinity’s decor, we found ourselves presented with the opportunity to experience sophisticated and complex tastes from a wide variety of small artisanal distilleries and wineries.
When we first boarded, we were given a souvenir glass, and scanned the deck.  Table after table of unique drinks to try from bow-to-stern. Food was also included, with pasta, burgers, and ice cream sundaes, all from Whole Foods Market. The ship also featured live entertainment; with sets from the jazz quartet  Blue Vipers of Brooklyn and  DJ Tim Martell.  
Not recognizing too many of the companies, we tried a sample from the nearest table and offering from the Cooperstown Distillery, a concoction of Fenimore Gin, Fentiman’s Ginger Beer, Orange Curacao, and Cardamon Bitters. This is not an ordinary drink sample- and this was just the beginning.  As we progressed from deck to deck (There were three full decks of samples and food!), many of the samples were even more complex and exotic.  We tasted Scorpion Mezcal with hot chocolate, Caleb’s Kola, a brand-new cola manufacturer;  Sorel Artisanal Liquor – a complex winter drink reminiscent of Glühwein or Swedish Glögg, and finally, Nahmias et Fils.
This event was truly about the smaller brands, unique and often hand-crafted. The company, Nahmias Et Fils  is a typical in the sense of the passion and care put into their niche product. In a room with so many competing flavors it would be impossible to pick a favorite, but their Mahia managed to stand apart with it’s subtlety and unique complexity.  Mahia has origins in Morocco, and is a distilled spirit made from figs or dates and herbs.
I had the opportunity to speak with the founders and producers of Mahia, Dorit Nahmias and David Nahmias who were both at the event, ebullient and enthusiastic. I asked David what it was that made Mahia different, expecting a description or process or flavors – but instead he told me,  “It’s love. Really, it’s love. We put such care into this, you have no idea!” I started to understand when I heard their story. The Nahmias both quit their 21st century jobs in software engineering and finance and put everything on the line to continue a multigenerational family tradition that began in Morocco. “I decided that I had to follow my dream and continue the tradition.”
It was this kind of passion that could be found at almost all of the brands represented at the tasting event.  This was the second year of this well-curated event by the Village Voice. Let’s hope that it becomes an annual tradition.

 

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THE VILLAGE VOICE ANNOUNCES FINAL ROUND OF SPIRITS
 FOR SECOND ANNUAL
“HOLIDAY SPIRITS” TASTING EVENT
 
**30 TOTAL DISTILLERIES, WINERIES & MORE CONFIRMED**
BOTH GENERAL ADMISSION AND VIP TICKETS AVAILABLE
 
New York, NY – The Village Voice announces its final round of participating distilleries, wineries & more for the second annual Holiday Spirits tasting event coming up on Thursday, November 20th (Tickets On Sale Now). The 15 new spirits announced today include: Brooklyn Gin, Caledonia Spirits, Catskill Distilling Company, Death’s Door Spirits, Dulce Vida Organic Tequila, Dutch’s Spirits, Nahmias et Fils, OYO  Vodka, Scorpion Mezcal, Slow & Low Rock and Rye, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Suerte Tequila, Tanteo Spirits, Tuthilltown Spirits andWoody Creek Distillers.

 

These spirits will join the previously announced 15 spirits: Art in the Age Craft Spirits, Asahi Breweries, Atsby Vermouth, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur, Breuckelen Distilling, Brooklyn Winery, Cooperstown Distillery, Greenhook Ginsmiths, Mount Gay Rum, Owney’s Rum, Sorel Artisanal Liqueur, Van Brunt Stillhouse, White Pike Whiskey and Widow Jane.
 
Holiday Spirits will feature an array of over 25 distilleries, wineries & more from New York City and beyond, and will be held from6:00pm – 9:00pm on the The Hornblower Infinity Cruise Ship, which will begin boarding guests at 5:30pm at Pier 40 @ West Houston Street and will include a New York harbor cruise.
 
The event will take place on the Infinity ship with DJ Tim Martell (whose credits include opening for Beyonce and at MTV’s Official VMA After Party) spinning on the main & mid decks and live jazz quartet Blue Vipers of Brooklyn performing sets all evening in theSlow & Low Lounge on the top deck of the ship. VIP guests will be treated to their own private bar/lounge and a VIP gift bag.

 

This year’s Holiday Spirits will feature two tiers of ticket options – general admission tickets ($50) and VIP tickets ($70) – unlimited sampling from over 25 distilleries, wineries and more, a souvenir tasting glass, live music, complimentary hors d’oeuvres, along with a New York harbor cruise. The VIP ticket will also guests access to the Captain’s Lounge, a private VIP deck located on the top level of the ship, which will include a private bar, a VIP gift bag. For more details on this year’s two ticket options, visit: http://www.villagevoice.com/holidayspirits.

 

Sponsors of the 2014 Holiday Spirits event are: Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Diamond Vision, Slow & Low Rock and Rye, Whole Foods Market, Asahi Beer, New York Botanical Gardens and Green Mountain Energy. The official radio partner of the event isQ104.3 New York.

 

EVENT DETAILS:
The Village Voice 2nd Annual Holiday Spirits Tasting Event
DATE: Thursday, November 20th 2014
VENUE: The Hornblower Infinity Cruise Ship
    Pier 40 @ West Houston St., Manhattan, NY
TICKETS: On-sale now, here: http://ticketf.ly/1yhVPCo
General Admission Ticket – $50 | VIP Ticket – $70
TIME: 6PM – 9PM
            5:30PM Boarding | 7:30PM Leave Dock For 1 hour NYHarbor Cruise

 

For the latest on “Holiday Spirits” please have a sip here:
About Village Voice Events:

 

The Village Voice has independently produced and created such celebrated events as the Choice Eats, Obies Awards, 4Knots Music Festival, Choice Streets, Holiday Spirits, Brooklyn Pour, as well as the most anticipated issues and guides of the year including the annual Pazz and Jop music poll, Best of NYC, and its Spring, Summer, and Fall Preview guides. The Voice is New York’s most influential must-read alternative newspaper in print and online. For more information on the Voice or its events, please visit us online at www.villagevoice.com.
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