Rat Packs And Mad Men Top Shelf Event

Back in April I went to a Cheese Tuesday event at L'Espalier with a couple of my close friends (after reading about how great it was on Michelle's blog). We had a fabulous time, and I ended up writing a post about the evening.

Months later, to my surprise and delight, L'Espalier emailed me and thanked me for sharing my experience on my blog and offered to send me a gift certificate to an upcoming Top Shelf event for myself and a guest. I happily accepted and was very impressed that L'Espalier had reached out to me.

Since Michelle had also written about a Cheese Tuesday event at L'Espalier, she received the same email. Once we realized we had both gotten these gift certificates, we planned a date night.

This past Thursday night, I rushed home from work, dressed up a little, and headed off to L'Espalier with Jeff, who was already dressed up enough since he has to wear suits to work every day. We met Michelle and her fiance Bret in the Salon, where the event was being held.

L'Espalier hosts these events on Thursday evenings, and the cocktails served at them center on a theme. This particular night was Rat Packs and Mad Men, and an old record player was on hand so we could pick music to suite the theme as well.

Sommelier and cocktail historian Kate Moore and Chef de Cuisine James Hackney work together to pair drinks and food for the Top Shelf events. Before we were served each drink, Kate talked about why she selected the particular cocktail and how she made it.

Our first drink was a Vodka Gimlet and was served with a miniature macaron bagel with salmon mousse, and a sprig of dill. The cocktail was sweet, light, and refreshing. The bagel was so tiny (not to mention adorable) that I could only get a quick glimpse of salmon and dill flavorings.

Vodka Gimlet

1/2 oz. Belvedere vodka
3/4 oz. lime
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Our next drink was The Perfect Manhattan. This was served with the crowd favorite: Lamb Wellington. Jeff and I agreed that we could go back and order this for a meal -- we enjoyed it that much.

I liked the Manhattan in small sips. The rye was just a tiny bit overpowering for me, but I'm sure it would be perfect for someone who drinks it more often. The cherry in the drink was boozy and sweet and made for a nice finish.

The Perfect Manhattan

1 1/2 oz. Old Overbolt rye
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
Splach of Regan's bitters

The Smoky Martini came next and was an interesting concept, fitting with the time period, but was my least favorite of all the drinks. It had only a splash of Laphroaig, an incredibly smoky single malt scotch whisky, but that splash was enough to make the drink too smoky to be pleasant to my palate. I had to pass on this one. I did enjoy the bite of mushroom risotto served with it though. (And how neat is that spoon?)

The Smoky Martini

2 1/2 oz. Bombay gin
Splash of Laphroaig
Lemon twist

Our last drink of the night was my favorite. We had a Sidecar with a sugared rim, and it reminded me of an orange lollipop. With this we had king crab and kimchi.

Jeff, who is allergic to crustaceans, had a lightly seared piece of tuna instead.


1 1/2 oz. Cognac
3/4 oz. Triple Sec
3/4 oz. lemon juice

We had a lot of fun chatting with Michelle and Bret and trying out the different cocktails. I wish there had been a little more food with the cocktails, and my sweet tooth wishes the evening had ended with a dessert cocktail and a bite of chocolate, but there's always Cheese Tuesdays for that.

The upcoming Top Shelf events are actually Top Shelf, Top Chef events and are inspired by Alice Waters, Anthony Bourdain, Jacques Pepin and Pierre Franey, and Ferran Adria.

Thank you to L'Espalier for sending us the gift certificate and for hosting such a lovely event. 

What's your favorite cocktail? 

I'm on a St. Germain kick and really love St. Germain cocktails, which are just St. Germain, sparkling wine, and soda water. Emily over at A Cambridge Story had an elderflower cocktail recently, which is St. Germain, club soda, cranberry juice, and champagne, and I think I need to try one of those soon!