Having lived in Nashville for over 10 years. I’ve seen firsthand, the city begin to grow and blossom into a, for a lack of a better word, ‘hotbed’ of culinary and libation arts. I feel like every week there are new restaurants that pop up and everyone says that the latest crop is better than the three that opened last week. It’s a constant cycle around here. We’ve become so popular that even the New York Times took notice. So yeah, we’re kind of a big deal around here now.
In fact one spirit company, Atsby Vermouth, thought Nashville was a great place to host one of their launch parties for their new product. The other city they chose was New York, which is where the spirit company is headquartered. When I asked Adam Ford, the owner of the company, why Nashville? His response was simple. He said he loved Nashville, and the mixology and libation scene here is off the charts. He thought it was the perfect place to launch his new product.
I know, you’re sitting there asking, Siz, how did you find out all this information about this vermouth company? Well, I was extremely honored to be invited to this Atsby Vermouth launch party. The party was hosted at The Holland House in East Nashville. I had never been to this bar / restaurant before. Truth be told I hardly cross the river and head to the East side of town. However, I am going to have to start heading that way more often because that’s where the majority of this mixology and libation innovation is going down.
Walking into the Holland House I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had heard stories from others, but those stories always fabricate an image in your head that is usually quite different from what you expect or experience. As soon as I walked in I was greeted with a large horseshoe-esque bar where every seat was occupied. I took a quick snapshot of the whiskey selection to see what they had to offer. I always try to take a mental note of what they have on the top shelf. You never know when you’re going to run into a bar that has some Pappy 15 year on the shelf and then pay $30 for a single ounce. No such luck here. After gathering a some quick directions from the hostess as to where the launch party was located I proceeded to forge a trail through the bustling restaurant area to find myself at another bar in the back of building. This bar was more my speed, a little darker and a lot quieter, essentially secluded from the rest of the restauarant. I took another quick inventory of their selection, no Pappy either. Damn. Anywho, I was here for some vermouth not, some aged bourbon right!
After pulling myself away from this bar I finally found where the Atsby party was held. I walked into this secluded room that had about five people standing around socializing including the person that invited me to the party. I went up and made some introductions and began making my rounds. The decor in this room was very interesting. There was a nice warm yellow glow from the lighting. Some of the light was created from chandeliers, other from table top lamps, but it was a consistent warming glow. All the walls were covered in a sort of patterned wallpaper. Needless to say I’m not an interior designer and couldn’t tell you what this is called.
Once I circle the room and do some quick introductions I spotted a piece of paper on a table that listed out all the recipes of the cocktails we will soon be enjoying this evening! Shortly, after I get into the room there is a flurry of bar tenders and workers bringing supplies and sitting them on a table for the master mixologist Jeremiah (he’s the Head Bartender at Holland House) to start working his magic.
For this launch party there were four cocktails created to showcase the flexibility of this Atsby vermouth. Each cocktail is different and strives to make the vermouth the star of the show.
First up is the Upstate Buck:
1 1/2 oz Atsby Amberthorn
1/2 oz Suze
1/2 oz lime
1/2 0z simple syrup
topped with ginger beer
This cocktail was exactly what I needed at this time, in fact that’s why Jeremiah created it the way he did. He said he wanted to create an easy drink to start off the party. He wanted something that people could come in and ease into. He didn’t want to come off too heavy and start with a bang. In fact he said that everyone needed to come in and shake off the dust from the day and this drink is just the thing to do that. The Upstate Buck was an incredibly light and citrusy drink that really took the edge off. It did exactly what Jeremiah wanted it too. I loved the citrus flavor of this drink, it made it way too easy to drink and it was incredibly refreshing.
Next up is the Missed Flight
2 oz Atsby Armadillo Cake
3/4 oz Collier & McKeel Tennessee Whiskey
1/2 oz blackberry syrup
1/2 oz lemon
house made lemon soda
This drink was obviously made for Tennessee summers. In fact Jeremiah called it a ‘porch sitter’ as in something that you sit and drink on the front porch. I powered through this drink way too fast. It was so easy to drink it was quenching my thirst like a fruit punch gatorade after one of my hockey games. The Missed Flight was delicious, no two ways about it. It had a nice sweetness to it that made it easy to drink. I could really pick up on the Atsby vermouth it added a nice bit of complexity that wasn’t over powered by the whiskey. The house made soda brought it all together and gave it a nice bit of carbonation which was refreshing in it’s own right. I wanted to go back for seconds on this drink, but I got detoured by the spouse-to-be. She was dragging me around to network with others that had showed up to the party after us.
The third cocktail Atsby Martini
2 oz Plymouth gin
1 oz Atsby Amberthorn
served up w/ a twist
Now, I’ve never been a martini fan and I probably never will, but I did really enjoy this martini. It wasn’t as dry as others that I’ve had. This had a nice somewhat lemony flavor and twist to it. There was citrus to help power through the dryness of the gin and it all combined really with each other. I mean lets be honest, he had to make some sort of martini since that’s what most of us American’s know about vermouth (myself included).
Final cocktail of the evening The Great Atsby
1 1/2 oz Lairds Applejack
1 oz Atsby Armadillo Cake
3/4 oz Aperol
served up with a flamed orange
Sombra mezcal rinse
First off, I love the name of this one. When I was telling people about this vermouth after the party they kept asking me how to pronounce it and I told them, just like Great Gatsby, but drop the “G”. Then they finally understood. This drink was a great way to end the night. It was packed with flavor but not necessarily with booze which I appreciate. The great thing about all of these drinks is that even though we had four of them I never felt over powered by the booze (read: drunk). Every libation was very pleasant to drink and never overbearing.
I would say the launch party for Atsby Vermouth was a huge success. I know I’m a fan of the vermouth and now I just have to get out and find a bottle of it and create a new favorite drink with it! So hopefully you enjoyed this blurry rendition of the launch party. Note to self, I need to get better at taking pictures.
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