LiV is a featured spirit in most of this author's just published book: The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Celebrate Eat Drink Local Week in NY
The fourth annual Eat, Drink, Local New York FoodFest or Food-A-Pallooza, coordinated by the hyper local Edible portfolio of food-focused magazines is in full bloom: from local greenmarkets to restaurants to wineries, brewers, and distillers.
Locavores and foodies can eat in or dine out. Check out their web page for highlighted events, especially tomorrow’s GreenMarket GrowNYC Taste of Greenmarket
To help mark this year’s Eat Drink Local homage to all things Local, experience a Homegrown treasure: LiV Long Island's First Craft Distillery
A visit to the website is practically a virtual vacation, enchanting and seducing the viewer away with spa-like music and beach scenery.
Vodka should be made from potatoes, not grain, in this Examiner’s lofty opinion.
With a daily martini de rigueur at cocktail time, this Food & Drink columnist has earned her stripes.
There is the ongoing debate about gin martini vs. vodka martini with gin always fretting and twitching that those juniper berries earned its crown as the only true martini spirit. As a jazz-age impresario might have refined a famous song:
“You say pohtAto; and I say potato… let’s call the whole thing off”
Fact is, vodka is the number one, most favorite spirit in the world.
So gin enthusiasts can cry in their cup.
Tonight, this Examiner attended a Spirits seminar at the New School, where three authors spoke about “how rum, gin and vodka have changed history.”
As Patricia Herlihy, professor of History Emeritus at Brown University writes in the introduction to her book, Vodka A Global History ”There cannot be too much vodka, there can only be not enough vodka.” Russian saying.”
Words to live by. But forget those snooty imports.
What better locale than the verdant, picture-postcard farmland of the North Fork of Long Island, blessed with centuries-old potato farms and pristine waterways to produce an award winning artisanal vodka?
Besides, Vodka Herlihy cites LiV as one of the good guys – the best!
In fact, long heralded for it’s potatoes, the Island still grows around 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of potatoes per acre, where they used to grow more than 250,000 pounds per acre, according to Richard Stabile, founder and owner of Long Island Spirits and the genius behind the first distillery on Long Island since the 1880’s.
What took so long?
Long Island’s LiV distillery, featured in the Vodka Global History, uses about 2 million pounds of potatoes a year -- a very small percentage of Long Island’s bounty, according to Stabile. “I am very much into sustainability,” he added.
Stabile says he primarily works with three potato farmers: Ray Kioski,
Martin Sidor (how much do we love their local Long Island potato chips?!), and Zwalinki.
All the Long Island growers Stabile works with grow Long Island white Russet and Maxi Russet potatoes.
“These local potatoes are sweet, with more skin to fruit, given their 2-inch diameter,” explained Stable. “There is an inherent buttery feel or palate, that conjures a vanilla taste,” he added.
He recalled that it took about nine months to taste-test the various distillations before he arrived at that happy, eureka moment and to the vodka blend Stable liked.
He tried yellow and fingerling potatoes but found the Russetts were best.
LiV shipped their first batch of artisanal vodka in June of 2008.
Today, they ship more than 5,000 cases a year.
The bottles are a clean look with a blue label. Stabile says that imagery suggests the depth of the ocean. “We’re surrounded by water and we wanted to reflect that element of nature.”
“My heart and passion is in wine and spirits,” Stabile said. He went on to describe how he was always a fan of potato vodka. “I wanted to make what I like”
Another overlooked element to vodka, Stabile points out, is that all the spirits are Gluten Free.
So while it might seem a bit confounded to discuss spirits and health in the same context, it’s really not. Truth be told, in the early days of spirits, it was all about the medicinal properties.
To your health and all that….
(At the lecture this Examiner also learned that the term “quack” the term for a not so great doctor, came from the time when “doctors” wore long beak-like appendages on their nose filled with juniper berries/aka gin and they looked like ducks.)
LiV’s Stabile learned to make handmade or homemade wine growing up in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn. Later, his family moved to Smithtown, Long Island.
Layering on his childhood homegrown experience, Stabile was further enamored and infused with a spirits élan, given his career as a semiconductor sales and marketing executive who spent a considerable amount of time around Silicon Valley in the wine country of Santa Barbara.
Stabile described his international travel too but he saw he kept coming back to wineries and distilleries.
Another aha moment and smart business vision was when Stabile felt the year-round opportunity of distilling vs. the seasonal wine production appealed to him.
“Plus, I could see the results faster, “ noted this former tech executive turned distiller. Old habits die hard.
After the World Trade Center attacks, Stabile moved back home to Long Island to raise his family.
Strategically and methodically, Stabile drew up a business plan.
He attended wine and spirits Cornell workshops at their education center in New York City, learning the distillation craft there and at other hands-on education classes and seminars.
Stabile found his dream 80-acre location on the Peconic Bay, East End of Long Island in 2005.
“It took about three years to get the premiere vodka distillery and tasting/sampling room ready for guests and commerce.
Stable detailed that there are four elements to vodka production, highlighting the raw materials or ingredients.
And it can’t get much better than local potatoes or water or strawberries from SEPS Farms in East Marion.
LiV Vodka Signature Cocktail...
LONG ISLAND STRAWBERRY LEMONADE
1 1/2 oz LiV Vodka
3 oz Organic Lemonade
1/2 oz Strawberry Sorbetta
Preparation: Assemble all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice
cubes. Shake well and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a Strawberry
or Lemon Wedge.