We were recently invited by Taylor Strategies to join fellow whiskey bloggers and journalists for an evening with BBQ Master Adam Perry Lang at Tosca Café. Of course, the promise of drinking more Dickel whiskeys was also a great draw to this very memorable event.
As we entered the private room at Tosca Café, we were greeted by the display of the evening’s libations: bottles of the Dickel White Corn Whisky No. 1, Dickel No. 8, Dickel Barrel Select, Dickel No. 12 and Dickel Rye (hidden around the corner):
Tosca Café’s cocktail program recently changed under new Bar Manager Joe Cleveland, who came from Coqueta. He created two excellent cocktails for the event that were delivered by staff members: the Boulevard #12 and a Dickel Rye Sour (recipes provided below). Appetizer snacks including Fried Pig Tails were liberally passed around, complementing the cocktails perfectly. Two large communal tables were set with the evening’s special menu and local “branch” water for mixing with the whiskeys.
Dickel has partnered with BBQ Pit Master Adam Perry Lang (APL) to host several of these events across the country. In speaking with the very personable APL, we discovered that he sold his New York restaurant and is planning to move out west to open a restaurant in Los Angeles (alas, not San Francisco). He came equipped with a rack containing several spices and gave a talk about what makes a great BBQ rub.
His secret, other than a blend of spices? Toasting the salt that gets blended with the hand ground spices. APL passed around a mortar containing that evening’s blend which included cardamom, citrus and a variety of peppercorns. This particular blend was aromatic with spicy and citrus notes – a perfect pairing for the Dickel whiskys.
The food started arriving shortly after APL’s demo ended, all served family style. We were offered a choice of two salads: a Market Salad (front) made with fresh lettuces, toasted pumpkin seeds, Parmesan cheese and dressed with a wild oregano vinaigrette; and a “Point Reyes Blue” Salad made with the famous cheese, heirloom chicories, Calabrian chile croutons and crispy shallots (rear).
Both salads were excellent, but the blue cheese salad paired really well with the Dickel White Corn Whiskey No. 1. We haven’t been big fans of white whiskeys in general, but this Dickel was incredibly smooth and didn’t have that rough “moonshine” quality that is typical of unaged whiskey. National Dickel Brand Ambassador, Douglas Kragel, provided an overview of all five of the whiskeys pouring that night.
Palettes of very thick, soft, fluffy and flavorful house-baked herbed focaccia bread arrived at the tables and rapidly disappeared.
Then the aged Dickel whiskys started pouring as well, starting with the Dickel No. 8 and then the Dickel No. 12. We are very familiar with both of those base Dickels, but it was a good opportunity to try them side-by-side. Both are extremely drinkable, but we really have taken to the Dickel No. 12 Sour Mash and usually have a bottle around as our house whisky.
After the salad course was completed, the pasta course arrived with a selection of two different dishes. This delicious Bucatini was bathed in a rich tomato sauce flavored with guanciale and Calabrian chile.
Gemelli pasta came liberally bathed with a rich Pecorino Toscano cream sauce and spiced with black pepper. Both pasta dishes were quite popular and were quickly devoured. They each had a certain amount of pepper and spice which paired really well with the Dickel Rye.
We have been to Tosca Café a few times since they re-opened in late 2013, and we had already tried the excellent Roasted Chicken for Two, served on top of thick slices of bread that have absorbed the Marsala-laced pan juice and also topped with a ricotta and pine cheese spread. We were pleasantly surprised to see the poultry served at this special event as one of the main courses – and we have to admit, it was even better than we remembered.
The second option for the third course was the excellent Roasted Veal Shank, which came with a rich tasting garlic, anchovy and white wine sauce. It was so tender that the meat easily fell off of the bone. It was accompanied by a vegetable side of excellent Crispy Potatoes (shown rear left) that were fried in pork fat and flavored with garlic and rosemary.
The other side vegetable option was the Southern Italian-flavored Brussels Sprouts. The roasted halves were flavored with colatura, an anchovy sauce from Campagna, and vin cotto (saba), a sweet vinegar-type condiment from Puglia made from a reduction of non-fermented grape must. It was a great flavor combination that we are totally stealing for making at home.
The fourth (and thankfully) final course was a large format Tiramisu flavored with grated orange zest. Served family style in a trifle bowl, we quickly doled out portions to the sated diners. The incredibly smooth and tasty Dickel Barrel Select was poured and served as a great dessert drink. We’d like to think that it’s not as good as the one we got as a Dickel Dozen bottle, but at least this one is very accessible and readily available at a reasonable price (usually less than $50).
The tiramisu was truly delicious and served as a perfect ending to a great evening. As decadent as it was, we tried to fool ourselves into thinking that it was healthy since the consistency was as light as air.
Every attendee got a parting gift bag containing a full size bottle of the Dickel No. 12 Sour Mash and a bottle of APL’s deliciously aromatic spice rub that we have since used on steaks, chicken and fish. The excellent rub seems to go well on anything, and pairs particularly well with the Dickel.
Many thanks to Taylor Strategies for inviting us to this special event. Some of these dishes are available on the regular Tosca Cafe menu, but all are available on their Private Dining menu. It was really fun being able to talk to Adam Perry Lang and Douglas Kragel again.
We know that Austin’s famed Franklin BBQ is coming to town this May for a pop-up at Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing Company. Adam will be part of that entourage helping out, so we’ll have a chance to check out his BBQ prowess then. Look for tickets to start selling soon, but do expect long lines and large crowd.
Here are the Cocktail recipes created by Joe Cleveland of Tosca Café for this event. We can attest that both are excellent and easy to prepare at home.
.5 oz. George Dickel No. 12
.5 oz. Campari
.5 oz. Gran Classico Bitter
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.
Dickle Rye Sour
.75 oz. George Dickle Rye
.5 oz. Amaro Montenegro
.75 oz. Lemon Juice
Float of Red Wine
Add the first three ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake to throughly mix. Strain into a lowball glass filled with ice. Add float by slowly pouring red wine over a back of a spoon.
Warm up with a Honey Hibi Cocktail (Feb 24, 2015)
We are truly honored to be part of the Dickel Dozen (Dec 4, 2014)
George Dickel Raises the Bar with a Rye (Mar 7, 2013)