When the invitations go out to a penthouse party for a new flavored vodka, and the penthouse is atop an in-progress restaurant to be named for and run by one of the Northeast's top celebrity chefs, party planners have to be careful to keep the emphasis on the new product.
This week, Absolut Mango was the flavor du jour, the recently-released expression the latest in a long line of flavored vodkas from the Swedish distiller.
And the restaurant was Dale Miller: The Art of Dining, now receiving the finishing touches before opening opposite the Times Union Center in downtown Albany.
Miller himself, one of a comparative handful of Certified Master Chefs in the U.S., was making the rounds as guests snapped up all sorts of tidbits made with Absolut Mango. But the eyes kept going to gowned young ladies carrying lighted trays of such cocktails as an Absolut Mango Brazilian Cosmo and an Absolut Mango Metropolitan (see recipes below), and other young ladies anything but gowned.
A pair of models clad in short-shorts, body paint and smiles poured the Absolut down an ice chute to chill it and into little sampling cups for the assembled guests.
The mango version joins Absolut's flavor portfolio that already included Apeach, Citron, Kurant, Mandrin, Pears, Peppar, Raspberri, Ruby Red and Vanilia.
The business plan calls for Miller to be back in the kitchen by spring, cokking for a new 65-seat restaurant on the ground floor of a 14-story office tower called Keycorp Plaza (30 South Pearl Street).
It's a great space that once housed a restaurant called Starr's and then one called Dividends, but hasn't been in use for years.
Miller, 48, a native of Amsterdam, NY, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (Class of '79) in Hyde Park, and presently sits on the school's board.
Miller, not so incidentally, received the Chef Professionalism Award at the American Culinary Federation’s Northeast regional conference held early this month in Boston. The citation says it is given to the chef who “exemplifies the highest standard of professionalism through certification, continuing education and training, culinary competitions and community involvement.”
Miller is one of eight Northeastern honorees who will compete with other regional winners at the ACF’s national conference in Florida in July.
Miller initially gained fame with his own Stone Ends restaurant in suburban Albany, then as executive chef of the iconic Jack's Oyster House in Albany, and briefly was general manager and executive chef of the Inn at Erlowest on Lake George before deciding to head back to Albany.
Bar Notes: The above-mentioned cocktails contain: for the Brazilian Cosmo, mango vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, cranberry juice and orange juice stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass; for the Mango Metropolitan, mango vodka, Triple Sec, lime juice and mango juices, stirred or shaken with ice and strained into a cocktail glass.
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