behind the curtain: A weekly guided Cocktail Tasting

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In the early days of the craft cocktail resurgence, The Violet Hour’s Head Mixologist and founding partner, Toby Maloney, worked at the original Milk & Honey on New York’s Lower East Side. One of Toby’s rituals in that era involved collecting an array of intriguing and unique ingredients as he made his way through Chinatown on his way to work. Toby would then beguile his guests at Milk & Honey’s tiny, four seat bar with cocktails concocted from the treasures he’d picked up on his wending walk. Those guests would be treated to what amounted to a cocktail tasting menu telling the story of that day’s walk to work.

In the spirit of those walks and those original, four, intimate seats, The Violet Hour is pleased to introduce a new series offering guests the opportunity to step into the obsessive mind of a bartender.

Each week, we’ll be saving four to six seats at the bar in front of one of our bartenders who has something they want to say in cocktail form. The lucky folks in those four to six seats will be treated to a unique cocktail experience. Trusting their palates to the hands of the bartender, they’ll be treated to a progression of cocktails focused around the theme chosen by that bartender.

It’s a guided tasting menu with the bartender leading the way through their inspiration and thought process. The theme might be a city or country, a specific ingredient or group of ingredients, an abstract concept, or a really excellent set of bourbons—each case offers a unique opportunity for a dealer’s choice dialogue, with guest and bartender getting to geek out and really dig into a topic.

Toby himself will be at the helm for many of these sessions, while we’re fortunate enough enough to have him in town a bit longer than normal. However, other Violet Hour bartenders will take the reins for themes of specific interest to them.

You can reserve one of those very select seats for yourself by purchasing a ticket through Eventbrite.


UPCOMING THEMES (tickets purchasable through Eventbrite)


Tuesday, 03.12.19, Rhum $130

That little letter ‘h’ makes a huge world of difference when drinking and discussing sugar cane based spirits. The islands of the French Caribbean produce a bright, grassy, polarizing spirit that’s wildly distinct from the molasses based rum (without the ‘h’) most commonly consumed in the states. Rhum Agricole isn’t for everyone— in fact, it’s with more than a little mortification that Toby has to admit that he didn’t like Rhum Agricole for a very long time.
He’d had a few drinks that sparked appreciation for the complexity of the only cane distillate with an AOC, but nothing that made him swoon and order another. Luckily for us all, after a recent month spent in and around Martinique, he’s ready to proselytize to anyone willing to sit in front of him for a few drinks.

Tuesday, 03.19.19, The Weird Stuff $130

Dusty bottle of some herbal liqueur of unknown provenance sitting around on your back bar since someone brought it as a housewarming gift five years ago? Made 101 aviations and still have 2/3 of a bottle of creme de violette you don’t know what to do with? How do you pronounce Becherovka? Are there any substitutes for Chartreuse? We’re getting into the ‘weird stuff’ with this session. Led by longtime Violet Hour bartender, beer guru and connoisseur of the obscure, Zac.

Tuesday, 04.09.19, Cocktails For Spring $125

Spring is in the air! Join Toby Maloney for a couple of hours of cocktails that will encapsulate all things light, fresh, and spring-like: flowers, herbs, alpine meadows, green and grassy. What cocktails and spirits speak of spring?

Sunbeams in a glass, joy on the rocks, relief served up. Shake off the winter blues and embrace the new season!