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Recap: Hudson Valley Whiskey dinner at Whiskey Cake Kitchen

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Whiskey Cake’s chef, Brent

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Rebecca Marmaduke (L) and Katie Allen (R), two Hatch favorites

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“So that’s what a Sazerac is supposed to taste like,” I said to myself. It was the first thing I picked up at Whiskey Cake’s 5-course Hudson Whiskey dinner, and it was heavenly. Turns out it was a sign of even better things to come.

I’d had a bad Sazerac experience before—the kind that makes your face contort itself into a near-permanent grimace, and so I wouldn’t have knowingly sipped another, despite my abiding affection for a good pour of whiskey. However, when I sat down at the dinner, there was a highball glass at my right hand, rich with an amber glow and prettily adorned with a lemon squeeze. I scooped it right up and enjoyed a swallow, and then another, and another, before finally reminding myself I had 5 pairings more yet to sample. That’s when I found out I’d been drinking a Sazerac.

Well, what do you know—talk about a paradigm shift.

Meanwhile, all the other dainty glasses stood lined up before me, looking non-threatening and demure despite their high-proof contents. I eyed them warily, wondering what it would be like to drive the 3.8 miles home, much less sit down at the keyboard to write a recap for EscapeHatch. I supposed if I had to suffer for art, I’d somehow have to find the strength from within. So far, so good.

I have one key thing working in my favor—the incredible food pairings dreamt up by chef Brent Hammer. I know that the whole point of the evening was to showcase the beautiful family of handcrafted Hudson Whiskeys, but I’m going to be dreaming about that double-double burger and sheep’s milk agnolotti with duck pancetta for days to come. All the courses were innovative, inspired, and sumptuous, but those particular dishes crossed off some bucket list items I didn’t even know I had.

Hudson master distiller Gabel Erenzo talked us through the whiskeys, ranging from a sweet, almost cordial-like New York Corn whiskey to a deep, woodsy single malt that Erenzo described as “the missing link between Scotch and Bourbon.” I loved them all, but I think my favorite just might have been the Four Grain Bourbon, which had a nose reminiscent of honey mustard. But then again, I might have been influenced by its paring with the double-double burger, which was made with dry aged sirloin, iceberg lettuce, Irish cheddar, onion marmalade, and 1000 island dressing on a brioche bun. It was truly a gourmand’s delight or a dieter’s nightmare, depending on your perspective.

I have to mention how delightful the company was, as well. I sat right next to Katie Allen, Whiskey Cake’s marketing director, and we had a fine time dishing Whiskey Cake and Dallas food scene gossip in general. I told her how much I had enjoyed coming to Whiskey Cake over the last couple of years, and she made sure I had a chance to meet ops director Scott Sharrer, general manager Ben Woodring, and genius mixologist Sean Connor. All just a fine bunch of folks, especially when viewed through a warm glow of golden spirits.

Sharer says they have more quarterly dinners in the works, and to check back in for more lively events like the Hudson Whiskey Dinner.

I might just have to do that. But next time I do, I might have to bring my own designated writer.

Ed. Note: Welcome back to the Hatch, Rebecca Marmaduke!

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