for February, 2011

February 23, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Prohibition Is Over, But Not For Long…

#954 of 1,000 limited edition Stillhouse "Prohibition Is Over" prints. There it is: on my chopping block.

“Irreverent” is my middle name, says Jonny Cigar. Here’s the idea: National Prohibition was an exciting experiment, w’ain’t it? Exciting in retrospect, and horrifying and mortifying for Americans and anyone involved in the libations business. Ah, the good old days. (Where’s Joe McCarthy when a guys is down on his luck?)

The limited edition print above is from Stillhouse, the distillery responsible for Original Moonshine.They are a fabulous bunch and their booze is moonilicious. In fact, in the latter part of 2010 I was in L.A. to co-host a dinner party in which the spirits were mixed with a range of cocktails befitting a prohibitory-king!

On April 14th, let it be known, privately, that I will star in a show that can only be described here as “Sinatra Simulacra” – with a 12-piece orchestra backing me up, Brian Quinn on the drums, and ideally… moonshine in the glasses of all who attend. The venue will be a lovely theater downtown that can accommodate just 75.

Now, it’s true that my career in life as a racketeer and bootlegger is centered around the very clear corn-whiskey that this country tried to ban. And acting as the sole-surviving owner of a chain of drug stores, which act as fronts for my real business: selling grain alcohol under the counter (literally below it), I am well-positioned to capitalize on the NEW PROHIBITION.

Q: And just what is the New Prohibition?

A: None of your damn business.

Stay tuned…

February 21, 2011 2 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

What The President’s Drink/Drank/Drunk

Thomas Jefferson bottles. Photo copywright of William Koch. Sourced from:

In 1787 President Thomas Jefferson, then Minister to France, traveled to France and northern Italy. The purpose of the trip though surely to serve the newly forming government, was truly more personal and his most excited destination: Bordeaux.

“Jefferson drank France in with guzzling intemperance,” writes Benjamin Wallace in The Billionaire’s Vinegar – a book so incredibly fascinating and thorough in its investigation into the Jefferson bottles sold at auction in 1985 that you’ll want to read it through in one sitting.

Jefferson took extensive notes on the vineyards he visited, the vintages, the climate, etc., and when it came to wine dilineated quality with five categories:

  • Sweet, Acid, Dry, Silky, Astringent

And Wallace states that Jefferson’s 1787 writings were incredibly important as his inquiries and note-taking positioned him as the “greatest wine connoisseur writing in any language at the time.” How thrilling for the man. Imagine the modern day equivalent – and there are a few: Michael Broadbent, Robert Parker, Jonny Cigar, Hugh Hefner Johnson.

Wallace goes on: “Before leaving France in 1789, Jefferson shipped Sauternes, Burgundy, and still Champagne to New York for the cellars of newly elected President George Washington. As secretary of state, Jefferson placed another large order for Washington and Madison, and Monroe – on what wines to serve at state dinners. When Monroe was elected, Jefferson’s congratulatory letter spent three sentences on the election and the remainder on what wines the White House cellar should stock.”

The chapter further explains that Jefferson even lobbied for lower tariffs “not only for selfish reasons, but ostensibly because he believed in its healthful and even moderation qualities.” Apparently he drank “three to four and a half glasses of wine a day.” And thanks to this prohibition-era chart below we know that wine strengthens, nourishes and raises cheerfulness…

Dr. Benjamin Rush's "Moral and Physical Thermometer." From An Inquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors (Boston: Thomas & Andrews, 1790). Photo of page 15 from "From Demon to Darling: A Legal History of Wine in America" by Richard Mendelson.

And I feel I can relate to the man, for he was intent on convincing Americans “one palate at a time” to transition from the abuses of spirits (whiskey especially) to drinking the pleasant, sophisticated wines he had come to love. The famous Jefferson quote rings i’th’ear: “No nation is drunken where wine is cheap, and non sober, where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage.”

And so, what we’re the President’s drinking (Thanks to Jefferson)? Nothing but the best:

  • Yquem
  • Mouton
  • Lafite
  • Haut-Brion
  • Latour
  • Margaux
  • Also many second and third-tier wines
  • And Burgundies and Champagnes and on and on and on and on…

So good reader, today on President’s Day, you are encouraged to strengthen your senses, nourish your blood and be cheerful indulging in a wine worthy of a President. I’ll be drinking the 1982 Mouton-Rothschild that’s been sitting in my imaginary-future wine cellar deep within the mountain of St. Helena, CA. Oh how lovely it will taste, I assume.

Self-Elected President Elect,

Jonny Cigar

February 18, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

On NY Mag’s Grub Street’s “Supper Clubs Getting Savvier”

Today on Grub Street, there appeared an article by Jenny Miller titled, “Supper Clubs Getting Savvier” and then from ungst the Twittercano there spewed forth a short, but healthy and organic spattering of comments:

Some of them are like this:

Tweets on NR tweet page

And this:


And this:


And out of the crowd there stands the question posed by Karamasi of Ted & Amy’s Club of the Supper. The question again, asks: “Is ‘savvier’ necessarily a good thing?” And compelled as I am to scream about the mountaintops, an answer to this question is indeed in hand.

Q: Good thing?

A: Yes, But…

The but is simple: Getting savvier is never a bad thing. Look what happened to: education, governments, the internet, cars, mobile homes, trailer parks, food, religion, wine-making, beer-making, spirit-making, space travel, on and on. Thanks to savvier people, the progression of ideas and circumstance(s) navigates us into the future, manifests the “forward-thinker” and improves life, generally.

In Scotland in the 1750′s one wrong look at a Highlander and you might find yourself in a duel and the next minute victorious or dead. We’ve become more savvy since – and now hire lawyers to do the dueling. There’s less blood, but more money and reputation at stake. Hurrah! Nevertheless, we’re talking about food, Jonny, not dueling. So with a slew of clandestine dinner clubs rampant and with more on the up and up (“casazambrano”?) we must yield to the notion that savvy is better, and good. But savvy with respect to what?

Good question Mr. Cigar. “Thanks,” I reply to no one in particular.

Some of us in the field see that social opportunities turn into life-style opportunities, which can translate into business opportunities. It’s not one or the other way around. It goes like this: social interaction around food and wine leads to a desire to foster more of that and meet more people who want as much if not more of such an experience and this leads to either a) the continuation and love of the socialite life without so much as a care in the world but for more of it or b) the growth and realization of the potential benefit from such an existence.

It is here in part “b” that we see savvy people at their finest. Take for glaring example Facebook. Because it’s easy. A couple of chaps build an online platform that allows them to get to know things about their friends they would have otherwise have had to ask. Now their friends are offering information for free! Yipee!! Tons of it! So much in fact that the chaps who invented the Facebook realize they can monetize their friends’ personal information! Pow! Now that’s a home run if ne’er I did see one!

Got it? Supper clubs, dinner clubs, clandestine didgeridoos and more have the potential to advance the entire culture of food and libation. And with such a heavy emphasis right now on Organic and Natural and Farm-To-Table and Commercial Free Programming, there are opportunities and those who have the forward thinking widget activated will take advantage.

Thank you and please be sure to vote in 2027 for the Cigar/Quinn ticket. White House, here we come…

February 14, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Happy Fu#%ing Vallentine’s Day (A Noble Rot Soiree)

Aprille Goodman, Brian Quinn, Jonny Cigar. The Noble Rot's "Happy Fu#%ing Valentine's Day!" Photo by Laura Huben.

“My funny valentine… sweet comic valentine… you make me smile with your heart…”

Indeed, good and lovely winos. In the spirit of love and wine The Noble Rot hosted an event last night (Sunday) that made our guests smile with not only their hearts, but also with the wonders of wine, chocolate and 34-hour short ribs. What went down, ask you? Tell you, say I:

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn we teamed up with the dynamic artisanal choco-fiend Daniel Sklaar of Fine & Raw along with Mike Lee of supper club Studiofeast to bring the perfect combination of food and dessert to an evening fueled by natural wines provided and presented by Pamela Govinda of The Natural Wine Company. Songstress Aprille Goodman sang her heart out and melted the room and some of the chocolate. Masseuse and Holistic Health Councilor Jessica Shepard shed tension with her holistic bodywork on willing guests, and believe me, all were willing… That’s right, we had a masseuse. And Brian Quinn fell in love (again) in only the way a State-Certified Gentleman can.

The evening begat with a rough start. Guests were forced into drinking sparkling rose cave, while simultaneously indulging in strawberries and cheeses. We hosted The Noble Rot Talks, a series of interviews with our guest experts and artisans. The idea: through intimidation and embarrassment we reveal the necessary facts and realities of our idealistic collaborations. The interviews went well. Quite hysterical really – and are posted below for your listening enjoyment. Mike Lee along with Derrick Yeun and Soomin Baik cooked up an incredible meal, which Mike Lee describes in the recording below. The chocolates, described by Sklaar, were exceptional and as Fine & Raw prepares their chocolate sans sugar, we were instead high on a coconut oil!

Check out this incredible sped up video of the event, by Studiofeast.

The Natural Wine Company provided very interesting an exciting wines and I’ve listed and scored them here on the Jonny Cigar Connoisseur Rating System (CRS):

*German Gilabert Cava Rosat (Sparkling Rose) CRS Rating: 450,000. Notes: Easy. Love the color: Ruby. Love the taste. Love, love, love.

*Binner Savuers Field Blend 2008 (Still White) CRS Rating: 56,456,700. Notes: Lees! Unfined, unfiltered heaven. Nose like you wouldn’t believe.

*Descendientes de Jose Paliacios Petalos 2008 (Still Red) CRS Rating: 47,983,234. Notes: Like a pinot but not screaming for attention. Clean. Well-mannered.

*Hochar 2003 of Chateau Musar (Still Red) CRS Rating: 23,498. Notes: You gotta love Bret to love this wine, but it is certainly integrated well. Very well. And it’s from Lebanon where they’ve been making wine since the bible has been churning out stories. Very interesting and worth a try because you may love the horse out of it.

*Schola Sarmenti Roccamora 2007 (Still Red) CRS Rating: Honoroy Infinity. Notes: Why a perfect score? It’s fresh, indulgent, talks back but speaks in lyrical poetry. Tastes like chocolate and then like berries and turns you into a better writer than Hemingway. And the best part: $14.99. Beat that Opus One.


For your audio listening pleasure …THE NOBLE ROT TALKS/ INTERVIEWS:


Jonny Cigar Intro and reading from Les Fleurs Du Mal (2:34)

Pam Govinda of The Natural Wine Company (4:54)

Pamela Govinda (photo not from the event, as Pam somehow eluded our camera all evening! A real pro.) Photo courtesy of Pam's Facebook page. The Natural Wine Company: "Great Wine. Minimally messed with."

Pam discusses the evening’s wines (7:12)

Daniel Sklaar of Fine & Raw (4:07)

Jonny talks with Daniel Sklaar of Fine & Raw. Fine & Raw: "We're particularly fond of creatively intoxicating your palate by crafting raw cacao with other raw discoveries."

Mike Lee of Studiofeast (3:09)

Jonny talks with Mike Lee of Studiofeast. Photo by Studiofeast. Studiofeast: "is an invitation only culinary collective that focuses on creating new gastronomic experiences. Our events are a platform for new ideas in dining and we express ourselves through our food and social gatherings."


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February 10, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Putting the SO in SOCIAL for Social Media T’week

Eats + Apps logo by Brian Quinn, improved by Jonny Cigar

It’s Social Media Week here in New York City. And while the rest of the country is worried that they are missing out on something “big” the other rest of the country has no idea what Social Media Week is, nor do they care.

“So!” says Julie, a 26-year old Graduate of Wisconsin Agro State University. “I’m definitely not tweeting about this ‘Social Media Week’ and anyways I don’t even have a twitter thing.”

Julie’s perfectly articulated English got me thinkin’. I said to myself, I said, “Jonny, you gotta go out there and put the “SO” back in “SOCIAL.” Okay, I agreed with myself and decided to post this flog blog. With the Julies of the world scoffing at this seemingly New York Centric Media-Palooza Week, I hope that with a few words I am able to inspire So-Sayers to convert and instead praise the technology that is single-handidly turning language into apple sauce.

Here are those words: Sinatra, Gatbsy, Fledgling, Concupiscence, Comeuppance, [and finally] Googum.

In other news, The Noble Rot collaborated with Food + Tech (Danielle Gould) as well as with Emily Cavalier (Mouth of the Border) to organize a SMW event called EATS + APPS. This critically acclaimed event was held at 4food – a new food concept that utilizes an interactive ordering system that lets diners create over 140 million combinations of burgers & fillings, save them for future ordering and then share their creation with their friends and networks via social media. Rev, self-proclaimed “World’s Most Socially Connected Burger Blogger” wrote about the event here. Some of the most awesomest food apps and one wine app (Snooth) was present. Jordan Winery graciously donated their delectable 2006 Cab and Chardonnay for the event and so I was able to talk about one of my favorite places: The Alexander Valley.

Look: all fun and games aside we at The Noble Rot understand the importance of Social Media. We get it. We get apps too. We fu#%ing love apps and we fu#%ing love Social Media. We even capitalize it. We love it and get it better than probably a lot of people. And why, you ask? Why, Jonny does The Noble Rot get Social Media and love apps so fu#%ing much?!?! Because, Julie, we believe in the power of communication. We believe in the power of powerful generators of power and influencers. We want to have influence. You ever hear of wine? You ever hear of technology? Imagine the two combined.

IMAGINE: WINE + TECHNOLOGY. You know what can come of that? “So.” You say? Well, just you wait, because The Noble Rot is positioned to reveal, at some uncertain point in the near-future, a revelation.

A Revelation… coming to a world near you, soon. Wine + Technology = A Revolutionary New App That Will Blow Your Face Clear Off Your Face. Tweet that. End scene.

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