Artist Feature of the Month – Meet Josephine Howell, Vocalist at El Gaucho Seattle

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Employee Spotlight with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2014 by The Gaucho Gridiron

If music be the food of love, play on. ~William Shakespeare

Ambiance is a key part of the El Gaucho experience, and music plays an important role in setting the stage at our restaurants, which is why we are proud to offer live music, 7 nights a week. We introduce you to the talented and passionate musicians who share their gift with us.

 

Josephine Howell performs with Paul Richardson at El Gaucho Seattle every Sunday night

Josephine Howell performs with Paul Richardson at El Gaucho Seattle every Sunday night

“You were born to help others live,” Josephine’s mother wrote to her. It was exactly what she needed to hear to help her, and her children, get out of homelessness.

She had moved to Seattle from Chicago to find a better life. Recently widowed and with four children still at home, her two grown children encouraged her to move closer to them in the Pacific Northwest. Through a series of events, including suffering through domestic violence, Josephine found herself in and out of shelters and half-way houses, on and off for five years, with four children in tow.

She recalls taking her children on the city bus during the cold winter months, just so they could keep warm. She found the longest route possible, which went from Renton around Lake Washington to Lake City, where they would hop on another bus. “I’m so grateful for those bus drivers, who knew our plight, and didn’t say a word,” she recalls. “I was going through hell.”

Through her strong faith, passion for music, and lots of help from family and friends, Josephine pulled herself out of that hopeless situation, which she considers her greatest accomplishment. “Being able to show my children the steps and the courage it took for a better life is incredibly important to me,” she says. “My family is everything.”

Josephine now has a total of 12 children, which include 6 step-children, and 18 grandkids, 13 of which are under the age of 5-years-old. Her job allows her to help raise and shuttle everyone around. “I’m the designated drop-off,” she laughs.

Vocalist Josephine Howell has 12 children and 18 grandchildren.

Vocalist Josephine Howell has 12 children and 18 grandchildren.

How she finds the time to perform and share her gift with the world is truly a feat. And “Josie’s” list of career accomplishments is incredible. She has performed in venues nationally and internationally, gracing stages from Chicago to Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry, Kenya to Austria. She has also shared the stage with Madonna, Queen Latifah, Ernestine Anderson, BeBe Winan, and many more. She performed at the 2014 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, with the song “Same Love.”

Josephine says she’s always known that her gift was singing and sharing that with others through performing. She loves any performance where she knows she sees a positive change in someone. Some of her most requested songs to sing are “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Don’t Know Why,” by Norah Jones and “Home,” from the play, “The Wiz.”

Besides performing at El Gaucho Seattle every Sunday with pianist Paul Richardson, Josephine also performs at Shuga Jazz Bistro in Renton, Bake’s Place in Bellevue, Ray Gibson’s Caballeros Club in Tacoma, Tula’s Restaurant and Jazz Club in Seattle, and Village Theatre in Issaquah.

Josephine and Paul perform together at El Gaucho Seattle Sunday nights.

Josephine and Paul perform together at El Gaucho Seattle Sunday nights.

Josephine feels strongly about bettering her community, city, and country by using her gifts. She participates in many community events through singing, performing, entertaining, and directing, but also speaking very candidly to those in need.

“It’s important for them to hear from someone who has walked in their shoes, and I try to empower them,” she explains. “It’s hard to see that it’s the situation, and not ‘me.’”

She also commits time to speak to government agencies about the plight of the homeless. “There are so many struggles and stigmas involved in that situation. It’s a horrible way of feeling invisible,” she says, and “it’s hard to break the cycle.”

Every month, she visits the places where she “lived” in homelessness, and sees where she was, and how far she’s come. “I meditate, and thank God for where I’m at.”

We’re thankful, too! Josephine shares her gift with us every Sunday night, with pianist Paul Richardson, at El Gaucho Seattle, at 6pm.

A Lesson in Scotch

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Spirited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2014 by The Gaucho Gridiron

Our family of restaurants constantly works to bring our guests the best that the world has to offer. An important component to accomplish this is through the continuing education, training and professional development of our employees. We offer opportunities for all of our employees to further their knowledge so that they can continue to be a terrific resource for our guests.

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest,” Ben Franklin once said.

Macallan ambassador Kieron Elliott walks El Gaucho employees through a scotch tasting

Macallan ambassador Kieron Elliott teaching El Gaucho employees about scotch

Several El Gaucho employees recently had the opportunity to invest in their scotch knowledge, by spending some time with international Macallan ambassador, Kieron Elliott. In addition to being a scotch master, Kieron is also a Scottish actor, host, and comedian, with most recent works including the film “How to Train Your Dragon,” TV show, “Deadliest Warrior,” a host of the show “Aftermath,” serves as a BBC Three continuity announcer, and much more. We knew we were in for a treat…and who doesn’t love a good accent?

Since time was short, we started right in with the basics and terminology. Whisky is a grain alcohol made anywhere in the world; scotch must be made on Scottish soil, aged for at least 3 years, and be 40% alcohol by volume. The next level is a single malt scotch; malt being 100% malted barley. The difference with rye whiskey is that the malt need only contain 51% rye grain to be called that; 49% can be anything else.

Employees who attended the tasting sampled a few scotches from the Edrington (Macallan's parent company) portfolio.

Employees who attended the tasting sampled a few scotches from the Edrington (Macallan’s parent company) portfolio.

Macallan is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland, and has remained fundamentally unchanged for nearly 200 years. Their wood cask program is what sets Macallan apart from their competitors. In 2013, the company invested $34 million into their wood program. As a comparison, all of the other companies in the world combined invested $103 million.

Each Macallan cask is built by hand, and takes 2-3 years to “season,” even before the scotch sees the barrel. They are also lightly toasted – charred just enough to break down the wall in the wood to allow for liquid penetration. The other amazing element about Macallan scotch is that the color is 100% natural – many companies add a spirit caramel for additional color. Color in scotch whisky tells us nothing; however, consistency is obviously crucial, and difficult to maintain year after year when simply relying on charred wood for the result.

Employees sniff and sample during the scotch tasting class

Employees sniff and sample during the scotch tasting class

We started tasting with the Macallan 12 year, which is exclusively aged in sherry oak casks made from Spanish oak trees. Kieron walked the class through how to approach a scotch: slowly introduce it to the senses, smell it at least three times (bringing it closer to the nose each time), and opening the mouth slightly when breathing it in, before taking a sip and “chewing” it, at least five times, to let the taste envelop the mouth.

From there we went to the Macallan 15-year, which is considered the “fine oak range,” triple cask matured using a mix of European oak, and American oak ex-sherry, and ex-bourbon casks. It yields a lighter color, and flavor, which is why it’s a great entry-level scotch. Someone joked from the group it’s their “breakfast scotch.”

Josh enjoys one of the samples poured during the class

Josh enjoys one of the samples poured during the class

The Highland Park 18 year was next, a single malt scotch which has a gentle but aromatic smokiness to it. Highland Park is the most northern distillery in the world, and the peat comes from their moor, which is also a carefully managed bird sanctuary. This particular peat is from moss and heather, which is burned beneath the barley to help it dry, before cask-aging in 100% ex-Oloroso sherry casks.

Black Grouse was our final taste, a blend of single malts, and the #1 selling scotch in Scotland for 33 years. A combination of Highland Park and Macallan, Black Grouse is aged in unique, hand-selected oak sherry casks.

El Gaucho and AQUA by El Gaucho proudly offer Macallan 12, 18, and 25-year scotch, as well as Highland Park 18 year. Cutty Sark is soon to become our well scotch, and if you’re a true connoisseur with deep pockets, El Gaucho Bellevue proudly offers Macallan 55 year, which happens to be the only bottle in the state of Washington. You can try a shot for just $750.

A few of the brands in Edrington's portfolio

A few of the brands in Edrington’s portfolio

Have a Hoot with us at HOOTENANNY!

Posted in Signature Events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2014 by The Gaucho Gridiron
Hootenanny guests mix and mingle while soaking in the rays on AQUA's patio.

Hootenanny guests mix and mingle while soaking in the rays on AQUA’s patio.

Sunshine in Seattle on the water – there is no better way to celebrate a quintessential summer! Come join us for the 14th annual Hootenanny, AQUA by El Gaucho’s annual signature summer event, on Saturday, August 9th from 3:00-5:30 pm. Soak in the sun on Pier 70’s expansive outdoor deck, overlooking the water and amazing Seattle views, while sampling more than 40 outstanding wines, sakes, and spirits.

Hootenanny is an AQUA tradition that we look forward to every year,” Sivi Mennen, AQUA by El Gaucho’s General Manager, exclaims. “We love getting a chance to share our beautiful patio with our guests and winemaker friends during Seattle’s glorious summer. This year, we’ve added wines from several areas of the world, so Hootenanny offers an Hootenanny 2013 011amazing sampling of our award-winning wine list. In addition, breweries and distilleries have joined the party, to offer something for everyone. We look forward to soaking up the sun with you on August 9th!”

Named by Gayot 2012 as one of the top 10 seafood restaurants, AQUA’s signature appetizers will take center stage, complimented with a plethora of refreshing options to whet your whistle. Cost is only $95 per person. Don’t miss the hottest waterfront party of the year! Call 206-956.9171 for tickets. For more information, visit our website: www.elgaucho.com.

Enjoy tasting from over 40 wines at Hootenanny!

Enjoy tasting from over 40 wines at Hootenanny!

PARTICIPATING WINERIES
Angela Estate
Antinori
Avennia
Baer Winery
Cakebread Cellars
CAVU Cellars
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Col Solare Winery
Craggy Range
DeLille Cellars
Domaine Serene
Dusted Valley Wines
Efeste

AQUA's General Manager Sivi Mennen and Wine Captain Lee Spires look forward to seeing you at Hootenanny!

AQUA’s General Manager Sivi Mennen and Wine Captain Lee Spires look forward to seeing you at Hootenanny!

sake-NEW Hana HouHouShu

Taste many different sakes at this year’s Hootenanny!

Far Niente
Ferrari
Fidelitas Wines
Fontanafredda
Guardian
Jermann
Lachini Vineyards
Long Shadows
Mark Ryan Winery
Nickel & Nickel
Nicolas Feuillatte
Pieropan
Ponzi Vineyards
Sleight of Hand Cellars
Sparkman
Spring Valley
Stevens Winery
Villa Maria

SAKES
Shimizu-No-Mai
Hana Hou Hou Shu – sparkling sake
Yuki No Bosha Junmai Ginjo
Shimizu no Mai Pure Dusk

Glass Vodka and Woodinville Whiskey Company will be at this year's Hootenanny!

Glass Vodka and Woodinville Whiskey Company will be at this year’s Hootenanny!

LOCAL DISTILLERIES
Glass Vodka
Woodinville Whiskey Co.

LOCAL BREWERIES
Mac n’ Jacks Brewery
Hales BreweryHootenanny 2013 023

Don’t miss the 2nd annual CARS and CIGARS

Posted in Community, Modern Day Swank, Nostalgia, Signature Events with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2014 by The Gaucho Gridiron

“There’s something about smoking a cigar that feels like a celebration. It’s like a fine wine. There’s a quality, a workmanship, a passion that goes into the smoking of a fine cigar.” – Demi Moore

Guests will be able to enjoy a nice cigar along with wines or spirits and great food at Cars and Cigars!

Guests will be able to enjoy a nice cigar along with wines, spirits and El Gaucho fare at Cars and Cigars!

In celebration of that spirit, El Gaucho Tacoma and LeMay – America’s Car Museum have joined forces again this year to present the 2nd annual Cars and Cigars, Saturday, August 2nd.

Held outdoors on the Anderson Pavilion at LeMay, the event captures the essence of summer in the Pacific Northwest. Guests will be able to sit back in plush, leather sofas under a shaded canopy, puff from one of the three sponsored cigars (Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, and Montecristo), all while listening to singer/songwriters Dave Hannon and Angie Lynn provide live pop/rock originals and cover music.

Glass Vodka, Wishkah Distillery and Heritage Distillery will all be offering samples to taste at Cars and Cigars.

Glass Vodka, Wishkah Distillery and Heritage Distillery will all be offering samples to taste at Cars and Cigars.

Nearby, local distilleries, including Glass Vodka, Wishkah River (whiskey and gin) and Heritage Distilleries (whiskey, gin and rum), will offer liquid concoctions to compliment the smoke in your hand. If spirits aren’t your bag, Hedges Family Estate will be sampling their latest wines. Of course, El Gaucho will provide tasty fare for guests to consume throughout the evening.

Guests can enjoy the sunny afternoon on the plaza's lounge.

Guests can enjoy the sunny afternoon on the LeMay’s plaza in the shaded lounges.

If the comforts of the breeze through the shaded lounge becomes too much, guests can stretch their legs and wander through the amassed classic car collection and dream about days gone by.

By the end of the evening you’ll feel like George Burns summed it up: “Happiness? A good cigar, a good meal, a good cigar and a good woman – or a bad woman; it depends on how much happiness you can handle.”

The event will be a real ring-dinger you won’t want to miss.

El Gaucho fare and service at Cars and Cigars!

El Gaucho fare and service at Cars and Cigars!

For information and reservations call 253.272.1510. $95 per person, $179 per couple.
Saturday, Aug. 2nd 6:30-8:30 pm 2702 East D. St., Tacoma, WA 98421

MENU

PASSED APPETIZERS

  • Ahi Tuna Tartar lightly dressed with soy sauce and lemon tossed with capers, diced onion, poached pears, pine nuts, Serrano and Habanero chilies served on an Endive
  • Grilled Prawns with mango salsa served on a crostini
  • Cambozola Cheese served on a crostini topped with a sweet pear compote
  • Top Sirloin served on a crostini laced with Chimichurri
  • Tomato and Mozzarella Cheese with basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar

BUFFET

  • Mini Steak Sandwiches, Sirloin tossed in Chimichurri, served with a sweet fresh horseradish on an onion buttered roll
  • Grilled chicken finished with béarnaise
  • Steak Diablo finished in a Cajun style cream sauce served with crostini
  • Grilled vegetable medley
  • Gaucho Mac and Coastal Cheddar Cheese topped with our crisp bread topping
  • Fingerling Potatoes tossed with grandma’s recipe spices
  • Assorted bite size desserts (banana bread pudding, chocolate ganache and cheesecake)
  • Assorted fruit and imported cheese
Guests enjoying Cars and Cigars

Guests enjoying Cars and Cigars

 

The beautiful LeMay - America's Car Museum hosts Cars and Cigars

The beautiful LeMay – America’s Car Museum hosts Cars and Cigars

Enjoy your choice of three sponsored cigars in the shaded lounge area at Cars and Cigars!

Enjoy your choice of three sponsored cigars in the shaded lounge area at Cars and Cigars!

Have your own car to show off for the night? Bring it to Cars and Cigars!!

Have your own car to show off for the night? Bring it!

Artist Feature of the Month – Meet Toshi Onizuka, Guitarist at El Gaucho Portland

Posted in Behind the Scenes with tags , , , , on July 11, 2014 by The Gaucho Gridiron

If music be the food of love, play on. ~William Shakespeare

Ambiance is a key part of the El Gaucho experience, and music plays an important role in setting the stage at our restaurants, which is why we are proud to offer live music, 7 nights a week. We introduce you to the talented and passionate musicians who share their gift with us.

Toshi, known as the "the pony-tailed Asian who speaks Spanish and plays guitar at El Gaucho" Portland.

Toshi, known as the “the pony-tailed Asian who speaks Spanish and plays guitar at El Gaucho” Portland.

A Japanese man playing Spanish-style music in Portland, Oregon – Toshi exemplifies Henry Longfellow’s observation that “music is the universal language of mankind.”

Born in Tokyo, Japan, at twenty years of age he heard “Spanish Eyes” by Al DiMeola and knew he wanted to become a musician. He picked up the guitar, taught himself how to play, and immersed himself in the Spanish music scene by moving to Seville, Spain. For five years, he travelled and played with as many musicians as possible, including Pata Negra, a Flamenco fusion band, and recorded with Gino Vannelli.

While in Spain, Toshi fell in love with an American girl, and followed her back to her hometown of Portland, OR. He started playing at El Gaucho Portland in 2000, shortly after the restaurant opened, and laughs that quickly became known as “the pony-tailed Asian who speaks Spanish and plays at El Gaucho.”

Toshi and Masud play together at El Gaucho Portland.

Toshi and Masud play together at El Gaucho Portland.

Toshi has become known for his keen improvisational skills and distinctive sound that uniquely combines flat-picking with dynamic percussive sounds made on the surface of his guitar. In addition to playing at El Gaucho Portland, Toshi also plays at Andina two nights and at Paragon one night weekly. He has collaborated with a variety of local artists, including Lawson Fusao Inada, Oregon’s 2006-2008 Poet Laureate, Portland Taiko, Bobby Torres, and Aaron Meyer. He’s also been featured on OPB’s Oregon ArtBeat, as well as KMHD’s Home Grown Jazz and Home Grown Live, and has taken the stage at numerous northwest events such as the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, Art in the Pearl, the Dragon Moon Festival, and the Sandy Summer Concert Series.

Toshi's 3rd CD, titled "It's a Beautiful Day," was just released and is available for purchase.

Toshi’s 3rd CD, titled “It’s a Beautiful Day,” was just released and is available for purchase.

Toshi just released his third CD, titled “What a Beautiful Day.” The project was created to help encourage his cousin in Japan battling breast cancer, which she unfortunately lost last December. The entire album features original songs with a jazz guitar feel, unlike his first two albums. His first, “Voy Con Fusion” (a Spanish phrase with double meaning), is a blend of recordings with local as well as native Spanish artists. The second album, “When You Passed By,” titled for all of the beautiful ladies who pass by when he plays, includes two covers and the rest original. All three CDs can be purchased from Toshi at El Gaucho Portland.

When not performing, Toshi enjoys mountain biking and drinking good sake. He “totally appreciates” his situation at El Gaucho Portland. He explains, “I can be an artist here and make money. There are starving musicians in Asia and Europe, but not here. The U.S. mentality is to pay artists for their craft, which is beautiful. Americans love live music. This would not happen in other areas of the world.” His gain is ours, as well!

You can listen to Toshi play four nights a week – Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday – at El Gaucho Portland at 7pm.

Toshi and Mariano also play together at El Gaucho Portland.

Toshi and Mariano also play together at El Gaucho Portland.

El Gaucho Bellevue’s Signature Wine Event – POUR – is next week!

Posted in Featured Wine, Signature Events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2014 by The Gaucho Gridiron
POUR guests will be able to taste over 50 local and cult wines at El Gaucho Bellevue July 12, 2014.

POUR guests will be able to taste over 50 local and cult wines at El Gaucho Bellevue July 12, 2014.

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” We love Paolo Coelho’s philosophy, and El Gaucho Bellevue’s signature wine event, POUR, will give ample opportunity to sip – or swig – many fantastic wines.

Held next Saturday, July 12th, the event highlights local producers, as well as showcases phenomenal cult wines from around the world, offering guests something they haven’t tried before. Most of the wines are available for retail sale, at very compelling prices.

Guests will be able to nibble on fantastic breads from Mario's Bakery at POUR.

Guests will be able to nibble on fantastic breads from Mario’s Bakery at POUR.

Of course, there will be a lot of great food for guests to enjoy between swills while mingling inside and on the spacious patio. In addition to Gaucho signature bites, Golden Glen Creamery and Mario’s Bakery will provide beautiful cheeses, breads, and crackers for guests to nibble, and Smitten Artisan Truffles to provide a sweet morsel. Taylor Shellfish and Nicolas Feuillatte are pairing up to provide freshly shucked oysters with champagne.

Taylor Shellfish will be offering freshly shucked oysters at El Gaucho Bellevue's POUR

Taylor Shellfish will be offering freshly shucked oysters at El Gaucho Bellevue’s POUR

If you feel the urge to shake things up, try special cocktails from local distilleries Batch 206 and the Woodinville Whiskey Co.

After POUR Wine Dinners

More than the depth and breadth of wines offered to taste, guests will also have the opportunity to attend one of four incredible winemaker dinners: Chateau Ste. Michelle and Col Solare, Dusted Valley Vintners, Seven Hills Winery, and Silver Oak Cellars. The dinners show off the culinary team at El Gaucho Bellevue and Sous Chef Sarah (Brinlee) Scott, highlighting unexpected flavors, executed with traditional Gaucho flair.

Wines of Agustin Huneeus will be available to taste at POUR.

Wines of Agustin Huneeus will be available to taste at POUR.

Chateau Ste. Michelle and Col Solare
Guests will enjoy not one, but two pairings for each course of the dinner, bringing old world vs. new world wines together to compare side-by-side. Chateau Ste. Michelle head winemaker Bob Bertheau, and Col Solare winemaker Darel Allwine will share about the winemaking styles for their wines, and walk guests through the rich history of the Antinori family and their partnership.
Click here for full menu.

 

The Dusted Valley team

The Dusted Valley team

Dusted Valley

Named 2013 Wine and Spirits Winery of the Year, both winemakers, Wisconsin natives, and brothers-in-law (they married sisters Janet and Cindy) Corey Braunel and Chad Johnson are thrilled to not only host this wine dinner, but also be in the same place at the same time!

“I’m excited about the Grilled Certified Angus Beef® brand Bacon-Wrapped Petite Filet Mignon and Dusted Valley 2006 Walla Walla Valley Reserve Syrah pairing,” Corey says. “You had me at bacon. Seriously though, this is a great summer preparation for grilled meats and the 2006 Walla Walla Valley Reserve Syrah has an awesome balance of earth and fruit. This wine has been sold out for over five years, so this is definitely going to be a fun one!”

Dusted Valley has begun a unique Wisconsin barrel project sourcing white oak from the 45th parallel, where the northerly climate creates an ideal tight grain wood, which closely represents the famous French Oak. Some of the wood procured comes from Corey’s parent’s farm.

Click here to view menu.

General Manager Tony  and Captain Louis invite you to POUR!

General Manager Tony and Captain Louis invite you to POUR!

Seven Hills Winery
Pioneer and winemaker Casey McClellan will make a rare appearance for the wine dinner, giving guests a real treat and rich history of the wines from Walla Walla. Casey is the longest tenured Washington winemaker, producing his 27th vintage this year, and he helped his dad plant the original Seven Hills Vineyard in 1980. Many of the wines served for this dinner are from the old block vines – the oldest planted vines in the valley.

Casey focuses on Bordeaux varietal reds, and is excited to pour their 2011 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which is admittedly, one of the most surprising wines they’ve made, because of the beautiful way it continues to evolve. The King Salmon pairing will also be special, as it shows off a beautiful piece of history as the 25th vintage of their 2012 Seven Hills Vintage Merlot.

Click here to view menu.

Guests enjoying the 2013 POUR.

Guests enjoying the 2013 POUR.

Silver Oak
An extraordinary California winery rounds out the wine dinner line-up. We are pleased to welcome Matt Duncan, son of founder Tim Duncan, to host. One of the pairings includes a Silver Oak 2009 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir, a completely sold out library edition wine that only guests attending the dinner this evening will have the opportunity to taste. Guests will also sample from both the Twomey and the Silver Oak brands, from both Alexander and Napa Valley.

Click here to view menu.

You would think getting into an event like this might be exclusive, or “invite only,” but it’s open to anyone. With three levels of participation, guests have the option of joining us for the tasting event ($85/person), winemaker dinner ($125/person), or take advantage of both ($160/person). Valet is complimentary for all attendees.

When you consider that Quintessa and Ornellaia sell for upwards of $300/bottle on a wine list, it’s an incredible value that only comes along once a year!

Freya is excited about the after POUR wine dinner with Silver Oak

Freya is excited about the after POUR wine dinner with Silver Oak

Featured Wineries:
aMaurice Cellars
Amavi Cellars
Avennia
Balboa Winery
Beresan Winery
Cakebread Cellars
CAVU Cellars
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Col Solare Winery
Craggy Range
DaMa Wines
DeLille Cellars
Duckhorn Vineyards
Dunham Cellars
Dusted Valley Wines
Fidelitas Wines
Flying Dreams Wines
JM Cellars
Lachini Vineyards
Long Shadows Wineries
Nicolas Feuillatte
Northstar Winery
O Wines
Pepper Bridge Winery
Seven Hills Winery
Silver Oak Winery
Sparkman Cellars
Spring Valley Vineyard
St. Supery Vineyards
Va Piano Vineyards
Willakenzie Estate
Woodward Canyon

Cult Favorites:
Winebow/Catena
Zardetto Prosecco
Fred Loimer Gruner Veltliner Kamptal
Catena Alta Chadonnay
Villa Remotti Barbera D’Asti
Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino
El Enemigo Malbec

The Wines of Agustin Huneeus
’10 Quintessa
’12 Blindfold
’12 Prisoner
’11 Cuttings
’11 Flowers

Italian Table

’09 Masi Amarone
’11 Tignanello
’10 Ornellaia
’09 Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni
’07 Catelgiocando Brunello di M.

French Table
’08 Chateau Clos Manou
’10 Chateau Picque-Caillou Blanc
’09 Chateau Picque-Caillou Rouge
’10 Chateau Fonbadet

“Whiskey is Liquid Sunshine” – Two El Gaucho Teammates Recap Their Trip to Kentucky

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Employee Spotlight, Spirited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2014 by The Gaucho Gridiron

Two of our Spirits Captains – El Gaucho Seattle’s Dasha Mulein, and El Gaucho Bellevue’s Lonnie Anderson, were invited to visit Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark Distilleries in Kentucky. Not only was it an educational trip, they created a custom barrel of Knob Creek Rye, which will be available for our guests to enjoy within the next few months. Dasha and Lonnie recap their trip.

Whiskey Trip Lonnie and Dasha in front of Jim BeamDasha: When I was 25 years old, my friend bought me a bottle of Black Maple Hill 23 Year for my first father’s day, and I have been a huge fan of bourbon ever since. Recently the opportunity arose to select a barrel to be bottled exclusively for El Gaucho Restaurants, and Lonnie (El Gaucho Bellevue’s Spirits Director) and I jumped at the chance to visit the epicenter of American whiskey.

A 1973 Rip Van Winkle Bottle that Lonnie and Dasha were thrilled to try

A 1973 Rip Van Winkle Bottle that Lonnie and Dasha were thrilled to try

Lonnie: Let me first say, or declare, rather, that I’ve never been a bourbon drinker. At least that was the way I was before my visit to Jim Beam Distillery and Marker’s Mark.

Dasha: We arrived in Louisville, checked into our hotel, and headed out to dinner, where we enjoyed a round of Kentucky Mules. As you might guess, these are Moscow Mules, but made with the finest of Kentucky brown spirits. After dinner we headed to a bar called simply “Bourbons.” The proprietor of this establishment has an extensive collection of old bourbons and ryes ranging back to the early 1900’s – yes, that’s pre-prohibition! We got to see and sample a ceramic decanter of 1972 Old Rip Van Winkle. I then sipped 25 Year Michter’s Rye while he educated me on the way things used to be before bourbon became so popular, and where he thinks things are going. It was an amazing experience, to say the least.

The old Jim Beam Rackhouse is 5 levels, with varying degrees of temperature.

The old Jim Beam Rackhouse is 5 levels, with varying degrees of temperature.

Dasha: We awoke in the morning feeling a little hazy, yet excited, and headed to Jim Beam. Our first stop after checking in was Warehouse K, where we got to sample barrels of Knob Creek of different ages and from different locations in the rack house. It was fantastic to be able to see first hand the things that we had only previously read about. After each of us bottled our own bottle and marked the sealing wax with a thumbprint, we had a fantastic barbeque lunch and headed back to the hotel.

Lonnie: The Jim Beam Stillhouse was incredible. The interior looked like it was built in the 1800’s and hadn’t been touched since. We went up a couple of floors, and experienced the difference in temperature of each floor. I was a little uncomfortable because we were walking on wooden planks that were five floors up – a little scary, especially because I’m afraid of heights! We learned the science behind the storing of bourbon on different levels and temperatures of the rackhouse. Basically, the higher you go the hotter it is, which will age the bourbon faster than storing the bourbon on the much cooler floor level. It depends on what the master distiller is looking for with regard to flavor and alcohol, as to how he decides to age his craft.

Lonnie and Dasha were able to personally bottle their own whiskey.

Lonnie and Dasha were able to personally bottle their own whiskey.

Dasha: Day three began bright and early as we headed to Maker’s Mark for the most informative tour I have ever received. We saw everything from the corn being sorted to barrels being unloaded to wax being dipped. We even got to taste their closely guarded yeast strain! Our Maker’s tour concluded with an hour-long bourbon class, where we tasted and compared Maker’s side by side with its Kentucky, Tennessee, and Canadian counterparts, as well as got a bourbon science lesson. After dipping our own bottle in the famous red wax, we headed to a local Kentucky “hole-in-the-wall,” and I enjoyed the best fried-chicken sandwich I’ve ever had, aside from the one on El Gaucho Bellevue’s lunch menu, of course!

A full comparison taste test!

A full comparison taste test!

Lonnie: Our tour began in the visitor’s center at Maker’s Mark. Our tour guide explained the Samuels family story, and the recent generations of Bill Samuels, Sr., who created Maker’s Mark.

Dasha hand-dipping Maker's Mark bottles

Dasha hand-dipping Maker’s Mark bottles

Dasha: All in all, this was an amazingly fun and educational trip. Not only did we get to hand select a great product to bring back to our guests, but we had the opportunity to see first hand the care, craftsmanship, and years of experience that goes into that product. Our barrel of Knob Creek Rye will be on our back bars in the next few months, and we will be bringing our guests delicious cocktails to highlight it.

More photos from our trip:

Jim Beam building

Jim Beam building

Barrels, barrels, and more barrels!

Barrels, barrels, and more barrels!

Family tree at Jim Beam

Family tree at Jim Beam

Beautiful barrels!

Beautiful barrels!

Jim Beam old warehouse

Jim Beam old warehouse

Barrels to taste at Jim Beam

Barrels to taste at Jim Beam

Knob Creek testers  to taste

Knob Creek testers to taste

Jim Beam - the masher

Jim Beam – the masher

Blog Jim Beam units to add yeast

Lonnie tastes from the barrel

Lonnie tastes from the barrel

Knob Creek labels

Knob Creek labels

Maker's Mark grounds

Maker’s Mark grounds

The old days of transporting whiskey

The old days of transporting whiskey

Maker's Mark building

Maker’s Mark building

Drink Whiskey, of course!

Drink Whiskey, of course!

Menu showing the offerings of rare bourbons

Menu showing the offerings of rare bourbons

Warehouse K at Knob Creek

Warehouse K at Knob Creek

whiskey trip tasting glasses whiskey trip sample whiskey bottles whiskey trip Dasha and Lonnie's personal bottles

Dasha making his own Knob Creek

Dasha making his own Knob Creek

The thumbprint

The thumbprint

A personally made and signed bottle by Dasha Mulein!

A personally made and signed bottle by Dasha Mulein!

The tag that will adorn the El Gaucho Barrel when it arrives next month

The tag that will adorn the El Gaucho Barrel when it arrives next month

Whiskey Trip Maker's Mark whiskey trip masher

The Maker's Mark wax ladies

The Maker’s Mark wax ladies

Maker's 46 barrel - extra waffers for 18 months.

Maker’s 46 barrel – extra waffers for 18 months.

Maker's Mark quality control room

Maker’s Mark quality control room

Chihuly glass ceiling adds some color to the store room at Maker's Mark

Chihuly glass ceiling adds some color to the store room at Maker’s Mark

A bit of Seattle at Maker's Mark - Chihuly glass

A bit of Seattle at Maker’s Mark – Chihuly glass

whiskey trip Maker's Mark comparison tasting

Notes from a bourbon lesson at Maker's Mark

Notes from a bourbon lesson at Maker’s Mark

The Maker's 46 process

The Maker’s 46 process

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45 other followers

%d bloggers like this: