The Botanist pop-up event was a bit like walking into a botanical wonderland, while intertwined with a bourgeois vibe that played a compliment to SoHo. A note to all event planners, greeting your guests after a long workday with a simple, neat cocktail is an automatic win in my book. The drink was Botanist gin (using Botanist Islay Dry Gin) and stick of cinnamon, decorated with a slice of orange that served as a great starter to the evening.
The gin strives to honor its model of being wild, foraged and distilled, which is a testament to how simple and delicate it is when consumed. While the smell at first was a bit harsh, I found that once sipped it felt crisp against the tongue. The only problem I found was that without an impactful bite, the botanist seemed to get lost along the way. In this type of case, I found the star of the show was slightly out shined by its stand in of beet juice, bubbly, wine and seltzer.
As we moved onto the cocktail and food pairings, course-by-course, the botanist finally began to reveal its greatest qualities. Before moving further, I must give Olmstead’s Chef, Greg Baxtrom praise for his ability to create wonderfully, mouthwatering dishes. The food truly spoke for itself, and while the gin may have been why guests arrived, it was the food that seemed to draw the crowd together. If I could explain the plates that were served, I would, but I sadly wouldn’t do it any justice. The dishes had the same light quality, but with an unmatched savory and bold flavor. My compliments, Chef Baxtrom.
It wasn’t until we reached the final drink where I found myself believing in The Botanist again. It was infused with wasabi and cucumber, and I couldn’t have been any happier. Finally, the gin was able to escape the madness of previous drinks and revel in its own glory that is being wild, foraged and distilled. The coolness – if you will – of the cucumber, while mixed with the pungent quality of the wasabi didn’t consume the best parts of the gin. It left you feeling warm and pleased… and in my case asking for one more (which I was sadly denied).
As a whole, it was a pleasant evening that allowed guests to experience the best parts of what the gin can offer its consumers, but it served as a warning too. The warning sign being that maybe a little less is actually more in the grand scheme of things. When it works, it works! The Botanist works, it just needs to sign a restraining order against some of its more overpowering pairings – I’m looking at you, beet juice!
About The Author
Billy Metzger is a newly minted Upper East Side resident, who works in Public Relations and writes for New York Rag on all that’s living and breathing in Manhattan. He is an Italian, New Jersey native that has a severe problem talking with his hands, as can be expected. When not attending events, he can be found at your local dive bar sipping on whiskey or tequila with a taco in hand – and yes, he knows that guac is extra! Follow him around NYC @Billy_Metzger