Cocktail connoisseur and best-selling author Georgette Moger-Petraske has designed a one-of-a-kind experience around the pairing of oysters with specially made cocktails. Her weekly series, "Regarding Oysters: An Evening of Bivalves and Curated Cocktails," is held in her cozy walk-up apartment in Manhattan's Midtown East. Guests spend two hours learning everything from proper oyster shucking technique to the art of mixing classic cocktails. As the lesson progresses, Georgette delves deeper into the subtle art of pairing, leading up to the most anticipated part: indulging.
Create the perfect atmosphere for a glass of Scotch and an oyster. Where does it all fit in?In her description of her trip to the Bowmore distillery on Islay, Georgette describes standing on the dock high above the calm waters and inhaling the salty, peaty air. She was served a freshly shucked local oyster along with a glass of oyster liquor, a glass of Bowmore, instructions to sip the oyster liquor before eating the oyster, and a suggestion to finish the oyster by pouring some Bowmore into the shell. After giving it a quick stir with the rest of the oyster liquor, she took a sip and was hit with a plethora of new flavors, including fresh bread, orange peel, and burnt salted caramel. It was enchantment in a nutshell.
How come oysters and cocktails go together so well?
According to Georgette, a spirit's flavor and mouthfeel can be improved by adding oyster liquor. The Attabuoy, Georgette's signature martini, is made with Ford's Gin, Dolin dry, and oyster liquor from a freshly shucked Yennicott oyster in a 2:1 ratio. It's a gin-based take on the traditional oyster luge, which she fell in love with during her time in Scotland. The Penicillin, a classic cocktail created by Sam Ross, features lemon and ginger that stand out against the blended whiskey base and irresistible float of Bowmore. This cocktail is delicious with oysters and makes for a wonderful meal.
Which oysters should be used?
Georgette suggests using only Yennicott oysters from the clear Peconic Bay waters. She rides the Jitney once a week to Southold, on Long Island's North Fork, to help her longtime friend and oyster farmer, Meg Dowe. The Yennicott oysters that Georgette uses in her lectures are hand-sorted by the pair. She enjoys demonstrating to her students that oysters can be enjoyed with more than just lemon and mignonette. She occasionally introduces them to the whisky luge, and at other times it's a drop of Elixir Vegetal de la Grande-Chartreuse. The savory crispness of Yennicott Oysters is a perfect complement to the gentle lemon and honeyed peat of Bowmore 12 Year Whiskey in a whisky luge.
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It's clear that getting the balance right between food and drink is an art that requires practice and experimentation. Oyster and carefully crafted cocktail pairings are a secret weapon that Georgette Moger-Petraske has mastered. It's an adventure in learning that's definitely worthwhile.