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This Week in Food: Food Swap, Greenmarket Turns 40, and Absinthe Tasting

Seasonal Jewish Cooking: A Talk and Tasting, 92 Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., Monday, 7 p.m.

Explore the history of Jewish cuisine — from its inception to its modern focus on seasonality and sustainability — during this discussion featuring The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen author Amelia Saltsman. Saltsman will discuss the six mini-seasons central to Jewish cooking traditions, with samples of select recipes provided. Tickets are $25 and can be reserved here.

BK Swappers Food Swap, Fine & Raw, 288 Seigel Street, Brooklyn, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Swap your homemade, edible goods and pick up some chocolate and beer along the way. Attendees are encouraged to bring items like homemade jams, jellies, spice rubs, and breads to trade with others free of charge. A selection of food and drink will be available for purchase. The event is free, but guests must RSVP in advance here.

NYC Greenmarket Turns 40: What’s in Store for the Next 40 years, Hunter College Silberman Building, 2180 Third Avenue, Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

Curious about the status of your local greenmarket? Attend a panel discussion featuring Greenmarket’s director Michael Hurwitz and chef Peter Hoffman of Back Forty West, who will be joined by a farmer and buyer to address public food policy. Reserve a free spot here.

Hot-Sauce Tasting Dinner Menu, Heatonist, 121 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, Thursday, 7 p.m.

Heatonist is collaborating with private chef duo bigLittle for a hot-sauce tasting series, where $75 nets you five courses paired around select hot sauces, small bites, and a Kings County Distillery cocktail. The menu will not be revealed until Thursday evening, and all guests must provide any dietary restrictions in advance. Guests can RSVP here.

Absinthe Tasting, Clement, 700 Fifth Avenue, Friday, 6 p.m.

Jared Fischer (Clement’s director of wine and spirits) and Ted Breaux (Jade Absinthe’s founder) will lead an absinthe tasting designed to teach guests what to look for in absinthe besides a green fairy.  The tasting includes a welcome cocktail and three absinthes modeled after traditional recipes from the Combier distillery in Saumur, France. Small bites are included in the $65-per-person ticket package. Reservations can be made by contacting clementpny@peninsula.com.

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Maison Premiere’s Pontarlier Julep

The drink: Pontarlier Julep

The bar: Maison Premiere

The price: $13

The ingredients: La Clandestine absinthe, Plymouth gin, Aperol, sweet vermouth, orange flower water

The buzz: Maison Premiere recently rolled out with a spring cocktail menu featuring four different juleps, none of which is of the classic mint variety. Though the Pontarlier Julep is garnished with a full sprig of mint, smooth Swiss La Clandestine absinthe– endowed with strong anise and subtle fennel flavors–is its main ingredient. Aperol gives the drink low notes of bitter citrus, while sweet vermouth and Plymouth gin add herbal touches and a bit of sweetness to the mix.

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What to Drink at William Hallett: The Speakeasy

Each week in The Daily Shot, we have ourselves a drink that we think you should try, too.

​​​The drink: Speakeasy

The bar: William Hallett (36-10 30th Avenue, Astoria, 718-269-3443)

The price: $9

The ingredients: Bourbon, absinthe, and bitters, stirred and served on the rocks

The buzz: Yawn, you might be thinking in the face of yet another Prohibition-themed potable. But the name of this cocktail is really the most gimmicky thing about this bar. The bar itself — “casually elegant,” as the website accurately describes it — is a solid neighborhood joint with a gastropubby vibe. The cocktail list is brief and the drinks made without fanfare. The Speakeasy, a simple three-ingredient concoction, boasts no small-batch spirit or designer bitters — although the orange twist does get caramelized over an open flame before your eyes before it’s dropped into the glass. The result is surprisingly Christmasy, super-spiced. Deck-the-halls cinnamon and cloves with a sweet bourbon bite.

See (and sip) more Daily Shots here.

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Maison Premiere’s Maxwell Britten Likes His Absinthe Strong and His New York Brooklyn

There are few bars more enchanting than Maison Premiere, which opened on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg earlier this year. It’s not just the lush, romantic garden, or antique-looking absinthe drip, or bustling oyster-shucking station. But rather that all these feel like they’ve been there forever. You don’t feel like you’re in a gimmicky New Orleans-themed bar in Williamsburg. You’re just in Brooklyn, sipping absinthe or mint juleps or beer in jam jars and slurping $1 oysters, should you happen to show up between the happy hours of 4 and 7 p.m. Head bartender Maxwell Britten explains how it all came together.

What was your vision for the drinks at Maison Premiere?

The design of the menu is inspired by New Orleans: French influence and Spanish inspiration and obviously American, as well. The absinthe fountain is a replica of the one at the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street. I guess that’s the shrine to everything that we do at the bar, as far as the drinks go. Making absinthe drinks can be very ceremonial.

Have you always been into absinthe, or is it something you had to read up on?

Before I started working on this program, I definitely sipped on my fair share of absinthe and kept a few bottles of my own in my apartment. But, as a category to focus on, not until I was approached to work on this program did I really, really dive into it.

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What is the best way to dive into absinthe, for newbies, say?

We break it down to an easy-to-understand format. Absinthe comes in two expressions: You have your vertes and your blanches. The absinthe we carry at Maison Premiere has no additives, no sugar, no coloring. It has to have all natural ingredients, including wormwood, anise, fennel, and lemon balm. For a verte to become a verte, its ingredients have to macerate long enough to develop that color. So, the verte is traditionally a little more aggressive than the blanche. [Blanche is a nice way to start] to appreciate the more delicate flavors in absinthe.

Do you have to deal with any crazy absinthe obsessives?

Yeah, the Wormwood Society is probably the number-one absinthe forum in the world. It’s ran by a bunch of absintheurs, if you will. They found Maison Premiere and most of them are really, really into it. They like to talk about absinthe and share it with other people and they appreciate that there’s a venue now that dispenses it and observes the traditional service and quality. I definitely get those guys in here and they’re usually really nice.

Not like cocktail geeks?

They’re actually a lot nicer than the cocktail enthusiasts who drill you and play “stump the bartender” all the time. I’ve had people come in and bring me pre-ban absinthe and really cool antiques. It’s been really interesting to hang out with people from the absinthe world.

You won the 2009 StarChefs Rising Star Mixologist? Did it do a lot for you?

It has definitely elevated my career in a lot of ways. I think that most people think when they get that award that everything is going to change overnight. It is a great accolade and honor and is something that I’ll always have with me. But it’s one of those things you have to continue to have to work for. You really have to engage and network yourself.

Are you going to Tales of the Cocktail?

Yes, definitely. We are going full throttle at Tales. Not everything is finalized with the parties we’re going to be involved with. But we’re going to be pairing up with Pernod Absinthe and we’re going to be at the Bartender’s Breakfast. We might be the second bar from Brooklyn ever to be invited to it, so that was definitely an honor.
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Where do you like to drink when you’re not at your own bar?

I guess wherever my friends are. I don’t get to hang out with my friends as much as I used to. Whether we’re having a drink at a great cocktail bar or just chillin’ on someone’s rooftop, it’s all about the company for me. If I had to give you a bar, I really like to go to Prime Meats. It’s a great bar. Dram is around the corner from us and those guys are cool. I guess this year is all about Brooklyn for me. I haven’t really been spending too much time in Manhattan. I’ve been feeling a lot of pride for Brooklyn lately.

Why is Brooklyn so hot these days?

It’s the next generation in New York, as far as great bars and restaurants go. There’s a lot more creativity going on. There’s a lot more space. It just makes sense. Manhattan is so much more cutthroat. As far as what can be done, it’s far more limiting, just because of the price of things and the people that come through and what they’re expecting. There’s just a lot more young people in Brooklyn because there’s so much more opportunity.

What’s your go-to drink at home?

I guess it’s whatever absinthe I’m trying to get to know a little bit better. One of my favorites is probably the Pacifique Absinthe Verte from Washington, made by Tempus Fugit Spirits. I spent a good amount of time getting to know that one.

What’s your ideal louching ratio (water:absinthe)?

I’m into the really aggressive vertes. I really like bitters, heavy flavors. I don’t add any sugar to it. It’s sort of the same thing with coffee people. They really want to taste the bean. So, I usually go for a pretty traditional ratio, usually one part absinthe to five parts water.

What do you recommend after an absinthe bender?

Oh, jeez. I don’t get hungover. Pedialyte is one method people go for. But that stuff is pretty expensive and you’re not always going to be able to make it out of bed to the pharmacy. So, anything that has a lot of electrolytes like Vitamin Water or Gatorade. Or just have a lot of water and if you still have a headache then take an Advil.

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