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The Rose Collins, Old Fashioned and PassionNut For Port.

Longtime local favorite Perry’s Steakhouse has just unveiled a new cocktail rollout in preparation for Valentine’s Day to go with the renovations at their Memorial City location, now offering more private dining rooms. I was recently able to attend a tasting where they showcased these cocktails and pairings, and, as always, Sommelier and Beverage Director Susi Zivanovic was on hand not only to discuss and showcase the cocktails but also to introduce us to some of Perry’s great wines.

We started the day with Perry’s Private Reserve Chardonnay, which is a flavorful chardonnay that isn’t too dry; it’s nutty on the nose, with a crisp texture and some lingering hints of citrus. I quite enjoyed it, and I’m not much of a white wine drinker.

The first of the three cocktails was the Jameson Mocha Old Fashioned. This one was a bit unique in that it was made with a variety of Jameson I’d never heard of before, from the Caskmates series. With Caskmates, Jameson fills their whiskey casks with various beers before emptying them and finishing their Jameson in it. This particular Caskmates selection used a stout from Cork’s Franciscan Well Brewery, giving the whiskey some more cocoa and coffee notes, which were amplified in the cocktail by Perry’s house-made coffee syrup and mole chocolate bitters. 

The cocktail was paired with Perry’s Polish sausage, hearty and robust and with the kind of strong flavor needed to not be lost in the cocktail’s own strong profile.

The second cocktail, the PassionNut for Port, is made with Fonseca Bin 27 ruby port, coconut rum and passionfruit pureé. This cocktail is on the sweet side, moreso than is my personal preference, but it’s still well-made, fruity and smooth while finishing easily. It’s a nice twist on tropical-themed cocktails. This one paired with Perry’s Beef and Bleu, their rare beef tenderloin topped with bleu cheese crumbles. It's another instance in which strong flavors in the food pairing balance a flavorful cocktail, and although it’s not a pairing that would have occurred to me, it works.

The third cocktail we tried was the Rosé Collins, a Tom Collins made with The Botanist gin (a more floral style, as has become increasingly common in recent years, than the juniper-heavy London Dry gin), the standard Collins recipe and a rosé from a label owned by Remy Martin. This one I enjoyed for being light and refreshing, a perfect drink for hot weather or just when you want something light, crisp and easy. Appropriately, it was paired with a lighter item, the bacon-wrapped scallops, whose more delicate texture went well with the refreshing drink while providing some complementary flavors.

We were then served a glass of Tokaji, a unique wine from Hungary that’s made from grapes affected by noble rot, similar to sauternes. Tokaji has a long and storied history, earning its nickname “The king of wines and the wine of kings,” and the glass I had certainly showcased why: elegant, with a honeyed flavor reminiscent of mead that added a sense of luxuriousness to the drink and made it both easy to drink and very desirable to have more. While we didn’t have a pairing with the Tokaji, Susi recommended crème brûlée as an ideal pairing, though any cream-based dessert would work. (She specified that chocolate was to be avoided, though.)

After the tokaji, we had the dessert—Perry’s Nutty D’Angelo, crushed pecans flambéed with brown sugar and brandy and served over vanilla ice cream. As one of my dining companions observed, it was reminiscent of pralines and cream in its flavoring, and I had to agree; I really enjoyed how the preparation matched the classic flavor pairing with a contrast of temperature and texture.

The dessert was paired with a madeira, a dessert wine less sweet than the port—more reminiscent of cognac, in my opinion—but still unmistakably dessert; its boldness kept the dessert’s strong flavors from overpowering it, and its own profile made for a terrific complement (as well as a stand-alone drink).

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