EXPERT PICKS THE BEST WINE, CRAFT BEER & MORE FOR HOLIDAY 2014: READ HERE
This guy knows how to put the spirit in every holiday.
Since 2011, Aidan Molloy, owner of Lush Spirits in Asbury Park, has been dedicated to curating a first-class collection of libations at every price point. Today, he has built a loyal following of fans from around Coastal Monmouth County that rely on him to serve as the Rudolph of Mixology – guiding customers to the most perfect for every celebration.
I spoke with Molloy about his ideas for entertaining and gift-giving with spirits in 2014.
TBP: Each season you and your team sample hundreds of new products to find the genuinely special. What are some fun gift ideas for the cocktail lover this season?
Molloy: A lot of the spirits we sell are artisan and created over years in small batches – primarily found in boutique liquor stores in New York. It’s important to note that artisan doesn’t mean expensive. We do the footwork to find what’s reasonably priced as well as fun and extravagant.
That includes a selection of newly released Single Malt Whiskey and Scotches from Ireland including Scapa, Jura the Prophecy, Johnny Walker and Bruichladdich Octomore. For Irish Whiskey lovers, we are offering the rare Midleton and Connemara brands – any of which will be sure to put a little jig in your step.
As far as craft beer, Lush carries an enviable selection and has something for every beer lover. Loren, our beer specialist, works quite hard to deliver the best in seasonal releases which always means there is something fun available no matter the temperature outside.
For lovers of Irish beer, Guinness has released The 1759 for the holidays and Lush has acquired a limited supply. Only 90,000 bottles, packaged in a black velvet box, have been produced for the world. For rabid Guinness fans (and we all know a few), this is a chance to taste a bit of brewing history. The 1759 is a small batch amber ale brewed with fine peated whiskey malt. One sip and you will discover its rich taste with distinctive notes of caramel and warming butterscotch. [more below]
TBP: What about wines for the holidays?
Molloy: One of our most special Pinot Noirs comes from a French winery known for its popular Sauvignon Blanc – Domaine de la Chezatte. The Pinot Noir, Sancerre Rouge, is delicious as well as reasonably priced. Both the blanc and rouge are tasty treats.
My current favorite red is the Temperamento Bobal – a hidden treasure in the store. It’s full-bodied, smooth and absolutely delicious. The finish is a bit smoky. It drinks like a $50 bottle and is a bargain at $15. As far as whites, my first choice is Andrew Rich Croft Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. It’s from the Willamette Vallen in Oregon and for $24 is a delicious treat.
Because the flavors of holiday meals, most especially poultry-based, are all over the place, we recommend a Gewurztraminer for a white. It’s a slightly sweet wine with loads of flavor and just a hint of spiciness on the finish.
For an overall holiday crowd pleaser, Long Island brings us a popular un-oaked Chardonnay from the North Fork winery. Merlot received a bad rap in the movie Sideways a few years ago but the winery’s is so approachable.
For New Year’s parties, any holiday celebration really, we have a selection of wines and beer that taste fantastic and have wide appeal for all guest’s palates. The bubbly Astoria Lounge Prosecco is relatively new but has developed quite a passionate following here.
TBP: You have a major selection of what I would call “specialty wines” as well.
Molloy: We have fabulous Kosher wines for Hanukkah. Also, a really nice selection of organic and NSA (No Sulfates Added) wines.
Lush has a dedicated section of the store for organic wines – a selection of at least 25. We personally invest the time and do the research to ensure what we present as organic meets the standards. It’s important to us to deliver great organic wine options for gifting and enjoying. I have customers who drive 45 minutes for our curated organic wine list.
TBP: Finally, what would be a surprise to put in someone’s stocking?
Molloy: Customers love our selection of bitters – Fee Brothers Bitters in orange, grapefruit, lemon, mint and Old Fashioned. We are seeing olive juice as the most popular trending item. Martini drinkers would love a treat of Stirrings Dirty Martini Olive Brine and Original Dirty Sue Olive Juice.
When we opened Lush we wanted to give the area something special and an experience that isn’t found in big box stores. Our selection of merchandise – from bacon flavored vodka to limited release Guinness – is as unique as the area we serve. We have a passion for our products like no other. Carl could talk forever about a new bourbon, Loren will point you to the perfect beer and Regina will find you the perfect wine. Bring in your holiday menu and we will pair it with terrific wine.
As far as gifting, everything is the right size at Lush!