RECAP- ChatChow's Annual Dinner: Lure and Bourbon

“Ambassadors” are key to every brand, no matter how known or unknown. Similarly, when it comes to food & drink every city no matter how big or small also relies on these individuals to help promote locally and abroad its artisans, chefs, restaurants, bars, so on and so forth. Without a doubt one of Miami's most active and hardworking ambassadors is, and it's energetic and charismatic founder, Giovanny Gutierrez.

Gio and his team hold an annual dinner to commemorate their successes and they have chosen on purpose the month of September to hold such event since it is National Bourbon Heritage month. Primarily given his passion for the American whiskey, this provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate, have fun amongst local colleagues and gastronomes whilst showcasing a specific brand of Bourbon through a finely created tasting of cocktails and dinner menu. For this year, the spirit of choice was Kentucky's Bulleit Bourbon, and the place Lure Fishbar on Collins Avenue in the Loews Hotel , a New York City import that has been around for just under a year.

The choice of Lure as a venue had as much to do with the great dining room, the team behind the kitchen's capability of creating and executing a menu focused around Bourbon as it did with the man behind the bar: Robert Ferrara. One of Miami's finest mixologists, Robert is a highly energetic wizard of alcoholic beverages who can make and serve more cocktails than perhaps anyone in town. He is a genius at crafting a series of signature drinks for specific events, working together with Executive Chef John Latrellis to make sure there was cohesion along the way.

For instance, he started us off with a short, refreshing combination of Bourbon, Pear Nectar and Lemon, slightly salted and perfect for anyone who had just walked in from the omnipresent Miami heat. At this time, the chef's creamy deviled eggs with caviar also started to roll, together with some corn scones and butter.  Things then kicked into second gear with a Full Mast: a bitter and sweet cocktail of the same Bourbon with sherry, Benedictine and Lair’s Apple Jack. A great precursor for the bite of the night: delicately fried oysters over a hearts of palm salad and a tangy caper remoulade.

You could tell the chef was aiming at celebrating the Bourbon's origin through his well thought out menu; cornmeal crusted the snapper that followed and was accompanied by a clever combination of whiskey, apple cider and local beer (Wynwood's La Rubia). This is how chefs win fans:  Think Global, Use Local.  The savory part ended with perfectly “fall off the bone” ribs rubbed with a sauce made with, you guessed it, Bulleit bourbon and pomegranate. The perfect pairing was the cocktail mixed with pomegranate molasses and egg white (aka the "Southern Sour"). Grits and spicy watermelon chunks generated high praise from the people at my table, the latter specially being not your every day items.

The meal couldn't end without a whiskey-based dessert , and so appropriately we were served a rich bowl of angostura bitters ice cream, bourbon caramel and whipped cream. The final concoction of the night was the Fall Frontier - Apple Butter Fat Washed Bulleit Bourbon, Fennel Bitters on a Talisker Rinsed glass.

As was expected the room was filled with people in the industry and followers of chatchow. Which leads as I’ve said in the past to a richer experience, spirited conversations and overall enjoyment. They continue to do a phenomenal job and are a key piece to the evolving food & beverage scene in Miami.  Keep an eye out for anything they organize and of course for next year’s annual party.

Trust me, you do not want to miss it.