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Local Chef: Philip McGrath's Sparkling Engineer

Last night at the Iron Horse Grill I witnessed an act that any oenophile would think breached on heresy; a customer requested a glassful of ice and proceeded to pour the contents of her expensive bottle of white wine into the frozen tundra in her goblet. If the wine maker were there they surely would have swooned over this egregious, sacrilegious act.

Scotch purists will also tell you that adding even a cube of frozen water to their single malts dilutes the distiller's diligence, rendering the flavor and complexity of their work watered down and irrevocably altered.

Brandy and cognac aficionados would consider it a criminal act to chill their ruddy, deep brown elixirs. In fact many connoisseurs of these strong, deeply distilled and carefully aged amber liquids warm the contents of their snifters in the palm of their hands or even over a candle before sipping so as to release the perfumed nuances of their precious beverage.

On the other hand, I don't think I ever recall any one asking for their vodka or gin "neat". The imbibers of these clear potent beverages ask for them on the rocks or "up", poured over or shaken with lots of ice to chill them to a near glacial state before being strained into a pre-chilled Martini glass. Olives, twists, lemons, limes and vermouth added as per the customers taste.

Some purist's take their tequila at room temperature, but the norm for this beverage is to be blended with lime and other liquors into well chilled or even frozen margaritas. Even if downed as a "shot" it is offered with a wedge of lime and a shaker of salt. Its cousin rum, the most consumed alcoholic spirit on the planet is usually served cold combined with juices or sweet sodas like coke or ginger ale, or as a punch over plenty of ice.

Throwing tradition to the wind, and maybe committing a venial sin along the way, Mike, our bartender, came up with a refreshing warm weather drink called the "Sparkling Engineer." Just don't let the winemaker at Iron Horse Vineyards get wind of it.


Serves One

A white wine glass filled with ice

4 oz. Iron Horse Brut or other sparkling wine

2 oz. Elderflower liquor

1 long twist each lemon, lime and orange rind

Splash club soda

Rub the rim of the glass with the twists and drop them in the glass. Pour in the Iron Horse Brut, add the elderflower liquor and top with a splash of the soda, give it one stir and serve immediately.

Like ice? Tell us about it in comments below.

----- Philip McGrath owns and operates the Iron Horse Grill, which is housed the historic former train station building in Pleasantville. He also owns Pony Express To Go, an all natural fast food restaurant just across the park from the Iron Horse. You can learn more about both by visiting their websites at and . His Local Chef column appears here weekly.

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