By Lori Simmons Zelenko
Photography by Christopher Soto-Chimelis
Hibiscus, Roses, Orchids and More Merge With Fine Whiskey From France BRENNE Single Malt Whiskey Crafted In the Cognac Region MeetsBrooklyn’s SOREL A Star Among Caribbean-Inspired Liqueurs
Alix Astir of Trellis Fine Florals, New York City Brings Artistry to a Remarkable Pairing
Photographed at Little Prince Bistro in SoHo
Merging in Manhattan: Brenne – the taste-defining, delicious single malt whiskey created by Ballerina-beautiful (former Joffrey Ballet dancer) Allison Patel – marries well with the exotic Island flavors of Brooklyn-brewed Sorel from artisanal loyalist Jackie Summers. The elegant accompaniment of flowers interprets the essentials in this spirited partnership: Alix Astir of Trellis Fine Florals renders beauteous bouquets bringing fresh life to each elixir.
Imbibing a Brenne cocktail with Allison Patel herself is an authentic performance, wrapped in center-stage ready charm as the story of her genuine passion for this unusual creative path unfolds. It’s a trans-Atlantic departure for a woman whose life (until the age of 23) was devoted to a different artistry – dance. Brenne came about after Allison embarked on a personal journey into the world whiskey scene. Finding something lacking after investigating all from Japan to Brazil and beyond, she settled on France and created a single malt whiskey aged in Limousin oak barrels then finished in Cognac casks – on average a seven year process. Brenne embodies the terroir and style of the region where it’s produced: Cognac, France: “it is not trying to be a Scotch just made in a different country – this is truly a French Whisky, elegant, sophisticated, and perfect in any season,” Allison enlightens.
Fragrant and just a bit fruity the taste of Brenne is far from just another whiskey after all it is made from organic barley grown among the vines. Chock full of complex-sugar notes; like rich creme brûlée, burnt caramel, bananas, tropical fruits, Brenne is balanced with warm spices like cinnamon and clove.
Brenne finds its soulmate in Sorel the Hibiscus liqueur that shares the spirit of invention, itself a modern twist on an exotic classic. Based on an age-old recipe this tropical elixir is known in the Caribbean islands as a powerful aphrodisiac, Sorel is flavored with “the brightness of Brazilian clove. The warmth of Indonesian cassia. The heat of Nigerian ginger. The woody nature of Indonesian nutmeg. The full, aromatic body of Moroccan hibiscus,” as creator Jackie Summers explains.
Red-violet in color and simply sumptuous in the mouth, Sorel (So-RELLE) sounds happy, the name ending on an uplifting note that involves and includes everyone at the party. Jackie or Jack from Brooklyn as he’s known, created Sorel to imbibe with friends, a career-changing decision he made in the face of a terminal diagnosis – by the way, he survived and celebrates every day quite often sharing a toast with Allison Patel who symbiotically shares his independent, daring mindset. Ironically, Last Call is the Brenne-Sorel cocktail that is their signature.
The blossoms from Trellis Fine Florals, arranged with equal innovation by owner/founder Alix Astir, bring out the drama expressed by Brenne and Sorel with sculptural dimensions, strong contrasts in color and scale, sweeping the eye into a vast purple haze or a splash of brilliant vermillion. Known for a personal aesthetic that is “rich, stormy, romantic—all about abundance,” Alix trained formally at one of the world’s most esteemed bastions of luxury, the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, and later at the renowned New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. Artistically inspired, her work is modern yet not without gorgeous reference to glorious, glamorous style statements of long ago, rooted in English, French and Flemish painterly expression. Like Brenne and Sorel, Trellis too balances the present with the past to create something entirely new.
Brenne…www.drinkbrenne.com… A distinctly French whiskey destined to appeal to Bourbon, Cognac, and Malt drinkers alike. 750 ml, about $65.
Sorel…www.jackfrombrooklyn.com… Unique artisanal Hibiscus liqueur with Caribbean heritage, hand-crafted in small batches. 750 ml, about $30.
Trellis Fine Florals…www.trellisfineflorals.com… Live, work or play Trellis Fine Florals can transform your space. Free Manhattan delivery on orders of $100 or more. Phone: 844-873-5547
Little Prince…www.littleprincesoho.com… Located at 199 Prince Street between McDougal and Sullivan Streets in SoHo. A cozy neighborhood bistro. Open Tuesday through Sunday. Phone: 212-335-0566