The Spirits Guru of Gardiner, NY

Ralph Erenzo worked to help change legislation in New York State which launched the crafts spirits movement. (Photo:

For 25 years “on the rocks” meant climbing the ‘Gunks in New York’s Hudson Valley and managing rock climbing gyms in New York City for native New Yorker  Ralph Erenzo. These days it has a new meaning  for him as Co-Founder of Tuthilltown Distillery,  located on a former gristmill in the verdant Gardiner countryside just a short drive from where we live. Ralph and business partner, Brian Lee,established the distillery in 2003 and two years later produced their first small batches of vodka. We remember our first visit to the small distillery; today the compound has grown to several buildings and Tuthilltown Restaurant.

Tuthilltown’s a game changer in the Hudson Valley, credited with helping to bring back small batch production to the region. Last weekend we attended the Straight Up New York Crafts Spirits Festival at Black Dirt Distillery in Orange County. Many of the newer distillers we met at Straight Up New York credit Ralph for their move into the business. His work at the State level resulted in the passage of the Farm Distillery Act which permits New York farms to establish distilleries on site and sell their agricultural spirits at the farm.

Ralph Erenzo at the Straight Up New York Craft Distilling Festival in New York's Hudson Valley

Ralph Erenzo at the Straight Up New York Craft Distilling Festival in New York’s Hudson Valley


Melanie Young and David Ransom are the insatiably curious culinary couple. Connected on Twitter@connectedtable Facebook/connectedtable. Learn more at

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Meet This Heavenly Bartender of the Year- The Connected Table LIVE July 13

We have many reasons to love New Orleans, from the amazing food and architecture to the southern hospitality and good friends and family. It’s our home away from home, and we always find reasons to return as often as we can. We enjoy visiting Chef Nina Compton’s Compère Lapin for the Carribbean spiced food and to see the smiling face of Abigail Gullo who tends to her bar and to her customers with the same generous enthusiasm. A transplant from the North, Abigail’s colorful style and charm fit right at home in the Big Easy. It’s no wonder Heaven Hill Brands just named her Bartender of the Year!

Abigail Gullo was recently named Heavn Hill Brands Bartender of the Year, winning $15,000. Now that's heavenly!

Abigail Gullo was recently named Heaven Hill Brands Bartender of the Year, winning $15,000. Now that’s heavenly!

Wednesday, July 13, 2pmEST, on The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY. Podcast permanently to and the free iHeart App.

Melanie Young and David Ransom are the insatiably curious culinary couple. Connected on Twitter@connectedtable Facebook/connectedtable. Learn more at

Melanie Young and David Ransom are the insatiably curious culinary couple. Connected on Twitter@connectedtable  Facebook/connectedtable. Learn more at

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What To Do About Annoying People?

I’d venture to say that everyone of us has had to deal with annoying people at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a family member who is in everyone’s business, a coworker who continually needs your assistance, the know-it-alls who always have to be right or a friend who talks incessantly, short of removing them permanently from your life or blowing up at them in an attempt to make them see the truth about what they’re doing, what can be done about annoying people? The answer is twofold and may surprise you.

First: Remember that every solution begins with an examination of the self. Therefore, begin by asking yourself “What is it about me that others may find annoying?” Surprised? You weren’t expecting that I would suggest that perhaps you are the exasperating person others are complaining about.

Begin by carefully examining your attitudes and behaviors so that you may better be aware of your actions that others find offensive. It’s also imperative to understand how they impact others. Self-awareness is not always easy so you may find it useful to employ the assistance of others to help you better identify those habits. Try to see yourself through the eyes of those who interact with you.

Secondly: Seek to understand why you are the way you are and why you do what you do. Is there an underlying issue that you need to address and resolve? For example: are you insecure and need to be the center of attention in order to feel important? This realization will better enable you to heal any unresolved issues and make any necessary adjustments, without changing your intrinsic nature- it’s about modifying our behaviors, not changing who we are. Ex: I may be loud and gregarious but in a house of worship I must behave in a more subdued manner out of respect.
Thirdly: make the necessary changes and apologize to those who have put up with you thus far. Be sincere in your apology but also keep it light if the issues were relatively minor, such as always talking too much. Interjecting a little humor can be advantageous.

Upon completion of this process, you will undoubtedly notice an improvement in your relationships with others. People will enjoy your company more and both sides will benefit as the time spent together becomes easier and more balanced.

The second answer to “What to do about annoying people?” is nothing, if you are referring to someone other than yourself. You do nothing. You do not ask nor expect others to be anything other than who they are. None of us has the right to expect others to change for us. Our role in any relationship is to accept and appreciate them exactly as they are; to understand that their actions reflect where they are in their journey in this life and we may not interfere with that. Every aspect of their life is between them and God.

What you can do instead is ask yourself, ” Why do I allow their quirky behavior to bother me? What within me needs to heal so that I am more accepting of this individual as they are?”

Perhaps a simple readjustment in the way you see them will enable you to be less judgmental and more tolerant of their idiosyncrasies. If necessary, it’s perfectly acceptable to limit the amount of time you spend with them as well. Go the extra mile and support and encourage them to be the best version of themselves that they can. Show them how they can use their eccentricities to better enrich their lives as well as the lives of others.

There is always an exception to being accepting: if the other person’s behaviors are putting you or someone else at risk, you have a moral obligation to speak up and request that they stop. If they choose not to comply, you are well within your rights to impose a reasonable consequence.

Providing two diametrically opposed answers may sound like a contradiction. However let me reassure you that it is not. Both answers actually address the self – the only person we are responsible for and the only one we have the ability and right to change. It is imperative that we always monitor ourselves and our behaviors. In that way, others won’t consider us the annoying person they have to deal with.

1Corinthians: “Let all that you do be done in love.”

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