Event Recap: The 8th Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar!

 Photo by Stephanie Mei-Ling.

Photo by Stephanie Mei-Ling.

New Yorkers kicked off the holiday season with festive holiday punches and cocktails on November 18 at Astor Center

Guests were treated to endless ladles of spiced punch and whimsical wintry ballerinas amid a cozy rustic scene at The Dizzy Fizz's 8th Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar. The sold-out event featured 25+ holiday punches and cocktails made by some of NYC's best bartenders. In advance of the busy season of entertaining, guests were inspired by concoctions such as the Rum and Raisin (Diplomatico Rum, fig preserve, lemon juice, and agave nectar), Chronic Munrosis No. 3 (served warm with Hendrick's Gin, apple juice, Mandarin juice, Rooibos tea, hibiscus syrup, and lemon juice), and the Spiced Old Fashioned (Westward American Single Malt, spiced demerara sugar, and orange oil). All of the recipes from the event can be found at holidayspiritsbazaar.com/recipes.

As guests sipped their way through the holiday libations, they used text-to-vote technology to select a People's Choice winner. Eric Ribeiro's Northern Spice Cider featuring Crown Royal (recipe below) took home the trophy and the ultimate bragging rights.

Masked ballerinas from Shien Artists delighted the crowd throughout the evening, while DJ Tomas Delos Reyes kept the vibe upbeat. VIP guests enjoyed an early oyster hour featuring Bluepoint Oysters catered by Eddie's Oysters, and all guests enjoyed an array of cheese and charcuterie from Stinky Brooklyn. The merry-making took place between two themed rooms—a Fireplace Tavern and a Sparkling Spirited Parlor.

As is tradition every year, a portion of ticket proceeds benefits Children’s Aid Society, a non-profit supporting some of NYC’s neediest children.

Exhibitors included: Westward Whiskey, Casa Magdalena Rum, Krogstad Aquavit, Four Roses Bourbon, Rhum Clement, Hendrick’s Gin, Reyka Vodka, Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky, Crown Royal, Don Papa Rum, Malfy Gin, Diplomatico Rum, Amaro Lucano, Monkey Shoulder Whisky, Drambuie, Chairman’s Reserve Rum, Poland Select Wodka, Montanaro, Spytail Rum, Black Button Apple Pie Moonshine, and non-alcoholic drinks by Curious Elixirs.


People's Choice Winner:

 Photo by Stephanie Mei-Ling.

Photo by Stephanie Mei-Ling.

Northern Spice Cider
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye  
Union Mezcal  
Chai ginger cordial
Lemon juice
Pom Wonderful
Apple cider

wintry_ballerinas.jpg

A special thanks to my husband, Damien Good, event assistant Dani Shanberg and team, and digital partners Pulsd and Google.

Dizzy Recap: The 7th Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar!

 Sleigh Bells Punch. Photo by Clay Williams.

Sleigh Bells Punch. Photo by Clay Williams.

More than 500 New Yorkers kicked off the holiday season with festive holiday punches and cocktails on November 19 at Astor Center

More than 500 imbibers joined New York's annual celebration of wintry cocktailing at the 7th Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar. The sold-out event featured 25+ holiday punches and cocktails made by some of NYC's best bartenders.

Perhaps sensing the impending winter chill, hot drinks were popular this year, such as the Merry Mulled Punch (Drambuie, red wine, honey, peppermint tea, citrus, and spices), Rosy Cheeks (Owl's Brew Mulling Spices and Deadwood Bourbon), and the Big Apple Cider (Indigenous Apple Vodka, spiced apple cider, maple syrup, Bitter Frost Basement Bitters, and cinnamon whipped cream). Agave spirits found themselves mixed into eggnogs, such as the La Loba's Rompope (Montelobos Mezcal, Ancho Reyes, almond milk holiday nog and spices), and A Crafted Eggnog (Blue Nectar Tequila Reposado "Special Craft," Ronnybrook Farms eggnog, vanilla, and spices). Be sure to check out all of the punch recipes at holidayspiritsbazaar.com/recipes so you can make them at home.

As guests sipped their way through the holiday libations, they used text-to-vote technology to pick a People’s Choice winner. Kelvin Uffre's Arak My World featuring Domaine des Tourelles Arak Brun (scroll down for the full recipe) took home the trophy as well as a $200 gift card courtesy of the NightOwl Nightlife App. 

Spirits writer Robert Simonson of The New York Times signed copies of his latest book, A Proper Drink, while guests circulated between two themed areas—a Winter Whiskey Tavern and a Sparkling Spirited Parlor. VIPs enjoyed an oyster bar featuring Bluepoint oysters, and all guests nibbled on an endless spread of artisanal cheese and charcuterie from Stinky Brooklyn. DJ Tomas Delos Reyes got the spirited crowd on their feet all through the night.

As is tradition every year, a portion of proceeds benefitted Children’s Aid Society, a non-profit supporting some of NYC’s neediest children. 

Exhibitors included: Westward Whiskey, Don Q Rum, Aviation Gin, Krogstad Aquavit, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur, Four Roses Bourbon, Rhum Clement, Montelobos Mezcal, Reyka Vodka, Blue Nectar Tequila, Half Moon Orchard Gin, Usquaebach Blended Scotch Whisky, Diplomatico Rum, Amaro Lucano, Domaine des Tourelles Arak Brun, Hudson Whiskey, Indigenous Vodka, Drambuie, Montanya Distillers Platino Rum, Delord Blanche d'Armagnac, Deadwood Whiskey, Owl's Brew, and more.

Event photography by Clay Williams. For more photos, please visit The Dizzy Fizz's Facebook page.

 Photo by Clay Williams.

Photo by Clay Williams.

 Kelvin Uffre, winner of the Punch-Off, and yours truly. Photo by Clay Wiliams.

Kelvin Uffre, winner of the Punch-Off, and yours truly. Photo by Clay Wiliams.

 Arak My World, winner of the Punch-Off. Photo by Clay Williams.

Arak My World, winner of the Punch-Off. Photo by Clay Williams.

 Spirited guests Nicole and Joe Desmond. Photo by Clay Williams.

Spirited guests Nicole and Joe Desmond. Photo by Clay Williams.

 Brian Quinn of Taste Talks and author Robert Simonson. Photo by Clay Williams.

Brian Quinn of Taste Talks and author Robert Simonson. Photo by Clay Williams.

 Photo by Clay Williams.

Photo by Clay Williams.

Arak My World
By Kelvin Uffre

750 ml Domaine des Tourelles Arak Brun
1 Liter Drapo Vermouth Bianco
500 ml Hidalgo-La Gitana Manzanilla "La Gitana" Sherry
6 oz Letherbee Besk
Meyer lemon juice
Grapefruit juice
Ylang ylang infused water
Toasted vanilla, mace and cardamom
Zest of pomelo fruits and Meyer lemons
32 oz granulated white sugar

Toast vanilla, mace and cardamom at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or until room is consumed in the aroma. Stir occasionally to avoid burning cardamom and mace. Once roasted, let rest. Add toasted botanicals and spices to spirits batch.

Zest 5 Pomelo fruits and 33 Meyer lemons with microplane, zest gently to avoid bitter pith.  Add granulated white sugar to citrus zest and mix with love until the mixture has homogenized. Juice the 33 zested Meyer lemons and juice 4 grapefruits. Combine both juices with sugar mixture then combine with spirits mixture. Macerate for 24 hours then strain mixture. Add ylang ylang water (1 drop of ylang ylang essence per 1 gallon of water) diluting punch to taste. A good measure is 2 parts punch mixture to 1 part ylang ylang water. Serve over ice and garnish with sunflower petals and milk thistle.


A special thanks to my husband Damien Good, event assistants Adam Albert and Emily Elliott, as well as digital partners Pulsd, Nightowl Nightlife App, and Lyft. 

The 5th Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar Kicks Off the Season of Revelry with a Punch-Off!

A toast to punch, and to victory! Photos by Clay Williams. More than 700 thirsty New Yorkers recently cozied up to ring in the season of merrymaking at the 5th Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar, a raucous, sold-out affair held at the Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn on November 22, 2014. Approximately 20 of the best bartenders in NYC competed for the title of top holiday punch, with tastings and festivities split over two floors of rustic gallery space: a Winter Whiskey Tavern kept guests buzzing on the first floor, while a Sparkling Spirited Parlor hosted a glittering scene on the third floor. Plaza Hotel bartender James Menite, representing the Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky, took home the First Place Punch trophy with the "Gloag's Traditional Scottish Holiday Punch" (recipe below) featuring a bewitching concoction of whisky, gin, Scottish tea, and blood orange juice. The esteemed judging panel included David Wondrich, cocktail historian and author; Lynnette Marrero, star bartender and co-founder of Speed Rack; and Leo DeGroff, cocktail consultant and educator. Additionally, Jack Mulhern, representing Calvados Boulard, won the People's Choice vote for the "Calvados Cider Punch," (recipe below) featuring the French apple brandy mixed with both hard and fresh apple ciders as well as ginger beer.

Yours truly, Lynnette Marrero, James Menite, David Wondrich, and Leo DeGroff (L-R).

Not only were guests inspired to create seasonal sips for their own holiday parties, but the addition this year of a Cocktail Lovers' Pop-Up Shop gave them the opportunity to get a head start on gift-giving. Purveyors included Cocktail Kingdom's high end bar tools, Owl's Brew tea mixers, Tipsy Scoop booze-infused ice creams, Royal Rose flavored simple syrups, cocktail-flavored artisanal chocolates by Cesar Christian Ramirez, homemade pies and cheesecake by Brooklyn Baked and Fried, and Bloody Mary mix and crunchy pickles by McClure's Pickles. VIP hour guests were treated with an open oyster bar featuring Blue Island Oysters served by master shucker Eddie Oysters, and for the main event, guests were served artisanal cheese from Stinky Bklyn, rustic bread by Scratchbread, roasted veggies from 61 Local, Perrier Sparkling Water, and even holiday-themed Tic Tacs for the trip home.

A portion of ticket proceeds benefits Children's Aid Society and guests also brought dozens of toys for Toys for Tots and non-perishable food for Food Bank NYC.

Sponsors included: Bulleit Bourbon, Don Q Rum, Lillet, Death’s Door Gin and Vodka, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur, Four Roses Bourbon, Rum Diplomatico, G’Vine Gin, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, Angel’s Envy Bourbon, Famous Grouse Scotch, Montelobos Mezcal, Half Moon Orchard Gin, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, George Dickel Tennessee Whisky, Molinari Sambuca, Tap Whisky, The Irishman Whiskey, Aviation Gin, Indigenous Vodka, Redemption Rye, Excellia Tequila, Fernet Branca, Carpano Antica, Suze Liqueur, Boulard Calvados, Ruffino Prosecco, and Perrier Sparkling Water.

For the full list of recipes from the event and more information, please visit holidayspiritsbazaar.com. For additional photos, please check out The Dizzy Fizz's Facebook page.

Gloag's Traditional Scottish Holiday Punch By James Menite 1.5 oz Black Grouse Blended Scotch Whiskey .5 oz Edinburgh Scottish Gin .75 oz blood orange juice .5 oz Scottish tea Grated lemon zest 2 blood orange slices Freshly grated nutmeg 1 dash Scrappy's Cardamom Bitters Topped with Fever Tree Bitter Lemon Served in Traditional Punch Glass

Calvados Cider Punch (Recipe serves 15-20) 1 1/2 cups Boulard Calvados 8 cups apple cider 1 750-ml-bottle of dry hard cider 3 12-oz-bottles of ginger beer Juice of one lemon Several dashes orange bitters orange sliced into rounds and cinnamon sticks for garnish

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

Special thanks to my husband, Damien Good, event assistant Adam Albert, my hardworking staff, The Invisible Dog team, and media partners Urban Daddy, Pulsd, and Shakestir.com.

Happy holidays everyone!

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Dizzy Recap: Anchor Distilling Whisky Tasting

From guest blogger Carmen Operetta:

It’s that time of year again when it gets cooler as the wintery months approach--the perfect time to wrap ourselves in the warmth of the dram. Recently, I had the honor to attend an Anchor Distilling whisky portfolio tasting that my dear friend and colleague Mrs. Selena Ricks-Good invited me to experience. I am guest writing this article for The Dizzy Fizz, because I guess my pal thinks I know a thing or two about whisky and will gladly share it with the Dizzy Fizz audience.

The whisky pairing dinner was held at St. Andrews restaurant, where I chose the haggis with neeps and tatties to start and then I moved on to the grilled New Zealand rack of lamb as the main course. To finish off this proper Scottish meal, I enjoyed the St. Andrews Cranachan, which is a tasty dessert oatmeal made with whisky, raspberries, Scottish heather honey and double cream. Now that’s what I call dessert--or maybe breakfast!

Three flights were presented by Euan Shand (Duncan Taylor), Allistair Walker (BenRiach/GlenDronach Distillery) and Ranald Watson (Springbank/Longrow/Kilkerran Distillers). The flight selection was created by Steve Fox, the category director at Anchor Distilling Co.

Now sit back and take a look at some fantastic whiskies that I think you should add to your collection and/or enjoy this season:

Flight 1:

Kilkerran 7 year old, Glengyle distillery Color: light-medium golden honey Nose: citrus and sweet spice with  lingering sweet toffee Palate: salty sweet vanilla

Linkwood 19 year old Cask #10221, Duncan Taylor Color: vibrant light honey Nose: woody with a light aroma of plums Palate: dark chocolate and raspberries with a light honey sweetness finishing it off. *A  top pick

Springbank 12 year old cask strength Color: rich medium-dark brown Nose: wet grass and wood, a touch of peat smoke, sweet butterscotch Palate: powerful sweet spices, sea spray, chocolate, with a silky texture

Note: I added a few drops of water and experienced a beautiful bouquet of roses on the nose.

Lonach Glendarroch 1966 42 year old Color: medium brown Nose: soft, supple, and creamy Palate: cream brulee, apples, pears, and bananas

Note: A few words on this special dram: Lonach in gaeilc means “gathering.” Every year, the Strathdon area in the Highlands of Scotland is home to a clan gathering, normally held the last week of August. * A top pick

Flight 2:

Springbank 14 year old Manzanilla Cask #305 Color: beautiful dark cherry Nose: honey, raisins, sweet, buttery, brown sugar, and dry Palate: oaky, dry, and floral

Note: This is a very complex whisky that is exclusively created for the USA. It is distilled 2 ½ times.

Black Bull 12 year old Color: dark golden brown Nose: spicy with burnt sugar Palate: rich, slightly hot, and sweet

Note: This is the first ever 100% proof blend, which consists of 50% malted barley and 50% grain.

GlenDronach 15 year old Color: dark rich brown Nose: big sherry and sweet Palate: melon, moderately hot, with vanilla

Note: I like to add a few drops of water to this dram. A lavish honeycomb sweetness shines through!

GlenDronach 1995 Pedro Ximenez Color: golden honey comb Nose: vanilla bean and molasses Palate: dates, raisins, and oranges

Flight 3:

BenRiach Curiositas Single Malt 10 year old Color: light golden brown Nose: grassy, peat smoke, and salty Palate:peaty, mixed nuts and fruits, oak, and wood

Note: The first 6 weeks of production at BenRiach are strictly for peated production and the average age in this 10 year is 16 years old. *A top pick

BenRiach 1995 Pedro Ximenez 15 year old Cask #7165 Color: light-medium rich brown Nose: light smoke and citrus Palate: spicy, lemon, and tropical fruits *A top pick

Duncan Taylor NC2 1997 Bunnahabhain 12 year old peated Color: medium- dark brown Nose: bacon, butter, oranges, and leather Palate: meaty, jammy, fruity, oily

Note: NC2 means non-chill filtered and this sophisticated dram has 40 ppm *A top pick

Longrow CV Color: light brown Nose: sweet honey, brine, and peat Palate: lemon, spice, sweet, oak, bark, ginger

Note: This dram has been matured in multiple casks and has the average of about 6, 10, and 14 years in this beauty.

Carmen Operetta is the CEO/Founder/Writer of Planet Operetta Productions, a primarily whisky-based production company which consults, presents events/seminars, and creates programming for the whisky category. She is currently researching whisky between NYC and the UK in order to distill the first American Scottish style whisky.

Dizzy Recap: Macchu Pisco Nusta Pisco Tasting

From guest blogger Stephanie Moreno:

I was recently invited to a tasting highlighting piscos from the Peruvian company, Macchu Pisco at Richard Sandoval’s restaurant, Zengo in New York City.  The occasion was to showcase a special pisco called Nusta Pisco.  The special menu was entitled “Lima to Tokyo,” a menu combining Japanese and Peruvian cuisines which was both complex and focused at the same time. By the end of the evening, we had tasted three piscos neat and several cocktails made with ingredients such as sake, rum and Japanese whisky.

As my expertise is more on fermented and distilled products, I’ll turn my attention to the pisco.  As a distillate from fruit, grapes in this case, pisco is a brandy.  I am not going to get into the Chile vs. Peru debate regarding whose pisco reigns supreme, but for those of you who know me, you can probably guess my preference. What I find most impressive about Peruvian pisco is, on top of not being allowed to age in barrel, it must be distilled to proof.  This means no water can be added to bring it down.  What you distill is what you get.

Peruvian Pisco 101:  Ok, so it’s distilled from wine made from grapes.  What grapes are we talking about here? There are eight varietals which can be used:  Quebranta, Negra Criolla, Mollar, Italia, Muscat, Albilla, Torontel and Uvina.  There are also four different styles:  Acholado (literally meaning half breed, but we can remember this as a mixture), Aromatics (as the name suggests it's a style intensely aromatic with a grapey profile), Puro (a single varietal most typically made using the Querbranta grape or another non-aromatic), Green Must aka Mosto Verde (the must or grape juice is not fully fermented).

Macchu Pisco’s namesake pisco is a Puro produced using the non-aromatic Quebranta grape. I find the nose to be very subtle with fresh green grape skin aromas along with a touch of an earthy minerality.  Their La Diablada Pisco is produced in an Acholado style from Quebranta, Muscat and Italia.  This is a mix of aromatic and non aromatic varietals and creates an intense grapey fragrance with a slightly slick mouth feel.  I also got a taste memory of red hot cinnamon candies upon exhalation, so the name, La Diablada, fits.

We tasted those two piscos neat to kick off our dinner.  Our dessert was their latest product called Nusta Pisco, which is produced in a Mosto Verde style. This can be produced from a variety of grapes, but they have chosen to only use the aromatic Italia grape.  In this style, the fermentation is stopped leaving sugars that have not been converted to alcohol.  Despite this, it is still bottled at 80 proof.  What I found in the glass was an orange and grape profile with a touch of green herbaceousness playing along.

Unfortunately, unless you are willing to rack up some air miles by taking a trip to the UK, you won’t be able to taste this rare product--for the foreseeable future, the Nusta Pisco is not being released in the US.  Only 100 bottles are produced each year, retailing for $100 each.

Dizzy Recap: Kahlua Cinnamon Spice Launch

When a major spirits company launches a new product, the event is usually a flashy affair featuring an exclusive Manhattan locale and maybe even DJs, models and B-list celebrities. To introduce Kahlua Cinnamon Spice Liqueur, a blend of rum, arabica coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo (a traditional Mexican spice), I was invited on a press trip to the Hudson Valley for apple picking and an autumn-inspired dinner at the scenic Bedford Post Inn. Let me tell you, this was a brilliant way to get NYC writers' attention--pull us out of the cold gray city and bus us an hour north where fresh air, foliage and seasonal scents awaited us. LUPEC NYC president and mixology maven Lynnette Marrero whipped up the cocktails for the evening (recipes below), highlighting the liqueur's surprising versatility by using aquavit, Cognac and tequila as base ingredients.

Durango Royale 3/4 oz. Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice 1 oz. aquavit 1/2 oz. lemon juice

Top with dry french fermented sparkling apple cider (Cidre Doux Eric bordelet). In a shaker, add all ingredients except sparkling cider.  Strain into a flute and top with dry fermented cider.

Zócalo Sidra (cider) 1 oz. Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice 3/4 oz. lemon juice 1 1/2 oz. Martell VS Cognac 2 barspoons apple butter 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Place all ingredients in a shaker. Shake and strain into a couple glass and garnish with cinnamon stick

Montanya Mermalada 1 oz. Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice 1 oz. Avión Tequila Blanco 1 oz. lemon juice 6-8 concord grapes

Muddle Grapes. Add rest of the ingredients. Shake and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.

Dizzy Recap: Blogger Brunch at Yotel

Since the summer weather doesn't appear to be fading anytime soon, you still have time to soak up the rooftop brunch experience at Yotel New York, where The Dizzy Fizz hosted an end-of-summer Blogger Brunch last month. Each weekend, the indoor/outdoor Terrace restaurant on the ultra-modern hotel's fourth floor offers a $35 all-you-can-eat-and-drink two-hour special--essentially, a boozy feast worthy of epic brunching. The Asian- inspired tapas menu by chef Richard Sandoval offers a refreshing take on brunch standards such as bacon fried rice with kimchi and fried egg, fruit and granola with yuzu yogurt and grilled salmon with achiote ponzu, spinach and bacon. Order as many small plates as you want during the two-hour time frame, but take note that if you arrive during peak brunch hours, you may have to order a bunch of dishes at once in order to get your fill in time.

While writers from outlets such as Socially Superlative, The Skinny Pig, Mouth of the Border, The Wandering Foodie and more sipped carafes full of peach and bourbon punch and passion plantation punch, other brunch cocktails include the lychee bellini, mango mimosa and bacon bloody mary.

Although the brouhaha of Times Square is just a few steps away, Yotel's spacious rooftop has a zen-like quality with its white and purple foam furniture, bamboo trees and cabanas, while still offering Midtown skyline views. For those times when you find yourself in the no man's land of Times Square West/Hell's Kitchen, the scene at Yotel is a definite must-visit for any discerning drinker or diner. Brunch on!

Yotel is located at 570 10th Ave. at 42nd Street. 646-449-7790.

Dizzy Recap: Bols Barrel Aged Genever Preview

From guest blogger Stephanie Moreno:

“Genever needs to be courted.”  --Gaz Regan

On a recent rainy, chilly August afternoon, an invitation to a dark, cozy lounge seemed a perfect idea. I was further enticed with the promise of a sneak peek of the new Bols Barrel Aged Genever to be released in September (and expected to retail for about $50).  Held at NoHo’s The Vault at Pfaff’s bar, invited guests were given an opportunity to meet and listen to Piet Van Leijenhorst, Bols’ Master Distiller.  Frank Cisneros, their Brand Ambassador, was on hand to shake and stir cocktails, and I couldn’t wait to learn (and taste) it all.

As we waited for the presentation to begin, we were given an “aperitif” so to speak:  a Genever Collins cocktail.  I loved the bright and sunny lemon drink as it was such a stark difference from the wet and rainy day.  The Genever’s weight added a nice richness with a touch of sweetness that balanced the acidity of the drink.

Subsequently, Van Leijenhorst began his discussion of the product he clearly is proud to make.  He discussed his desire for Americans to think not think of Genever as a gin, but rather more like a whiskey.  He then explained how their Genever is made, and so shall I:

Genever technically is a type of gin, but to all intents and purposes, it is best to think of Genever as its own category.  In fact, in 2007, it was given protected spirit status like Cognac. There are a few types of Genevers out there, but let’s just talk about two:  Oude (old) and Jonge (young). These are types that do not refer to the Genever’s time aging, but rather the amount of “malt wine” that is used in its production. Oude has to use at least 15% malt wine, Jonge is less than 15%. It is easy to remember in the sense of old vs. new school methods.  In Bols' case, they use over 50%.  But, what is this malt wine?

According to Van Leijenhorst, it is a “critical thing” and “the overwhelming taste comes from the malt wine.”  It consists of rye, wheat and corn that is triple-distilled (once in column and twice in pot stills) and then allowed to marry for six to eight weeks. The juniper and other botanical distillates (which include hops, anise, cinnamon and ginger root, among others) are then added to the malt wine.  This is then aged for at least 18 months in new and used Limousin oak barrels.

As the education continued, we were given the Aged Barrel Genever neat in an Old Fashioned glass, sans ice. Upon nosing the spirit, I found subtle wood spices from the wood aging with the tasting profile leading to a lush and spicy sip.  Notes of juniper, vanilla, pine, mint and cinnamon were some of what I discovered.  Variations of the classic cocktails the Manhattan and the Mint Julep were served to highlight the idea that Genever can be a substitute for American whiskey. I do agree with this sentiment, but as lovely as the cocktails that Frank made for us were, my favorite “cocktail” was just slowly sipping the Genever neat, room temperature.  My hope is that whether you are a gin lover or a whiskey lover, you ease into a relationship with Genever. As Gaz Regan said, Genever “…deserves to be courted and loved for its very distinctive personality.”  Hear, hear, sir!

Stephanie Moreno is a professional spirits taster and can be found on Twitter @brooklynwino.

Dizzy Recap: Tales of the Cocktail 2011 Part 3

From guest blogger Emily Cavalier: I'm back with my final recap of Tales 2011. Thanks for spending time with me here on The Dizzy Fizz. I hope to spend more time with you, whether it be here, on one of my sites or over cocktails.

Saturday, Saaaaturday Saturday! Saturday! Oh yeah. Let's just say we didn't get a ton of sleep on Friday night. We were out all hours and I really would not have gotten out of bed for anyone but Melanie and Lizzie da Trindade Asher of Macchu Pisco and La Diablada Pisco.

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I went to their tasting Tasting Room for a traditional Peruvian breakfast and a pisco blending session, where we received vials of the different grape essences that make up the La Diablada blend. La Diablada is the higher-end sister to Macchu Pisco, and just 1,000 bottles are produced each year. Each vintage is a slightly different blend, and the pisco is one of the smoothest I've ever tasted (and I've tasted many). With a deconstructed La Diablada in front of me, I set out to create my own version of "the spicyness of the devil and the sweetness of the angel."

Bartenders John Hogan of Level Restaurant (Annapolis), Kevin Martin of Eastern Standard (Boston), Brother Cleve of Think Tank (Cambridge, Mass.), Rachel Sergi of Jack Rose (DC) and Lizzy Asher (representing her favorite cocktail from Eleven Madison Park in NYC) all presented a cocktail made with one specific varietal, with wonderful results.

I had two favorites. La Diablada Pisco Punch Fizz (made by Hogan) was amazing with fresh pineapples, torrontes white wine that had been carbonated, Barkeep Lavender Bitters, lime, simple and egg white. The second was The Panamericano from Eleven Madison Park. It was like a white Negroni with equal parts La Diablada Pisco, Cocchi Americano and Dolin Blanc.

It was a blast playing with proportions of Quebranta, Italia, Torontel and Moscotel grape brandies until I got my perfect mix. This was also the most entertaining of the daytime events I attended at Tales, as the participating bartenders were all dressed to represent the personality (metrosexual, dandy, macho, coquettish or sophisticated) of the grape they were mixing with. Brother Cleve playing the part of Macho Man in an El Luchador mask made my day.

I made a quick stop at the Grey Goose relaxation suite at Le Foret for a quick massage and some fresh fruit. After that, it was off to what was probably my favorite event of this year's Tales: Pig & Punch.

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The Pig & Punch fundraiser was hosted by San Francisco bartenders The Bon Vivants again at Washington Square Park. I missed out on the awesome Pig & Punch logo t-shirts last year, so I made a beeline over to the table this time around and bought two (since it was a fundraiser and all).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP9Q1k0mt-0&w=425&h=349]

The otherwise free outdoor pig roast boasted the Young Fellaz Brass Band and the same delicious spit-roasted pigs from Cochon as last year, as well as panzanella, cucumber salad and slaw. I was blown away by the quality of this year's barrels of delicious punch, which included variations made with Don Q Anejo, The King's Ginger, 42 Below, Combier, and loads of fresh fruit. There were Death's Door vodka lime slushies and a Don Q watermelon contraption. My favorite taste at the pig roast was a shot of Templeton Rye paired with a Templeton-cured, grilled sausage sandwich. But I can't forget the delicious Tenneyson Absinthe brownie. YUM!

2011 Spirited Awards: The Dizzy Fizz's (and my) home city of NYC cleaned up the Spirited Awards once again this year, which was held at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. We took home seven accolades. Here are the highlights:

2011 Cocktail Apprentices on stage.

Employees Only took home two honors for World’s Best Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Drinks Selection. Not bad. Kenta Goto (Pegu Club) and Sam Ross (Milk & Honey), tied for American Bartender of the Year award. Audrey Saunders (who we'll claim due to Pegu Club, though she's now bicoastal) won Best Bar Mentor. Dizzy Fizz friend David Wondrich walked away with Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book for Punch. Eleven Madison Park earned Best Restaurant Bar.

Congrats to Rickhouse in San Francisco for winning the category for Best High-Volume Cocktail Bar. I was there in June and can vouch for the fact that they've earned it. I think Clyde Common (Portland, OR), should have won for Best Hotel Bar, but what do I know? Maybe in future years, I'll get to judge!

Scroll to the end to see the full list of 2011 Spirited Awards nominees with winners in bold.

The rest of Tales is a blur. I did head to the Plymouth Gin Bartender's Breakfast. The downside to the party is that it was a madhouse to get in if you didn't have a special medallion, to the point where they weren't even letting in people working the party unless they could find someone to escort them in. The upside is that, once inside, I was treated to some of the best bar bites of the week as well as delectable cocktails like the "Coke Den Punch" created by The Florida Room, with mezcal, cucumber juice, apple cider and Plymouth Gin.

Audrey Saunders and Robert Hess wed at Plymouth Bartender's Breakfast

Had I paid more attention to the inscription on my commemorative Julep glass, perhaps I would have known what surprise was in store for us. But it was too dark, and I was too hazy to read the writing which says, "Congratulations Audrey & Robert." Yes, if you haven't yet heard, Audrey Saunders got married to her sweetheart and fellow cocktail giant Robert Hess (of DrinkBoy.Com). I saw it. It was lovely. And then we all danced.

I continued the tradition Selena, Carmen and I started last year, by ending the night with a dip in the pool at a secret location, as guests of Spirited Award Nominee Colin Asare-Appiah (nominated for Best American Brand Ambassador with U’luvka Vodka). The three of us hosted a little gathering of those still standing. Pizza was hand-delivered to me in the pool. People drank while they floated. I'd show you a picture, but it was a No Picture Party. Make sure you stay in touch with us if you want an invite next year.

With friends at the Milagro Closing Pool Party

Sunday started out with the closing party on the rooftop at Monteleone. I was afraid the rain would keep people from having fun in the pool, but with all the delicious Milagro cocktails flowing, I shouldn't have fretted. There were all sorts of treats, but the Milagro sno-cones might have been my favorite tipple of the bash. I was on the sidelines staying dry, so I had a low-key come down.

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If you were anywhere on the perimeter of the pool, though, it didn't matter if you had an iPhone or money or a camera in your pocket. You were getting pulled in. Even Milagro's own brand ambassador Jamie Salas wasn't safe.

Carmen Operetta, Arik Torren, Trevor Schneider, John Pomeroy and Enzo Lim in the Rematch madness.

After sobering up with an oyster po' boy at Acme Oyster Bar and a nap, I headed over to Rematch, Beyatch!!! at Cure as if I needed more booze that night. I'm not sure what one would expect when getting some of the country's top TOP bartenders together for a speed competition involving craft cocktails, but ... it was a ish-show, and I'm tired again just THINKING about it, so read all about it and see some pictures here.

So that about does it for the tales of Tales. Missing from the story are specs for the best drinks of the week, more great photos and all the great southern meals shared with friends. For that and more, check out my photos on Flickr (booze here, food here) and stay tuned next week to Mouth of the Border. Until next Tales, if you can't be good, be careful!

Emily Cavalier is the founder of Mouth of the Border, an online community for lovers of ethnic food and culture in New York City. She’s also the hostess, founder and resident cocktail geek at Midnight Brunch supper club. In addition to food and beverage writing, Emily consults on event and digital media strategy with food and media brands like Conde Nast, The Vendy Awards and Google.

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2011 Spirited Award Nominees (Winners in bold)

American Bartender of the Year Eric Alperin, Los Angeles, California Kenta Goto, New York City, New York (tie) Misty Kalkofen, Boston, Massachusetts Sam Ross, New York City, New York (tie) Joaquin Simo, New York City, New York

Best American Brand Ambassador Colin Asare-Appiah, U’luvka Vodka Jacques Bezuidenhout, Partida Tequila Jamie Gordon, Absolut Vodka Jim Ryan, Hendrick’s Gin

Best American Cocktail Bar Clover Club, New York City, New York Drink, Boston, Massachusetts Employees Only, New York City, New York The Varnish, Los Angeles, California

Best Bar Mentor Wayne Collins, London, England Steve Olson, New York City, New York Audrey Saunders, New York City, New York Dushan Zaric, New York City, New York

Best High Volume Cocktail Bar Eastern Standard, Boston, Massachusetts Flatiron Lounge, New York City, New York Florida Room, Miami, Florida Rickhouse, San Francisco, California

Best Cocktail Writing – Non Book BarLifeUK.com Imbibe USA Liquor.com The Tasting Panel Best Cocktail Writing – Author Toby Cecchini, New York City, New York Camper English, San Francisco, California Darcy O’Neil, London, Ontario Naren Young, New York City, New York

Best International Brand Ambassador Ian Burrell Claire Smith, Belvedere Vodka Dan Warner, Beefeater Gin Angus Winchester, Tanqueray Gin

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book Fix the Pumps by Darcy O’Neill Left Coast Libations by Ted Munat & Michael Lazar Punch by David Wondrich Speakeasy by Dushan Zaric and Jay Kosmas

Best New Product Banks Rum Cocchi Americano Smith & Cross Rum Tequila Calle 23

Best Restaurant Bar The Drawing Room, Chicago, Illinois Eleven Madison Park, New York City, New York Hawksmoor Seven Dials, London, England Hix, London, England

International Bartender of the Year Erik Lorincz, London, England Dre Masso, London, England Sam Ross, New York City, New York Dushan Zaric, New York City, New York

World’s Best Cocktail Bar 69 Colebrooke Row, London, England Dry Martini, Barcelona, Spain Employees Only, New York City, New York High Five, Tokyo, Japan

World’s Best Cocktail Menu Artesian Bar at The Langham, London, England Eau de Vie, Sydney, Australia Mayahuel, New York City, New York Sanctuaria, St. Louis, Missouri

World’s Best Drinks Selection Artesian Bar at The Langham, London, England Cure, New Orleans, Louisiana Eau de Vie, Sydney, Australia Employees Only, New York City, New York

World’s Best Hotel Bar Artesian Bar at The Langham, London, England Clive’s Classic Lounge at Chateau Victoria Hotel, Victoria, British Columbia Clyde Common at The Ace Hotel, Portland, Oregon The Savoy, London, England

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar 1534, New York City, New York Dram, New York City, New York Eau de Vie, Sydney, Australia Painkiller, New York City, New York

Dizzy Recap: Tales of the Cocktail 2011, Part 2

Old Campari Ad From guest blogger Emily Cavalier:

Read Part One here. We'll open up Part Two of "All the Tales Fun That's Fit To Print" with my profession of undying love for the Negroni (even when frozen). The only seminar I squeezed into my Tales schedule was "The Negroni: an Iconic Cocktail."

The panel was moderated by cocktail journo Paul Clarke. He was joined by USBG Past President Livio Lauro (currently with Southern Wine & Spirits Nevada), Kimpton Hotel Group's Master Mixologist and Partida Tequila brand ambassador, Jacques Bezuidenhout, and surprise guest, Luca Picchi, Tuscan bartender and author of Sulle Tracce del Conte: La Vera Storia del Cocktail Negroni (On the Trail of the Count, The True Story of the Negroni Cocktail). Lauro is currently working with Picchi to translate and distribute the 2006 book in English.

We sampled several variations on the Negroni theme, including a classic Florentine Negroni as well as a Negroni Swizzle from PKNY's Giuseppe Gonzales. Clarke projected images of iconic Campari advertisements from past decades throughout the panel.

Lauro made 80-100 Negronis while translating the book and said he found London dry gins and Plymouth Gin work best in the Negroni. He loves Carpano Antica for what it is, but, in the context of this cocktail, it has a tendency to take over. He prefers traditional Italian vermouth like Martini & Rossi. Bezuidenhout chimed in about the cocktail's third component, saying "Campari is not debatable." (The panel was sponsored by Bombay Gin and Campari).

I kept the Negroni theme going by popping over to the Negroni with a Twist Party at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, where the "-est" theme continued with the making of the alleged "World's Largest Negroni." (Great pics on Metromix here.) The 30-gallon cocktail was mixed with equal parts Campari, gin and vermouth in a gargantuan ice block.

Master mixologist Francesco Lafranconi presided over the "swazzy" (swank + snazzy) gathering, where a dozen Italian mixologists conjured up their own magical renditions of the classic cocktail. The men's giant moustaches made the day more entertaining.

Of the nine Negroni variations served up, my favorite version was the Garibaldino, created by none other than Lauro himself. It featured Campari (of course) along with apricot brandy, blood orange juice and Mionetto Prosecco.

Thursday evening was low-key. I swung by a pop-up cocktail hour hosted by Max Messier, formerly of No. 7 in Brooklyn and proprietor of the soon-to-open Whiskey Tango Foxtrot bar, also in Brooklyn. Messier offered cocktails built with infused booze, house vermouths and homemade syrups, which he carted to NOLA from Brooklyn in a giant cooler. Drinks featured Brooklyn Gin, Brugal Rum and Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot stealth cocktail hour

Thursday night, I skipped the awesome Spirited Dinners in favor of catching up with the men of Brooklyn Gin and a few other friends over a late dinner at Cochon. Since my last visit to the restaurant, Cochon's chef Stephen Stryjewski won the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the South and it's completely deserved.

Out at the Zu Vodka Enchanted Forest with Russell Davis of Rickhouse and Dave Shenaut of Oregon's Bartenders Guild

The night ended with a quick visit to the Bombay Sapphire party at the House of Blues and then an enchanted frolic through a magical forest on Bourbon Street. Yes, you heard me right. ZU Bison Grass Vodka teamed up with Adam Aleksander to turn the historic address into a fairy tale filled with Spanish moss and, of course, lots of cocktails.

Friday was another fun-filled day. I started out in a Tasting Room, sipping the one of finest spirits around, Pierre Ferrand's Cognac. They were sharing a preview of their 1840 Original Formula, which was just launched nationwide on Aug. 1. The classic Cognac cocktail, the Chanticleer, made for a delicious breakfast as I caught up with legend David Wondrich, who had a hand in creating the formula for the 1840.

Dave Wondrich and Pierre Ferrand President Alexandre Gabriel at the 1840 Formula Cognac Launch

With a smirk, Wondrich joked with me, "I just came in and took all the credit." Wondrich worked with Cognac Ferrand President Alexandre Gabriel and cellarmaster Christian Guerin, tasting several three-star Cognacs including the 1840. He continued, "We wanted to create something that was a mixing Cognac and we tasted so many bottles. The 1840 was the one we all agreed on."

After a boozy good morning, I headed off to eat a proper breakfast and imbibe a bit more at the Purity Vodka Bloody Mary Brunch at the Bombay Club. There, brand ambassador John Pomeroy showed us how to make our own pressure-infused cocktails from an extensive Bloody Mary bar with everything from shrimp to green beans to fresh peppercorns. The fried chicken and waffles were delicious, the tomato-infused vodka cocktail I made was indeed fresh and "pure" and the live jazz band on hand was a soothing start to the afternoon.

Wemyss Malts at the Domaine Select Classic & Vintage Suite

I stopped by for a quick visit with Ben Jones of Rhum J.M. over at the Domaine Select's Classic & Vintage suite at the Ritz-Carlton. There, I was overwhelmed by the sight of seemingly the entire Classic & Vintage portfolio set out for tastings. I settled on sipping a couple of the Wemyss malts, a sip of Averna and tasting the Excellia tequilas.

Chris Elford of Amor Y Amargo (NYC) and Clyde Davis, Jr. of Chairman's Reserve Rum at the WTF/Midnight Brunch cocktail pop-up hour

Late Friday afternoon, Messier and I got boozy again. My supper club, Midnight Brunch, teamed up with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to host another stealth cocktail popup hour to get people primed and ready for the Bar Room Brawl.

Highlights from the 2011 Brawl: Once again, bars from around the country did battle at the 2011 Bar Room Brawl. This year, it was Boston’s Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks, L.A.’s Roger Room, Portland’s Teardrop Cocktail Lounge, Chicago's Sable Kitchen & Bar and NYC’s Little Branch.

The team from Teardrop Lounge (Portland, OR) accepting People's Choice award at Bar Room Brawl

My personal favorite was Teardrop's "Latin Quarter" cocktail with Hennessy and house made Amer Picon. The people's choice award was a three-way tie between L.A., Portland and Chicago. Teardrop didn't take the big cheese, but congrats to Eastern Standard for taking the night's title, and to Boston for bringing home the Brawl bacon for the second year in a row.

As is our way, friends and I ended the night at Old Absinthe House again, blurry but determined to do it all over again on Saturday.

With friends at Old Absinthe House

Stay tuned for my final Tales recap, with tasting notes from the La Diablada Pisco blending session, tidbits from Pig & Punch, The Spirited Awards and what you missed if you left on Sunday before the fun began ...

Emily Cavalier is the founder of Mouth of the Border, an online community for lovers of ethnic food and culture in New York City. She’s also the hostess, founder and resident cocktail geek at Midnight Brunch supper club. In addition to food and beverage writing, Emily consults on event and digital media strategy with food and media brands like Conde Nast, The Vendy Awards and Google.

Dizzy Recap: Tales of the Cocktail 2011, Part 1

Zacapa Rum Hurricanes From guest blogger Emily Cavalier:

I'm back and only halfway (mentally) recovered from my second Tales of the Cocktail, which celebrated its ninth anniversary in New Orleans this year. The resounding opinion this year was that it was not quite as fun as last year's Tales, and everyone agrees it's because Selena was not there. We're already training our livers for her return in 2012.

Between parties, seminars and tasting rooms, there are too many highlights for one post. Here's Part One of All the Fun That's Fit to Print (or that I can remember):

Grey Goose Inspire: I hopped over to Latrobe's to kick things off at this event which featured four bespoke bars piled high with fresh produce, herbs, juices, garnishes and other beacons of summer abundance. Guests collaborated with bartenders on an array of ingredients, mixers, garnishes and product to create their own cocktails. Grey Goose Brand Ambassador Nick Mautone made me a delicious cocktail with the citrus notes I picked out, and there was also a juicy watermelon libation being passed. Great way to cool off before heading out into the steamy NOLA night.

Next up was the Fancypants Party hosted by Tobin Ellis and the Social Mixology crew out of Las Vegas.

Rocky Yeh mixing up some libations

Self-professed rum nut Rocky Yeh mixed up a mighty tasty "Ants in My Pants" with Dos Maderas 5+3 with rosemary and pineapple syrup. He was kind enough to dole out some straight pours when the night started getting interesting at the event's secret venue in the French Marketplace. Also making an appearance were Trevor Schneider, fresh back to the U.S. from Australia and NYC's Enzo Lim.

On Wednesday, Tales' Official Day One, I enjoyed the Opening Toast at Hotel Monteleone where, with over 400 folks, I knocked back a “Kopstootje” (a shot of Bols Genever paired with a beer) to set the world record for the World’s Largest Kopstootje. I got a warm welcome by Brand Ambassador Tal Nadari and managed to down the shot of Bols without getting it all over myself. Great success.

Emily Cavalier & Bols Genever Brand Ambassador Tal Nadari

From there, I checked out the Tales bookstore with a couple of friends. People in all facets of the industry have been busy behind the pen as well as the stick this past year, so I picked up the fairly new title DIY Cocktails, edited by our friends over at DrinkOfTheWeek.com.

Another highlight of Day One was the Cocktail Fresh Market, which showed off cocktails made with ingredients from a local farmers market and 18 new and traditional spirits. I spied Russell Davis of San Francisco's Rickhouse mixing things up with classic Luxardo maraschino liqueur and The King's Ginger, an intense ginger liqueur and relative newcomer to the U.S. market.

After that it was rum and more rum, as I hit the Zacapa Rum Garden Party at the St. Louis Hotel and the Brugal Rum Poolside Party on the rooftop at Monteleone. Zacapa's shindig was a classy affair studded with colorful frozen cocktails and a buffet of what looked like delicious apps (got there too late to partake myself). Brugal's party featured a secret room with a private tasting nook to sample Brugal's newest release, Brugal 1888.

Brugal by the pool.

After a lovely afternoon of day drinking with friends, it was time to don my best black and white frock and head over to the Beefeater Masquerade at Gallier Hall. There were the signature giant British flags and fairytale ballerinas rolling around in super-sized transparent bubbles.

Beefeater Ballerina.

I spied Audrey Saunders and Erick Castro behind the bars before getting sidetracked by the mushroom pasta and Beefeater 24 cocktails.

I took a car with our friend Carmen Operetta from the Beefeater soiree to the National World War II Museum for the William Grant party. Just like last year, there were Sailor Jerry Rum photo backdrops and a dizzying array of drinks showing off the myriad spirits of the William Grant portfolio. The historic setting leant glamour and romance to the otherwise almost overwhelming litany of options.

In the Sailor Jerry RV with friends at the William Grant Portfolio Party

I was happiest with a drink from Julie Reiner in my hands, though it was wonderful to see Gable Erenzo (Tuthilltown) and his lovely wife dressed up in '40s character.

The highlight of the evening was probably the mashup of this year's official Tales cocktail and the "-est" theme with the "Freshest Ramos Gin Fizz," made by the Hendrick's Gin team using freshly-laid eggs, cream churned from a cow that was right there, at the party and just-picked lemons (though we didn't spy any lemon trees around).

Later that night, I found my way to ye Old Absinthe House, where I enjoyed shots of Green Chartreuse with a water back with friend Mayur Subbarao (Bittermens Spirits, Dram, Amor Y Amargo), declined more shots from Todd Richman (Sidney Frank) and said a quick hello to Arik Torren (Fidencio Mezcal).

And that's just Tuesday night & Wednesday! Stay tuned for the next wrap-up post with a recap of the Negroni workshop, Pierre Ferrand's launch of their Cognac 1840, making our own pressure-infused cocktails at the Purity Vodka Bloody Mary Brunch and highlights from the 2011 Bar Room Brawl.

Emily Cavalier is the founder of Mouth of the Border, an online community for lovers of ethnic food and culture in New York City. She’s also the hostess, founder and resident cocktail geek at Midnight Brunch supper club. In addition to food and beverage writing, Emily consults on event and digital media strategy with food and media brands like Conde Nast, The Vendy Awards and Google.

Dizzy Recap: Tonight We Tanqueray

Last week, Tanqueray Gin launched a new campaign at The Green Building in Brooklyn (the same location as last year's Holiday Spirits Bazaar) featuring an impressive celebrity roster. "Tonight We Tanqueray" is all about making the most of the first drink of the night, and grabbing it "by the junipers," so to speak. Featuring red carpet appearances by Idris Elba (Thor, The Wire), Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire), model/singer Karen Elson and singer Aloe Blacc, it was quite an exciting evening for Carroll Gardens.

The packed crowd sipped gin and tonics, French 75s, and frozen Negronis, among other cocktails mixed by bartenders from bars such as 1534, Death & Co. and Milk & Honey. Aloe Blacc performed a soulful set with a live band, debuting his single "Tonight Downtown," written especially for the Tanqueray campaign. Check out a short film from the campaign and more information at tanqueray.com.

Dizzy Recap: Bootlegger 21 Vodka's Amateur Mixology Showdown

On a stormy Saturday last month, three budding bartenders went shaker-to-shaker for the inaugural Bootlegger 21 Vodka Amateur Mixology Showdown. Held at a secret location in SoHo that was later revealed to be the former townhouse of Andy Warhol, the cocktail competition kicked off a Cotton Club-themed night of vintage cocktails, swing music, cigar smoking, poker playing, burlesque and all-around tomfoolery. The event, hosted by Adam Aleksander and Michael Arenella, celebrated the launch of Bootlegger 21 Vodka.

After announcing the contest here and narrowing down the finalists, the live showdown all came down to a people's choice vote for the winner. It was an extremely close contest--I for one was impressed with the way the finalists managed to present cocktails that were both complex and well-balanced. They also served about 200 guests without missing a beat. In the end, Veronica Criswell (check out her demo video here) edged out Tom Flaschen and Garret Richard to win first prize, netting her four tickets to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Gala. Each finalist went home with an OXO barware kit.

Watch out for these budding mixologists--they might not be amateurs for long!

First Place: Brooklyn Pearl by Veronica Criswell 1 oz. Bootlegger 21 Vodka 1 3/4 oz. Velvet Falernum 1/2 tsp rose water 1 egg white Method: Shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has been rinsed with Cointreau.

Tie for Second Place: Martinez Blanc by Tom Flaschen 2 oz. Bootlegger 21 Vodka 1/2 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth 1 tsp Maraschino liquer 2 dashes grapefruit bitters Garnish: maraschino cherry Method: Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with maraschino cherry.

Tie for Second Place: Panacea Cocktail by Garret Richard 1.5 oz Cacao-Infused Bootlegger 21 Vodka* 1 oz Tawny Port (10 yr.) .25 oz Cherry Heering .25 oz Benedictine 2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

*Rapid Cacao Infusion Add 500 ml of room temperature Bootlegger 21 Vodka to a whip cream whipper Add 75g of cacao nibs to your whip cream whipper Charge with 2 8g chargers of N20 and swirl for 30 seconds Settle mixture for 1 minute and 30 seconds Vent the excess N20, and let it settle for 1 minute Strain mixture, and bottle

 

Dizzy Recap: The French Spirits Soiree!

 

Oh mon dieu! The French Spirits Soiree went off without a hitch last week, gathering 300 guests to sample refreshing Belle Epoque-themed cocktails, punches and spirits. Astor Center was transformed to a springtime scene complete with live vintage jazz, whimsical clowns and a scandalous window-side burlesque performance! Check out the photo album by Gabi Porter on Metromix, photos by John Walder on Facebook.com/TheDizzyFizz, and recipes from the event at SpiritsSoiree.com. Some of the burlesque photos were just too hot to post, so yes--you had to be there!

Special thanks to: Damien Good, Adam Albert, Elle Dalberg, Dani Shanberg, Mark Garcia, Erica Davis, Ali Llamas, and Lionel King. Major thanks also to Jenn Smith at Astor Center and her team, the Thrillist team, the Hot Sardines, Calamity Chang, DJ Tomas Moves, Clowns About Town, street artist GILF, Scratchbread, and Murray's Cheese. For information on purchasing the artwork "Little Seismic Girl" by GILF who will be donating 100 percent of the proceeds to relief efforts in Japan, please email gilf@hushmail.com.

And of course, none of this would be possible without the support of all of the sponsors: Lillet, Tariquet Armagnac, Pernod Absinthe, Ricard Pastis, Benedictine, Cointreau®, Rémy Martin 1738® , Noilly Prat, G'Vine Gin, June Liqueur, Bonal, Dolin, and St-Germain. Merci everyone!

 

 

Dizzy Recap: ZU Vodka Cocktail Lab

By guest blogger Amanda Schuster:

ZU is a Polish brand of vodka flavored with bison grass, known as Zubrowka, that has been a national drink for centuries. It was previously banned in the US due to a blood-thinning component found in bison grass called coumarin. However, it has now been re-worked for American consumption using a blend of botanicals from the bison grass area, with a very close approximation of flavor of the real deal. A real strand of bison grass, with an allowable amount of coumarin, comes in every bottle.

The spirit has an herbaceous, citrus and marshmallow nose that has more vanilla and honeysuckle on the palate. Think gin, minus juniper. For this reason, it lends itself beautifully to a variety of cocktails from deep, dark bitter to light fruit.

Recently, ZU held a Cocktail Lab at Astor Center to celebrate its launch to the New York market. Guests were greeted with a ZU toddy before brand ambassador Daniel Undhammar gave us a short presentation on Poland and Polish culture. Then he got into the booze mixing, demonstrating two cocktails, one was an Aviator spinoff and the other was fresh grapefruit juice-based, before it was time for the rest of us to play. There was quite the bounty to choose from: tables piled crazy high with a variety of fresh fruits, botanicals and spices and others stocked with a dream bar of liqueurs, vermouths and bitters.

With so much to choose from, it was a bit daunting at first, especially with the level of professionals surrounding me, but I decided to go with a light vs. dark tactic to test the versatility of the spirits. I made what I am calling "The Gypsy ZU Twinkle." It’s kind of a Negroni riff with ZU, Amaro, Punt e Mes, Campari and Bittermen’s Burlesque bitters (hence the “gypsy”) with an orange twist. The Amaro brought out the nutty flavors of ZU, while the Campari and bitters added some spicy zing. This Frankensteined concoction was alive, alive!

Since there was fresh lavender on the offer I decided to take advantage of it, and using my internal slot machine of flavor matching, went for fresh blackberries (the two muddled together), shaken with ZU and a small amount of Disaronno to balance the tartness, poured over ice and topped with Fever Tree bitter lemon soda. The lavender highlighted the vanilla in the ZU, while berries and lemon soda sang with the herbs. Daniel tasted both. Loved Gypsy but wanted to walk off with this one, let’s call it the "ZU Spring Tease" in honor of the short-lived warm weather snap.

Looking around the room, people were having fun: cracking eggs, slicing fruit, trying out new bitters, shaking things up. Soon the impressive Polish feast brought in from Greenpoint was set up with pickled salads, stuffed cabbage, pierogis, kielbasa and other goodies, and we ate with our concoctions and tasted each other’s drinks. Na zdrowie!

Dizzy Recap: Absolut Wild Tea Launch

By guest blogger Mary Van Hagen:

Earlier this week, Absolut introduced their newest flavor, Absolut Wild Tea, with a guest list-only party in Chelsea’s Hiro Ballroom at The Maritime Hotel.

Absolut Wild Tea--Absolut flavored with elderflower and black tea. Hmm, where have we heard this one before? It’s been speculated that about a year and a half ago, it was originally released as the Absolut Boston limited-edition series, however, in addition to the tea and elderflower flavors, there are hints of red apple and citrus, making this an easily mixable spirit.

Despite the frigid cold this winter, not even 10-degree weather accompanied by blustering winds could prevent massive crowds from lining up for this eclectic event. It was also evident that everyone who gathered to access the event were all on the guest list, translating into an agonizing 40-minute wait to get in.

Once inside, the crowd warmed up with DJ Becka Diamond, a New York “It” girl, who spun current hits with 90’s favorites while a fire-swallowing dancer performed nearby. Aerial dancers hung from the ceiling, swaying and gyrating over the crowd. There were also Asian inspired appetizers, including sushi rolls, chicken satay, spicy tuna on cucumber slices, and miso eggplant that were carried by wait staff for the party goers.

The featured drinks for the evening were: Absolut Wild Tea Gimlet (AWT with fresh lime juice and simple syrup), Absolut Ginger Tea (AWT with ginger beer and a squeeze of lime) and Absolut Secret Citrus (AWT with lemon-lime soda with a squeeze of lime). Of the three, the Ginger Tea was the most impressive, but I did happen to notice a few drinkers preferring the vodka straight up.

It seemed no matter where you turned there was a face to be seen, including David Yontef, a millionaire from Season Four of Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker.  Minus the crowds of people and frustrating door situation, this party seemed to have a little bit of everything, from wild entertainment, to delicious cocktails, to dance-able music and an extremely diverse crowd.

Absolut, you have come a long way into building your brand. Hats off to yet another successful flavor launch!

Dizzy Recap: The Holiday Spirits Bazaar!

The Dizzy Fizz rang in the holiday season with a bangin', boozy bash -- the first-ever Holiday Spirits Bazaar! From gravity-defying aerial dancers to an antique truck parked inside to endless amounts of holiday punches and cocktails, this was truly one spectacular affair. Thanks to everyone who made their way to The Green Building in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and helped raise nearly $1,000 for the Museum of the American Cocktail. Let's do it again next year!

A huge thanks to the Sponsors: Denizen Rum, Auchentoshan Single Malt Scotch, Tempus Fugit Spirits, Vermont Gold & White Vodka, Cockspur Rum, Classic & Vintage Spirits, Purity Vodka, Square One Organic Spirits, Haus Alpenz, FAIR Trade Spirits, Scorpion Mezcal, Redemption Rye, Don Q Rum, Hudson Whiskey, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Pipeline Brands, Highland Park Single Malt Scotch, Chairman's Reserve Rum, Castries Peanut Creme Liqueur, Pasternak Wines and Innis & Gunn Cask-Aged Beer.

As well as the Vendors: Fette Sau BBQ, SkimKim Foods, Emily Thompson Flowers, Kara Newman, Jesse Tobin and Elisabeth Prescott.

Special thanks to: The Green Building staff, John Pomeroy, Damien Good, DJ TomasMoves, John Walder, Leo Borovskiy, Callie Peck, Libby Gowen, Anne Louis Marquis, Tina Tassels, Mary Elizabeth Van Hagen, Carmen Operetta, Sara Gorelick, Sharon Festinger, Elke Swakhammer, Matt Sparacino, Drink Up NY, The Summit Bar, WTF Coffee, Martin Pham, and Jill & Dale DeGroff.

For more photos, please visit the Facebook pages for The Dizzy Fizz and Lush Life Productions. Want recipes from the event? Click here.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Dizzy Recap: Maker's Mark Distillery Visit

Just as Bourbon Heritage Month came to a close last month, I was invited* to embark on a trip to Loretto, Ky, to visit the Maker's Mark Distillery--my first-ever visit to a commercial distillery. On a 90-degree September day, I arrived at the Maker's Mark campus -- a sprawling collection of quaint black barn-like buildings with bright red trim -- to see firsthand how the iconic red wax-capped Kentucky bourbon is made.

The first thing that struck me when I arrived--after an hourlong ride from the Louisville airport, which featured scenery of vast tobacco farms, Jesse James-era taverns, and one property with an endless collection of lawnmowers--was the sweet and sour aroma of fermenting grain. It's fitting to compare the smell to baking bread, since the recipe for Maker's Mark was reinvented in 1953 after Bill Samuels Sr. baked several loaves to experiment with various grain formulas. He settled on the use of winter wheat instead of the traditional, harsher rye, giving Maker's Mark its signature soft finish.

At the boardroom, I was greeted by Victoria MacRae-Samuels, Director of Operations, and Dave Pudlo, Distillery Education Director.  I learned that the distillery has a long history, along with the Samuels family. Established in 1805 as a gristmill distillery, Maker’s Mark is the oldest working distillery on its original site, and a National Historic Landmark. A 10-acre spring-fed limestone lake provides pristine, iron-free water for the bourbon. Victoria told me how Bill Samuels Sr., a sixth-generation distiller, purchased the Loretto distillery the same year that he set fire to his 170-year old family recipe and created Maker's Mark.

After a hearty lunch that included sliced ham with all the trimmings and Derby Pie (a chocolate and walnut tart doused in bourbon sauce) for dessert, Dave led me on an intensive tour of the distillery. I saw how the corn, malted barley and winter wheat are first inspected and then sent through and old-fashioned rollermill, and then the grain is cooked in a massive open cooker. Dave even let me taste the sweet yeast that goes into Maker's Mark, which uses cultures left over from one batch to the next, meaning that some cultures can be traced back to Pre-Prohibition.

After fermenting in large wooden vats, the mash is double distilled--once in a 16-plate copper column still that reaches through several floors of the distillery, and again in a copper pot still before reaching 130 proof. The white dog is then placed in charred white oak barrels and stored in warehouses (called rack houses or rickhouses) for six to seven years, and the barrels are rotated from top down to ensure temperature variation. Finally, a panel of tasters (who wouldn't want that job!) select barrels at different stages and balance them for the final bottling at 90 proof.

For more than 50 years, Maker's Mark has proudly stuck to their one expression of bourbon, but in June of this year, the brand turned heads by releasing something for the next generation of whiskey drinkers--Maker's 46. Developed by former Master Distiller Kevin Smith ( recently hired as Beam Global Spirits & Wine's Director of Bourbon and Distillery Operations), the classic Maker's Mark is aged an additional two months or so in barrels featuring seared French oak staves--not charred, but seared. This wood "recipe" was the 46th variation created by Brad Boswell of the Independent Stave Company, giving the new bottling its name. The result is a more toasted version of Maker's Mark, featuring bolder spice yet still lots of vanillans and a soft, long finish. Best of all, the 94-proof Maker's 46 is only about $10 more than the original Maker's, retailing for about $35.

Maker's Mark goes to great lengths to retain the level of craftsmanship that started their brand, and this was apparent throughout every step of my visit. It's why the labels on the bottles feature Marjorie Samuels' (wife of Bill Samuels Sr.) original lettering and each bottle is hand-dipped in wax. This year, Dave said Maker's Mark hopes to produce 1 million cases, a company milestone. About 25,000 cases of Maker's 46 are expected to be released this year.

I want to thank Victoria, Dave, and new Maker's Mark Master Distiller Greg Davis for showing me such hospitality, and also to Evins Communications for arranging my visit.

If you have the opportunity to visit Maker's Mark or any other stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail,  do it--you'll experience an American tradition, and best of all, taste the results.

*Maker's Mark paid for my travel and accommodations. I was not compensated in any other way or expected to write a review.

Dizzy Recap: The Summit Bar's First Anniversary Party

 

Since opening last September at 133 Avenue C, The Summit Bar, helmed by Hamid Rashidzada and Greg Seider, has received a flurry of acclaim for its crafty drinks and effortlessly cool vibe. Named "Best Cocktail Bar" by New York Magazine and "Most Democratic Cocktail Bar" by Time Out New York, it's clear the boys (yes, the bar sports an all-male staff) are doing something right. After hosting two successful events there (the Holiday Puncheon and the Gracias party), I was delighted to assist* with the arrangements for Summit's first birthday.

Greg took on the Herculean task of creating 18 different punches, which were available for self-service all night. To keep everyone on an even keel, barbecued treats such as pulled pork sliders and mini hot dogs were served along with sliced watermelon enhanced with tequila, lime juice and dashes of salt. Base spirits for the punches included: Beefeater Gin, Yamazaki Whiskey, Leblon Cachaca, Corralejo Tequila, Santa Teresa Rum, Ilegal Mezcal, Chartreuse, Russian Standard Vodka, and Agwa Coca Liqueur. And for those not in the mood to get punched, Estrella Damm pilsner was served all night as well.

DJs DSol, Kenny Rodriguez, Ryan Taylor and Nounz NYC kept the good times flowing, and Lush Life Productions was on hand to capture photos of the rollicking celebration, which lasted until dawn. Congrats to The Summit Bar and thanks to everyone who joined in the festivities! Extra special thanks to The Summit Bar's staff and catering team!

* Disclosure: The Dizzy Fizz was paid by The Summit Bar for event planning services.

Dizzy Recap: Tales of the Cocktail 2010

Finally, the Sazerac-tinged haze has cleared and I can somewhat recall what happened between the dates of July 21-25, 2010, for what was the 8th Annual (and my first) Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. And what tales I have returned with! Although, I'm afraid, dear readers, about half of those tales I will either keep to myself or have simply lost to the foggy grip of intoxication. I was warned not to overschedule myself, and now I know why--I didn't go to anywhere near as many seminars and events as I had planned. I learned a few hard lessons (Drink more water!), and will certainly try to do better next year, but as my friend and hotel roommate Carmen Operetta Carroll said, "You'll never be able to train for Tales." All I can say is, expect the unexpected! 

Here are my highlights (and yes, I had to look at my Foursquare history to remember a few things): 

  • The Beefeater Welcome Party: Not long after landing in Nawlins, I got gussied up and headed straight to the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center for a scene outfitted in British flags, citrus chandeliers and whimsical characters straight out of a Lewis Carroll acid trip. Carmen and I had fun posing in a Queen of Hearts garden-themed photoshoot before the cocktails took over. With some of the best bartenders in the biz behind the stick--Audrey Saunders, Kimberly Patton-Bragg, Kenta Goto, and Erick Castro, to name a few--I knew I was in for some decent gin-bibing.
  • The William Grant House Party: Following the Beefeater bash, buses took everyone to the Elms Mansion for this grown-up version of a frat party. The elegant setting maintained a casual feel with a vintage Sailor Jerry Rum photo backdrop, and a sprawling backyard featured a live jazz band and endless cocktails from other spirits within the William Grant portfolio. Thankfully there were buses to take us back to the Monteleone, as I was a little "dizzy" at this point. 
  • After-hours drinks at d.b.a., Old Absinthe House, and Alibi: Just about every night/early morning during Tales, I could be found knocking back pints at one, two, or all three of these cozy enclaves. Lets just say these were special moments...
  • "Summer in Paris" Spirited Lunch: What do Chartreuse, Benedictine, Tennyson Absinthe, Dubbonet, Pierre Ferrand Cognac and Citadelle Gin have in common? Oui, all made in France, and all quite délicieux, I might add. These and other spirits were served in abundance along with a French-Creole meal that ended with flaming Baked Alaska at Antoine's, built in 1840.
  • Domaine Select's Classic & Vintage Pool Parlour: Retro pool attire was in order at this sunset bash hosted by Domaine Select's Classic & Vintage portfolio at the Hotel Monteleone rooftop pool. The Tippling Bros. and their startender team turned out refreshments such as the "Lightning Collins" (Death's Door White Whiskey, Dimmi liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup and club soda) and the "Top Cat" (Averna Amaro, muddled strawberries, lemon juice and Fanta orange soda). I was hoping for a swim-up bar, but I still managed to sip and dip at the same time. 
  • Unofficial Spirited Dinner at Elizabeth's: While many Tales attendees shelled out $85-$100 a head for the luxury of impeccable dining at some of the most reknowned restaurants in NOLA--with cocktail pairings, natch--I joined a group of about 18 for a layman's version at Elizabeth's. I got to know a bunch of fun Bostonians and had some killer fried chicken paired with beers and shots--all for the cool price of about $40 a head.
  • The History, Science and Creativity of Essential Oils and Extracts: Ah yes, the one seminar I managed to attend. Although I had a wretched hangover at this point, I enjoyed learning from Darcy O'Neil and Andrew Nicholls about the chemical breakdown of essential oils and phosphated sodas in cocktails. Be sure to use food-grade essential oils in your cocktails, and use them sparingly, such as a spray of lavender oil, so the aromas don't overpower the drink. Fun fact--Coca-Cola is made with the following essential oils: orange, lemon, nutmeg, cassia, coriander, neroli, lime and lavender.
  • Dinner at Cochon: Finger-licking-good! From the fried alligator to the rabbit livers to the cochon with pickled turnips to the forking-tender smoked beef brisket with horseradish potato salad, this place is hog heaven.
  • Don Q and Esquire party at Restaurant August: Don Q Rum's mixologists James Menite and Esteban Ordonez kicked off another night of cocktailing with Puerto Rican-themed crowd-pleasers such as the "El Viejo San Juan" (Don Q Anejo, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Luxardo Amaro, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, and orange peel scent). Being an Esquire bash, everyone was smartly dressed with drink in hand.
  • French 75s at Arnaud's French 75 Bar: In-between events, I joined a couple of New York imbibers at this classic bar just far enough from the brouhaha of Bourbon Street. We sipped Cognac French 75s, admired the antique decor, and chatted up a local, however, our Ramos Gin Fizz left much to be desired--mainly, citrus.
  • Latenight pool party with Belvedere and U'Luvka vodka: I don't want to give away the location of this pool party because I want to stay at this hotel next year at Tales. No photos were taken, but imagine a lush garden scene, throw in a full moon, and let your perverted mind wander from there!
  • The Gran Marnier Bar Room Brawl: This massive throwdown at Generations Hall featured teams of bartenders from six of the country's top cocktail bars: Dutch Kills in NYC, Florida Room in Miami, Rickhouse in San Francisco, Drink in Boston, The Drawing Room in Chicago, and Varnish in L.A. Hosted by aka Wine Geek, this was one of the most well-executed competitions I have ever witnessed--with stellar mixology to match. Congrats to Drink for taking home top honors!
  • Breakfast at Coop's Place: Nothing like a plate of blackened redfish, a cup of coffee, and a shot of Ardbeg Scotch to get the blood flowing again. It took me about 20 minutes into breakfast to take my sunglasses off--yeah, Tales hangovers are like that.
  • Pig & Punch fundraiser at Washington Square Park: Hosted by San Francisco bartenders The Bon Vivants, this perfectly laid-back, free outdoor gathering featured two whole spit-roasted pigs from Cochon, all sorts of fixings such as Cajun cole slaw, barrels of punch, kegs of cold beer, and live jazz from the Smokin Time Jazz Club. T-shirts were sold at the event to raise money for the arts program at a local NOLA high school where a group of bartenders donated their time before Tales began.
  • Pre-awards drinks at Don Q's hotel suite: From a balcony at the Royal Sonesta Hotel overlooking Bourbon Street, a handful of friends of Don Q Rum toasted (water and Diet Coke for me) in advance of the glamorous Spirited Awards. I would like to personally thank John Eason for the invite!
  • The Spirited Awards: See the winning results below...
  • The Plymouth Gin Bartender's Breakfast: Nothing to do with breakfast, everything to do with debauchery. One of the most anticipated--and deservedly so--events at Tales.
  • Beignets at Cafe Du Monde: Believe the hype! Even at 7:30 a.m., we had to wait in line for these hot, pillowy doughnuts doused in powdered sugar, with chicory coffee to boot--post-boozing indulgence at its finest.
  • Brunch at Brennan's: White tablecloths, Southern hospitality, perfect Bloody Marys, rich eggs Benedict... I'm so glad Emily Cavalier took me here--always trust your food blogger friends.
  • Dinner at Bacchanal Wine Bar: The Sunday night gathering spot for all of the bar industry folk left to finish out the weekend, Bacchanal in the Ninth Ward was a purely magical experience. Everyone took over tables in the backyard where bottles of wine flowed under a picturesque moon, a live band played, and food was eaten faster than it could be prepared. T'was a perfectly chill way to close out a wild week.
  • After-hours drinks at Cure: Not ones to let a party end early, most everyone moved onto Cure, one of NOLA's premiere cocktail dens. Seasonal- and classic-inspired tipples on par with NYC's made for a smooth liquid transition back to the Big Apple.

2010 Spirited Awards Winners:

World’s Best Drink Selection: Bar Lebensstern in Café Einstein, Berlin

Best American Cocktail Bar: Death & Co., New York City

World’s Best Cocktail Bar: Death & Co., New York City

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar: Mayahuel, New York City

World’s Best Hotel Bar: The Connaught Bar, The Connaught Hotel, London

American Bartender of the Year: Murray Stenson, Zig Zag, Seattle

International Bartender of the Year: Agostino Perrone, The Connaught Bar, The Connaught Hotel, London

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh

Best Cocktail Writing: CLASS magazine

Best New Product: Celery Bitters, The Bitter Truth

World’s Best Cocktail Menu: Death & Co, New York City

Best Bar Mentor: Dale DeGroff

Best American Brand Ambassador: Charlotte Voisey, William Grant & Sons Portfolio

Best International Brand Ambassador: John Gakuru, Sagatiba

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award: Brian Rea 

For many more photos, be sure to check out The Dizzy Fizz on Facebook. Thanks to Ann Tuennerman and the Tales crew, to my friends old and new, and to the city of New Orleans for being so welcoming--I'll be back!