Best New Hotspots in FiDi and Tribeca + a Chance to Win $250!

 Osteria della Pace. Photo by Selena Ricks-Good.

Osteria della Pace. Photo by Selena Ricks-Good.

I was recently invited to visit the new Eataly Downtown, a stunning follow-up to Flatiron's gastronomical ode to Italy. Located on the third floor of World Trade Center 4, the 40,000-square-foot emporium serves up everything you can imagine from freshly-shaved prosciutto to hand-pulled pasta and mozzarella, all while overlooking the 9/11 memorials. Rather than shy away from that emotional view, Eataly embraces the significance of its site with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, and plans to highlight bread-makers from around the world as a way of bringing cultures together. All of this revitalization got me thinking about how attractive the nightlife scene is in the Financial District and TriBeCa at the moment.

Osteria della Pace at Eataly Downtown

While there are seven dining options at Eataly's newly-opened second New York location, Osteria della Pace is the anchor. Chef Riccardo Orfino serves Southern Italian fare in the airy, modern dining room, set behind a gem of a bar offering a large Italian wine selection and signature cocktails. 101 Liberty Street, New York, NY.

 BlackTail

BlackTail

BlackTail

From the team behind the Dead Rabbit (winners of the Best Bar in the World award, and also in FiDi, mind you) comes this rum-soaked ode to Prohibition-era Cuba at Pier A in Battery Park City. Enter a scene inspired by Americans' sojourn from dry New York to hopping Havana via luxury seaplanes. Choose from nearly 50 reimagined classics such as highballs, punches, sours, Old Fashioneds, and cocktails, including four versions of daiquiries. Pier A Harbor House, 22 Battery Place, New York, NY.

 The Bennett

The Bennett

The Bennett

Meaghan Dorman (Raines Law Room, Dear Irving) helms this beautiful bar, so you already know what to expect--a touch of glamour, immaculate cocktails, and call buttons that allow for concierge-level service.  The cocktail menu includes house originals as well as fan favorites from their sister bars. 134 West Broadway, New York, NY.

 The Beekman

The Beekman

Coming soon: The Beekman

According to their Instagram account, The Beekman hotel is set to open in less than five days. The 1881 landmark building features a jaw-dropping nine-story atrium with a pyramidal glass skylight. Still not clear is when the hotly anticipated culinary offerings will open. Keith McNally will operate Augustine, a brasserie that we can only imagine will live up to his trademark, and Tom Colicchio will open American restaurant Fowler & Wells as well as The Bar Room, serving signature cocktails on the atrium level. 5 Beekman Street, New York, NY.

And great news! In celebration of the launch of NightOwl 3.0 we’ve teamed up with an incredible roster of bloggers and nightlife luminaries that you’ll want to know and follow; be sure to visit their sites: John Romard of The Boston Attitude, Dara Pollak of The Skinny Pig NYC, Jess Hagadorn of JessHagadorn.com and Young Winos of DC, Ryan Shea of Manhattan Digest, Terry Dagrosa of Seduction Meals, G-LO of It's Just the Booze Dancing, Tara Fougner of Thirsty NYC, Jane Ko of A Taste of KoKo, Nicholas Feris of The Rum Collective, and Bella Magazine.

And what about that $250 you ask?

Just go to the entry link here. Each time you take an action listed– following a blogger, downloading the app, signing up for a newsletter – you’ll get additional entries, increasing your chances of winning.

Rules: You must be a US resident and 21 or older. Good luck!

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

  • Mixing drinks comes with its occupational hazards, and unfortunately, not all bartenders have health insurance. On Monday, Feb. 21, the USBGNY is hosting Bartenders for Healthcare, a fundraiser to support career bartenders in need of health insurance. For $40, sip cocktails made with Plymouth Gin, Herradura Tequila, Santa Teresa Rum, Leblon Cachaca, Denizen Rum, Michter's Bourbon, Combier, St-Germain, Carpano Antica, Bittermens Bitters, and Prometheus Springs mixers. Bartenders volunteering their services include some of NYC's best: Lynnette Marrero, Jim Kearns, Jason Littrell and Marshall Altier. In addition to the drinks, guests will enjoy Stinky Bklyn cheese, snacks made by Freemans' chefs, and music from folk-rock trio the Crooners. Freemans, Freeman Alley off Rivington St., second floor, 7 to 10 p.m.
  • Honor International Women's Day and support disadvantaged women at Whisky &Women Unite, March 8 at Astor Center. Organized by LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) and sponsored by Compass Box Whisky, the event features some of NYC's best female bartenders creating Scotch whisky cocktails.  Tickets are $85 (purchase here) and will include eight specialty cocktails, chocolates from Bespoke Chocolates and  artisanal cheese. Thirty percent of all ticket sales will be donated to Bottomless Closet, a non-profit helping women achieve economic independence. 399 Lafayette St., 7 to 9 p.m.
  • The Astor Room recently opened at Kaufman Astoria Studios, and combined with the revamped Museum of the Moving Image next door, it's one swanky destination for Queens. Modeled after the studio's Pre-Prohibition heyday, Astor retains the original tiling and '20s-era marble staircase. The cocktail menu, created by Lynnette Marrero and Jim Kearns, features classics such as The Astoria Cocktail (gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters) and The New Yorker (bourbon, claret, lemon juice). 34-12 36th St., Astoria.
  • Now open for private events during Fashion Week, strip club-dive bar hybrid The Westway (75 Clarkson St.) is attracting a hipster-elite crowd to its boogie nights. Formerly the Westside Gentleman's Club and now run by operators of Smile and The Jane Ballroom, the bar kept the  light-up disco floor and brass poles for impromptu striptease. With Sunset Park's jungle-themed, Vegas-style bikini bar Jaguar (225 47th St., Brooklyn) also in pre-opening stage, according to Blackbook, and Red Hook's Paris Burlesque Club in the works, one has to wonder, will 2011 be the year NYC nightlife puts its go-go boots back on?
  • And although the focus is on wine, not cocktails, at Brooklyn Height's recently-opened Colonie, I just have to give props to the restaurant's brilliant use of Kickstarter to raise thousands to help fund their opening. 127 Atlantic Ave.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

  • Since El Cobre let the rum flow in December, January of 2011 has been a good one for cocktails with the opening of several new bars and more on the way. The West Village's  Fedora reopened with a seasonal menu and the promise of barrel-aged cocktails. Another reopening, The Rum House in Times Square, was orchestrated this week by the owners of Ward III (more photos here),  bringing classic drinks and fresh polish to the piano lounge. What's most exciting is that drinks are $12-$14, a steal for the neighborhood. And The Mulberry Project, a cocktail cave in Little Italy, was recently opened by alums from Milk & Honey, GoldBar and Bagatelle. Later this month, look for Williamsburg's Maison Premiere oyster bar with cocktails by Maxwell Britten, along with Teqa taqueria and tequileria in Murray Hill. And in February, Locanda Verde's Andrew Carmellini brings The Dutch to Sullivan Street in SoHo with a cocktail program by mixologist and spirits writer Naren Young.
  • On a completely opposite note, a new Duane Reade drug store in Williamsburg is selling beer by the growler to stand out from the mom-and-pop pharmacies. I'd say something about this being another nail in the coffin for the hipster-hood, then again, that coffin is plaid, covered in wheat paste graffiti and sold by Urban Outfitters.
  • On January 25, Edible Manhattan is hosting Good Spirits at Le Poisson Rouge, a mash-up of some of the city's finest food and drink featuring top chefs and mixologists. Get a sweet discount on the $40 ticket price here, and you've got no excuse not to go.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

 

  • September is Bourbon Heritage Month (complete with these NYC events and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival Sept. 14-19), and naturally, this is cause for celebration. Kick off the brown spirit-soaked festivities tomorrow night at Brooklyn Bowl, where Maker's Mark is hosting the first Brooklyn Bourbon Bowl. You can count on two reserved lanes of free bowling, live music, and $5 Maker's Mark drinks, Brooklyn Pilsner and Maker's Mark frozen slushies from 8 p.m. to midnight. Don't miss Brothers among the rock 'n' roll lineup, featuring actual twin brothers Dylan and (Prime Meats bartender) Damon Boelte. 61 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn. Free; Maker's Mark drink specials.
  • Audrey Saunders' iconic NYC cocktail bar Pegu Club recently turned 5; check out Sonya Moore's recap here. Meanwhile, Alphabet City mainstay Louis 649 turns 6 tomorrow, with a happy hour from 6 to 9 p.m. featuring half-priced bottles of wine and beer and $9 cocktails.
  • Autumn is the season for new bar openings in New York, and Metromix has a long list of watering holes on the horizon. And you can add Whiskey BrooklynPeels (from the Freemans team) and Lambs Club at The Chatwal Hotel (bar program by Sasha Petraske) to the list of just-now-open bars--go warm up those fresh bar stools!

Breaking: Experimental Cocktail Club Expanding to London in December

 

Super! Last night at Dram in Williamsburg, I had the good fortune to bump into Romée De Goriainoff, co-founder of Paris' Experimental Cocktail Club, who was there to visit Nicolas de Soto, a former ECC bartender, behind the stick. Opened at 37 Rue Saint Sauveur in  2007, the ECC is Paris' premiere cocktail speakeasy and is one of the few bars in the city open after 2 a.m. on weekends. The clandestine 40-seat lounge oozes with 1920s charm and features tipples such as the Experience #1 (Hendrick's gin, elderflower liqueur, lemongrass, lemon juice and basil) for 10 to 12 euros.  Following the success of ECC, its owners opened Left Bank outposts Curio Parlor Cocktail Club, at 16 Rue des Bernadins, and Le Prescription Cocktail Club at 23 Rue Mazarine in the sixth.

Romée said the Experimental Cocktail Club London is expected to open in the SoHo district (about a quarter of a mile from Milk & Honey London in Soho) this December, and the bar will be open until 3 a.m.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

  • Casa Mezcal, a ground-level mezcal bar within a three-story property that will soon include a Oaxacan gallery and a basement-level bar/cinema, opened at 86 Orchard St. in early June. Featuring a wide variety of sipping mezcals, including some obscure varieties, the bar also offers a cocktail menu designed by Junior Merino. A Mexican food menu will be added as soon as the gas is turned on, until then complimentary bites include fried grasshoppers and pico de gallo. The mezcaleria is within stumbling distance of two of NYC's most rambunctious cocktail bars--Painkiller and The Randolph--creating a "Cocktailian Bermuda Triangle," if you dare.
  • Legislation that could have a severe impact on NYC nightlife is on the table. Eater reports that State Senator Daniel Squadron has submitted a bill that would revoke a bar's liquor license if police receive six or more noise or disorder complaints within a 60-day period. This comes on the heels of a bill from Brooklyn Assemblywoman Joan Millman that would impose an 11 p.m. curfew on rooftop and backyard bars on weekends and 10 p.m. on weeknights, as reported in the Wall Street Journal. Let's hope both of these bills go nowhere--NYC nightlife generates renevue that the city can't afford to lose.
  • Tribeca cocktail den Ward III celebrates its first anniversary this weekend, offering specially-priced cocktails, as reported by NY Barfly. Check out Hendrick's Gin drinks tonight and Maker's Mark tipples tomorrow night.
  • Speaking of Maker's Mark, the Kentucky distillers will be launching their first new bourbon in 50 years, Maker's 46, next month. Check out blogger DrinkBoston.com's report from Louisville on how the special edition bourbon is made--the secret lies in the seared French oak staves. Retailing for $35, the 46 (named for the fact that it was simply the 46th recipe) will be a toasty addition to any Maker's lover's liquor cabinet.
  • Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans is just around the corner--July 21-25, and the 2010 Spirited Awards nominees were recently announced. New York swept the awards last year, and based on the high number of talented bartenders and bars up for honors this year, the city could see another coup--good luck!
  • Sam Mason, formerly chef at now-shuttered SoHo restaurant/cocktail den Tailor, has opened a no-frills dive bar, Lady Jay's, at 633 Grand St. in Williamsburg next to Bushwick Country Club. The bar, which Eater reports is across the street from his apartment, has neither fancy cocktails nor food--just whiskey, beer, shuffle bowling, a jukebox and standard hipster decor--antlers on the walls. 

Saloon Stakeouts: Idle Hands

Bourbon, beer and rock--what's not to love? Not a thing, am I right people?! Get ready for Idle Hands, a bar promising those three things, coming to the East Village next month. A labor of love from music-biz friends Rob Morton, Marc Schapiro and Dave Ciancio, the bourbon- and craft beer-focused bar will be on the basement level of 25 Avenue B while Billy Hurricane's, a Mardi Gras-themed "speak-loudly," will be opening up around the same time on the ground level. Billy Hurricane's, owned by Roland Jabbour, Kyle Radzyminski and Billy Bishop (also owners of Point Break and Thunder Jackson's), will feature Hurricanes, obviously, and other party favorites like wheels of shots, along with Cajun food and Top 40 music. With nearby New Orleans-themed bar Ninth Ward about to open as well, NYC seems to have a hankering for a taste of the Big Easy.

Downstairs, however, expect an atmosphere of understated cool complete with cozy booths and an ample selection of 50 to 70 bourbons, on par with Brooklyn's Char No. 4 and Tribeca's brown spirits haven, Brandy Library. Although Idle Hands won't feature live music, there's sure to be a meticulously-curated rock soundtrack and the bar may even host music industry parties. Rob says the bar is about 2-3 weeks out, so in the meantime, keep track of their progress here.

Idle Hands and Billy Hurricane's, 25 Ave. B (2nd & 3rd Sts.)

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

 

  • Hot on the heels of news that William Grant & Sons has purchased Philly's Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction brand, including its ROOT liqueur, AITA is now bottling its next organic spirit, SNAP, based on a Pennsylvanian Dutch black strap molasses ginger snap recipe. The bottles will be on Pennsylvania shelves later this summer; widespread distribution of both SNAP and ROOT to be announced.
  • Craft beer fans (like myself) will sate their thirst and then some at this Saturday's Fourth Annual New York Brew Fest on Governor's Island. More than 300 styles of beer from more than 100 breweries from New York and beyond will be sampled from 3:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $55 and include water taxi to and from the island.
  • It's that time again--the New York Bar Show is this Sunday and Monday at Javits Convention Center. Although last year's show seemed to highlight the clash between nightclub-style bartending and cocktailian bartending, it will be interesting to see if this year's show will take itself a little more seriously. The agenda includes Le Cognac's cocktail competition awarding $3,000 in prizes, USBGNY mixology demonstrations, and a cognac seminar led by Dale DeGroff, Dave Wondrich, and F. Paul Pacult. Tickets are $50 for the floor show and $150 for all-access to seminars.
  • And on June 23, the Indy Spirits Expo rolls into town from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Touch nightclub. [Odd venue for this, but the club is centrally-located.] The expo will feature tastings and presentations from some of the best artisanal spirits producers around. Tickets are $55.
  • Earlier this week, the team behind Scottish gastropub Highlands got approval to turn the former Allen & Delancey space into their next concept, Mary Queen of Scots. Billed as "Highlands meets Vivienne Westwood and the Sex Pistols," the brasserie will feature whiskey cocktails and is slated to open in the fall.
  • Scientists are getting closer to growing livers, which is good news for those of us who may be beating them up more often than we'd like to admit. [No need to worry Mom, I take my milk thistle!]
  • Summer cocktail season is upon us, and I was honored to contribute a write-up of the best summer cocktails in town for this week's issue of Time Out New York. It was hard to choose from so many delicious drinks at so many of my favorite bars, but for you, dear readers, this is the kind of research I go to great lengths to do.
  • In case you haven't heard already, Albert Trummer, proprietor of Apotheke and the recently-unveiled Theater, was arrested Saturday night after undercover fire marshals witnessed his signature fire show at Apotheke. The Apotheke bartenders I've spoken with say given the size of the bar, it's doubtful that the flames were six feet wide, and the bar also does not have curtains, as The New York Times reported. The bar, which does not have an open flame permit, reopened the following night. Trummer is facing charges of reckless endangerment and criminal nuisance, both misdemeanors.

Dizzy Recap: Beefeater Summer Launch, St. Germain Can-Can Classic, Zagat's Preview of Theater and Absolut Brooklyn Launch!

 

So many parties, so little time! June officially kicked off summer party season in NYC, and so far it's been quite the bender:

Beefeater Gin launched its limited-edition Beefeater Summer  featuring hibiscus, elderflower and black currant at the Ace Hotel. This gin has balanced sweetness and can be sipped straight--clearly Master Distiller Desmond Payne knows what he's doing. Refreshing summer cocktails by Jamie Gordon, fish and chips, and a live twitter screen made this event a hit among the bartender, blogger and cocktailian crowd.

St. Germain's Third Annual Can-Can Classic brought 13 bartenders from across the states to compete in a cocktail competition judged by Dave Wondrich, Andy Seymour, Lynnette Marrero, Toby Maloney and Phil Ward. The top $5,000 prize went to of Bobby McCoy of the Eastern Standard in Boston (winning cocktail recipe below). Afterwards, St. Germain kicked off its 1920s-themed Harvest Fair Party at the Bowery Hotel, complete with sword swallowers, carnival games and a live band.

Zagat Survey hosted this week's much-anticipated reveal of Theater, the new Tribeca cabaret-themed cavern from Apotheke's Albert Trummer. Also billed as a celebration of Internet Week New York, Trummer opened the doors to his not-yet-officially-open space at 114 Franklin St. featuring a bar designed to look like a stage, a VIP room behind the stage, and an upstairs balcony and DJ booth. Zacapa rum cocktails and Sigmund Pretzelshop pretzels kept this party going strong.

And just last night, hordes of Brooklynites packed into the PowerHouse Arena in DUMBO to celebrate the launch of Absolut Brooklyn, featuring a red apple and ginger flavor (although more like a hint of ginger). With special guest Spike Lee, DJ Spinna keeping the crowd bumping, professional dancers and a steady supply of refreshing cocktails, this party was off the heeze and further proof that Absolut throws some of the best parties in NYC! For more pics, check out Ucwhateyec.com.

Whew! Off to drink more water and take a nap... until the next!

Elixir Alpestre by Bobby McCoy, Boston, Eastern Standard

2 oz. Bols Genever 3/4 oz. St-Germain 1/4 oz. Becherovka 1 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters 6 Drops Pernod Absinthe

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin over ice and shake.  Strain into a large coupe glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

 

  • Summer is the season of gin, so it was a nice surprise to take home the first place prize recently for New Amsterdam Gin's "Next Gin-eration" Cocktail Challenge. Set up Iron Chef-style, I was among a dozen or so bloggers and cocktail enthusiasts (no professional bartenders allowed) asked to create a tasty drink within 10 minutes using ingredients onsite at The Back Room. My winning number, as judged by Alex Ott and the New Amsterdam team? The "Greenmarket Smash," featuring 1 1/2 oz. New Amsterdam gin, 1/2 oz. liquified honey, 1/2 oz. elderflower liqueur, 1 oz. fresh orange juice, 1 oz. cranberry juice, and muddled basil. I won a catered dinner for 10 and bragging rights, woot!
  • Harlem gets another cocktail den next to 67 Orange with the opening of Five and Diamond, featuring a fresh-ingredient cocktail menu created by Jonathan Pogash of The Cocktail Guru. With top bartenders like Moses Laboy behind the stick, this sounds like another uptown destination worth the trip. See the full cocktail menu below! 2072 Frederick Douglass Blvd.
  • Ready for another rumor to get  The Jane Hotel's neighbors in a tizzy? [The Ballroom is finally open again, BTW.] Word on the street is the owners are designing an even more exclusive enclave within the landmark building--a penthouse bar.
  • This weekend's first annual Gourmet Latino Festival is shaping up to be a star-studded affair of not only chefs inspired by flavors from Latin America, but renowned mixologists too. Check out the full schedule of educational seminars and tastings featuring the likes of Dale DeGroff, Steve Olson and Junior Merino.
  • According to this whiskey blog, Tuthilltown's Hudson Whiskey has been bought by William Grant & Sons, which would mean worldwide distribution of the whiskey created in 2003 by Brian Lee and Gable Erenzo. According to the article, Tuthilltown will remain its ownership of its non-whiskey brands.
  • And if you haven't caught the latest viral video series featuring mixologists, head over to Combier's "Shaker Faces" campaign, which will award the bartender with the best shake $500. Hurry up and check out the four-way shake by the Edison's (LA) Joseph Brooke--the ladies will not want to miss that one!

 

Five and Diamond's Cocktail Menu

The Five and Diamond: Hangar One Buddha’s Hand Vodka, Grand Marnier, honey syrup, fresh lime, cranberry juice, fresh pineapples and Jarritos lìmon soda. ($12)

Spiced Raspberry Bellini: Fresh raspberries, spice syrup, rhubarb bitters and Cava. ($12)

Hold Me, Ransom: Ransom Old Tom Gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon juice, egg white, Jarritos tamarindo soda and Angostura bitters. ($13)

Blackberry Sage: Fresh blackberries and sage, vodka, Grand Marnier and fresh lemon juice ($12)

Replenish: Chamomile-infused Plymouth Gin, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, Fever-Tree ginger beer, Vita-Coco coconut water and fresh lemon juice. ($12)

Diamond Daiquiri: Rhum Clement Premierre Canne Rum, demerara syrup, fresh lime juice and fresh strawberries. ($12)

Raspberry Tarragon Margarita: Siembra Azul Blanco Tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, fresh raspberries and tarragon. ($12)

Smokey Sour: Sombra Mezcal, Benromach single malt scotch, fresh lemon juice, orange marmalade, and egg white. ($12)

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

  • Ultra-exclusive "tavern" The Lion, helmed by The Waverly's executive chef John DeLucie, hosted its friends and family last night. The Greenwich Village restaurant, once a '60s hotspot, officially opens tonight--for the well-connected, anyway. In addition to the burger and beer offerings, expect a sophisticated cocktail program. 62 W. 9th St. (6th Ave.)
  • Another anticipated opening is expected by the end of the week with the unveiling of Teatro, a jazz-inspired cocktail lounge from Apotheke's Albert Trummer. Word is the bar is the stage--and knowing Trummer's taste for fiery entertainment, this makes perfect sense. 114 Franklin St. (West Broadway)
  • Still no word on NYC's plans for World Cocktail Day, May 13--my guess is everyone is gearing up for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, May 14-18. If you procrastinated buying tickets for the kickoff gala, you are out of luck--all 2,500 have sold out. Still want to rock your stylish cocktail threads? There's a handful of tickets available for The Dizzy Fizz Tastemaker's Punch--use the code "THRILLIST" to save 25%!
  • Also, The Hideout in Fort Greene is going to reopen soon--just in time for summery Brooklyn bar crawls!

Saloon Stakeouts: Painkiller

Just in time for a tropical heatwave and many of the country's best Japanese training-seeking bartenders sweeping into NYC, one of the most exciting bar openings of the year is scheduled for this week, and it just so happens to be tiki-themed. Painkiller, from Dutch Kills' Richie Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzales, has flipped the former Sasha Petraske-owned East Side Company Bar into a bamboo-walled underground lair that feels miles from the city and yet all at once very New York. The bar celebrates Manhattan as "the best island," said Giuseppe, surrounded by images of topless, tan island ladies.

I don't want to give too much away about Painkiller just yet--the Chinatown bar officially opens Thursday night--but I can tell you to expect: fresh-cut fruit, house-made syrups and orgeat,  industrial blenders, a cooler full of shaved ice, grafitti artwork by "Style Wars" legends, and badass light effects. The menu will be of the choose-your-own-adventure variety (simply tell the bartenders how you like your drink) but based on the recipes of Trader Vic's and Don the Beachcomber. Expect incredibly strong drinks and wild garnishes--you've been warned!

Giuseppe said he and Richie got the idea for bar over free hot dogs at Rudy's, the Hell's Kitchen dive, so naturally, Painkiller will have free hot dogs too. Which will surely come in handy after all that frothy tiki-ness with shots of flaming 151.

Painkiller, 49 Essex St.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

  • Results of the groundbreaking Ultimate Cocktail Challenge are in, determining which gin works best in extra dry martinis (Tanqueray London Dry!), which rum makes the best mojitos (Don Q Cristal!), which cognac makes slammin' Sidecars (Remy Martin VSOP!), etc. Expert judges included mixology superstars Dale DeGroff, David Wondrich, Jacques Bezuidenhout, Julie Reiner, Steve Olson, Audrey Saunders, Tad Carducci, Doug Frost, Andy Seymour, Don Lee, Jim Meehan, Sean Ludford, and F. Paul Pacult. Judges blind-tasted the spirits in cocktails mixed meticulously by Willy Shine, Aisha Sharpe, Sean Hoard and Lindsay Nader. Congrats to the winners!
  • The Lucky Rice Festival, kicking off with a cocktail bash at Bowery Hotel tomorrow and running through May 2, is a celebration of Asian food and drink. Star chefs lined up for the festival include Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, David Chang, Anita Lo, Floyd Cardoz, Zak Pelaccio, Eric Ripert, and Pichet Ong.
  • This Saturday, May 1, Derby Day parties are planned at Rye House, Bell House, and perhaps, your house? Exclusive invite-only racing day parties also take place at Eleven Madison Park and Clover Club.
  • While the rest of us attend Cinco de Mayo fiestas, lots of lucky rum aficonados will head south for the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, May 5-9. Sugarcane spirits get all the attention with events including a tiki cocktail competition, sipping seminars, and pool parties--can you tell I'm jealous?!
  • Speaking of rum, NYC has a brand-new Cuban rum bar, Cienfuegos, from Ravi DeRossi, an owner of nearby Death & Co. and Mayahuel. The punch-heavy cocktail program by Charlotte Voisey includes tipples such as the Hemingway-inspired "A Moveable Feast" (Mount Gay Eclipse Silver, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, lime juice, dry French cider, Regan's bitters, and nutmeg). The ornate decor, reminiscent of a jewelry box, is sure to attract stylish characters to 95 Avenue A. 
  • And you have until May 10 to create the best Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine cocktail for a contest that will send three finalists to Tales of the Cocktail!

The "56" Julep from Wild Turkey

2.5 oz Wild Turkey 101 3 sprigs of mint (six to eight mature-sized leaves) 1.5 tsp brown sugar .5 cup crushed ice

In a traditional silver julep cup or double-old fashioned glass, muddle two sprigs of mint with the brown sugar and one ounce of Wild Turkey 101 for a few minutes, crushing the mint leaves with a spoon. Add the crushed ice, the remaining bourbon, and garnish with sprig of mint. Enjoy!

Saloon Stakeouts: Opening Season

The snow's a-meltin' and the birds are a-flutter--could it be that spring is about to, you know, spring? Considering all of the hot new cocktail bars looking to open in the next month or two, I'd say NYC is going to have quite the warm awakening:

  • Dram: On the cusp of "officially" opening after two years of being in the works, this Williamsburg cocktail den from Thomas Chadwick will add to the budding excitement of South 4th Street, where Pies 'n Thighs recently relocated nearby (and just two blocks from Bar Celona). Although the menu will rotate constantly, bartender Nick Jarrett has a stirred drink on the menu called "The Devil's Pocket" (aged rum, Armagnac, Amaro del Capo, and Rainwater Madeira) that I hope to try soon. Dram's also offering a Mai Tai with housemade toasted orgeat. 177 S. 4th St., Brooklyn.
  • Painkiller: Dutch Kills' Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzales are mixing scorpion bowls, pina coladas and a more laid-back way of drinking with the gritty style of NYC's Lower East Side--sounds like paradise to me. Keep your eyes peeled for an opening by the end of the month. 49 Essex St.
  • Zengo: Richard Sandoval's forthcoming Latin-Asian restaurant, to feature former Elettaria chef/owner Akhtar Nawab as chef de cuisine, will offer a tequila library--I for one am looking forward to getting schooled. Near Grand Central.
  • Empire Room: On the ground level of the Empire State Building, this latest gem in the Hospitality Holdings' line of upscale bars is expected to open soon. Look for an Art Deco theme and a cocktail menu by Jonathan "Cocktail Guru" Pogash, president of the USBGNY. 350 5th Ave.
  • Lighthouse: From the owners of Macao Trading Co./Employees Only, this Williamsburg restaurant will feature a Mediterranean menu, oyster bar, and pickles--no word on the cocktail plans just yet. Construction is now underway. 145 Borinquen Pl.
  • Freemans Upstairs: Last month, Freemans was finally granted approval to move forward with plans for a second bar upstairs. With Star Chefs' Rising Star Mixologist Maxwell Britten behind the stick, this is one Lower East Side addition to keep an eye on. End of Freeman Alley.

Red-hot, fresh-off-the-mill rumors:

  • Albert Trummer, owner of Apotheke, is working on opening a new bar in Tribeca.
  • A rum-centric bar in Lower Manhattan may be in the works from the owners of Mayahuel.
  • A whiskey-centric bar may be coming to Williamsburg soon.
  • Sasha Petraske, owner of Milk & Honey and other fine tippling establishments, is working on opening a new jazz and cocktail bar called Hi-Note on 39th St. & Lexington Ave., if the funding comes together.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

  • Aisha Sharpe of Contemporary Cocktails unleashes a new cocktail menu at The Breslin at the Ace Hotel tonight. See the full menu below.
  • My prediction of "all-tiki-everything" is already coming true--NYC is finally getting a tiki cocktail bar! Food & Wine reports that Painkiller (from Dutch Kills' Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzales!) will open at the former site of the East Side Company Bar on Essex Street in March. The bar will combine the vibe of 1970s New York with 1940s tiki culture. Stay tuned!
  • If you haven't seen it yet, PDT's Jim Meehan was a guest on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night, mixing gin tonics and tequila highballs.
  • On Wednesday Jan. 13, Benedictine is hosting the finals for it's "Alchemist of Our Age" cocktail competition celebrating the liqueur's 500th anniversary. The throwdown takes place at the Hearst Tower in NYC, with Dave Wondrich selecting the winner. First place prize is a stand-alone profile in Esquire's March issue. Finalists are: Jackson Cannon (Boston), Damon Dyer (NYC), Brandon Clements (San Francisco), Lynn House (Chicago), and Daniel Victory (New Orleans).
  • The cocktail industry was in a tizzy this week over the sudden shortage of Angostura Bitters, a staple product at most bars. Reportedly the plant that makes the secret-formula bitters in Trinidad and Tobago had a brief shutdown.  Many bar managers are either paying exorbitant prices (such as $65 for a 20-oz. bottle) for the bitters, or they have been told it will be weeks before their orders arrive. Expect to see different brands of bitters dashed in your next Manhattan.
  • One more reason for cocktail bars to use bottled soda: an International Journal of Microbiology study found half of soda fountains analyzed contained fecal bacteria. Now you know.

The Breslin Cocktails, all $12:

Liquid Swords (rye whiskey, orange curacao, Aperol, Green Chartreuse, with an orange zest)

Lust for Life (gin with lavender syrup, mint, fresh lemon juice, topped with soda water)

Rush of Blood to the Head (prosecco with blood orange liqueur, hibiscus syrup, and lemon zest)

London Calling (vodka with Ribena-Blackcurrant Syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped with prosecco)

Kingdom Come (blended scotch whisky, orange essence, black tea syrup, fresh lemon juice, egg white)

Pablo Honey (blanco tequila with spiced agave nectar and fresh lime juice)

Beggar’s Banquet (bourbon whiskey with maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, aromatic bitters, topped with ale)

Rattle and Hum (rum with spices, brown sugar and butter and hot water)

The Breslin Gin & Tonics:

The Classic (Tanqueray Gin with tonic and a lime)

The Garden Tonic (Hendrick’s Gin with cucumber, celery bitters and tonic)

The Tonic and Grapefruit (Beefeater 24 with grapefruit bitters, tonic and grapefruit zest)

The Dizzy Fizz's Top 10 NYC Cocktail Bars to Open in 2009

This was really tough to narrow down, but in no particular order (not to sound like a kindergarten teacher, but they're all Number 1!), I found that these amazing new cocktail bars made NYC a better place to drink in 2009:

*Honorable Mentions: Bar Celona, 118 S. 4th St., Brooklyn.; Minetta Tavern, 113 MacDougal St.; The Jane Hotel, 113 Jane St.

Exclusive! Rye House to Open Tuesday

Nov12 Drinking options around Union Square are about to significantly improve as all-American gastropub Rye House soft-opens this weekend before fully opening on Tuesday. Located at 11 W. 17th St., between 5th and 6th Aves., just down the street from cocktail lounge Raines Law Room, Rye House emphasizes American food and spirits.

 I attended a super-soft opening last night and sampled an Appleseed Cobbler cocktail (Maker’s Mark bourbon, Applejack, cinnamon bark syrup, apples) and Chef Greg Johnson's phenomenal buffalo sweetbreads paired with a Nectar IPA. Prepared in the style of buffalo wings and served with blue cheese and celery, the spicy, crunchy breading complemented the tender, creamy offal perfectly and made for a playful bar plate.

Owners Mike Janetta and Rob Lombardi (Sala Bowery and Sala 19) and Julio Herencia teamed up with Lynnette Marrerro (Zacapa Rum, Eletteria, Freemans, drinksat6) and Jim Kearns (Freemans, Mayahuel, Pegu Club) to develop the cocktail program. Lynette and Jim previously worked together to create the cocktail menu at now-closed Woodson & Ford. There's also a selection of domestic craft beers on tap and domestic wines. The long white granite bar with antique shelves is packed with a selection brown spirits, especially micro-distilled/artisanal whiskies and bourbons.

"We wanted to use small-batch American spirits," said Lynnette. "Every drink had to have an ounce or more of an American spirit. The drinks are American twists on classics. Some, like the Creole Daiquiri, show the best of American fusion. We wanted to have a seasonal julep since it is the quintessential American whisky drink."

Plates by Chef Greg and Ann McKinney, chef de cuisine, include drunken mussels with wheat beer and tarragon, crayfish po' boys, beef wellington sandwiches with filet mignon and foie gras on brioche, baby chicken with buttermilk spoonbread, and stout BBQ ribs. Rye House has a front bar area with plenty of seats at the bar as well as two long, farmhouse-style communal tables, and additional communal seating and booths in the back. The decor is a mix of rustic Americana with clean, modern lines, and dim, romantic lighting. I look forward to returning again soon!

The hotly-anticipated cocktail menu here:

The Mansfield: Bluecoat gin or Tito’s vodka, Dolin blanc, yellow Chartreuse, grapefruit bitters ($12) 17th St. Sazerac: Rittenhouse rye, Hine cognac, demerara, Peychaud & Angostura bitters, Marteau absinthe ($12) Fleur de Lis: Aviation gin, St-Germain, lemon, orange bitters, champagne ($12) Orange Blossom Special: Overholt Rye, lemon, simple, orange flower water, egg white, soda ($12) Golden Delicious: Applejack 7½ year, lemon, honey syrup ($12) Clara Bow: Bulleit Bourbon, St.-Germain, house made grenadine, lemon, mint ($12) Rye House Punch: Chai-infused Rittenhouse Rye, Batavia Arrack, lemon, grapefruit, angostura bitters, soda ($12) American  Highball: Buffalo Trace, Averna, soda, orange slice ($12) Appleseed Cobbler: Maker’s Mark bourbon, Applejack, cinnamon bark syrup, apples ($12) Rye House Julep: Peach-infused Death's Door white whiskey, Applejack, mint ($13) Creole Daiquiri: Old New Orleans 3 year rum, chorizo-infused Sombre Mezcal, lime, pomegranate molasses, cane syrup ($13)

Rye House, 11 W. 17th St. (212) 255-7260. The bar is open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily, dinner is served until 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until 12 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Lunch service will begin on Nov. 19 and brunch will start on Nov. 28.

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Saloon Stakeouts: Bar Celona and Summit Bar

Recession schmecession, it's fall in New York and that means bar openings, people! Not since June, which saw the openings of Fort Defiance and Ward III, has there been so many new cocktail menus and plush seating to try out. While I have plans to hit up Highlands, Henry Public, and the bars at Crosby Street Hotel and Ace Hotel (plus a brand-spanking new bar you probably haven't heard about yet), there are two joints where I recently caught a whiff of new bar smell, Bar Celona in Williamsburg and Summit Bar in Alphabet City. Both are lookers, both have savory-centric cocktails, and both are keepers, in my opinion.

Bar Celona, on South 4th Street between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street, is a swanky, noiresque enclave in a neighborhood full of grungy pubs and cafes. A Spanish tapas and cocktail lounge, the space is the vision of Cynthia Diaz, a fashionista who grew up in the restaurant industry. The Hollywood Regency-style decor, which Diaz designed with her mother, is simply stunning--gold lion wall decals, leopard-print salon seating, glass-enclosed fireplace--but what's really impressive is the cocktail menu created by the Tippling Bros.

Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay have put together a slew of sweet and savory drinks using Spanish ingredients--expect the menu to expand soon, according to bartender Frank Cisneros. The cocktail menu is divided into three categories: "G y Ts" (variations on gin and tonics, Spain's most popular drink), "Gastros" (featuring savory culinary flavors), and "Variedades" (variety of ingredients).

I started off with the "Paellarinha" ($11), a "gastro" drink that included Leblon cachaca, fino sherry, red bell pepper/saffron syrup, and lemon juice. I'm usually not a fan of bell peppers, but this drink was incredibly refreshing and the paella-inspired flavors made it a justifiable appetizer. Next, Frank offered me a special off-menu cocktail, a "Burnt Caipirinha." He torched some demerara sugar with an alcohol-filled atomizer before muddling in limes and adding Leblon. The drink had a nice toasted caramel flavor and the fire show was definitely a conversation piece. Lastly, while I nibbled on dates stuffed with Mahon cheese and wrapped in Serrano ham, I sipped down a "Sea Monkey." One of the gin and tonics, this cocktail called for Plymouth Gin, celery/apple juice, lemon juice, Anise del Mono, Fever Tree tonic water, and a fennel salt rim. Since I am a fan of all things celery, I quickly made it disappear. It was hard to choose from this menu--all of the drinks sound amazing. Next time, I think I'll try the "Missionary's Position" (for a change, wink, wink), with reposado tequila, Rioja pear syrup, falernum, and ginger. Take note that Bar Celona is closed on Mondays.

Summit Bar, on Avenue C between 8th and 9th Streets, also features plush seating and chandeliers, but the brick wall interior and laid-back East Village vibe offers a balance that has attracted a sizable following (and even a mention in The New York Times). Co-owned by Greg Seider, who created the cocktail menu at Minetta Tavern, Summit features a mix of "Classic" cocktails (Tom Collins, French 75, Vesper, Dark and Stormy, Daiquiri) and "Alchemist" drinks which exhibit Seider's culinary-inspired mixology skills. I had a "Shu Jam Fizz" ($12), a combination of DH Krahn Gin, apricot jam, fennel-infused syrup, peach bitters, lemon juice, and club soda. The apricot jam married perfectly with the gin and anise flavors of the fennel and was not cloyingly sweet.

I wish I could have stayed for more drinks at Summit Bar, like "The Gov'ner"--Yamazaki 12 year whisky, toasted cardamom-infused agave syrup, Japanese yuzu, and fresh orange juice. I did, however, get to scope the cabana-style back patio, which will be a neighborhood destination once the mercury reverses. Summit also offers a small menu of charcuterie, with more options coming soon.

Dizzy Recap: Yerba Buena Perry Opening

  Cervantes makes a Pisco Mojito

What is it about Latin food that makes it so broadly appealing? Is it the spicy flavors, the warmth of the people preparing the food, or perhaps the cultural pride that shines through? In NYC, there are some muy bueno standouts (Mercadito on Avenue B comes to mind), but one definite success story to emerge in the past year is Yerba Buena, which has received accolades for both its food and cocktails attracting crowds on Avenue A. While other restaurants are struggling to stay open in this economy, Yerba Buena is launching a second location, Yerba Buena Perry, opening to the public tomorrow night.

Taking over the old Matador space in Greenwich Village, Yerba Buena Perry stands to be a gem in the neighborhood's cluster of Italian eateries. Chef/Partner Julian Medina (also the chef at Toloache and at Yerba Buena’s L.E.S. location) and Christopher Gilman have put together a Pan-Latin menu that includes a selection of ceviches and panko fries (including watermelon, which is succulent and crispy at once) as well as dry aged steaks.

At the media opening party earlier this week, the new restaurant had the lively feeling of a Cuban-inspired nightspot, complete with live Latin music and a professional cigar roller on premise. Avocado green walls, dim Edison bulbs, a black-and-white checkered floor, and a sleek dark wood bar all added up to "date night vibe." Behind the bar, Cervantes, previously of PDT and Little Branch, offered a handful of selections from his cocktail menu, all $12. The Pisco Mojito was a tri-colored treat. Muddled yerba buena (a species of mint) and lime were topped with crushed ice, Macchu Pisco, and bitters. Equally delicious were the Mezcal Maid (Scorpion Mezcal, muddled cucumber, lime, and yerba buena) and the Blackberry Gimlet (Tito's Vodka, muddled blackberries, and lime). The hors d'oeuvres served were, as Robert Palmer would say, simply irresistable. In addition to the watermelon fries, highlights included avocado fries, manchego cheese croquettes with pickled jalapeno salsa, and yellowtail Baja style tacos that included pineapple, red onion, habanero peppers, and some sort of magical aioli type of sauce.

Yerba Buena Perry also offers a range of piscos, tequilas, mezcals, and rums served neat, and an affordable wine list spanning Spain, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Be sure to check out Yerba Buena Perry on your next Greenwich Village crawl!

Yerba Buena Perry is located at 1 Perry Street (212.620.0808).