File Under Hot Dates: Cocktail Magic!

Punch Bowl (Courtesy of Freehand Chicago) A good night out can truly be mind-blowing—why not add actual magic to the mix? This appears to be the inspiration behind Cocktail Magic, coming to Weylin B. Seymour's in Williamsburg on Saturday, March 19. Sip libations from some of the city's top drinking dens (Clover Club, Death & Co., PDT, Attaboy, Nitecap, among others) plus Chicago/Miami's Broken Shaker and Denver's Williams & Graham, all while scarfing down slices of Roberta's Pizza while DJs spin and magicians perform illusions throughout the night. Who knows, maybe they'll even make your hangover disappear. Produced by Superfly, the team behind Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, this dazzling cocktail affair will also make a stop in Boston on the following Saturday, March 26.

Tickets to the NYC event are $124.50 for general admission; and $159.50 gets you "first pour" status with an extra hour of early admission.

Saturday, March 19, 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Weylin B. Seymour's, 175 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY.


Announcing the 5th Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar!

HSB_Final_2014-02LR-2Kick off the season of entertaining with some of the best spirits around at the 5th Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar on Saturday, November 22 at the Invisible Dog in Brooklyn. Sip your way through an unlimited array of holiday cocktails and punches made by some of NYC’s best bartenders, each competing for the top title in a friendly Punch-Off. A judging panel featuring cocktail historian and writer David Wondrich will choose the Best Bowl, and the crowd will help pick a People’s Choice winner for additional bragging rights.

Hosted by yours truly, this year the event spreads over two floors -- a Winter Whiskey Tavern and a Sparkling Spirited Parlor -- creating room for more merry-making than ever before. Also new this year, a Cocktail Lovers’ Pop-Up Shop will feature tasty treats and bartending gifts from local purveyors such as Cocktail Kingdom, Royal Rose Syrups, Tipsy Scoop, Brooklyn Baked ‘n’ Fried, Owl’s Brew, and more.

General admission is from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and tickets are $50. Ticket-holders can enjoy unlimited libations as well as artisan bread from Scratchbread and cheese from Saxelby Cheesemongers. Subscribers to Urban Daddy Perks will get the scoop about a VIP hour starting at 5:30 p.m. featuring a raw bar supplied by Eddie “Oysters” Casiano. Use the code EARLYBIRD to save $10 before midnight on Monday, November 3!

A portion of proceeds benefits Children’s Aid Society, a non-profit supporting some of NYC’s neediest children. Guests are also encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots or non-perishable food items for Food Bank NYC.

Sponsors include: 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, Sorel Hibiscus Liqueur, The Irishman Whiskey, Aviation Gin, Indigenous Vodka, Redemption Rye, Excellia Tequila, Fernet Branca, Carpano Antica, Suze Liqueur, Boulard Calvados, and Ruffino Prosecco.

Don’t miss your chance to join one of New York’s most spirited celebrations!

“For New York’s cocktail elite and casual imbibers alike” --Societe Perrier

Must be 21-plus to attend. Please drink responsibly.

Saturday, November 22 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Invisible Dog, 51 Bergen St., Brooklyn, NY 11201. All ticket-holders must be 21-plus and present valid ID. For more information, please visit

Photos by David Stewart.


Elsewhere in the Liquiverse

Agave spirits take center stage at Bowery Hotel tonight, June 5.  

  • Now that we've survived the great lime crisis of winter 2013-'14, it's time to raise a glass (or several) of agave spirits at tonight's Arte Agave at the Bowery Hotel. Featuring more than 100 different varieties of tequila and mezcal, the event also celebrates Latin American culture with food, music, and art. A limited number of tickets are still available, $120 for VIP entry at 7 p.m., or $85 for general admission at 8 p.m. Bowery Hotel, 335 Bowery, New York, NY 10003.
  • There's still time to partake in the second annual Negroni Week, organized by Campari and Imbibe magazine, which promotes Negroni-drinking (like we needed encouragement) and philanthropy across the country. Hit up participating NYC bars through June 8, and a portion of proceeds from each delightfully bittersweet concoction sold goes to the bar's charity of choice, such as Meals on Wheels, Coney Island Recovers and Food Bank of New York City.
  • Summer is here, and for New Yorkers, that means weekend escapes from our sizzling concrete abodes. If you're heading to the Hamptons via the Jitney, or taking a Grand Central train Upstate or elsewhere, the W New York on Lexington has a Summer Friday happy hour special for you. From 1 to 3 p.m., order a cocktail at the W's Living Room and receive a complimentary tote bag designed by artist Shantell Martin full of summer goodies like Kiehl's sunscreen (while supplies last). Even if you're staying in town, cocktails such as the Lemongrass Drop (Tito's Handmade Vodka, St-Germain, lemongrass syrup, lemon juice, pineapple, mint) should put you in a sunny mood.  W New York, 541 Lexington Avenue (at 49th Street), New York, NY 10022.

Beach tote designed by artist Shantell Martin.

Top 10 NYC Cocktail Bars to Open in 2011: Reader's Choice!

Since starting this blog more than two years ago, I have made an end-of-year list of the top 10 cocktail bars to open in NYC each year, recognizing the best new additions to our drinking scene. See 2010's picks here and 2009's picks here. Since I have abstained from drinking alcohol for most of this year (yes, if you haven't heard by now, I'm pregnant and due in January), I am looking to you, dear readers, to help me compile the 2011 list. This year is especially difficult since so many fantastic bars (and restaurants with stellar bar programs) have opened. I'm hoping you can help me narrow down the favorites! Voting will end December 15.

[polldaddy poll=5716554]

Announcing: The 2011 Holiday Spirits Bazaar!

The Holiday Spirits Bazaar is back! Yes, Halloween just ended and Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, but you have a lot of holiday parties to plan, don't you? Ring in the season of entertaining at the 2011 Holiday Spirits Bazaar, swinging into NYC on Saturday, November 12, 2011 from 6:30 - 10 p.m. at Astor Center. Cocktails and punches from both vintage and modern traditions will be served in abundance by some of the best bartenders in the city at this spirited tasting hosted by NYC cocktail event producer The Dizzy Fizz.

Following the success of last year's spectacular bash at The Green Building in Brooklyn, the Bazaar moves to Manhattan this year for festivities on an even bigger scale. Sip a seemingly endless array of libations perfect for your next holiday party, such as whiskey milk punch, mezcal hot chocolate, hot apple cider spiked with rye whiskey and an authentic vintage punch recipe from holidays of yore unearthed by cocktail historian David Wondrich. To stay refreshed, guests can snack on artisan bread by SCRATCHbread and grass-fed beef jerky by Slantshack as well as sip filtered water by MAVEA. Andaz Hotel's DJ Kimiko will keep the party beats flowing all night long.

A limited number of discount tickets are now on sale  through Thrillist Rewards. For VIP entry at 6:30 p.m., which includes an hour of small bites by Emily Cavalier of the Midnight Brunch supper club, tickets are $55. For general entry at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $45. The first 200 ticket-buyers will receive a giftbag full of lushy goodies such as mini liquor bottles and bar tools. The first 30 ticket-buyers will receive a free copy of Jill DeGroff's newest book, "Lush Life: Portraits from the Bar, Series 2." A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit the Children's Aid Society.

Sponsors include: Hudson Whiskey, Bulleit Bourbon, Cointreau, Beefeater 24, Plymouth Gin, Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Chairman's Reserve Rum, Russian Standard Vodka, Catdaddy Moonshine, Denizen Rum, Becherovka, Bluecoat Gin, Vieux Carré Absinthe, Penn 1681 Rye Vodka, XXX Shine Whiskey, Iceberg Vodka, Cockspur Rum, Redemption Rye, Redemption High Rye Bourbon, Scorpion Mezcal, Midnight Moon Apple Pie Moonshine and Innis & Gunn Cask-Aged Beer.

Take a sneak peek at the festive cocktails planned for the Holiday Spirits Bazaar here. This is an event not to be missed--not only will you get inspired to throw a bash of your own, you'll taste delicious spirits that make great gifts and are the perfect remedy to holiday stress!

Must be 21-plus to attend. Please drink responsibly.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

  • While I was on a gin tour in London last week (recap coming soon), I missed the dramatic unfolding of a legal tussle between Pusser's Rum and Painkiller tiki bar. By now, you've probably heard that Painkiller decided to change its name to PKNY and give up its web domain after Pusser's filed a federal lawsuit over its ownership of a trademark for the drink named "Painkiller." Furthermore, the rum company says all drinks called Painkillers must be made with Pusser's. (Painkiller/PKNY was not using Pusser's in its Painkillers.) News of the litigation led to an uproar among the cocktail community, which found such aggression by a brand over a small bar to be distasteful and a bad PR move. To make matters worse, Pusser's founder Charles Tobias responded to the criticism with a statement mentioning the brand's intent to market ready-to-drink Painkillers "in a can." For more insight into the legality of all this, read Payman Bahmani's post on Umamimart. At any rate, be sure to continue enjoying your favorite cocktails and favorite bars, whether they are trademarked or not.
  • Last night kicked off the inaugural NYC Cocktail Week, sponsored by Sixteen cocktail bars in the city (see the full list here) have created a special Cocktail Week menu offering two drinks plus an appetizer for $20.11. If that doesn't make you feel better about your lushy habits, a portion of proceeds from the event, running through June 29, benefits City Harvest and the Museum of the American Cocktail.
  • Last Sunday, members of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) gathered at Astor Center for a competition and breast cancer fundraiser titled "Speed Rack." Sixteen female bartenders vied to make cocktails as fast as possible (different drinks were announced each round, including the Ramos Gin Fizz), and they were also judged on the quality of their drinks. Yael Vengroff of PKNY took first place and will compete against other finalists from around the country at Tales of the Cocktail 2012.
  • Wondering why you haven't seen as many Dizzy posts lately? I recently started writing a daily drinking column over at Don't worry, I'll still keep things fresh for you here, I'm just getting adjusted to the new schedule!

Dizzy Recap: Second Annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic

Kicking off with what has become the cocktail-lover's prom of the year, the 2011 Manhattan Cocktail Classic, held May 13-17, drew a crowd of top bartenders and drinking enthusiasts from across the country and beyond. It's great to see this event grow as it celebrates NYC's place on the map for cocktail innovation.

And grow it has--founder and director Lesley Townsend said attendance for the five days nearly doubled over last year, reporting more than 5,000 attendees. She estimated that 75,000 cocktails were served throughout the festival, and all in real glassware. For the Gala, more than 3,000 cocktail fans lined up around the block for nearly an hour to get inside. Lesley said she is already working on ways to make the entry process more efficient for next year.

Although parts of the Gala had more of a nightclub feel this year--one writer compared it to Pacha--and food was once again hard to find, props must be given to Lesley and her team of 500 for organizing NYC's quintessential cocktail bash. I particularly liked how every brand had equal presence at the event with a minimalist design as opposed to loud branding. Everywhere you turned, guests were smiling and seemingly having the times of their lives, sipping expertly-mixed cocktails.

Other events held throughout the festival included a Don Q Rums '80s party, a one-time-only screening of the film "Last Call in New York" hosted by Tequila Don Julio,  the Indy Spirits Expo, and Campari's Spirited Fête for the Senses at The Box featuring Padma Lakshmi. Seminars ranged from the spirit-focused to topics such as "How to Behave in a Bar." Mostly, this festival was another example of how much fun the liquor industry can be--congrats Lesley on another successful edition of the MCC!

File Under: Boozy Picnic Accessories


Disclaimer: Public drinking is illegal in most of the U.S. The Dizzy Fizz does not promote breaking the law. However, people have been finding creative ways to drink outdoors for eons, and will continue to do so. Fact. Please drink responsibly.

NYC is finally warming up after a cool start to spring, and soon, weekends will be prime for lazy splendors in the grass, on the sand, or if all else fails--a sunny rooftop. And what pairs perfectly with your cheese spread while you catch rays and blast your iPhone speakers? Why, delicious booze, of course. My favorite picnic accessory is a cooler full of sangria. Whichever spirit or cocktail you choose, you will probably have to camouflage your open-air bootlegging. Here are some charming options:




File Under: Hot Dates


  • Oh, have you heard? This Friday, April 29, there's a little wedding happening. If you're in the mood to celebrate royally, one of several parties in NYC is taking place at The Roosevelt Hotel for a day-long bash going on from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.  An English breakfast, a mimosa toast at noon, and champagne and cake round out the festivities. 45 E. 45th St.
  • Also on April 29, food and art co-mingle at Rouge58 Gallery in Williamsburg at Something I Ate, from 7 to 10 p.m. Select artists are documenting their eating habits for one week using media and materials of their choice. At the event, SkimKim's Sam Kim will present an installation of food based on the artists' submissions, with both meat and veggie options available for consumption. London food architects Bompass & Parr (known for projects such as a pool-sized punch bowl) will create a suprise installation involving champagne flutes and ice. Cocktails featuring Kanon Vodka and Root Liqueur will also be served. Tickets are $30.
  • You have until May 2 to enter the Heering Goes Mad(Men) cocktail competition. Presented by Xante and Peter F. Heering, the competition is seeking stylish twists on classics such as the Sidecar and the Whiskey Sour. Four finalists will serve their cocktails at an exclusive rooftop event at Ogilvy & Mather (the depicted home of the Mad Men agency and where it all began) in New York City on May 16th as a part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. The winner receives features in Elle International, Gotham Magazine, and OK!  The winner also snags some Orrefors Glassware to compliment their winning cocktail, a private meet and greet with chef Geoffrey Zakarian and cocktail icon Sasha Petraske in New York City. To enter, email your recipe (must include at least 1 oz. of Xante, Cherry Heering or Coffee Heering) and a photo of your drink to:
  • And entries close on May 5 for the "Emotion in a Glass" competition from Russian Standard Vodka, which is seeking cocktails inspired by matters of the heart. On May 20, finalists chosen by USBG chapter presidents will be announced on Facebook. A "Consumer's Choice" winner with the most "likes" will receive a trip to this year's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, and a grand prize winner will receive a feature in Food & Wine magazine and a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Don't miss out on tickets for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, which is just around the corner from May 13-18. Tasting Table is offering a 10% discount code (2011TASTINGTABLE). And while we're on the subject, congrats to all of the recipients of the 2011 MCC Bar Fellowship Program!

Beefeater Royal Punch by Dan Warner:

2 parts Beefeater London Dry Gin 1 part Dubonnet 1 part pomegranate juice 2 parts fresh lemonade (American style) Angostura bitters to taste

Method: Serve in a large punch bowl and garnish with wheels of lemon and lime, mint sprigs and pomegranate seeds. Chill the punch with lots of ice cubes or make your own fruit ice cube by freezing oranges and lemon slices with water in a plastic container.

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, and recipes from the event at 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

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!



File Under: What to Wear to a Vintage Cocktail Party

A charmingly crafted cocktail is always a great accessory, but sometimes, the occasion calls for some effort on your part as well. Between the French Spirits Soiree, the Bootlegger Vodka Cotton Club, and the upcoming Manhattan Cocktail Classic, you may be on the lookout for some swingin' new threads. You can find a bevy of glamorous vintage items on eBay, Etsy (as pictured) or even Craigslist, but if you have the time, there's nothing quite like picking through NYC's second-hand racks. Here are some local go-to vintage shops:

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

  • On Monday, April 11, the local cocktail community is coming together at the Summit Bar for a New York Loves Japan Punch Party to benefit The Japan Society's tsunami relief efforts. A $20 donation at the door gets you unlimited refills of hand-crafted, Japanese-inspired punches featuring Belvedere vodka, Pernod Absinthe, Beefeater Gin, Classic & Vintage Spirits, Sailor Jerry Rum, Leblon Cachaça, and Corazon Tequila. The event goes from 7 to 11 p.m. and also features $10 pours of Japanese whiskey, benefit t-shirts for sale and tunes by DJ Kimiko Masuda.
  • While VIP tickets to the French Spirits Soiree at Astor Center on April 14 have sold out, general entry tickets are still available, entitling you to unlimited drinking, French cheese and charcuterie from Murray's Cheese, SCRATCHbread rustic bread, live jazz by The Hot Sardines, a saucy burlesque performance by Calamity Chang and more. Not to be missed!
  • The April 29 deadline is fast approaching to be considered for 2011 G'Vine Gin Connoisseur, which sends 15 finalists to France for the showdown. The grand prize is one of the sweetest around: $3,000, a year's supply of gin for your bar, a platinum vine-flower pin and an intercontinental bar tour of some of the world's best gin bars. If you are interested in participating, you should attend the April 14 preliminary in NYC.
  • In case you haven't heard by now, tickets to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (May 13-17) are on sale, and many events, including the gala at the New York Public Library, are already sold out. Events still up for grabs include an '80s-themed rum bash, a sunset cocktail cruise, the Indy Spirits Expo, and plenty of seminars and "behind-the-bar" sessions.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

  • Earlier this month, Compass Box Whisky partnered with the New York members of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of the Endangered Cocktail) for its second annual International Women's Day celebration of women and whisky. Eight of the city's top female bartenders created Compass Box cocktails--several of them were named after inspirational members of the women's movement--which were paired with either Murray's Cheese or Bespoke Chocolates. The event raised funds for Bottomless Closet NYC, a non-profit organization that helps disadvantaged NYC women become self-sufficient through comprehensive educational and training programs.
  • The winners of the 2011 Ultimate Spirits Challenge were recently announced, named by top beverage experts in a blind tasting held at Astor Center earlier this month. The judges, led by Judging Chairman F. Paul Pacult and Assistant Judging Chairman Sean Ludford, included Eric Alperin, Jacques Bezuidenhout, Tad Carducci, James Conley, Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Jim Meehan, Robert Plotkin, Julie Reiner, Jack Robertiello, Steve Olson, Andy Seymour, Aisha Sharpe, Willy Shine, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan and David Wondrich. This year, the competition also recognized spirits that offer "Great Value,"  based on the relationship between their score and price. For the full list of winners, click here.
  • On March 28, the New York chapter of the USBG (U.S. Bartender's Guild) is holding its third annual Cocktail Jam at Astor Center. Twelve of the city's best bartenders will shake, stir and sling during the smackdown, taking place from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Judges Giuseppe Gonzalez, Thomas Waugh, Phil Ward, and Stephanie Moreno will decide the winner, who will receive a $2,000 scholarship to the esteemed cocktail conference, Tales of the Cocktail. Tickets to the jam are $35 and 50% of all ticket proceeds benefit Action Against Hunger (Tsunami Relief) and the USBGNY.

The Alice Paul by Erin Williams, Hush Cocktails, NYC

1 ½ oz Spice Tree ½ oz Orangerie 1 bar spoon fig preserve 2 dashes Smeby's Highland Heather bitters Peat Monster-rinsed coupe

Top with Champagne. Garnish with an orange twist.

Alice Paul was the woman who championed the women’s suffrage movement and ultimately won women the right to vote in 1920.

Trend Alert: Guest Bartending

Guest bartending is nothing new, especially given the jetset lifestyle of today's mixologists, but lately, NYC cocktail bars seem to be taking the "have shaker, will travel" concept up a notch. Last year's opening of Forty Four at the Royalton featured an ongoing series of guest appearances from the Cocktail Collective, the bartenders who consulted on its cocktail menu. Visits from Eric Alperin of LA's Varnish, Misty Kalkofen of Boston's Drink, or John Lermayer from Miami's The Florida Room translated into flash crowds at Forty Four, in attendance for the touring drink-slingers' star performances. More recently, Fatty Johnson's, part of NYC's current pop-up restaurant craze, has featured a different mixologist or brand ambassador every night (from Eben Freeman to Dave Wondrich), with their own exclusive cocktail menus. Check out Fatty Johnson's Tumblr highlighting the guest bartenders' demo videos and cocktail menus.

And next week, Nolita bar 1534 introduces "Roustabouts," a weekly guest bartending series on Wednesdays from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Wednesdays. Here's the upcoming line-up:

  • 2/23: Dushan Zaric, Employees Only, Macao Trading Co. & Aisha Sharpe, Contemporary Cocktails
  • 3/2: Dominic Venegas, Smuggler's Cove & Willy Shine, Contemporary Cocktails
  • 3/9: Misty Kalkofen, Drink Boston & Leo DeGroff, AKA Wine Geek
  • 3/15: Phil Pepperdine, St-Germain & Daniel Undhammar, Zu Vodka

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.

NYC's Sexiest Cocktails & Bars for Valentine's Day

Say what you will about Valentine's Day, the Catholic holiday bastardized by Hallmark, the chocolate industry and the color red, but every February we fall for the same heart-shaped routine. Whether you're single or off the market, I think we can all agree a little extra love in the air isn't a bad thing come mid-winter. Of course, restaurants and cocktail bars recognize this too--I say take advantage of the holiday menus and put some lovin' in your cup. Here's seven sexy cocktails served in seven sexy bars in NYC to get you in the mood (you can thank me later):

Le Fraise Sauvage at Employees Only: 1 1/4 oz. Plymouth Gin 3/4 oz. lemon juice 1/4 oz. simple syrup 1 oz. strawberry puree 2 oz. Mumm Joyesse Demi-Sec Champagne Directions: Pour all ingredients except Champagne into a mixing glass. Add ice, cover and shake vigorously for 7-8 seconds. Pour champagne into a chilled cocktail-martini glass and pour the cocktail over it. Garnish with half a strawberry.

Employees Only (510 Hudson St.), a veteran on the cocktail scene, should be considered an ace in your deck of NYC date spots. Of course, with a solid reputation for smart drinks, impeccable service and a seductive vibe complete with a fireplace, the small bar fills up fast--put your charm on the doorman to better your chances of getting in. Once inside, let this fizzy, summer-y cocktail (pictured above) put its charm on you.

Andean Dusk at Raines Law Room: 4 to 5 muddled red grapes 1/2 oz. lemon juice 1/2 oz. simple syrup 1 oz. La Diablada Pisco Directions: Shake with ice and strain into a flute and top with rose Champagne (Raines uses Moet & Chandon Rose.)

The private tables at Raines Law Room (48 W. 17th St.) were built for PDA--velvet sofas cocooned in black gauze, each outfitted with buzzers to call for the server so you're never disturbed when you don't want to be. With capacity for about 50 people, you'll want to arrive early if you're planning on cozying up here for Valentine's Day. Meaghan Dorman's Andean Dusk, with its sunset hue and floral notes, is on the current menu, but there will be other romantic specials that night too.

East India Trading Company at Death & Co: 2 oz. Appleton Reserve Rum 3/4 oz. East India Solera Sherry 1/2 oz. Ramazotti Amaro 2 dashes Bittermens Mole Bitters

Chances are, getting into Death & Co. (433 E. 6th St.) on Valentine's Day is going to be arduous, so do yourself a favor and go early in the evening or pick another night. Winner of Tales of the Cocktail's Best American Bar award in 2010, this dark-as-a-coffin-lit-by-chandeliers speakeasy wrote the book on sexy design, with some of the city's best drinks to boot.  Brian Miller's sherry-spiked concoction, a balance of rich flavors, continues to impress.

Code Noir at 1534: 1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey 1 1/2 oz. Pineau des Charantes 3 dashes Angostura Bitters 2 dashes of Fee Bros. Peach Bitters Lemon oil Directions:  In a chilled mixing glass, dash peach bitters and Angostura bitters. Add the Pineau des Charentes and Rye Whiskey. Add cracked ice and Kold Draft ice.  Stir 20-25 times. Add some fresh ice, strain and pour into a frozen coupe glass.  Garnish with lemon peel.

Nolita newcomer 1534 (20 Prince St.) is catering to singles this Valentine's Day--check out their Summer Fling party from 8 to 11 p.m. on Feb. 14, designed to chase away the winter blues with spe tiki punches like "Love Potion #9." On any other night, the subterranean enclave feels cozy and inviting, much like this sophisticated cocktail featuring an aperitif made from Cognac eau-de-vie and unfermented grape juice.

The Hong Kong Cocktail at Macao Trading Co.: 2 oz. Gran Centenario Plata Tequila 3/4 oz. Ruby Port 1 oz. lemon juice 3/4 oz. Pandan Leaf syrup

While a seat at the main bar at Macao Trading Co. (311 Church St.) offers plenty of ambience, for a more illicit scene, head downstairs to the opium den-inspired lounge. Best be sure you like the person you're drinking with before you settle into the brothel theme, as the seating is a bit cramped. Loosen up with this tequila tipple featuring syrup made from the aromatic, vanilla-like Pandan Leaf.

Hot Zombie at Painkiller: 3/4 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice 1/2 oz. demerara syrup 1/2 oz. passion fruit puree 1 1/2 oz. 151 rum Directions: Top with hot water and a pat of salted, spiced butter. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Painkiller (49 Essex St.), with its den-of-bad-decisions vibe, leopard print banquettes and pictures of half-naked island girls, already had a lot going for it before recently increasing its tiki menu exponentially. A selection of hot tiki drinks are especially tantalizing, and the Hot Zombie, with a slug of 151 rum, will fast-forward you through any awkward moments.

Xanté Crush at DBar: 1 1/2 oz. Xanté 1 1/2 oz. lemon juice 1 oz. simple syrup 3 strawberries Directions: Muddle strawberries and all other ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain and serve in a cocktail glass with sugar coated rim. Garnish with fresh berry.

I have to admit, DBar (263 W. 19th St.) has been off my radar despite some mixologist friends working there--I just don't find myself in Chelsea very often. But should you be rolling Westside, this sleek cocktail bar is not to be missed. Annexed to Donatella Arpaia's pizzeria, the lounge offers an intimate atmosphere and crafty drinks--both of which are hard to find in this scenester 'hood. Xanté, a pear-infused French Cognac with hints of vanilla, is sultry enough on its own, but this Valentine's Day special by bartender Duane Fernandez is D-lish.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse...

  • LVMH's and photographer Todd Selby look inside the molecular mixology lab of London's Tony Conigliaro, 2009 Tales of the Cocktail International Bartender of the Year, to see how rare ingredients are put through centrifuges and distillers to make wild concoctions.
  • Tales of the Cocktail has announced its annual cocktail competition, and is asking bartenders to put a twist on a New Orleans classic and one of my personal favorites, the Ramos Gin Fizz. The winner receives $1,250, and their recipe will be named the “official cocktail” of Tales 2011. Entries must be received by February 21.
  • Tales also recently awarded $25,000 in scholarships to former cocktail apprentices, giving the past volunteers an opportunity to pursue projects and education. Winners include Nick Jarrett and Brad Farran of Clover Club, who will use $5,000 to create a green, zero-impact pop-up bar, with plans to test it out at Burning Man 2012. New York's Don Lee also won $5,000 to study and develop a universal scientific language to describe the flavor profiles of every major spirit category and basic cocktail family.
  • Valentine's Day is coming up, looking to mix and mingle? The Summit Bar's got you covered with a nightlong drink special featuring natural elixir- and aphrodisiac-infused His and Her punches. "His" will feature Korean ginseng (revitalizes the body), chipotle chili, tequila, fresh lime and a misted of house made pheromone. "Hers" will feature Damiana (Central American plant used for arousal), Russian vodka, Vietnamese cinnamon and  pineapple vanilla bean.

Dizzy Days Ahead: Trendcasting 2011

Another year, another look into the future of the liquiverse. A good deal of my predictions for cocktail culture in 2010 were spot-on (I had no idea NYC would be getting three high-profile tiki bars when I wrote that post), so I'm feeling a little pressure this year, like I'm some kind of oracle. See Spice & Ice author Kara Newman's projected trends here, NY Barfly's crystal ball-gazing's list of cocktail trends from around the world, and read about predictions for a mild increase in bar sales for 2011 here. Here's what I'm expecting from the NYC scene and beyond:

  1. Micro goes macro: In 2010, we saw Tuthilltown Distillery''s Hudson Whiskey line go worldwide with acquisition, marketing and distribution by the UK-based William Grant & Sons. The sale was considered a giant leap for the craft distilling movement as larger brands took notice. I'm guessing we'll continue to see small batch spirits take on more of the market this year.
  2. Bartender-owned bars: Word on the street is a number of high-profile bartenders are saving their pennies to open the bars of their dreams this year. In late 2010,  The Drink, an all-punch nautical-themed bar in Williamsburg, was opened by a team including veteran bartender Frank Cisneros of Dram. Expect to see more of these rec-room-style bars serving crafty drinks--or, bartender's bars, if you will.
  3. Cocktails on tap: We've seen wine on draft, and as previously mentioned, mixologists are readying for alcohol-infused libations from the soda gun. El Cobre on Avenue A is serving Dark & Stormies on tap with Gosling's Black Seal Rum, lime and CO2. In San Francisco, Fernet (which flows like water there) is on tap at a couple of bars. It's only a matter of time before NYC gets fizzy with this trend.
  4. The punch bowl floweth: This is already old news in NYC, but I'm excited to see how other cities adopt this trend. I'm also hoping we see a wider variety of punch bowl sets on store shelves. However, I'm not too keen on the idea of drinking out of giant flamingo fountains--that just sounds unsanitary.
  5. Wood works: Whether barrel-aged cocktails are embraced beyond drink nerds or not, one thing is for sure--experimentation with various cooperage is a continuing trend. In 2010, for instance, we saw Excellia Tequila finished in Cognac casks and Maker's 46, featuring original Maker's Mark finished in barrels with staves of seared French Oak.
  6. Live entertainment: Expanding on 2010's love affair with piano bars, I wouldn't be surprised to see more cocktail bars adding vintage music, vaudeville and other shenanigans to the menu, with customers sporting more sophisticated attire to match.
  7. Anyone can be a mixologist: As educational programs teaching the craft of cocktail-making and organizations such as the USBG continue to go mainstream, more and more amateurs are finding the confidence to make complicated drinks. Some "bar-tweenies" could use more training. Of course, just like anything else, only the strong will survive--but the opportunity to get schooled is there.

The Dizzy Fizz's Top 10 NYC Cocktail Bars to Open in 2010

Last year, I announced my top 10 new cocktail bars in no particular order--this year, with a clear tie for first place, I decided to list my favorites in numerical order. Thank you to the teams behind all of these new bars for making NYC a better place to drink in 2010.

Tie for First Place: Dram,  177 S. 4th St., Brooklyn; and Painkiller, 49 Essex St. 3. 44 at The Royalton, 44 W. 44th St. 4. Lani Kai, 525 Broome St. 5. 1534, 20 Prince St. 6. Vandaag, 103 Second Ave. 7. Weatherup Tribeca, 159 Duane St. 8. La Biblioteca, 622 Third Ave. 9. The Counting Room, 44 Berry St., Brooklyn 10. Cienfuegos, 443 E. 6th St.

Honorable mentions: Peels, 325 Bowery; The Empire Room, 350 Fifth Ave.; The Lamb's Club, 132 W. 44th St.; Casa Mezcal, 86 Orchard St.; and Mary Queen of Scots, 115 Allen St.

I'd also like to congratulate three non-cocktail bars for adding relief to the drinking scene in 2010: The Whiskey Brooklyn, 44 Berry St.; Idle Hands, 25 Avenue B; and Lady Jay's, 633 Grand St., Brooklyn

Don't Miss The Holiday Spirits Bazaar!

Come one, come all to the first-ever Holiday Spirits Bazaar, taking place tomorrow, Dec. 11, at The Green Building at 450 Union St., Brooklyn. VIP admission starts at 4 p.m. for $25, and regular admission is from 5 to 10 p.m. for $20 (purchase tickets here). A portion of proceeds from this holiday cocktail tasting and shopping extravaganza, brought to you by The Dizzy Fizz, will benefit the Museum of the American Cocktail.

Get inspired to host a spirited party of your own as you sip holiday drinks by fine brands such as: 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 Rum, Castries Peanut Liqueur and Innis & Gunn Cask-Aged Beer.

Need to get some holiday shopping done? We have some amazing vendors such as: Fette Sau BBQ selling pulled-pork and brisket sandwiches, Emily Thompson Flowers selling wreaths and and table centerpieces, Etsy craft designers Jesse Tobin and Elisabeth Prescott selling accessories, SkimKim Foods selling kimchee bloody mary mix, and author Kara Newman signing and selling copies of her book, "Spice & Ice!"

And don't miss out on a silent auction to benefit MOTAC, featuring: artwork by Jill DeGroff, jewelry by Aroc Urtu, vintage French absinthe and liqueur posters, a three-night stay at Lenell Smothers' Casa Coctel in Mexico, a Tuthilltown Distillery gift pack, and more!

Plus DJ TomasMoves on the decks, gravity-defying dance performance, and plenty other surprises!

Hope to see you there!

Must be 21+ to attend. Please drink responsibly.