- 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 Liquor.com. 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 CBSNewYork.com. Don't worry, I'll still keep things fresh for you here, I'm just getting adjusted to the new schedule!
- 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.
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.
"When I sell liquor, it's called bootlegging; when my patrons serve it on Lake Shore Drive, it's called hospitality."--Al Capone
On Sunday, August 1st, I nearly shed a tear as I witnessed a historic moment in NYC drinking culture--the first spirits distilled here since the days of Prohibition were served to the general public at two Brooklyn locations. Kings County Distillery, the little moonshine makers that could, poured their unaged corn whiskey--which also features malted Scottish barley for added complexity--at UVA Wines & Spirits in Williamsburg, while Breuckelen Distilling Co. flung open its Sunset Park doors to a thirsty crowd for tastings of its wheat-based gin and tours of its small factory centered around a 400-liter German copper still.
I visited both distilleries last month before they opened, and the yeast-scented anticipation hanging in the air was nothing short of infectious. Hard at work on a daily basis since spring, Brad Estabrooke of Breuckelen and Kings County's Colin Spoelman and David Haskell--all in their early 30s--represent the new generation of distillers pioneering the artisanal spirits renaissance. Recent changes to state law have made microdistilling easier and more affordable. But unlike their rural New York counterparts, these guys face the unique challenges of their urban environs.
"I don’t think there’s any distillery in the country doing what we’re doing," said Colin, who works by day as an architect before spending up to 8 hours a night at Kings County's 325 square-foot warehouse in East Williamsburg. "Our stills are 8 gallons each. We’re essentially doing what a home distiller is doing, but times four. It offers certain taste advantages, certain integrity advantages."
Colin, a Kentucky native, has been a moonshine hobbyist for years, while David, a magazine editor, had a bootlegging great-grandfather. Along with their three apprentices, they continuously monitor the cooking of organic New York corn and malted Scottish barley into their fermented mash before sending it through their small pot stills.
Due to the limited size of the operation, David and Colin bottle their moonshine in 200ml flasks selling for $20. Kings County is also placing its white dog in 5-gallon oak barrels, to eventually be bottled as bourbon. And they recently purchased another space within their building on Meadow Street that will be turned into a tasting room.
With a production output of about three times the size of Kings County's, Breuckelen Distilling Co. at 77 19th St. is a dream come true for Brad, who came up with the idea to start a distillery with his girlfriend, Liz O'Connell.
"We were sitting around having drinks one day, discussing how we don’t like our jobs," said Brad, a former bond trader who grew up in Maine. "We thought it would be rewarding to produce something. Then I was reading an in-flight magazine article that mentioned that the federal rules for distilling had changed, and that there was a revolution in micro-distilling. I immediately knew that was what I wanted to do."
At Breuckelen, organic New York wheat is milled and fermented before going into the 16-foot still with eight plates which can be adjusted to result in a stronger or lighter wheat flavor. Brad then returns the wheat spirit to the still with juniper berries, lemon peel, grapefruit peel, rosemary and ginger to produce his gin. The nutty wheat grounds the botanical notes of the gin, offering a unique product for $35 per 750ml bottle. Brad said he is considering bottling the wheat spirit on its own, and is already planning a winter edition of his gin.
"I think people who are interested in trying different spirits, not just the mass-marketed big brands, will want to try our gin," said Brad. "People who appreciate local and artisan crafted, not assembly line. Anyone who wants to see where and how their spirits are made."
And click here for all of the locations to buy Breuckelen Gin in addition to their Sunset Park tasting room.
- 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.
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.)
- 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.
- 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)
- 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!
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.
- 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!
- Just when you thought the Manhattan Cocktail Classic couldn't get soaked with any more liquids, hometown heroes The Tippling Point have gone and put together an event that actually floats--on New York Harbor, specifically. Tickets for "The Three Hour Tour," as it's been dubbed, went on sale today, and they are moving fast. The booze cruise aboard the Royal Princess Cruise Liner at sunset on May 16 will feature a live band and DJ, live ice carving by Shintaro Okamoto, and five cocktails by some of the best bartenders in the states: Jacqueline Patterson of Heaven’s Dog (San Francisco), Thomas Waugh of Death & Co. (NYC), John Lermayer of The Florida Room (Miami), Richard Boccato of Dutch Kills & Painkiller (NYC) and Danny Valdez of Cure (New Orleans). Moet Hennessy USA is sponsoring (10 Cane Rum, Ardbeg Scotch, Grand Marnier, Belvedere Vodka, and Hennessy), so you might as well be screaming "I'm a boat" the entire time. To make this happen, Jason Littrell teamed up with Gianfranco Verga, Tad Carducci, and Paul Tanguay to form the company The Tippling Point. Come through for this, the Gala, and of course, the Tastemaker's Punch, and you'll have your party points for the year--not to be missed! Use code TONY for 25 percent off on all Manhattan Cocktail Classic events!
- May 1 means Derby Day, the quintessential day to sip a mint julep and wear a hat for at least two minutes. This year is the 135th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, and with the resurgence in brown spirits it seems like a lovely reason to celebrate. Most recipes call for bourbon, but Harry Johnson's 1888 recipe with brandy and a dash of Jamaican rum, copied below, sounds equally as delicious.
- On May 3 and 4, bartenders from all over will converge in NYC to take a master class in Japanese cocktail technique from Kazuo Uyeda. The most famous bartender in Japan, Kazuo is author of "Japanese Cocktail Technique," which is being released for the first time in English by Cocktail Kingdom/Mud Puddle Books, sponsors of the event. Two days of rigorous education (including hard shake demonstrations) take place at Hiro Ballroom in Chelsea, where everyone will also let off steam with Suntory cocktails the night of May 4. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for ticket requests.
- And wow, what a difference a year makes--on May 13, we celebrate World Cocktail Day! The day marking the first public mention of the word "cocktail," this date also commemorates the first full year of The Dizzy Fizz! Coincidentally, I have the same birthday as one of the best cocktail culture blogs on the West Coast, Thirsty in LA. Since NYC is the place to be this month, Thirsty in LA's Daniel Djang will actually be here and we're going to celebrate our "blogiversary" together! Deets to come!
Mint Julep, adapted from Harry Johnson, "New & Improved Illustrated Bartender's Manual:"
Serving vessel: a glass.
1/2 oz. sugar 2 oz. water or seltzer 3 to 4 sprigs of mint
Muddle mint in the sugar and water to extract the flavor of the mint, then remove and discard the mint.
6 oz. brandy
Fill with shaved ice, stir. Garnish with a mint leaf, berry, pineapple and orange.
1 dash Jamaican rum.
Sprinkle with sugar, serve with a straw.
- Just in time for party and picnic season, St-Germain is releasing a "Summer Soiree" kit, complete with a bottle of the elderflower liqueur, a carafe with measurements for a champagne punch, cocktail stirrer, and poster with summery recipes. Available for about $34 at Astor Wines & Spirits and Union Square Wines, this is bound to be one hot potato.
- Want a free trip to Tales of the Cocktail? There are at least two cocktail contests offering to do just that, with deadlines approaching. Veev and Contemporary Cocktails have partnered up for "Cocktails for a Cause," asking cocktailians to submit recipes here by May 3 using Veev and fresh ingredients. Not only will Veev plant five trees for every recipe submitted, but the top three vote-getters win airfare and hotel for Tales! And if you not only want to win a trip to Tales, but to Australia too, enter Yellowtail's "wine-tail" contest here before April 25. Semifinals will be held the afternoon of May 17 during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, and finalists will throw down at Tales in New Orleans on July 24 (standard airfaire and one night stay included). Judges will include Doug Frost, Dale DeGroff, David Wondrich and Andy Seymour, and the winner gets a 6-day trip for two to the land down under!
- Soon enough, you might be telling your bartender to "Super Beer Me," as cases of BrewDog's Tactical Nuclear Penguin make their way to NYC and California. With an ABV of 32 percent (six times Budweiser), the beer is made by being frozen at a local ice cream factory at temperatures as low as -6°C (21°F), for 21 days. Alcohol freezes at lower temperatures than water, and removing water from the solution increased the alcohol concentration. Due to the complex brewing process and limited availability, these pups are going for $53 per 11.2-oz bottle!
- And if you've got $1,000 to play with, Tiffany & Co. has designed an exclusive Woodfords Reserve mint julep cup, with proceeds benefitting The Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes & Obesity Center. Owners of the cups will enjoy a mint julep featuring ingredients from around the globe: raw-cane sugar made from 100 percent organic sugar cane grown in Brazil; Kentucky Colonel Mint from Louisville, KY which was grown in a used Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel; ice made of water from a 10,000-year-old glacier in the far northern region of the Pacific Ocean near the Gulf of Alaska; and a small batch of the Master Distiller’s personal selection of Woodford Reserve super-premium bourbon. The 73 silver cups will be presented on Kentucky Derby Day, May 1, at Churchill Downs--you can purchase here.
"Her early leaf's a flower."--Robert Frost
- Creme Yvette sold out within its first 48 hours on the shelves at Astor Wine & Spirits. The historic berry and botanical liqueur is a lush modifier, as I recently experienced with an exquisite Aviation at new cocktail den Dram in Williamsburg -- I'm not kidding when I say hints of blackberry, cassis, framboise, violet petals and orange peel made the gin sing on mountain high. Released as a limited early launch, the first full shipment will be coming from France at an as-yet-announced later date. If you are lucky enough to have tried it, please leave comments!
- In addition to Dram, recent bar openings include Midtown retreats Empire Room, Hospitality Holding's swanky cocktail lounge on the ground level of the Empire State Building, and La Biblioteca, a swanky tequila library at Zengo--although I've heard the latter is still waiting for their swanky liquor license.
- It's currently Tartan Week in NYC, which means there are kilted men on the loose and drams of single malt whisky everywhere you turn--in other words, this is kind of the best week ever. Be sure to check out the Tartan Day Parade, this Saturday April 10. I'll have some recaps for you on this, trust...
- Amateurs such as myself have a reason to break out the jiggers and shakers beyond entertaining ourselves by entering Louis 649's "Anyone Can Be a Mixologist" contest. Running now through April 18, non-working bartenders are invited to submit recipes using sponsored base ingredients. The live throwdown between 10 semi-finalists is April 21, and the winner gets their drink on the spring cocktail menu, a subscription to Imbibe and a $100 bar tab at Louis -- game on! Click here for the rules, newbie.
- Oh, and you probably heard this already, but Julie Reiner and her partners at Clover Club have purchased the Tailor space and are planning something somewhat tropical.
- Meanwhile, Allen & Delancey, at one point featuring a cocktail menu by Alex Day, quietly bit the dust.
I'm currently having a blast as a featured blogger at SXSW in Austin, Tex., but I must take a quick break to share yesterday's announcement of the winners from the first-ever Ultimate Spirits Challenge spearheaded by F. Paul Pacult. Congrats to the winners! Here's the press release:
March 15, 2010 (New York, NY): Ultimate Beverage Challenge’s (UBC) first Ultimate Spirits Challenge was held at Astor Center on March 1-3, 2010. The inaugural Ultimate Spirits Challenge proved that integrity, method, and credibility can flourish and be the driving forces in a competitive beverage alcohol environment. More than 520 entries from scores of companies and nations were entered, but only a dozen distillates were awarded the esteemed USC Chairman’s Trophy as the highest scoring spirits of their category.
Following four stages of competitive judging over the course of three days, Ultimate Spirits Challenge Chairman’s Trophy winners were arrived at based on their aggregate score on the 100-point scale. Panels of carefully selected spirits authorities (such as Assistant Judging Chairman Sean Ludford, Dale DeGroff, Andy Seymour, Jacques Bezuidenhout), educators (Steve Olson, Doug Frost), buyers (James Conley, Ethan Kelley, Audrey Saunders), and author-journalists (David Wondrich, gaz regan) employed UBC’s innovative multi-stage scoring system that determined the best of the best entries.
Said UBC Judging Chairman and Managing Partner F. Paul Pacult, “It’s clear that a perfect storm of superbly qualified judges, meticulous and innovative methodology, the state-of-the-art clinical environment of Astor Center, and a gifted operational staff helped usher in a new era of beverage alcohol competitive evaluation. I’m looking forward to 2011 already.”
The Chairman Trophy winners and Semifinalists for the 2010 Ultimate Spirits Challenge are:
Ultimate Spirits Challenge Chairman’s Trophy Winners & Semifinalists 2010
Vodka & Aquavit Chairman’s Trophy Winner: Orzel Vodka (Poland) Semifinalists: Skyy Vodka (USA) Vermont White Vodka (USA) Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka (Finland) Gin & Genever Chairman’s Trophy Winner: Broker’s London Dry Gin (England) Semifinalists: Beefeater 24 Gin (England) Citadelle 2009 Reserve Gin (France) Tanqueray London Dry Gin (England) Tequila & Mezcal Chairman’s Trophy Winner: Tres Agaves Anejo Tequila (Mexico) Semifinalists: Sambra Mezcal, (Mexico) Don Pilar Anejo Tequila (Mexico) Del Maguey Tobala Single Village Mezcal (Mexico) Rum & Cachaça Chairman’s Trophy Winner: Mount Gay Rum 1703 (Barbados) Semifinalists: Zafra 21 Year Old Rum (Panama) J. Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum (Jamaica) Bacardi 8 Years Old Rum (Puerto Rico) Ireland & Wales Whiskey Chairman’s Trophy Winner: Midleton Very Rare 2008 Blended Irish Whiskey (Ireland) Semifinalists: Connemara 12 Year Old Peated Single Malt Whiskey (Ireland) Bushmills 1608 Single Malt Whiskey (Ireland) Redbreast 12 Years Old Pure Pot Still Whiskey (Ireland) Scotland Whisky Chairman’s Trophy Winner: The Macallan Fine Oak 21 Year Old Malt Whisky (Scotland) Semifinalists: Johnnie Walker Gold 18 Year Old Blended Whisky (Scotland) Royal Salute 21 Year Old Blended Whisky (Scotland) Glenmorangie Signet Single Malt Whisky (Scotland) US & Canada Whiskey Chairman’s Trophy Winner: George Dickel No. 12 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey (USA) Semifinalists: Sazerac 18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (USA) Crown Royal XR Blended Canadian Whisky (Canada) Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (USA) World Brandy, Grappa & Eau-de-Vie Chairman’s Trophy Winner: Nonino Grappa Il Merlot (Italy) Semifinalists: Macchu Pisco (Peru) Bartlett Spirits of Maine Apple Brandy (USA) Giovi Clear Brandy of Cactus Pear (Italy) Cognac Chairman’s Trophy Winner: Frapin Chateau Fontpinot XO Grande Champagne Cognac (France) Semifinalists: Landy XO Cognac (France) Pierre Ferrand Selection des Anges Grande Champagne Cognac (France) Hennessy XO Cognac (France) Armagnac Chairman’s Trophy Winner: Chateau du Busca-Maniban Hors d’Age Tenareze-Armagnac (France) Semifinalists: Chateau de Laubade 1960 Bas-Armagnac (France) Marie Duffau Hors d’Age Bas-Armagnac (France) Cles des Ducs VSOP Armagnac (France) Calvados Chairman’s Trophy Winner: Boulard Grand Solage Pays d’Auge Calvados (France) Semifinalists: Coeur de Lion Hors d’Age Pays d’Auge Calvados (France) Roger Groult 8 Year Old Pays d’Auge Calvados (France) World Liqueurs, Absinthes & Other Chairman’s Trophy Winner: St Germain Elderflower Liqueur (France) Semifinalists: Herbsaint Original Liqueur d’Anis (France) Bauchant Orange Liqueur (France) Mathilde Raspberry Frambroise (France) For a complete list of all results and scores please go to: www.ultimate-beverage.com/USCresults2010/ ABOUT ULTIMATE BEVERAGE CHALLENGE Founded by award-winning journalist, author, educator and critic F. Paul Pacult, wine and spirits publishing industry veteran David Talbot, and Spirit Journal managing editor Sue Woodley, Ultimate Beverage Challenge is now providing both the industry and consumers with a clear and unassailable indication of beverage alcohol quality, in terms that are readily accessible.
• Ultimate Cocktail Challenge, in which spirits and wines will be judged on how well they perform in classic cocktails, occurs on April 12-14, 2010. • The inaugural Ultimate Wine Challenge, for the evaluation of fine still, sparkling, and fortified wines, will be held on June 7-11, 2010.
For more information on all three 2010 UBC competitions, for help with entry forms, for complete Ultimate Spirits Challenge scores, please go to www.ultimate-beverage.com or call 1-347-878-6551.
She's finally here! Although she's more of a reincarnate than a newborn, Creme Yvette, the highly anticipated liqueur from the makers of St-Germain elderflower liqueur, is now on sale at Astor Wines & Spirits for $41.99. I'm still finding out which other liquor shops are stocking it--Park Avenue Liquor expects to have it soon and there is already a customer waiting list! Featuring notes of berries, spices, honey, vanilla, and a hint of violet petals, Creme Yvette disappeared in 1969, but Robert Cooper’s family has the rights to the recipe and has been fine-tuning it for relaunch.
Over the past two years, Creme de Violette has been a hit with mixologists seeking the missing link to a proper Aviation. Classic cocktails that include Yvette are the Blue Moon (2 oz. gin, 3/4 oz. lemon, 1/2 oz. Creme Yvette) and the Union Jack (1 1/2 oz. gin, 1/2 oz. Creme Yvette).
I'm excited to see the reddish-purple Yvette make a splash on NYC cocktail menus. Have an idea for a cocktail recipe featuring Creme Yvette? Comment below, and I'll experiment with some of them--the best recipe will win something cool, I promise!
*Correction: I originally said the original recipe for the Aviation, as found in Hugo Ensslin's 1917 book, "Recipes for Mixed Drinks," included Creme Yvette--it did not, it calls for Creme de Violette--my apologies.
Back in November, I broke the news that the Jane Hotel's Ballroom was reopening after being shut down in October due to neighbor complaints and pesky legal issues--turned out, just the Lobby Bar was able to reopen at that time. Now, my trusty sources tell me that Sean MacPherson's Ballroom is guaranteed to be back in business by Monday, March 1st in early March. Reportedly, the Ballroom has undergone renovations to ensure that it is 100 percent up to city code. You heard it here!
- BarSmarts Wired is now open for registration through March 31. Created by Beverage Alcohol Resource and Pernod Ricard USA, the online bartender training program is available for two-month intervals twice a year. While BarSmarts Advanced is invitation-only, the Wired version is open to any bar enthusiast 21 and older. The $45 course fee includes a messenger bag packed with essential bar tools, shipped to you whether you pass the course or not.
- For reasons yet unknown, Audrey Saunders has left her helm at the Tar Pit in L.A. She told The New York Times that she and the other bar owners disagreed over the swanky retro bar's promotion: "It’s not our style to promote our beverage program through cable programs, etc — and that became a stumbling block for us."
- New York sales of Fernet Branca jumped 50 percent in 2009, undoubtedly thanks to NYC's cocktail community--but the saturation here still doesn't match San Francisco, which drinks more than half of the Fernet sold in the entire U.S.!
- Save the dates for the first-ever Ultimate Beverage Challenge series, starting with the Ultimate Spirits Challenge at Astor Center on March 1-3, followed by the Ultimate Cocktail Challenge on April 12-14. For the cocktail challenge, spirit and wine categories will be meticulously mixed in classic cocktails to determine which ones work best, such as the best gin in a dry martini. The judging panel will include founder F. Paul Pacult, Jacques Bezuidenhout, Dale DeGroff, Steve Olson, Julie Reiner, Audrey Saunders, Jim Meehan, Doug Frost, Andy Seymour, David Wondrich and more.
- Liquor industry giant Diageo is leading efforts to stop New York grocery stores from selling wine, as proposed in a current bill from Gov. Paterson.
- Today is National Margarita Day! I like mine spicy:
Spicy Cucumber Margarita by Kara Newman, author of "Spice & Ice":
1/2 small cucumber, peeled and cubed 1 slice jalapeno pepper, minced 1 ounce reposado tequila 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice 1/2 ounce Cointreau or Grand Marnier Ice 1 small jalapeno or cucumber or lime wheel for garnish
In a shaker, muddle the cucumber and jalapeno. Add all liquid ingredients, and fill halfway with ice. Shake well, for at least 30 seconds or more, then strain twice into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the small chili pepper or cucumber or lime wheel.
Ok, so normally I wouldn't dare post a rumor--what kind of hack do you think I am, people? But this one's too good to wait for something as paltry as a press release. So, off the record, I have received word from trustworthy but unnamed sources that Death & Co.'s Jason Littrell (aka Commander-in-Chief of the Drunken Army, aka brand ambassador of the pickle back, aka "The Ringleader") will be bartending the Tuesday Night Tastings at Louis 649 beginning Feb. 2. Not that you needed another reason to indulge in free alcohol during the TNT series, but now you have that much more encouragement (i.e., Drunken Army orders) to stick around and imbibe after the tasting seminars--or risk demotion! Stay tuned for the "official" announcement...
- 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)