- 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.
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.
- 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!
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.
"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."--Fernand Point, a French restaurateur considered the father of modern French cuisine
If you haven't yet wandered down the narrow Chinatown street leading to the former opuim den-turned-Parisian-style apothecary bar Apotheke, you really are missing out on one of New York's most hidden treasures. If you are lucky, you'll open the ornate doors to see 2009 Star Chefs Rising Stars-winning mixologist Orson Salicetti behind the bar in his lab coat, mixing his exotic tinctures and infusions (made from ingredients such as dried fruits from Corsica) into dizzying treats.
Orson, who grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, developed his culinary approach to cocktail making thanks to the influence of his mother, a chef and restaurateur. He moved to NYC in 2001, and after a stint in Miami, he returned to New York to tend bar at Rayuela and Islero, where he met Albert Trummer. Albert, an Austrian bar chef/master mixologist, is the propietor of Apotheke, and Orson, as head bartender, is the backbone of the operation. Orson says he appreciates Albert's innovative approach to mixing drinks and for giving him the freedom to source fresh, rare ingredients. Watching Orson mix drinks, and knowing that he made his modifiers by hand, it is clear that he takes an artistic, if not poetic, approach to the craft. For his Tomato Basil Martini recently served at the Star Chefs gala, Orson first rimmed the glass in a mix of Himalayan salt, fennel seeds, star anise, and sambuca--and that was just the garnish!
"The Dizzy Dozen" (The Same 12 Questions We Always Ask) With Orson Salicetti
Q: What is the first thing you drink after you wake up? A: A glass of water (I prefer sparkling water with a lemon) and an espresso.
Q: What is the first thing you drink after a hard day's work? A: My own Negroni (Plymouth Gin, Antica Formula Carpano, and Campari with my own bitters and an orange zest).
Q: What is the most delicious ingredient in your liquor cabinet? A: For my liquors I have a special edition Santa Tereza Rum, I also have a Corsica dried fruit bitters I love, and sweet plum.
Q: If you could sit at the bar between any two people (alive or deceased), who would they be? A: My dad and my grandfather.
Q: Three favorite NYC bars: • The bar at DBGB Kitchen & Bar because of the great selection of artisinal beers • The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel for latenight and beautiful people • Apotheke--great cocktails!
Q: Average night's sleep: A: I usually sleep around six hours, and a lucky night seven. During vacations, all day!
Q: What is your favorite place to shop for your bar? A: Union Square Greenmarket, where they have the best selection of fresh botanicals, fruits, and vegetables.
Q: Where do you find inspiration? A: First from my mentor, my mother, and second from the kitchen--aromas, flavors, and memories.
Q: If you woke up on a desert island, what bottle would you hope to have wash ashore? A: Sparkling water with a fresh lemon inside.
Q: Do you have any bar-related good luck charms? A: My Japanese jigger (it's a very special present).
Q: Do you have a nickname for yourself when you've had too many? A: Astano.