- Master chefs and mixologists are flocking to Astor Center this weekend to explore all things olfactory and tongue-tingling for a two-day conference, The Alchemy of Taste and Smell. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12, with a session on the use of aroma in cocktails (tickets are $55) led by Pegu Club owner Audrey Saunders and Dave Arnold, Director of Culinary Technology for the French Culinary Institute. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Astor Center flings open the doors for an Opening Night Party (tickets are $75), featuring creative cocktails by Dave and Audrey, as well as hor d'oeuvres by chefs David Chang, Alexander Talbot, Nils Noren and Bill Corbett. Interactive stations will also include dishes by chef Daniel Patterson (Coi, San Francisco) and essential oils presented by perfumer Mandy Aftel. See the Astor Center website for the full calendar of events, which includes sessions led by Wylie Dufresne, Harold McGee and Johnny Iuzzini and culminates with a multiple-course all-star dinner the night of Saturday, Nov. 13 (tickets are $300).
- On Wednesday, Nov. 17, Allen Katz of Slow Food NYC is leading a workshop on "Greenmarket Mixology for Holiday Cocktails." Learn how to incorporate farm-fresh ingredients such as herbs and maple syrup into your drinks. The session is from 6 to 8 p.m. at Union Square Wine & Spirits (tickets are $45).
- And if you haven't purchased your ticket yet for the third annual Repeal Day Ball on Saturday, Dec. 4, in Washington, D.C., you'd better get on that before the big event sells out. This year, the black tie soiree will be held at the Maison Biltmore in Adams Morgan and will feature themed rooms representing significant eras in cocktail history: 1800s (punches), 1900s (pre-Prohibition), 1920s (Prohibition), 1940s (tiki), 1960s (Mad Men), 1980s (inspired by Cocktail) and "The Future," along with a main ball room where jazz band The Red Hot Rhythm Chiefs will play. Tickets are $100 (or $150 for VIP hors d'oeurves and afterparty), with proceeds going to the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild and the Museum of the American Cocktail. At the ball, enjoy cocktail creations from D.C. favorites like Gina Chersevani, Derek Brown, Tom Brown, Chantal Tseng, Owen Thomson, Dan Searing, and Adam Bernbach, to name a few, along with special guests--bartending legends Dale DeGroff from New York, Chris McMillian from New Orleans, John Hogan from Annapolis, and Jeffrey Morgenthaler from Portland, as well as nationally-renowned cocktail historian and writer David Wondrich and Tiki expert Jeff "Beachbum" Berry.
- The Meatpacking District isn't just a place to chug bottles of Goose and Patron. Take your next date or out-of-town visitor on this romantic walking tour for an alluring look at the cobblestone zone. (Yep, by yours truly)
- Harlem speakeasy 67 Orange celebrates its one-year anniversary tonight. They are celebrating with $5 shots and introducing a new cocktail menu. Try the "Almack's," with Batavia Arrack, Lillet Blanc, Velvet Falernum, Allspice Dram, and muddled grapes. 8 to 10 p.m., 2082 Frederick Douglas Blvd.
- A look at Williamsburg's new rum bar, Roneria Caracas, in the Village Voice. (Again, by yours truly)
- The New York Times recommends Underberg bitters to combat holiday overindulgence, and apparently Prime Meats in Cobble Hill sells more of the German bitters than any other place in the country.
- Jim Meehan shows off his $660 bartender's bag for Metromix.
- On Dec. 16, The Metropolitan Opera is collaborating with mixologist Allen Katz to hold a cocktail competition. A group of NYC bartenders were recently invited to see a dress rehearsal of Tales of Hoffmann, which opens with the title character in a tavern, reflecting on past loves. Joaquin Simo (Death & Co.), Lynnette Marrero (Rye House), Meaghan Dorman (Raines Law Room), Leo Robitschek (Eleven Madison Park), Ryan McGrale (Flatiron Lounge), Brad Farran (Clover Club), and James Menite (Porter House) will be competing to create cocktails inspired by the production.
- The Magnificent Bastard is hosting a cocktail competition in search of the next classic cocktail. Bartenders have until Jan. 31 to submit recipes, and the winner will receive a $500 gift certificate to KegWorks.
Perhaps you have already heard that congratulations are in order to Kevin Diedrich of Clover Club for taking the grand prize at the first-ever Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur New York bärtending competition held earlier this week. His winning drink, "The Bottom Line," featured Bärenjäger with Highland Park 18, Manzilla Sherry, Cio Ciaro, orange bitters, and Angostura bitters. NoHo special-events-only speakeasy Woodson & Ford (643 Broadway) was host to the throwdown, where the vintage parlor decor was upstaged by a life-sized taxidermied black bear. The prop was in reference to the honey liqueur's heritage as a 15th century aid for hunters to lure bears from their dwellings. Made in Germany, the 70 proof vodka-based honey liqueur is made with honey sourced from the Mexican province of Yucatan.
Six New York bartenders competed in two rounds--first up was Neil Grosscup of Country Club, Meaghan Dorman of Raines Law Room, and Kevin. Neil offered "The Limburg," with Bärenjäger, Bols Genever, pressed apple juice, mint, and lemon juice, while Meaghan mixed the honey liqueur with Pimm's No. 1, Rittenhouse Rye, Angostura bitters, and lemon juice for the "Five in the Hive." The second round included Jonathan Pogash of Hospitality Holdings, Bradley Farran of Clover Club, and the people's choice winner, Gerry Corcoran of PDT. Jonathan made "The Bee Sting" with Bärenjäger, Laphroaig, Fernet-Branca, egg white, tangerine juice, and Peychaud's bitters; Bradley mixed the honey liqueur with tequila reposado, lemon juice, Cynar, and crème de cacao for "El Oso Agridulce;" and Gerry whipped up the “Bäre Fizz" with Bärenjäger, Famous Grouse scotch, fig preserves, lemon juice, and egg white, topped with Toasted Lager beer.
The judges for the event certainly knew what they were doing: mixologist and spirits aficionado Allen Katz of Southern Wine & Spirits; mixology icon Gary Regan of ArdentSpirits.com; cocktail maven Julie Reiner of Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge; one of the foremost spirits trade writers, Jack Robertiello; and Aisha Sharpe of Contemporary Cocktails, Inc. Judges based scores on taste, appearance, creativity, and overall delivery.
Kevin, whose drink the judges said was "an instant classic," won an all-expense trip paid for two to Oktoberfest 2009 in Munich, Germany. Kevin’s previous bartending experience includes Bourbon and Branch, Michael Mina’s Clock Bar, CASK, Beverage Academy, The Ritz Carleton and Bourbon Steak. Gerry received tickets to the Yankees. " The Bottom Line" by Kevin Diedrich: ¾ parts Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur 1 ½ parts Highland Park 18 1 part Manzanilla Sherry ¼ parts Cio Ciaro 1 dash orange bitters 1 dash Angostura bitters Add all ingredients to mixing glass, ice and stir strain into chilled cocktail glass. “Bäre Fizz" by Gerry Corcoran: .5 parts Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur 2 parts Famous Grouse Scotch 1 part fresh lemon juice 2-3 parts Toasted Lager beer 1 egg white 1 barspoon fig preserves 1 slice of fig for garnish
Dry shake all the ingredients except the lager, add ice, and shake again. Double strain into a chilled highball glass, top with the toasted lager beer and garnish with a slice of fig.
I just received the press release announcing the schedule for The Manhattan Cocktail Classic:
NEW YORK, August 20, 2009—The Manhattan Cocktail Classic, New York City’s first-ever multi-day celebration of all things cocktail-related, today announced the details of its Fall Preview seminar series, which will take place during the day on October 3-4, 2009, at Astor Center in New York City. The seminars will be led by members of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Advisory Board, which includes legendary mixologists, cocktail historians, spirits critics and writers, and speak-easy impresarios. Each seminar will be individually ticketed for $50, available through the website at www.manhattancocktailclassic.com beginning on September 7, 2009.
“I am very excited about the topics we have lined up for the Fall Preview,” said Lesley Townsend, Founder and Director of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. “It’s an unbelievable honor to have our Advisory Board members kicking off our event in this regard. Our hope is that this series will inspire the rest of the spirits and cocktail community to come forth with their own ideas for presentations for the first annual event in May of 2010.”
The seminar schedule is as follows:
Saturday, October 3, 2009
“Have Cocktail Shaker, Will Travel” with Charlotte Voisey & Simon Ford: Once the last legal cocktail was served on the eve of Prohibition in New York City, things would never be the same again. ‘Have cocktail shaker, will travel’ was the mindset of many a passionate barkeep in the 1920s when their craftsmanship turned criminal. Join Charlotte Voisey, Simon Ford, and other assorted friends for a jovial discussion on how New York has been influencing cocktail culture around the world for many years. Liquid refreshments will be served.
“Cocktails for Your Home Cocktail Party” with Sasha Petraske: Famed (and oft-elusive) owner and proprietor of Milk and Honey, Sasha Petraske will demonstrate the basics of creating cocktails in the home. He will go over how to set up and stock home bars of varying degrees of seriousness, as well as cover different scenarios of cocktail entertaining – from temporarily taking over your friend’s kitchen for a house party, to grabbing the reins at a fully-equipped bar. And of course, Sasha will teach you how to prepare some basic, ever-pleasing libations for these occasions. Participants will leave armed with a no-fail recipe list and a short set of directions for preparing basic cocktails with block ice and fresh juices.
“The Agave Session: The Magical Elixirs of Mexico” with Steve Olson and Special Guests: There is a heritage and culture associated with Tequila and Mezcal that dates back well over a thousand years, when the agave plant – also known as the maguey – was utilized by Mexico’s native peoples for virtually everything: from food and drink, to sugar, to shoes, soap, building supplies, and even medicine. Join us for an exciting tasting of this exotic elixir, each by artisan producers, as we pay homage to the heritage, history and culture of Mexico’s national spirit. It is also likely that agave-based libations will be consumed.
“The Many Faces of Cognac & Armagnac” with Julie Reiner, Charlotte Voisey & F. Paul Pacult: This one-time-only, comprehensive seminar joins celebrated master mixologists Julie Reiner and Charlotte Voisey with America’s spirits guru F. Paul Pacult on an extraordinary excursion deep into France's legendary AOC grape brandies, Cognac and Armagnac. Participants will first be taken on a guided tour of tasting a half-dozen remarkable brandies to see how these distilled and oak-matured cousins compare and contrast. Then, they will be treated to a Cognac cocktail, made by Julie, and an Armagnac cocktail, made by Charlotte. A rare opportunity to spend 90 minutes with three of America's most engaging spirits and cocktail personalities.
“History of the Cocktail in New York, 1810-1920” with Dave Wondrich: Among all the classes of American mixed drinks—the Cobblers, Sours, Fizzes, Coolers, Juleps and all the rest—the Cocktail stands as first among equals. If there’s something about a quick jolt of ice-cold, mixed-up boozy deliciousness that’s essentially American, then it’s quintessentially New York. And indeed, while many other cities have made key contributions to the Cocktail’s development, none has done so much as to shape it as Gotham. This seminar will attempt to track the interventions the city’s mixologists made in the idea of the Cocktail during the 110-odd years between its first documented appearance here and Prohibition. Liquid exhibits will be served.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
“Audrey and Gary’s Unparalleled Gin Palaver” with Audrey Saunders & Gary Regan: Audrey Saunders, Libation Goddess from New York’s Pegu Club, and perhaps the bartender most responsible for the resurgence of gin in the 21st century, will join Gary “gaz” Regan, author of The Joy of Mixology (2003) and The Bartender’s Gin Compendium (Fall 2009), to present gin-based cocktails, old, new, borrowed, and, well, you get the picture. They will wax lyrical on all things juniper; they will pontificate endlessly about the attributes of the Martini and of the MarTEAni, and they will display the splendor of cocktails made with dry gin, genever, Plymouth gin, and a most peculiar Old Tom. It’s probable that Saunders and Regan will flirt shamelessly throughout the workshop. The throwing of rotting fruit or vegetables will not be permitted.
“Glasses & Tools: How Do You Choose the Right Glass for a Drink?” with Dale DeGroff: The choice of glass can mean the difference between a successful and elegant drink, or a glass of booze. In a commercial operation, the choice of glass can impact dramatically on the bottom line. At the home bar, the choice of glass can have an impact on the success of your cocktail party, and the well-being of your guests. Explore the classics with Dale DeGroff as he culls his glass collection to find the perfect glass for well-known classics and the tools to make them successfully.
“Call of the Rye” with Allen Katz: Ryes, Ryes my beloved, Meet me down by The Bowery. There will I give you my love. By history and culture, With song, per chance dance, A Savor to be kissed by kisses. O, my dear, come… Ryes at the day break. As the shadows enter over Astor. Awake. Inhale. O friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, O, beloved.
“Sherry: The Cobbler and Beyond” with Andy Seymour: Sherry has long played an important role in the world of mixology and has emerged in this new age of the cocktail more popular than ever. Join Master Mixologist and U.S. Sherry Ambassador Andy Seymour for a fascinating look at one of the world’s most cocktail (and food) friendly wines. Taste five of the finest Sherry, representing its many styles, and sample cocktails that show off Sherry’s traditional side and what it is up to today. Come ready to shake, as Andy will lead the group in building their own version of the Sherry cobbler!
About the Manhattan Cocktail Classic:
The Manhattan Cocktail Classic is New York City’s first ever multi-day event celebrating the history, contemporary culture, and artful craft of the cocktail. Part festival, part fête, part conference, part cocktail party, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic brings together the unparalleled talents and opportunities of the bars, bartenders, and restaurants of our great city for two days of activities, both educational and celebratory in nature, championing the common ideals of authenticity, equality, sustainability, service, and pleasure. (There will be some drinking involved, too.) For additional information, kindly visit http://www.manhattancocktailclassic.com .
And there you have it!
Hear ye, hear ye! All mixologists of experience long and short are being asked to submit recipes for their most palate-tingling concoctions for several competitions happening this month, some with deadlines fast approaching. The question is, do you have the skills to pay the bills?
- We Shoot Cocktails' Cocktail & Tweet contest: mixologists, brand ambassadors, and spirit consultants are invited to follow cocktail photographers We Shoot Cocktails on Twitter, tweet about the contest, and submit a recipe. The winning cocktail will be chosen at random to be professionally photographed. Deadline: Aug. 17.
- Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur is holding its first-ever cocktail throwdown at an undisclosed location in NoHo on Sept. 15. To get there, you must be one of five New York bartender/mixologists whose recipe containing Bärenjäger is invited to compete in the final round. Bärenjäger, a sweet honey liqueur from the 15th century, is made in Germany with honey sourced from the Mexican province of Yucatan. The judges who will decide the final five are author/guru Gary Regan, Allen Katz of Southern Wine & Spirits, Julie Reiner of Clover Club, and spirits writer Jack Robertiello. The grand prize winner will receive an all-expense paid trip for two to Oktoberfest 2009 in Munich, Germany. Recipes can be submitted through Bärenjäger's website. Deadline: Aug. 25.
- The Ultimate Cocktail for a Cure competition is inviting both amateur drink-makers and professionals in the bar industry to submit recipes containing SENCE rose nectar and at least one other sponsored ingredient. No more than seven ingredients may be used, including spirits. Judges include U.S. Bartender's Guild National Ambassador Tony Abou-Ganim, Tobin Ellis of BarMagic Las Vegas, and Steve Olson of Aka Wine Geek and B.A.R. Entries can be submitted through the competition website. The finals are going to be held in Las Vegas on Oct. 26 at Springs Preserve. Deadline: Aug. 31.