- This Sunday, Jan. 31, NYC's cocktail community is coming together to raise money for the crisis in Haiti: "Hearts and Cocktails for Haiti" is asking for $40 (100% proceeds to American Red Cross' Haiti Relief) at the door. Attendees will enjoy a four-hour open bar from 6 to 10 p.m. with cocktails mixed by the USBGNY, LUPEC NYC, Jim Meehan of PDT, and Dale DeGroff, among others. Jill DeGroff will be donating sales of her book, "Lush Life: Portraits from the Bar," to the Haiti fund. This event, organized by Leblon Cachaca's Ray Raymond (of Haitian descent) and Dave Catania of Team Spirits Imports, takes place at Bar Celona. 104 S. 4th St., Brooklyn.
- On Feb. 2 from 6 to 8 p.m., The Summit Bar is hosting a special tasting event, "Shaken, Stirred, and Straight," featuring Compass Box whiskey's Robin Robinson and St-Germain's Phil Pepperdine. Tastings will be free and featured cocktails will be just $6. 133 Ave. C.
- Also on Feb. 2, don't miss Jason Littrell's initial run as bartender at Louis 649's Tuesday Night Tastings. While the tasting goes from 7 to 9 p.m., Jason will start shaking from from 10 p.m. 'til lord-knows-when. Already dubbed "Groundhog Day Massacre," this is guaranteed to be a scene not for the weak of liver.
- NYC cocktail enthusiasts have until Feb. 5 to submit aphrodisiac cocktail recipes featuring Bacardi Rum for the "Love Potion Cocktail Challenge" taking place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 9. In case you missed the memo, the first place winner (judged by Dale DeGroff) wins $250 smackers, and the event has been moved to Havana Central Times Square, 151 W. 46th St. Send entries to: LovePotion@havanacentral.com
- Quite possibly the most awesome cocktail competition ever, the 6th Annual "Cocktail World Cup," presented by 42 Below and the U.S. Bartending Guild, is accepting entries through Feb. 8. The top three bartenders chosen for the U.S. team will join finalists in New Zealand for challenges such as mixing drinks while bungee jumping and riding in jet boats [looking forward to seeing video of that!]. Oh, and Dale DeGroff and Jim Meehan will be judging in New Zealand, too--those guys have all the fun! Enter the contest here.
- And it's already time to start thinking about the most spirited event of the summer, Tales of the Cocktail--find instructions for entering the official Tales cocktail contest here. Entrants are challenged to create a drink inspired by the famous "Planter's Punch" that will impress judge Jeff "Beachbum" Berry. The drink must include at least one sponsored ingredient, and should consist of at least a rum, citrus, and sweetener. The deadline is Feb. 22.
“The proper union of gin and vermouth is a great and sudden glory; it is one of the happiest marriages on earth, and one of the shortest lived.”--Bernard De Voto
There's a new premium gin in town, but for now, you'll only find it at a select few NYC bars. All three Bar & Books (Hudson, Lexington, and Beekman) plus Double Crown are now carrying Oxley Gin from the makers of Bacardi and Bombay Sapphire. A limited-batch London Dry Gin (although the label says "Classic English Dry Gin"), the 47% abv gin is made in the Thames Distillery in Clapham, London, and uses sub-zero temperatures to preserve the natural essences of its 14 different botanical ingredients. It's the first cold-distilled spirit.
Macerated grains are spooned by hand into a kettle, but instead of being heated, the alcohol is made to vaporize at -5ºC by a vacuum that removes pressure within the still. The vapor then passes through a colder probe at -100ºC, where it turns back into a liquid. Only 240 bottles are being produced per day, four days per week, and each bottle includes a batch number and comes with a galvanized tin bucket.
I was fortunate to try Oxley on its own and as a martini at Beekman Bar & Books last night, and it's really a lovely spirit with a mild juniper and grapefruit bouquet that finishes smooth. In a martini, Oxley is an excellent choice--just a dash of sweet vermouth, a twist of lemon or grapefruit, and all will be right in no time. Oxley launched in L.A. in June where it's retailing for $53.99, so I'm not sure whether I missed the NYC launch or it hasn't happened yet. Either way, stay tuned, and I hope you get to try this unique spirit soon!