More than 700 thirsty New Yorkers recently cozied up to ring in the season of merrymaking at the 5th Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar, a raucous, sold-out affair held at the Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn on November 22, 2014. Approximately 20 of the best bartenders in NYC competed for the title of top holiday punch, with tastings and festivities split over two floors of rustic gallery space: a Winter Whiskey Tavern kept guests buzzing on the first floor, while a Sparkling Spirited Parlor hosted a glittering scene on the third floor. Plaza Hotel bartender James Menite, representing the Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky, took home the First Place Punch trophy with the "Gloag's Traditional Scottish Holiday Punch" (recipe below) featuring a bewitching concoction of whisky, gin, Scottish tea, and blood orange juice. The esteemed judging panel included David Wondrich, cocktail historian and author; Lynnette Marrero, star bartender and co-founder of Speed Rack; and Leo DeGroff, cocktail consultant and educator. Additionally, Jack Mulhern, representing Calvados Boulard, won the People's Choice vote for the "Calvados Cider Punch," (recipe below) featuring the French apple brandy mixed with both hard and fresh apple ciders as well as ginger beer.
Not only were guests inspired to create seasonal sips for their own holiday parties, but the addition this year of a Cocktail Lovers' Pop-Up Shop gave them the opportunity to get a head start on gift-giving. Purveyors included Cocktail Kingdom's high end bar tools, Owl's Brew tea mixers, Tipsy Scoop booze-infused ice creams, Royal Rose flavored simple syrups, cocktail-flavored artisanal chocolates by Cesar Christian Ramirez, homemade pies and cheesecake by Brooklyn Baked and Fried, and Bloody Mary mix and crunchy pickles by McClure's Pickles. VIP hour guests were treated with an open oyster bar featuring Blue Island Oysters served by master shucker Eddie Oysters, and for the main event, guests were served artisanal cheese from Stinky Bklyn, rustic bread by Scratchbread, roasted veggies from 61 Local, Perrier Sparkling Water, and even holiday-themed Tic Tacs for the trip home.
Sponsors included: 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, The Irishman Whiskey, Aviation Gin, Indigenous Vodka, Redemption Rye, Excellia Tequila, Fernet Branca, Carpano Antica, Suze Liqueur, Boulard Calvados, Ruffino Prosecco, and Perrier Sparkling Water.
Gloag's Traditional Scottish Holiday Punch By James Menite 1.5 oz Black Grouse Blended Scotch Whiskey .5 oz Edinburgh Scottish Gin .75 oz blood orange juice .5 oz Scottish tea Grated lemon zest 2 blood orange slices Freshly grated nutmeg 1 dash Scrappy's Cardamom Bitters Topped with Fever Tree Bitter Lemon Served in Traditional Punch Glass
Calvados Cider Punch (Recipe serves 15-20) 1 1/2 cups Boulard Calvados 8 cups apple cider 1 750-ml-bottle of dry hard cider 3 12-oz-bottles of ginger beer Juice of one lemon Several dashes orange bitters orange sliced into rounds and cinnamon sticks for garnish
Special thanks to my husband, Damien Good, event assistant Adam Albert, my hardworking staff, The Invisible Dog team, and media partners Urban Daddy, Pulsd, and Shakestir.com.
Happy holidays everyone!