- My apologies for not getting out the word sooner, but this is one of those events that was booked just as fast as it was announced: Eben Freeman's Cocktail All-Stars kicks off tonight at the Monday Room at Public. Good luck getting in if you don't already have a reservation, but those who have a table will enjoy "Things Eurasian: An Exploration of Ancient Flavors and Modern Science." Dave Arnold, FCI's directory of culinary technology, Tony Conigliaro of London's 69 Colebroke Row, Eben, and Michelin-starred chef Brad Farmerie will create the drinks. Tomorrow night, the series hits Madam Geneva from 8 pm to midnight for "Old Shanghai on Bowery." Featuring cocktails by Eben, Jackie Patterson of Heaven's Dog in San Francisco, Jim Meehan of PDT, Alex Day of Death & Co., Ryan Magarian of Portland, Ore., and Misty Kalkofen of Drink in Boston, as well as passed canapes. Tickets are $58.88, contact Liz Boothroyd at 212-254-0350 to see if this event is sold out or not. And on Wednesday, Feb. 10, the series closes at PDT with "Old-Timers Night: An Old-Fashioned Experience." Look for old-school sipping and stirring: only bartenders over 40, and no drink is allowed to include anything more than a base spirit, a sweetener, and one flavoring agent. All-Stars include: Gary Regan, Dave Wondrich, Dale DeGroff, James Menite, Tony Conigliaro, Toby Cecchini, and Eben. Tickets are $78.88 for food and drink, email email@example.com for tickets.
- Also on Wednesday, Feb. 10, Brugal Rum is hosting a love-themed cocktail competition at Clover Club in Brooklyn from 1 to 4 p.m. I'd give you all the details but new food and beverage site, InsideFandB.com, has done a great job already. Check it out!
- Whether you're hooked up or single, The Summit Bar is looking to get you hot and bothered this Valentine's Day, Feb. 14. Leave it to mixologist Greg Seider to mix up three stimulating elixirs for the bar's "Love Punch Party" from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Aphrodisiac cocktails will be $7 all night--one for him, one for her, and one for those who want to swing both ways!
- And you won't want to miss the Dining & Libation Society's Fat Tuesday celebration at Rye House on Feb. 16. Tickets are $55 and will get you unlimited Sazeracs, French 75s, Stella Artois, and Red Hook beer while you dine on New Orleans-style hors d'oeuvres such as oyster bienville, crab ravigote, jambalaya, fried okra, crawfish po' boys, turducken, fried pickles, and beignets, among other delicious eats. From 7 to 10 p.m.
- 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.
- 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)
- Those Londoners know what's up--next month, look for a giant punch bowl big enough to paddle a boat in at 33 Portland Place. The winning punch recipe will soon be announced by artists Bompas & Parr, collaborating with Courvoisier.
- More good news for LA's cocktail scene--which is yet to be "fetishized," according to Audrey Saunders, who will help open The Tar Pit there on Dec. 7.
- Death & Co. rolled out a new menu last night. Details to come...
- Feeling a November chill? Warm up by checking out AMountainofCrushedIce's best-of tiki drinks from the days of Don the Beachcomber.
- Traveling bartenders will soon be able to lug their tools in a luxury leather bar bag designed by Jim Meehan of PDT for leather crafters Moore & Giles. Good thing bartenders make bank because these puppies are going for $740 a pop.
- Apple brandy is the apple of the bartender's eye these days, according to the SF Chronicle. Rickhouse's "Scottish Breakfast" with Germain-Robin Apple Brandy and Glenrothes Select Reserve sounds like a winner!
It will still be a few days before I get the muddled recap on what went down at this year's Tales of the Cocktail. To get an idea of how big of an event this 5-day celebration of the cocktail in New Orleans is, here are some stats: 15,000 people, 288 recipes, 6,000 pounds of ice, 85 pounds of mint leaves, 40 pounds of super-fine sugar, 15 dozen eggs, 280 liters of lime juice, 350 liters of lemon juice... You get the idea.
One thing I can report for you is that New York fared very well at this year's Spirit Awards, honoring the most influential bars and people in the cocktail industry. And a special congratulations goes out to Jim Meehan of PDT, named the American Bartender of the Year. (Other nominees were Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club and Phil Ward of Death & Co. and Mayahuel.) At last year's awards, the winners were spread out across the world (although Milk & Honey won both Best Classic Cocktail Bar and World's Best Cocktail Bar), but this year, New York was on top. Clearly, New York is the destination for classic and quality cocktails. The winners that pertain to New York are highlighted in bold:
Best American Bar: Pegu Club, NY
Best Hotel Bar in the World: The Merchant Hotel Belfast
Best Cocktail Writing 2009: David Wondrich
Best New Product: Bols Genever
Best American Brand Ambassador: Simon Ford, Plymouth Gin
World's Best Drinks Selection: The Merchant Hotel Belfast
American Bartender of the Year: James Meehan, PDT, NY
Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: Dale de Groff, The Essential Cocktail
World's Best Cocktail Menu - The Merchant Hotel Belfast
International Bartender of the Year: Tony Conigliaro, UK
World's Best New Cocktail Bar: Clover Club, NY
World's Best Cocktail Bar: PDT, NY
Tales of the Cocktails Helen David Life Achievement Award: Peter Dorelli, London
Source: Good Spirits News