- Just in time for party and picnic season, St-Germain is releasing a "Summer Soiree" kit, complete with a bottle of the elderflower liqueur, a carafe with measurements for a champagne punch, cocktail stirrer, and poster with summery recipes. Available for about $34 at Astor Wines & Spirits and Union Square Wines, this is bound to be one hot potato.
- Want a free trip to Tales of the Cocktail? There are at least two cocktail contests offering to do just that, with deadlines approaching. Veev and Contemporary Cocktails have partnered up for "Cocktails for a Cause," asking cocktailians to submit recipes here by May 3 using Veev and fresh ingredients. Not only will Veev plant five trees for every recipe submitted, but the top three vote-getters win airfare and hotel for Tales! And if you not only want to win a trip to Tales, but to Australia too, enter Yellowtail's "wine-tail" contest here before April 25. Semifinals will be held the afternoon of May 17 during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, and finalists will throw down at Tales in New Orleans on July 24 (standard airfaire and one night stay included). Judges will include Doug Frost, Dale DeGroff, David Wondrich and Andy Seymour, and the winner gets a 6-day trip for two to the land down under!
- Soon enough, you might be telling your bartender to "Super Beer Me," as cases of BrewDog's Tactical Nuclear Penguin make their way to NYC and California. With an ABV of 32 percent (six times Budweiser), the beer is made by being frozen at a local ice cream factory at temperatures as low as -6°C (21°F), for 21 days. Alcohol freezes at lower temperatures than water, and removing water from the solution increased the alcohol concentration. Due to the complex brewing process and limited availability, these pups are going for $53 per 11.2-oz bottle!
- And if you've got $1,000 to play with, Tiffany & Co. has designed an exclusive Woodfords Reserve mint julep cup, with proceeds benefitting The Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes & Obesity Center. Owners of the cups will enjoy a mint julep featuring ingredients from around the globe: raw-cane sugar made from 100 percent organic sugar cane grown in Brazil; Kentucky Colonel Mint from Louisville, KY which was grown in a used Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel; ice made of water from a 10,000-year-old glacier in the far northern region of the Pacific Ocean near the Gulf of Alaska; and a small batch of the Master Distiller’s personal selection of Woodford Reserve super-premium bourbon. The 73 silver cups will be presented on Kentucky Derby Day, May 1, at Churchill Downs--you can purchase here.
It goes without saying that we have all been profoundly touched by the earthquake crisis in Haiti and have desired a way to send help to the impoverished country. Initially, many of us sent text messages that allowed us to immediately give $5 or $10 to Yele or the American Red Cross, but we all knew that more could be done. So it was with great pride that I attended two fundraisers for Haiti relief put on by the spirits industry last week.
Last Thursday, Park Avenue Liquor Shop teamed up with Davidoff of Geneva Madison Avenue to host a "Help Haiti Now" benefit. The event featured a wide array of sipping rums, single malts, and cocktails shaken up by Jonathan Pogash and Justin Noel. Sponsors included Appleton Rum, Plantation Rum, Tuthilltown Distillery rums, Goslings Rum, Classic Malts, Rothmann's Steakhouse and Cigar Aficionado magazine. One hundred percent of the $50 ticket price went to the American Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund. They netted close to $3,000 and plan to host another fundraiser soon, so stay tuned!
And last Sunday, what seemed like virtually everyone in the NYC cocktail community turned out to Bar Celona in Williamsburg for "Hearts and Cocktails for Haiti" spearheaded by Ray Raymond and Dave Catania. The event asked for $40 per person at the door, offering guests access to a four-hour open bar of punches, cocktails, and shots made by the city's best mixologists. In total, $5,283 was raised for the American Red Cross Haiti fund. Food, clothing, and supplies were also collected for Haiti's Edeyo Foundation.
Participants/volunteers included: Members of USBGNY and LUPEC NYC, Contemporary Cocktails, Leo DeGroff, Abigail Gullo, Cary "Kerry" Shouest, Aisha Sharpe, Willy Shine, Brian Van Flandern, Charlotte Voisey, Lisa Hare, Erin Williams, Bek Allen, Hal Wolin, Candice Coy, Esteban Ordonez, Trevor Schnider, T. J. Lynch, Justin Noel, Edwin Nadina, Tim Cooper, Jim Meehan, Stephan Meyers, Dale DeGroff, Miguel Aranda, Bryce Jones, Tom Chadwick, Joe and Nicole Desmond, Naren Young, Lynette Marrero, Javier Rey, Francine Cohen, DJ Kimiko, and Lush Life Productions' Leo Borovskiy and Lindsey Johnson.
Bar Celona owner Cynthia Diaz and bar manager Clif Travers helped organize everything, and the staff at Bar Celona donated their time both in the front and the back of the house.
Brands that generously donated product included: Appleton Rum, Atlantico Rum, Averna Amaro, Beefeater Gin, Bacardi Rum, Bulleit Bourbon, Chairman’s Reserve Rum, Combier, Compass Box Whiskey, Domaine de Canton, Domaine Select, Don Julio, Don Q Rum, Double Cross Vodka, Fidencio Mezcal, G’Vine Floraison, Hendrick’s Gin, Ilegal Mezcal, Leblon Cachaça, Lillet, Luna Sueno Tequila, Maker’s Mark, Michter’s Rye, Milagro Tequila, Orange V, Palm Bay Imports, Partida Tequila, Pernod Ricard, Pipeline Brands, Plymouth Gin, Regatta Ginger Beer, Rhum J.M., Sailor Jerry Rum, Scorpion Mezcal, St. Germain, Tom’s Tonic, Tuthilltown, VeeV, Vision Brands Wines, William Grant & Sons, and Zacapa Rum. (Whew!)
Jill DeGroff donated proceeds of her book sales for the evening. Also, Park Avenue Wine and Spirits, The Blue Note, Drinkupny.com, Porterhouse, Havana Central, Calle Ocho, Cocktail Kingdom, Brian Van Flandern, Bar and Books, and others donated prizes to the raffle for the evening.
Ray and Dave deserve a huge thanks for putting together an amazing event in a short period of time! I'm sure there will be more Haiti benefits to come, and I think they set the tone for future events.
On a similarly charitable note, Veev Açaí Spirit recently presented a check for $10,400 to Southern Wine & Spirits to honor the amount of money VeeV donated to the Sustainable Acai Project in 2009 as a result of New York area sales. VeeV donates $1 for every bottle sold straight back to The Sustainable Açaí Project, which ensures the sustainable harvesting of açai in the Amazon. Nationwide, Veev raised $74,400 in 2009.
“VeeV is passionately committed to ensuring the sustainable harvesting of acai for generations to come," said Carter Reum, co-founder of Veev. "It is great to see New York’s cocktail drinkers playing their part in our pledge.”
VeeV is continuing to give New Yorkers ways to help Mother Earth while enjoying a cocktail. In April, order a VeeV "Treetini" at any participating New York bar in the month of April – including Spring Street Natural, Cookshop and Yerba Buena Perry – and VeeV will plant a tree in flood-ravaged Tamil Nadui, India. More info at veevlife.com.
Even though it's 80 degrees and sunny today, according to the calendar, summer has said adios for now. Gratefully, the weather was also slammin' for last week's "end of summer" cocktail gathering thrown by Veev at A60, the rooftop lounge of 60 Thompson Hotel. As I'm sure you know by now (or see here and here), Veev is a wheat grain spirit flavored with acai, prickly pear, and acerola cherry. Naturally, the drinks on hand at the party were lightly sweet and refreshing, such as the VeeViolette (Veev, Creme de Violette, lemon juice, mint), the Brazilian Silent Night (Veev, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, pear puree, prosecco), and the Cran-Acai Crush (Veev, cranberry juice, peach liqueur, lemon juice, prosecco). The cocktails went down easy and were a great way to toast the end of the season, and I look forward to seeing what Veev has in store for fall. Many thanks to Killy Smith of Veev for the invite!