- Like the bosses they are, the ladies behind Speed Rack are hosting their national finals on Thursday, May 16 in the East Village. The fastest, most talented female bartenders in the top 10 cocktail cities (as well as six “wildcard” contestants who won online votes) will go shaker-to-shaker for an esteemed judging panel and live audience to crown Miss Speed Rack USA 2013. Guests who attend will see 100 percent of their $30 ticket go toward breast cancer research while witnessing Iron Chef-style throwdown and sipping all the complimentary cocktails and neat spirits they can drink. Not only does the champion earn bragging rights and the respect of her industry peers (judges include Dale DeGroff, Julie Reiner and Audrey Saunders), she’ll also get a trip for two to Paris, tour the Cointreau Bartender Academie, and receive a B.A.R. (Beverage Alcohol Resource) scholarship. Speed Rack, created by Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix, and produced in collaboration with CBLLC, has raised nearly $150,000 for breast cancer charities. For more information on Speed Rack, go here, and for tickets to the finals, click here. Thursday, May 16, 6 to 10 p.m., Element Nightclub, 225 East Houston Street.
- It’s almost that time again–revelers are gearing up for the 2013 edition of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, May 17 to 21. While regular admission for the opening night gala is sold out, VIP tickets remain for the veritable prom of the cocktail industry, which at $295-$395 get you four hours of endless drinks (are 25,000 cocktails enough to choose from?). Many of the tastings and educational sessions are also sold out by now, but tickets still remain for events such as a decadent afternoon of chocolate and cocktail pairings; a Culinary Tour of Lower Manhattan with Oban, Talisker and Lagavulin; and the Indie Spirits Expo, a massive walk-around tasting of small-batch spirits. Prepare the hangover remedies now, folks.
The Dizzy Fizz is proud to be a media partner for Wine Enthusiast‘s 25th Anniversary celebration, the Red and White Bash on Thursday, May 9 at Hudson Hotel. Featuring a scene designed by experiential event planner extraordinaire Adam Aleksander, expect a decadent evening full of lots of surprises inspired by the Belle Epoch, Moulin Rouge and a twisted, vintage carnival. Guests are encouraged to dress in red and white attire and kick up their heels to Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra. A limited number of tickets are available for $65 (prices will go up after April 14), and, amazingly, 100 percent of proceeds will benefit Wine to Water, a charity bringing clean drinking water to developing countries. To purchase tickets, Dizzy Fizz readers can use the code WE25RWDF. Click here for the list of wines that will be poured, and click here for tickets. Thursday, May 9, 7 to 10 p.m. at Hudson Hotel, 356 West 58th St., New York, NY 10019.
- One of the most anticipated cocktail bars to open in NYC, The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog recently flung open the doors of its landmark building to much acclaim. Founders Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry of the award-winning beverage program at Belfast’s Merchant Hotel have done their homework to create a cocktail menu that honors the mid-19th century drinking scene in gangland New York. On the first level, a pub-style bar room complete with sawdust on the floor serves up classic cocktails, bottled punch, draft beer and Irish whiskey, while upstairs a more refined lounge serves an expansive menu of meticulously crafted drinks. On a recent visit, I sipped the Automobile (Marie Brizard Parfait Amour, Pernod Absinthe, celery cordial, Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Brut Champagne and Bittermens Orchard Street Celery Shrub), the Ale Flip (Sixpoint Cask Conditioned “Dead Rabbit” Ale, Jameson 12 Year Irish Whiskey, spiced egg batter, muscovado sugar and nutmeg), the Bankers Punch (Redbreast 12 Year Cask Strength Irish Whiskey, Dead Rabbit Jamaican Rum Mix, fresh lime juice, raspberry cordial, Dead Rabbit Orinoco Bitters and dashes Graham’s LBV Port Wine), and a complimentary teacup of Grandieur Punch (Bols Genever, Varnelli Anis, lemon sherbert, lemon juice, orange flower water and peppermint tea). Everything was incredibly tasty, and the wait time for drinks was not long at all, a stunning feat considering there were only two barmen behind the bar and the room was full on a Saturday night. This Monday, Feb. 25, mixology master Gaz Regan will serve as guest bartender from 7 p.m. onward–so don’t bloody miss that. The Dead Rabbit, 30 Water Street.
- Speaking of new bars, Dipsology has a nice list of recently-opened and soon-to-open cocktail bars in NYC, including Attaboy, taking over the Milk & Honey space. Time Out New York interviewed Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy and rumor is they will open their doors later this month.
- Beefeater Gin recently got the green light to open London’s first gin distillery visitor center, expected to be completed later this year. As someone who has been fortunate enough to visit Beefeater’s headquarters in Kennington, I am thrilled for Master Distiller Desmond Payne and his team. Desmond is profoundly passionate about the making of gin and will do a great service to the public by showcasing the distillery’s process. (Check out the video announcement here.)
Thanks darling readers for taking the time to stop by every now and then. I know things were quiet there for a while I persevered through the infant-raising stage–it’s amazing how much easier it is to type now that I have at least one arm free twenty percent of the time. The Dizzy Fizz Facebook page is closely approaching 1,000 fans, and to help sprint past that milestone, I’ve got a fantastic Julibox giveaway to announce! If you haven’t already heard about Julibox, it’s a monthly subscription service that sends you a cocktail party in a box. [So brilliant, cocktail kits mailed to your door--I'm a little jealous I didn't think of this!] Each kit contains liquor and mixers for four servings of two different cocktails, plus the recipes. At $40 each, these little bundles of love would make a charming holiday gift (or one heck of a care package) for the home cocktail enthusiast on your list.
On New Year’s Eve, one lucky Dizzy Facebook fan who lives within Julibox’s distribution locations [and is 21-plus] will be chosen randomly to receive their December box featuring two rum cocktails–Ron Zacapa and Rhum Barbancourt!
Winner will be announced by Jan. 2, 2013. This contest is closed – winner has been selected, thanks everyone!
Speaking of cocktail lovers on your holiday gift list–look no further than this year’s dizzy-approved gift guide for other presents made for year-round-tippling. And while it’s nice to support your favorite small businesses, the holiday season doesn’t have to be all about spending money–homemade gifts, charity donations and volunteering your time to those in need are also excellent ways to celebrate.
Tuthilltown Spirits’ Barrel-Aged Cocktail Kit ($12.50) features a 375ml glass bottle with an oak stave straight from their barrels inside. Also available from Tuthilltown are 1-liter mini barrels ($60) perfect for the home bartending enthusiast who has everything. Check out this video featuring Portland, Ore. bartender and barrel-aging pioneer Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Tuthilltown’s Gable Erenzo for instructions on making your own barreled batch of White Manhattans at home.
Ernest Hemingway was known to have a deep affection for the lush life. Delve into Hemingway’s favorite cocktail recipes, historic love affair with liquor and anecdotes from Papa himself in To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion by Philip Greene ($24.00).
Thanks to the bitters boom of recent years, the lone bottle of Angostura is now a rare sight behind the bar. Learn the history of bitters–once claimed to be a panacea–as well as DIY tricks to making your own flavoring agents and recipes in Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All by Brad Thomas Parsons ($16.49).
If you have a Sodastream at home, or some other type of soda-making gadget, you’d best be acquainted with Brooklyn-made P&H Soda Syrup ($10 per 12.7oz bottle). The Sarsaparilla (water, organic cane sugar, organic sarsaparilla root, organic spices, organic citric acid), like a gentler version of root beer, is a classic.
Nothing says “I’ve graduated to adulthood” like a stylish home bar. Complete the look with a posh ice bucket, like this Gatsby Ice Bucket from Crate & Barrel ($54.95) with clean, deco lines, and class up your next fete.
Here’s a great two-for-one gift for the marrieds on your list–Mr. and Mrs. rocks glasses ($18). Hers features a sweet pair of lips and his features an ever-in-style handlebar ‘stache. If their house is anything like ours, both will be filled with something brown, bitter and delicious.
The results are in–thanks to the hundreds of readers who took the time to cast a vote! It was a tight race ’til the finish, and I’m glad it wasn’t up to me this time–so many fantastic cocktail bars made their debut this year and it was a tough field to narrow down. Have you sipped your way through all of these bars? If not, make it your New Year’s resolution to, and enjoy some of the best cocktails in the world. Salut!
1. Lantern’s Keep at Iroquois Hotel, 49 W. 44th St.
2. The Vault at Pfaff’s, 643 Broadway
3. Rum House, 228 W. 47th St.
4. Maison Premiere, 298 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn
5. Amor y Amargo, 443 E. 6th St.
6. Mulberry Project, 149 Mulberry St.
7. Silver Lining, 75 Murray St.
8. The Tippler, 425 W. 15th St.
9. Mother’s Ruin, 18 Spring St.
10. Bathtub Gin, 132 9th Ave.
Since starting this blog more than two years ago, I have made an end-of-year list of the top 10 cocktail bars to open in NYC each year, recognizing the best new additions to our drinking scene. See 2010′s picks here and 2009′s picks here. Since I have abstained from drinking alcohol for most of this year (yes, if you haven’t heard by now, I’m pregnant and due in January), I am looking to you, dear readers, to help me compile the 2011 list. This year is especially difficult since so many fantastic bars (and restaurants with stellar bar programs) have opened. I’m hoping you can help me narrow down the favorites! Voting will end December 15.
The Holiday Spirits Bazaar is back! Yes, Halloween just ended and Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, but you have a lot of holiday parties to plan, don’t you? Ring in the season of entertaining at the 2011 Holiday Spirits Bazaar, swinging into NYC on Saturday, November 12, 2011 from 6:30 – 10 p.m. at Astor Center. Cocktails and punches from both vintage and modern traditions will be served in abundance by some of the best bartenders in the city at this spirited tasting hosted by NYC cocktail event producer The Dizzy Fizz.
Following the success of last year’s spectacular bash at The Green Building in Brooklyn, the Bazaar moves to Manhattan this year for festivities on an even bigger scale. Sip a seemingly endless array of libations perfect for your next holiday party, such as whiskey milk punch, mezcal hot chocolate, hot apple cider spiked with rye whiskey and an authentic vintage punch recipe from holidays of yore unearthed by cocktail historian David Wondrich. To stay refreshed, guests can snack on artisan bread by SCRATCHbread and grass-fed beef jerky by Slantshack as well as sip filtered water by MAVEA. Andaz Hotel’s DJ Kimiko will keep the party beats flowing all night long.
A limited number of discount tickets are now on sale through Thrillist Rewards. For VIP entry at 6:30 p.m., which includes an hour of small bites by Emily Cavalier of the Midnight Brunch supper club, tickets are $55. For general entry at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $45. The first 200 ticket-buyers will receive a giftbag full of lushy goodies such as mini liquor bottles and bar tools. The first 30 ticket-buyers will receive a free copy of Jill DeGroff’s newest book, “Lush Life: Portraits from the Bar, Series 2.” A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit the Children’s Aid Society.
Sponsors include: Hudson Whiskey, Bulleit Bourbon, Cointreau, Beefeater 24, Plymouth Gin, Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Chairman’s Reserve Rum, Russian Standard Vodka, Catdaddy Moonshine, Denizen Rum, Becherovka, Bluecoat Gin, Vieux Carré Absinthe, Penn 1681 Rye Vodka, XXX Shine Whiskey, Iceberg Vodka, Cockspur Rum, Redemption Rye, Redemption High Rye Bourbon, Scorpion Mezcal, Midnight Moon Apple Pie Moonshine and Innis & Gunn Cask-Aged Beer.
Take a sneak peek at the festive cocktails planned for the Holiday Spirits Bazaar here. This is an event not to be missed–not only will you get inspired to throw a bash of your own, you’ll taste delicious spirits that make great gifts and are the perfect remedy to holiday stress!
Must be 21-plus to attend. Please drink responsibly.
- While I was on a gin tour in London last week (recap coming soon), I missed the dramatic unfolding of a legal tussle between Pusser’s Rum and Painkiller tiki bar. By now, you’ve probably heard that Painkiller decided to change its name to PKNY and give up its web domain after Pusser’s filed a federal lawsuit over its ownership of a trademark for the drink named “Painkiller.” Furthermore, the rum company says all drinks called Painkillers must be made with Pusser’s. (Painkiller/PKNY was not using Pusser’s in its Painkillers.) News of the litigation led to an uproar among the cocktail community, which found such aggression by a brand over a small bar to be distasteful and a bad PR move. To make matters worse, Pusser’s founder Charles Tobias responded to the criticism with a statement mentioning the brand’s intent to market ready-to-drink Painkillers “in a can.” For more insight into the legality of all this, read Payman Bahmani’s post on Umamimart. At any rate, be sure to continue enjoying your favorite cocktails and favorite bars, whether they are trademarked or not.
- Last night kicked off the inaugural NYC Cocktail Week, sponsored by Liquor.com. Sixteen cocktail bars in the city (see the full list here) have created a special Cocktail Week menu offering two drinks plus an appetizer for $20.11. If that doesn’t make you feel better about your lushy habits, a portion of proceeds from the event, running through June 29, benefits City Harvest and the Museum of the American Cocktail.
- Last Sunday, members of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) gathered at Astor Center for a competition and breast cancer fundraiser titled “Speed Rack.” Sixteen female bartenders vied to make cocktails as fast as possible (different drinks were announced each round, including the Ramos Gin Fizz), and they were also judged on the quality of their drinks. Yael Vengroff of PKNY took first place and will compete against other finalists from around the country at Tales of the Cocktail 2012.
- Wondering why you haven’t seen as many Dizzy posts lately? I recently started writing a daily drinking column over at CBSNewYork.com. Don’t worry, I’ll still keep things fresh for you here, I’m just getting adjusted to the new schedule!
Kicking off with what has become the cocktail-lover’s prom of the year, the 2011 Manhattan Cocktail Classic, held May 13-17, drew a crowd of top bartenders and drinking enthusiasts from across the country and beyond. It’s great to see this event grow as it celebrates NYC’s place on the map for cocktail innovation.
And grow it has–founder and director Lesley Townsend said attendance for the five days nearly doubled over last year, reporting more than 5,000 attendees. She estimated that 75,000 cocktails were served throughout the festival, and all in real glassware. For the Gala, more than 3,000 cocktail fans lined up around the block for nearly an hour to get inside. Lesley said she is already working on ways to make the entry process more efficient for next year.
Although parts of the Gala had more of a nightclub feel this year–one writer compared it to Pacha–and food was once again hard to find, props must be given to Lesley and her team of 500 for organizing NYC’s quintessential cocktail bash. I particularly liked how every brand had equal presence at the event with a minimalist design as opposed to loud branding. Everywhere you turned, guests were smiling and seemingly having the times of their lives, sipping expertly-mixed cocktails.
Other events held throughout the festival included a Don Q Rums ’80s party, a one-time-only screening of the film “Last Call in New York” hosted by Tequila Don Julio, the Indy Spirits Expo, and Campari’s Spirited Fête for the Senses at The Box featuring Padma Lakshmi. Seminars ranged from the spirit-focused to topics such as “How to Behave in a Bar.” Mostly, this festival was another example of how much fun the liquor industry can be–congrats Lesley on another successful edition of the MCC!
Disclaimer: Public drinking is illegal in most of the U.S. The Dizzy Fizz does not promote breaking the law. However, people have been finding creative ways to drink outdoors for eons, and will continue to do so. Fact. Please drink responsibly.
NYC is finally warming up after a cool start to spring, and soon, weekends will be prime for lazy splendors in the grass, on the sand, or if all else fails–a sunny rooftop. And what pairs perfectly with your cheese spread while you catch rays and blast your iPhone speakers? Why, delicious booze, of course. My favorite picnic accessory is a cooler full of sangria. Whichever spirit or cocktail you choose, you will probably have to camouflage your open-air bootlegging. Here are some charming options: