Dizzy Recap: The 4th Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar!

Photos by David Stewart.

Photos by David Stewart.

New Yorkers were treated to a rousing holiday cocktail experience at the Fourth Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar on Saturday, November 23 at the Invisible Dog in Brooklyn. The sold-out affair attracted 400 guests who enjoyed an unprecedented array of holiday punches, nogs and wassails made by some of NYC’s best bartenders, each competing for the top title in a friendly Punch-Off.
First Place Punch was The All American Punch by Elayne Duff representing George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey. The punch featured Dickel 12, Bulleit Rye infused with Lapsang Souchong tea, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Pom fall syrup, Aperol, lemon juice, Pom juice, apple cider and Angostura bitters. Nearly 20 spirits purveyors competed for the title, as selected by judges Kara Newman, spirits writer and author of Cocktails for a Crowd; Damon Boelte, bar director at Prime Meats and host of “The Speakeasy” on Heritage Radio Network; and Brian Miller, veteran bartender and owner of Double Windsor Consulting.Additionally, with many top punches to choose from, the crowd voted to select a mezcal punch as People’s Choice for additional bragging rights. The Whoa Mama by Montelobos Mezcal featured Montelobos Joven Mezcal, lime juice, pomegranate molasses and ginger beer.

Kara Newman, Elayne Duff, Brian Miller and Damon Boelte (L-R)

Kara Newman, Elayne Duff, Brian Miller and Damon Boelte (L-R)

Hosted by  The Dizzy Fizz, this rollicking walk-around tasting was set in a rustic winter woodland scene and guests paired their festive libations with carved beef brisket, pulled pork sliders, cole slaw and pickles by Mable’s Smokehouse.More than $1,000 was raised to benefit  Children’s Aid Society, a non-profit supporting some of NYC’s neediest children. Also benefiting CAS, pie by bakeries such as Butter & Scotch and Cutie Pies NYC was sold by the slice and a silent auction featuring cocktailian artist Jill DeGroff donated funds to the charity. Guests also brought new toys for Toys for Tots and non-perishable food for Food Bank NYC.

Sponsors included: Rhum Clement, G’Vine Gin, Bulleit Bourbon, Sorel, White Pike Whiskey, Monkey Shoulder, Montelobos Mezcal, Art in the Age Spirits, Tuthilltown Spirits, Four Roses Bourbon, Iceberg Vodka, Blue Chair Bay Rum, Excellia Tequila, George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey, 300 Joules, Cockspur Rum, The Irishman Whiskey, Tap 357 Maple Rye Whiskey, Molinari Sambuca Extra, The Famous Grouse, Averna Amaro, and more!

For punch and cocktail recipes from the event, please visit holidayspiritsbazaar.com

The All American Punch.

The All American Punch.

Whoa Mama punch.

Whoa Mama punch.

Winter Harvest punch.

Winter Harvest punch.

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Hot Buttered Rogen's Rum.

Hot Buttered Rogen’s Rum.

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Pumpkin Punch.

Pumpkin Punch.

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Gentleman's Agreement cocktail.

Gentleman’s Agreement cocktail.

Caribbean Cabin Fever punch.

Caribbean Cabin Fever punch.

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Dream Street by Jill DeGroff. (sold)

Dream Street by Jill DeGroff. (sold)

Beef brisket by Mable's Smokehouse.

Beef brisket by Mable’s Smokehouse.

S'more Pie by Butter & Scotch.

S’more Pie by Butter & Scotch.

Guinness Bailey's Irish Cream Pie by Cutie Pies NYC.

Guinness Bailey’s Irish Cream Pie by Cutie Pies NYC.

Guests brought gifts for Toys for Tots.

Guests brought gifts for Toys for Tots.

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For more photos from the event, please visit The Dizzy Fizz on Facebook.

 

Dizzy Recap: The 3rd Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar!

Photos by Vanessa Bahmani.

Photos by Vanessa Bahmani.

New Yorkers were treated to the ultimate festive cocktail experience at the Third Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar, on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at Astor Center.
Tickets for the evening session were completely sold out, as two sessions were available for guests to choose from, attracting 700 guests. Some of the best bartenders in NYC served holiday tipples for guests, including Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff, Jonathan Pogash, Damon Dyer and Elayne Duke. During the VIP hour, Jim Meehan signed copies of his PDT Cocktail Book for Urban Daddy ticket holders.

Sponsors included: Maker’s Mark, Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Don Q Rum, Catdaddy Moonshine, Bulleit Bourbon, Death’s Door Spirits, Ardbeg, Greenhook Ginsmiths, The Black Grouse, G’Vine Gin, Caliche Rum, Four Roses Bourbon, Molinari Sambuca, Rhum Clement, Kansas Clean Distilled Whiskey, Cockspur Rum, Iceberg Vodka, Aperol, Starr African Rum, Brooklyn Gin, Redemption Rye, Averna Amaro, El Buho Mezcal, Cacao Prieto, Half Moon Orchard Gin, George Dickel Tennessee Whisky, Don Julio Tequila, Philadelphia Distilling, Whistlepig Rye, Becherovka, The Balvenie, Monkey Shoulder, Hudson Whiskey, Scorpion Mezcal, Gotham Artisanal, Perrier Sparkling Water and more!

A portion of ticket proceeds benefits the Children’s Aid Society and guests also brought dozens of toys and non-perishable food items for Sandy victims.

For recipes from the event and more information, please visit www.holidayspiritsbazaar.com. For additional photos, please visit The Dizzy Fizz on Facebook.

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Special thanks to Damien Good, Stinky Bklyn, Emeche Cupcakes, Urban Daddy, Vanessa Bahmani, event staff and volunteers. Happy holidays everyone!

Dizzy Recap: The Holiday Spirits Bazaar!

Aerial dancer Callie Peck shakes it up at the Holiday Spirits Bazaar. Photo by John Walder.

The Dizzy Fizz rang in the holiday season with a bangin’, boozy bash — the first-ever Holiday Spirits Bazaar! From gravity-defying aerial dancers to an antique truck parked inside to endless amounts of holiday punches and cocktails, this was truly one spectacular affair. Thanks to everyone who made their way to The Green Building in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and helped raise nearly $1,000 for the Museum of the American Cocktail. Let’s do it again next year!

A huge thanks to the Sponsors: Denizen Rum, Auchentoshan Single Malt Scotch, Tempus Fugit Spirits, Vermont Gold & White Vodka, Cockspur Rum, Classic & Vintage Spirits, Purity Vodka, Square One Organic Spirits, Haus Alpenz, FAIR Trade Spirits, Scorpion Mezcal, Redemption Rye, Don Q Rum, Hudson Whiskey, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Pipeline Brands, Highland Park Single Malt Scotch, Chairman’s Reserve Rum, Castries Peanut Creme Liqueur, Pasternak Wines and Innis & Gunn Cask-Aged Beer.

As well as the Vendors: Fette Sau BBQ, SkimKim Foods, Emily Thompson Flowers, Kara Newman, Jesse Tobin and Elisabeth Prescott.

Special thanks to: The Green Building staff, John Pomeroy, Damien Good, DJ TomasMoves, John Walder, Leo Borovskiy, Callie Peck, Libby Gowen, Anne Louis Marquis, Tina Tassels, Mary Elizabeth Van Hagen, Carmen Operetta, Sara Gorelick, Sharon Festinger, Elke Swakhammer, Matt Sparacino, Drink Up NY, The Summit Bar, WTF Coffee, Martin Pham, and Jill & Dale DeGroff.

For more photos, please visit the Facebook pages for The Dizzy Fizz and Lush Life Productions. Want recipes from the event? Click here.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Hats by Jesse Tobin. Photo by John Walder.

Kimchee Bloody Mary Mix by SkimKim Foods. Photo by John Walder.

Tulip bulbs by Emily Thompson Flowers. Photo by John Walder.

Highland Park's Queen Mary cocktail. Photo by John Walder.

Hudson Whiskey and Solerno punch. Photo by John Walder.

John Freeman pours Innis & Gunn Cask Aged Beer. Photo by John Walder.

Damien Good & yours truly. Photo by John Walder.

Emily Thompson Flowers. Photo by John Walder.

Anncherie Saludo, Jane Elkins & Ren. Photo by John Walder.

Duane Fernandez of Don Q Rum. Photo by John Walder.

Burlesque performer Tina Tassels. Photo by John Walder.

Solerno's table setting. Photo by John Walder.

DJ TomasMoves. Photo by John Walder.

Jim Meehan, friend and Michael Klein with Highland Park.

David Clelland, Carmen Operetta, friend & Jennifer Kramer with Auchentoshan. Photo by Lush Life Productions.

Gable Erenzo, Hal Wolin, Brett Martino and Megan Manning. Photo by Lush Life Productions.

Gabriel & Mariana Cardier and Emily Malinowski. Photo by Lush Life Productions.

Jill & Dale DeGroff. Photo by Lush Life Productions.

Simon Ford and Elba Giron. Photo by Lush Life Productions.

The scene at The Green Building. Photo by John Walder.

File Under: Hot Dates

Get down with the Red Hook Ramblers at the Dining & Libation Society's Fat Tuesday celebration on Feb. 16 at Rye House

  • 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 cocktailallstars@gmail.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.

File Under: Hot Dates

Bar Celona is hosting "Hearts for Haiti" Sunday night. Photo by Bartomeu Amengual.

  • 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.

File Under: Hot Dates

Jill DeGroff will be exhibiting art from her book, "Lush Life: Portraits from the Bar," at Sunny's Bar in Redhook, 8 p.m., Jan. 15.

  • Tomorrow night, don’t miss an exhibit by saloon artist Jill DeGroff featuring caricatures from her book, “Lush Life: Portraits from the Bar.” There will be live music, and Jill’s husband, Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff, and son, Leo, will be mixing up drinks. 8 p.m., Jan. 15, Sunny’s Bar, 253 Conover St., Redhook, Brooklyn. RSVP: JD2design@aol.com
  • Yellowtail Wines is looking for the best wine-tail recipe. Submit yours before Jan. 22 for a chance to win $1,000.
  • NYC Cuban restaurant Havana Central is looking for love potions for a Valentine’s Day-themed cocktail throwdown using aphrodisiac ingredients with Bacardi Rum. The winning drink, chosen by Dale DeGroff, goes on the menu at all three Havana Central locations for the month of February, plus the winner gets dinner for two. Submit entries to LovePotion@havanacentral.com by Feb. 5. (*Extended deadline.)
  • Time is running out for Pernod Absinthe’s “Creator Of” art contest. Create an original work of art including the date 1805, the year the absinthe was created, and submit a copy before Jan. 31. First prize is $1,805, second place gets $500, and third place gets $250.
  • Speaking of time running out, tomorrow is the deadline for the G’Vine Gin Connoisseur’s Program, which will award the winner with a year’s supply of G’Vine, $3,000, and a trip through Amsterdam, Paris, and London to explore the history of gin (if you win, bring me, will ya?). Even the 12 finalists get to go to Paris and Cognac, France–enter here if you haven’t already.

Dizzy Recap: The Dizzy Fizz Holiday Puncheon!

LUPEC's "Remember the Night" punch was one of seven served at The Dizzy Fizz Holiday Puncheon. All photos by Leo Borovskiy of Lush Life Productions.

“If you’d know when you’ve enough – Of the punch and the claret cup – It’s time to quit the blessed stuff – When you fall down and can’t get up”–Unknown

Blessed stuff indeed, and thanks to all who made The Dizzy Fizz Holiday Puncheon an unforgettable evening!

On Sunday December 20, 2009, I was pleased as punch to ring in the holidays in style with a plaid-fashioned punch party at The Summit Bar, 133 Avenue C. This invite-only event gathered more than 100 of the city’s top mixologists and bar industry professionals, cocktail bloggers, lovely friends, as well as some internationally-recognized master mixologists. The Puncheon not only celebrated the holiday season, but was also  my way of toasting the six-month mark for TheDizzyFizz.com as I approached 20,000 views–thanks for your support!

The Puncheon, named for the speakeasy that preceded the ’21’ Club some 80 years ago, featured seven punches created by members of the USBGNY (United States Bartending Guild of New York), LUPECNYC (NYC Chapter of the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), and The Summit Bar’s staff. Punches featured sponsored ingredients including: Plymouth Gin, Bols Genever, Ron Zacapa 23 Aged Rum, Bulleit Bourbon, Partida Tequila, Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky, 10 Cane Rum, Martini & Rossi Prosecco, Gran Marnier Liqueur, Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur, Benedictine Liqueur, Chartreuse, and Averna Sambuca Agrumi.

Author/illustrator Jill DeGroff, and her husband, master mixologist Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff, were featured guests. Jill DeGroff signed copies of her new book, “Lush Life: Portraits from Behind the Bar,” for party guests, courtesy of Chartreuse. Brian Van Flandern, a Michelin three-star mixologist, consultant to Chef Thomas Keller of Per Se, and author of “Vintage Cocktails,” and John Myers, cocktail historian, mixologist, and author of the upcoming “What Would Jesus Drink: Cocktails for the Second Coming” were also in attendance.

LUPEC bartender Jane Elkins’ punch, “The Redhead,” won the most applause and bragging rights as the crowd favorite. The punch included sage-infused Barenjager Honey Liqueur, Yamazaki 12 Year Whisky, Bulleit Bourbon, rooibos tea, ginger syrup, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, and Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters.

For the complete list of recipes, see the “Events” page. I can’t thank the participating bartenders enough: Greg Seider of The Summit Bar, Frank Cisneros of Bar Celona and Prime Meats (USBGNY), John Pomeroy of The Hideout (USBGNY), Jane Elkins of Rye House (LUPEC), Lynnette Marrero of Rye House (LUPEC), Elayne Duke, mixologist for Diageo (LUPEC), Kelley Slagle of Hearth (LUPEC), and Katie Darling of White Star (LUPEC).

Special thanks to Jill and Dale DeGroff for driving through the snow to make the event, to Katie Darling and Tal Nadari of Bols Genever for letting us use their gorgeous punch bowls, to Lush Life Productions for their amazing photography (see the full reel here!) and for providing the yummy cheese and fruit platters, to Hamid Rashidzada of The Summit Bar for organizing an extremely professional staff, to my lovely door host, Chaya Wilkins, and to everyone who made it out on a cold Sunday night–I know you all could have just stayed home in your PJs. Thanks for getting punched in the mouth with me, let’s do it again soon!

(Click on the photos to enlarge:)

Dizzy Recap: 2nd Annual Repeal Day Ball in D.C.

 

NYC crashed the DC Repeal Day Ball in style. From left, Crystal de Canton, Lindsey Johnson, Jill DeGroff, Jason Littrell, Lisa Hare, Eryn Reece, Jen Craig, Dale DeGroff, Simon Ford, Sue Leckie, and myself and Elba Giron are front and center. Photo by Leo Borovskiy of Lush Life Productions.

“One cannot have too large a party. “--Jane Austen

Lately, I have had an amazing stroke of good fortune when it comes to attending events and traveling new places.  [Well, there I go, I've probably jinxed myself now.] I’ll ask the universe to make something happen, and what do you know, at the last possible minute, an invite magically arrives. [Maybe next I should ask for a raise!] Such was the case this past weekend, when it was suddenly posed on Friday afternoon that I help the Lush Life Productions crew with their video and photo coverage of the D.C. Repeal Day Ball held Saturday night. I was planning on spending the weekend volunteering with kids in Harlem and otherwise bundling up on my couch. [It's ok, there's lots of NY Cares volunteers willing to play dodgeball with 9-year-olds.]

I scrambled to find the right dress for the swank black-tie affair, hopped into the LushLifeMobile with Lindsey Johnson, Leo Borovskiy, and Jason Littrell, and away we were, braving the first blizzard of the season to get to our nation’s capital in time so that we could document it for the Museum of the American Cocktail. Being part of the press crew meant that we got to attend the event from the pre-opening stage, watching as the PS7’s crew impressively pulled together all of the necessary details for the gala, all the way to the after-party at brand new bar The Passenger. Let’s just say I got a little *dizzy* towards the end, although it was nothing too serious or worth calling my parents about.

PS7’s bar manager, Gina Chersevani, chef/owner Peter Smith, along with the D.C. Craft Bartender’s Guild, showed all of us New Yorkers who made the trip that the District truly knows how to let loose 1933-style. From the magnificent punches, egg nogs, and classic cocktails served by all-star bartenders, to the red-and-black sequined ladies in pearls and feathers and the gents in suits, bowties, and a few sporting real (and some costume) mustaches, to the swingin’ jazz band, Red Hot Rhythm Chiefs, D.C.’s 76th anniversary of the end of Prohibition was a knockout soiree.

The “toastmaster” of the ball, mixologist and blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler, bar manager at Clyde Common in Portland, Ore., has made it his ongoing mission to have Repeal Day recognized as a national holiday for years now, so he was the choice host. He kept us all entertained with drinking quotes from renowned cocktailians who couldn’t make it, such as Dave Wondrich and Gaz Regan, as well as historical quotes and more tawdry quips from the crowd. Derek Brown, Dan Searing, and Owen Thompson of the D.C. Craft Bartender’s Guild dressed up as the Founding Fathers, which added some revolutionary spirit to the occasion (as in, “Spirit of ’76”).

There was a leading cast of mixology all-stars both behind the stick and in attendance, which was a treat for me since I didn’t make it to this past summer’s Tales of the Cocktail:

King Cocktail, Dale DeGroff, served the “Cocktel Jerez” (Jameson Irish Whiskey, Lustau PX Sherry, Lustau Dry Oloroso Sherry, Angostura Bitters, flamed orange peel) from the heart of the kitchen, which I found especially charming. His queen, Jill DeGroff, signed copies of her whimsical, soulfully-illustrated tome of bartender and musician caricatures and colorful stories, “The Lush Life: Portraits from the Bar,” which was just released in time for the gift-giving season. Ed Hamilton, founder of Ministry of Rum, mixed ti’ punches made with 100-proof rum straight from Martinique, sugarcane syrup (which you must try if you haven’t yet, and can purchase here), and a small squeeze of lime, mixed with a swizzle stick. The Tippling Bros’ Tad Carducci made a cheerfully-garnished “Gussied-Up Bread Line” (Averna Amaro, G’Vine Floraison Gin, fresh lemon, ginger beer, cranberries). Todd Thrasher (how cool is that name), mixologist at PX in Alexandria, Va., crafted a “Veritas” (Benedictine, Laird’s Applejack, homemade apple bitters, walnut water, fermented apple, cider air) which I had two of and was as amazing-tasting as it sounds. Adam Bernbach of D.C.’s Proof delivered a unique and impressive hot drink, the “Pisco in Winter” (butter-infused Macchu Pisco, citrus-spice syrup, and hot water, garnished with an Angostura-cinnamon marhsmallow, yum). Rachel Sergi of Againn meticulously strained the “Thank U-Tah,” (Tres Generaciones Anejo Tequila, Luxardo Maraschino, Leopold Bros. Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur, fresh lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit, egg, cinnamon tincture, and Fee Bros. Aztec Chocolate Bitters–whew) into a frothy flip. Philadelphia’s Christian Gaal, bartender at Apothecary and Noble American Cookery,  shook up some drinks as well, and there were other punches and nogs and delightful-looking things that I wanted to try, but as you can imagine, water eventually became a necessity.

By the time we sauced revelers arrived at The Passenger, which mixologists and brothers Derek and Tom Brown opened late last month, it was bustling with an already-packed crowd and the scene was in full swing. I had a punch that included dangerously good ingredients I can no longer remember, champagne spiked with rum, and a most refreshing dark beer, the Butternuts Moo Thunder Stout, which had notes of espresso and malty goodness. Oh, and the company was great–met Marshall Fawley of Scofflaw’s Den and made lots of new D.C. friends. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that D.C. bars close at 2 a.m. because I’m not sure some of us (myself included) needed to continue riding the express train to Overindulgence.

I must apologize for not writing down the food menu that was offered, but every hors d’oeuvre and appetizer I tried melted in my mouth, and I hope to check out PS7’s dinner menu next time I’m in D.C. After doing a little post-event research, I discovered that PS7’s is across from the historic first meeting place of the Anti-Saloon League, which launched the crusade for Prohibition. For more photos, check out The Washingtonian, keep an eye out for We Shoot Cocktails photos coming soon here, and if you’re friends with us on Facebook: there will soon be a few extras in my album, be sure to scope the lovely Lush Life Production’s album (and video here), and for shots of more NYC-D.C. love and Sunday’s bartender brunch, check out Jason’s snap-happy album–he stuck around D.C. longer than the rest of us.

Most of all thanks to Lush Life, Dale and Jill DeGroff, and all of the amazing D.C. bottlerockers. Repeal Day is the bartender’s holiday, and I was honored to celebrate it with some of the best in the country. Hope to see you again next year!

D.C. to Celebrate Repeal Day in Style

Repeal Day, December 5th, is a day to celebrate!

Tomorrow is the 76th anniversary of Repeal Day, the day that Prohibition ended in 1933 with the 36th vote from Utah (yes, Utah) to repeal the 18th Amendment. For cocktailians, it’s an actual holiday, a day to raise a glass and toast our freedom to drink  in places other than speakeasies. Many NYC bar industry types are headed to Washington, D.C., where a 2nd Annual Repeal Day Ball is being put on by the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild at PS7. Tickets for the black-tie event start at $100, and guests will get to clink glasses with Dale DeGroff and Portland, Ore., mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler.

If you’re going, head down early for author Garrett Peck’s Temperance Tour, which visits all of the Prohibition-related sites in the capital. Garrett knows his stuff–his book, The Prohibition Hangover, is a thoroughly-researched look at how America’s attitude towards drinking has changed from the days of the Anti-Saloon League to today’s $189 billion drinking culture. I sat down with Garrett last month when I was in D.C. for a drink at Bourbon, and we chatted about his writing process.

Garrett got the idea for his book during Christmas of 2003, when he opened a bottle of burgundy to drink with his mother and grandmother. His grandmother, born in 1913, was of a generation that still stigmatized alcohol use, and she refused to have a sip. Meanwhile, Garrett and his mother are both social drinkers and collect wine. This got Garrett thinking about the shift in cultural mores towards acceptance of alcohol following Repeal.

Since all of the alcohol industry lobby groups are in D.C., Garrett was able to interview industry insiders and activists, as well as research historical legal documents. He also traveled across the country, from California wine country to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to craft beer breweries in Pennsylvania and New England, among other boozy locales. Garrett finds that while two-thirds of Americans drink, the debate over how much to drink and at what age to start drinking is still a hot issue. You’ll have to read the book for yourself to hear Garrett’s arguments for lowering the drinking age to 18 to combat binge drinking, and make your own conclusions.

Garrett’s Temperance Tour starts at noon at the Cogswell Temperance Fountain at the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro station on the green/yellow line, and you’ll need a Metro (subway) card. The tour should finish by 3 p.m., so you’ll have plenty of time to get dolled up for the ball that evening, or grab an early drink and start celebrating.

Garrett Peck, author of The Prohibition Hangover, at Bourbon.

Dizzy Recap: Days 3 & 4 of the NYC Wine & Food Festival

The cover of Jill DeGroff's forthcoming book, "Lush Life," picturing Gaz Regan

The cover of Jill DeGroff's forthcoming book, "Lush Life," picturing Gaz Regan

“Martinis are like breasts: one’s not enough, and three’s too many–and four’s a party.”–Simon Ford

While hordes of foodies went to burger bashes and stalked Rocco DiSpirito, my NYC Wine & Food Festival experience was much more liquid-oriented, as I mentioned previously. So in no change of pace I found my weekend booked with two seminars featuring spirits that, just a few years ago, were on opposite ends of the popularity spectrum–gin and tequila.

At “Gin Joint” at 5 Ninth, Plymouth Gin Brand Ambassador Simon Ford admitted that when he first moved to New York from London, gin had a bad rap. “I’m sure many of us had a bad experience and got sick drinking it from our parents’ liquor cabinet,” he said. But now that less-junipery gins are on the market, gin is finally having a moment again, at least here in New York. After “cleansing” our palettes with French 75s (Beefeater Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, Perrier Jouet Champagne), Simon took us through a tasting of six gins representing the history of the distilled juiper elixir traced back to monks in the 11th century.

Naturally, we started with Bols Genever, based on the 19th-century recipe for Holland-style gin. Its subtly sweet, malty taste was a hit with British troops fighting in Holland against the Spanish in the Thirty Years’ War, who dubbed it “Dutch Courage.” So when the British appointed a Dutch king to the throne (King William of Orange) in 1689, the gin craze officially took off. By the mid-1700s, gin was so popular in England that 11 million gallons were being produced a year, and at that time the spirit was known as “mother’s ruin” for its detrimental effects. Thankfully, the 1830s brought the invention of the coffee still, leading to the column distillation method for what is known as London dry gin.

Next, we tried Beefeater, a classic London dry gin, which features notes of juniper, citrus, and angelica root, and Plymouth Gin, which is made in the town of Plymouth, England, and manages to balance juniper with citrus, spice, and floral notes. By the 1890s, the gin rage crossed the pond to the U.S., where it was a classic cocktail ingredient until Prohibition. We also tried Boodles, a classic London gin with juniper and coriander notes founded in 1762, Beefeater 24, a new gin released earlier this year with prominent citrus and tea notes, and Magellan Gin, which features a blue tint and floral nose due to its use of iris root. We were also served a dry martini (Plymouth Gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters, and a lemon twist) and a “Breakfast Martini,” featuring Beefeater, Le Combier orange liqueur, lemon juice, and orange marmalade.

 The highlight of the session for me was chatting with Simon and Jamie Gordon afterwards and getting a sneak peek at Jill DeGroff’s “Lush Life” book, a collection of her stunning caricatures of well-known cocktailians set for release on Nov. 1. Jill, wife of “King Cocktail” Dale DeGroff, has close ties with many of the people she illustrates, and her anthology captures the warmth and spirit of these animated “characters.”

For my last day of the NYCWFF, I attended a tequila tasting at Los Dados by Jaime Salas, National Brand Ambassador of Tres Generaciones Tequila, distilled by Sauza. A refreshing cocktail of Tres Generaciones plata, creme de cassis, ruby red grapefruit juice, and Sprite was served to prepare us for straight tastings of tequila, sans lime or salt. Jamie told us how blue agave, “maguey,” was fermented and drunk by pre-Hispanic emperors before the Spanish distillation process was introduced in the 16th century. In 1873, Don Cenobio Sauza was the first to call the agave spirit “tequila,” named after the region in the Jalisco state of Mexico, and the first to ship it to the U.S.

To be labeled tequila, the spirit must be at least twice-distilled, and it must come from the state of Jalisco and a few other areas. It must also have at least 51 percent of the fermented sugars come from the blue agave; the remainder may include cane or brown sugar, although this is considered less premium. Jamie said tequila is the costliest spirit to produce because agave takes eight to 12 years to ripen and then is harvested manually. Tres Generaciones is 100 percent blue agave and is triple-distilled, leaving smooth and clean agave flavors with a slight pepper finish. We tasted the plata, which is unaged (lightly sweet, citrus and banana notes); the reposado, aged four months in oak (vanilla, light caramel, and smoke); and the anejo, aged at least one year in toasted oak barrels (vanilla, toffee, and white pepper). Needless to say, this was not a bad way to start a Sunday afternoon.

A few facts Jaime shared: chilling tequila suppresses the flavor; in 2007, the U.S. surpassed Mexico for tequila consumption; and the margarita is the most-requested cocktail in the world.

¡Salud!