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 Gifts 2011

‘Tis the season for spreading holiday cheer–and no, that doesn’t necessarily mean spending money–but if you’re in the market for some last-minute gifts for your favorite cocktailians, check out this Dizzy-approved shopping guide:


Do you have a tiki drinker on your list? Hook them up with the B.G. Reynolds Sampler Pack, featuring 5 oz. bottles of passion fruit syrup, orgeat, falernum and Don’s Mix, as well as a recipe booklet and swizzle sticks, all for$18. And if you want to add tiki mugs, B.G.’s got those too.


Royal Rose Syrups make perfect gifts for imbibers and teetotalers alike–add them to your next cocktail, homemade soda, or drizzle on top of your favorite dessert. Make locally in small batches, flavors include rose, lavender-lemon, raspberry, three chiles or tamarind, while cardamom-clove is especially useful for holiday drink-making. Purchase 8-oz. bottles for $11 each or go for a four-pack sampler for $44.


Cocktail geeks and history buffs alike will be thrilled to unwrap their own copy of “Prohibition” by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick ($30), a documentary aired on PBS earlier this year chronicling America’s noble-yet-disastrous experiment. Captivating, educational, and at times, sobering, the film digs deep to reveal America’s political and moral struggle with its own alcoholic tendencies.


Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide: 75th Anniversary Edition, edited by Jonathan Pogash, aka the Cocktail Guru, is a classic drink-mixing guide featuring more than 1,500 recipes including nearly 200 new recipes from today’s best bartenders. Order yours for $10 on Amazon.com or get a signed copy for $20 here.


Nothing classes up a home bar quite like a Mad Men-style ice bucket, and this Crate & Barrel version delivers ($50). Of course, you’ll want to toss in a pair of tongs ($9) too.


Although on back-order until late January, The PDT Cocktail Book ($17) is a must-have for any serious bartender. Jim Meehan, head bartender at the infamous hot dog shop/speakeasy, spills his secrets of the trade along with more than 300 recipes, all charmingly illustrated by Chris Gall. Note that many of the recipes call for ingredients that are hard to find outside of NYC and other major cities, but the culinary prowess behind them should keep readers inspired to try their own variations.


Hand-cracked ice is not only an impressive start to any cocktail (such as juleps, swizzles and shrubs), it also dilutes the acidity. This handsome ice pick from Williams-Sonoma ($60) should satisfy any ice geek’s desire to crush it.


For the cocktailian who has everything, this stag head pourer ($26) from Pottery Barn should turn heads. Toss the standard plastic pourers and easily measure drinks by the ounce with this charming reindeer version.

Saloon Stakeouts: Opening Season

A rendering of the Empire Room, soon to class up Midtown's bar scene.

The snow’s a-meltin’ and the birds are a-flutter–could it be that spring is about to, you know, spring? Considering all of the hot new cocktail bars looking to open in the next month or two, I’d say NYC is going to have quite the warm awakening:

  • Dram: On the cusp of “officially” opening after two years of being in the works, this Williamsburg cocktail den from Thomas Chadwick will add to the budding excitement of South 4th Street, where Pies ‘n Thighs recently relocated nearby (and just two blocks from Bar Celona). Although the menu will rotate constantly, bartender Nick Jarrett has a stirred drink on the menu called “The Devil’s Pocket” (aged rum, Armagnac, Amaro del Capo, and Rainwater Madeira) that I hope to try soon. Dram’s also offering a Mai Tai with housemade toasted orgeat. 177 S. 4th St., Brooklyn.
  • Painkiller: Dutch Kills‘ Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzales are mixing scorpion bowls, pina coladas and a more laid-back way of drinking with the gritty style of NYC’s Lower East Side–sounds like paradise to me. Keep your eyes peeled for an opening by the end of the month. 49 Essex St.
  • Zengo: Richard Sandoval’s forthcoming Latin-Asian restaurant, to feature former Elettaria chef/owner Akhtar Nawab as chef de cuisine, will offer a tequila library–I for one am looking forward to getting schooled. Near Grand Central.
  • Empire Room: On the ground level of the Empire State Building, this latest gem in the Hospitality Holdings‘ line of upscale bars is expected to open soon. Look for an Art Deco theme and a cocktail menu by Jonathan “Cocktail Guru” Pogash, president of the USBGNY. 350 5th Ave.
  • Lighthouse: From the owners of Macao Trading Co./Employees Only, this Williamsburg restaurant will feature a Mediterranean menu, oyster bar, and pickles–no word on the cocktail plans just yet. Construction is now underway. 145 Borinquen Pl.
  • Freemans Upstairs: Last month, Freemans was finally granted approval to move forward with plans for a second bar upstairs. With Star Chefs’ Rising Star Mixologist Maxwell Britten behind the stick, this is one Lower East Side addition to keep an eye on. End of Freeman Alley.

Red-hot, fresh-off-the-mill rumors:

  • Albert Trummer, owner of Apotheke, is working on opening a new bar in Tribeca.
  • A rum-centric bar in Lower Manhattan may be in the works from the owners of Mayahuel.
  • A whiskey-centric bar may be coming to Williamsburg soon.
  • Sasha Petraske, owner of Milk & Honey and other fine tippling establishments, is working on opening a new jazz and cocktail bar called Hi-Note on 39th St. & Lexington Ave., if the funding comes together.

Dizzy Recap: WhiskyFest New York

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David Blackmore and Arnaud Dalibot of Glenmorangie

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough.” –Mark Twain

Toasted vanilla, sweet sherry, cedar. Prunes, dark chocolate, charred fruits. Cracked pepper, moss, smoky peat. What is there not to love about the spicy, tongue-tingling world of whisk(e)y? Clearly, not a thing, as the 12th Annual WhiskyFest New York at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square was wall-to-wall packed with whisky drinkers Tuesday night. With more than 200 exhibitors pouring drams of single malts, blended whiskies, bourbon, rum, beer, and other spirits, this was one dizzy affair.

Upon entering the boisterous scene, I made a beeline for the USBGNY booth to sip on some scotch cocktails before diving into straight pours. As expected, the drinks were complex and delish–I sampled Meaghan Dorman’s “Bagpipe Dream” (Compass Box Asyla scotch, fresh lemon juice, ginger maple syrup), Jolene Skrzysowski’s “Rustic Plums” (Woodford’s Reserve bourbon, Domaine de Canton, plum wine, pear nectar), and Hal Wolin’s “2009 Scotch Odyssey” (Glenmorangie 10 Year scotch, Laphroaig scotch, mole bitters, demerara syrup). I also had a fantastic Old Fashioned by USBGNY President Jonatha Pogash, but forgot to write down the ingredients.

John Glaser, creator of Compass Box Whisky, said the recent evolution of fine scotch as an ingredient in cocktails has made for a positive addition at WhiskyFest. “You would never have seen this five years ago,” he said.

So which whiskies did I try? Let’s see, from what I can recall there was Michael Collins Irish Whiskey Single Malt, Compass Box Spice Tree, Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or, Ardberg 10 Year, The Balvenie Portwood 21 Year, Glenrothes 1991 (they were out of 1985),  Tullamore Dew 12 Year, Blanton’s Single Barrel bourbon, Highland Park 18 Year, Yamazaki 18 Year, and a most delicious Signatory Glen Grant 1976 from the Bar & Books booth. I also had Zacapa Rum, BrewDog Paradox Smokehead stout aged in Scotch casks, and more scotch cocktails mixed by kilted bartenders from St. Andrews Restaurant & Bar. There were so many more drams I wanted to try, if time and liver capacity were of no concern.

The crowd was, from my approximation, 90 percent male, 40 percent Orthodox Jewish (maybe more), and 70 percent over the age of 40, not that it matters or anyone’s counting. Thanks to Malt Advocate for organizing the event and to Kate Laufer for the invite. Slainte!

Dizzy Recap: Bärenjäger Throwdown

Grand-prize winner Kevin Diedrich, image courtesy of Guestofaguest.com

Grand-prize winner Kevin Diedrich, image courtesy of Guestofaguest.com

Perhaps you have already heard that congratulations are in order to Kevin Diedrich of Clover Club for taking the grand prize at the first-ever Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur New York bärtending competition held earlier this week. His winning drink, “The Bottom Line,” featured Bärenjäger with Highland Park 18, Manzilla Sherry, Cio Ciaro, orange bitters, and Angostura bitters. NoHo special-events-only speakeasy Woodson & Ford (643 Broadway) was host to the throwdown, where the vintage parlor decor was upstaged by a life-sized taxidermied black bear. The prop was in reference to the honey liqueur’s heritage as a 15th century aid for hunters to lure bears from their dwellings. Made in Germany, the 70 proof vodka-based honey liqueur is made with honey sourced from the Mexican province of Yucatan.

Six New York bartenders competed in two rounds–first up was Neil Grosscup of Country Club, Meaghan Dorman of Raines Law Room, and Kevin. Neil offered “The Limburg,” with Bärenjäger, Bols Genever, pressed apple juice, mint, and lemon juice, while Meaghan mixed the honey liqueur with Pimm’s No. 1, Rittenhouse Rye, Angostura bitters, and lemon juice for the “Five in the Hive.” The second round included Jonathan Pogash of Hospitality Holdings, Bradley Farran of Clover Club, and the people’s choice winner, Gerry Corcoran of PDT. Jonathan made “The Bee Sting” with Bärenjäger, Laphroaig, Fernet-Branca, egg white, tangerine juice, and Peychaud’s bitters; Bradley mixed the honey liqueur with tequila reposado, lemon juice, Cynar, and crème de cacao for “El Oso Agridulce;” and Gerry whipped up the “Bäre Fizz” with Bärenjäger, Famous Grouse scotch, fig preserves, lemon juice, and egg white, topped with Toasted Lager beer.

The judges for the event certainly knew what they were doing:  mixologist and spirits aficionado Allen Katz of Southern Wine & Spirits; mixology icon Gary Regan of ArdentSpirits.com; cocktail maven Julie Reiner of Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge; one of the foremost spirits trade writers, Jack Robertiello; and Aisha Sharpe of Contemporary Cocktails, Inc. Judges based scores on taste, appearance, creativity, and overall delivery.

Kevin, whose drink the judges said was “an instant classic,” won an all-expense trip paid for two to Oktoberfest 2009 in Munich, Germany. Kevin’s previous bartending experience includes Bourbon and Branch, Michael Mina’s Clock Bar, CASK, Beverage Academy, The Ritz Carleton and Bourbon Steak. Gerry received tickets to the Yankees.
 
” The Bottom Line” by Kevin Diedrich:

¾ parts Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
1 ½ parts Highland Park 18
1 part Manzanilla Sherry
¼ parts Cio Ciaro
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
 
Add all ingredients to mixing glass, ice and stir strain into chilled cocktail glass. 
 
“Bäre Fizz” by Gerry Corcoran:

.5 parts Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
2 parts Famous Grouse Scotch
1 part fresh lemon juice
2-3 parts Toasted Lager beer
1 egg white
1 barspoon fig preserves
1 slice of fig for garnish

Dry shake all the ingredients except the lager, add ice, and shake again. Double strain into a chilled highball glass, top with the toasted lager beer and garnish with a slice of fig.

Bradley Farran of Clover Club

Bradley Farran of Clover Club

Judges Allen Katz, Aisha Sharpe, and Julie Reiner

Judges Allen Katz, Aisha Sharpe, and Julie Reiner

People's choice winner Gerry Corcoran of PDT

People's choice winner Gerry Corcoran of PDT

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse…

 

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  • Mixology icon and salty storyteller Gaz (aka Gary) Regan dishes wisdom on all things gin in his new 354-page book, The Bartender’s Gin Compendium, available for online purchase now.
  • Bearded James Beard Foundation award-winner David Wondrich poured Pre-Prohibition cocktails for Stephen Colbert and invented the Colbert Bump.
  • Jonathan Pogash is reportedly working on the cocktail menu for the Empire Room, a new cocktail lounge set to open on the ground floor of the Empire State Building this fall.
  • As of July 29, NYC has its own chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails). Lynnette Marrero of cocktail consulting and catering firm Drinks at 6, Eryn Reece of Louis 649, Meaghan Dorman of Raines Law Room, and Katie Darling of White Star are among the founding members.
  • And if you are in the NYC area, the Fine Living Network is currently shooting a new reality series, “Bartender Wars,” at a bar on the Lower East Side throughout the month. Want to be an extra and drink for free during the tapings? Email patroncasting@gmail.com with your name, age, number, recent photo, and desired meeting time.

Dizzy Recap: The New York Bar Show

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If you ever wanted proof of the clash between the crafty cocktail world and the superficial land of clubdom, it was at last week’s New York Bar Show, an annual food and beverage trade show. Nonetheless, buzzing through aisles of drink samples and girls in bikinis at Jacob Javits Convention Center certainly isn’t the worst way to spend an afternoon. I had hopes of bringing you some news of hot-off-the-presses, must-try spirits or fancy bar gadgets, but alas, I really didn’t learn anything new. What I did absorb (besides several sippy cups of tequila, gin, pisco, absinthe, beer, and vodka) is that the mixology side of the bar business has a long way to go to educate mainstream consumers that it’s worthy of as much attention as the pretty girls who pour your shots. Leading the cocktail teach-in at the Bar Show was the non-stop presentation by the New York chapter of the U.S. Bartender’s Guild. When I strolled by, I found mixologist (and talented photographer) Elba S. Giron mixing the Joie de Veev cocktail, of all things, while mixologists Jonathan Pogash and Jason Littrell handed out information and chatted with passersby. Other highlights included: Mekhong Spirit of Thailand cocktails, Pisco Sours with Gran Sierpe, and Daiquiris with Don Q Rum courtesy of James Menite of Porter House. Workshop sessions (which I didn’t attend) featured mixologists such as Gary Regan, Charlotte Voisey, Junior Merino, Tad Carducci, Brian Van Flandern, and Martin Miller’s brand ambassador Jon Santer. Entertainment came in the form of ice luges, beer pong, Hustlers Club girls, and an inflatable bull (which was just for display, I think). Whether or not this show was the right place to spread the good word of fresh-ingredient cocktails or not, props must be given to the USBGNY for putting in the effort. I would love to see more of a cocktail culture presence next year, or perhaps a separate event will emerge. Check out this video of Jason Littrell at the Bar Show making a Southside using Bols Genever.