Dizzy Recap: Kahlua Cinnamon Spice Launch

Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford.

When a major spirits company launches a new product, the event is usually a flashy affair featuring an exclusive Manhattan locale and maybe even DJs, models and B-list celebrities. To introduce Kahlua Cinnamon Spice Liqueur, a blend of rum, arabica coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo (a traditional Mexican spice), I was invited on a press trip to the Hudson Valley for apple picking and an autumn-inspired dinner at the scenic Bedford Post Inn. Let me tell you, this was a brilliant way to get NYC writers’ attention–pull us out of the cold gray city and bus us an hour north where fresh air, foliage and seasonal scents awaited us. LUPEC NYC president and mixology maven Lynnette Marrero whipped up the cocktails for the evening (recipes below), highlighting the liqueur’s surprising versatility by using aquavit, Cognac and tequila as base ingredients.

Hayride!

Photo of Lynnette Marrero by Kyle Dean Reinford.

Durango Royale
3/4 oz. Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice
1 oz. aquavit
1/2 oz. lemon juice

Top with dry french fermented sparkling apple cider (Cidre Doux Eric bordelet). In a shaker, add all ingredients except sparkling cider.  Strain into a flute and top with dry fermented cider.

Zócalo Sidra (cider)
1 oz. Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1 1/2 oz. Martell VS Cognac
2 barspoons apple butter
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Place all ingredients in a shaker. Shake and strain into a couple glass and garnish with cinnamon stick

Montanya Mermalada
1 oz. Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice
1 oz. Avión Tequila Blanco
1 oz. lemon juice
6-8 concord grapes

Muddle Grapes. Add rest of the ingredients. Shake and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse…

LUPEC NYC member Lurie De La Rosa-Jackson puts the finishing touch on The Alice Paul (recipe below) at Compass Box Whisky's International Women's Day celebration.

  • Earlier this month, Compass Box Whisky partnered with the New York members of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of the Endangered Cocktail) for its second annual International Women’s Day celebration of women and whisky. Eight of the city’s top female bartenders created Compass Box cocktails–several of them were named after inspirational members of the women’s movement–which were paired with either Murray’s Cheese or Bespoke Chocolates. The event raised funds for Bottomless Closet NYC, a non-profit organization that helps disadvantaged NYC women become self-sufficient through comprehensive educational and training programs.
  • The winners of the 2011 Ultimate Spirits Challenge were recently announced, named by top beverage experts in a blind tasting held at Astor Center earlier this month. The judges, led by Judging Chairman F. Paul Pacult and Assistant Judging Chairman Sean Ludford, included Eric Alperin, Jacques Bezuidenhout, Tad Carducci, James Conley, Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Jim Meehan, Robert Plotkin, Julie Reiner, Jack Robertiello, Steve Olson, Andy Seymour, Aisha Sharpe, Willy Shine, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan and David Wondrich. This year, the competition also recognized spirits that offer “Great Value,”  based on the relationship between their score and price. For the full list of winners, click here.
  • On March 28, the New York chapter of the USBG (U.S. Bartender’s Guild) is holding its third annual Cocktail Jam at Astor Center. Twelve of the city’s best bartenders will shake, stir and sling during the smackdown, taking place from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Judges Giuseppe Gonzalez, Thomas Waugh, Phil Ward, and Stephanie Moreno will decide the winner, who will receive a $2,000 scholarship to the esteemed cocktail conference, Tales of the Cocktail. Tickets to the jam are $35 and 50% of all ticket proceeds benefit Action Against Hunger (Tsunami Relief) and the USBGNY.

The Alice Paul by Erin Williams, Hush Cocktails, NYC

1 ½ oz Spice Tree
½ oz Orangerie
1 bar spoon fig preserve
2 dashes Smeby’s Highland Heather bitters
Peat Monster
-rinsed coupe

Top with Champagne. Garnish with an orange twist.

Alice Paul was the woman who championed the women’s suffrage movement and ultimately won women the right to vote in 1920.

More than 600 spirits were sampled in the 2011 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse…

The Astor Room revives Astoria's tradition of cinema glamour and classic cocktails. Image via Thrillist.

  • Mixing drinks comes with its occupational hazards, and unfortunately, not all bartenders have health insurance. On Monday, Feb. 21, the USBGNY is hosting Bartenders for Healthcare, a fundraiser to support career bartenders in need of health insurance. For $40, sip cocktails made with Plymouth Gin, Herradura Tequila, Santa Teresa Rum, Leblon Cachaca, Denizen Rum, Michter’s Bourbon, Combier, St-Germain, Carpano Antica, Bittermens Bitters, and Prometheus Springs mixers. Bartenders volunteering their services include some of NYC’s best: Lynnette Marrero, Jim Kearns, Jason Littrell and Marshall Altier. In addition to the drinks, guests will enjoy Stinky Bklyn cheese, snacks made by Freemans’ chefs, and music from folk-rock trio the Crooners. Freemans, Freeman Alley off Rivington St., second floor, 7 to 10 p.m.
  • Honor International Women’s Day and support disadvantaged women at Whisky &Women Unite, March 8 at Astor Center. Organized by LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) and sponsored by Compass Box Whisky, the event features some of NYC’s best female bartenders creating Scotch whisky cocktails.  Tickets are $85 (purchase here) and will include eight specialty cocktails, chocolates from Bespoke Chocolates and  artisanal cheese. Thirty percent of all ticket sales will be donated to Bottomless Closet, a non-profit helping women achieve economic independence. 399 Lafayette St., 7 to 9 p.m.
  • The Astor Room recently opened at Kaufman Astoria Studios, and combined with the revamped Museum of the Moving Image next door, it’s one swanky destination for Queens. Modeled after the studio’s Pre-Prohibition heyday, Astor retains the original tiling and ’20s-era marble staircase. The cocktail menu, created by Lynnette Marrero and Jim Kearns, features classics such as The Astoria Cocktail (gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters) and The New Yorker (bourbon, claret, lemon juice). 34-12 36th St., Astoria.
  • Now open for private events during Fashion Week, strip club-dive bar hybrid The Westway (75 Clarkson St.) is attracting a hipster-elite crowd to its boogie nights. Formerly the Westside Gentleman’s Club and now run by operators of Smile and The Jane Ballroom, the bar kept the  light-up disco floor and brass poles for impromptu striptease. With Sunset Park’s jungle-themed, Vegas-style bikini bar Jaguar (225 47th St., Brooklyn) also in pre-opening stage, according to Blackbook, and Red Hook’s Paris Burlesque Club in the works, one has to wonder, will 2011 be the year NYC nightlife puts its go-go boots back on?
  • And although the focus is on wine, not cocktails, at Brooklyn Height’s recently-opened Colonie, I just have to give props to the restaurant’s brilliant use of Kickstarter to raise thousands to help fund their opening. 127 Atlantic Ave.

File Under: Hot Dates

LUPEC NYC is hosting a Winter Warmer fundraiser with Compass Box Whisky at Astor Center Monday night.

  • On Sunday night, March 7, the top U.S. finalists in 42 Below‘s World Cup cocktail competition will throw down at the Ace Hotel in NYC. Special guest judges include Dale Degroff, Chef Sam Talbot, and founder of the Bartender’s Academy of New York, Charles Ohlbaum. Ten countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, China, Australia, Ireland, Germany, France and Italy are sending finalists to an extreme cocktail competition in New Zealand from March 23 to 28. This event is invite-only.
  • In honor of International Women’s Day, the NYC chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) will get behind the stick at Astor Center to mix up crafty cocktails featuring Compass Box Whisky. Five dollars from each $30 ticket will benefit Dress for Success, which provides professional work attire to disadvantaged women. Organized by Laren Spirer of Sweet Blog o’ Mine, expect lots of #WomenWhisky tweeting to go with your tippling–also, men are more than welcome. Monday, March 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Purchase tickets here.
  • LUPEC NYC is also celebrating Rosie the Riveter’s 90th birthday with cocktails featuring PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur at Rye House. Founding LUPEC members Lynnette Marrero and Eryn Reece will be slinging drinks, and LeNell Smothers is expected to make an appearance via Skype. RSVP here and tweet #rosietheriveter if you’re cool like that.  Tuesday, March 9, from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • And not that you need an excuse, but it’s currently Martini Week in NYC through March 14, brought to you by Thrillist and Tasting Table. Specialty gin and vodka martinis are $10 at participating restaurants from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. nightly.
  • Need suggestions on where to get a warming winter cocktail or meet someone new to raise your temperature? Check out some of my latest round-ups: The Best NYC Bars for Singles, NYC Bars to Warm Your Spirits, and the Seven Scotch Bars in NYC.

Bowery Hotel's Lobby Bar is one of the coziest cocktail dens in the city.

Dizzy Recap: Good Deeds

Contemporary Cocktails teamed up with NYC bartenders for the "Hearts and Cocktails for Haiti" benefit at Bar Celona on Sunday. Photo by Lush Life Productions.

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?” — Rabbi Hillel

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.

From left to right, Jim Morrow, New York Market Manger for VeeV at Southern; Bill Desilva, Director of Sales in the On-Premise for New York; Larry Romer, Vice-President; Carter Reum, co-founder, VeeV; Killy Smith and Michelle Bourque, New York Market Managers for VeeV; Jack Battipaglia, General Sales Manager for the Spirits Division at Southern.

NYC's cocktail community came out in full force for "Hearts for Haiti." Photo by Lush Life Productions.

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.

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:)