File Under: Hot Dates


Where's the Captain takin' us now?

  • Just when you thought the Manhattan Cocktail Classic couldn’t get soaked with any more liquids, hometown heroes The Tippling Point have gone and put together an event that actually floats–on New York Harbor, specifically. Tickets for “The Three Hour Tour,” as it’s been dubbed, went on sale today, and they are moving fast. The booze cruise aboard the Royal Princess Cruise Liner at sunset on May 16 will feature a live band and DJ, live ice carving by Shintaro Okamoto, and five cocktails by some of the best bartenders in the states:  Jacqueline Patterson of Heaven’s Dog (San Francisco), Thomas Waugh of Death & Co. (NYC), John Lermayer of The Florida Room (Miami), Richard Boccato of Dutch Kills & Painkiller (NYC) and Danny Valdez of Cure (New Orleans).  Moet Hennessy USA is sponsoring (10 Cane Rum, Ardbeg Scotch, Grand Marnier, Belvedere Vodka, and Hennessy), so you might as well be screaming “I’m a boat” the entire time. To make this happen, Jason Littrell teamed up with Gianfranco Verga, Tad Carducci, and Paul Tanguay to form the company The Tippling Point. Come through for this, the Gala, and of course, the Tastemaker’s Punch, and you’ll have your party points for the year–not to be missed! Use code TONY for 25 percent off on all Manhattan Cocktail Classic events!
  • May 1 means Derby Day, the quintessential day to sip a mint julep and wear a hat for at least two minutes. This year is the 135th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, and with the resurgence in brown spirits it seems like a lovely reason to celebrate. Most recipes call for bourbon, but Harry Johnson’s 1888 recipe with brandy and a dash of Jamaican rum, copied below, sounds equally as delicious.
  • On May 3 and 4, bartenders from all over will converge in NYC to take a master class in Japanese cocktail technique from Kazuo Uyeda.  The most famous bartender in Japan, Kazuo is author of “Japanese Cocktail Technique,” which is being released for the first time in English by Cocktail Kingdom/Mud Puddle Books, sponsors of the event. Two days of rigorous education (including hard shake demonstrations) take place at Hiro Ballroom in Chelsea, where everyone will also let off steam with Suntory cocktails the night of May 4. Contact for ticket requests.
  • And wow, what a difference a year makes–on May 13, we celebrate World Cocktail Day! The day marking the first public mention of the word “cocktail,” this date also commemorates the first full year of The Dizzy Fizz! Coincidentally, I have the same birthday as one of the best cocktail culture blogs on the West Coast, Thirsty in LA. Since NYC is the place to be this month, Thirsty in LA’s Daniel Djang will actually be here and we’re going to celebrate our “blogiversary” together! Deets to come!

Mint Julep, adapted from Harry Johnson, “New & Improved Illustrated Bartender’s Manual:”

Serving vessel: a glass.

1/2 oz. sugar
2 oz. water or seltzer
3 to 4 sprigs of mint

Muddle mint in the sugar and water to extract the flavor of the mint, then remove and discard the mint.


6 oz. brandy

Fill with shaved ice, stir. Garnish with a mint leaf, berry, pineapple and orange.


1 dash Jamaican rum.

Sprinkle with sugar, serve with a straw.

Image courtesy of Maker's Mark.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse

  • BarSmarts Wired is now open for registration through March 31. Created by Beverage Alcohol Resource and Pernod Ricard USA, the online bartender training program is available for two-month intervals twice a year. While BarSmarts Advanced is invitation-only, the Wired version is open to any bar enthusiast 21 and older. The $45 course fee includes a messenger bag packed with essential bar tools, shipped to you whether you pass the course or not.
  • For reasons yet unknown, Audrey Saunders has left her helm at the Tar Pit in L.A. She told The New York Times that she and the other bar owners disagreed over the swanky retro bar’s promotion: “It’s not our style to promote our beverage program through cable programs, etc — and that became a stumbling block for us.”
  • New York sales of Fernet Branca jumped 50 percent in 2009, undoubtedly thanks to NYC’s cocktail community–but the saturation here still doesn’t match San Francisco, which drinks more than half of the Fernet sold in the entire U.S.!
  • Save the dates for the first-ever Ultimate Beverage Challenge series, starting with the Ultimate Spirits Challenge at Astor Center on March 1-3, followed by the Ultimate Cocktail Challenge on April 12-14. For the cocktail challenge, spirit and wine categories will be meticulously mixed in classic cocktails to determine which ones work best, such as the best gin in a dry martini. The judging panel will include founder F. Paul Pacult, Jacques Bezuidenhout, Dale DeGroff, Steve Olson, Julie Reiner, Audrey Saunders, Jim Meehan, Doug Frost, Andy Seymour, David Wondrich and more.
  • Liquor industry giant Diageo is leading efforts to stop New York grocery stores from selling wine, as proposed in a current bill from Gov. Paterson.
  • Today is National Margarita Day! I like mine spicy:

Spicy Cucumber Margarita by Kara Newman, author of “Spice & Ice“:

1/2 small cucumber, peeled and cubed
1 slice jalapeno pepper, minced
1 ounce reposado tequila
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau or Grand Marnier
1 small jalapeno or cucumber or lime wheel for garnish

In a shaker, muddle the cucumber and jalapeno. Add all liquid ingredients, and fill halfway with ice. Shake well, for at least 30 seconds or more, then strain twice into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the small chili pepper or cucumber or lime wheel.

Photo from

Dizzy Gifts, Part 2: Education


Thinking about his next drink.

“Study as if you were going to live forever; live as if you were going to die tomorrow.”–Maria Mitchell, American astronomer

If you’re anything like me, once you become passionate about something, you have a strong desire to learn as much about that something as you can. Some people might call me a nerd. Sure, there is something to be said for artistic intuition and natural talent, and there isn’t a field of study for everything–abstract expressionist painting or a sense of humor, for instance–but when it comes to having a craft, such as writing or making cocktails, well, I come from the school of thought that you can never have too much school for your thoughts (although we should all get outside more and learn from nature, too).

I’ll never forget the time I met Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown a year and a half ago at a Sagatiba tasting at Brandy Library. Spirits and drinks historians whose books include “Shaken Not Stirred: A Celebration of the Martini,” “The Soul of Brasil,” and “Cuba: The Legend of Rum,” the couple travels the world to uncover the secrets behind the history of drinking. They are also the directors of Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux in Southern France. [In short, they are my idols.] Dave Wondrich, author of “Imbibe! From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash,” also made a similar impression on me last year. These writers have managed to make a living by constantly seeking to quench their thirst for knowledge of drink-making of the past, present, and future.

Most cocktail enthusiasts consider themselves geeks and are in a constant state of study. So if you have a few of those types on your holiday shopping list, why not drop some knowledge on them and give them a gift that will last a lifetime? Here are some suggestions:

The Bartender’s Gin Compendium” by Gaz Regan navigates the world of gin, from its roots as genever to the prominent brands of today.

“The Prohibition Hangover: Alcohol in American from Demon Rum to Cult Cabernet” by Garrett Peck charts the shift in social attitiudes towards drinking since the days of Prohibition and includes lots of facts on how we drink today.

Spirituous Journey: Book One” by Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller is one of the most thoroughly-researched looks at the birth of spirits and the distillation process, from China, to India, to Persia, through Europe and onto the New World.

“Lush Life: Portraits from the Bar” by author/illustrator Jill DeGroff is not only a stunning collection of her caricatures of who’s who in the world of bartending, but the book also includes colorful stories and classic recipes.

Imbibe Magazine is the premiere publication on liquid culture and the art of drinking, and is must-have for anyone in the cocktail industry.

Astor Center’s classes on cocktail-making and spirits history are an excellent resource for cocktailians in NYC. Gift certificates are available to cover the cost of the sessions.

And last but not least, BarSmarts Wired is an online version of the B.A.R. (Beverage Alcohol Resource) program developed by the leading mixologists in the industry. For $45, students receive educational DVDs, a workbook, and a bar tool kit, and earn certification once they pass the class, which takes about four weeks.