- Feel like a kid in a gourmet liquor shop as you sip your way through a dizzying array of top-rated adult beverages at the Ultimate Cocktails, Spirits and Wine Blast this Fri. Oct. 15. Sample hundreds of tipples judged by F. Paul Pacult’s inaugural Ultimate Beverage Challenge earlier this year. Expect world-class bartenders, author signings, seminars and savory bites. Bloomspot and Time Out New York are offering discounts on tickets (enter the code “TONY1015” for 50% off), priced at $90 ($110 VIP). From 6:30 to 10 p.m. (VIP 5 to 10 p.m.) at Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway (44th and 45th Sts).
- On Sun., Oct. 17, Frankie’s Sputino and Prime Meats in Carroll Gardens are holding their annual Oktoberfest with traditional Bavarian fare and drinks. The party goes from noon to 6 p.m. in the backyard, with a special music performance following. 457 Court St., Brooklyn.
- Oy–also on Sun., Oct. 17, is the Tenth Annual NYC International Pickle Day, featuring free samples of all sorts of pickled veggies, fruits, meat and cheese. What’s this got to do with cocktails, you ask? Well, if you’ve ever had a pickle back (a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice) you might appreciate the variety of “briiiine.” From 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the parking lot on Broome between Essex and Ludlow.
- With the recent success of San Francisco Cocktail Week and this week’s London Cocktail Week, it’s no wonder that Portland, Ore., wanted to get in on the celebration of their cocktail culture as well. Get ready for Portland Cocktail Week, Oct. 21 to 24, in conjunction with the Great American Distillers Festival. Highlights include a tiki bash, a meat tour and a Benedictine ball.
- And you have until Oct. 31 to submit your entries for the Bols Around the World Cocktail Competition. The theme this year is “Mix Your Way to Cocktail Heaven,” seeking the most divine drink containing a Bols product. Two North American finalists, as judged by John Lermayer, will win a three-day trip to Amsterdam to compete with six other international finalists in February of 2011. Up for grabs are some hefty cash prizes: first place gets 2,500 Euros (about $3480 US), the second-place winner will receive 750 Euros (about $1045 US) and the third-place winner goes home with 500 Euros (about $696 US). You must be a working bartender to enter and your submission must contain at least 3/4 of an ounce of a Bols liqueur.
- Summer is the season of gin, so it was a nice surprise to take home the first place prize recently for New Amsterdam Gin’s “Next Gin-eration” Cocktail Challenge. Set up Iron Chef-style, I was among a dozen or so bloggers and cocktail enthusiasts (no professional bartenders allowed) asked to create a tasty drink within 10 minutes using ingredients onsite at The Back Room. My winning number, as judged by Alex Ott and the New Amsterdam team? The “Greenmarket Smash,” featuring 1 1/2 oz. New Amsterdam gin, 1/2 oz. liquified honey, 1/2 oz. elderflower liqueur, 1 oz. fresh orange juice, 1 oz. cranberry juice, and muddled basil. I won a catered dinner for 10 and bragging rights, woot!
- Harlem gets another cocktail den next to 67 Orange with the opening of Five and Diamond, featuring a fresh-ingredient cocktail menu created by Jonathan Pogash of The Cocktail Guru. With top bartenders like Moses Laboy behind the stick, this sounds like another uptown destination worth the trip. See the full cocktail menu below! 2072 Frederick Douglass Blvd.
- Ready for another rumor to get The Jane Hotel’s neighbors in a tizzy? [The Ballroom is finally open again, BTW.] Word on the street is the owners are designing an even more exclusive enclave within the landmark building–a penthouse bar.
- This weekend’s first annual Gourmet Latino Festival is shaping up to be a star-studded affair of not only chefs inspired by flavors from Latin America, but renowned mixologists too. Check out the full schedule of educational seminars and tastings featuring the likes of Dale DeGroff, Steve Olson and Junior Merino.
- According to this whiskey blog, Tuthilltown’s Hudson Whiskey has been bought by William Grant & Sons, which would mean worldwide distribution of the whiskey created in 2003 by Brian Lee and Gable Erenzo. According to the article, Tuthilltown will remain its ownership of its non-whiskey brands.
- And if you haven’t caught the latest viral video series featuring mixologists, head over to Combier’s “Shaker Faces” campaign, which will award the bartender with the best shake $500. Hurry up and check out the four-way shake by the Edison’s (LA) Joseph Brooke–the ladies will not want to miss that one!
Five and Diamond’s Cocktail Menu
The Five and Diamond: Hangar One Buddha’s Hand Vodka, Grand Marnier, honey syrup, fresh lime, cranberry juice, fresh pineapples and Jarritos lìmon soda. ($12)
Spiced Raspberry Bellini: Fresh raspberries, spice syrup, rhubarb bitters and Cava. ($12)
Hold Me, Ransom: Ransom Old Tom Gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon juice, egg white, Jarritos tamarindo soda and Angostura bitters. ($13)
Blackberry Sage: Fresh blackberries and sage, vodka, Grand Marnier and fresh lemon juice ($12)
Replenish: Chamomile-infused Plymouth Gin, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, Fever-Tree ginger beer, Vita-Coco coconut water and fresh lemon juice. ($12)
Diamond Daiquiri: Rhum Clement Premierre Canne Rum, demerara syrup, fresh lime juice and fresh strawberries. ($12)
Raspberry Tarragon Margarita: Siembra Azul Blanco Tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, fresh raspberries and tarragon. ($12)
Smokey Sour: Sombra Mezcal, Benromach single malt scotch, fresh lemon juice, orange marmalade, and egg white. ($12)
- Results of the groundbreaking Ultimate Cocktail Challenge are in, determining which gin works best in extra dry martinis (Tanqueray London Dry!), which rum makes the best mojitos (Don Q Cristal!), which cognac makes slammin’ Sidecars (Remy Martin VSOP!), etc. Expert judges included mixology superstars Dale DeGroff, David Wondrich, Jacques Bezuidenhout, Julie Reiner, Steve Olson, Audrey Saunders, Tad Carducci, Doug Frost, Andy Seymour, Don Lee, Jim Meehan, Sean Ludford, and F. Paul Pacult. Judges blind-tasted the spirits in cocktails mixed meticulously by Willy Shine, Aisha Sharpe, Sean Hoard and Lindsay Nader. Congrats to the winners!
- The Lucky Rice Festival, kicking off with a cocktail bash at Bowery Hotel tomorrow and running through May 2, is a celebration of Asian food and drink. Star chefs lined up for the festival include Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, David Chang, Anita Lo, Floyd Cardoz, Zak Pelaccio, Eric Ripert, and Pichet Ong.
- This Saturday, May 1, Derby Day parties are planned at Rye House, Bell House, and perhaps, your house? Exclusive invite-only racing day parties also take place at Eleven Madison Park and Clover Club.
- While the rest of us attend Cinco de Mayo fiestas, lots of lucky rum aficonados will head south for the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, May 5-9. Sugarcane spirits get all the attention with events including a tiki cocktail competition, sipping seminars, and pool parties–can you tell I’m jealous?!
- Speaking of rum, NYC has a brand-new Cuban rum bar, Cienfuegos, from Ravi DeRossi, an owner of nearby Death & Co. and Mayahuel. The punch-heavy cocktail program by Charlotte Voisey includes tipples such as the Hemingway-inspired “A Moveable Feast” (Mount Gay Eclipse Silver, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, lime juice, dry French cider, Regan’s bitters, and nutmeg). The ornate decor, reminiscent of a jewelry box, is sure to attract stylish characters to 95 Avenue A.
- And you have until May 10 to create the best Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine cocktail for a contest that will send three finalists to Tales of the Cocktail!
The “56” Julep from Wild Turkey
2.5 oz Wild Turkey 101
3 sprigs of mint (six to eight mature-sized leaves)
1.5 tsp brown sugar
.5 cup crushed ice
In a traditional silver julep cup or double-old fashioned glass, muddle two sprigs of mint with the brown sugar and one ounce of Wild Turkey 101 for a few minutes, crushing the mint leaves with a spoon. Add the crushed ice, the remaining bourbon, and garnish with sprig of mint. Enjoy!
- Just in time for party and picnic season, St-Germain is releasing a “Summer Soiree” kit, complete with a bottle of the elderflower liqueur, a carafe with measurements for a champagne punch, cocktail stirrer, and poster with summery recipes. Available for about $34 at Astor Wines & Spirits and Union Square Wines, this is bound to be one hot potato.
- Want a free trip to Tales of the Cocktail? There are at least two cocktail contests offering to do just that, with deadlines approaching. Veev and Contemporary Cocktails have partnered up for “Cocktails for a Cause,” asking cocktailians to submit recipes here by May 3 using Veev and fresh ingredients. Not only will Veev plant five trees for every recipe submitted, but the top three vote-getters win airfare and hotel for Tales! And if you not only want to win a trip to Tales, but to Australia too, enter Yellowtail‘s “wine-tail” contest here before April 25. Semifinals will be held the afternoon of May 17 during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, and finalists will throw down at Tales in New Orleans on July 24 (standard airfaire and one night stay included). Judges will include Doug Frost, Dale DeGroff, David Wondrich and Andy Seymour, and the winner gets a 6-day trip for two to the land down under!
- Soon enough, you might be telling your bartender to “Super Beer Me,” as cases of BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin make their way to NYC and California. With an ABV of 32 percent (six times Budweiser), the beer is made by being frozen at a local ice cream factory at temperatures as low as -6°C (21°F), for 21 days. Alcohol freezes at lower temperatures than water, and removing water from the solution increased the alcohol concentration. Due to the complex brewing process and limited availability, these pups are going for $53 per 11.2-oz bottle!
- And if you’ve got $1,000 to play with, Tiffany & Co. has designed an exclusive Woodfords Reserve mint julep cup, with proceeds benefitting The Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes & Obesity Center. Owners of the cups will enjoy a mint julep featuring ingredients from around the globe: raw-cane sugar made from 100 percent organic sugar cane grown in Brazil; Kentucky Colonel Mint from Louisville, KY which was grown in a used Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel; ice made of water from a 10,000-year-old glacier in the far northern region of the Pacific Ocean near the Gulf of Alaska; and a small batch of the Master Distiller’s personal selection of Woodford Reserve super-premium bourbon. The 73 silver cups will be presented on Kentucky Derby Day, May 1, at Churchill Downs–you can purchase here.
“Her early leaf’s a flower.”–Robert Frost
- Creme Yvette sold out within its first 48 hours on the shelves at Astor Wine & Spirits. The historic berry and botanical liqueur is a lush modifier, as I recently experienced with an exquisite Aviation at new cocktail den Dram in Williamsburg — I’m not kidding when I say hints of blackberry, cassis, framboise, violet petals and orange peel made the gin sing on mountain high. Released as a limited early launch, the first full shipment will be coming from France at an as-yet-announced later date. If you are lucky enough to have tried it, please leave comments!
- In addition to Dram, recent bar openings include Midtown retreats Empire Room, Hospitality Holding’s swanky cocktail lounge on the ground level of the Empire State Building, and La Biblioteca, a swanky tequila library at Zengo–although I’ve heard the latter is still waiting for their swanky liquor license.
- It’s currently Tartan Week in NYC, which means there are kilted men on the loose and drams of single malt whisky everywhere you turn–in other words, this is kind of the best week ever. Be sure to check out the Tartan Day Parade, this Saturday April 10. I’ll have some recaps for you on this, trust…
- Amateurs such as myself have a reason to break out the jiggers and shakers beyond entertaining ourselves by entering Louis 649’s “Anyone Can Be a Mixologist” contest. Running now through April 18, non-working bartenders are invited to submit recipes using sponsored base ingredients. The live throwdown between 10 semi-finalists is April 21, and the winner gets their drink on the spring cocktail menu, a subscription to Imbibe and a $100 bar tab at Louis — game on! Click here for the rules, newbie.
- Oh, and you probably heard this already, but Julie Reiner and her partners at Clover Club have purchased the Tailor space and are planning something somewhat tropical.
- Meanwhile, Allen & Delancey, at one point featuring a cocktail menu by Alex Day, quietly bit the dust.
Ever since my first sip of Carmenere a few years ago–low in tannins, bold, spicy–I have a special affection for wines from Chile. Like Malbec from Argentina, Carmenere is the flagship wine of Chile–although I recently learned at a tasting at Louis 649 that other varietals, such as Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, benefit from Chile’s diverse climates.
So when I heard Xplorador Wines was on the hunt for “xploradors” to travel to Chile and witness the 2010 wine harvest, I knew I had to take this opportunity before time runs out. I’ve traveled as far as South Africa, where the Shiraz is lovely, but South America is a rich, luscious land that I dream of seeing. I have been curious about wine ever since I got serious about writing about food and fine beverages (check out a “wine 101” article and video I did in 2008), and I have covered the New York Food and Wine Festival as well as countless wine tastings. I would jump at the chance to learn more–wouldn’t you?
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
- 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.
Last week, after 10 days of self-induced sobriety, I fell back off the wagon, and oh, what a good fall it was. I headed to the finals of the Benedictine “Alchemists of Our Age” cocktail competition held in partnership with Esquire magazine at the Hearst Tower. Walking into Hearst is like walking into a scene from “The Devil Wears Prada”–the cascading waterfall sculptures and escalators are as awe-inspiring as the leggy editors and models teetering about. For a journo type like me, it was an electrifying experience just to be at the publishing group. This feeling was magnified when I reached the Benedictine event on the 44th floor and saw the view of Midtown from the tower’s triangular windows–how can you not love New York?!
The five finalists were stationed throughout the room, accompanied by barbacks and other staff dressed in brown robes in honor of Benedictine’s monastic history. Created 500 years ago by Dom Bernardo Vincelli, a member of the mysterious Benedictine Order in France, the unique elixir combines 27 herbs and spices gathered from around the world. The competition asked bartenders to create cocktails that were creative, balanced, and highlighted the warm spice of Benedictine.
It turned out that the first drink I tried was the winning ticket–supporting the hometown contestant, I headed straight to where Louis 649‘s Damon Dyer was stationed to try his “Monte Cassino.” A modern twist on the classic “Last Word” cocktail, Damon’s drink included equal parts of Rittenhouse Rye, Yellow Chartreuse, Benedictine, and lemon juice. Simply garnished with a lemon peel, the drink was a harmonious burst of herbaceous spice, whiskey, and citrus–I was happy to have it as my first post-detox tipple.
Damon’s drink was selected for first place by Benedictine Global Brand Ambassador, Ludovic Miazga, and famed cocktail historian and Esquire Drinks Correspondent David Wondrich, who was most impressed by “the way the Monte Cassino had of just sliding down the throat.” He added, “It was a tough field, though, and all the drinks were truly excellent.”
Excellent indeed, and the crowd favorite was the “Greyhound’s Tooth” from San Francisco’s Brandon Clements (Benedictine, vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, house-made grapefruit bitters and sugar). Other finalists included Boston’s Jackson Cannon, New Orleans’ Daniel Victory, and Chicago’s Lynn House. Personally, I thought Jackson’s drink was Damon’s closest competition–a simple but delicious combination, the “Vincelli Fizz” (Benedictine, egg white, rose vermouth, and lemon juice).
In addition to bragging rights, Damon will receive a full-page advertorial feature in Esquire’s April 2010 issue–congrats!
“Monte Cassino” by Damon Dyer:
3/4 part Benedictine Liqueur
3/4 part Yellow Chartreuse
3/4 part fresh lemon juice
3/4 part Rittenhouse Rye
Shake, fine strain into a chilled coupe (or small cocktail glass). Lemon twist garnish.
- 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.