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.


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.

NYC’s Sexiest Cocktails & Bars for Valentine’s Day

Take advantage of Valentine's Day menus and treat your sweetheart (or yourself) to a sexy cocktail in a sexy bar.

Say what you will about Valentine’s Day, the Catholic holiday bastardized by Hallmark, the chocolate industry and the color red, but every February we fall for the same heart-shaped routine. Whether you’re single or off the market, I think we can all agree a little extra love in the air isn’t a bad thing come mid-winter. Of course, restaurants and cocktail bars recognize this too–I say take advantage of the holiday menus and put some lovin’ in your cup. Here’s seven sexy cocktails served in seven sexy bars in NYC to get you in the mood (you can thank me later):

Le Fraise Sauvage at Employees Only:
1 1/4 oz. Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. strawberry puree
2 oz. Mumm Joyesse Demi-Sec Champagne
Directions: Pour all ingredients except Champagne into a mixing glass. Add ice, cover and shake vigorously for 7-8 seconds. Pour champagne into a chilled cocktail-martini glass and pour the cocktail over it. Garnish with half a strawberry.

Employees Only (510 Hudson St.), a veteran on the cocktail scene, should be considered an ace in your deck of NYC date spots. Of course, with a solid reputation for smart drinks, impeccable service and a seductive vibe complete with a fireplace, the small bar fills up fast–put your charm on the doorman to better your chances of getting in. Once inside, let this fizzy, summer-y cocktail (pictured above) put its charm on you.

Andean Dusk at Raines Law Room:
4 to 5 muddled red grapes
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. La Diablada Pisco
Directions: Shake with ice and strain into a flute and top with rose Champagne (Raines uses Moet & Chandon Rose.)

The private tables at Raines Law Room (48 W. 17th St.) were built for PDA–velvet sofas cocooned in black gauze, each outfitted with buzzers to call for the server so you’re never disturbed when you don’t want to be. With capacity for about 50 people, you’ll want to arrive early if you’re planning on cozying up here for Valentine’s Day. Meaghan Dorman’s Andean Dusk, with its sunset hue and floral notes, is on the current menu, but there will be other romantic specials that night too.

East India Trading Company at Death & Co:
2 oz. Appleton Reserve Rum
3/4 oz. East India Solera Sherry
1/2 oz. Ramazotti Amaro
2 dashes Bittermens Mole Bitters

Chances are, getting into Death & Co. (433 E. 6th St.) on Valentine’s Day is going to be arduous, so do yourself a favor and go early in the evening or pick another night. Winner of Tales of the Cocktail’s Best American Bar award in 2010, this dark-as-a-coffin-lit-by-chandeliers speakeasy wrote the book on sexy design, with some of the city’s best drinks to boot.  Brian Miller’s sherry-spiked concoction, a balance of rich flavors, continues to impress.

Code Noir at 1534:
1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey
1 1/2 oz. Pineau des Charantes
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes of Fee Bros. Peach Bitters
Lemon oil
Directions:  In a chilled mixing glass, dash peach bitters and Angostura bitters. Add the Pineau des Charentes and Rye Whiskey. Add cracked ice and Kold Draft ice.  Stir 20-25 times. Add some fresh ice, strain and pour into a frozen coupe glass.  Garnish with lemon peel.

Nolita newcomer 1534 (20 Prince St.) is catering to singles this Valentine’s Day–check out their Summer Fling party from 8 to 11 p.m. on Feb. 14, designed to chase away the winter blues with spe tiki punches like “Love Potion #9.” On any other night, the subterranean enclave feels cozy and inviting, much like this sophisticated cocktail featuring an aperitif made from Cognac eau-de-vie and unfermented grape juice.

The Hong Kong Cocktail at Macao Trading Co.:
2 oz. Gran Centenario Plata Tequila
3/4 oz. Ruby Port
1 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. Pandan Leaf syrup

While a seat at the main bar at Macao Trading Co. (311 Church St.) offers plenty of ambience, for a more illicit scene, head downstairs to the opium den-inspired lounge. Best be sure you like the person you’re drinking with before you settle into the brothel theme, as the seating is a bit cramped. Loosen up with this tequila tipple featuring syrup made from the aromatic, vanilla-like Pandan Leaf.

Hot Zombie at Painkiller:
3/4 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 oz. demerara syrup
1/2 oz. passion fruit puree
1 1/2 oz. 151 rum
Directions: Top with hot water and a pat of salted, spiced butter. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Painkiller (49 Essex St.), with its den-of-bad-decisions vibe, leopard print banquettes and pictures of half-naked island girls, already had a lot going for it before recently increasing its tiki menu exponentially. A selection of hot tiki drinks are especially tantalizing, and the Hot Zombie, with a slug of 151 rum, will fast-forward you through any awkward moments.

Xanté Crush at DBar:
1 1/2 oz. Xanté
1 1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup
3 strawberries
Directions: Muddle strawberries and all other ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain and serve in a cocktail glass with sugar coated rim. Garnish with fresh berry.

I have to admit, DBar (263 W. 19th St.) has been off my radar despite some mixologist friends working there–I just don’t find myself in Chelsea very often. But should you be rolling Westside, this sleek cocktail bar is not to be missed. Annexed to Donatella Arpaia’s pizzeria, the lounge offers an intimate atmosphere and crafty drinks–both of which are hard to find in this scenester ‘hood. Xanté, a pear-infused French Cognac with hints of vanilla, is sultry enough on its own, but this Valentine’s Day special by bartender Duane Fernandez is D-lish.

File Under: Party Tricks

Espolón Tequila, a new tequila featuring a label inspired by 19th Century Dia de los Muertos-style imagery, is a table centerpiece itself.

Sweater weather, whiskey weather–whatever you want to call it, October is a sobering season. The gray sky, the leaves making their colorful exodus, the temperature dropping–it’s all about ch-ch-changes, baby. If you’re like me, you crave the comfort of pumpkin, maple, apple cider, cinnamon, dark rum, and of course, whiskey. And then there’s the ritual of Halloween–an excuse to look ridiculous and get ridiculously plastered. Most Americans will probably be too hungover to mark Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on Nov. 1 and 2, but if you’re up for it, the Mexican holiday honors the dead and celebrates the living–with a splash of tequila, of course.

Looking for some killer party accessories and cocktail recipes to whip up for your epic bash? Well, looky here, just what Dr. Feelgood ordered:

 Apple Maple Manhattan

2 oz. Finger Lakes Distillery Maplejack liqueur
1 oz. walnut liqueur
3/4 oz. Drambuie

Combine ingredients in shaker over ice, shake vigorously and pour into a chilled coupe glass.

Ashes to Ashes by H. Joseph Ehrmann, Elixir, San Francisco

1.5 oz Espolón Tequila Reposado
.5 oz Pedro Ximenez Sherry
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp sweetened cocoa mix
.25 oz agave nectar
1 pinch cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a mixing glass, fill with ice, cover and shake well for 10 seconds. Strain up into a cocktail glass. Garnish with cinnamon dust.

Appalachian Flip by Al Sotack, Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., Philadelphia

2 parts ROOT liqueur
1/2 part rich demerara syrup
1 whole egg
Pale ale

Dry shake (without ice). Then shake again with ice, and double strain. Pour into a pint glass and top with pale ale.

Great Pumpkin Fizz, Burritt Room, San Francisco

1 1/2 parts aged rum
1/2 part velvet falernum
1/2 part cream
1/2 egg white
1/4 part lemon juice
Barspoon of maple pumpkin butter
Dash of Fee Bros. Old Fashion Bitters

Fill shaker with ice, shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Mulled Apple Cider by Rev. Michael Alan, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Philadelphia

1/2 gallon apple cider
Zest and juice of an orange
1 piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 cinnamon sticks
6 anise pods
1 tbsp of whole cloves
SNAP liqueur

Combine all the ingredients except for the Snap in a pot, cover and heat over medium-low for about 20-30 minutes. Pour a shot of Snap into a heat proof glass and top off with the warm mulled cider.

SNAP, a new liqueur based on the 12th Century recipe for the ginger snap, makes a sweet and spicy mulled cider.

Skull napkin rings at Sur La Table, $2.49 each.

Cauldron punch bowl and cups, $39.99, Pottery Barn.

Mad science bar set, $35.90, Amazon.com.

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 FoodNetwork.com