Elsewhere in the Liquiverse…

Casa Mezcal, now open on Orchard Street, features drinks by Junior Merino. Photo via Eater.com.

  • Casa Mezcal, a ground-level mezcal bar within a three-story property that will soon include a Oaxacan gallery and a basement-level bar/cinema, opened at 86 Orchard St. in early June. Featuring a wide variety of sipping mezcals, including some obscure varieties, the bar also offers a cocktail menu designed by Junior Merino. A Mexican food menu will be added as soon as the gas is turned on, until then complimentary bites include fried grasshoppers and pico de gallo. The mezcaleria is within stumbling distance of two of NYC’s most rambunctious cocktail bars–Painkiller and The Randolph–creating a “Cocktailian Bermuda Triangle,” if you dare.
  • Legislation that could have a severe impact on NYC nightlife is on the table. Eater reports that State Senator Daniel Squadron has submitted a bill that would revoke a bar’s liquor license if police receive six or more noise or disorder complaints within a 60-day period. This comes on the heels of a bill from Brooklyn Assemblywoman Joan Millman that would impose an 11 p.m. curfew on rooftop and backyard bars on weekends and 10 p.m. on weeknights, as reported in the Wall Street Journal. Let’s hope both of these bills go nowhere–NYC nightlife generates renevue that the city can’t afford to lose.
  • Tribeca cocktail den Ward III celebrates its first anniversary this weekend, offering specially-priced cocktails, as reported by NY Barfly. Check out Hendrick’s Gin drinks tonight and Maker’s Mark tipples tomorrow night.
  • Speaking of Maker’s Mark, the Kentucky distillers will be launching their first new bourbon in 50 years, Maker’s 46, next month. Check out blogger DrinkBoston.com’s report from Louisville on how the special edition bourbon is made–the secret lies in the seared French oak staves. Retailing for $35, the 46 (named for the fact that it was simply the 46th recipe) will be a toasty addition to any Maker’s lover’s liquor cabinet.
  • Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans is just around the corner–July 21-25, and the 2010 Spirited Awards nominees were recently announced. New York swept the awards last year, and based on the high number of talented bartenders and bars up for honors this year, the city could see another coup–good luck!
  • Sam Mason, formerly chef at now-shuttered SoHo restaurant/cocktail den Tailor, has opened a no-frills dive bar, Lady Jay’s, at 633 Grand St. in Williamsburg next to Bushwick Country Club. The bar, which Eater reports is across the street from his apartment, has neither fancy cocktails nor food–just whiskey, beer, shuffle bowling, a jukebox and standard hipster decor–antlers on the walls. 

Sam Mason brings a hipsteriffic dive bar to hipsterburg.

Dizzy Recap: Pre-Tales Blogger Brunch

Bloggers sure know how to schmooze at brunch! All photos by Lush Life Productions.

I can’t tell you how much of a treat it was to recently host another edition of Blogger Brunch, this time with Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail, while getting schooled on New Orleans’ Herbsaint Original. Fifty of NYC’s most skilled cocktail, food and lifestyle bloggers gathered at Rye House, where we imbibed Herbsaint cocktails along with a savory New Orleans-influenced brunch. Although this brunch group was a bit larger than the last one at Clover Club, the stellar team at Rye House made serving us look like a breeze–especially with Jim Kearns and Jane Elkins behind the bar (both adorable in suspenders, by the way).

Ann led us through a traditional absinthe drip service with Herbsaint Original, which is not absinthe, but rather, an absinthe-like substitute introduced in 1933 by J. Marion Legendre to get through the absinthe ban. (By the way, fun fact:  Legendre Herbsaint loosely translates as “holy herb.”) Earlier this year, the Sazerac Company released the original recipe for Herbsaint, which is 100 proof rather than the earlier version’s 90 proof, offering a more substantial botanical  flavor. I was most impressed with how drinkable the Herbsaint Original was with just a bit of water drizzled over an ice cube nestled in the lovely glass drippers we were provided–absolutely no sugar cube required.

Then came the Herbsaint frappes–2 parts Herbsaint and 1 part simple syrup poured over crushed ice–followed by Herbsaint fizzes (recipe below). I think everyone left with a new appreciation of the Herbsaint flavor–herbaceous, gentle anise flavor, lightly sweet with a hint of sea salt–and knowing that it retails for just $35, it’s a fun ingredient to make Sazeracs with at home, especially considering that real absinthe goes for $50-$80.

Ann also revved us up for Tales of the Cocktail, happening July 21-25 in New Orleans–the premiere cocktail event of the year. A handful of lucky bloggers won cocktail books, tickets to various spirited events during Tales, and talented cocktail scene reporter Sonya Moore won a three-night stay at Hotel Monteleone! I look forward to making it down to cover Tales for the first time this summer–say a prayer for my liver now.

Thanks everyone for coming despite the rain, and a special thanks to Lynnette Marrero, Jim Kearns, Jane Elkins, the rest of the Rye House crew, and the Tales belles. Can’t wait for the next brunch!

Herbsaint Fizz by Rye House’s Jim Kearns

3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
1-1/2 oz Herbsaint
1 egg white

Preshake egg white, lemon, simple,  and spirit to emulsify, add ice, shake, serve in a tall glass, top with soda.

Springtime = Party Time!

Get ready for the "Tastemaker's Punch" on May 17!

Are you ready for another event brought to you by The Dizzy Fizz? I’m pleased as punch to announce that tickets are now on sale for “Tastemaker’s Punch,” happening from 7 to 11 p.m. on Monday, May 17 as part of The Manhattan Cocktail Classic!

In New York City, art is everywhere you look – it’s even in your glass of punch! You are invited to celebrate the creativity of NYC cocktailians with a stylish soiree featuring punches made from artisan ingredients. Featuring special guest and toastmaster, Dave Wondrich, the puncheon will stimulate your senses while you take in contemporary artwork in a West Village penthouse gallery with terraces overlooking the Hudson River. Exhibiting artists will include saloon artist Jill DeGroff, graffiti artist/designer Claw Money, cocktailian/painter Charles Hardwick, cocktailian/painter Nicole Desmond, cocktailian/photographer Elba Giron, and lots more. Spring-inspired punches will be created by top NYC mixologists. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Dizzy party without a slammin’ soundtrack and plenty of surprises. Come see what NYC’s tastemakers are up to!

Sponsors so far include: Bols Genever, Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Mathilde Fruit Liqueurs, Tuthilltown Spirits, Laird’s Applejack, and Vita Coco Coconut Water. (More to be announced soon!)

Monday, May 17th, 7:00pm – 11:00pm
RamScale Gallery, 463 West Street between Bank and Bethune Street

Must be of legal drinking age. Includes complimentary admission to the Official Bar of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (plus one drink ticket) on Monday.

The scene atop the penthouse terraces of Ramscale Gallery.

Can’t wait to get started on some seasonal party action? If you are in NYC, come out for drinks for two great causes on Sunday, April 25 at The Delancey. Co-hosted by Tales of the Cocktail and Nosalikes, “From NY With Love” will raise money for rebuilding efforts in Haiti and New Orleans. An open bar from 7 to 8 p.m. will feature the Sazerac, the official cocktail of New Orleans, along with Oloffson’s Punch, invented at the Grand Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince and made with the famous Rhum Barbancourt of Haiti.

The suggested donation will be $5 per person during an open bar from 7 to 8 p.m., and $10 per person from 8 to 11 p.m. Drink specials will be in effect throughout the night. All proceeds will be split between the SOS Children’s Villages of Haiti and United Saints Recovery Project of New Orleans.

NYC DJs Kraff Swagger, Djette Luna Vega, and DJ Treats will spin music throughout the night. The event is sponsored by Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Rhum Barbancourt, and Herbsaint Original.

The benefit will be held at The Delancey, 168 Delancey St., New York, NY 10002.

Can’t make it? We’ll still take your money! We will be setting up a Paypal account shortly, so stay tuned for that.

New York Sweeps Spirit Awards at Tales

Photo via NYMag.com

Photo via NYMag.com

It will still be a few days before I get the muddled recap on what went down at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail. To get an idea of how big of an event this 5-day celebration of the cocktail in New Orleans is, here are some stats: 15,000 people, 288 recipes, 6,000 pounds of ice, 85 pounds of mint leaves, 40 pounds of super-fine sugar, 15 dozen eggs, 280 liters of lime juice, 350 liters of lemon juice… You get the idea.

One thing I can report for you is that New York fared very well at this year’s Spirit Awards, honoring the most influential bars and people in the cocktail industry. And a special congratulations goes out to Jim Meehan of PDT, named the American Bartender of the Year. (Other nominees were Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club and Phil Ward of Death & Co. and Mayahuel.) At last year’s awards, the winners were spread out across the world (although Milk & Honey won both Best Classic Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Cocktail Bar), but this year, New York was on top. Clearly, New York is the destination for classic and quality cocktails. The winners that pertain to New York are highlighted in bold:

Best American Bar: Pegu Club, NY

Best Hotel Bar in the World: The Merchant Hotel Belfast

Best Cocktail Writing 2009: David Wondrich

Best New Product: Bols Genever

Best American Brand Ambassador: Simon Ford, Plymouth Gin

World’s Best Drinks Selection: The Merchant Hotel Belfast

American Bartender of the Year: James Meehan, PDT, NY

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: Dale de Groff, The Essential Cocktail

World’s Best Cocktail Menu – The Merchant Hotel Belfast

International Bartender of the Year: Tony Conigliaro, UK

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar: Clover Club, NY

World’s Best Cocktail Bar: PDT, NY

Tales of the Cocktails Helen David Life Achievement Award: Peter Dorelli, London

Source: Good Spirits News

Tales of the Cocktail 2009

tales

If you are looking for an expertly crafted cocktail in NYC this week, be warned that your drink might be hit-or-miss. Most of the best bartenders, mixologists, brand ambassadors, and cocktail historians across the city—and the country—are in New Orleans for the seventh annual Tales of the Cocktail, kicking off today. Of course, not everyone is there—but if you had the chance to go, you would be crazy not to. Tales (July 8-12), founded by Ann Tuennerman, is a rallying convention for those who find mixing libations to be their calling. It’s the boozy equivalent of  summer camp, with tons of seminars, tastings, Creole dinners paired with spirits, jazzy merrymaking, lounging at the Hotel Monteleone pool—in short, it’s a wet, wet dream. As you can imagine, I’m bummed not to be able to attend (hoping to go next year), but I have a few insiders on the scene who will attempt to report back to me, assuming they can recall what exactly went down besides a bunch of Sazeracs and Ramos Gin Fizzes. In the meantime, those of us not there can get a taste of what we’re missing by mixing up the official cocktail of Tales 2009:

The Creole Julep by Maksym Pazuniak, Rambla/Cure

2 1/4 oz. Cruzan Single Barrel Estate Rum
1/2 oz. Clement Creole Shrubb
1/4 oz. Captain Morgan 100 Rum
2 dashes Fee Bros. Peach bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
8-10 mint leaves
1 Demerara Sugar Cube

File Under: Recipe Smackdown

 

The bar is a rotating carousel, people. Does it get any better?

The bar is a rotating carousel, people. Does it get any better?

Everyone who’s anyone in the world of cocktails will be in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail July 8th-12th (um, except me, unless a recession fairy sprinkles some gold under my pillow). But wait! Coming to the rescue of one lucky mixologist (or amateur!) is the Hotel Monteleone, a historic hotel in the French Quarter. To mark the 60th anniversary of the hotel’s Carousel Bar, the hotel is holding a cocktail contest, and the deadline is fast approaching. The story is, from the time the bar opened in 1949 until the ’60s or ’70s, there was a drink on the menu called the Monteleone. Sadly, no one can remember or find the recipe, so herein lies your chance to come up with a concoction worthy to be the namesake. The recipes will be judged by VIPs who will be at the Carousel’s anniversary celebration on May 21. There are no requirements on types of liquor or style of drink, just make sure you email the recipe (along with your name, address, and phone number) to athornton@hotelmonteleone.com by May 18. The winning entry will become the new official Monteleone Cocktail, and the winner will receive four free nights at the Hotel Monteleone during Tales of the Cocktail 2009. I’ll have to see if I can come up with something exceptional. Best of luck to all!