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.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse…

A new cocktail menu arrives tonight at The Breslin.

  • Aisha Sharpe of Contemporary Cocktails unleashes a new cocktail menu at The Breslin at the Ace Hotel tonight. See the full menu below.
  • My prediction of “all-tiki-everything” is already coming true–NYC is finally getting a tiki cocktail bar! Food & Wine reports that Painkiller (from Dutch Kills‘ Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzales!) will open at the former site of the East Side Company Bar on Essex Street in March. The bar will combine the vibe of 1970s New York with 1940s tiki culture. Stay tuned!
  • If you haven’t seen it yet, PDT’s Jim Meehan was a guest on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night, mixing gin tonics and tequila highballs.
  • On Wednesday Jan. 13, Benedictine is hosting the finals for it’s “Alchemist of Our Age” cocktail competition celebrating the liqueur’s 500th anniversary. The throwdown takes place at the Hearst Tower in NYC, with Dave Wondrich selecting the winner. First place prize is a stand-alone profile in Esquire‘s March issue. Finalists are: Jackson Cannon (Boston), Damon Dyer (NYC), Brandon Clements (San Francisco), Lynn House (Chicago), and Daniel Victory (New Orleans).
  • The cocktail industry was in a tizzy this week over the sudden shortage of Angostura Bitters, a staple product at most bars. Reportedly the plant that makes the secret-formula bitters in Trinidad and Tobago had a brief shutdown.  Many bar managers are either paying exorbitant prices (such as $65 for a 20-oz. bottle) for the bitters, or they have been told it will be weeks before their orders arrive. Expect to see different brands of bitters dashed in your next Manhattan.
  • One more reason for cocktail bars to use bottled soda: an International Journal of Microbiology study found half of soda fountains analyzed contained fecal bacteria. Now you know.

The Breslin Cocktails, all $12:

Liquid Swords (rye whiskey, orange curacao, Aperol, Green Chartreuse, with an orange zest)

Lust for Life (gin with lavender syrup, mint, fresh lemon juice, topped with soda water)

Rush of Blood to the Head (prosecco with blood orange liqueur, hibiscus syrup, and lemon zest)

London Calling (vodka with Ribena-Blackcurrant Syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped with prosecco)

Kingdom Come (blended scotch whisky, orange essence, black tea syrup, fresh lemon juice, egg white)

Pablo Honey (blanco tequila with spiced agave nectar and fresh lime juice)

Beggar’s Banquet (bourbon whiskey with maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, aromatic bitters, topped with ale)

Rattle and Hum (rum with spices, brown sugar and butter and hot water)

The Breslin Gin & Tonics:

The Classic (Tanqueray Gin with tonic and a lime)

The Garden Tonic (Hendrick’s Gin with cucumber, celery bitters and tonic)

The Tonic and Grapefruit (Beefeater 24 with grapefruit bitters, tonic and grapefruit zest)

Dizzy Recap: Chartreuse/LUPEC Tweetup & Beam Luxury Spirits Launch

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Nothing like an Autumn goddess to serve you punch. Photo by Leo Borovskiy of Lush Life Productions.

November in the NYC cocktail circuit got off to a good start this week, with Monday’s Chartreuse/LUPEC NYC (Ladies United for the Protection of Endangered Cocktails) tweetup at Astor Centor and Beam Spirits Luxury tasting at the penthouse of the Hotel on Rivington. Although I was drastically late to the Chartreuse/LUPEC party and missed out on meeting Chartreuse President Jean Marc Roget, I did get to sample four delicious chartreuse cocktails–a champagne cocktail with Green Chartreuse, Yellow Chartreuse, grapefruit juice, and champagne; a Hendrick’s Gin and chartreuse cocktail with sage; a cognac cocktail with chartreuse, lemon juice, and bitters; and “The Equinox:” Yellow Chartreuse, Famous Grouse Whisky, cloves, lemon juice, and simple syrup. If you don’t know by now, Chartreuse is an herbal liqueur created by the Carthusian monks in 1605. Both the yellow and green varieties each contain 130 botanicals, and only three monks hold the secret to the recipe. Forgetting how potent Chartreuse is–the yellow is 86 proof while the green is 110 proof–I probably should have slowed my roll before jetting to the Beam event, alas, the drinks were just too good to put down.

Contemporary Cocktails and Handcrafted PR joined forces to throw a spirited bash at the Hotel on Rivington penthouse to celebrate Beam’s luxury line featuring Laphroaig Single Malt Whisky, Ri(1) Rye Whiskey, Courvoisier Exclusif Cognac, and El Tesoro Tequila. The three-story, glass-enclosed space was full of off-duty bartenderati, and drinks included the “Brooklyn Cocktail:” Ri(1) whiskey, maraschino liqueur, and Italian vermouth; “Original Sazerac:” Courvoisier Exclusif, absinthe rinse, sugar cube, and Peychaud’s bitters; and “Bobby Burns:” Laphroaig scotch, Punt e Mes Vermouth, Benedictine liqueur, dry vermouth, and Angostura bitters. There was also a gold body-painted lass serving a Laphroaig-laced punch, which was smoky and sweet. I wouldn’t necessarily add peaty Islay scotch to my holiday punch–I did not find the combination seamless–but for the acquired palate, this was a memorable treat. Thanks to all for a great night!