- One of the most anticipated cocktail bars to open in NYC, The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog recently flung open the doors of its landmark building to much acclaim. Founders Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry of the award-winning beverage program at Belfast’s Merchant Hotel have done their homework to create a cocktail menu that honors the mid-19th century drinking scene in gangland New York. On the first level, a pub-style bar room complete with sawdust on the floor serves up classic cocktails, bottled punch, draft beer and Irish whiskey, while upstairs a more refined lounge serves an expansive menu of meticulously crafted drinks. On a recent visit, I sipped the Automobile (Marie Brizard Parfait Amour, Pernod Absinthe, celery cordial, Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Brut Champagne and Bittermens Orchard Street Celery Shrub), the Ale Flip (Sixpoint Cask Conditioned “Dead Rabbit” Ale, Jameson 12 Year Irish Whiskey, spiced egg batter, muscovado sugar and nutmeg), the Bankers Punch (Redbreast 12 Year Cask Strength Irish Whiskey, Dead Rabbit Jamaican Rum Mix, fresh lime juice, raspberry cordial, Dead Rabbit Orinoco Bitters and dashes Graham’s LBV Port Wine), and a complimentary teacup of Grandieur Punch (Bols Genever, Varnelli Anis, lemon sherbert, lemon juice, orange flower water and peppermint tea). Everything was incredibly tasty, and the wait time for drinks was not long at all, a stunning feat considering there were only two barmen behind the bar and the room was full on a Saturday night. This Monday, Feb. 25, mixology master Gaz Regan will serve as guest bartender from 7 p.m. onward–so don’t bloody miss that. The Dead Rabbit, 30 Water Street.
- Speaking of new bars, Dipsology has a nice list of recently-opened and soon-to-open cocktail bars in NYC, including Attaboy, taking over the Milk & Honey space. Time Out New York interviewed Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy and rumor is they will open their doors later this month.
- Beefeater Gin recently got the green light to open London’s first gin distillery visitor center, expected to be completed later this year. As someone who has been fortunate enough to visit Beefeater’s headquarters in Kennington, I am thrilled for Master Distiller Desmond Payne and his team. Desmond is profoundly passionate about the making of gin and will do a great service to the public by showcasing the distillery’s process. (Check out the video announcement here.)
“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.