File Under: Hot Dates

 

Where's the Captain takin' us now?

  • Just when you thought the Manhattan Cocktail Classic couldn’t get soaked with any more liquids, hometown heroes The Tippling Point have gone and put together an event that actually floats–on New York Harbor, specifically. Tickets for “The Three Hour Tour,” as it’s been dubbed, went on sale today, and they are moving fast. The booze cruise aboard the Royal Princess Cruise Liner at sunset on May 16 will feature a live band and DJ, live ice carving by Shintaro Okamoto, and five cocktails by some of the best bartenders in the states:  Jacqueline Patterson of Heaven’s Dog (San Francisco), Thomas Waugh of Death & Co. (NYC), John Lermayer of The Florida Room (Miami), Richard Boccato of Dutch Kills & Painkiller (NYC) and Danny Valdez of Cure (New Orleans).  Moet Hennessy USA is sponsoring (10 Cane Rum, Ardbeg Scotch, Grand Marnier, Belvedere Vodka, and Hennessy), so you might as well be screaming “I’m a boat” the entire time. To make this happen, Jason Littrell teamed up with Gianfranco Verga, Tad Carducci, and Paul Tanguay to form the company The Tippling Point. Come through for this, the Gala, and of course, the Tastemaker’s Punch, and you’ll have your party points for the year–not to be missed! Use code TONY for 25 percent off on all Manhattan Cocktail Classic events!
  • May 1 means Derby Day, the quintessential day to sip a mint julep and wear a hat for at least two minutes. This year is the 135th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, and with the resurgence in brown spirits it seems like a lovely reason to celebrate. Most recipes call for bourbon, but Harry Johnson’s 1888 recipe with brandy and a dash of Jamaican rum, copied below, sounds equally as delicious.
  • On May 3 and 4, bartenders from all over will converge in NYC to take a master class in Japanese cocktail technique from Kazuo Uyeda.  The most famous bartender in Japan, Kazuo is author of “Japanese Cocktail Technique,” which is being released for the first time in English by Cocktail Kingdom/Mud Puddle Books, sponsors of the event. Two days of rigorous education (including hard shake demonstrations) take place at Hiro Ballroom in Chelsea, where everyone will also let off steam with Suntory cocktails the night of May 4. Contact christina@cocktailkingdom.com for ticket requests.
  • And wow, what a difference a year makes–on May 13, we celebrate World Cocktail Day! The day marking the first public mention of the word “cocktail,” this date also commemorates the first full year of The Dizzy Fizz! Coincidentally, I have the same birthday as one of the best cocktail culture blogs on the West Coast, Thirsty in LA. Since NYC is the place to be this month, Thirsty in LA’s Daniel Djang will actually be here and we’re going to celebrate our “blogiversary” together! Deets to come!

Mint Julep, adapted from Harry Johnson, “New & Improved Illustrated Bartender’s Manual:”

Serving vessel: a glass.

1/2 oz. sugar
2 oz. water or seltzer
3 to 4 sprigs of mint

Muddle mint in the sugar and water to extract the flavor of the mint, then remove and discard the mint.

Add:

6 oz. brandy

Fill with shaved ice, stir. Garnish with a mint leaf, berry, pineapple and orange.

Add:

1 dash Jamaican rum.

Sprinkle with sugar, serve with a straw.

Image courtesy of Maker's Mark.

File Under: Hot Dates

Bar Celona is hosting "Hearts for Haiti" Sunday night. Photo by Bartomeu Amengual.

  • 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.

Breaking Rumor: Jason Littrell to Bartend Louis 649’s Tuesday Night Tastings

Tuesday nights are about to get reeeal dangerous. Or so, a little birdy told me.

Ok, so normally I wouldn’t dare post a rumor–what kind of hack do you think I am, people? But this one’s too good to wait for something as paltry as a press release. So, off the record, I have received word from trustworthy but unnamed sources that Death & Co.’s Jason Littrell (aka Commander-in-Chief of the Drunken Army, aka brand ambassador of the pickle back, aka “The Ringleader”) will be bartending the Tuesday Night Tastings at Louis 649 beginning Feb. 2. Not that you needed another reason to indulge in free alcohol during the TNT series, but now you have that much more encouragement (i.e., Drunken Army orders) to stick around and imbibe after the tasting seminars–or risk demotion! Stay tuned for the “official” announcement…

Dizzy Recap: Death & Co.’s Fall/Winter Menu Tasting

"Pelée's Blood" (Rhum JM Blanc, Don's Mix #2, homemade grenadine, lime juice, dash absinthe)

“Taut nerves relax; taut muscles relax; tired eyes brighten; tongues loosen; friendships deepen; the whole world becomes a better place in which to live.”–David A. Embury

Death & Co., which recently rejoiced over its extended hours (now open until 2 a.m. on weekends), rolled out a new cocktail and food menu earlier this week, and I had the pleasure of attending last night’s press tasting. The 2 1/2-year-old cocktail den of East 6th Street had a challenging beginning with several legal battles with the SLA/Community Board 3, but this new, inspired menu signals perseverance for the bar and seems to put the past to bed.

Co-owner David Kaplan is especially proud of the new food menu by recently-hired Chef Luis Gonzalez, who trained under renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Mercer Kitchen. “For once, I feel like we have a food menu that is on par with the quality of the cocktails,” said Kaplan.

And quality cocktails they are–we started with “Pelée’s Blood” (Rhum JM Blanc, Don’s Mix #2, homemade grenadine, lime juice, dash absinthe), D&C bartender Thomas Waugh’s take on a tiki cocktail. It was a delicious punch-type drink with balanced sweetness, and it made for a refreshing start. The drink was paired with a small plate of tuna tartare with crushed avocado and homemade kettle chips as well as a melt-in-your-mouth pan-seared foie gras with corn pancake and quince puree. Clearly, Gonzalez’s dishes elevate bar snacking  to a whole new level.

Next, I had the “Daisy Buchanan” (Chamomile-infused Old Overholt Rye, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Aperol, and Yellow Chartreuse), created by D&C bartender Joaquin Simo. Solid, strong cocktail, especially if you like a dry finish. This was a perfect palate-cleanser for the pulled-pork slider and mini-scoop of truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, which were both highly-satisfying indulgent treats. Then, onto the “Ingenue” (Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Don’s Spices), one of D&C bartender Brian Miller’s cocktails. The clove-heavy flavors of Don’s Spices (a mix of vanilla syrup and allspice dram), made for a rich, autumnal drink that would be perfect for sipping next to a fireplace.  This was paired with a mushroom tart with walnut and onion pesto and the crispy pork belly, served with sauteed kale, braised cranberry beans, and pomegranate seeds.

Last but not least was D&C bartender Alex Day’s “Little Engine” (Famous Grouse whisky, tawny port, apple butter, lemon juice, maple syrup). Served over a mountain of crushed ice with a fresh apple garnish, this drink for me was the most “adult” apple cocktail I’ve ever tried. The port adds depth to the usual apple pie flavors, and the apple butter infusion coats the tongue without being unctuous. Naturally, this was served with apple cobbler.

Special thanks to David for the invite, and to bartenders Jason Littrell and Brian Miller for being so on-point, given all of those new recipes to keep track of. I can’t wait to return and try more!

Dizzy Recap: WhiskyFest New York

Nov10 024

David Blackmore and Arnaud Dalibot of Glenmorangie

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough.” –Mark Twain

Toasted vanilla, sweet sherry, cedar. Prunes, dark chocolate, charred fruits. Cracked pepper, moss, smoky peat. What is there not to love about the spicy, tongue-tingling world of whisk(e)y? Clearly, not a thing, as the 12th Annual WhiskyFest New York at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square was wall-to-wall packed with whisky drinkers Tuesday night. With more than 200 exhibitors pouring drams of single malts, blended whiskies, bourbon, rum, beer, and other spirits, this was one dizzy affair.

Upon entering the boisterous scene, I made a beeline for the USBGNY booth to sip on some scotch cocktails before diving into straight pours. As expected, the drinks were complex and delish–I sampled Meaghan Dorman’s “Bagpipe Dream” (Compass Box Asyla scotch, fresh lemon juice, ginger maple syrup), Jolene Skrzysowski’s “Rustic Plums” (Woodford’s Reserve bourbon, Domaine de Canton, plum wine, pear nectar), and Hal Wolin’s “2009 Scotch Odyssey” (Glenmorangie 10 Year scotch, Laphroaig scotch, mole bitters, demerara syrup). I also had a fantastic Old Fashioned by USBGNY President Jonatha Pogash, but forgot to write down the ingredients.

John Glaser, creator of Compass Box Whisky, said the recent evolution of fine scotch as an ingredient in cocktails has made for a positive addition at WhiskyFest. “You would never have seen this five years ago,” he said.

So which whiskies did I try? Let’s see, from what I can recall there was Michael Collins Irish Whiskey Single Malt, Compass Box Spice Tree, Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or, Ardberg 10 Year, The Balvenie Portwood 21 Year, Glenrothes 1991 (they were out of 1985),  Tullamore Dew 12 Year, Blanton’s Single Barrel bourbon, Highland Park 18 Year, Yamazaki 18 Year, and a most delicious Signatory Glen Grant 1976 from the Bar & Books booth. I also had Zacapa Rum, BrewDog Paradox Smokehead stout aged in Scotch casks, and more scotch cocktails mixed by kilted bartenders from St. Andrews Restaurant & Bar. There were so many more drams I wanted to try, if time and liver capacity were of no concern.

The crowd was, from my approximation, 90 percent male, 40 percent Orthodox Jewish (maybe more), and 70 percent over the age of 40, not that it matters or anyone’s counting. Thanks to Malt Advocate for organizing the event and to Kate Laufer for the invite. Slainte!

Dizzy Recap: Classic & Vintage Artisanal Spirits Launch

Dolls in Mustangs added to the atmosphere.

Dolled-up beauties added to the atmosphere.

Aware that the Tippling Bros. would be in charge of the drink offerings, I was revved up to attend last week’s Classic & Vintage Artisanal Spirits launch party at the Classic Car Club of Manhattan hosted by Domaine Select Wine Estates. The Classic & Vintage collection is a line of boutique products including: Averna, G’vine, Death’s Door, Tuthilltown, Benromach, Ransom Old Tom Gin, Rhum J.M., and The Bitter Truth Bitters, plus many more. This is an unprecedented collection of rare small-batch gems made available to the masses, greatly due to the increasing interest in classic cocktails.

This event was one of the better-organized cocktail parties I have seen in a while, and the Tippling Bros’ (Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay) event planning skills really shined, as did the stunning collection of classic cars. Tad and Paul are brand ambassadors for the Classic & Vintage collection, and they gathered top mixologists to mix drinks for the event: Danny Valdez (New Orleans), Sean Kenyon (Denver), Misty Kalkofen (Boston), Justin Noel (NYC), Jason Littrell (NYC), Tonia Guffey (NYC), Frank Cisneros (NYC), and Gianfranco Verga (NYC).

One highlight for me was that I got to try Ransom Old Tom Gin for the first time. Created by Sheridan, Ore. winemaker/distiller Tad Seestedt with the input of cocktail historian David Wondrich, Ransom has yet to launch on the shelves of NYC. The gin manages to marry maltiness and herbaceous sweetness (orange, cardamom, juniper) magnificently.

Ransom is based on 18th century distillation and aging methods, and Tad has sought to make the most historically-accurate Old Tom Gin in the world. The base wort uses malted barley to impart a subtle malty sweetness, and the final distillation is run through an alembic pot-still for maximum aromatics. Then the whole batch rests in neutral Pinot Noir barrels for texture and color. The gin has a warm golden tinge to it, and I have to say, I love the apothecary-style bottle design. Sipping it neat was pure pleasure, and I could also imagine it working perfectly in a Martinez.

Dizzy Recap: Rosangel Throwdown

First-place cocktail by Ben Clemons

"Franky's Puebla" cocktail by Ben Clemons

Earlier this week I attended a cocktail competition put on by Gran Centenario for their latest product, Rosangel, a hibiscus-infused reposado tequila. Held at Kingswood downstairs in the West Village, the throwdown attracted a packed crowd while eight or nine bartenders battled for cash prizes. In between contestants, Kingswood’s house bartenders handed out Rosangel concoctions such as lavender margaritas. Subtly sweet and floral, the Rosangel posed a complex challenge to the competing bartenders, who were allowed to bring their own special ingredients. Each had four minutes to prepare at least two drinks, one to give to the thirsty audience and one to present to the half-dozen judges. It was a more-than-pleasant surprise when Ben Clemons of 33 Libations was awarded first place for his salsa-inspired cocktail featuring Rosangel, muddled watermelon, elderflower and hibiscus tea-infused agave syrup, cilantro, lime juice, and serrano chiles. He inverted a lime wedge to float in the cocktail with an additional shot of Rosangel, a move that seemed to impress the crowd. Second place went to Allan Katz, beverage director of Fatty Crab, who mixed Rosangel with Meyer lemon juice, pomegranate brandy, apricot syrup, a Thai chile-absinthe tincture, and a chile sugar-salt rim. Paolo Votano of On The Rocks NYC came in third with Rosangel and muddled red grapes, ginger and cardamom-infused agavey syrup, cinnamon liqueur, elderflower liqueur, and topped with Veuve Cliquot. The judges had such a hard time deciding that they also awarded a fourth-place prize to Zach Sharaga, owner of Louis 649, who mixed ruby red grapefruit juice, honey syrup, egg white, and sage with Rosangel, garnishing the drink with Peychaud’s bitters and a sage leaf. I really don’t envy the judges at these sort of things since there were so many delicious drinks to choose from. Other competitors included Jason Littrell of The Randolph, Liz Green of Bar Candy, Javier Rey of La Zarza, and Hal Wolin of A Muddled Thought. If I didn’t catch your name, my apologies, I blame it on the tequila.

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Ben Clemons

Zach Sharaga's Rosangel cocktail

Zach Sharaga's Rosangel cocktail

The mixmasters of the evening.

The mixmasters of the evening.