Dizzy Recap: Tales of the Cocktail 2010

The crowd at Domaine Select’s Classic & Vintage Pool Parlour, July 22, 2010.

Finally, the Sazerac-tinged haze has cleared and I can somewhat recall what happened between the dates of July 21-25, 2010, for what was the 8th Annual (and my first) Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. And what tales I have returned with! Although, I’m afraid, dear readers, about half of those tales I will either keep to myself or have simply lost to the foggy grip of intoxication. I was warned not to overschedule myself, and now I know why–I didn’t go to anywhere near as many seminars and events as I had planned. I learned a few hard lessons (Drink more water!), and will certainly try to do better next year, but as my friend and hotel roommate Carmen Operetta Carroll said, “You’ll never be able to train for Tales.” All I can say is, expect the unexpected!

Here are my highlights (and yes, I had to look at my Foursquare history to remember a few things):

  • The Beefeater Welcome Party: Not long after landing in Nawlins, I got gussied up and headed straight to the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center for a scene outfitted in British flags, citrus chandeliers and whimsical characters straight out of a Lewis Carroll acid trip. Carmen and I had fun posing in a Queen of Hearts garden-themed photoshoot before the cocktails took over. With some of the best bartenders in the biz behind the stick–Audrey Saunders, Kimberly Patton-Bragg, Kenta Goto, and Erick Castro, to name a few–I knew I was in for some decent gin-bibing.
  • The William Grant House Party: Following the Beefeater bash, buses took everyone to the Elms Mansion for this grown-up version of a frat party. The elegant setting maintained a casual feel with a vintage Sailor Jerry Rum photo backdrop, and a sprawling backyard featured a live jazz band and endless cocktails from other spirits within the William Grant portfolio. Thankfully there were buses to take us back to the Monteleone, as I was a little “dizzy” at this point.
  • After-hours drinks at d.b.a., Old Absinthe House, and Alibi: Just about every night/early morning during Tales, I could be found knocking back pints at one, two, or all three of these cozy enclaves. Lets just say these were special moments…
  • “Summer in Paris” Spirited Lunch: What do Chartreuse, Benedictine, Tennyson Absinthe, Dubbonet, Pierre Ferrand Cognac and Citadelle Gin have in common? Oui, all made in France, and all quite délicieux, I might add. These and other spirits were served in abundance along with a French-Creole meal that ended with flaming Baked Alaska at Antoine’s, built in 1840.
  • Domaine Select’s Classic & Vintage Pool Parlour: Retro pool attire was in order at this sunset bash hosted by Domaine Select’s Classic & Vintage portfolio at the Hotel Monteleone rooftop pool. The Tippling Bros. and their startender team turned out refreshments such as the “Lightning Collins” (Death’s Door White Whiskey, Dimmi liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup and club soda) and the “Top Cat” (Averna Amaro, muddled strawberries, lemon juice and Fanta orange soda). I was hoping for a swim-up bar, but I still managed to sip and dip at the same time.
  • Unofficial Spirited Dinner at Elizabeth’s: While many Tales attendees shelled out $85-$100 a head for the luxury of impeccable dining at some of the most reknowned restaurants in NOLA–with cocktail pairings, natch–I joined a group of about 18 for a layman’s version at Elizabeth’s. I got to know a bunch of fun Bostonians and had some killer fried chicken paired with beers and shots–all for the cool price of about $40 a head.
  • The History, Science and Creativity of Essential Oils and Extracts: Ah yes, the one seminar I managed to attend. Although I had a wretched hangover at this point, I enjoyed learning from Darcy O’Neil and Andrew Nicholls about the chemical breakdown of essential oils and phosphated sodas in cocktails. Be sure to use food-grade essential oils in your cocktails, and use them sparingly, such as a spray of lavender oil, so the aromas don’t overpower the drink. Fun fact–Coca-Cola is made with the following essential oils: orange, lemon, nutmeg, cassia, coriander, neroli, lime and lavender.
  • Dinner at Cochon: Finger-licking-good! From the fried alligator to the rabbit livers to the cochon with pickled turnips to the forking-tender smoked beef brisket with horseradish potato salad, this place is hog heaven.
  • Don Q and Esquire party at Restaurant August: Don Q Rum’s mixologists James Menite and Esteban Ordonez kicked off another night of cocktailing with Puerto Rican-themed crowd-pleasers such as the “El Viejo San Juan” (Don Q Anejo, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Luxardo Amaro, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, and orange peel scent). Being an Esquire bash, everyone was smartly dressed with drink in hand.
  • French 75s at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar: In-between events, I joined a couple of New York imbibers at this classic bar just far enough from the brouhaha of Bourbon Street. We sipped Cognac French 75s, admired the antique decor, and chatted up a local, however, our Ramos Gin Fizz left much to be desired–mainly, citrus.
  • Latenight pool party with Belvedere and U’Luvka vodka: I don’t want to give away the location of this pool party because I want to stay at this hotel next year at Tales. No photos were taken, but imagine a lush garden scene, throw in a full moon, and let your perverted mind wander from there!
  • The Gran Marnier Bar Room Brawl: This massive throwdown at Generations Hall featured teams of bartenders from six of the country’s top cocktail bars: Dutch Kills in NYC, Florida Room in Miami, Rickhouse in San Francisco, Drink in Boston, The Drawing Room in Chicago, and Varnish in L.A. Hosted by aka Wine Geek, this was one of the most well-executed competitions I have ever witnessed–with stellar mixology to match. Congrats to Drink for taking home top honors!
  • Breakfast at Coop’s Place: Nothing like a plate of blackened redfish, a cup of coffee, and a shot of Ardbeg Scotch to get the blood flowing again. It took me about 20 minutes into breakfast to take my sunglasses off–yeah, Tales hangovers are like that.
  • Pig & Punch fundraiser at Washington Square Park: Hosted by San Francisco bartenders The Bon Vivants, this perfectly laid-back, free outdoor gathering featured two whole spit-roasted pigs from Cochon, all sorts of fixings such as Cajun cole slaw, barrels of punch, kegs of cold beer, and live jazz from the Smokin Time Jazz Club. T-shirts were sold at the event to raise money for the arts program at a local NOLA high school where a group of bartenders donated their time before Tales began.
  • Pre-awards drinks at Don Q’s hotel suite: From a balcony at the Royal Sonesta Hotel overlooking Bourbon Street, a handful of friends of Don Q Rum toasted (water and Diet Coke for me) in advance of the glamorous Spirited Awards. I would like to personally thank John Eason for the invite!
  • The Spirited Awards: See the winning results below…
  • The Plymouth Gin Bartender’s Breakfast: Nothing to do with breakfast, everything to do with debauchery. One of the most anticipated–and deservedly so–events at Tales.
  • Beignets at Cafe Du Monde: Believe the hype! Even at 7:30 a.m., we had to wait in line for these hot, pillowy doughnuts doused in powdered sugar, with chicory coffee to boot–post-boozing indulgence at its finest.
  • Brunch at Brennan’s: White tablecloths, Southern hospitality, perfect Bloody Marys, rich eggs Benedict… I’m so glad Emily Cavalier took me here–always trust your food blogger friends.
  • Dinner at Bacchanal Wine Bar: The Sunday night gathering spot for all of the bar industry folk left to finish out the weekend, Bacchanal in the Ninth Ward was a purely magical experience. Everyone took over tables in the backyard where bottles of wine flowed under a picturesque moon, a live band played, and food was eaten faster than it could be prepared. T’was a perfectly chill way to close out a wild week.
  • After-hours drinks at Cure: Not ones to let a party end early, most everyone moved onto Cure, one of NOLA’s premiere cocktail dens. Seasonal- and classic-inspired tipples on par with NYC’s made for a smooth liquid transition back to the Big Apple.

2010 Spirited Awards Winners:

World’s Best Drink Selection: Bar Lebensstern in Café Einstein, Berlin

Best American Cocktail Bar: Death & Co., New York City

World’s Best Cocktail Bar: Death & Co., New York City

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar: Mayahuel, New York City

World’s Best Hotel Bar: The Connaught Bar, The Connaught Hotel, London

American Bartender of the Year: Murray Stenson, Zig Zag, Seattle

International Bartender of the Year: Agostino Perrone, The Connaught Bar, The Connaught Hotel, London

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh

Best Cocktail Writing: CLASS magazine

Best New Product: Celery Bitters, The Bitter Truth

World’s Best Cocktail Menu: Death & Co, New York City

Best Bar Mentor: Dale DeGroff

Best American Brand Ambassador: Charlotte Voisey, William Grant & Sons Portfolio

Best International Brand Ambassador: John Gakuru, Sagatiba

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award: Brian Rea 

My first drink at Tales–caipirinhas at Casa Sagatiba, before I checked into my hotel!

Trevor Schneider gets his flair on at the Beefeater Welcome Party.

Kenta Goto at the Beefeater Welcome Party.

Nicolas De Soto and Cheryl Charming at the Beefeater Welcome Party.

Claire Bertin-Lang and Candice Coy at the William Grant House Party.

Yours truly and Tad Carducci, triple-fisted at the William Grant House Party.

Meaghan Dorman and Laren Spirer at the William Grant House Party.

Austin’s Lara Nixon at the “Summer in Paris” Spirited Lunch.

Gianfranco Verga and Jennifer Contraveos whip up libations at the Classic & Vintage Pool Parlour.

Nicole and Joe Desmond at the Classic & Vintage Pool Parlour.

Local lovelies at the Classic & Vintage Pool Parlour.

Stephen Yorsz, Phil Pepperdine and Jim Ryan at the Classic & Vintage Pool Parlour.

Debbie Rizzo and friends at the Classic & Vintage Pool Party.

Leblon crashed the party “gorilla” style!

Colin Asare-Appiah, Amanda Gager, Emile Ilane Chaillot and Trevor Schneider enjoy downtime in the Hotel Monteleone pool.

Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller sign copies of “Spiritous Journey, Book 2.”

Darcy O’Neill and Andrew Nicholls lead a seminar on essential oils.

Dinner for six at Cochon, not to be missed.

Austin’s Geoffrey Metheny and Josh Loving.

The lovely bartender at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar.

Straining those Cognac French 75s before adding the bubbly.

The ever-dapper Fredo Ceraso at the Gran Marnier Bar Room Brawl.

Emily Cavalier, Meghan Manning, Brett Martino, Melanie Asher and friend at the Bar Room Brawl.

Tonia Guffey and Natalie Jacob at the Bar Room Brawl.

Morgan Young and Mia Consiglio at the Bar Room Brawl.

San Francisco’s Russell Davis at the Bar Room Brawl.

Joe Brooke and Gardner Dunn at the Bar Room Brawl.

Thomas Chadwick and Nicolas De Soto at the Bar Room Brawl.

Sam Ross and friends at the Bar Room Brawl.

Carving a cochon from Cochon at the Pig ‘n’ Punch fundraiser in Washington Park.

Sara Reynolds, Esteban Ordonez, Francine Cohen and Laren Spirer at Don Q’s warm-up before the Spirited Awards.

John Eason, Robert A. Burr and Esteban Ordonez at Don Q’s warm-up before the Spirited Awards.

Blair Reynolds and Nick Nemeth enjoy the view of Bourbon Street at the Don Q pre-awards party.

Oh you know, just some Seattle bartenders carving ice balls at the Spirited Awards.

Lush Life’s Lindsey Johnson and Ryan Patrick Johnson doing up the Mad Men theme at the Spirited Awards.

Yours truly and Emily Cavalier at the Spirited Awards.

For many more photos, be sure to check out The Dizzy Fizz on Facebook. Thanks to Ann Tuennerman and the Tales crew, to my friends old and new, and to the city of New Orleans for being so welcoming–I’ll be back!

File Under: Prepping for Tales

“The heat’s no so bad if you stop on every corner for a Sazerac.”

This time next week, I’ll be packing up and shipping out for my virgin excursion to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, the premiere liquor industry gathering for bartenders, brand reps, cocktail historians, writers and enthusiasts from across the country and around the world. Most of the events at Tales take place at the French Quarter’s Hotel Monteleone (which features a Carousel Bar), and from what I’ve heard, everyone ends up congregating by the pool. I’m hoping to avoid paralyzing hangovers so that I can keep up with a slew of seminars, tastings, and parties, and still be coherent enough to report all of the juicy recaps for you here.

Fortunately, veteran bloggers such as Camper English of Alcademics, Tiare Olsen of A Mountain of Crushed Ice, and Kaiser Penguin have posted a number of informative articles on how best to prepare for Tales and what to bring. Read Camper’s tips on what to expect and what to pack, Tiare’s lessons, and Kaiser Penguin’s 10 Rules to Follow at Tales. Is it your first time going to Tales too? In addition to Camper’s advice, here are some pointers from bartenders that I’ve spoken with, as well as my own packing essentials:

  • Bringing bar tools to Tales? You may want to ship your tool kit to your hotel in advance of your arrival so that you won’t have to deal with the TSA confiscating your citrus knives and ice picks.
  • If you are bringing liquor with you to Tales (this really only applies to those with exciting new spirits that others will want to taste), pack large bottles with your checked luggage. You may not carry any bottle or container of liquid on to a commercial flight that holds more than 100 ml, or 3.4 ounces of liquid, except if: the bottle was purchased in the security zone of the airport you are departing from; the liquid is baby formula, milk, or juice for an infant and you are travelling with an infant; or the liquid is a prescription medication and the the name of the patient on the prescription label matches the name of the traveller.
  • Leave extra room in your suitcase or bring an extra bag for all of the awesome swag you’ll be bringing home. Or, if you end up with a number of bottles of booze and heavy items, FedEx them home from the Monteleone’s business center.
  • Going to the seminars? Be sure to give yourself an extra 30 minutes to get to any that are on the upper floors of the Monteleone.
  • Speaking of timing, try not to over-schedule yourself–just like visiting the Louvre, you can’t possibly do it all. Pick what interests you most.
  • Every day of Tales, there are four tasting rooms at the Monteleone, and brands are switched every two hours. According to Cheryl Charming, this is the best place for networking and meeting new people during Tales.
  • Whether or not you have tickets to events, there are plenty of free things to do. Check out this schedule for complimentary events, including happy hours, bicycle tours, and Tales After Dark.
  • Stay hydrated. I plan on carrying a water bottle (I hear they are provided at Tales) and stocking my hotel room with coconut water, Gatorade, and perhaps even Pedialyte.
  • Stay sunscreened–sunburns and intense heat are a recipe for illness, add a hangover and you are destined for misery.
  • Just because you can drink for free doesn’t mean you have to slurp every cocktail. Tasting and spitting might save you from embarrassment, nausea, or worse, a blackout.
  • And for all of those unavoidable hangovers, bring plenty of aspirin, milk thistle supplement, and Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief.
  • Bring business cards, and lots of them. Or if you’re fully ensconced in the digital age, have a business card app on your phone such as Dub or Bump.
  • If you have long hair, bring plenty of hair ties. I’m bringing all forms of frizz-fighting ammo.
  • As crazy as it sounds, I’ve been told not to forget to eat or sleep–although I can’t imagine forgetting either. A big breakfast is important to buffer daytime drinking, and I’ve been told to expect to sleep 5 hours or less each night–which means finding time to sneak a nap.
  • Be careful when traveling outside the French Quarter and always have a taxi buddy.
  • Don’t forget your bathing suit and flip flops for the pool!

Food tips:

Other tips:

The infamous Ramos Gin Fizz at Tujague's in the French Quarter. Photo by David Grunfeld, The Times-Picayune.

Looking forward to arriving in New Orleans the night of the 21st! If we haven’t met yet, look me up and let’s toast a Ramos Gin Fizz!

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse…

Coming to Tales of the Cocktail? New Orleans' own Cowboy Mouth is headlining the Louisiana Coastal Rehab Party hosted by Don Q Rum on July 22 at Tipitina's.

  • In reponse to the Gulf oil spill crisis, The New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society will be selling a limited-edition bar towel during Tales of the Cocktail at the Tales Gift Shop. With a suggested price of $5, 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of this bar towel will go directly to oyster shuckers who have recently been laid off due to the heartbreaking spill.
  • Also in response to the oil spill, Don Q Rum will host the Louisiana Coastal Rehab Benefit Party featuring Cowboy Mouth and ReBirth Brass Band at 10:30 p.m. on July 22 at Tipitina’s in the French Quarter. Tickets are $10 and cocktails will be sold for $4 each, with 100 percent of proceeds going to the Greater New Orleans Foundation Gulf Coast Restoration Fund. Star mixologists are even expected to jump behind the stick!
  • And while we’re on the subject of New Orleans, The Bitter Truth’s Creole bitters ($15) will be arriving on U.S. store shelves soon. Described as bitter, sweet and spicy, the bitters include notes of anise, caraway and fennel. [I can’t wait to try it!]
  • Don’t snuff out those vuvuzelas just yet–the World Cup comes to a hot international climax this Sunday, and you can catch all the action at a massive block party hosted by Brass Monkey. The tri-level bar has secured a permit to take over the block of Little West 12th in front of the bar, where they’ll convert a parking lot into a beer garden with picnic tables, two movie screens, and refrigerated beer trucks filled with 200 kegs of Blue Moon, Coors Light and Spaten for $6 (that’s per cup, not per keg, homeslice). You can also expect a variety of sandwiches and bar fare available for purchase. The outdoor beer-soaked festivities start at 11 a.m. and go ‘til 6 p.m., while inside the bar, flatscreens on both floors plus a screen on the rooftop will keep things kicking ‘til 4 a.m. Brass Monkey, 55 Little West 12th St. (10th Ave. and Washington)
  • New Yorkers looking for plans on Sunday night, look no further–hereby consider yourselves invited to the July edition of LES Salonnieres, a monthly artists’ salon, supperclub and speakeasy held in an abandoned rooftop tenement. In addition to a potluck BBQ, burlesque, live painting, live butchering (and cooking) of a chicken, yours truly will be mixing up cocktails and punches using Maker’s Mark and Bluecoat Gin for $6 a pop. This event, organized by the luminary Adam Aleksander, is not to be missed! The revelry goes from 7 to 11:30 p.m. 124 Ridge St. (Stanton and Rivington Sts.)

Miss Mary Cyn performs burlesque at Sunday night's edition of LES Salonnieres. It's going to be bloody fun!

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.

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.