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Rum Shaker: A tour of rums from Puerto Rico hits East Coast

8 Nov

Rum Shaker: A tour of rums from Puerto Rico hits East Coast

No longer just for fruity blended drinks to be enjoyed while on vacation, rum is the main ingredient in some of my favorite classic cocktails, including the Hemingway Daiquiri, the Mai Tai and the Dark & Stormy. And many aged rums are great for sipping like you would a good Scotch or Bourbon. The versatility of this spirit is a reflection of its various origins, which span the world, though most distilleries are concentrated in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. With so many rums to choose from, where does one begin?

Considering that Puerto Rico produces 77% of the rum consumed in the United States, the home of Ricky Martin is the perfect place to start. Fortunately, Rums of Puerto Rico is bringing a taste of the island stateside this month as part of a four-city East Coast tour that’s stopping in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. The NYC event takes place on Friday, November 22, at SOB’s (200 Varick St.) in the West Village, starting at 7 p.m. For a cover charge of $10, you can sample a slew of Puerto Rican rums, including Ron del Barrilito, Ron Palo Viejo, Ron Llave, Ron Caliche, Black Roberts, Pitorro and several other brands. Plus, sip signature cocktails while dancing to tunes by DJ DNGR GRDN (download a free Taste of Rum mix!), then test your flexibility with a limbo contest and salsa dancing. There will also be a chance to win a trip for two to the Taste of Rum Festival in San Juan in the spring of 2014, courtesy of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co.!

© 2013 Amber Drea and New York Drinkie. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

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Booze-Fueled Bacchanal: Manhattan Cocktail Classic takes over NYC once again

6 May

Kicking off May 11 with an extravagant Gala at the New York Public Library, the third annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic hits New York City for a five-day celebration focused on the joys of drinking. While many MCC events are sold out, including the aforementioned Gala, there are still tickets available for plenty of exciting educational seminars, tastings, dinners and parties. New York Drinkie has rounded up 16 top picks from the remaining program schedule.

SATURDAY, MAY 12

Women Behind Bars: A History of Women in the Spirits Industry
1:00 p.m. at Pegu Club in Manhattan, $50

Lynnette Marrero, Meaghan Dorman, Kitty Amann and Misty Kalkofen of The Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails discuss the impact that women have had on alcoholic beverage consumption throughout the years, from the Temperance Movement and Prohibition to the current classic cocktail resurgence. Pernod Ricard supplies the libations.

Hands-On Distilling Workshop: The Art & Science of Distilling
1:30 p.m. at Cacao Prieto Distillery in Brooklyn, $75

Learn the ins and outs of small-batch distilling during this three-hour seminar led by Cacao Prieto’s Daniel Preston, Randal Murphy, Jan Chelminski and Alex Clark. Afterwards, enjoy a tasting of the company’s cacao rum and cacao liqueur at nearby bar Botanica.

Gentleman’s Cocktail Crawl
1:30 p.m. at various locations in Manhattan, $55

Sponsored by men’s clothing store Bonobos, this cocktail crawl includes six complimentary cocktails at bars like The Living Room at the W Downtown, Bar Seven Five at the Andaz Wall Street and The Empire Room in Midtown. Women are welcome, and the drink tickets also serve as raffle tickets, which make crawlers eligible for upscale prizes, such as Bonobos clothing, iPhone cases, hotel stays and round-trip tickets to London.

Fortify Yourself: Unlock the Secrets and Wield the Power of Port, Sherry and Madeira
2:00 p.m. at Terroir Murray Hill in Manhattan, $56

Fortified wines aren’t just for dessert or old ladies anymore, and this event offers a crash course in the three main regions: Spain’s Jerez and Portugal’s Douro Valley and Madeira. Guests receive four tastes of each style, for a total of 12 different wines, providing an overview of the category’s history, range and characteristics.

Behind the Bar: Boutique and Craft Spirits With Brooklyn Gin, Fidencio Mezcal and Bittermans Spirits
4:00 p.m. at Whitehall Kitchen & Bar in Manhattan, $60

Emily Cavalier, founder of culinary and cocktail-pairing pop-up series Midnight Brunch, hosts this event, which brings together three craft spirits producers to discuss the business of boutique distilling. Drinks and dishes are courtesy of “New British” restaurant and gin haven Whitehall.

Esquire’s Summer Music Issue Launch Party featuring Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Tanqueray
6:00 p.m. at The Lamb’s Club in Manhattan, $50

The latest “Next Iron Chef” winner Geoffrey Zakarian serves up summer hors d’oeuvres, and Tanqueray gin provides seasonal concoctions for this party celebrating the launch of Esquire’s music issue. Proceeds from the iTunes downloads of five songs created specifically for the magazine by artists like Rhett Miller and Chris Daughtry will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

SUNDAY, MAY 13

Pork Out Punch Party
11:00 a.m. at Union Pool in Brooklyn, $30 entry fee includes a free T-shirt (RSVP to poppmcc@gmail.com)

This all-day soirée and fundraiser, hosted by The Bon Vivants, features pig and punch-style libations, courtesy of Crown Royal Black Canadian whisky, George Dickel Tennessee whiskey, Ketel One vodka, Pimm’s No. 1, Don Julio Tequila and Zacapa rum. Proceeds from the T-shirt sales will be donated to KIPP NYC, which gives urban students the tools to graduate high school and attend college, and music will be provided by brass band The Stumblebums, along with DJ Eleven and DJ Ayres of The Rub.

A Taste of Contemporary Scotland in New York
1:00 p.m. at Highlands Gastropub in Manhattan, $60

Highlands beverage director John McCarthy and principal Donal Brophy lead a brunch paired with anCnoc single malt Scotch and Caorunn Scottish gin. Drink handcrafted cocktails and enjoy Scottish cuisine while learning about the country’s culture.

Suntory Japanese BBQ and Cocktails… Celebration of Spring!
4:00 p.m. at The Summit Bar in Manhattan, $25

Discover the art of Japanese whisky with Yamazaki, Hibiki and the newly introduced Hakushu. This indoor “tako matsuri,” or kite festival, features a blending station where attendees can create their own bottle of Hakushu 12-year-old, cocktails from mixologist Greg Seider, Japanese ice cut using chainsaws and knives, yakitori-style barbecue from BondSt chef Marc Spitzer and DJ Kimiko Masuda.

Pisco Portón and Dans Le Noir Present Dining in the Dark
5:00 p.m. at Dans Le Noir in Manhattan, $50

Pisco Portón is partnering with Dans Le Noir’s New York City location for a lights-out evening of eating and drinking. With the sense of sight eliminated, guests can experience the heightened aromas, tastes and textures of the Peruvian grape-based spirit paired with and incorporated into various cuisines.

Handcrafted Cocktails: Create Homemade Ingredients, Syrups, Cordials, Infusions and Accompaniments
5:00 at Macao Trading Co. in Manhattan, $35

Renowned mixologist Dushan Zaric demonstrates techniques for creating an array of homemade cocktail ingredients, including syrups, cordials and infusion. Learn how to make your own grenadine and never rely on store-bought mixes again. Plus, all proceeds from ticket sales will benefit City Harvest.

Sunday Soulloon with G. Love
6:00 p.m. at The Tippler in Manhattan, $60

Drink some “Cold Beverages” courtesy of The Tippling Bros. while listening to live tunes from ’90s alt-funk favorite G. Love and Miami roots rocker Brendan O’Hara. Pickled eggs, pretzels and other bar snacks will also be served to soak up some of that special sauce.

MONDAY, MAY 14

You Choose the Next Iron Bartender
12:00 p.m. at Huckleberry Bar in Brooklyn, $50

Team up with one of four mixologists for a chance to win prizes. Each bartender will prepare a cocktail using White Pike whiskey and Finger Lakes Distilling’s spirits and ingredients selected by his or her audience participants, who enjoy complimentary drinks and small bites while they watch.

Urban Tiki, Redefined
1:00 p.m. at PKNY in Manhattan, $25

Step into a Polynesian paradise in the East Village and indulge in super strong tiki cocktails, courtesy of Sailor Jerry spiced rum. As you partake, PKNY’s Richard Boccato, Valentin Gonzalez and Kigan Joseph will relay the history of Don The Beachcomber, Trader Vic and Sailor Jerry.

The Darkest Night: Bowmore’s Evening at The McKittrick Hotel With a Performance of Sleep No More
7:15 p.m., 7:45 p.m., 8:00 p.m. at The McKittrick Hotel in Manhattan, $125

Experience the site-specific theatrical performance “Sleep No More” with a dram of Bowmore 15-year-old Darkest single malt Scotch in hand. Described as an interactive Kubrickian “Macbeth,” the dark, voyeuristic, choose-your-own-adventure-style show allows masked viewers to be both observers and participants. Once you’ve gotten your fill of the strange spectacle, make your way to the hotel’s bar and lobby for more Scotch libations—created by cocktail historian David Wondrich and Fred Sarkis of Sable Bar & Kitchen in Chicago—paired with chocolate and oysters.

TUESDAY, MAY 15

The Indy Spirits Expo
5:00 p.m. at Crimson Club in Manhattan, $50

This year’s closing night party is the Indy Spirits Expo, which features scores of small-batch spirits and boutique brands from all over the country. Sample all the artisanal gins, whiskies, rums, vodkas and liqueurs you can handle during the three-hour event.

© 2012 Amber Drea and New York Drinkie. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

A New York Drinkie–Style New Year’s Eve

29 Dec

Are you looking for a place to ring in 2012, but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars for a crappy open bar, cheap “Champagne” and lukewarm nibbles?  Don’t fret—some of my favorite bars in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens are hosting parties that are either free or worth that $100+ cover. Here’s New York Drinkie’s NYE round-up.

Masquerade New Year’s Eve at Huckleberry Bar

This costumed bash in East Williamsburg features free admission and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. The cozy outdoor garden will be dotted with heat lamps, and DJ Benny B is slated to spin classic soul and funk, reggae, rock, pop, ’80s, house and dance music all night. Masks are not required, but wearing one certainly makes everything more fun.

Prix-Fixe Dinner and Dance Party at Manhattan Inn

Greenpoint’s classic cocktail haven presents a $40 four-course food menu between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. that includes such items as pan-seared scallops, basil pesto agnolotti pasta, molten chocolate cake and a glass of Champagne. Smokin’ Billy Slater provides piano tunes during dinner service, followed by a DJ set by Romantically Uninvolved, which comprises members of Neon Indian, Ego Puppets and Pretty Good Dance Moves.

New Year’s Eve at Night Of Joy

Serving simple yet delicious drinks in a colorful and kitschy setting that recalls the early 20th century, Williamsburg’s Night of Joy is celebrating the new year with the musical stylings of DJ Sadguitarius, aka Ben Goldwasser of MGMT. The free fête also features complimentary Reyka vodka from 11:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

A Punchy New Year’s Eve at 1534

Jacques restaurant’s underground cocktail lair is offering a five-hour open bar of French Colonial­–themed concoctions and an unlimited supply of its special New Year’s Punch, along with hot hors d’oeuvres from the upstairs kitchen.  With handcrafted drinks and a prime Nolita location, this soirée is the priciest, starting at $125 per person. There’s also an option sans open bar for $50 per person, including a complimentary Champagne toast and chocolate-covered strawberries at midnight. DJ Cazual (aka Fame Jenkins) brings the jams.

New Year’s Eve at Louis 649

This Alphabet City drinks den has a killer deal for NYE: a five-hour open bar with passed hors d’oeuvres from 9:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. and a Champagne toast at midnight—all for $75 in advance ($95 at the door, which is still a steal). Plus, the Evan Schwam Quartet plays live swing jazz ’til closing.

Moulin Rouge New Year’s Eve at Apotheke

Chinatown’s cocktail mecca pays homage to 19th century French decadence with burlesque performances and free-flowing absinthe, as well as an open bar from 9:00 p.m. to midnight and a Champagne toast. Tickets are $100 in advance or $125 at the door.

New Year’s Eve at Dutch Kills

For revelers partying in Queens, this Long Island City mixology lounge is your best bet. Enjoy the bar’s $8 happy hour menu of classic-style cocktails, including the Whiskey Fix, the Daiquiri No. 1 and the Moscow Mule, and $4 beers. The free celebration also features a Champagne toast at midnight.

Cheers to more cocktail adventures in 2012!

© 2011 Amber Drea and New York Drinkie. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Halloween Happenings: Five places to celebrate the spooky holiday with themed cocktails

31 Oct

Just because it’s Halloween doesn’t mean you should drink any scary concoction that’s handed to you. Plenty of mixology-focused venues around the city are highlighting holiday libations and other tasty treats for tonight’s troublemakers.

The first three come from Richard Sandoval Restaurants. Don your costume and head to the bar at Zengo (622 Third Avenue, New York, NY) for a complimentary Witch’s Eye Cocktail, which comprises sparkling sake and Pisco, garnished with a frozen grape. Stop by the dining room for a game of Trick or Treat in which you choose a guaranteed treat or pick from a bag of tricks—take a chance with the latter and you could get a free Margarita voucher, a $100 or $200 gift card, or nada.

Two other Sandoval venues, Maya (1191 First Avenue, New York, NY) and Pampano (209 East 49th Street, New York, NY), are serving up a special Dia de los Muertos menu through November 1st. Both restaurants offer three creepy cocktails for the occasion: the Medianoche, mixing Riazul Añejo Tequila, sweet vermouth, lemon zest, hibiscus purée and hibiscus foam, garnished with a lemon twist; La Ofrenda, made with Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila, Patrón Citrónge liqueur, mandarin purée and a marigold; and the Margarita del Diablo, blending Riazul Reposado, blood orange purée and sour mix in a glass with a mole negro rim. If you’re hungry, order the Trio de Tamales ($10 each or $26 for a sampler plate) at Maya or opt for the five-course prix-fixe meal at Pampano ($50 a person).

In Soho, Lani Kai (525 Broome Street, New York, NY) is hosting a Hawaiian-themed soirée called “Mahaloween.” The party includes a costume contest and $8 Mai Tais and $6 Tequila drinks from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for those who dress up.

And lastly, Louis 649 (649 East 9th Street, New York, NY) in the East Village shows some skin with “Francine’s Pink Room,” a burlesque bash featuring jazz and mixology. Sets start at 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. with performances from Bettina May, Tansy Tan and Franny Fluffer. The event is free, but make sure to shoot an email to rsvp@louis649.com before sauntering over.

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Photo courtesy of Richard Sandoval Restaurants. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Get Blasted: Buy discounted tickets for the Ultimate Blast through September 15th

12 Sep

Next month, the wine and spirits evaluation company Ultimate Beverage Challenge is hosting the second annual Ultimate Blast at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan. The three-hour wine, spirits and cocktail tasting event takes place on Friday, October 14th, and will feature renowned brands and bartenders from all over the world, as well as a full buffet of hot and cold cuisine catered by the hotel and a live band playing a mix of lounge music and upbeat tunes. Mixologists and cocktail experts—including Punch author David Wondrich, “King Cocktail” Dale DeGroff and PDT co-owner Jim Meehan—will also be on hand signing their books.

Attendees will have the opportunity to taste about 250 different spirits, 80 to 100 cocktails, and roughly 100 still and sparkling wines and Champagnes. The 2010 event featured bartenders and mixologists from venues like Pegu Club, Little Branch, Highlands and Eleven Madison Park, alongside such brands as The Dalmore Scotch, Banks 5 Island rum, Broker’s gin and Cognac Ferrand, and this year promises to be equally exciting. General admission tickets cost $125 for unlimited food and beverage tastings from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., while the $175 VIP tickets include an additional hour beginning at 5:30 p.m. And if you order tickets online by this Thursday, September 15th, you’ll get 30% off!

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Photos by Michael Gold/TheCorporateImage. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Juniper Journey: Bulldog gin takes a tour of the East Side

29 Jul

On a sweltering Saturday in July, nothing soothes the soul better a cool gin cocktail. So why not six of them for $25? That deal sounded good to me, so I signed myself and my husband up for Thrillist’s gin-fueled pub crawl, which included six different hotspots on the Lower East Side and in the East Village last weekend. Each venue served a drink made with Bulldog gin and a appetizer of some sort, and we had four hours to hit all six.

We picked up our passes at Tammany Hall, where there was a line out the door and a mob scene at the bar, so we decided to skip it and go back later. The next stop was APL, a new restaurant/lounge in a brightly colored, contemporary space located a couple doors down from Tammany Hall. The bartender immediately served up a batch of the featured cocktail, called the South Hound, which mixed Bulldog with St-Germain and grapefruit and lime juices. The bright, slightly spicy gin and sweet elderflower liqueur were somewhat overpowered by the canned grapefruit flavor. The appetizer—a single bite of tuna tartare with diced English cucumber and microgreens, served on a spoon—seemed more like an amuse-bouche, but it was fresh and delicious.

After downing our drinks, we headed over to Hotel Chantelle a few blocks away. The exterior of the building looks like that of an abandoned, rat-infested dump, but inside, the downstairs bar has a classy, early 20th century feel, and the rooftop dining area evokes a greenhouse garden. Unfortunately, the gin revelers were relegated to the upstairs space, which felt like a steaming sauna. My husband and I sat at a table and enjoyed our Blackberry Brambles—made with Bulldog, crème de framboise, lime and lemon juices, simple syrup and a blackberry garnish—in the heat. We accepted kabobs of watermelon, cucumber, feta cheese and mint, then moved on to the next venue on the map.

Mulberry Project is actually in Little Italy, so it was sort of far from the other places on the tour. Located in an underground lair, the bar at least offered a reprieve from the stifling humidity. The healthy crowd seemed to indicate that most people came here after APL instead of going to Hotel Chantelle. There were also a few people who weren’t with the tour at all, and a DJ spun disco tunes on the cute back patio.

The bartender served our drinks, which he described as a Gin Gimlet with fresh mulberry/blueberry/blackberry syrup, poured over crushed ice. It was sweet and refreshing. The appetizer took a little while to come, but it was worth the wait: a plate of fluke crudo with fresh peas, basil, olive oil and salt. If this dish is on Mulberry Project’s regular menu, I’m definitely ordering it again.

We made our way back to Tammany Hall, which was a hike in the heat, especially after three gin cocktails. Since Tammany is more of a live music venue than a cocktail bar, I was pretty impressed with the drink. Created specifically for the event, the Cucumber Cooler comprised Bulldog, St-Germain, cucumber and lemon juices, and club soda. It was tall and tasty. Apparently, the chef was “out sick,” so there was no appetizer, but the bartender offered us another Cucumber Cooler instead. We declined, as we still had two more places to visit.

The next venue was Idle Hands, a basement dive that seems more like someone’s rundown rec room than a cocktail bar. The low caliber of this place compared to the others became even more obvious when we received our French 75s—made with Bulldog, lime juice and Barefoot Bubbly—in plastic cups. And while the previous appetizers seemed to pair well with the cocktails, Idle Hands delivered meatballs doused in Tabasco sauce, each skewered by a plastic drink straw that was too thin to hold the meatball. Sadly, this dish wasn’t even the worst one.

The tour ended at Common Ground, which was located way up on 13th Street, 11 blocks away from all the other venues. The place was crowded with drunken fraternity types and had sports blaring from multiple televisions. After finally flagging down a bartender, we ordered our drinks and waited in trepidation. Again, we received plastic cups, this time containing “cucumber- and mint-infused gin” with a splash of ginger ale. It had a fake mint flavor and the ginger ale was flat. Despite my better judgment, I tried the appetizer—a chicken quesadilla served on a paper plate—and immediately regretted that decision. The chicken was dry, and the green substance that I assumed to be “guacamole” didn’t help. We abandoned our drinks and food without finishing them and crossed the street to Destination Bar & Grille, where we washed down the bad taste with half-priced beer and Bloody Marys.

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Titillating Tonic: Tanqueray paints the town green with Idris Elba and Michael Pitt

15 Jul

Tanqueray gin took over the historic former brass foundry The Green Building in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, to launch its “Tonight We Tanqueray” campaign this week. The palm trees, velvet ropes and stylishly dressed socialites evoked a Hollywood oasis in the tree-lined residential neighborhood.


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge gin fan, so I’m always game for a night of cocktails featuring the juniper-infused spirit. The fact that Idris Elba of “The Wire” and “Luther” fame would be also there didn’t hurt.


I headed to the bar and started with the Tiny Ten, a concoction of Tanqueray No. Ten, fresh pink grapefruit juice and sugar. The brand’s more citrus-forward gin provided the perfect backdrop for the splash of grapefruit juice, resulting in a strong yet refreshing drink.


Next I went for the classic French 75, made with Tanqueray London Dry gin, fresh lemon juice and sugar, topped with Carpenè Malvolti Prosecco. The fizzy cocktail had just the right balance of sweet and citrus.

The Crest, comprising London Dry gin and fresh orange and pineapple juices, was just a glorified Gin & Juice, according to one of the bartenders. It was so delicious, I probably could have kept drinking it ’til six in the mornin’.

Instead, I moved on to the Quatro, which was basically an oversized Gin & Tonic served in a large, fishbowl-style goblet. There’s really no better drink than a G&T made with top-notch gin, a high-quality tonic like Fever Tree and a squeeze of fresh lime.


Shortly before musician Aloe Blacc took the stage, fellow Tanqueray cohorts Idris Elba and Michael Pitt emerged to mingle with the crowd. (If their female counterpart—British singer-songwriter/model Karen Elson—was around, I didn’t notice.) Michael Pitt, who appears in the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” rocked some serious shades.

I got a chance to chat briefly with Elba, who looked quite fetching in a white button-up, black vest and black beret. “So you’re a gin drinker?” I asked. “Apparently,” he replied, with a laugh. I then inquired what his favorite cocktail was, and he said, “An old-fashioned Gin & Tonic,” as he reached for a glass of the aforementioned Quatro.


Coincidentally, Elba’s former “The Wire” co-star Michael Kenneth Williams (aka Omar) was also there, though he was invited by Michael Pitt, with whom Williams currently works on “Boardwalk Empire.” He’s also a fan of Aloe Blacc, who performed a mix of soul, jazz and funk with a full band



After a few songs, Blacc retreated from the stage, and partygoers continued to partake of the still-flowing cocktails as DJs played disco, hip-hop and R&B. Though one drink remained on the list—Rangpur Rocks, which was simply Tanqueray’s lime-infused gin over ice—I decided to cut my losses and head home. Too bad I couldn’t get a ride in The Green Building’s vintage Ford truck.



© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.