12.02.2011

Cocktails and Art

An illustration of Chris Gall's that was featured in the ArtsEye press release.
This post may appear to be slightly anomalous, as I'm highlighting an event that, sadly, I won't be able to actually attend myself. So why am I taking the time to write about an Opening Reception at an art gallery in Tucson, Arizona that is taking place tomorrow night?

For those of you who may not know, I used to live in Tucson - I went to college there and hung around for a little while afterwards before moving to the greater Hartford area. And I still like to think that the piece of my heart that I fondly left there is still involved in the unique culture and happenings within the city. So when I received a pitch that the ArtsEye gallery was hosting an Opening Cocktail Reception to exhibit Chris Gall's illustrations from the new "The PDT Cocktail Book", I had to share the news. Both illustrator Gall and author Jim Meehan are expected be on site on Saturday, December 3rd to sign copies of the book. And I would only expect that delicious cocktails will be prepared, also, to accompany the artwork on the walls!

The combination of artwork and cocktails is one that I am noticing gaining momentum over the last six months or so. I was able to, in Miami this summer, attend the Miami Arts District "Art Walk" - a monthly event - where Mandarine Napoleon cocktails were served at The Workshop gallery space. I also wrote a while ago about the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators and their series "Drawing Under the Influence". The combination has also been mentioned in conversations I've had for events in the 2012 calendar year.

Mandarine Napoleon, again, is further cementing the relationship between cocktails and art by participating next week in Art Basel, one of the most prestigious art shows around the world. If you are in Miami, you should consider checking out the events in which the brand will be participating. 



Have a drink for me, Tucson. Cheers!

11.09.2011

What a Treat!

Usually I'm on the "sender" end when it comes to packaging and shipping spirits samples. But seriously, how nice is this?


Photo as taken from my Instagram account.

Chris, aka DJ HawaiianShirt, of the blog Spirited Remix was so kind as to let me play "recipient" for a change and sent me some samples of his own creation. For my tasting pleasure (well, and the rest of the office crew, too) we've got the DJ's Composite Apple Spirit and a sample of the DJ's Coffee Time Homemade Coffee Bitters.

Needless to say, I cannot wait to put these to use. Thank you again, Chris!

10.31.2011

Oy gevelt! Now THAT was a storm!

CT, NJ and other non urban areas around NY and Boston got absolutely nailed by a weekend storm. Our office is closed for the duration but all of our folks are OK. Laura made it in to join Jeff and me on Monday morning to find an office with no power and no heat. That's Laura organizing the Wine and Spirit handbooks with gloves on. Seemed like a good idea at the time.





10.28.2011

Happy Halloween!

Somehow we have found ourselves at the end of October and Connecticut is already bracing for its first Nor'Easter for the winter ahead, with up to a foot of snow anticipated in the day ahead. But that surely won't deter many of us from celebrating Halloween this weekend in a most traditional fashion.

My October column is now up at Bar None Drinks and I hope you'll give it a read. This month, I chose to discuss the current liquor industry trend of dessert-flavored spirits, which runs the gamut from whipped cream-flavored vodka to honey-flavored whiskey. In the spirit of all things Halloween, I chose to feature a new product to the market, Caramel Apple Liqueur. Seriously, this stuff has a nose that just wafts with aromas of the classic Halloween treat and fall favorite.

Cheers and have a very happy Halloween!! 

10.13.2011

More Upcoming Events

Tomorrow is looking to be quite a busy day on the road, as October is now in full motion!

First, I'll be starting my morning early, along with my coworker Laura, as we head to the Hartford Business Journal's "Social Media Summit". The agenda for the Farmington-based event looks to be a jam-packed schedule of different workshops, geared to business professionals of varying levels of experience in Social Media. The event will be capped with a Keynote on "The Power of Social Media Communities", delivered by Amanda Nelson, Community Manager for Radian6.

After that, I'll be making my way down to New York City for a not-to-be-missed spirits and wine tasting event, The Ultimate Blast! The Ultimate Blast is assembled by the team at Ultimate Beverage Challenge, an emerging set of spirits, cocktails, and wine evaluations developed by founder F. Paul Pacult. I must say, the list of participating brands and celebrity book signings appears to be never-ending; the Ultimate Blast will include over 100 cocktails prepared by esteemed mixologists, 300 spirits and 120 wines! The Dizzy Fizz herself, Selena Ricks-Good, offers this preview of the event at her column over at CBS New York online.


Some other events of note before the month is out include next week's VinItaly US Tour, where you'll find BAT's own Steve Raye sitting on a Social Media seminar during the New York tour stop. Portland Cocktail Week is also slated for October 20-23; I'm disappointed I won't be headed to the Left Coast for the event this year so you'll have to suffice with last year's preview instead. 

What other alcohol-industry events are slated on your schedule for the rest of October? Leave us a comment and let us know what you're up to in the beverage alcohol world! 

Cheers! 

10.04.2011

Vinitaly Brings World Tour to the US

After spending much of the year traveling to cities throughout China, Japan, South Korea, India, Singapore, and Russia, Vinitaly's world tour is preparing to land in the US for its whirlwind tour of both Washington, DC (Mon., October 17) and New York City ( Wed. October 19).  Both cities will host a slew of events geared to the media and trade that include a Grand Tasting, guided tastings, wine business seminar and a Sommelier Class.

Though the final schedules are still not released, there are definitely components of these "Tour Stops" that cannot be missed! One of the events to note, Brand Action Team's own Steve Raye will sit in on a panel at the New York business seminar speaking to Social Media's impact on online wine conversation.  Other speakers are Snooth Editor-in-Chief Greg Dal Piaz, Wine Enthusiast Tasting Director and Senior Editor Joe Czerwinski and Italian Wine Director at Glazers Alfonso Cevola; it will be moderated by Stevie Kim of Veronafiere/Vinitaly.

If you're a member of the beverage alcohol media or trade industry, Vinitaly's US Tour is not to be passed by. You can learn more information and register for each of the events by visiting the two links included below. Other questions can be directed to info @ vinitalytour dot com. 

Keep your eyes peeled for Steve in New York! Cheers! 

Washington, DC Registration and Event Details here
New York Registration and Event Details here

9.23.2011

The Hat is Back!

The Hat is Back!

I'm referring to the official re-launching of Mandarine Napoléon, the orange liqueur combining the macerations of Sicilian madnarins with aged cognac.  The brand was officially reintroduced to the US market this week, starting with a launch party in Miami at the SoHo Beach House that boasted several unique cocktails, three-course dinner pairing and an appearance from Master Distiller Matthijs Jansen (some of you may remember his appearance in the TDN Mixoloseum last year!). 

Here are a few fab photos from the event on September 20, though there are plenty more where these came from if you visit this WorldRedEye post:

Citrus and Cocktail Menus at the SoHo Beach House, Miami.


Marc & Viviane De Kuyper and Matthijs Jansen. 

Where you in Miami for the event? What was your favorite of the original Mandarine Napoléon cocktails served?


To learn more about Mandarine Napoléon and what's in store next for the brand, stay tuned by becoming a fan of the brand's Facebook Page.  

Cheers!

9.22.2011

Introducting Amstel Wheat: The Bier Drinker's Wheat



Last week I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the product launch event from the Amstel portfolio - Amstel Wheat (Disclosure: Heineken USA is one of our clients). The new beer was introduced just this month in select on-premise accounts in cities across the US, including New York, Boston, Providence, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis and San Francisco. 
The event was held at the Back Boy Social Club in Boston, where I unfortunately missed an Amstel Light and cheese pairing, along with a significant chunk of draught specialist Mark Lang's Amstel Wheat tasting session, due to one extremely late arriving bus (darn you, Greyhound!). But I did still have plenty of time to enjoy a couple of steins of the new Amstel Wheat paired with a light, flavorful dinner menu. But first, let me recap some of Mark's tasting notes.
Mark broke down the idea of tasting a beer into what he describes as The Five S's: See, Swirl, Smell, Sip, Swallow. Upon implementing all of these steps, you'll realize that Amstel Wheat is certainly an accessible and authentic European wheat beer. 
See: The beer has a great golden color and is slightly cloudy, as you would come to expect from this style of unfiltered wheat beer.
Swirl: How does one describe a swirl? I'll just hope you're playing along at home! 
Amstel Wheat pairs seamlessly with seafood, chicken and  light vegetarian entrees, such as this Fettuccine with Portobello Mushrooms.
Smell: On the nose, I found the Amstel Wheat to have a bountiful amount of citrus notes. 
Sip: This new beer definitely has yeasty flavors when you take your first sip, but I also happened to get a lot of peppery spice up front, too. 
Swallow: Coming in at a low 4.5% abv, Amstel Wheat has what can be described as a very floral finish. It really cleans the palate nicely before heading in for that next wonderful sip! 
Here are some other interesting tidbits I learned about Amstel Wheat throughout the evening:  the beer has a low IBU (International Bittering Units) of 11 and one 12 oz serving has 135 calories.
Dessert at the Back Bay Social Club with an Amstel Wheat beer.
Next time you're out in one of the aforementioned cities, see if your favorite watering hole is carrying Amstel Wheat and give this new brew a try for yourself. The beer is light, accessible and easy to drink and certainly will not disappoint Wheat Beer fans! 
Cheers!
SJ




9.21.2011

Upcoming US and European Wine and Spirit Events and Competitions

We hope you'll find this compendium of upcoming wine and spirits events and competitions useful. We'll be updating this with information on the 2012 TBD's as they are defined.

EVENTS

Wine Enthusiast Toast of the Town
Miami, Sept. 23, 2011, 2012 TBD
http://www.toastofthetown.com/

Indy Spirits Expo

Sept. 28, 2011 Chicago. 2012 TBD
www.indyspiritsexpo.com

Wine Riot US Tour
2011 LA, BOS, CHI, New York, Sep. 23/24, DC, Oct. 21/22
Consumer event targeting Millennials
http://secondglass.com/wineriot/

Ultimate Blast
Oct. 14, 2011, Marriott Marquis, New York
http://www.ultimate-beverage.com/spirits_wine_tasting/ultimate-blast-registration/

European Wine Bloggers Conference
Franciacorta, Italy Oct. 14-16, 2011
http://winebloggersconference.org/europe/

Vinitaly Tour: USA
Oct. 17-19, 2011 Metropolitan Pavilion, New York
http://www.vinitalytour.com/

Wine Spectator NY Wine Experience
New York, Oct. 20-22, 2011, Marriott Marquis
2012 TBD
http://www.winespectator.com/micro/show?id=40311

Fancy Food Show

Winter show: San Francisco, Jan 15-17, 2012
Summer show Washington DC, June 17-19, 2012.
http://www.specialtyfood.com/do/fancyFoodShow/LocationsAndDates

Boston Wine Expo
Jan. 22-22, 2012, Boston, MA
http://www.wine-expos.com/boston/

Vino2012/Italian Wine Week
TBD 2012 (Usually in Jan. in New York)
http://www.italtrade.com/index.htm

South Beach Wine and Food Festival
Feb. 23-26, 2012, Miami, FL
http://www.sobefest.com/corporate/

NY Wine Expo
Mar. 2-4, 2012 at the Jacob Javitz center, New York
http://www.wine-expos.com/wine/ny/

Nightclub & Bar Show:
Las Vegas, March 12-14, 2012
www.ncbshow.com

ProWein
March 4-6, 2012, Dusseldorf, Germany
http://www.prowein.com/

VinItaly
March 25-28, 2012, Verona Italy
http://www.vinitaly.com/

U.S. Drinks Conference and Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America Annual Convention and Exposition
April 2-5, Las Vegas, NV. U.S. Drinks Conference will be co-located with this event
www.wswa.org
www.USDrinksConference.com

American Craft Distilling Conference

2012 TBD (most likely April)
http://www.distilling.com

Manhattan Cocktail Classic
May 11-15, 2012 in New York.
http://manhattancocktailclassic.com/

London International Wine Fair
May 22-24, London Excel Center
http://www.londonwinefair.com/content/

Vinexpo Asia-Pacific
May 29-31, 2012, Hong Kong
www.vinexpo.com

Aspen Food and Wine Classic
Aspen, CO, June 15-17, 2012.
http://www.foodandwine.com/classic-in-aspen/

San Diego Spirits Festival
June 30-July 1, 2012, San Diego, CA
http://www.sandiegospiritsfestival.com/

American Wine Bloggers Conference
Aug. 17-19, 2012, Portland, OR
http://winebloggersconference.org/america/agenda/

Bar and Wine Show
Formerly the NY Bar Show, June 26/27, 2012, Jacob Javitz Center NY
www.thebarandwineshow.com

Tales of the Cocktail

July 20-24,2012, New Orleans
http://www.talesofthecocktail.com/

Miami International Wine Fair

2012 TBD, Usually Oct.
http://www.miamiwinefair.com/

European Wine Bloggers Conference

2012 TBD, Usually mid-October.
http://winebloggersconference.org/europe/

TASTING COMPETITIONS AND AWARDS

Micro Liquor Spirit Awards
Eligibility: Product sells less than 50,000 9-liter cases annually in USA. Deadline Oct. 17, 2011.
http://www.microliquorawards.com/

New York International Spirits Awards
New York, Oct. 16, 2011
www.nyispiritscompetition.com.

San Francisco Spirits Competition
2012 dates TBD. Entries usually due mid Feb, event Mid-Mar.
http://www.sfspiritscomp.com/

San Francisco Wine Competition
Entries due May 25, 2012. Event June 15-17, 2012.
http://www.sfwinecomp.com/

Ultimate Beverage Challenge
http://www.ultimate-beverage.com/

Ultimate Spirit Challenge

2012 dates TBD, but expected to be early Mar for judging, event early April
Ultimate Wine Challenge Deadline for entries for 2012 TBD, but expected to be mid-April, Event early May, New York

Ultimate Cocktail Challenge

Event early April at Astor Center, deadline for 2012 TBD, but expected to be mid-March. This has been expanded in 2011 to include two sections, “Classic Cocktails” and “Signature Cocktails”

Beverage Testing Institute
BTI conducts a series of tastings of both wine and spirits by category throughout the year. They also run a value wine competition and packaging competitions for spirits and wine.
http://www.tastings.com/trade.html


The Wine Trials
This is actually a book published annually and focusing on generally available wines retailing at under $15. There is no fee to participate. Deadline for entries usually in October.
www.fearlesscritic.com

IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Competition)
2012 deadlines TBD.
http://www.iwsc.net/news1/488

International Spirits Challenge
Put on by Drinks International Magazine, Entry deadlines vary by category but generally April/May.
http://www.internationalspiritschallenge.com/

Spirit Masters

Run by Drinks Business/Spirits Business Magazine. 2012 dates TBD, but usually end June.
http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/content/view/10862/444/

SIP Awards
Deadline for submission May, 201
www.sipawards.com

9.09.2011

Your Friday Funny

This took place yesterday in our office and it was too priceless not to share it online! Hope this makes you laugh as we spearhead forward into what I hope is a relaxing weekend for everyone.

What drinking events are on your agenda for this weekend? Wine tastings? Cocktail pairings? Octoberfests? Share your activities in the comments below.


Want to make sure your boss see the shipment of samples that arrives at his office? Why not put the boxes in a visible place where he can't miss them --- in the doorway to his office!


Jeff is in good "spirits" after a practical joke well executed.

Cheers!
SJ

8.30.2011

Beer Bloggers Conference 2011 - It Drank Pretty Good

Well, I've been home for a week now since my record-breaking-quick, cross country venture to Portland, Oregon for the Beer Bloggers Conference and I'm sorry to say I haven't written down my thoughts from the conference yet. Between catching up on emails, other office duties and, of course, dealing with the insane end-of-summer weather of both an earthquake and hurricane rocking the east coast, the D4TH blog just fell lower on the to-do list.

BUT! Here we are now :)

Portland is such a wonderful city and I wish I had had a longer excursion to visit Beervana. Within an hour of my arriving (finally!) at the conference host hotel, the group was off on a trip outside the city to the Goschie Hop Farm to tour the facilities as they are amidst the bustling harvest season. What a picturesque site to walk, see, smell and hear all the action as the farmers busily prepare for the harvest!

Friday night concluded with the ever-popular "Night of Many Beers", an event that finds attendees bringing some of their brews from around the country to share with other bloggers that may not have these brews distributed in their region. Disclosure: as Heineken USA paid for my travel and attendance at the Beer Bloggers Conference, I brought some samples of Newcastle's exciting, new, yet-to-be-released seasonal offerings: Newcastle Werewolf and Newcastle Winter IPA.

Saturday was jam-packed with seminars on a variety of industry-related topics, ranging from dissecting beer laws to working with and learning from industry beer bloggers. Following the seminars, we hunkered down for Live Beer Blogging, otherwise referred to as speed-dating for beer bloggers. The event consisted of eight breweries pouring samples in a speed-dating format, talking with groups of bloggers in five-minute intervals to explain the brewery and how a favorite brew is prepared. Valuable takeaway: no matter how cautious you think you are, beer is magnetically attracted to electronics and will manage to find its way into every crevice of you computer (read what was to be my last tweet on my computer from the Live Beer Blogging event: "Last but not least #8 is and karl strauss pouring Boardwalk Black Rye 8i,n][j").

Before departing on Sunday, the conference's morning sessions were all about tools for bloggers, by bloggers. Dan of Life on Tap captured the eight blogger presentations in a blog post better than anything I could attempt to write up, so please give his article a read. Jay Wilson was our keynote speaker and delivered a really great presentation on what it takes to come up with a great idea and execute it in a blogosphere where there already exists so many authors and so much content it can sometimes be hard to determine who the influencers are.

Many influencers within the beer blogging community were most certainly at the Beer Bloggers Conference this year! I encourage you to try to attend next year's conference either in Europe or in America (or both!) if you have the opportunity. The experiences to network, socialize, share and learn from one another are unlike anything else one can pick up from participating in these spaces online alone. I'll look forward to seeing you there.

A final lunch - and Bloody Mary, to boot - were all else I needed before heading back to PDX Airport on the Tri-Met for the long trek back to Hartford. Here were a few of my favorite cell phone pictures captured during the conference, but there are many more if you look at the BBC11 group page on Flickr or visit individual blogger posts.

Cheers!

Before cracking open a bottle, here are the Newcastle Werewolf and Newcastle Winter IPA, as part of the Night of Many Bottles

A gigantic pile of hops at Goshie Hop Farm waiting to be compressed into bales.

...While swimming in said pile of hops.



8.29.2011

Small Brands Can Shine in New Competition

Making the latest splash in the spirits competition scene is MicroLiquor.com and the launch of the site's latest campaign, the MicroLiquor Spirit Awards.

Unlike many other spirits competitions, the MicroLiquor Awards are unique in that entry to the competition is tailored exclusively to small and emerging brands in the US marketplace. To be eligible, liquor brands must currently sell 50,000 9-Liter Cases or less in the USA.

The competition will have three judging components for the small liquor brands:
  1. Quality of spirit
  2. Brand packaging and design
  3. Overall value
For a small brand, this is a great launching pad to receive feedback - and, perhaps, a gold medal! - surrounding launch efforts. According to the awards website: "Liquor entrepreneurs, brand managers and marketing professionals have the opportunity to gain entrepreneurial thought and insight to their brands while enjoying the benefits of competition."

The MicroLiquor Awards stem from MicroLiquor.com, a industry specific website and blog about entrepreneurship within the beverage alcohol industry. The website features new product launches, event news, and spirit and wine reviews, all surrounding the carefully crafted and uniquely marketed beverages in the alcohol market today.

To read one of the site's latest reviews about Mandarine Napoleon, visit their post on MicroLiquor.com and visit MicroLiquorAwards.com to find more information about entering your brand into the spirited competition. The deadline to enter is October 17.

Cheers!

8.24.2011

Gary Vee Calls it Quits

In a surprise announcement yesterday Gary Vaynerchuk of the erstwhile Wine Library TV aka "The Thunder Show" and most recently host of Daily Grape announced his retirement from wine.

So what? Well for those of you who don't know Gary, he's been a force in revolutionizing and democratizing the way wine is tasted, reviewed, promoted and sold. With nearly 900,000 twitter followers and videos viewed by upwards of 90,000 people a day, the guy had some major juice. And don't forget he also literally wrote the book, ah...books..."Crush It" and "The Thank You Economy" that served as latter day Cluetrain Manifestos on Social Media Marketing.
More important than reach, though, has been his impact not just on consumers, but on the trade and influencer set as well. While some may have winced at the "F-bombs" he dropped at our US Drinks Conference last year (and I'm not talking about "Fruit"), his in-your-face, stream-of-consciousness and high-energy delivery reset the mode button for winespeak.

Now the question becomes, what's next? Dr. Vino (Tyler Colman) posted his thoughts yesterday and got me thinking. Tyler himself caused a tipping point in wine criticism with his outing of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate policies and everybody in the world of citizen wine blogging is still talking about that.

I don't have the answer to what's next, but it sure will be fun to watch.

8.11.2011

Brancott Estate - A Taste with Jim Robertson


Wednesday night Steve and I met with an elite group of NYC bloggers to taste through the delicious offerings of Brancott Estate and hear about the brands ins and outs first-hand from Global Brand Ambassador, Jim Robertson.

The weather was one that New York City does not often have - perfect. Not too hot, not too cold and the warm breeze circling the space was just what we needed. The event was held on the XVI Rooftop bar on 48th street and 8th overlooking midtown Manhattan and a fantastic sunset that is what summertime in the city is all about.

Jim brought us through the line-up of Brancott Estate's classic range: Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Although we did not have the opportunity to taste, there is also a Pinot Noir and a Sauvignon Blanc available in limited quantities from the letter series which is a higher end product produced by the estate. All of Brancott's wines are appellation Marlborough, NZ.

We began with the 2010 Pinot Grigio - a wine that many exclaimed, "restored their faith in Pinot Grigio." This wine is in the style that to that of one will likely consider closer that of a Pinot Gris - big fruit, lots of a flavor a delightful bit of acid that would allow the wine to stand up to food.

Next we tasted the Pinot Noir. Why the Pinot Noir and not the Sauvignon Blanc? Well, for one, it was a special request by one of the attendees and, second of all, this order as decided to demonstrate the intense flavors and high acid of the Sauvignon Blanc that could actually follow a red wine and still come through showing beautifully.

The Pinot Noir was fruity and fresh, decent amount of a spice and far surpassed expectations for a wine at this price point. This was a wine easily sippable in the sun as it would be on a chilly fall day - with or without food. Here's a fun fact about Pinot Noir from New Zealand that Jim taught us: 52% of all Pinot Noir grown in NZ is grown in Marlborough with only a small proportion coming from Central Otago despite its popularity in recent years.

Finally we rounded up the bunch with a taste of the Sauvignon Blanc. This is easily the most widely recognized wine from Brancott Estate and most widely available - we instantly saw why. This wine is a delightfully easy-drinking white, with distinctly intense flavors of gooseberries and citrus that can really only come from NZ. Despite the fact it came after the Pinot Noir, as I mentioned, the wine was full and vibrant and instantly took over.

It was a fantastic mid-summer event in an excellent location with great company and delicious wines. Special thanks to all to attended!

Cheers!

-CC

8.05.2011

International Beer Day 2011

It's here once again - today is International Beer Day! It doesn't take much twisting of my arm to convince me to open up a beer in celebration, especially one with such widespread camaraderie as this. However, it is really nice to be reminded just how connected our niche community of beer enthusiasts really is.

That is why I thought today would be a good opportunity to announce on the blog that I will be headed again to the 2011 Beer Bloggers Conference later this month in Portland, Oregon. I am looking forward to returning to the conference (though I should note a change in locale from last year's Boulder, CO outing) and again learning from some great minds in the industry, from brewmasters to brewery reps to beer bloggers, of course. Among the MANY activities that have sparked my interest, I am personally looking forward to Saturday morning's seminar "Learning From Industry Bloggers". Here's the panel description as it's listed on the conference website:
Link
The focus of the Beer Bloggers Conference (and, indeed, the beer blogging community in general) is on what we call “citizen bloggers”, those not associated with a brewery or other business. However, at the same time there are hundreds of “industry bloggers” writing about or simply connected to a specific business. This panel will talk about how industry bloggers use their blogs to promote their specific business, gain customers, and enhance their own communities, all with an idea towards learning things we Citizen Bloggers might be able to apply. We will hear from Ryan Ross from Karl Strauss, Michael Busman from New Belgium, and Matt Van Wyk from Oakshire Brewing in Eugene, Oregon.
There will be lots of action to follow from the conference and if you want to follow at home, I would suggest starting by following the #BBC11 conversations taking place on Twitter (I'll be tweeting from both @Drinks4TheHouse and @stephaniejerzy).

For those looking to participate in International Beer Day in their communities tomorrow, check out the IBD web page to Find A Celebration in your area. As for me? Well, you'll likely find me at my local brewery, Thomas Hooker Beer, sampling the taps at their bi-monthly Open House. What a great kick start to the weekend!

Cheers!

7.19.2011

First time at Tales?

There are a couple of great resources on the web providing tips for first-timers to Tales. Last year, I highlighted first-timer herself The Dizzy Fizz’s blog post. I also mentioned on Twitter a post from Tales vet Fred Yarm that offers more than enough strategy for tackling Tales (or, the "multi-ring circus" as he refers to it!).

This year, I was privileged that Geoff, editor of DrinkSpirits.com, asked for my insights to before heading to New Orleans, as this will be my first return to the city since last year’s Tales. Check out his blog post on the Tales blog for my tip, along with other fantastic advice for industry vets returning for another year of cocktail camaraderie – and perhaps debauchery – in New Orleans.Yes, I'm included among the likes of Tony Abou-Ganim - wow!

Here are a few items of note on my calendar for this week:

  • Seminar – The European Bartending Perspective. I just recently wrote about this seminar sponsored by Mandarine Napoleon, so please refer to the previous blog post. Or read the great interview that Doctor Bamboo conducted with moderator Jonathan Pogash.
  • Spirited Dinner – We selected a Spirited Dinner this year that I am very much looking forward to attend. Jonathan Pogash and Hal Wolin together are Exploring Whiskies in Cocktails, in collaboration with William Grant.
  • Not-to-miss-party – Bartender’s Breakfast. Following the Spirited Awards ceremony on Saturday night, this Pernod Ricard event is the final hoo-rah for most of the Tales participants for the year. I unfortunately had to bail out of this party on the early side last year so am looking forward to celebrating to its fullest extent this time around and catch all the great bartenders in action!

I look forward to seeing many familiar and new faces in NOLA this week. Definitely feel free to shoot me an email so we can try to cross paths, or follow my action via Twitter at both @stephaniejerzy and at @drinks4thehouse.

7.17.2011

All About: The Vieux Carre


Tales of the Cocktail gets underway later this week, where cocktail ambassadors, bartenders and enthusiasts alike will gather for five days in the American birthplace of the cocktail, New Orleans.
Link
Imbibe Magazine reminded me of one of the city's most quintessential drinks by posting a link via Twitter to the Vieux Carre recipe. The drink recipe utilizes rye whiskey and is made in a style that is unique to US cocktail history.

As such, a variation on the Vieux Carre will be among the two recipes featured during the upcoming sold-out Tales of the Cocktail seminar, The European Bartending Perspective. The seminar, to be moderated by Jonathan Pogash and feature European panelists Simon Difford, Nicolas de Soto and Dushan Zaric, is designed as an open forum for discussing impressions of the American cocktail scene and how it may - or may not! - be so different from bartending across the pond.

The Vieux Carre recipe designed for the seminar does vary slightly from the traditional 1930s recipe by removing the cognac and instead swapping in the cognac-based orange liqueuer Mandarine Napoléon. This will give the Vieux Carre a slightly sweeter taste, but still stay true to the American classic. Here's the variation:

Vieux Carre:
  • 0.5 oz Mandarine Napoléon
  • 1 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Dolin Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 dash Benedictine
  • 1 dash Peychauds Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
Mixing Technique: Stir and garnish with a luxardo cherry.

To see more of where seminar sponsor Mandarine Napoléon will be during the week of Tales of the Cocktail, follow the brand on Facebook or Twitter.

Cheers!

6.24.2011

Icon of an Emperor


We're starting today's blog post with a bit of a history lesson. For those of you history buffs out there, listen up!

On this day in 1812, a turning point occurred during the Napoleonic Wars as Napoléon himself led the campaign to invade Russia, later crippling his army. Perhaps just remaining at home, drinking his mandarin orange liqueur, would have been the wiser choice. Oh, how hindsight is a beautiful thing...

I was reminded of this event in world history upon reading The Daily Sip email yesterday from Bottlenotes, a fantastic resource in the wine community online. The Daily Sip editors steered away from wine for an afternoon and decided to look at cocktails instead - more specifically they reviewed the Napoléon Cocktail.

What surprises me about the two versions of the Napoléon Cocktail that I have found adapted online is that while both recipes call for either Grand Marnier or Cointreau in some regards, neither recipe mentions Mandarine Napoléon as the orange liqueur of choice in the recipe. Seems somewhat surprising to me given that the spirit is in fact the product of Napoléon working with a chemist, Fourcroy, in the early 19th century to develop a liqueur of a cognac base with the maceration of mandarin oranges otherwise known as tangerines.

Perhaps Mr. Craddock, author of the Savoy Cocktail Book didn't have access to Mandarine Napoléon even though the recipe was commercialized and bottled starting in 1892, before Savoy was released. So today, over 200 years later, I will repost the Napoléon Cocktail recipe here, along with another lovely Mandarine-Dubonnet combination cocktail adapted by PDT's Jim Meehan. Give both cocktail recipes a try this weekend!

Cheers!
Stephanie

Napoléon Cocktail
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz Grand Mariner (or might I suggest Mandarine Napoléon)
  • 1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Napoléon's Opera (pictured above)
  • 2 oz Beefeater Gin
  • 3/4 oz Dubonnet Rouge
  • 1/2 oz Mandarine Napoléon
  • 1 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with an orange twist (adapted by Jacques Straub, Drinks, 1914).

6.13.2011

The Bar and Wine Show, 2011

If you ever happen to check out my column over at Bar None Drinks (in the great company of other columns from my other fantastic colleagues on there, as well!!), you may have noticed in my May column that I alluded to taking on a role this year at the Bar and Wine Show, a trade event for food and beverage professionals at NYC’s Jacob Javits Convention Center.

Well, the gig is up now! The printed leaflet landed on my desk late last week, so I guess there’s no backing down now ;)


My colleague Anthony King and I will be making a presentation at this year’s Bar and Wine Show and, I must say, that I’m excited for the opportunity. Our discussion on Social Media Marketing is all about “Putting Things in Perspective”. As we live and breathe social media in the beverage industry daily, our goal is to show demonstrable online successes of brands engaging in social networks, blogs, forums and ecommerce platforms. It is our goal to educate and (hopefully!) see more brands interacting with their consumers where they spend so much of their time – online.


“Social Media Marketing – Putting Things in Perspective” is slated for 1:00 pm on day one of the Bar and Wine Show, Tuesday, June 28. You can view the entire schedule of seminars, clinics, competitions and tastings by visiting the Bar and Wine Show online.


If you’ll be in New York for this jam-packed two-day trade event, I would be excited to say hello while at our seminar (I’m sure I could use the pep talk!!) or while roaming around the exhibition floor. As always, please reach out to me over Twitter at @drinks4thehouse or @stephaniejerzy.

6.11.2011

It's Gruner Time!


We've been saying it for years but Austrian wine has arrived. Check out Gary Vaynerchuk's Daily Grape episode June 11 on Gruner Veltliner.

One of the things I really like about Gary's democratization of wine tasting ("give it a sniffy sniff") is to give us permission to personalize our palate. He gives a great taste analogy of minerality that really demonstrates that you don't need to use traditional wine wonk words to describe what YOU taste. He compares it to a time when he was a kid and got smacked in the mouth with an aluminum bat....THAT's what minerality means to him.

Check out the vid, then head out to your nearest wine store for the Loimer Kamptal Gruner Veltliner or the Stadt Krems Kremstal GV, both imported by Winebow. And a big thank you to Erin Grace and Jodi Stern of Winebow's Austrian Portfolio for facilitating the samples.

Here's a link to the review on Snooth with some links to e-commerce sites where you can order the wine if it's not available locally (and the Loimer in particular should be...it's one of the best-distributed Austrian GV's out there.)

6.09.2011

Bienvenidos a Miami!



Bienvenidos a Miami!

I’m down in the Sunshine State for the next few days to meet with Marc de Kuyper, 11th generation of the de Kuyper family, as the Royal Dutch Distillers prepare for the upcoming Miami market launch of the company’s portfolio gem, Mandarine Napoléon.

I’ve never been to Miami before, so this is a fantastic opportunity for me to get to see firsthand some of the retailers in the marketplace, familiarize myself with many of the on-premise accounts, and get to know some of the faces behind the bar that are spearheading the cocktail movement in this vibrant city.

If you have any tips on how to experience Miami "Big Willy Style" or not-to-miss locales to recommend, I would most certainly welcome your suggestions in the comments section. Or, even more promptly, drop me a quick Tweet at either @stephaniejerzy or @drinks4thehouse.

Salud!

6.01.2011

A (Belated) MCC Recap

So it seems to be my M.O. recently that some of my blog posts are a bit, well, overdue. Forget the fact that it is now June, a recap of the very successful Manhattan Cocktail Classic is in order.

The five-day event kicked off with the Opening Gala, a humongous party at the New York Public Library where 3500 people imbibed with specialty cocktails crafted by many of the industry's most influential bartenders and ambassadors. Up on the hopping third floor, Anne Robinson of PDT was serving up the Opera Cocktail, a Mandarine Napoléon twist on the 1914 recipe from Jacques Straub's manual "Drinks". Here's the recipe:

Opera Cocktail: (as adapted by Jim Meehan, General Manager, PDT)
  • 2 oz. Beefeater Gin
  • .75 oz Dubonnet Rouge
  • .5 oz Mandarine Napoléon
  • 1 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with an orange twist.

I also had the opportunity to see Dushan Zaric (Employees Only; Macao Trading Co.), Aisha Sharpe (Contemporary Cocktails), and Gaz Regan (Ardent Spirits) present The Mindful Bartender. Even having seen them all just one month prior at Pioneers of Mixology, I again thoroughly enjoyed the presentation.

We also had a blast on Tuesday night as the festival concluded with a sponsors-only Cocktail Charity Challenge scavenger hunt through NYC. The Charity Challenge found ourselves frantically running through the city, out to accomplish tasks ranging from the mild (take a photo jumping in Times Square, pictured) to the more outrageous (proposing to a uniformed NYPD officer on one knee). There are plenty more photos uploaded to the brand's Facebook Fan Page, so I encourage you to visit the site and check them out for yourself. The party ended over in Brooklyn, where the party was brought to an end with shots and beer from the Heineken USA portfolio.

My many thanks again go to Mandarine Napoléon for letting me participate in many of the weekend's events. Can't wait to see what the team behind the festival has in store for the Big Apple next year!

5.26.2011

The ChocoVine Phenomenon, or What Separates a Breakout Brand from an Also-Ran


For those of you unfamiliar with the brand, (and therefore probably snickering), ChocoVine is one of those unique new product successes we see so rarely in the industry. Not just a breakout brand, but one that flies counter to what the pundits would tell you will work. In point of fact, ChocoVine was mentioned by every panelist in our wholesaler session at the U.S. Drinks Conference last October as an example of an opportunity missed. All the folks on our wholesaler panel scoffed at the idea initially and were astounded at the brand’s success.

We’ve been watching the ChocoVine phenomenon from its early stages and while I can describe what’s been happening, I can’t explain the phenomenon. But I sure would like to be able to.

ChocoVine is a chocolate cream product but instead of a spirits alcohol base it’s made with red wine “The taste of dutch chocolate and fine red wine.” So when you first hear the name. the concepts of chocolate and wine seem at odds…a very difficult pairing in the fine wine world. The label and package are often referred to as “hokey” or “downscale”. But that’s where the criticism has to end, because this stuff is flying off the shelves. In its third year on the market the brand is on track to hit a million cases.

There’s something about the DNA of this brand that’s really resonating with consumers. As an anecdotal example of that, I was in one store where the delivery guy had just placed a case on the check out shelf for a moment, and customers came over and literally grabbed bottles out of the reshipper…they never even made it to the shelf! And just yesterday in a bar in Brooklyn the bartender mentioned the brand, the Southern on premise rep just happened to have the “Holy Trinity of ChocoVine” (Original, Raspberry, Espresso) with him. So what began as an off premise brand, is cracking on premise as well.

We spoke to Steve Katz of Clever Imports in Florida who is the brains behind the brand. He told us the idea was pretty simple. Instead of putting chocolate into the alcohol, they put the alcohol into the chocolate. And by using wine as the alcohol base, the product can be sold in a much wider set of retail stores than a spirits product. Additionally, the lower tax rate on wines means it can be priced at $10-$12 compared to market leader Bailey’s $19.99 price point and still deliver significant margin.

As the Brits say, “Brilliant!”

5.12.2011

Cocktail Classic Takes Over NYC Tonight


Year 2 has dawned upon us and the action gets underway tonight in the Big Apple. I’m referring to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, a five-day festival through the vast concrete jungle of New York City that includes a variety of educational seminars, tasting events and not-to-be-missed parties.

Tonight’s main attraction is The Gala, where the Classic will once again take over the sprawling main branch of The New York Public Library. Encompassing four stories, two city blocks and over 25,000 cocktails, the Gala will once again be the starlet of the Cocktail Classic. I'm very much looking forward to going in the company of Mandarine Napoléon, whose table at the Gala will be serving up a classic cocktail recipe remixed by PDT's General Manager, Jim Meehan.

I’d love to hear what other events people will be attending so please share with me some of the highlights on your own calendars! I’ll most certainly be at the Gala tonight (and intermittently around the city for the rest of the festival) so tweet me up @stephaniejerzy if you’d like to say hello and share a drink.

5.11.2011

A Visit to Scott & Co., Tucson

Well, don't I sort of feel silly now.

I have had this post title and its pictures sitting in my D4TH queue for a few weeks now following a fantastic trip to Scott & Co.. The thing is I just hadn't had a chance yet to stop what I've been doing and put my thoughts down on (virtual) paper of the mixology bar to land in my former hometown of Tucson, Arizona.

I was going to tell you about the uniqueness and "newness" of the mixology scene in Tucson. The ambient atmosphere in the bar. Its special Tiki Thursday menu. I could also launch into the great bar service we had from Ciaran and Carl; their ability to listen to the customer provided for a great drinking experience. Then there's a Bartender's Choice on the drink menu to solidify that dedication to hospitality.

But then, alas!, that darned Roberto de Tucson of BarMedia beat me to the punch with this number he wrote for Nightclub & Bar. I definitely would recommend giving Robert's article a read and I'll just provide my nickel-and-dimed version here.

I actually first learned of Scott & Co. not from a Tucson source, but rather from Tasting Table NYC, whose new Top Shelf newsletter featured an article on bars using acid phosphate or ingredients of the like, a movement I first learned about from bartender/chemist/blogger Darcy O'Neil.

I dropped in early on a Thursday evening and started the evening off with a spin on a classic - Carl served me a gorgeous-looking Pisco Punch with a twist; Scott & Co.'s Pisco Punch boasts the addition of a Chinese Five Spice blend, in addition to the traditional lemon juice and pineapple gomme syrup. My boyfriend decided to test out this Bartender's Choice concept early - ending up with a gin-based Tiki drink served in the fantastic glassware pictured far up top.

Next up for me - I asked for a Chartreuse Swizzle and, boy, did Ciaran figured me out early. He made me the beautiful swizzle pictured on the right with a float of Fernet Branca on the top. Needless to say, I was a happy camper.

Before I knew it, our small and quiet mixology bar was packed three people deep. And the gentlemen behind the bar continued to shake up the same quality cocktails as we were provided early on in the evening. After our large group captured many more of the drinks on the bar's Tiki Menu, my friend and I capped the night off fittingly with a couple of Sazeracs.

I am thrilled to see the efforts of Ciaran, among others, bringing this craft cocktail culture to Tucson and I hope it continues to thrive and grow in the Old Pueblo. The bar will most definitely be on my radar for my next trip back down, where another Tiki adventure will await (perhaps Roberto will even join me!).

5.05.2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo

Today is a glorious day. It's Cinco de Mayo. No, it is not actually Mexico's Independence Day, but rather, it commemorates the Mexican army's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

As you can see, I spent much of last night with my dutiful hand juicer well, in hand. I've got a couple of Margarita recipes up my sleeve to entertain friends at our evening's fiesta at my home. Here's the Margarita menu:

Stephanie's Classic Triple Sec Margarita:

  • 2 parts blanco or plata 100 % agave tequila

  • 1 part Hiram Walker Triple Sec (my go-to Triple Sec over Cointreau, especially if I’m planning to make drinks for a large group like tonight)

  • 3/4 part fresh lime juice

  • 1/4 part (or two bar spoons) agave syrup (Optional, but in my mind, quite a delightful addition)

Incorporating a different taste from another of my favorite products from the broad "orange liqueur" category is the classic with quite the deeply rooted heritage

Imperial Daisy:
  • 2 oz. Tequila Anejo
  • 1 oz. Mandarine Napoléon
  • 1 oz. Freshly squeezed lime juice
Both of these cocktails can be enjoyed by shaking well with ice and straining into a chilled cocktail glass with (my personal preference) a partially salted rim.

Enjoy your day's fiestas!
SJ