BAT Recap: Highlights from the Manhattan Cocktail Classic

Bartenders, media, and cocktail enthusiasts alike all seem to have finally recovered from the five-day event known as the Manhattan Cocktail Classic and are reliving their (albeit, blurred) memories on blogs and in traditional media.

I had the opportunity to pop into Manhattan for the Classic and for the chance to meet with our clients in Holland from Mandarine Napoleon. And for us, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic was both educational and celebratory in nature.

For the educational:
The final afternoon of the
event found myself and the gentlemen of Mandarine Napoleon at The Big Orange seminar, an inside look at curaçao and cocktails hosted by BAR partners David Wondrich and Steven Olson.

Here’s the setup of goodies we got to taste:

It was really fascinating to do a side-by-side tasting of the different curaçaos, triple secs, and orange liqueurs and pick up their different characteristics. It was my first opportunity to sip on curaçao of the Curacao island itself and, I must say, it was my favorite from the afternoon. The Creole Shurb – not so much. It was too hot and I kept tasting rum when I had a sample. We got to sample a few cocktails as well (it just wouldn’t be the MCC without that component!). Mixologists stirred up a White Lady (gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and syrup), along with a classic Tequila Daisy – better known as the Margarita.

And for the fun:
Monday evening found myself, Steve, the Mandarine execs, Simon Difford, and Simon’s lovely girlfriend Diana eating dinner and imbibing at Keen’s Chophouse. Great conversation carried itself on to Pegu Club (I had the bar’s signature cocktail – fab!), followed by an appearance at PDT (I had the Shiso Delicious, another delight with gin). But aren't stories usually told in pictures, anyways? Here's a few to our delight.


The Pegu Club cocktail at - where else? - Pegu Club

Kenta Goto of Pegu Club (center) with Diana and Simon

Simon (left) shows off his personal key!!! to PDT, accompanied by Rotterdam's Barrelproof bartender, Arno van Eijmeren.

I got to wield the power of the PDT key, if only for a few brief moments.

Simon and Steve sip cocktails at PDT.

Thursday Drink Night with Mandarine Napoleon

Thirsty Thursday is almost upon us this week, and that means another edition of Thursday Drink Night is ready to take place. The Mixoloseum is the site for this weekly online chat and will be sponsored this Thursday by Mandarine Napoleon. Spirits writers and cocktail enthusiasts alike will be suggesting uses for the product in new cocktails, trying the drinks at home, and perfecting their recipes.

Never been to the Mixoloseum before? You haven’t taken part in a TDN yet? You don’t know what you’re missing out on! The event is open to the public and new members are always welcomed. Just grab yourself a bottle of Mandarine Napoleon and log in here (you’ll need to create a user name and password, first). Be sure to bring your best ideas for cocktails using the acclaimed orange liqueur.

The fun starts at 7 pm EST and runs into the wee hours of the night (or morning, if you want to be technical..). Come early if you can because Mandarine Napoleon’s master distiller will be joining us in the chat room from Sweden to discuss the product and answer any questions.

Look forward to chatting on Thursday!


New Wines from Greece Tasting Today, May 18th, in Chicago Bin 36

**Originally posted on the Wines from Santorini blog

Hello Chicago wine-Os! As a visitor to this fine city it didn’t take me long to realize I really liked it -even If it is 20 degrees colder than CT and drizzling and windy… Anyway, what brings me to this fine city today is the New Wines of Greece trade and press tasting occurring at Bin 36 TODAY from 11am-4pm featuring an hour and a half long seminar demonstrating the characteristics of some of Greece’s most popular varietals in comparison to international varietals. The seminar will be led by well-know Chicago area MS’s and MW’s such as Doug Frost and Alpanah Singh. That’s enough reason to come right there!

If you can’t make the seminar, stop by for the Grand Tasting anyway – a walk around tasting of the country’s finest Greek wines featuring several regional tables (such as Santorini!) and showcasing the renaissance of Greek wines. Bin 36 will also be providing some great food options that I, personally, can’t wait to try!

So what are you waiting for? Looks like the weather will pick up a bit today so no need to grab the umbrella… just a light jacket, your best tasting mindset and then you can head on down. Hope to see you there!


It's here! The Manhattan Cocktail Classic May 14-18th

It’s finally here! After it’s smashing fall preview event, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic is back to the city that never sleeps for a multi-day event “celebrating the history, contemporary culture, and artful craft of the cocktail.”

According to the Web site, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic is:

Part festival, part fête, part conference, part cocktail party, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic brings together the unparalleled talents and opportunities of the bars, bartenders, and restaurants of our great city for five days of activities, both educational and celebratory in nature, championing the common ideals of authenticity, equality, sustainability, service, and pleasure. (There will be some drinking involved, too.)

The event kicks off this evening with the sold-out gala, where cocktail enthusiasts and professionals will be in the hands of the finest mixologists stirring up what I can only assume to be an exorbitant (but what else would you expect?!) number of crafty cocktails at the New York Public Library.

The rest of the weekend is jam packed with seminars, tours from Behind the Bar at some of New York’s most renowned cocktail bars, and a three-hour booze cruise. Need I tempt you more? Steve was able to attend the fall preview in October and writes a preview about the full-blown extravaganza, and other upcoming cocktail events, here.

These events are sure to sell out, so get your tickets soon. Steve and I will both be in attendance at the gala, so be sure to come say hello!


National Tavern Month

May is Tavern Month all across the United States and, despite a sour economy, consumers still migrate to these on-premise watering holes that come in a variety of ambiance and character.

Led by American Beverage Licensees, consumers nationwide hoist a glass to the over three hundred thousand on-premise beverage alcohol retailers for the 57th year. From a recent press release:

“In many ways, bars and taverns are one of the last American outposts for spirited individuality, entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Harry Wiles, executive director of American Beverage Licensees. “In our increasingly standardized culture, the bar and tavern business continues to be home to some true American originals.”

A sense of tradition of offering friends, neighbors and travelers from far-and-wide a refuge from the clutter of modern-day life has its roots in the earliest colonial times of the country. Taverns continue to serve as meeting places for business, forums for discussion of the issues of the day, and settings for celebrations of life, just as they did hundreds of year ago.

The first tavern I wish to pay homage to is Againn, in the city center of Washington, DC. I visited this modern gastropub on a recent trip to our nation’s capital and was universally impressed with the contemporary bistro featuring traditional British pub cuisine (a friend had the Shepherd’s Pie – to die for! – and I devoured my fennel salad with a side order of baked cheesy cauliflower), hand-crafted cocktails, and personal Scotch lockers that seem to reach limitless heights. Large groups ate at tables with oversized chairs or mingled by the expansive bar that can easily take on different identities; sports bar, traditional pub, and cocktail lounge all aptly fit.

Againn, pronounced 'aguinn' {a-g-uin}, loosely translates from gaelic as: "at us", or "with us". And it truly lives up to the name. I was seated at the bar with the great gentlemen of Scofflaw and was greeted warmly by our bartenders, Rachel Sergi and Andrew (I had the pleasure of spending the next day with Rachel, and other craft bartenders, at the Bar Smarts Advanced live program). Being indecisive as I am at times, Andrew chose my cocktail for the evening, The Lady Macbeth, a frothy delight of Hendricks, St. Germain, lemon, rose water, and egg white. I thoroughly enjoyed this cocktail – the aroma from the perfumed rose water was just, well, intoxicating. (Horrible pun, I know…)

The gaelic phrase printed on the coasters fittingly sums up my experience at Againn: “Níl rún é mura fios ag triúr,” or “It is no secret if three know it.” Againn is a tavern secret I will happily share and return to on my next stop in DC.


1099 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001