Better Together Gala


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Another holiday party for the season. On Sunday I attended the Better Together Gala benefitting the National Breast Cancer Foundation. It was an afternoon of wine, cocktails, fashion shows and general partying for a good cause.

The event was held at Pier A Harbor House, a recently renovated pier house literally located on the most southern tip of Manhattan island. If you walked out the door and stepped right you were on the East side of the island, step left and you were on the West side. It’s a huge, multi level bar/restaurant/event space over looking New York harbor that should get very busy when the weather warms up.

In between fashion shows I kept myself busy with Finger Lakes Riesling, Chardonnay and the occasional cocktail.



2015 Wagner Vineyards Riesling

2013 Fox Run Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay “Kaiser Vineyard”



Better Together Signature Drink: Vodka, fresh lime, triple sec, cranberry juice, simple syrup

Positively Pink: Old Scout, strawberry, sweet vermouth, lime

Breast In Show: Bourbon, Angostura bitters, orange bitters, simple syrup

Second Base: Tequila, fresh lemon, ginger, crème de cassis

Diane: Teeling whiskey, fresh lime, ginger

Think Pink: Vodka, ginger, lime



Holiday Spirits Bazaar

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It’s the time of the year for the Holiday parties. This past Saturday evening I attended the 7th annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar held at the Astor Center event space on 399 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.

It was a night of holiday cocktails, punches and nogs made with gin, tequila, rum, brandy, scotch, bourbon, aquavit and cordials such as Drambuie along with many types of botanicals. Generally, a nog is made with dairy (milk or cream), sugar and eggs while a punch with fruit or fruit juices and of course, alcohol. The event was set in two themed rooms, the Whiskey Tavern and the Sparking Spirits Parlor along with reindeer, wreaths and tinsel. It was very festive.


Punches, Nogs and cocktails I sampled:


Fitzgerald’s Roaring Twenties Punch

Sleigh Bell Punch

Apple Ginger Punch

Rum Raison Punch

Merry Mulled Punch

Arak My World

DeLord Of The Rings

La Loba’s Rompope

Northern Lights

The Big Apple Cider

Rosy Cheeks

Spiced Old Fashioned

A Crafted Egg Nog



Secret Summer Garden Party

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This past Sunday on August 14th, I attended the second annual Secret Summer garden party. Hosted by RAPT NY, Bespoke Solutions and Highlife Productions, it was a “farm to bar” cocktail festival serving cocktails made with premium liquors using responsibly sourced herbs and greens from Farm One hydroponic garden as well Swedish cider from Rekorderlig and Tiger beer.

Live music was provided by the tuba playing band of Lucky Chops, the Coyote and Crow duo and songs by Ida Blue. Additional live performances by wandering ballerinas and aerialists with some ping-pong tables thrown in.

The event was held at ivy-covered Foundry event space across the East River from Manhattan at 42-38 Ninth Street in the industrial waterfront area of Queens at the foot of the Queensborough bridge.

The New York area was in the grip of a heat wave that weekend and the outdoor patio was steaming at start time but fortunately the indoor tastings rooms were cool enough and temperatures moderated as the sun set. It was a fun Sunday of cocktails, people and entertainment.


The cocktails (You were supposed to eat the garnish)

The Beetnik

Finlandia Vodka, Market Beetroot, House Made Allspice Falernum, Fresh Lemon, Red Veined Sorrel.

Doc Hollywood

Butter Washed Old Forester Bourbon, Toasted Pecan Sarsaparilla, Micro Bubble Soda, Amaranth.

The Shoemaker

Gentleman Jack Whiskey, Chambord, Mountain Huckleberry & Ginger Syrup, Fresh Lemon, Assam Black Tea, Market Berries and Shiso.

Hart’s Desire

Herradura Silver tequila, Market cantaloupe, Vanilla Bean Agave, Fresh Meyer Lemon, House Made Yuzu Bitters, Provencal Foam, Hibiscus Aviators.

Churchhill Downs

Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Cinnamon Basil Steeped Honey, House Made Bergamont Bitters, Purple Ruffles & Peppermint




Speed Rack

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This past Sunday evening I attended the Speed Rack season 5 National finals. Speed Rack is an organization that promotes women bartenders, this event is a multi city contest to find the nations fastest women bartender and crown her Ms Speed Rack 2016.

The competition featured eight wild card contestants who participated in timed heats of rounds of cocktails to be judged by cocktail celebrities.

The event that evening also raised money for breast cancer research, so pink was the color of choice throughout the venue including the speed rack logos on the t-shirts, which some might say was a double entendre.

The event was held at the over 100 year old nightclub, concert venue and event space, Webster Hall located at 125 East 11th Street in the East Village, Manhattan. To accompany the competition, two levels of the club were filled with spirit companies serving their products and assorted cocktails.

I stopped by the Luxardo table whose claim to fame is a two century old liquor made from Maraschino cherries, and tried some of their other products which included Aperitivo, an herb and citrus based liquor, and the Fernet Amaro, another dark, intense herb based liquor.


Some of the cocktails I sampled:


St-Germain Cocktail: Processco, St-Germain, club soda.

Lady Reign: Bacardi Maestro, Bacardi 8, apricot brandy, pineapple juice, lime juice, angostura bitters.

Four Roses Cooler: Four Roses bourbon, honey syrup, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, angostura bitters.

Welcome Home: Beefeater gin, apple juice, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, yellow Chartreuse, velvet Falernum.

English Channel Collins: Plymouth gin, Lillet rouge, fresh lemon juice.

Paradise City: Absolute vodka, spiced Aperol, fresh lemon juice, soda.

Moscow Mule: Absolute vodka, ginger beer, fresh lemon juice.

Exonoration: Singani 63, perfect purée prickly pear, ginger syrup, lime juice, Perrier.

The Grand Life Punch: Kappa pisco, Grand Marnier raspberry peach, lemon juice, bubbles, berries.

Double Dr Punch: Highwest double rye, pomegranate juice, date syrup, lemon juice, orange flower water, mint.

Do Lally Ditty: Jameson Black Barrel, honey, sauvignon blanc, apple juice, fresh lime juice, mango green tea.



Boco Resort Cocktail Party

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This past Sunday afternoon, the Bowery Collective which holds cocktail themed events during the year, held their first annual Boco Resort cocktail festival featuring over 50 types of Summertime cocktails. In preparation for Summer drinking they wanted us “to rethink the margarita and show how brown spirits can work in the sun” using brown spirits in cocktails that traditionally use white spirits such as rum, tequila and vodka. Works for me. The event which was held at the ever trendy Bowery Hotel on 335 Bowery in Manhattan and was held on the second floor terrace event space. I’ve been to many cocktail and wine events at this space and with an outdoor terrace and a hunting lodge motif, makes for a fun event space

There were many booths featuring brown as well as white spirits with mixologists creating various incarnations of Summer cocktails including fruity drinks with umbrellas!. Out in the terrace there was a guy with a buzz saw slicing (empty) rum bottles. It seems that Monkey Rum designs its bottles so that they can be reused as a drinking glass.

After a glass of Fernet Branca to start the day, I sampled many cocktails and whiskeys. With a reggae band playing in the background, followed by a DJ spinning tunes, a good time was had by all.




The Bloody Mary Festival


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This past Sunday I attended The Bloody Mary Festival,  a multi-city event that was advertised as “a celebration of our beloved brunch cocktail and the largest event of its kind”.

It was an afternoon of sampling Bloody Marys  prepared by local bars and restaurants along with food trucks and a DJ.

This year the event was held at the Grand Prospect Hall at 263 Prospect Avenue in Park Slope Brooklyn. It’s a 100+ year old oak paneled beer hall event space that someone described as “Disney-does-Hapsburg”.

This time around the vodka sponsor was Bleu Storm vodka, an ultra premium French vodka made from whole wheat.

A few of the Bloodys and the restaurants/bars that serve them:


Bloody Mary Liberation Party The Prospect Park

Lucky Luna (Greenpoint) Kimchi and Nori Bloody Mary

Esme (Greenpoint) Esme Bloody Mary

Syndicated (Bushwick) Blood For Dracula

Travel Bar (Carrol Gardens) The Well Traveled

706 (Prospect Heights) The 706

Hunter’s (Cobble Hill) Hunter’s Saigon Mary

Skylark (Park Slope) The Skylark

Talde (Park Slope) Talde Bloody Mary

Catfish (Crown Heights) Creole Bloody Mary



Craft Distillers Festival

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This past Saturday I attended the annual New York City Craft Distillers Festival. A pre-prohibition themed event of over 60 craft spirits with a live jazz style band.

A century ago New York States breweries and distilleries produced oceans of spirits made from local ingredients. The Volstead Act changed all that and Prohibition shut down most of those distilleries and breweries. The industry began to recover in the early 21st Century when the State laws regulating distilling were loosen which resulted in the explosion of local micro-distilleries and breweries. There are about 30 craft distillers and counting in New York State with some in Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx.

The event was held at the hip Bowery Hotel at 335 Bowery in Manhattan,  a castle-like venue. There were plenty of local whiskeys, gins, vodkas, tequilas, fruit-based eau di vie and even some absinthe.

With live music and people enjoying unlimited spirits, it was a party.

Some of the Distillers I sampled from:

Orange County Distillery

Cooperstown Distillery

Catskill Distilling Co.

Standard Spirit

Tres Papalote Mezcal

Black Button Distillery

Hillrock Distillery

Valentine Distilling Co.

Widow Jane

Tirado Distillery



East Ville Des Folies

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This past Saturday afternoon I attended the East Ville Des Folies which was billed as a “prohibition tasting event”. The event was held at the same venue as last year, Webster Hall at 125 East 11th in Manhattan. Webster Hall which was built in 1886 was an appropriate venue for a prohibition themed event since in one of its various incarnations was Al Capone’s New York City speakeasy in the 1930’s. The place has plenty of dark spaces, nooks and crannies and the event had four floors of spirits, beer, cider and three live bands pumping out music, a good time was had by all.



Michael Arenella & His Dreamland Orchestra

Queen Esther’s Quartet

Molly Ryan Quartet


Some of what I sampled:

Rekorderlig Cider

Magners Cider

Woodchuck Cider

Ace Cider

Badass Cider

Downeast Cider

Crabbie’s Ginger Beer

High West Rendezvous Rye

Hudson Whiskey Bourbon

Four Roses Single Barrel

Jack Daniels Gentleman Jack

Jack Daniels Single Barrel

Knob Creek Rye

Bird Dog Bourbon

Widow Jane

Jefferson’s Small Batch

Old Forester 1870

Drambuie 15 yr

Redenbachbeer Grand Cru



Food Network Cocktails, Caviar, Champagne and a Seminar

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The annual Food Network Food & Wine Festival began this week on Thursday. It’s a fun week of food, spirits, and parties. I began the festivities Saturday attending a wine seminar and a caviar, cocktails and champagne event.


The World’s Top Wine Estates hosted by Ray Isle

NV Drappier Brut Natural (Champagne).  An unusual dark copper color, yeasty, green apple on the nose, very tart green apple on the finish. No dosage added.

2013 Schloss Johannsberg Riesling “Silberlack Erstes Gewachs” (Rheingau). Medium yellow, dusty closed nose, tight fruit, closed, tart.

2013 Chateau La Louviere Blanc Pessac-Leognan (Bordeaux). Light yellow with greenish tints, turned dirt and green vegetable on the nose, toast notes on the fruit, mouth-watering astringency.

2012 Flowers Chardonnay Estate “Camp Meeting Ridge” (Sonoma Coast). Gold in color with ripe papaya and a hint of barnyard on the nose with lemon custard and crushed rocks on the fruit and finishes tight.

2009 Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione (Tuscany). Dark brick in color with a big perfume of fresh rosemary and dark leather, concentrated, chunky and tight, silky tannin.

2012 Coudelet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone Rouge (Rhone). Dark red with crushed red berry and slate on the nose, chewy, dense fruit, stone, silky tannin on the long finish. Tasty.

2009 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon “Mt Veeder” (Napa). Inky black with crushed black fruit and dark chocolate on the nose, dense and concentrated with cedar notes on the finish.

2011 Graham’s Quinta Dos Malvedos (Portugal). Black in color with cooked fruit and wet rocks on the nose, dense, very tight at the end with big tannin.

Later that afternoon, I attended the Delta Airlines sponsored Caviar, Champagne and Cocktails event at the Wayfarer at 101 West 57th Street in Manhattan. It was a big cocktail party with Caviars provided by Paramount Caviar, Champagnes from Henriot and various cocktails such as the Kentucky 75, Devil in a Red Dress, Courvoisier Cooler and the Courvoisier Classic. I’m not a huge fan of caviar but I did like the hackleback which were small pearls of very buttery tastiness. It was a fun party.

Cocktails & Fairies

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This past Sunday I attended the Secret Summer food and cocktail festival. They promised “inventive mixology and farm to table eats while advocating forward thinking ideas about locality and sustainability”. Ok.

It was held a the event space, The Foundry at 42-38 9th Street in Long Island City down the block from the East River and in the shadows of the Queensboro Bridge. The Foundry is a 8 room ivy covered brick building with a large garden courtyard .

The theme of the evening was Shakespeare’s A MidSummer Night’s Dream. Winged Fairies pranced around the courtyard sprinkling rose petals and pixie dust on the guests while strolling troubadours entertained the crowd. Members of the Shrunken Shakespeare Company would break out in spontaneous performances of Shakespeare’s play, or at least I thought they were actors and not young couples have a rough day. There was also a “ginormous” beer pong to keep people busy.

In the courtyard were tubs of soft drinks, Heineken beer, Rekorderlig Cider and Perrier Jouet Grand Brut NV Champagne to go along with grilled food and grilled cheese sandwiches provided by the Morris Food Truck. I was able to grab some sausage, vegetables and a grilled cheese sandwich before the line became impossibly long.

Indoors had live ragtime music by The Ida Blue Band and several cocktail stations.

I was happy to stroll around with a glass of Brut or a pear cider in my hand but in the interest of research I sample several of the cocktails which included:

Herradura Tequila

Pamplona: Herradura, blood orange, dry curacao and ginger beer.

Sundown: Herradura, clementine and house acai grenadine.

Templo Mayor: Herradura, jalapeno, cacao, cornmilk, agave nectar and lemon.

Cachaça 51

Cai Tai: Cachaca 51, house falernum, acai grenadine and dry curacao.

Morango: Cachaca 51, market strawberries, sage and aromatic.

ColaDA: Cachaca 51, bitter cola syrup, coconut milk and fresh pineapple.

Jack Daniel’s

Doc Brown: Jack Daniel’s, market cherry sarsaparilla and micro bubble soda.

Shiso: Jack Daniel’s, saiso leaf, raw cane and leaf bouquet.

Bless your heart, but….: Jack Daniel’s, summer peach, market fennel and lemon.

It was a fun way to spend a sunny, Summer late evening.