Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Dizzy Fizz Holiday Punch Party

The Summit Bar, 133 Avenue C, NYC

December 20, 2009

Special Guest:
Jill DeGroff

It was that time of year that the Dizzy Fizz wanted to put together a holiday party with a good purpose. Selena Ricks of the http://thedizzyfizz.wordpress .com
wanted to celebrate the 20,000 views from the past 6 months! Selena is a hard working cocktail writer that blogs about everything in the cocktail world and community. She is diligent in her writing and quick to post all of the most current events mentionable. You can see how hard she works by visiting her awesome blog.

Myself, I check out her blog as much as I can, but most recently, almost everyday! It's always something on there, that I didn't know about or more information that I need to acquire. So do yourself a favor and check out her dizziness and get fizzed up with her libations knowledge.

At the Summit Bar, the ladies of (LUPEC) Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails and the members of the USBGNY chapter mixed up some interesting punches for everyone to enjoy. The brands included was:

Plymouth Gin, Bols Genever, Ron Zacapa 23 Aged Rum, Bulleit Bourbon, Partida Tequila, Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky, 10 Cane Rum, Martini & Rossi Prosecco, Gran Marnier Liqueur, Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur, Benedictine Liqueur, Chartreuse, and Averna Sambuca Agrumi.

Featured Punch Recipes:

Axis and Allies Punch

By John Pomeroy, USBGNY

.5 bottle Averna Agrumi Sambuca

1 bottle Bulleit Bourbon

Bunch mint

1 bottle Martini & Rossi Prosecco

24 juiced lemons, husks in

.25 bottle Grand Marnier Liqueur

MAIke TAIson’s Punch Out!

By Frank Cisneros, USBGNY

1 bottle Ron Zacapa 23 Year Rum

1 bottle 10 Cane Rum

12.5 oz lime juice

12.5 oz house-made orgeat

12.5 oz Benedictine Liqueur

24 oz club soda

10 sprigs of mint

Chungking Express


Multiply recipe by number of servings:

.5 oz. lime

.75 oz. grapefruit

.5 oz. honey-chili simple syrup (2 to 1)

.5 oz. Yellow Chartreuse

1 oz. lemongrass and thai basil-infused Plymouth Gin

1 oz. Bols Genever

.75 oz. Martini & Rossi Prosecco top

Remember the Night


Multiply recipe by number of servings:

.5 oz. lemon

.75 oz. cinnamon-star anise syrup

.75 oz. Pom juice

.25 oz. date molasses

1 oz. Bulleit Boubon

1.5 oz. Zacapa 23 Year Rum

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

.15 oz. rose water

Top Lapsong soochang

The Redhead

By Jane Elkins, LUPEC *Crowd Favorite

Multiply recipe by number of servings:

.5 oz. lemon juice

.75 oz. grapefruit juice

.5 oz. ginger syrup

.5 oz. sage-infused Barenjager Honey Liqueur

1 dash Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters

1 oz. Yamazaki 12 Year Whisky

1 oz. Bulleit Bourbon

1 oz. rooibos tea

The Gov’ner Punch

By Greg Seider, The Summit Bar

160 oz. Yamazaki 12 Year Whisky

60 oz. fresh orange juice

60 oz. cardamom-infused agave syrup

40 oz. yuzu juice

50 torn shiso leaves

Dust punch with ground cardamom

Parti-da Punch

By Greg Seider

160 oz. Partida Reposado

120 oz. pineapple jalapeno puree

80 oz. lime juice

60 oz. Mexican cinnamon infused agave syrup

I can say everyone did their part to infuse those beautiful spirits together for this great punch party. By the way, I guess you wanted to know the significance in the history of the punch, and probably why Selena picked punch as the main libation, huh?

The brief history of the punch:

Punch was referred to by several names and was created in the 16th century, by the Brittish sailors in India. This libation was sometimes referred to as, panch or panchan, but what ever you called, it was consisted of 5 main ingredients, which was: bitter apertif, beer, 100% alcohol, sugar, and lemon juice. There was a few other versions, but this was the most popular and enjoyed over the next 4 centuries!

I guess you can see why Miss Ricks wanted to use this classic and timeless libation. I believe that embodies her and the work that she research and write's.

As the night went on, a lot of people was lucky enuogh to recieve a signed copy from Jill DeGroff. Her new book, "Lush Life: Portraits from the Bar", is a stunning cariacture version of the well knowned people in the industry. Jill captures the real -nees of the personality and the features of each person in her own unique version.

Anyone who gets a chance to be in one of her books, will immortalized forever in the cocktail world! Also, Jill was in attendance with her husband, Dale DeGroff. Dale is a master mixologist who turned the cocktail world around! When Dale started working at the Rainbow Room in 1987, the level of mixology was raised and the bar was set high as the clouds. The DeGroff's are a living legend in the industry, well respected, and loved by many!

After the party, most of us headed to Louis 649 around the corner and had a few to several cocktails. Of course, I had to have my favourite libation from Eryn Reece, "Smoke on the Water". After that, I was ready for a dram or two. I then sipped on some Glenrothes 1985 with friends and had a light bite to eat at the bar.


I was still a bit hungry, so I went to this Ukrainian restaurant that my friend Charles told me about and pigged out like a real porker! It was tasty and made me sleepy. I caught cab and went off to la-la land once I reached my apt.

This was a great night out again with my spirits family and thank goodness it wasn't too dangerous!


Photo Credits: Lush Life Productions

Brand list and recipe's: Dizzy Fizz press release

USBGNY Distillery Tour

Locations: Blue Coat gin and Tequila's restaurant In Philadelphia

Date: December 13+14th, 2009

It was a spotty sprinkled morning and I was on my way to my first American distillery. I pulled up to our chartered bus for the USBGNY folks, and a few of them was outside chatting about how great this tour will be in Philly. We had to wait for a few members, with one of the usual suspects, John Pomeroy.

When everyone finally made it, we headed Check Spellingto what I like to call Manhattan's "6th borough". The weather went from sprinkles to rain, but that didn't matter to us, because we was inside the bus having a lovely light breakfast along with donated spirits. Yes, drinking around 10:30 am people! I can't think of no other way to get this trip started with people like the USBG folks!

The 2 hour or so trip was filled with a lot of laughter and craziness. we had a bit of a detour en route to Blue Coat, but we found our way. Upon entering the distillery, we was greeted by the master distiller, Robert Cassell, the vice president, Tim Yamall, and the president, Andrew Auwerda.

Everyone relaxed for a few and then the discussion of the distillery process began. Next, we had the pleasure in tasting the fine products: Penn 1681 Rye (vodka), Vieux Carre(absinthe),and the Blue Coat(gin). I had no idea that they had more than gin, but it was a grand surprise. I enjoyed their spirits at the tasting and I couldn't believe how good the absinthe was along with the vodka and gin!

Our gracious host treated us to a lunch at the distillery and then opened the floor to a discussion on their products and various other questions that arose in general about spirits. After the discussion, we had the tour of the distillery and bottled our own Blue Coat gin mini bottles! That was fun and educational for them to give us that opportunity.

At this time, we was ready to check in at the downtown Marriott and get ready for the next event. We had an arrange roommate assigned to everyone, but a few of us kinda changed that around. John Pomeroy, aka "Pom Pom" wanted to share with me, Adriana, and Meaghan. One out of the four of us couldn't make it to this trip, therefore Pom moved on in with us. He had brought his bar kit and booze and I brought a nice bottle of rhum to liquidfy our friends when we returned from the events.

After our make shift mini bar set-up was complete, we walked over to Apothecary for our "happy hour". Tad Carducci(master mixologist) along with his USBG Philly bartenders created some mean cocktails for us that made everyone smile. I munched on the appetizers and chatted with our Philly friends and then the Philly president, Phobe Esmon gave us our official welcome and then we imbibed on a few more cocktails, until it was time for us to go to dinner at the Tequila's restaurant.

At Tequila's, we had a 5 course meal in the their private room given by the restaurant owner, David Suro-Pinera. He greeted us warmly and began a special power point presentation as the cocktails and courses began to come out in the dining room. David's topic was on "How Tequila is Made" featuring the brand he stands behind on, which is Siembra Azul.

The presentation was very educational and concise. His message and what I walked away with, was the men behind the agave farming. These men work very hard under the Mexican sun daily, while farming these large blue agave's in precise execution. The farmer's are not appreciated as they should be and work under extreme conditions. These people are the soul of the tequila!

After Tequila's, we began our "cocktail crawl", which included 4-5 bars that I can remember, including this awesome hookah bar! Me and a group of us cutted away from the main crew and enjoyed some middle eastern/ Indian music, while dancing with the hookah in our mouth and drinking shots of American whisky! O baby-that was the icing of the night.

At the last bar, we was serenaded with Frank Sinatra's, "New York" song by the wonderful Pen and Pencil bar staff and the Philly customers. The USBG crew was all there and we shouted the song from the top of our tonsils and waved our hands in complete appreciation! It was a friggin blast people. I wish you was there, but at least you can imagine what that must of been to us, in that moment!

When the singing and drinking was over, we headed back to the hotel for the "after party". We told everyone to meet us in our room in 15 minutes for drinks and sure enough they came in full force at the same time and more of the drinking ensued in the wee hours of the morning.

When we finally woke up, me and my roomies gathered ourselves and made it to the Hendrick's gin breakfast. Yes, a gin breakfast with our members creating Ramos Gin Fizzes to get us going! After breakfast, we got onto the bus and headed back for the city. A lot of people was tired and most was passed out. The remaining bunch was in the back making jokes until our belly was hurting! I know I laughed all the way back to the city, thanks to my friend Matt Stinton, who is an under cover comic.....

As we arrived to our drop off point in Herald Square, we took the remaining donated bottles and headed straight to the first event of the day, O yeah, more boozing and It was the St. Germain Holiday ping -pong party!

For pix on this event, become a fan on my Face ook page: Libation Diaries with Carmen

Also, I want to thank USBGNY and our Philly chapter, Apothecary, Tad Carducci, David Suro-Pinera, and Tequila's restaurant.

To be continued...........


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Small Whisky Batches and Prohibition Era Spirits Tasting

Location: Madison Hotel, Morristown, NJ

Date: December 2, 2009

My day started in absolute glee, because I was going to not just another awesome whisky convention, but this one is for the Small Batches and Prohibition Era Whisky's!

Getting to NJ: I went down to Penn Station, jumped on the NJ Transit, took the rail to the Convent Stop, and right off the rail is the Madison Hotel in Morristown NJ. Upon my arrival, the first people I saw at the entry door was Jeff and his wife (from the Whisky Guild) with their brand new beautiful baby girl. His beautiful wife was holding Cameron Islay, who was laying there so relaxed and at peace, like a great "Whisky Guilded Child" should be. The two are blessed to have such a peaceful baby.

She was smiling at me and melted my heart. So then, I walk down the stairs where all of the tables was located. Excitement would be an understatement to say how I felt as I walked around. Of course, there were a few brands I haven't tasted yet, such as the Lombard brands, where they had several different whisky's to choose from. I went straight to the gold, which was the Tidal Ebb. The Tidal Ebb is one of their whiskys that was lightly peated, extremely smooth, and light to my pallatte, which I enjoyed.

Next was the "Wild Scotsman" table, where my friends Keith Allison and Ellie Tam highly suggested me to visit that particular table. I met Jeff Topping, who is the Wild Scotsman, and John McDougall, along with Mario Takeyama. To give some background on the gentlemen, Mario is the founder, CEO, and Executive Producer of Lounge 1492. It is located on 11 Price Avenue, in Colombus Ohio. "Lounge 1492 is a community that is passionate about discovering and sharing the fine living experience through exploration, education, and interaction", says Mario Takeyama.

Their vision is called "An exploration of discovery", and their mission and objective is to develop "A cultural exploration in cigars, cuisine, wine and spirits, beer, art, music, literature, awareness, education, information, interactive logging, video and product reviews, live and online learning opportunities, effective distribution tools, events, entertainment and networking, live and online for visitors, dealers, distributors, and producers. Also, to support traditions, artisans, and craftsmanship."

I spoke with Jeff, who produced The Wild Scotsman 15 year Vatted Malt, which is 46% ABV, non chilled filtered with natural coloring. This vatted malt has about 10 separate casks, with about 1 coming from each region of Scotland, and to note, this received 95% out of 100% in the Jim Murray Whisky Bible in 2007.

Next, I tasted the magnificent Wild Scotsman Black Label, which is a vatted malt as well, that comes from one sherry and 3 bourbon casks that is blended from the regions of Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, and Islay, which is 47% ABV, and also non chilled filtered with natural coloring. This whisky received a gold medal in the San Francisco World Competition in 2009, which is my absolute favorite from the Wild Scotsman. I will have to say that Jeff did such a great job in this blending process, I have to stand up, clap, and say "Well Done!"

Next, I met John McDougall, who is the former manager for Laphroaig from 1970-74, where you can definitely tell his experiences from working at that distillery. My favorite whisky from John is the Vatted Islay brand that's 13 years old, with a 54.7% ABV with natural coloring, non chilled filtered, and it contains 4 separate casks from the Islay region such as Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore, and Bruichladdich.

As John says, "This is my interpretation of running the Laphroaig distillery for 4 years". He says that "Each cask captures a different aspect of Islay, which is the boldness from Ardbeg, depth of Laphroaig, the sea air of Bowmore, and the sweetness of Bruichladdich." Along with the great whisky, the kind John Mcdougall gave me a signed book from his 1999 book called "Wort, Worms, & Washbacks, Memoirs from the Stillhouse." I cannot wait to read this book, because he said, "If you know whisky, have the education, and know the jargon, this book is for you".

Of course, I will begin blogging and reviewing it after I finish "Raw Spirit," by Iain Banks, and The Barrtender's Gin Compendium" by Gaz Regan.

Mario, John and the Wild Scotsman has really made an impression on me. I was honored to meet these lovely gentlemen, and I hope it will be a long lasting friendship. I will finish this part of the blog with a quote from Jeff which is what I want you to remember as the last words from this gentleman, "The traditional craft and history of the old world scotch malt whisky is the bedrock and inspiration for my brands." So If you truly love the classic Islay whiskies, please do yourself a favor and try one of his brands.

Now it was time to go see my friends at Bunnahabhain, and there I tasted the new Deanston 12 year, which was amazing. I never had this whisky before and I was quite surprised by the slight peatiness that I adore, and the sweetness that the Highlands almost always delivers.

A little bit about the brand: the new Deanston 12 year is from Perth Shire, Scotland. It has a golden amber coloring, floral and citrus fruit with a sweet oakiness, and a light heather honeycomb nose. It tastes in the beginning, of a lot of honey, orangy fruit, a little of ginger, toffee, and sweet maltiness. The finish is long and balanced, with a surprisingly spicy honey note that slowly fades away. Bravo to Deanston!

After that, I turned around to the OPICI table, where I had the Usquaebach 15 year, which was quite amazing because I haven't had that for almost a year, and I think it was hard to distribute in the United States, and now OPICI Distributors has brought it back to the states!! Such a great whisky-thank you OPICI!!

Later on, I visited this Organic Spirits Table, Maison Jomere Organic Spirits Company. They presented five brands which was the UK 5 Organic Vodka, the Papagayo Organic White Rum, the Papagayo Organic Spice Rum, the Juniper Green Organic London Dry Gin, and the Highland Harvest Organic Scotch Whisky. Out of the five, I tried the Juniper Green Gin, and it is exactly what it is titled as, a HUGE presence of juniper berries along with coriander and angelica Root.

This is a gin that I highly suggest to drink with tonic or sparkling water. Also, I'll use this in a complex and well balanced organic recipe. As a gin lover, I would definitely throw it on the rocks, even though it can stand alone neat at room temperature. Make sure when creating your organic recipe, that you do not put any ingredient that is too pungent or powerful in taste, because it would deconstruct the original idea for producing an organic gin like this.

I had their scotch whisky next. For the tasting of my first organic whisky- I liked it. It was very smooth, very light, didn't have much sweetness, and not much presence of heather. I can actually say that this was a very interesting organic whisky. I would like to congratulate Paul Davis for creating such a great organic whisky!

Next up in this heavy hitting night, I moved along to the Bay Way liquor table. Mr. Pat Mc Carthy, who is the whisky ambassador for the company, gave me a tasting of the Stranahan's Colorado whisky. It's a small batch, 47% ABV, and it is gently spiced with a great texture and weight. It is very smooth and flavorful. Who knew that Colorado can produce something other than a great football team? So if you ever see this brand, I suggest you get a little bottle of it and test it out yourself, you'll be pleasantly surprised. And if not, feel free to comment on it on this blog.

At last, I would not(can't) say any names, but I had the great opportunity in tasting the 1908 Johnnie Walker Red, 1965 SpringBank, and a few others that I won't say!! At this point, I'll just tease and tell you guys about how honored I was in tasting these lovely whiskys! All I can say is that THEY WERE OUTSTANDING!

To complete the night, I went downstairs and grabbed some food from the buffet. Then I wanted a nice smoke, but I was out of a pack of my lights. I then experienced something that I never imagined of doing and you won't believe where the receptionist told me to get a pack from... they told me to go upstairs to the Rod's restaurant and I'll find a vending machine! I never in my life expected to ever pull a pack of lights out of a vending machine, like they did back in the day! How groovy-right. Kudos to the Madison Hotel

Night Cap:

I ended the night by getting back onto the NJ Transit rail. I headed back home to the city, and I would have to say that Morristown.... you showed me a great night!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

USBGNY Christmas Sing-A-Long holiday party

Location: Bills Gay Nineties, at 57 East 54th Street, NYC

As I arrived inside, I walked into the main bar area and it was a full house. I did not recognize anyone in there. I knew it was the right place, so I walked back down to the coat check lady and she told me that the private party was up one flight of stairs.

This was one of those older brownstone buildings which I absolutely love, because it had old world charm to it. Once I finally arrived to the appropriate party, I was greeted with all of my friends and colleagues, including Jill DeGroff, she gave me a signed copy of the Lush Life Portraits from the Bar. I was very excited to get that from Jill who I admire.

Next, I went to the bar where they had some tasty cocktails waiting,on me, such as the classic Negroni, the Campari and soda, Campari and Orange, Campari Punch, and my favorite, the Sanguinello.

The classics that they had were great, but the Sanguinello was made with extra love, which consisted of 1 oz of Campari, 3/4 oz of Limoncello, and 2 oz of blood orange juice. The bartender poured the ingredients over ice, shook, and strained it into fresh ice, into a highball glass, and garnished with a blood orange wedge. They were very professional, and extremely friendly.

After receiving my cocktail, it was time for the sing along to begin, which started with "Oh Come All Ye Faithful." After that first sing along, I talked to friends, took a few photos and began with the singing of the other cheerful holiday carols such as: "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!," "Here Comes Santa Claus," and "Feliz Navidad." It was a beautiful, cheerful holiday party for all of us, and I would like to thank Campari for hosting such a great event for the Spirits Industry.

Until next time,

To view these great photo's

Photo Credit: Liz Brown of Liz Brown Photography

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Atlantico Rum

Location: Louis 649, NYC

Event: TNT Tasting Tuesdays

Photo credits: Lush Life Productions

Here are a few brief words on one of my best new sipping rums I'm currently enjoying........

is a dark Dominican rum which "embodies tradition, sophistication, and handcrafted quality." The process starts with small batches of aged rums, which are aged for an extra 1 to 2 years, after being blended together and placed in private casks.

After the time passes, they are transferred into another set of barrels to be aged using the solera method for another 15-25 years. It is interesting to note that the wooden barrels which contain the rum are positively affected by the forces of nature around the coastline of the Dominican Republic, which adds to the complexity and unique flavor. Vintage Dominican cigar labels serve as the inspiration for the design of the bottle.

Salud people!