Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jill DeGroff's Art Opening

Who is Jill DeGroff? Well that may be a silly question for a certain group of people, but I am here to answer that for you If you've just landed on my planet Operetta!

Jill DeGroff is a top saloon artist and co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail. She creates realistic caricature's. She has published books and calendars that exemplifies the true essence of people in the spirits, music, and the writing industry.

I have had the pleasure to know a few of the persons involved in her projects and I'll have to say that she captures every detail of their personality and energy. Jill is talented and gifted!

I have had the opportunity to view her masterpieces in person at the recent art opening in Red Hook, Brooklyn on 1/15/10 at Sunny's bar. Upon arrival, I was greeted first by her lovely son, Leo and then her and her husband, Dale. We had some lovely libations and chatted a little as they was completing the set -up for the opening.

I had to arrive early, because I had a prior engagement and had to leave early unfortunately. With this small time frame, I was quick to step up and look at the creations and study them. The art work was amazing and so realistic!

All of a sudden, everyone started coming in the lounge. I had talked to a few people as I waited on my car to arrive and took a few photo's. As the time came for me to leave, I said my good bye's and congratulated Jill on her great work!

A little info on Dale DeGroff:

He is a world renowned master mixologist/author, who resuscitated the life of the cocktail industry! When Dale started working at the Rainbow Room in the late 80's in NYC, libations wasn't going to be the same again! He created excellent cocktail menu's and executed the best cocktails using fresh ingredients and showing his fellow colleagues the beauty of returning to the classic style of tending bar!

A brief note on caricature art:

Caricature art began back in history when Leonardo Da Vinci drew caricatures along with Monet, and Daumier. The Webster Dictionary said's it comes from the Italian caricare: to load, and that it means exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics.

Back to Jill:

If you fancy the jazz age/prohibition era life style, then Jill's artwork will intrigue, educate, and please your optical organs.

Caricature info and background credit:

More info on Jill DeGroff's artwork:
Jill DeGroff's calendar and book info:
Jill DeGroff's Museum info:

Photo Credit for top left pix:

Ed Leder

The Macchu Pisco Review

Pisco, hum...when this spirit comes to mind or If you see it on a cocktail list, what do think and what do you know about this natural spirit?

Well, I'm here to give some insight and tell you about a brand that I've come across during my session at Junior Merino's Liquid Lab a few months ago.

In this photo, is the founder and CEO of the Macchu Pisco brand, Melanie Asher. She educated and helped me develope a great appreciation for this fine product.

Let me give you some basic background information on the Peruvian version, because their are two countries who produces pisco. It is a great debate and an issue about who invented it, due to the fact that Chile grows the Quebranta grape in the northern region of the Elqui Valley, which is the main grape to produce the pisco.

Also, I have to say that the first vineyards to produce the grapes, especially the Quebranta was in the vice royalty of Peru, which is the south west Inca region.

A Few facts:
  • Pure Peruvian pisco is never blended with water or anything else that could declare it not to be true to the appellation.
  • Pisco is a categorized in the brandy family.
  • It is distilled naturally.
  • Bottled in cask that are lined with paraffin to keep the liquor clear and the complex flavor pure.
  • Pisco softens with aging a little, but doesn't need to, unlike whisky.
  • Pisco is about 400-500 years old in production.
  • Peruvian pisco grades includes the acholado, which translate to the "Half Breed".
  • Pisco means "Little Bird".

Back to Macchu Pisco

I wanted to discuss this brand in the hopes that people can appreciate a well produced spirit that is similar, but different at the same time to the brandy and grappa that you may drink. If you would like to create a cocktail at home for entertaining, I'll suggest Artemio Vasquez's Pisco Sour cocktail from the Yerba Buena cafe located on 23 Avenue A, NYC.

Serves 1 cocktail

2 oz Macchu Pisco
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
1 organic egg white

Dry shake all the ingredients except for the bitters until it's foamy, then add ice and shake again, served up and garnished with dashes of bitters.

Macchu Pisco has 3 versions that could possibly satisfy your taste buds. 1. The classic and premium pisco 2. La Diablada, which is great for pisco punches or neat as a digestif 3. Nusta, which is the reserved and rare version.

Nusta is bottled in a limited production of handmade ceramic bottle's, which is displayed in the above photo with Melanie in the brown earthy color with the orange circled label.

In conclusion, I hope you find this review informative and you'll go out and try something new!

Photo Credit:

Melanie Asher's photo:

Re-Post for a Few Changes in the Bacardi Competition!

Here are the two last minute changes:

· CASH PRIZE!: Winners of the “Love Potion” BACARDI® Cocktail Challenge will receive a $250 cash prize (along with their cocktail featured on Havana Central menus for the month of February in all 3 locations) – Deadline for submission is Feb 5th (See below for details)

· Location Change: The Cocktail Challenge will now be taking place at Havana Central Times Square (151 West 46th Street)

Photo Credits:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bacardi's Cocktail Competition at Havana Central

News bulletin from Carmen Operetta:

Bartender's interested in competing in Bacardi"s "Love Potion", check out the posting below for info:

Love Potion Cocktail Challenge Mix-Off

Tuesday, February 9 from 7 to 9 pm

Havana Central West End, 2911 Broadway between 113th & 114th Street

Kick off the Week of Love with the Love Potion Cocktail Challenge sponsored by BACARDI®. Cocktail lovers are invited to create a unique “Love Potion” cocktail using BACARDI® rum. The winner will be selected by cocktail legend Dale DeGroff from ten finalists and will receive dinner for two at Havana Central, credit on menus, a plaque commemorating this first-ever Cocktail Challenge at Havana Central, and exposure in media coverage. Entries should be emailed to Call 212-584-4020 for more information. For full contest rules & regulations, go to or contact, 646-624-2885 ext. 112.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Code Noir Tasting

Location: Von 3 Bleecker, NYC

Date: January 11, 2010

On this brisk evening, I made my way downtown to the Code Noir tasting at Von's. I walked downstairs to their dimly lit lounge area. I was greeted by my friend Abigail and she introduced me to Peter Jamros of Regal Wine Imports. We chatted alittle and then I walked over to the wine maker, Andre Mack(in photo).

Mack is also the producer of Mouton Noir wines and has now created this lovely Merlot called, Code Noir. I think this was my first time sampling a red wine from the state of Washington and I really liked the espresso and tobacco on the nose, along with a bit of plum and cherry on my palate.

Info on product:


Merlot: 80%
Petit Verdot 12%
Malbec 8%

Alcohol: 13,5%

Appellation: Rattlesnake Hills

Case production: 2500


Hand harvested grapes, fermented for 10 days, aged for 12 months in 10% french oak and neutral barrels.

Night Cap:

Me and Abigail headed home after the event and I walked away with a great sense of pride for this American red wine. Mack produced a superb Merlot that isn't too dry for my taste. I will go and get me a few bottles in the near future, maybe you should too!


Photo credit:
Product info: Code Noir

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

ST. Germain Holiday Party and the Solerno Dinner

Location #1: Spin, 304 Park Avenue South. NYC

Location #2: Beekman Bar and Books, 889 1 Avenue, NYC

Date: December 14, 2009
If you've just read the Philly distillery tour posting, then you know exactly where I've left off coming to this point of my day. Back in NYC, me and a large amount of the USBG members headed in several cabs over to Spin for the St. Germain Holiday Ping Pong party.

At Spin, you can get your thirst quenched for all of your ping pong desire's. Yes, this place is dedicated to ping ponging only. I never thought It was such a popular sport and in demand to have such a large location like this place. Well let me tell you that everyone had a great time ponging, drinking, and the USBG people was telling everyone else about our great time in Philly.

I had to dash off early to attend the Solerno dinner I was hosting with Melissa Daniels, brand ambassador. At Beekman, Ben Scorah had created lovely libations paired with some light fare that the bar has to offer on a daily basis at all 3 NYC locations.

I invited the majority of women in and outside of the industry to learn and taste this delightful blood orange liqueur. In general, this product is exceptional in many cocktails, but there are a few that stand out on my pallate(see recipe's below).

About Solerno: This is a blood orange or called the Sanguinello in Italy. This liqueur originates in Sicily and distilled in copper alembic stills. Basically, there are 3 important process of distilling this product.

1st Distillation: The body of the orange is distilled.
2nd Distillation: The zest of the outer skin is captured to retrieve the citrus oils.
3rd Distillation: The Sicilian lemons are distilled.

The lemons are added to this liqueur, because it will give the orange a great balance and an even structure. The final product comes out clear and free of artificial coloring. Also, Solerno is sweeten with the sucrose from sugar beets,which gives it a natural taste and not syrupy like some other liqueurs.

Taste: Sweet, citrusy, tangy and a bit oily on the pallate.

Design: This bottle is really beautiful and easy to grab behind the bar for efficient usage for the bartenders. It's cylindrical shape is accompanied with an old fashioned citrus juicer at the bottom of the bottle, which is pretty neat looking.

This 40% ABV liqueur is pretty high in alcohol content and can stand up to any "manly cocktail" recipe or can simply satisfy the light and sweeter taste buds that a lot of women and such may have, but whatever way you want, your getting one of the best/newest products from Sicily!

**some great recipe's**

Solerno Blood and Sanguinello:

3/4 parts Solerno, Glenfiidich 12 year, and Lillet Rouge or Tawny Port
4 Brandied Maresca Cherries
1/2 parts Simple Syrup and Pink Grapefruit Juice
1/4 parts Fresh Lemon juice
2 dashes of Bitters
1/2 Egg White
Muddled Cherries

Shake very well and serve in a coupe with a cherry garnish.

Solerno Blood Orange Margarita:

1/2 parts Solerno
2 parts of Milagro Tequila
3/4 parts Lime and Grapefruit Juice
1 heaping bar spoon of Marmalade

Shake very well and strain over fresh ice and garnish with a grapefruit slice and a half rimmed with grapefruit salt.

Photo credits: Google Images for Solerno

Night Cap:

It was a great day/night, but we had to take a break and relax for the final event. Yupper, another one, but first a few of us went over to Adriana's house. We ordered some Italian food and chilled out before the Simon Ford and Effie Panagopoulos birthday bash.

Once the majority of us was "revived", we walked to the event that was close to Adriana's apt. At that point, I think my liver clunked out on me and I got really silly and lushy! It was time for me to go home and get some sleep and return to a little bit of normal-cy.

Thank goodness I made it home safely and slept like a tired baby. O yeah people, drink responsibly!!