Wednesday, March 5, 2008

March 3, Pt. 2

Flatiron Lounge and Rayuela

After the jizake seminar and tasting, I got back in the office and had about an hour or so to get any work done before I had to run to the Flatiron Lounge for the Tales of the Cocktail New York media reception. Because I only had Monday morning to finish coding and send out our Weekly E-Newsletter before the seminar and tasting, I had been up late on Sunday night getting the bulk of it done. As I always like to tell people, "The internet is always open," so doing things on the weekend isn't anything new. Even so, by the time I got back in the office I was pretty tired and was wondering where the day had gone. I told my friend the day before, "I really don't know if I can do three events tomorrow."

He was not amused. "My heart bleeds for you," he retorted with dripping sarcasm.

While this might sound a bit lame and "Oh, poor me," the truth is event-hopping is not as glamorous as it sounds when it's your job. If you're going just to hang out and take in the sights, it's extremely fun, but I'm there with my antennae at attention and my notebook and pen always at hand in case I hear or see something. I guess I could take it a bit more easy, but call it an occupational quirk if you will, as soon as I hear something that makes me go "Ooooohhh," out comes the pen. Not to complain or bellyache of course. I actually think it's one of my job perks. I like to think of it as playing Harriet the Spy for my real job, what with my furtive looking around and jotting things down.

Flatiron Lounge was PACKED when I got there. The crowd was an interesting mix. Within the first five minutes of getting through the crowd I squeezed past two keffiyehs (worn by a too cool for school Lower East Side looking girl-guy set), a set of quite possibly not ironic mutton chops, and an older gentleman with a bristly mustache that looked like it could handily take out Wilford Brimley's walrus 'tache in a knock-down drag out brawl not unlike the Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David fight scene from "They Live." All these different people of different ages, shapes, sizes, backgrounds and scenes brought together by the powerful magnetism of alcoholic beverages.

I figured penetrating the dense crowd could take place later, since I was more interested in seeing what the bar was serving up. I spotted Flatiron's owner and cocktail expert Julie Reiner behind the bar. She was a blur of red in her crimson shirt. The bartenders worked overtime to churn out drinks. I managed to grab myself a Southside Fizz (mint muddled in simple syrup, Plymouth gin, lime juice, simple syrup, shaken and strained into a glass, then topped with soda and garnished with a mint sprig).

I got to chat briefly with Ann Tuennerman, Founders of Tales of the Cocktail, who informed me that there would be a collaborative beverage blog going on during the entire event.

I tried to scan the crowd to see if there was anybody I knew and literally found myself face-to-face with Fodor's restaurants and hotels editor (and former NRNer) Erica Duecy who introduced me to her friend Marshall Altier.

Erica excitedly told me about a book idea she was shopping around about what she liked to call her "adventures with aperitifs." With a lot of anecdotes and stories talking about innovations and recipes. As she put it, sort of like "Eat, Pray, Love" but with aperitifs.

She also told me about the beverage program Marshall was working on for Terroir included cocktails using beer and wine.

I'd seen Marshall behind the bar from when I stopped by Tailor previously, and he works with beverage programs for other locations around the city. I asked him if there were any particular reason for creating a cocktail list based on wine and beer, and he explained that Terroir did not have a license for serving liquors. Also, it worked with the restaurant's seasonal wine bar concept. (The restaurant's opening met some previous delays, but I got an email from Marshall this afternoon saying that Terroir is set to open tonight. However the cocktail menu won't be up and running just yet.)

I snagged a New York Sour (Rittenhouse Rye, lemon juice, orange juice and simple syrup shaken and strained into a double rocks glass. Topped with red wine and garnished with an orange slice and cherry), and we talked a bit more about cocktails and about Tales of the Cocktail specifically when I noticed it was almost 7 pm and I should probably head over to Rayuela. I excused myself and made my way towards the door when I ran into Mr. Bret Thorn who introduced me to photographer Jennifer Mitchell and I got caught up in a conversation as we joked about combining food photography with paparazzi photography. I entirely forgot why I was headed towards the door in the first place.

I did get to Rayuela eventually. The restaurant was hosting the official launch of The Liquid Team and had some other previews going on, but the star of the hour was the Liquid Chef, mixologist Junior Merino. Bartender Magazine honored him by inducting him into the Bartender Hall of Fame.

I tried to see if I could spot Junior to offer my congratulations but ran into Akiko again who was talking to Peter Pioppo. Peter, a foodie turned food photographer, was responsible for the photos of Junior's cocktails that were decorating the second level of the restaurant.

I caught up with Junior and congratulated him. I asked him what being inducted into the Bartender Hall of Fame entailed and he showed me his sparkly ring set with what looked like an aquamarine.

Junior's signature cocktail, Coming Up Roses, was available, but there were also nine other cocktails he created for other locations served at tables throughout the restaurant.

The cocktails I sampled at Rayuela (recipes provided at the event):

Rising Star (Rayuela)
3/4 oz. Inniskillin Ice Wine Vidal
3/4 oz. Boiron Lychee Puree
3 oz. Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne

The ingredients are poured into a Champagne flute, stirred, then garnished with star fruit & red currants.

Passion-Kumquat Mojito (42 Restaurant)
2/6 lime
3 halved kumquats
3/4 oz. Boiron passion fruit puree
3/4 oz. simple syrup
7 to 10 mint leaves
2 oz. Leblon Cachaca
1/2 oz. Fever Tree Bitter Lemon

Muddle first five ingredients, then add cachaca, Bitter Lemon and ice. Shake and pour, then garnish with kumquat flower and mint sprig.

Adelita (Cafe Frida)
2 oz. Hine Cognac
1/2 oz. Monin Cinnamon
1 whole egg
1 oz. evaporated milk
1 oz. fresh orange juice

Pour ingredients into shaker, and shake with ice. Strain into martini glass rimmed with crushed cookies and garnish with blood orange slice.

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