Saturday, November 8, 2008

Happy Birthday, Joaquin...oh hey, Johnny Iuzzini just showed up with cake

also, some changes forthcoming for Sasha Petraske's White Star at the end

Today, er, I mean yesterday, was the birthday of Death and Company's Joaquin Simo. It must be pretty gangsta to be Joaquin on his birthday because apparently Jean-Georges pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini will show up hand-delivering a fantastical confection he made for you.

(photo courtesy of Joaquin's lovely girlfriend Rhea Wong, via Joaquin's iPhone)

At the Marie Brizard competition Don Lee asked if I was coming to the b-day celebration at the Clover Club later in the evening. I wasn't sure if I was going to at first, but I when I finished things up at the office and saw that it was now 9:30 pm, I shrugged and hopped on the F train to Brooklyn.

When I got to the Clover Club I asked Giuseppe if Joaquin was in, and was told he was in the back bar with everyone else, just then John Deragon came out from back and I said hi. I went to the backroom and said hi to Don Lee, Daniel Eun, and then Richard Boccato showed up, and Alex Day, and even Sasha Petraske and, know what, I'm just going to stop here because I realized I should probably just name who wasn't there. It'll probably make this a much shorter paragraph. Joaquin knows how to throw a party. When Don told me "Everyone's going to be there," he was not joking.

The party was split between the front and back bars as more people arrived to wish Joaquin a happy birthday and the back space got crowded.

Johnny Iuzzini showed up with a cake he made for Joaquin as well as some pretty ouch looking sear marks from the Blue Blazer Mix-Off. Technically it was also for Jim Meehan whose birthday is on Monday as well as a lure to bring him out to Brooklyn, but hey, Joaquin's the one that got his name on the cake.

After singing happy birthday, the cake was divided amongst those gathered and I overheard Johnny describing the cake to John Deragon. I caught chocolate mousse, and raspberries, but then I distinctly heard "pop rocks."

"Oh, he's just messing with John," I thought as I took a bite of cake only to pause for a second and realize this really does have pop rocks on it. Deliciously ridiculous? Ridiculously delicious?

I got to talk to Sasha a bit about changes over at White Star. Due to customer demand and expectations he's switching it over to serving cocktails. It started off as a no cocktails place and Sasha wanted it to be a simple one-man behind the bar operation where people could come in without much fuss and just hang out without worrying about loud noise or music. The no cocktails rule was more like a, "no citrus" rule since you could wrangle the bartender into making you something that's stirred as well as being able to get a Bellini, but too many customers were expecting to get mixed drinks only to be disappointed. So Sasha decided to switch it up and is planning to make it more like a mini Little Branch.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Voting with your glass

I was recently reading a press release from DISCUS talking about how several states still have an Election Day alcohol sale ban. The press release said that Kentucky, Indiana and South Carolina banned Election day alcohol sales in restaurants, bars and package stores. Utah, West Virginia, Alaska and Massachusetts don't allow alcohol sales at package stores, though Alaska and Massachusetts governments can provide exemption.

Certainly didn't seem like there were still such laws in place in some states considering all the press material I've managed to collect about places offering drinks with some sort of election theme. So let's take a look at what I have here.

Some went with red vs. blue. Hudson River Cafe in New York announced it'd be offering a Blueberry-Acai Caipirosca (muddled lime, fresh mint, Van Gogh blueberry-acai vodka) and a 12th Ave. Secret Red Sangria (a red wine sangria with calvados) for you to sip on election night as you watch everything go down live on TV.

SushiSamba also went two-toned, offering both The Obamarama and The Maverick (both $11). The Obamarama is a blueberry lemonade made by muddling lemon and blueberries with sugar then adding Pearl Bluberry Vodka, blue Curacao, and shaking all the ingredients. The drink is then topped with club soda and garnished with a lemon wheel.

The Maverick is a raspberry white tea drink, made by muddling four raspberries with sugar, then adding raspberry rum, triple sec, grenadine and unsweetened white tea. The shaken and strained drink is garnished with an orchid.

Another New York establishment, the organic and vegetarian-friendly Counter, departs from the color theme with its drinks, and instead mixologist Tonia Guffey decided to play with names (all $12). The McCain Campaign on the Rocks is a Penn 1861 vodka "in celebration of the year McCain was born." The Palin Whine Spritzer is American white wine with a splash of club soda and homemade grenadine. The Obama Mama is Papagayo white rum, Papagayo spiced rum, coconut milk, muddled blueberries. The Joe the Plummer, a plum-infused vodka with homemade lemonade.

Indebleu in Washington, D.C. has had candidates' home state-themed cocktails available since early October. The drinks will be available until Nov. 4. Note that the vice presidential cocktails cost less than the presidential ones. They include:

Arizona Hard Iced Tea ($12), a savina pepper-infused Long Island Iced Tea, is made with Hangar One Chipotle Vodka, rum, gin, and whiskey. It also includes home-made sour mix and grenadine and is garnished with dried whole red chilis.

Bleu Illinois ($12), a version of the Cosmo made with Bombay Sapphire Gin mixed with home-made sour mix and blue Curacao then garnished with an orange wheel.

Drunken Baked Alaska ($10), a martini made with Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Frangelico, and pineapple juice. A whipped cream topping is supposed to be an homage both to the state's mountains and the eponymous dessert item.

Delaware Stinger ($10), a version of the Stinger made with green Creme de Menthe blended with Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey.

DISCUS sent out a their own suggestions of electoral elixirs created by Jonathan Pogash:

The Maverick

1 oz. Bourbon
3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
3 Lemon Wedges
1/2 of a Ripe Peach
1 oz. Champagne

Directions: Muddle the peach and lemon in the simple syrup. Then add the Rye and ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled old fashioned glass. Top off with champagne and garnish with a peach slice.

Cocktail for a Change

1 oz. Gin
1/4 oz. Biscotti Liqueur
1/4 oz. Dry Vermouth
2 dashes Orange Bitters

Directions: Stir ingredients in a mixing glass with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange peel.

Red State Round-Up

1 oz. Tequila
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
3/4 oz. Homemade Grenadine**
1/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Egg White
Club Soda

Directions: First, shake the egg white to emulsify. Then add remaining ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with sparkling water and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and lemon wheel.

**to make home-made grenadine, simply take 1 cup of store-bought pomegranate juice, and 1 cup of superfine sugar, and shake until all the sugar is dissolved.

Blue State Build-Up

1 oz. Light Rum
1 tsp. Blue Curacao
1/2 oz. Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 dash Aromatic Bitters

Directions: Stir ingredients in a mixing glass with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with 3 floating blueberries.

In my social circle at least, it seems like many people are planning to make an event of the evening on election day to go out and enjoy a drink and meal to watch the polls close like the would a sporting event. Whatever reason you find yourself drinking tomorrow night, at least remember to vote before doing so.

Edit: As we go into election day I'm getting more notices. It looks like Employees Only is also hosting an Election Night Radio Coverage Party from 6pm-4am. Looks like they're taking dinner reservations, so call them up.