Monday, November 30, 2009

Best of Lounge 2009 - Winners

Most Sought After Ingredient for the Home Bar
The Loungerati readers have voted via PollDaddy for the 2009 Best of Lounge, and the results are in:

Best Bar/Lounge Newcomer: DUTCH KILLS
Honorable mention: Raines Law Room, Fort Defiance, Mayahuel, Ward III

Best Bar/Lounge Veteran: DEATH & COMPANY
Honorable Mention: PDT, Flatiron Lounge, Clover Club, Pegu Club

Best Burlesque Act: THE MINSKY SISTERS
Honorable Mention: Legz Malone, Melody Sweets, This Is Burlesque with Angie Pontani

Best Lounge Event: WIT'S END
Honorable Mention: The Salon at Players Club, Jazz Picnic at Governor's Island, GMT New Year's Eve

Best Barfood: CLOVER CLUB
Honorable Mention: Minetta Tavern, Mayahuel, Freemans, PDT

Honorable Mention: Queen Esther & J Walter Hawkes, JC Hopkins Biggish Band, Gelber & Manning

Honorable Mention: Mr. Swank, Jack Newcastle

Most Sought After Ingredient for the Home Bar: HAVANA CLUB RUM (CUBAN BARREL PROOF)
Honorable Mention: Dolin Vermouth (Bianco), Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Bitters, Orgeat Syrup, Manzanilla Sherry

Best Cocktail of 2009: SMOKE & MIRRORS (Raines Law Room)
Honorable Mention: Prescription Julep (Ft Defiance), The Slight Detour (Mayahuel),Twisted Whiskey Mac (Artesian Bar - London), The Cat's Meow (Dutch Kills)

Editor's Picks:

Best Seat in the House: F14 at CLOVER CLUB
Honorable mention: Bar seat at Dutch Kills and the "regular" at Employees Only

Best Cocktail for the Road: THE PORTO FLIP (St. John Frizzel)
Honorable Mention: Hanky Panky (Brad Farran), The Wild Turkey Flip (Thomas Waugh), The Eagle's Dream (Matt Dawson)

Best Saloon: WARD III
Honorable Mention: Henry Public, The Richardson, 124 Rabbit Club

Best of the Internationals: CURIO PARLOR (Paris)
Honorable Mention: Rick's (Edinburgh), Rheingold (Berlin), Artesian Bar (London), 69 Colbrooke Lane (London)

We do apologize for the New York-centric nature of this list. We did go out to the readers to submit nominations and well, most are from New York. Hopefully that will change in the next year.

On the hit list to visit in 2010: Sweets Shop at Duane Park, The Varnish in LA, B-Flat in Tribeca, more Shanghai Mermaid,Summit on Ave C, Heaven's Dog in San Francisco, Violet Hour in Chicago, POV in DC, Eastern Standard in Boston, Tales of the Cocktail Part Deux, The Manhattan Cocktail Classic, and so much more.

Please join us on December 5th for Holiday cocktails at Ward III in New York. It is Repeal Day and Loungerati's third birthday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What We're Drinking: The Midnight Stinger

by Fredo

Minty, refreshing, and potent, the Stinger cocktail is part eye opener, part ultimate nightcap. It is an original and proves it by breaking the rules. The Stinger is one of the only all booze cocktails for which it is acceptable to shake. No Lemon juice and no egg whites here, just liquor that needs a bruising. I believe the drink is simply better ice cold and quite frankly, do you need a neat drink to end the night?

Our favorite variation of the Stinger was created by a man who is expert at bringing amari into a cocktail. It is called the Midnight Stinger and features a float of the bartender's handshake - Fernet Branca. And the man to make you this gem is Sam Ross of Milk & Honey and Little Branch.


3/4 oz fresh lemon
3/4 oz simple syrup
1 oz bourbon
1 oz Fernet Branca
Mint sprig

Combine the ingredients in cocktail shaker and roll back and forth. Strain into rocks glass over crushed ice,  add mint springs.

Where to get it: Milk & Honey or Little Branch, New York City

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In Memoriam: Conker Hill

by Fredo
Conker Hill, our favorite Irish pub in New York City, served their last pints of Guinness last Saturday night. Kieron St. Ledger, the publican, was forced to close the pub due to the terrible economic times that have squeezed small businesses like Conker into the pages of history.

Conker Hill was a relaxed neighborhood bar that featured darts, Big Buck Hunter, bands, comedy night, the Dewar's Repeal Day party, trivia night, and more importantly - a friendly crowd that checked any pretense at the door. It was off the beaten path, on 10th Avenue but worth the trek.It was a place where you ordered a beer, and by the end of the night a shot was sure to come your way.

We had a fantasy baseball league meeting their every March and geeked out while picking MLB players. Kieron would open up early just for the event. Each participant would await their turn, pick an available player, and then would put the name on a big leader board set up in the bar. There were cheesesteaks and plenty of trash talk in the air. To celebrate the opening of the baseball season, the gang would gather for a "meatfest" at the Argentine restaurant Churrascharia Plataforma in Hell's Kitchen. It was a bunch of guys getting together, bonded in friendships formed over pints at Conker Hill, and sealed in a love of baseball.

I will miss Conker Hill but I am glad of the friendships I made and I take them with me in the go cup of life.

Good luck to Kieron and his family. KSL, I hope to see your smiling face behind the stick of a new pub sooner than later. I mean what could possibly go wrong?!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Destinations: Hooch on November 20th

We recommend the following hush-hush de-lovely event for your Friday night pleasure:

"Ladies & Gents, Harlots and Hedonists, Flappers and Philosophers:

Break out your fur stoles and saddle shoes ..

We invite you to join us on Friday, November 20th for a night of indulgence, entertainment and depravity..

Be seduced by live cabaret-style performances, brass bands and swinging jazz, while cigarette girls offer surprising treats..

Drown your sorrows or elevate your spirits with unique cocktails, home brews and moonshine..

Flirt with strangers in shadowy corners.. Dance with lovers and friends to an incredible sound system.. all in an unseen underground Tribeca loft."

$10 entrance
RSVP to hoochrsvp at gmail dot com for location
Stumble Bum Brass Band

Raya Brass Band

Judy Sky of Reverend Billy's Choir

Burlesque by the delectable Isabella Minx

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lounge Doctrine Reaffirmed

by Fredo

It is hard to believe two years have passed since The Senator, J&B Scotch's most valuable customer, proclaimed an ambitious doctrine which is the cornerstone of Loungerati's philosophy. Tonight, this platform was reaffirmed by Loungers from New York to Seattle. An official toast will happen in December when the Loungerati mini-summit convenes at the Algonquin Hotel bar (natch).

Delivered by the Senator at the Algonquin Hotel, November 17, 2007

"Loungers, I come before you tonight, drink in hand, with a message of hope.

They said that there was no more room at the bar for us. They said that there was no longer a place where good taste hardly ever went out of style. They said that times had passed us by.

Well, my friends, I have seen how the other half parties and let me be the first to say to them: KEEP ON PASSING.

They can take their smoking bans and they can take their political correctness and they can shove it right up their asses. To you my fellow Loungers I say this: let us never inebriate out of fear, but let us never fear to inebriate.

We say, with not so silent lips – if you are tired, if you are poor, if you’re one of the huddled dancers yearning to drink for free, then you must be refused and your wretched ass must be kicked outside the golden door! On this fantastic voyage, nobody rides for free.

Unless you’re really, really hot.

The Loungers and the musicians, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death bars like Algonquin Oak Room. Even though large clubs of Manhattan and many old and famous lounges have fallen or may fall into the grip of the techno scene and all the odious apparatus of American Idol and that karaoke bullshit, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall drink to the end, we shall drink in the morning, we shall drink in the night, we shall drink in the gutters and the streets, we shall drink in the hills, we shall order wines with growing confidence and growing tolerance in restaurants, we shall order after dinner drinks and digestifs, no matter what the cost, we shall never throw up, and even if we do, which I do not for a moment believe, we shall boot and rally and make it to the last call!

And so my fellow Loungers, in closing, let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to an older generation. Let every dancer, lounger and barfly know, whether they wish us well or premium, gin or beer, whiskey or soda, that we shall pay any cover, tip any bartender, meet any manager or maestro, in order to assure the survival and the success of the lounge.

Thank you, and may God bless the gutter."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Vote for Loungerati's 2009 Best of Lounge

We have boiled down our categories to the Top Ten for the 2009 Best of Lounge.

Vote Here

Voting ends at midnight November 26, 2009. The winners will be announced at Loungerati's annual Holiday Cocktail party and anniversary, Repeal Day December 5th. We are still working on a location for the party and will let you know shortly!

Barfly's Beat: TNT - Hendrick's Gin

Hendrick's Gin from Scotlandby Fredo

Last Tuesday, I scampered out of work early and made my way to Alphabet City. My destination, the weekly Tuesday Night Tastings series at Louis 649 bar. I arrived early and secured a coveted bar seat. My usual "dug out" spot was already taken but I was hardly deterred. There was gin to be tasted. There was gin lore to be heard. And I knew the crowd was coming due to the write up in Tasting Table.

Jim Ryan, Hendrick's Gin brand ambassador, was behind the bar mixing up an autumn Pimms/Hendrick's punch as the place filled up. By sunset, Louis 649 was at capacity with thirsty folks. The packed house included bartenders from notable cocktail bars, drinks bloggers, spirits aficionados, industry folks, booze hounds, and the curious.

Once the punch was sorted out, Ryan presented the history of the hallmark brand from Ayrshire, Scotland. Hendrick’s is a small batch gin distilled produced by William Grant & Sons (the Glenffidich/Balvenie Scotch manufacturers). According to their website:

"The unusual distillation process combined with our oddly delicious set of infusions yields a one-of-a-kind gin that is passionately loved by a tiny yet growing handful of individuals all over the world. No other gin tastes like it because no other gin is made like it."

Jim Ryan spins Hendrick's tale
As Mr. Ryan described the narrative behind the Hendrick's brand, he encourage the crowd to participate in naming the botanicals which make up the gin. Thus, the tasting part of the evening commenced. We detected cucumber (of course), orange peel, elderflower, and juniper amongst many others. Understanding why this gin is special is an important part of the Hendrick's story and their "unusual" marketing strategy. They are not trying to compete with the other London dry gins, Plymouth, or the newly in vogue Genever or Holland gin. Hendrick's stands on it's own taste-wise because unlike other botanical heavy gins such as Bombay Sapphire, the infusions do not overwhelm the base spirit. Which means you can add this gin into a cocktail and it will add to the flavor profile not become it.

Jim's Autumnal Punch (Hendrick's Gin, Pimms No 2, Honey,allspice berries, cucumber slice garnish, block of ice)

Once our taste buds were awaken, Mr. Ryan concocted several Halloween inspired cocktails that I must add are tasty all year round.

Corpse Reviver 2009

3/4 oz Hendrick's Gin
3/4 oz Solerno Orange liquer
3/4 oz Lillet Blanc
3/4 oz Lemon juice
Dash of Kubbler Absinthe

Combine ingredients in shaker, add ice, then shake rigorously. Strain into chilled coupe, no garnish required.

Satan's Whiskers
1/2 oz Hendrick's gin
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz dry vermouth (Jim substituted Lillet)
1/2 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
Dash orange bitters

Combine ingredients in shaker, add ice, then shake rigorously. Strain into chilled coupe, no garnish required.

: Louis 649 also announced the beginning of food service in November, so you can nosh while imbibing delicious libations. According to Eater: "they're letting local purveyors curate menu items, including herring from Russ & Daughters, pickles from Rick’s Picks, charcuterie from The Bklyn Larder, Washugyu beef sashimi from Japan Premium Beef, cheese from Saxelby Cheese Mongers, empanadas from Barnyard, and chocolate from Nunu Chocolates."

Louis 649

649 East 9th Street @ Ave C
New York, NY

Disclaimer: Loungerati was not paid nor received any gifts from Hendrick's Gin or anyone associated with the brand or Louis 649 in exchange for this write up. We frequent the TNT at Louis 649 to learn about spirits and experience well crafted cocktails.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What we are Drinking: The Fernet Flip

by Fredo

I wish I could personally thank drinks journalist Paul Clarke of the Cocktail Chronicles for introducing me to this sublime concoction. His article on the Fernet Flip marries one of my favorite spirits Fernet Branca and my obsession with Flip into one hell of a corpse reviver.

The chocolaty Carpano Antica vermouth complements the medicinal Fernet Branca and doesn't skimp on flavor. I tried several versions described by Mr. Clarke including the Boston version. Alas, I had no Xocolati Mole Bitters so I stuck with Fee's Whiskey Barrel bitters which as he points out, works just fine. I modified the recipe slightly, adding a 1/2 ounce of heavy cream to make the finish extra smooth. The drink turns out semi-sweet, creamy, and with the familiar Fernet taste coming at the end.

The Fernet Flip
1 1/2 oz of Fernet Branca
1 1/2 oz of Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1 dash of Simple syrup
1/2 oz heavy cream
Two dashes of Fee's Whiskey Barrel bitters
1 whole medium egg

Combine the ingredients in a shaker,dry shake for a few seconds. Then add ice, shake rigorously, and strain into a chilled wine goblet. Top off with a dusting of fresh nutmeg.

Trust me, Mr. Clarke calls this drink "a keeper" and I couldn't agree more. The Fernet Flip is now my official morning after remedy.

Where to get it: The Violet Hour in Chicago, Eastern Standard in Boston or my home bar.

(photo of Fernet poster courtesy of Ryan Medeiros)