Friday, February 26, 2010

Destinations: Feb 27th - Wit's End One Year Anniversary

Loungerati's Best Lounge Event 2009 winners, The Wit's End are celebrating their One Year Anniversary in style and with lots of Champagne. Don Spiro and Diane Naegel are teaming up with the Dorothy Parker Society to host one helluva party at Flute! Here is the Press release:

"Fall in love all over again- it's the one year anniversary of Wit's End! Can you believe this time last year we had our very first soiree? Wit's End and the Dorothy Parker Society are proud to present you with a new year of good friends, good style, and good times!

To start off our second year right, we're bringing back the guys who played at the start of it all: Grandpa Musselman & His Syncopators! Gramps will keep you movin' all night and will feature great love songs of the Jazz Age!

7-8pm - Flute Bar will be providing our guests with some FREE hors d'oeuvres at the bar to accompany those cocktails! Come early and make it a full vintage evening out and order dinner from Flute!

830pm - FREE Beginner Dance Lesson

WIN prizes from and some special surprises from Wit's End!

As always, try vintage cocktails from our menu (as well as some great Flute originals), and pick up your copy of Zelda : The Magazine of the Vintage Nouveau ( !

Come dressed in your finest 1920s/30s/40s vintage or vintage style attire, and celebrate with us! Thank you all for a wonderful first year!

$12 door, 21+"
Wit's End @ FLUTE
205 W 54th Street
New York, NY

(Photo courtesy of Don Spiro)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Viva La Musica: Lavay Smith at the Jazz Standard 2/23 and 2/24

One of our favorite song birds, the lovely Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers will be performing at the Jazz Standard in New York City on Tuesday, February 23 and Wednesday February 24th.  Get there early for the Blue Smoke BBQ and snag a table or bar seat at the intimate jazz club. The San Francisco based singer rarely gets to the East Coast so this is quite a treat. A brief bio on Lavay and her band from her site:

"Lavay Smith is the vocalist and bandleader of the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, one of the top swingin’ Jazz and Blues bands in the world. Lavay grew up in Southern California and the Philippines and has become an internationally recognized Diva of Jazz and Blues, with a singing style influenced by Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Bessie Smith, Little Esther Phillips and other legendary greats. Whether singing her own compositions or drawing on a large repertoire of classics, Lavay and her all-star 7-piece band bake up an instant recipe for dancing and good times.

This sultry chanteuse evokes a sensuous era of Jazz queens and sexy pinups and adds a modern, feminist twist.  No wonder Los Angeles Magazine chose her as one of the sexiest people around!  Lavay began attracting crowds right from the start thanks to her big, bluesy voice, exciting stage personality, and glamorous approach. According to Fox TV, the band has become “a San Francisco Landmark”, winning numerous awards including a “Wammie” and a “Bammie”. In 1998, the reader’s of San Francisco’s two major newspapers, the Chronicle and the Examiner, voted Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers the “Best Band” in the annual readers poll. "

Editor's Note: I have been following Lavay since 1998 when I visited the City by the Bay multiple times for business. My days were stuck in a soulless Montgomery Street office building, but my nights were legendary.  Cafe du Nord was the place to be for the lounge and swing crowd. Lavay Smith made it a destination. Her rendition of Irving Berlin's "Blues Skies" still gives me butterflies. Whenever , she comes to New York I make it a point to see at least one of her shows. I hope she takes one request for an old fan.

Show Lavay some New York love and come support as she debuts at the Jazz Standard. We will be at the Wednesday night show.

Tickets are $25.00m
Doors open at 6:45 for the 7:30 show

Jazz Standard
116 East 27th Street, 
New York City, NY
Tickets Available at: http//

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What We're Drinking: Embury's Old Fashioned De Luxe and other recipes

"Water, either plain or charged, has no more place in an Old-Fashioned than it has in a Manhattan or Martini."- David A. Embury, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks

The Old Fashioned is considered among many as the world's first cocktail. In it's purist form, the drink is a jigger and a half of a base spirit, sugar, and bitters, garnished with a lemon or orange peel or both.  Unfortunately, the recipe has been bastardized since its' invention* at the Louisville, Kentucky's Pendennis Club in the late 19th century.  Today, the method most bartenders employ to make an Old Fashioned is to muddle pieces of fruit, typically orange rind, maraschino cherry, and lemon, with sugar and bitters. Then they shake the ingredients with Bourbon and ice and pour the concoction (ice and all) into a rocks glass. The drink is then topped off with club soda and garnished with cherry, orange slice, etc. In my opinion,  this drink appears to be a type of cloudy bourbon fruit fizz and not technically an Old Fashioned.

I have search my library of cocktail literature and cannot pinpoint exactly what year or time period the Old Fashioned became a fizz.  I surmise this transformation happened during Prohibition when the taste of bootlegged or home distilled whiskey was masqueraded by the addition of fruit to the recipe. They did this with gin but again I have no written proof, just conjecture.

We know that by the 1950s,  drinks writer and aficionado, David A. Embury rails against water or soda in the drink and calls excessive fruit decoration "garbage." Embury includes the Old Fashioned in the six basic cocktails that everyone should master in his must have book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. His recipe for the quintessential Old Fashioned is the one I use religiously. My spirit of choice is an 80 proof Rye such as Pikesville Supreme Straight Rye Whiskey or Old Overholt.

Embury's "Old-Fashioned De Luxe"
2 oz American Whiskey (Bourbon or Rye)
1-2 tsp simple syrup
1-3 dashes Angostura bitters

"Pour into each glass 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls simple syrup and add 1 to 3 dashes of Angostura. Stir with a spoon to blend the bitters with the syrup. Add about 1 oz whiskey and stir again. Add 2 large cubes of ice, cracked but not crushed. Fill glass to within about 3/8" of top with whisk(e)y and stir again. Add a twist of lemon and drop the peel in the glass. Decorate with a maraschino cherry on a spear. Serve with a short stir rod or Old-Fashioned spoon."

Embury adds that the recipe is not written in stone. He encourages experimentation using different base spirits such as Applejack, Rum, Gin, Brandy, and Scotch. He is not shy with adding modifiers either, suggesting Chartreuse, Cointreau, and curacao, amongst others.

Taking this advice to heart, these Old Fashioned recipes are currently on rotation at my home bar:

Tequila Old Fashioned
Partida Anjeo or Reposado Tequila
1 cube of raw Demerara sugar
2 dashes of Bittermans Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Muddle sugar and bitters in a bar glass, ad the tequila. Stir ingredients over ice, then strain over a large ice cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

Scotch Old Fashioned
1 1/2 oz Compass Box Asyla or Bowmore Legends Scotch
2 bar spoons of Simple Syrup
Dash of Bittermans Grapefruit Bitters
Dash of Peychauds bitters

Stir ingredients over ice in a bar glass, then strain over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange peel and a grapefruit peel. The inspiration for this cocktail is the Young Laddie developed by Joaquin Simo of Death & Company in New York. Joaquin uses Bruichladdich Scotch in his complex yet refreshing masterpiece.

Go back to basics. Rediscover the Old Fashioned and mix it up using other base spirits. Add a variety of modifiers, different types of bitters, and sweeteners. Mastering the Old Fashioned is not only the way to "roll" better drinks, as Mr. Embury is fond of saying, but also an excuse to experiment and expand your palette by understanding the building blocks of cocktails. 

- Fredo

* According to drinks historian David Wondrich's Imbibe! Chicago politician Samuel Tilden mentions the old-fashioned cocktail in an 1880 speech, The Pendennis Club was not opened until 1881. Thus, one can infer that the cocktail did not originate at the club that has claimed this honor for over a century. 

(Correction: In 1880 Samuel Tilden, a New York politician, Governor, and Presidential candidate, gave a speech in which he declares he will not to run for President again. He references the Old Fashioned in the final toast to fellow Democrats encouraging them to drink, "Hot-whiskies ... sour mashes and old-fashioned cocktails." - Imbibe! page 197.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Destinations: Valentine's Eve Ball Saturday Feb 13th

Michael Arenella & His Dreamland Sextet cordially invite you to The Valentine's Eve Ball, at Brooklyn's enchanting speakeasy, The Green Building.

Singles - take yourself out; you're a marvelous date and are highly entertaining, even when solitaire.
Couples - show him or her your good taste, and treat your baby to a romantic spin on the dance floor.

The Dreamland Sextet will play a special repetoire of swinging, romantic standards and ballads form the Great American Songbook.

* The renowned Minsky Sisters demonstrate the latest jungle rhythms of hot jazz tap-dance!
* Grace Gotham, lady of intrigue and Burlesque novelty, regales us with smart, naughty diversion.
* The sentimental syncopations of red hot piano player Drew Nugent.
* Hosted by the dashing Dandy Wellington

Mixologists from Court & Spark and Loungerati's very own Fredo craft heady and fragrant cocktails for your enjoyment.

A tasty variety of confections and desserts will be available.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Destinations: DLS Fat Tuesday at Rye House Feb 16

Come and join the Loungerati crew at the Dining & Libation Society's Fat Tuesday celebration at RYE House on February 16th.

Here is the skinny:

"Laissez les bons temps roulez at the Flatiron District's latest cocktail temple, Rye House. Our Mardi Gras celebration will feature classic NOLA cocktails, prepared by mixologists Lynette Marrero and Jim Kearns, a selection of Louisiana-style snacks, unlimited Sazerac, French 75, Stella Artois, Red Hook beer and live ragtime and blues courtesy of the Red Hook Ramblers."

$55 Open bar and food, tax and gratuity included!

Book tickets today at

RYE House
11 W17th Street
7pm - 10pm