Posts Tagged ‘Employees Only’

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL® ANNOUNCES TOP FOUR FINALISTS FOR THE 8TH ANNUAL SPIRITED AWARDS®

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Tales of the Cocktail 2014 Logo with New Orleans

Coming to you from a webcam in an apartment in NYC Simon Ford and Jacob Briars initiated the inaugural broadcast of the top four finalists in each category of the 2014 Spirited Awards. As Ford notes, “Millions tune in for the Oscars, and we are going the same route for bars. There are more bartenders than actors [out there].”

And speaking of more…Briars explains, “This was the biggest and most comprehensive Tales Awards nominations pool ever.” With over 2,000 individual nominations and over 50 countries being represented with at least one nominee, the 135 judges were hard pressed to whittle it down to a list of four per category. Let’s see who we’ll be cheering on Saturday night at Tales during the Black and White themed 8th Annual Spirited Awards® show (although you know you’re all winners).

AMERICAN CATEGORIES:
American Bartender of the Year
• Jeff Bell (New York)
• Marcovaldo Dionysos (San Francisco)
• Bobby Heugel (Houston)
• Sean Kenyon (Denver)

Best American Brand Ambassador
• Brooke Arthur (House Spirits)
• Chris Patino (Pernod Ricard USA Portfolio)
• Neyah White (Suntory Japanese Whiskies)
• Angus Winchester (Tanqueray Gin)

Best American Cocktail Bar
• canon (Seattle)
• The Dead Rabbit (New York)
• Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco)
• Williams & Graham (Denver)

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar
• Employees Only (New York)
• Honeycut (Los Angeles)
• Polite Provisions (San Diego)
• Trick Dog (San Francisco)

Best American Restaurant Bar
• Clyde Common (Portland)
• Gramercy Tavern (New York)
• The NoMad (New York)
• nopa (San Francisco)

Best American Hotel Bar
• Clyde Common (Portland)
• The Hawthorne (Boston)
• Sable Kitchen & Bar (Chicago)
• The Spare Room (Los Angeles)

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BRAIN FOOD – BOOZE FOR BABES

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Give Women What They Want. Not What You Think They Need.
By Francine Cohen

Booze for Babes cover image.jpg

Booze for Babes: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Drinking Spirit Right, and its author Kayleigh Kulp, is ready to be your agent of change if you let it/her be.

This soon to be published tome that will quickly become a must read for the Skinny Girl/whipped cream vodka set is destined to turn things around for female drinkers everywhere; much as it did for Kulp. The author began as an uninformed imbiber who admits, “I really didn’t have any preferences. I was a victim of that marketing – I would drink bottled cocktails and all the flavored vodkas that are the weird candy flavors. It was because I didn’t know enough to care.” Now, like you, she knows plenty. And she cares!

This appreciation began on a DISCUS (Distilled Spirits Council of the United States – www.discus.org) trip to visit whiskey country for a travel story she had been assigned. There, her eyes were opened. It was the first time she’d ever experienced whiskey production and she notes, “There was such an impact being able to see how it was made and see all the products. This was a whole new world of exploration that I had already done with food and wine but never the brown spirits my husband had been drinking for example.”

She continues, “I came back home and discovered my favorite whiskeys and in talking to my girlfriends about this new passion and drinking whiskey while out with them they were asking, ‘why are you drinking whiskey?’ and so I wondered why do I and my girlfriends have this issue and my husband his friends don’t?”

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BRAIN FOOD – CRAFT COCKTAILS

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Brian Van Flandern’s Sophomore Book – Craft Cocktails – Debuts With Much Fanfare
By Francine Cohen

Photo courtesy of Assouline

Photo courtesy of Assouline

Craft. Think about that term in relation to furniture makers and you conjure up a small workshop with myriad tools; each with their own unique purpose. Each wielded by an artisan who has dedicated many years to mastering the intricate details that go into making his final product a work of art. The craft of the bartender is no different. And nothing illustrates this more beautifully than Brian Van Flandern’s second cocktail book which includes 50 of his own recipes plus 20 from the likes of Jim Meehan, James Menite, Eryn Reece, Julie Reiner, Dushan Zaric and other professionals from Clover Club, Death & Co., Employees Only, and PDT – the stunningly photographed Craft Cocktails.

Van Flandern explains how Craft Cocktails, his second book, came to life, “After the amazing success of Vintage Cocktails I wanted to release a book that would be appreciated by the multitude of fellow mixologist but still be accessible to the masses. Vintage Cocktails was released in late 2009. It won Best Cocktail Book of the Year 2010 from the Gourmand Cookbook Awards in Paris. It is now in its fifth printing and is distributed in dozens of countries throughout the world. Even though the recipes are simple classics, I was thrilled that so many industry professionals really loved the layout and design of the book. When I left Michelin Three Star Restaurant Per Se in 2007, I wanted to write a book showcasing the recipes that

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WHO CARES IF YOU “LIKE” ME

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Taking the focus from being liked to being used
By Francine Cohen

Pinas in oven tight shot

The other night I found myself at the bar at Employees Only. The purpose was tri-fold; I needed to taste the entire range of spirits from the newly launched 86 Company as a story about them was pending, I hadn’t seen Dev Johnson in far too long and a semi-proper catch up was in order, and my aunt was visiting from out of town and it had been even longer since I’d seen her and had any sort of quality conversation that wasn’t overshadowed by the entire family sitting around a Thanksgiving dinner table and engaged in less intimate chatter.

So, at 6:00 PM on the nose we entered the hushed tones of EO (www.employeesonlynyc.com). Having been there myriad times, but only one other when it was this empty, it was a whole other place but one that I imagined filled with people. People coming from after work around the corner with their friends in accounting, neighbors popping in on their way home, and the expected industry folks paying homage to the bar for reasons as varied as just wanting a good cocktail to hoping to ply their wares and/or support an account.

In the quiet of the first hour my aunt and I were able to catch up, Dev and I reminisced a bit, and Vincent Vitek made us laugh. Suddenly, right next to me sat three Mexican gentlemen. There why? To pay homage to the institution known as EO and graciously introduce their line of mezcals. Interesting fellows, all, and, as happens in bars, our two parties melded and we five fell into conversation and discovered we had a lot to talk about that went well beyond the booze business (which is refreshing); and, of course, their Wahaka mezcal came out for me to taste (www.wahakamezcal.com).

Far different from the mezcal I usually order, both the ones I tasted last night opened up a whole new appreciation for a different kind of terroir association. The first immediately hit me as having a mustiness to it; as if the smoke flavor that generally gets imparted during production had been muffled by cotton wool. Not offensive, just that that was my gut reaction. One person mentioned above found it oily, another liked it. The second mezcal I tried made me feel as if the spirit were very vertical. Not just a long finish, a descriptor which to me means it lingers and coats the inside of your cheeks, but actually as if there was a very directed column of mezcal running down the middle of my tongue and picking up those spicier flavor receptors along the way.

Interesting to discover later that the second mezcal was made from a wild agave which, unlike the Weber Blue with which we make tequila, the wild agave harvested for this mezcal was tall and had a trunk. Hence the vertical? Who knows! I certainly can’t claim to be an all knowing botanist who would have immediately recognized that the origins of this liquor came from a taller standing plant and that’s why it resonated “vertical”; I just think that’s how it made me feel and so that’s what came out of my mouth when asked.

When Dev asked what I thought about the mezcals my immediate and honest reaction was to say that there were elements of it I liked and elements of it I didn’t. I wasn’t jumping up and down and raving about how wonderful they were. It wasn’t that I DIDN’T enjoy them, but I wasn’t going to unequivocally give these spirits I’d just tasted a whole hearted two thumbs up and a big snap. But you know what? That’s okay.

I felt the same way about the vodka, gin, rum and tequila I tasted from the 86 Company’s line (www.86co.com). They make things I would drink on its own (thank you Cana Brava) and things I’d like to sip mixed into a cocktail. But that’s just my opinion; though it has some validity given that the 86 Co. designed their spirits for cocktails. The more I taste the more I believe that it’s not so important whether or not I “like” it. This is not a popularity test. For me, despite the fact that I don’t run a bar, it’s the application that is important. Remembering that each spirit can be a tool. And that you need lots of tools in your tool belt to build a house. One of them may be the 86 Company’s products, or you might reach for Wahaka mezcals. Some you may like to use, others you have no use for at all. Chefs like Rick Bayless (www.rickbayless.com/restaurants) and Jose Andres (www.oyamel.com) who both carry Wahaka in their restaurant bars understand this. So do Angelo Sosa and his bar manager Josh Wortman over at Anejo (www.anejonyc.com). Like every ingredient they bring into the kitchen they understand that spirit doesn’t fit into every drink or every bar.

Appreciating how they can is what sets you apart from the pack who just wants to be “liked.”

ROCKS STARS – TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2011

Friday, August 19th, 2011

A Few Of My Favorite Things
By David Ransom

Photo by Charles Steadman

Once again this past July in New Orleans, Mrs. And Mr. Cocktail (aka Ann & Paul Tuennerman) put on what those of us in the business have affectionately come to consider the triathlon of liver survival (drink-filled seminars, drink-filled tasting rooms, and drink-filled dinners and parties… not to mention the obligatory night-ending swing through Old Absinthe House on Rue Bourbon every night just to prove you didn’t expire during the course of the day) that is Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com).

Having just completed its ninth year, Tales has grown from a tiny industry-focused event that brought the nation’s top bartenders together for a few days of camaraderie, events, and parties, into a truly international symposium, complete with a “Spirited Awards” program (like the movie industry’s Oscars) that hands out honors to establishments and industry leaders from around the world, and now brings in professionals and consumers from all over the globe to celebrate the world of cocktails in the city that created them.

Rocks Stars and I feel honored to be given the chance to attend each year, and as always, I’m thrilled to be able to share some of my experiences…now that I have recovered enough to be able to write again…

So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things from this year’s Tales, both good and bad, but really all good, as nothing that includes having a well-crafted drink could ever really be bad… and in no particular order:

Best Hosts Under Pressure: Ann & Paul Tuennerman. Nine years into it, Tales could probably have run itself, but Ann and Paul were everywhere. Every event. Every day. Every night. What amazes me about this is that Paul was recovering from a health scare and had just spent time in the hospital. I have to tip my hat to these two intrepid souls for not staying in the background and recuperating at home while “their baby” was staged. Quite to the contrary, they were all over the place from Tuesday’s Media Welcome Party at Arnaud’s French 75 bar (beautifully run by Chris Hannah, one of NOLA’s finest drinks-smiths – www.arnaudsrestaurant.com),to the final Sunday Brunch with Mr. & Mrs. Cocktail, and everywhere in between. I even ran into Paul solo, visibly tired yet surely on the mend, at the Suntory Suite (www.suntory.com) one afternoon where we chatted on the balcony overlooking Bourbon Street while enjoying a glass of Japan’s finest single malt.

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VIVA LA DIFFERENCE

Friday, July 15th, 2011

The French are coming. And the new breed of bar is on its way.
By Miguel Calvo

High-end cocktail bars have been around for quite a while in the United States. In New York alone tropical Lani Kai (www.lanikainy.com), austere Death & Company (www.deathandcompany.com), tiki style Painkiller (www.PK-NY.com) and stylish Dram (www.drambar.com), to name a mere few, have set the standard in what people expect from a proper mixologist bar. In other parts of the country too, like in Chicago at The Drawing Room (thedrchicago.com), these bars exemplify what is now the norm in cocktail culture in the United States; offering fresh ingredients, paying attention to glassware, drink specific ice, house infused spirits/ bitters and atmosphere to match. While a number of the new breed of American bars have embraced a singular spirit centric focus like punch pavilion Cienfuegos (rum; www.cienfuegosny.com) and Mexican style Mayahuel (tequila; www.mayahuelny.com) many still embrace Prohibition rooms as Milk & Honey (www.mlkhny.com/newyork) and PDT (www.pdtnyc.com). So are we ready for a European invasion that may challenge what we have thought should be a mixologist bar?

Across the water there is a surge in the style of what may be the new direction of cocktail culture that is headed our way. These drinking dens sometimes have a selective door, they allow standing (and occasionally dancing), and have no fear of vodkas. Of course you may find the usual spirits suspects on their menu such as Hendrick’s gin (www.hendricksgin.com) and Appleton rum (www.appletonrum.com); but right alongside these iconic brands proudly stand a group of vodkas, such as Ketel One (www.ketelone.com) and Stoli (www.stoli.com), which are commonly ignored by their stateside brothers. Another big difference is that these cocktail crafters who, like their US counterparts, embrace the use of bitters like Peychaud’s (www.sazerac.com) and

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ALL HAIL THE DIRTY DOZEN

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

New York City’s best cocktail minds muddled up their best efforts at Cocktail Jam
By Francine Cohen

Cocktail Jam, the proving ground for bartenders where exploration meets the truth, kicked off the drink festival season on March 28th at Astor Place with a gathering of one dozen of New York’s most professional bartenders laying it all on the line in pursuit of the greatest prize of all…bragging rights.

They call them the dirty dozen; 12 of the city’s top bartenders who promoted their newly concocted cocktails created with the finest spirits, mixers, and garnishes, as they vied for a $2,000 Founders Day package prize that sends them to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail (July 20-24).

The truth was revealed at this annual experimental cocktail laboratory when Justin August (British Gins), Damon Boelte (Prime Meats), Frank Cisneros (Dram), Duane Fernandez (Donatella), Rob Fuentevilla (Mayahuel), Moses Laboy (Red Rooster), James Menite (Fornino), Ivy Mix (Lani Kai), Michael Neff (Ward III, Rum House), Steve Schneider-Hadzismajlovic (Employees Only), Karin Stanley (Dutch Kills), and Hal Wolin (El Cobre)hopped behind the bar.

Originally created by PipeLine Brands in 2009, Cocktail Jam showcased the best brands on the market adeptly mixed by the hands of these dozen mixologists, and raised much needed funds for tsunami relief.

John Henry of PipeLine Brands says, “I am delighted to see President Jason Littrell and the USBG NY take our “CKTL JAM” creation to new heights–in fundraising, fun and by broadening the guild’s awareness. This is an annual tradition at Astor Center for the bartender community, run by the bartender community. May USBG membership thrive as a result. Our PipeLine Brands is a proud part of the team effort.”

The team effort to pull this event together was led by USBG NY President Jason Littrell who comments, “The USBGNY is very proud to be an organization of creative professionals with a social conscience. The Cocktail Jam represents some of the core values our organization; education and charity. With a ‘what you see is what you get’ approach to making cocktails, the level of skill required to make something delicious is pretty high, and all 12 bartenders really stepped up and blew some minds using only the provided ingredients. Without the cooperative efforts of a small army of volunteers, guest judges, spirit producers, bartenders, and especially Astor Center, none of this would have been possible.”

The participating bartenders pulled it off handily, each presenting their cocktail to the esteemed judges who possess some of New York’s most progressive cocktail minds: Giuseppe Gonzales (Painkiller), Stephanie Moreno (Astor Wines & Spirits), Phil Ward (Mayahuel), Thomas Waugh (Death & Co.), and Jim Wrigley (Santa Teresa rum). With cocktails circulating throughout the crowd during each round, every drink was also put to popular vote and, at the end of the night, Rob Feuntevilla of Mayahuel walked away with the big win and Steve Schneider of Employees Only was crowned “crowd favorite.”

The crowd of thirsty cocktailians were eager to allow the bartenders free reign to create, and rewarded that creativity, as excitement for the summer’s biggest cocktail event – Tales of the Cocktail – filled the room. Enthusiasm about drink creation and experimentation starts with the bottles on the back bar as new and favorite spirits come out to play and this year Absolut joined returning rum brand DonQ as well as Campari, Cherry Heering, Coffee Heering, Denizen rum, Dry Sack sherry, Four Roses bourbon, Fruit Lab Organic Liqueurs, Herradura tequila, Lillet, Michael Collins Irish whiskey, Nolet’s gin, Perfect Puree, Pierre Ferrand cognac, Sagatiba cachaça, St-Germain, Santa Teresa rum, Solerno, Tanqueray, and Tuthilltown whiskey, all having their bottles firmly planted on the bar and at tasting tables available throughout the evening. Uber Tools were available behind the bar, making the muddling go that much faster.

COCKTAIL JAM has done so much more than just muddled along since its debut as the brainchild of John Henry, PipeLine Brands partner. It’s become the ultimate annual battle with bragging rights as the prize and a plethora of spirits plus virtually every imaginable herb, spice, berry, fruit, and vegetable as the ammunition. Jennifer Smith, General Manager, Astor Center concludes, “What makes the Jam different and special is that it brings talent from all over the city together in one venue, for a full-bore, elbows-and-shakers swinging good time. It is equal parts creativity and competition, and results in a truly unique show for guests.”

**** Hear about Cocktail Jam from the winners’ perspective:

Rob Fuentevilla

The truth of the matter is that I didn’t treat it as a competition. Jason and the USBGNY committee had a great idea to do what we do best, and help people. I wanted to help raise money for a good cause, and just have fun with my bartending friends and family.

It’s not every day I get to work side by side with some of the best bartenders (and old friends) in New York like Damon Boelte, Steve Schneider, Frank Cisneros, Karin Stanley, Moses Laboy, James Menite, Ivy Mix and Hal Wolin. It was also a great time meeting and working for the first time (and hopefully not the last), with new friends like Michael Neff, Duane Fernandez, and Justin August. I had not worked with these three great bartenders before and they rocked it! 

It was a little hectic while getting everything ready, but most of us showed true professionalism, adapting, overcoming and helping the USBGNY team pull off another successful event.

Although, the win came as a complete surprise, truthfully I knew I had a good drink, but I was just trying not to embarrass myself in front of the esteemed judges. I knew with the caliber of bartenders there, it would be tough.

Blind Side
By Rob Fuentevilla

1.5 oz. Herradura Blanco Tequila
.50 oz. Dry Sack Sherry
.25 oz. Solerno
1 Barspoon Agave Nectar

Stir
Strain into Double Rocks Glass rinsed with Michael Collins Irish Whiskey
Lemon Twist (not dropped in)

Steve Schneider
It’s always gratifying to know that the masses have your back and are having a great time. The crowd is the pulse of any bar or event and I feed off of it. It is why this business will never get old for me. Like any event, my Employees Only comrades came in packs to support me, and for that, I am grateful. Grateful to work for a cocktail making machine with my family at EO.

I was inspired to make the Fo’selle cocktail from a dear friend and fellow EO bartender, the brilliant Robert Krueger. When you think of the ingredients, fresh grapefruit, fresh lime and hibiscus -it is a universally appealing blend. I decided to stick with my usual view of a quality cocktail which is: not too difficult to make, fast, efficient, and appealing to a wide variety of drinkers (sell! sell! sell!)

We, the competitors, lined up before the show and picked the brand we were going to represent out of a hat. I drew Four Roses Bourbon. We didn’t have much time, space, or supplies to create a cocktail – so we had to think fast, which was the beauty of it. I already knew I wanted to have a cocktail with crushed ice, as it’s always fun to bring out my obnoxious mallets and hammers to crush ice to a pulp. The crowd seems to dig the whole “Thor” show.
The judges, some of the most well respected men and woman in the business, were all a lot of fun to interact with. Not only do they push out a quality product at their respected establishments (Painkiller, Death and Co, etc), they know a quality one as well.

What better person to bring us a winning cocktail than Mr. Rob Fuentevilla. Rob is one of the most brilliant cocktail minds in the business, and sitting at his bar at Mayahuel is an absolute pleasure. Whenever I’m in a competition and I see his name on the card, the question isn’t “How can I win this competition?” It’s “How can I beat Rob Fuentevilla?” He delivered again and won on the judges poll with a much deserved cocktail featuring Herradura Tequila. He also was a prominent leader behind the scenes helping Jason to batch all of our cocktails for the crowd. I respect the hell out of him as a bartender and even more as a man.

All in all, I was honored to be invited to participate in this event by Jason Littrell and the USBG. After getting a chance to meet and hang out with the other competitors (most for the first time), I figured that if anyone didn’t belong with this star-studded group of bartenders, it was me. They are all amazing at what they do. Thank goodness the crowd reminded me otherwise. Voting me “crowd favorite” reminded me that I belonged amongst the top in their eyes, and in my heart! I’m glad I got the opportunity to represent Employees Only and the USBG at a spectacular fund-raising event and hope I get invited back next go-round!

Fo’selle # 2

An adaptation of the Roselle cocktail by Robert Krueger

By Steve Schneider, Employees Only

1 1/2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1 oz Fruit Lab ‘Crism’ Organic Hibiscus Liqueur
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz fresh ruby red grapefruit juice

Shake and pour over crushed ice in an old fashioned glass, garnish with a mint crown. Drink quickly and have another.

Train Like An EO Pro

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Bar Academia – the new training ground for bartenders

There’s a honorable lineage of talented bartenders around the country who are at the top of their game. They’ve all got a few things in common – passion and solid training. Want to be part of that noble lineage? Well, if you daydream about making and serving drinks; creating recipes with seasonal and new-to-the-market ingredients; the thought of getting behind a busy bar gets you excited and ready to rock and roll; and you want to spend hours debating the origin of the Manhattan and the flavor profiles of every gin on your back bar while determining the perfect weight for a cocktail spoon with other cocktail geeks then you should be attending Bar Academia.

Bar Academia is the one of a kind bar education created by Dushan Zaric, a founding partner of Employees Only (www.employeesonlynyc.com). Becoming an Employees Only trained professional through Bar Academia means passing through a 3-tier program of hands on training.

Each course is 50 hours long, spread out over 30 days. Level 1 includes 12 hours of practical experience behind the EO or Macao Trading Co bars for professional applicants.

A brief description of the course is below. For more information please attend the Q&A session on Monday, October 11th, 1-3pm at Employees Only.

Courses

Cocktail Hour – Level 1 (Beginner to Intermediate)

Curriculum: Bartender Fundamentals – Tools & Techniques – Bar Preparation – Introduction to Mixology – Introduction to Distilled Spirits and Tasting – Beverage service – Gastronomy – Classic Cocktails, history and execution.

Brief description of the curriculum:
The students are introduced into the Bartending trade from the beginning covering all first steps with care and attention. Attention is paid on details and every routine is explained and exercised with guidance. Different methodologies are explained as the student grows more comfortable with the use of tools and techniques. Prominent guest speakers will enhance the experience as we go deeper into the rabbit hole.

Dates: Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 11am- 4:00pm,
Start: Monday, November 1st
Finish: Friday, November 26th 2010

Cost: $ 1,500.00

Main Course – Level 2 (Intermediate)

Curriculum: The fine art of banging out drinks like a maniac – Contemporary cocktails and techniques – Bartender? Rock star! – Service magic – Home made

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