Posts Tagged ‘Francine Cohen’

CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS: A SPARKLING SUCCESS

Monday, December 29th, 2014

By Sara Kay

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With events like New York Champagne Week, which is only in its second year and has already experienced an incredible amount of notoriety, it brings to mind an important question about the future of champagne as not just a celebratory beverage on its own, but a key player in the cocktail world.

The French 75 and the Kir Royale – both cocktails that feature champagne – are staples in the classic cocktail category, but as we’ve seen from events such as this one on Nobember 4th, versatility is the name of the game.

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Champagne and cocktail lovers alike came together for the first consumer event of New York Champagne Week 2014 to see bartenders from around New York City compete for the title of best champagne cocktail. Sponsored by Nicolas Feuillatte, these competitors took over Evelyn Drinkery and created some truly outstanding tipples for people to sip on and enjoy as they talked about all things bubbly.

For Rob Bigelow, Master Sommelier and Senior Director of Wine Education and On-Premise Development for Ste Michelle Wine Estates, the future of champagne cocktails looks bright, and won’t be slowing down any time soon. He says, “It’s my opinion as a master sommelier and the opinion of most mixologists that champagne is the superior choice for sparkling wine in a cocktail, and that has to do with the quality of the grapes it comes from. At the end of the day, it’s just better.”

The competition ended with a bit of a twist; two competitors came away with the first place trophy, that trophy being a magnum bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte and the possibility of having their cocktail featured at Tales of the Cocktail 2015. Marlo Gamora of Jeepney and James Menite of The Plaza Hotel were crowned the two winners of the evening, with Micaela Piccolo of Distilled NYC coming away with the People’s Choice award.

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A tie in a cocktail competition is fairly unheard of, but it signaled something exciting that industry insiders have known for a while; that Champagne cocktails are on the rise. It also means that competitions like these are finally being seen as ways to showcase the creative use of a base spirit like Champagne, and not just for bartender bragging rights or awareness of a certain spirit brand. In a display of excellent sportsmanship, Gamera and Menite accepted their equal first place win with joy, hugging it out and congratulating each other on a job extremely well done.

Gamera’s win with his drink The Pastry War meant first taking on the job of thinking about champagne in a whole new way. He explains, “I never thought mezcal and champagne would go together, I’ve never made a mezcal champagne cocktail before and I figured, why not? Mezcal is a great spirit and champagne as well. I took a dash of absinthe to tie them both together, then added a form of Asian expression from my background into the cocktail to really balance them out.”

Menite had similar sentiment about his approach to creating his winning cocktail, the Doit Anoir, which featured Salerno Blood Orange Liqueur as the base spirit. He notes, “I wanted to do the first egg white champagne cocktail. I’d never seen it done before and I thought it would work really well with the Salerno blood orange liqueur and the Ramazzotti Amaro. I don’t know if Salerno has ever been used as a base spirit, people mostly use it as a mixer. I wanted people to see it can be used as a base spirit. I wanted to showcase the Salerno and the champagne and how well they worked together.”

Whereas most champagnes ring in with a fairly hefty price tag, making working them into a drink menu not the economical choice for using in cocktails, Bigelow believes it’s brands like Nicolas Feuillette that end up coming out on top based on the low price point and the younger and hipper personality.

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Cocktail innovation tends to be the focus for many of these competitive events, but there is also an element of education that comes in as well. Mixologists of this caliber know what makes a good cocktail great, and by discovering that champagne serves as the perfect balancing agent, it’s only a matter of time before the bubbly becomes a regularly featured ingredient in many a cocktail.

Charlotte Voisey, Brand Ambassador for William Grant & Sons, which provided all the spirits, comments, “It’s nice to see champagne in the industry getting the recognition it deserves. Champagne is a fantastic source of acidity, and that’s the key ingredient in any cocktail to balance everything out, and as we saw tonight, it goes well with every spirit category too.”

The cocktail industry sees its fair share of changing trends, with a particular drink being all the rage one day and yesterday’s news the next day, but when it comes to champagne cocktails, the attitude is fairly clear; they aren’t going anywhere.

“Whether it’s a cocktail or champagne straight up, it’s always going to be a good time,” says Gamera. “And, to quote Coco Chanel, she said t’here’s only two times that I drink champagne, when I’m in love or when I’m not.’ Anytime is a good time for champagne, even if you’re feeling down or feeling up. Champagne cocktails are always going to be there.”

We’ll cheers to that.

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MEDIA DARLINGS

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Knowing what gets you featured in the press
By Francine Cohen
All photos courtesy of Lush Life Productions

www.hannaleecommunications.com) and Alia Akkam of Beverage Media (www.bevnetwork.com) and I shared with the USBG New York Chapter members recently at a monthly meeting held at Macao Trading Company (www.macaonyc.com) as Lee introduced her PR 101 program. In short…RETURN MEDIA QUERIES!

Seriously, people. Wonder why so and so is getting all the press and you’ve worked longer or harder than they have and never get featured? Hmmm, maybe that’s because when the media calls, you don’t respond. Or maybe it’s because they don’t know how to find you. Well, that stinks. But it’s easy enough to change.

If you walk away with only two things from this story, remember this: 1) Return media queries (as noted above) and 2) Content is king.

What does this mean exactly? Well, if you want people to respect you, talk about you

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DEAR DIARY…

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Bar Diaries with Naren Young and Simon Ford takes you behind the scenes By Francine Cohen

Oh sure, sometimes it’s glamorous; famous people coming in for your drinks, keeping the party going and being recognized as the ringleader of it all, phone numbers and propositions flying across the bar. But the truth is, you work hard for your money…long shifts with wet hands, satisfying customers who don’t know what they want but know they don’t like gin until you make them a gin drink without telling them it’s gin and they tell you it’s delicious, hours spent perfecting a cocktail recipe, planning that drink menu, batching five gallons of cocktails for a charity event that you graciously donate your time to, keeping a straight face when the liquor salesman comes in to sell you something that has absolutely no application at your bar and it’s obvious he hasn’t a clue about his product, the list goes on and on.

And it’s all chronicled in Bar Diaries with Naren Young and Simon Ford; taking you behind the glitz and glamour of tending bar.

DON Q RUM MIXES UP THE COMPETITION

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Mix It Up NYC with Don Q from Francine Cohen on Vimeo.

Leave it to DonQ rums (www.donq.com) to hold their cocktail competition in a space (almost) nobody had seen before, revealing the country’s best rum cocktails that (almost) nobody had tasted before in New York.

Though New York City’s fire department officially frowns on Albert Trummer’s pyrotechnic show at his Chinatown cocktail den, Apotheke, thankfully they were nowhere to be found on May 17th during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com) as the judges for the DonQ cocktail competition’s US finals dodged workmen busily putting the finishing touches to Trummer’s latest venture, Theater Bar.

After an hour or so of ducking out of the way as wallpaper was smoothed and lighting fixtures affixed to the wall, a sneak peak taste of the soon to be released Blackbeard Spiced Rum was shared before the taste tests began.

15 cocktails were sipped and assessed; each featuring DonQ Rum. The competitors were evaluated on their use of the spirit, drink flavor, and presentation by judges Tony Abou Ganim, Francine Cohen, James Menite and Albert Trummer. The prize? Five winners were to head to Puerto Rico in June to represent the United States in a cocktail throw down against the Puerto Rican team.

The fabulous five selected to represent the United States: Tony Devencenzi of San Francisco; Noah Heaney of Denver, CO; Charles Joly of Chicago; Brian Matthys of New York City; Darren West of Las Vegas.

Ultimately, the overall competition winner was from Puerto Rico, Hiram Avila.

Cucumbertini
By Hiram Avila of Puerto Rico

Ingredients
½ oz. DonQ Cristal rum
½ oz. DonQ Añejo rum
½ oz. DonQ Coco rum
½ oz. Monin ginger syrup
1 oz. Fresh cucumber juice

Method
In a cocktail shaker, add rums, ginger syrup, fresh cucumber juice and ice.
Shake vigorously and strain over martini glass.

Garnish with cucumber slice and a sprinkle of sparkly sugar.

To make cucumber juice, use 2 cucumbers and a juicer. If a juicer is not available, add 2 unpeeled cucumbers and ¼ oz. of water to a blender. Blend on high speed and strain mixture.

Top Cocktail/Culinary Minds Pick NYC’s Best Summer Spots

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

By Kathleen Reynold/reprinted from www.kreyrecommends.com

Cheers to an amazing Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com)! Five days and evenings of parties, seminars, tastings, luncheons, dinners…and of course, lots of cocktails. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask many of the notable bartenders, chefs, panelists and event hosts in attendance about their favorite things to do in New York City during the summertime.

Here’s what they had to say:

Eric Alperin (Co-owner, The Varnish [Los Angeles] www.thevarnishbar.comand former bartender, Milk and Honey, Little Branch): “I just love sitting on a bench in Washington Square Park www.nycgovparks.org/parks/washingtonsquarepark, relaxing and watching people as they go by. I could — and have — done this for hours. That and Mamoun’s Falafel (www.mamouns.com) add up to a great afternoon.”

Mario Batali (Celebrity Chef, Television Personality and Former James Beard Chef of the Year): “Pier 40 (www.pier40.org) . I really love going there to watch my kids play ball.” The Chef makes an excellent choice. My husband plays rec. soccer here, too, and it’s also fun (and free) to kayak through the Downtown Boathouse (www.downtownboathouse.org).

Jon Bignelli (Chef de Cuisine, wd-50 www.wd-50.com and Food Network “Chopped” Winner): “I love anywhere that lets you sit outside and enjoy an ice cold beer. Gowanus Yacht Club, for instance, or any beer garden.” When it comes to cocktails, he and others from wd-50 love PDT and Death and Co.

Richard Boccato (Proprietor, Painkiller, Co-owner, Dutch Kills): Richie offered another vote for Prospect Park, and spending a lazy afternoon relaxing there.

Francine Cohen (Panelist, Manhattan Cocktail Classic and Editor-in-Chief, INSIDE F&B): “Nothing beats peaceful, quiet al fresco dining. At least once a week I pack a dinner and take it over to Riverside Park where, at 88th Street and Riverside Drive, just south of theSoldiers and Sailors Monument and in full view of the Hudson River, there are two picnic tables and benches. It’s a terrific mini-getaway and there’s no bill at the end of the meal.”

Alex Day (Panelist, Manhattan Cocktail Classic and Traveling Bartender Extraordinaire): “Right at the height of summer, say mid-August, when the sweltering humidity declares victory on any semblance of sweat-less dignity, there’s little I love more than getting on the B61 bus until it dead-ends in Red Hook, walking to the pier and sitting with an ice cold lemonade and a decent book. Even with the ridiculous heat, there’s always a breeze that makes it all bearable and allows this Oregon boy to enjoy the outdoors. In those moments, a NY summer is tolerable. Most the rest of the time, it just ain’t.”

Meaghan Dorman (Head Bartender, Raines Law Room): “My favorite thing to do in the city in the summer is to feel like I’m not in the city at all. I love Prospect Park late afternoon, on a blanket with my pug and a couple of friends.”

Simon Ford (Industry Visionary and International Ambassador): “I like to wander the streets of Dumbo on sunny Sundays. The art galleries, coffee shops, waterfront, book stores,Jacque Torres chocolate shop, flea market and Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory all make me happy. Also, nothing beats a good pub garden. This summer I will be seeking places out that are showing the World Cup!”

Lindsey Johnson (Panelist, Manhattan Cocktail Classic and Founder/CEO, Lush Life Productions, Blogger, Brown, Bitter and Stirred): “I spend mornings in Prospect Park, then swing into Joyce for an iced red eye. Next I head towards Brooklyn Flea to find trinkets (including vintage cocktail gear) and some of that delicious street cart lunch. I usually end the day cranking out emails on my deck.”

Jason Littrell (Panelist, Manhattan Cocktail Classic, Bartender, Dram and Organizer, The Three Hour Tour): Jason knew his pick right away. “The beer garden in Astoria. Amazing!”

Michael McIlroy (Panelist, Manhattan Cocktail Classic and Bartender, Milk and Honey, Little Branch): Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, Michael always enjoys paying homage to his heritage. And what’s the best way to do that? “Drink at McSorley’s,” he says (the renowned Irish pub dating back to 1854).

Sasha Petraske (Proprietor, Milk and Honey, Little Branch, White Star, Dutch Kills, The Varnish [Los Angeles] and cocktail consultant): Sasha honed in on a classic New York City spot: “Grand Central Station or honestly, a cab to JFK” (admitting to another trend among New Yorkers who escape to avoid the city heat). He also enjoys strolling the semi-deserted streets of the Financial District post-closing bell. As a former Battery Park resident, I tend to agree — it feels like the city is all yours after Wall Streeters and tourists head out of town.

Selena Ricks (Blogger, The Dizzy Fizz and Organizer, The Dizzy Fizz Tastemaker’s Punch): “Wake up early and take the LIRR to Long Beach and be one of the first people on the beach. It’s just the early risers and the surfers, and I sprawl out on my blanket and enjoy the calm before the throngs of beach-goers arrive. It’s nice to know that a 45-minute train ride can get me to a clean beach where I feel miles from the city.”

Audrey Saunders (Founder, Pegu Club): Although Audrey is known for her killer gin cocktails, when it comes to Summer activities, she prefers good old H20: “I like chilling in a body of water, whether it be beach, lake, or pool. I can float for hours. If there’s a stream, I like to kick my shoes off and stick my feet in.”

Lesley Townsend (Founder, Manhattan Cocktail Classic): “I love bringing my dog during off-leash hours to Prospect Park.” Lesley also noted the stellar picnic potential. “To avoid using plastic cups, I bring Reidel stemless glassware and a bottle of champagne” (so she doesn’t have to worry about a wine corkscrew).

Phil Ward (Proprietor, Mayahuel): Phil didn’t name one spot or activity in particular, but discussed how he loved the freedom of spending more time outside and meandering around the city’s streets.

My pick? For me, it’s all about the private rooftop. I admittedly tend to cringe when friends suggest visiting public roof bars, only because they’re usually packed and come with poor drink quality plus high prices. Of course, having your own outdoor space is ideal, but you can become an honorary deck guest with just about anyone by bringing quality drinks and / or tasty foods if you’re ever invited over (please note, I enjoy bubbly and chocolate covered-strawberries).

What are your favorite NYC Summer picks?

BOOZE 2.0: BEYOND SLINGING DRINKS

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

The finer points of running a successful bar (and a free ticket to the MCC Gala)
By Francine Cohen

You’ve toiled in the front of the house for how many years now, listening to management and biting your tongue as you know that that paycheck means eventual freedom and you just need to mark time until you can open your own place and do it right?

But can you? Do you have what it takes? Do you even know what it takes to run a profitable bar and avoid the pitfalls and traps that cause a high percentage of new bar businesses to fail within the first 18 months?

Hedge your bets and join us for Booze 2.0: Beyond Slinging Drinks (5/17, 11:30 a.m.) – The Manhattan Cocktail Classic’s insightful panel discussion with some of this country’s most successful bar owners and managers. For ticket information and to purchase yours for the event please click here!

In a discussion moderated by INSIDE F&B Editor in Chief Francine Cohen (aka yours truly) Jason Littrell (Death & Company www.deathandcompany.com, Dram www.drambar.com), James Moreland (Bombay Sapphire www.bombaysapphire.com) , Gianfranco Verga (Louis 649 www.louis649.com), and Dushan Zaric (Employees Only www.employeesonlynyc.com, Macao Trading Company www.macaonyc.com) will tell you how to get liquor on the shelves, put butts in seats, and keep engaged, and enthusiastic bartenders behind the bar.

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Hip Hostess NYC sits down with Francine Cohen

Friday, April 16th, 2010


Hip Hostess NYC sits down with Inside F&B editor-in-chief, Francine Cohen.

Click the link below to read the full article!

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KREYRECOMENDS.COM GETS SUMMERTIME TIPS FROM NYC CULINARY INSIDERS

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

INSIDE F&B Editor-In-Chief, Francine Cohen, along with a panel of some of NYC top cocktail and culinary minds gathered together on May 19th for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic to discuss some of NYC best summer spots.

Read the release below to see what Francine and other minds had to say about their favorite NYC Summer Spots!

Manhattan Cocktail Classic Press Release