Posts Tagged ‘John Lermayer’

BRINGING YOUR “A” GAME

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Preparedness and Good Spirit Add Up to Cocktail Competition Victory
By Naren Young

All photos courtesy of 42 Below Vodka

42 Below Competition 2012 Bungee jumping.jpg

Cocktail competitions, for many contestants, can be a nerve wracking, knee trembling and downright frightening experience that can make or ruin your reputation in a heartbeat. There is a serious amount of dedication that is required to be the victor; it’s not simply a matter of turning up on the day and making a drink for a judging panel that could consist of a bikini model, a news anchor, an over the hill bar keep, a drunk bar owner or the President of the International Bartender’s Association.

Winning a cocktail competition in this day and age, when there is often one a week in many major ‘cocktail cities’ can take months of planning, research and practice. It requires tasting, refining, tasting again, writing a speech, practicing it over and over, a dress rehearsal, tasting again, asking your friends and colleagues for advice, buying new tools, buying back up tools, testing the tools and of course tasting the drink again. All this before you’ve even gone on stage.

In many ways, cocktail competitions are to be commended and encouraged. Sure, there’s a slew of boring and incompetently organized cocktail competitions over the years (thank God there was alcohol on those occasions), but for the most part they promote camaraderie (despite the obviously fierce competitive nature of them), allow like-minded professionals (sometimes from other parts of the world) to share ideas and discuss experiments; and solidify friendships over the course of several lubricating libations.

7953166956_c6286dd8d9_z

Nowhere was this more evident than at the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup, held every year in New Zealand, the home of this award winning antipodean vodka. The event started in 2004 in Queenstown on that country’s South Island and even this year, the first few days were spent in this picturesque ski town, with competitors from all over the world partaking in a series of extreme activities that have not only made this competition so unique but has put it on the radar of any serious bartender around the world.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of this particular event is the fact that people compete in teams of three, representing their country and not themselves. Until recently, 42 bartenders were flown in (at great expense), making for 14 teams (this year that number was halved). Bartending, at its very core, can be very competitive and there is certainly no shortage of egos in our

Read the rest of this entry »

BARTENDERS BATTLE IT OUT AT NOLA FISHOUSE

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Spirited dinner takes the East Coast vs. West Coast bartending styles to the dining room

By Francine Cohen

Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com) is well known for the constant imbibing that goes on (responsibly of course), but what about dining?  Contrary to popular belief, man doesn’t live on cocktails alone (though, talk to some of the bartenders there after three days and you’ll start to wonder when it was they had their last full meal).  And so, one of the favorite events of the week for many attendees is Thursday night, when all the spirited dinners take place. 

Every dinner has its merits; this year one is being filmed, one is featuring white unaged spirits and liqueurs, and one may end in a fistfight.  Or so we’re hearing.  The battle royale?  It’ll be at GW Fins (www.gwfins.com) where things are heating up in the kitchen and in the dining room when East Coast and West Coast bartenders face off course after course with competing cocktails. 

Kicking off the evening is a non-pugilistic approach as two left coast bartenders, Jackie Paterson and Anu Apte, are presenting their drinks.  Apte promises that the evening will start off right and anything heated that goes on this evening is not her fault.  She says, “When asked to do the aperitif round I looked for inspiration from my experience last year at Tales.  I attended the Tiki dinner that Martin Cate put on at GW Finns. (It was amazing!) I remember how hot, sweaty, sticky, and thirsty we all were as we arrived.  Out of sheer thirst and desire to keep our buzz going many us ordered drinks from the bar completely ignoring the fact that we had 6-8 cocktails ahead of us with dinner. Needless to say we all were smashed! One cocktail too many!

Keeping that in mind I wanted to create a cocktail that I could hand to guests as soon as they enter the restaurant.  Something light, bubbly and refreshing and also with low ABV.  I hope that feeling the cold glass, sipping a cold beverage through ice, inhaling the citrus oils and letting the bubbles tickle their noses will revive them.  The flavor profiles in Lillet (www.lillet.com), and the bitter notes of Gran Classico (www.granclassico.com) and Fever Tree’s (www.fever-tree.com) bitter lemon soda play well together. I hope enough to get people salivating and hungry for dinner.”

Chef Michael Nelson has been thinking about this dinner for a while; the request came in November for the restaurant to host it.  Quite the challenge to put together a menu that far in advance, particularly for one that updates its menu around the freshest catch of the day.  But Nelson, a veteran of the kitchen, and Nelson has the skill and expertise to put together plates that satisfy both bartender and non-bartender guests alike.  He notes, “I had to create this menu first, before the cocktails (were created) and so I created it with the thought that these dishes would be easy to pair with cocktails.  During the past several years, my experience has been that the bartenders either create a drink that is lighter and has fruit flavors, or a simple, stiff cocktail.   Each of the dishes on this menu has a sweet and sour aspect to them that works very well with either of these types of cocktails.  Examples of this are the tartness of grapefruit, acidity of tomatoes, and sweetness and spicy aspects of the Vietnamese Glaze on the Pork Belly.”  He continues, “I also felt that the bartenders would have a lot to work with playing against the different levels of fat content in each of the courses.”

There’s surely going to be some spirited play against the different levels of fat content in each course but what’s really promising to make this a rollicking evening is each of these bartenders chewing the fat (and spitting it out at their opponent).  After Anu and Jackie present their cocktails for the amuse, Richie Boccato and Jon Santer mix to the finish over a first course of Wood Grilled Octopus served with grapefruit, fennel, and avocado.  Battling over a second course entrée of Spicy Vietnamese Glazed Pork Belly that will be served with jicama relish and a cilantro coulis will be Jason Littrell and Dave Shenaut.  Next on the card are John Lermayer and Marcos Tello and who’s to say who makes the best cocktail to pair with Sumac Crusted Grouper accompanied by melted heirloom tomatoes, kalamata olives and pesto gnocchi.  The final match up places a sweet dessert course of warm roasted pineapple served with coconut sorbet between two sourly fierce competitors; Don Lee and Keith Waldbauer. 

Who comes out on top?  It’s hard to say now.  But after a quick interview with some of those about to enter the ring our money might be on Dave Shenaut if we were the betting type.  Look at all this smack he’s talking:

Read the rest of this entry »

YOU’RE ON A BOAT

Monday, July 5th, 2010

An INSIDE Look At One Of The Manhattan Cocktail Classic’s Most Talked About Events
By Francine Cohen Photos Courtesy of Moët Hennessy USA (unless otherwise noted)

Photo by Charles Steadman

As is often the case, we find ourselves in the right place at the right time. This time it was at Louis649 (www.louis649.com) on a sunny winter afternoon. Tippling Point partner Jason Littrell was there and eager to share what he thought was a pretty nifty idea…a plan for a boat cruise to take place during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Great idea (we thought). Sounds like fun (we said). Little did we know then what we know now – that the Three Hour Tour would become the most coveted ticket for an off-site event during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com), and an event still talked about months later. Though we should have known. Thank goodness we immediately secured ourselves a ticket before the planning got underway for real.

Planning the Three Hour Tour was no small feat for Littrell and his partners Tad Carducci, Paul Tanguay, and Gianfranco Verga. Sure, this is a band of bartenders who have put together quite a number of memorable parties on their own, but not usually something like this with a handful of the nation’s best bartenders pitching in, and at sea no less. Fortunately, for all involved, their maiden voyage as a newly formed events consultantancy was smooth sailing (sorry, couldn’t help that one).

Photo courtesy of MHUSA

Littrell comments on how he first came up with the idea saying, “I knew Lesley [Townsend – Founder of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic] was putting things together and saw that there was an opportunity to have events offsite. I’ve done parties outside festivals before but I had never been to a cocktail event on a boat. The idea for the cruise just came to me. The concept was sort of like how I approach drinks; a lot of times I’ll come up with a name first and build a drink around it.”

This boat cruise around the isle of Manhattan built around a “blue sky” idea got its sea legs when Moët Hennessy USA (MHUSA – www.mhusa.com) and the Tippling Point came together. Littrell says, “We all put it together; I had this idea for this cheeky event and they had skill sets I didn’t have.” Tanguay adds, “Basically Jason came up with the idea – they approached us to see if we wanted to get involved. That’s how Tippling Point was born and now we’re running with this event side concept. Putting new parties together if you will and approaching spirits companies to partner.”

The original idea for the cruise was based on a Gilligan’s Island theme, but partnering with one of the most prestigious spirits companies changed the tone of the event as Littrell reflects, “It’s hard to get dollars from a luxury brand to do something down market. We wanted to put something cohesive together

Read the rest of this entry »

GILLIGAN COULDN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH OF THE MANHATTAN COCKTAIL CLASSIC THREE HOUR TOUR

Friday, April 16th, 2010

The Skipper and Mary Ann were just a warm up act for this boat cruise taking you around the world in five cocktails.
By Francine Cohen

On May 16th, from 6-9 pm. The Manhattan Cocktail Classic’s Three Hour Cruise is sure to be a once in a lifetime seaborne event where guests have the opportunity to see the world through five cocktails.

Presented by Moët Hennessy USA www.mhusa.com, and the Tippling Point, The Three Hour Tour was created by noted NYC bartenders, Jason Littrell of Death & Company and Dram, and Louis 649 bartender/manager Gianfranco Verga on a boat that sets sail for a sunset cruise tailored expressly for this country’s committed drinkerati.

While the ship is running on diesel, this party will be fueled by stunning cocktails from some of the nation’s most accomplished bartenders including:
Richard Boccato (Painkiller/Dutch Kills, NYC)
John Lermayer (The Florida Room, Miami)
Jacqueline Patterson (Heaven’s Dog, San Francisco)

Read the rest of this entry »