Posts Tagged ‘Lynnette Marrero’

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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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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LADIES WHO LUNCH

Monday, July 8th, 2013

1st Annual Dame Hall of Fame Luncheon is on July 18th
By Francine Cohen

TOTC 2012 Dame Hall of Fame luncheon table set

Follow the hats on July 18th and you’ll notice that the ladies are at it again – celebrating their past accomplishments and looking towards an even brighter future that will be revealed at this year’s Dame Hall of Fame luncheon at Tales of the Cocktail 2013 (www.talesofthecocktail.com). This the day for some serious celebrating of the strides women have made in the spirits industry, and all are welcome at this celebratory luncheon held at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel (www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/neworleansroyalorleans).

Returning sponsor Hollis Bulleit, World Ambassador for Bulleit Bourbon & Rye, explains why she and her brand are coming back for the sophomore year of this event that is co-sponsored by LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), “The Dame Hall of Fame means to me that I get to celebrate with my peers the breaking of another glass ceiling. It is a place for me to be proud of my accomplishments and taking the risk to add a feminine perspective and queer perspective in an industry that up until quite recently had a lot of rules on the right way to enjoy brown spirits.”

Having women lead the way on the right way to enjoy brown spirits, and spirits of every hue, is a far cry from the days when when women weren’t even allowed in bars. Now they’re shaking up the entire industry as mixologists, bar owners, ambassadors and more. It wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing dialogue and mentorship that LUPEC engenders throughout the year and, since LUPEC events are not simply brand commercials, that is why organizers decided to add an engaging educational component to this year’s luncheon via a Q&A session that will foster spirited conversation. LUPEC NYC President Lynnette Marrero notes, “It is important for LUPEC events at Tales of the Cocktail to be a chance for brands to interact with our members and to share their unique brand stories with our fan base.”

TOTC 2012 Dame Hall of Fame Lillet ladies talking

The luncheon’s supporting brands

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DON’T MISS – PERRIER

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

By Francine Cohen

Perrier slim can traditional

When we first heard that people were sneaking Perrier into movie theatres we were both impressed (because we could imagine how delicious and civilized it would be with popcorn) and slightly confused (as to how they got that ubiquitous green bottle past the eagle eyed ticket takers). Then the new day of Perrier dawned on us…Perrier now comes in slim cans. (www.perrier.com)

Sound like a bunch of marketing hype to cover expensive re-packaging? Actually, it’s not. It’s a new way of looking at a venerable brand. The bubbly zero-calorie water from Vergeze, France that always offered rich, stable bubbles throughout your entire drinking experience.

Now, not only can you take Perrier with you on the go, easily, but the applications for cocktail usage are much more functional now too. No worries that opening a bottle of Perrier is a huge commitment for your guest and your inventory when it goes flat. The new Perrier slim cans are like the wine by the glass for the cocktail (and non-cocktail) set.

In a world where guests are super specific about their liquor brands and water choices, why shouldn’t they be equally demanding about their mixers? It’s a practice that other brands have embraced and speaks to the quality of your establishment. No name calling, but why use another brand and inject somewhere in the realm of 60mg of sodium into a drink when Perrier only brings 2, plus minerals that provide texture and an extra layer of flavor to your bubbly beverage.

And, speaking of flavors, Perrier also comes in Lime and Pink Grapefruit. Now that’s refreshing! But don’t just listen to us, hear what the experts have to say:

Tony Conigliaro
Using Perrier is great fun because

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THE FORCE WAS WITH THEM

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Louis Royer “Force 53″ High Proof Cognac Competition concludes
By Francine Cohen

Many entered, but only three stood victorious when the judges had finished their tastings and tallies. Tim Cooper of Gold Bar, Franky Marshall of The Tippler and Monkey Bar, and Lynnette Marrero of Astor Room took the top first, second and third prizes respectively. Interestingly, they were all from New York City.

Is it something in the water that made these three New Yorkers the top winners of the Louis Royer “Show Me The Force!” competition? Well, it works for bagels, so why not cocktail creators?

It could have been the fact that they all used sherry as one of the five ingredients allowed in the recipe featuring Louis Royer high proof cognac and showed off seasonal inspiration. But then again a number of other contestants also included sherry, so that may not be the answer.

The truth is it’s the force of high proof cognac that makes a cocktail extra special; that’s what brought these three their victory. Cooper comments, “I entered because I genuinely like cognac and think its one of the more underappreciated spirits in terms of cocktail use. Hence, if I won, I’d like to think I could help bring some attention to the category.”

The category was already a favorite with Marshall, but in entering this competition her appreciation grew as she explains, “I really do love cognac! I like to drink it and mix with it – often at the same time. Secondly, when I tasted The Force and started experimenting, I was very excited with the results. This cognac has an elegance that one might not expect at 53% ABV.”

She continues, “This competition was about showing The Force’s seasonal versatility, and I

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TAKING THE HIGH ROAD

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Announcing the Finalists of the First-Ever Louis Royer “Show Me the Proof!” High Proof Cognac Cocktail Competition

Hanna Lee Communications, an award-winning agency specialized in spirits, food, wine, and lifestyle PR and event management, announced the 12 finalists of the first annual “Show Me the Proof!” High Proof Cognac Cocktail Competition for professional bartenders and mixologists. The competition, hosted by Hanna Lee Communications and the first of its kind, spotlights the seasonal mixability of Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac, one of the highest proof Cognacs in the U.S. market today.

Exemplifying the current trend of over-proof spirits achieving popularity, more than 100 recipes celebrating the four seasons were received via ShakeStir.com from bartenders and mixologists from across the U.S.

The 12 finalists include: Brad Farran (Clover Club/Death & Co.,
NYC); Claire Sprouse (Rickhouse, San Francisco); Franky Marshall (The Tippler/Monkey Bar, NYC); Ivan Radulovic, (Macao Trading Co., NYC); Jeff Bell (PDT, NYC); Joe Campanale (Anfora/dell’Anima/L’Artusi, NYC); Liz Pearce (The Drawing Room, Chicago); Lynnette Marrero (Astor Room, NYC); Pam Wiznitzer (L’oubli/The Dead Rabbit, NYC); Sother Teague (Amor y Amargo/Booker & Dax, NYC); Theo Lieberman (Lantern’s Keep/Milk and Honey, NYC); and, Tim Cooper (GoldBar, NYC).

The competition will culminate on Wednesday, September 19, 2012, when the finalists will each

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SUPPORT THE RACK!

Monday, May 28th, 2012

The Speed Rack Finals in New York City
By Amanda Schuster
Photos courtesy of Speed Rack

On Thursday, May 10th, Yael Vengroff (Miss Speed Rack NYC, and now a Houston, Texas resident) won the title of Miss Speed Rack 2012 to the collective rapture of what seemed like the entire US drinks community, all gathered at the Prince George Ballroom. In the final round, Vengroff narrowly beat fellow Texan Alba Huerta in a tense smackdown.

While the showing on the stage was great, so were the onlookers, other participants, competitors and the audience. Suffice it to say, if there had been some sort of unspeakable catasclysmic event there, much of the country would go awfully thirsty. The biggest names in the bar business were representing as judges, barbacks, and sponsors, not to mention those who attended simply to cheer on their friends and colleagues to support the cause.

The cause goes far beyond Speed Rack’s mission of showcasing some of the best talent possessing XX chromosomes in the country, it also raises significant funds for breast cancer prevention, education and research. To date, $68,500.00. This event, which was created and executed by Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix, two of the founding members of the New York chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), has built a nationwide community while doing an outstanding job of spotlighting the female bartenders who are pivotal forces behind our new golden era of cocktail culture. Without people like them, and pioneers such as bar owners and Speed Rack event judges Julie Reiner and Audrey Saunders, a lot of us would still be consuming syrupy neon sludge from a gun as our only option, and probably not having too much fun where we drink it either.

For decades, women have worked hard to achieve this level of respect in the bartending community. Physically seeing the culmination of this progress together in one place proves how integral women have been to this business. Said Reiner as the night began, “We’ve come a long way, baby! Now there’s so many of you and it’s so inspiring. [I’m] So proud of Ivy and Lynnette.”

In a relatively short amount of time, Marrero and Mix have done a tremendous job assembling this level of talent and garnering supporters. As judge Dale DeGroff pointed out during the intros, “This is the biggest thing [of its kind] in America right now.” Degroff, who is considered one of the most important mentors in the business, has often pointed out that women are key facets of creating successful bar communities with their instinctive talents for creating recipes and cultivating a welcoming atmosphere for guests.

The Speed Rack tour was a guest in 10 key cities around the country. In each town they visited local female bartenders were put to the test to determine which was the fastest and who would travel to New York to compete in the final showdown. Competitors raced head-to-head to prepare four cocktails, one for each of the judges.

Sponsored brands donated the ingredients, and also libations with which audience members sipped along with Speed Rack finale judges Reiner, Saunders, and DeGroff plus Chopped judge, and first time cocktail competition judge, Chef Amanda Freitag.

Top talents also contributed barbacking duties, including Sean Kenyon (Denver), Ricky Gomez (Portland), Jeff Bell (NYC), Dominic Venegas (NYC), Michael Neff (NYC), Toby Maloney (NYC), Steve Schneider-Hadzismajlovic and Daniel de Oliveira (Chicago) while industry instigators Simon Ford and Chris Patino, clad in all white suits, kept the proceedings, er, staying alive, as emcees.

The cocktails were randomly chosen by the judges from a list of fifty standard recipes. Speed counts, but so does flavor and technique. Saunders’ critique can be especially discerning (said of a garnish in Round One: “…it was like the sinking of the Titanic!”), which is why she announced that once the competition is over, she can revert to a more nurturing style of support and encouragement. “How this thing has grown! I’m looking forward to going easier on you. I want to see some of you ladies step up and own your own bars.”

Freitag, who originates from solely a culinary background, was a little concerned for her alcohol tolerance. “I’m honored to be here. If you see me later in the crowd and I’m tipsy, forgive me.” For the record, she was seen later in the crowd, and she held up just great.

The great were separated from the merely great in the preliminary rounds which narrowed the competition down from sixteen to eight. Even a simple Daiquiri, which is, as Degroff called it, a “naked drink,” can show certain flaws, and potentially knock someone out. There were then four qualifying rounds before the two semifinals.

Despite a long, boozy night that lasted over five hours, the crowd kept its enthusiasm burning strong, with snacks from local businesses Viktor and Spoils, Pies ‘n’ Thighs, Clover Club and Steve’s Ice Cream, and the palpable energy re-fueled by those working the sidelines. The Ladies of Lillet in particular, among them brand ambassadors Amanda Boccato and Charlotte Voisey, should get some sort of Speed Goddess achievement award for maintaining their roller derby finest (and big smiles to match) throughout the night.

The night ended with a champagne toast (of sorts) to Yael. Congratulations, Yael! And congratulations to every last person who was involved in Speed Rack nationwide. Every last one of you is a winner as it seems impossible that any other industry measures up to the bartending community’s commitment to celebrate the hearts, minds and breasts of so many.

RAISE A GLASS FOR THE GIRLS

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

International Women’s Day is celebrated with a wee dram once again
By Vincenza Di Maggio

Each year International Women’s Day is celebrated globally in various ways. In Italy and Russia men traditionally give women sprigs of bright yellow Mimosa blossoms to commemorate the holiday, and in China women are given the day off. Well, leave it up to New Yorkers to chicly celebrate the occasion by raising their glasses and toasting to the infinite past, present, and future accomplishments of women!

This year, at Julie Reiner’s Lani Kai cocktail lounge in SoHo, Compass Box Whisky Co, and Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails joined together for the third annual “Whisky and Women Unite” cocktail party. Women gathered at this spirited celebration to only to honor the occasion and raise money for Bottomless Closet, a non-profit organization that helps disadvantaged New York City women transform their lives by helping them to become self-sufficient and thus allowing them to succeed in the work place.

Abigail Gullo, a founding member of LUPEC shares, “The LUPEC Compass Box event for International Women’s Day has always been a favorite of mine because it’s an opportunity to work with such amazing and accomplished women. It inspires me to see women in this industry come together and celebrate not only our craft, but our desire to make a difference and make the world a better place for women everywhere. I am always honored to be a part of this event and look forward to it every year.”

The fact that it is even possible for this event to exist speaks volumes about how far women have come since 1911 when the holiday was first observed. John Glaser, renowned whiskey maker and founder of Compass Box Whisky Co, comments on the event, “I love this event and I am so proud that we sponsor it. It’s something that never would have happened even ten years ago in this industry: a Scotch whisky brand sponsoring a women’s event.”

In honor of the occasion New York City’s most talented female mixologists blended together six different deliciously refreshing cocktails using Compass Box Whisky’s newly produced Great King Street, a craft blended scotch whisky.

Among the group of skilled bar tenders who participated in the event was Meaghan Dorman, of Raines Law Room and

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