Posts Tagged ‘Sasha Petraske’

PROOF THAT YOU LOVE ME

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

High proof Cognacs return the spirit to cocktails
By Francine Cohen

Photo courtesy of Pierre Ferrand

Every year, without fail, the spirits world experiences two phenomena; one a little disheartening and the other REALLY exciting. The disheartening one (let’s get it out of the way) is that numerous new brands flood an already crowded marketplace and either are totally indistinguishable or so god awful that they stand out for their appalling packaging or wretched juice (or both). The good thing that happens every year is that we see another spirit category slide into the spotlight. As this happens we are gifted with the luxury of shifting our attention to rediscovering exquisite spirits and exploring new ways to use them.

Cognac has proven itself a spirit worth considering this year (and in years to come); particularly as high proof expressions are being made readily available — a boon for cocktail creation. The presence of high proof Cognacs on the shelves just may be what the category needs to revitalize its image and move away from its “Cognac is just for the hip-hop crowd and rich old people’s sipping enjoyment ” reputation. High proof Cognac makes for a great cocktail ingredient.

Not to mention an historically accurate one. Philippe Pichetto of Louis Royer Cognac, the producer of Force 53 a high proof Cognac bottled at 53% ABV (www.louis-royer.com), explains, “Historian Dave Wondrich has eloquently traced the history of Cognac cocktails.” Pichetto points to Wondrich’s writings on www.experiencecognac.com where Wondrich documented that brandy-based drinks, with Cognac often specified as (in Wondrich’s words) ‘the best of the best,’ have long been part of the libations pantheon. According to his Cognac cocktail research Wondrich unearths evidence that Cognac has been a cocktail staple dating back to punches favored by the English and juleps and sours embraced by their American counterparts, as well as in seminal cocktails like the Sazerac from New Orleans, the Crusta, the Brandy Cocktail and the Coffee Cocktail. Though Prohibition and its after effects froze the development of cocktails for many years thankfully that time is well behind us. Wondrich remarks, “We truly have entered a new Golden Age of the Cocktail and Cognac continues to play a large role in today’s modern cocktails!”

Modern day mixologist Chad Solomon, one half of drinks consultancy Cuffs & Buttons operated with his partner Christy Pope (www.cuffsandbuttons.com), is pleased to see this resurrection of the powerful spirit. He recognizes, “Cognac has been a little late coming to the table in the craft cocktail revival where gin and rye were the first embraced and revived. Cognac lagged behind. In the last two years that tide has turned and Cognac has moved to take its place shoulder to shoulder.”

Solomon attributes Cognac’s slow re-starting role to history, concurring with Pichetto. He comments, “If you compare the way Cognac has been viewed and its role in 19th century – it was a pre-eminent cocktail spirit. But then we had the philoxera epidemic, world wars, and Prohibition – all those things emerge from that time peior and during the last part of 20th century it’s been pushed to a sipping spirit. That’s been to its detriment.”

Its return to its natural place in cocktail development pleases Pierre Ferrand’s president, Alexandre Gabriel (www.pierreferrandcognac.com) , “Cognac was there at the birth of the unique cocktail culture here in the USA. Cognac works so well for cocktail because it is a grape (fruit) based spirit and because it’s distilled

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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?