Here’s Why You Should Mix Mezcal With Grapefruit Juice

Spencer Elliott, head bartender at Bounce Sporting Club (55 West 21st Street; 212-675-8007 and 1403 Second Ave; 212-535-2183), loves winding down with a mezcal and grapefruit juice.

“Mezcal has that tequila bite, with the smokiness of a scotch,” he says. “After a long night of work, I don’t need to be knocked on my ass, so I like the addition of the fresh grapefruit and lime to give it a really citrusy taste.”

Elliott’s experience behind the stick started at a fist-pumping bar in Murray Hill. “It’s kind of where I learned to just be quick,” he says. The experience also helped him develop his personality when conversing with customers. Appreciating classic cocktails and drinks for their taste came a bit later.

At Vero Wine Bar as well as Bounce, Elliott learned the ins and outs of what to focus on to make a drink taste good. Increasing his knowledge of not only cocktails but wine, Elliott was able to add the finer points of bartending to his repertoire. “My progression with alcohol has been as scary as most people’s,” he says. “I started with rum, then to gin, then vodka; now I’m finally at the tequila stage. My palate has developed with my interest in craft cocktails.”

The hook of smokiness and tequila led Elliott to mezcal, for which he found a perfect partner in sweet grapefruit juice. “I love grapefruit,” he says. “Orange juice and pineapple juice are all great, but I feel like the citrus, the tart, the ruby redness, it’s a little sweeter — it’s an easy fruit juice to work with.”

Elliott also likes the tequila mule, and he enjoys grabbing drinks on the Upper East Side at the Gilroy and Infirmary.

Mezcal with Grapefruit Juice
by Spencer Elliott
2 oz mezcal (I use Ilegal)
2 oz Grapefruit Juice
splash of lime
on ice

For the version at Bounce Sporting Club, Elliott uses Ruby Red grapefruit juice and adds a house-made jalapeño syrup.

Tequila Mule
2 oz Don Julio blanco
1/2 oz lime
top with ginger beer


How to Make the Sazerac and the Tommy’s Margarita, Two American Cocktail Treasures

Chris Skillern is a Texan at heart, which is what attracted him to the newly opened Javelina (119 East 18th Street; 212-539-0202), which focuses on Tex-Mex cuisine. However, when the general manager — who can often be seen behind the bar fixing up drinks — isn’t feeling a thematically appropriate margarita (one made with agave and not triple sec), he leans on an old New Orleans invention for comfort: the sazerac.

To pay his way through school while studying film at the University of Texas in Austin, Skillern wound up waiting tables at a 24-hour diner, where the menu doled options like chicken and waffles and hash. It was here that he discovered the sazerac, and once he tried it, he found himself returning to it time and time again. But it took him awhile to try it. “I literally smelled it and wouldn’t drink it for a week,” he says. “I finally drank one and it changed my life. The expectation and turning it around intrigued me so much.”

After moving to New York after college, one of Skillern’s first jobs put him in touch with New Orleans native LJ Hollins. The Crescent City resident helped educate Skillern on cocktails, preaching the gospel of balance when it came to acidity and bitters. Additionally, Skillern’s role in helping to open Harding’s, an all-American spirits establishment that concentrated on classic drinks, deepened his love of cocktail versatility.

The composition of the sazerac — the mix of rye, anise (or absinthe), and sugar — is what really drew Skillern in. The overpowering aroma of black licorice gives way to the slight burn of rye, then adds in an enticing element of sweetness. “When you drink it, it goes down so smooth and so clean,” he says, which is not what you’d expect after a sniff of the glass. “Powerful aroma, an educational, intellectual exercise, it’s got a lot of sugar in it, so it’s pretty easy to finish…Because it has those multiple phases, it can go for anybody.”


2 oz Rye Whiskey (either the classic Sazerac Rye, or WhistlePig Rye)
2-3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Splash of water or soda water
sugar cube
1/2 oz Herbsaint Liqueur

Start by filling a rocks glass with ice and Herbsaint liqueur and set aside.

Then take a mixing glass, drop in the sugar cube followed by Peychaud’s bitters and a splash of water or soda water. (I usually use soda water, as it makes it easier to muddle the sugar cube.) Muddle the cube in the water and Peychaud’s and top with your chosen rye whiskey. Add rocks and stir.

Go back to your rocks glass with Herbsaint and either discard the contents or place in another rocks glass for sazerac no. 2. Careful when dumping the Herbsaint to cover all the surface area of the rocks glass.

Strain your mixing glass into the rocks glass, cut a small lemon peel, squeeze over the cocktail, and leave on the rim. (Some like to discard the lemon; I prefer to leave the garnish!)

Javelina “Traditional Margarita” / Tommy’s Margarita

Skillern also offered up the traditional and famous Tommy’s Margarita recipe, which comes from Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, for those who, like him, are Texans at heart.

2 oz Tequila (Dulce Vida Blanco)
1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
3/4 to 1 oz Agave syrup to taste (50 percent Agave Nectar, 50 percent Water)

Shake and serve Javelina-style on the rocks with a half-salted rim and lime.

Sick of your usual call drink? Try something new. In this series, we’re asking the city’s bartenders to name their current drinks of choice. 


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This Weekend’s Five Best Food and Drink Events – 1/30/2015

Super Bowl Sunday is here, which means it’s time to get your fill of nachos and wings. If that’s not your bag, though, you should still eat: There are plenty of non-sporting-themed food and drink events happening this weekend, too.

New Bottomless Brunch, Florian, 225 Park Avenue South, Saturday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m.

Cure your hangover (or get started on a new one) at this new brunch, where you’ll find endless champagne cocktails for $19.50. The restaurant offers three varieties of prosecco with fruit purées as well as a healthy bloody mary made with carrot and apple juice. Pair your drinks to dishes like pistachio cannoli waffles, crabmeat and shrimp hash, a vegetable frittata, and spaghetti carbonara.

5B Pizza Pop Up, Old Bowery Station, 10 Kenmare Street, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

The warmth of oven-fresh pizza is a beacon of hope around this frigid time of year, so cozy up with a pie at this pizza pop-up party. For $30, guests receive five unique slices of pizza as part of a tasting menu, with topping combos like sweet Italian sausage and broccoli rabe, arugula and prosciutto de parma, and homemade meatballs. A cash bar will serve beer, wine, and sodas. Limited tickets will be sold at the door and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Brooklyn Soup Takedown, Littlefield, 622 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, Sunday, 2 p.m.

Soup is a winter staple, and come Sunday, you can get in on judging a boiling-hot competition among several varieties. Home chefs from across the city will compete to see who has the most soothing broth and accompaniments. Tickets are $20.

Third Annual Whisk(e)y Fest starring Pappy Van Winkle, Bottlerocket, 5 West 19th Street, Sunday, 3 p.m.

America’s most reclusive whiskey is sneaking out from underneath the covers, and you might be able to purchase it. Bottlerocket’s month-long whiskey festival kicks off on February 1, and in addition to free nightly tastings, the store is holding a raffle for the chance to purchase a bottle of Pappy at a discounted price. You’ll just need to make a purchase to enter. Check out the full tasting calendar on the shop’s website.

The Super Bowl, Multiple Locations, Sunday

Even if you’re not really into football, you might consider stepping out for these two Super Bowl events, which are offering particularly good deals. Two Door Tavern in Williamsburg is hosting a $40 (before tax and tip) all-you-can-drink draft special from kickoff to final whistle. The deal includes a halftime buffet of buffalo wings and loaded nachos, and reservations are strongly recommended. Over at The Meatball Shop in Chelsea, the game will be screened downstairs, with free mini Chicken Buffalo Balls during the first quarter and $4 PBRs throughout the event. All locations will offer a “Bucket O’ Balls” takeout special for $45, which includes 25 meatballs of any type — including the pizza ball special — paired with any sauce.

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This Weekend’s Five Best Food Events – 1/2/2015

Start the new year off with a bang — and banoffee pie. Here are five ways to eat and drink in style during the first weekend of 2015.

Banoffee Pie Class, Camaje, 85 MacDougal Street, Saturday, 3 p.m.

If you’re looking to wow friends with a new dessert, Chef Abigail Hitchcock is sharing her recipe for a crowd-pleasing banoffee pie. Students will learn the history behind this English delicacy — made out of graham crackers, dulce de leche, sliced bananas, whipped cream, and shaved Belgian chocolate — after which they’ll make their very own to take home. Reservations are $45.

New Year From Spain, Astor Wine & Spirits, 399 Lafayette Street, Saturday, 3 p.m.

If you’re using the weekend to return unwanted gifts, give yourself a break with a free wine tasting. From 3 to 5 p.m., guests can sample three Spanish reds from regions such as Rioja, and staff members will guide drinkers with tasting notes. The wine lineup includes Viña Ilusión Tinto (2011), Limoso (2012), and Tinta Amarela (2012). Guests receive 15 percent off the three wines poured.

The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking, Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street, Saturday, 8 p.m.

At this live performance, guests will learn all about the history of alcohol, with a little song and cocktails thrown in for good measure. The booze-driven acts include a look into the drinks served at Prohibition-era speakeasies, the birth of the gin ‘n’ tonic, and the difference between a cocktail and a mixed drink. Tickets are $29 — drinks are included — and can be secured through the Soho Playhouse website.

New Brunch, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar, 339 Adams Street, Brooklyn, Sunday, 11 a.m.

Feel like starting off Sunday with tequila? Rocco’s has over 330 kinds to choose from, along with brunch specials like eggs with short rib and tableside guacamole. The newly opened restaurant also offers a selection of tacos, molcajetes, and brunch cocktails, like bloody marys and mimosas.

New Restaurant Opening, Burger & Lobster, 39 West 19th Street, Sunday, noon

If you’ve made it your mission to find New York’s best new burger in 2015, start by checking out the first location of this London-based chain specializing in lobster rolls, lobster, and burgers. The new restaurant is also a new spot for a relatively cheap eat — a main course, fries, and salad costs $20.

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This Weekend’s Five Best Food and Drink Events – 10/17/2014

An event featuring only bacon, or New York’s first juice-bar crawl? Whatever your style, there’s a food event for you this weekend.

Rebel Bingo, Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, Friday, 8 p.m.

This epic bash, which started in an English church basement, makes a return to New York for a few rounds of complete debauchery. The party includes everyone’s favorite spinning-numbers game along with plenty of booze, dancing, and eclectic performances. Tickets start at $19 for Friday — with the option to purchase for next weekend as well, at $13 — and are available here.

The New York City Wine & Food Festival, multiple locations, Friday through Sunday

An all-star lineup of culinary professionals and food personalities will descend upon Manhattan for a smorgasbord of all-you-can-eat events. Returning again this year is a tailgate party hosted by Jets great Joe Namath and Mario Batali; Bobby Flay hosts a late-night party featuring tacos and tequila. And if crowds aren’t your thing, a few intimate dinners and classes still have tickets available; you can learn the art of pickling and cake decorating. A full lineup of events and tickets can be found on the NYCWFF website.

NYC’s First Juice Crawl, multiple locations, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Beginning in Union Square and ending in the Flatiron district, this event will unite juice heads from across the city with stops at The Squeeze and Juice Press, among others. The event includes prizes, like the chance to win a three-day cleanse or coconut truffles. Tickets are $55 for individuals and $90 for duos.

Fall Carnival Spectacular, Kings County Saloon, 1 Knickerbocker Avenue, Brooklyn, Saturday and Sunday, 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Skip the hayrides and pumpkin patches teeming with children and head to this adult-only carnival in the heart of Bushwick. Naughty clowns, gypsies, and a “wheel of spanking” are included among the entertainment, and then there are food-related activities, like a pickle-eating competition. Have a bourbon candy apple; sip a mulled-cider cocktail. Games start at $2.

Brooklyn Bacon Takedown, Littlefield, 622 DeGraw Street, Brooklyn, Sunday, 2 p.m.

This event celebrates, well, bacon. Attendees will get the chance to sample a number of bacon dishes, many provided by home cooks. Tickets are $20 and include all the bacon you can eat.


This Week’s Five Best Food Events – 9/29/2014

Beers with historical implications. A chef’s tell all. And a good old-fashioned harvest party. Here’s why you should check out this week’s top events.

NYCSW Food Edition Presents: Food Industry Frustrations, Foodstand, 115 Fifth Avenue, Sixth Floor, Monday, 6:30 p.m.

Sitting on an idea that could change the food industry? Meet other budding entrepreneurs and receive advice from a panel of food industry experts at this seminar, which is a lead-in to the first ever Startup Weekend Food Edition taking place October 10. People who have an interest in the intersection of food and technology are encouraged to attend; the workshop centers on the idea generation phase and ways to validate possible business models. Tickets are $10, and refreshments are included.

All or Nothing Book Launch with Chef Jesse Schenker. Powerhouse Arena, 37 Main Street, Brooklyn, Monday, 7 p.m.

The Gander’s Jesse Schenker is releasing his autobiography, which covers his rise up the culinary ladder as well as his struggle with addiction along the way. At this release party, he’ll preside over a Q and A session, and passed refreshments, wine, and beer will also be served. The book signing is free to attend, though guests should RSVP in advance.

Dogfish Head Ancient Ales Beer DinnerPickle Shack, 256 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Since 1999, craft darling Dogfish Head Brewery has worked with molecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern to recreate ancient beers made with uncommon ingredients like saffron, honey, and ancho chilies. This week, you can sample a few of these brews over a five course meal, which includes courses like salmon vichysoisse, king oyster mushrooms, and vegetable confit. Tickets are $65.41.

TNT “On the Menu” Cooking Class with Emeril Lagasse and Ty Pennington, Times Square (between 43rd & 44th Streets), 1500 Broadway, Thursday, 7:30 a.m.

Want to take part in a Guinness world record? Ty Pennington and Emeril Lagasse will be cooking breakfast in celebration of their new show, which debuts October 3, and they’ll stack pancakes in an attempt to best former record-holders. You’ll pick up a few cooking tips and you may have a shot at a photo op. Be sure to register in advance.

Brooklyn Oenology Harvest Party, Brooklyn Oenology, 209 Wythe Avenue #106, Brooklyn, Thursday, 7 p.m.

Celebrate harvest season by sampling some fine wine with Brooklyn Oenology winemaker Alie Shaper. The party includes an exclusive sneak peek tasting of upcoming vintages in a flight of four wines for $25. Fresh chardonnay grapes will also be paired with local cheeses, and guests get a special discount on purchases. You’ll need a reservation.


This Week’s Six Best Food Events in NYC – 7/21/2014

Summer is flying by, and if you’re in need of a reprieve from office work, this week offers plenty of sweet deals to consider. Here’s a roundup of what’s in store.

Tour de France at Gotham West Market, Gotham West Market, 600 Eleventh Avenue, Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m.

In honor of the annual bicycle race, this food emporium is offering specials to cycling fans who want to watch the action. Guests who arrive in riding gear will receive two-for-one French beers at The Cannibal or an extra scoop upgrade at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Those first to arrive each morning can also score a free Choza taco and Blue Bottle coffee. Look for additional deals at the market’s bicycle shop, too.

New York City Restaurant Week, multiple locations, Monday through August 15

Here’s your annual opportunity to dine out cheaply (or at least, more cheaply than usual): New York City Restaurant Week is upon us, and a slew of eateries are offering $25 lunches or $38 dinners. Look for three-course prix fixe menus at local favorites like both Empellon outfits and recently opened Harlem restaurant Minton’s. A full lineup of restaurants and offers can be found on the New York City Restaurant Week website.

Taste of the Terminal, Grand Central Station — Vanderbilt Hall, Lexington and 42nd Street, Monday, 11 a.m.

Each Monday in July, vendors here are offering free tastings to ease the pain of your commute. Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. or 4 and 7 p.m., enjoy samples from Joe the Art of Coffee, Shiro of Japan, and other purveyors. The weekly event also includes special offers and live music.

Eat. See. Play. Dinner, The Gander, 15 West 18th Street, Monday and Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.

Kicking off the Eat. See. Play dinner series, which will rove other restaurants as well, Jesse Schenker is offering a four-course menu replete with fluke crudo, poached sea trout, cauliflower ravioli, and banana parfait in the confines of his private dining room at his new Flatiron restaurant. A signature cocktail along with beer and wine is also part of the package, and attendees receive a one year subscription to Alta Editions digital cookbooks, including the recipes from Schenker’s dinner. Tickets are $150.

The Blindfold Sensory Gallery, Studio Arte, 265 West 37th Street, Tuesday, 8 p.m.

For fans of theatrical eating experiences, consider this event where the blind lead the blind on a taste, touch, and smell tour: Guests will sip cocktails and enjoy a variety of appetizers while being blindfolded. Tickets are $80 and include a VIP gift bag.

Newport Beach Party, Newport Green, 700 Washington Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ, Wednesday, 6 p.m.
Each year, Newport celebrates summer with a massive beach party and food festival along the Jersey City waterfront. Feast your way through bites from local vendors, then pull up an Adirondack chair and take in views of the Manhattan skyline.


This Weekend’s Six Best Food and Drink Events – 6/6/2014

Sticking around town for a few days? We’ve got just the thing to make your summer staycation the best choice you’ve made all week. Here are the six best food and drink events in NYC this weekend.

National Donut Day, Madison Square Park, Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street, Friday, 10 a.m.

If there’s a piece of Homer Simpson in you, head to Madison Square Park to celebrate National Donut Day with free coffee and donuts from Entenmann’s. The baker will reveal its new red velvet donut flavor at the event, and you can take selfies with a seven-foot-tall rendering of the sweet.

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, Madison Square Park, Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.

Pitmasters from around the country descend on Madison Square Park this weekend to provide pulled pork and brisket to the masses. The line-up includes Daniel Delaney of Briskettown and famed barbecue maestro Ed Mitchell; live bands and cooking demonstrations are also part of the two day affair. Anyone can queue up to purchase barbecue, but you might spring for a VIP ticket package, which will help you avoid the line.

Shaken or Stirred Summer Mixology Classes, The Royalton Hotel, 44 West 44th Street, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

These classes, which also take place on June 14 and June 21, will cover the basics of cocktailing for beginners and provide tricks of the trade to seasoned party hosts. You’ll be able to taste your handiwork and get immediate feedback on how your cocktail career is shaping up. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased through the hotel’s website.

(RED) Dish Competition, Smorgasburg, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Smorgasburg is going (RED) all weekend in support of AIDS research, and 30 vendors will prepare a special dish from which proceeds will benefit the cause. On Sunday, those dishes will go head to head in friendly competition judged by Mario Batali and Dominique Ansel. The cook-off starts at 1 p.m.

Butcher Paper Dinner: Pies ‘N Thighs presents COLD FRIED CHICKEN!, Brooklyn Grange, 38-19 Northern Boulevard, Queens, Sunday, 3 p.m.

The ladies from Pies ‘N Thighs will be preparing some cold fried chicken for this rooftop farm dinner, while Queens Brewery will be taking care of drinks. The $80 meal includes southern sides like biscuits, cornbread, and a seasonal salad, with a fruit pie for dessert. A DJ will be on hand to spin tunes, and guests are invited to tour the farm pre-meal.

Dinner with Ruth Riechl, Contrada, 84 East 4th Street, Sunday, 5 p.m.

Have dinner and receive a copy of Ruth Reichl’s new book Delicious!, her first fictional piece, which weaves a story of a food writer with life experiences similar to…Ruth Reichl. The dinner, which is $55 per person, will allow guests the chance to interact with Ruth while they dine on chef Jason Audette’s fluke crudo and sweet corn agnolotti dal plin. The dessert for the evening is inspired by the only recipe in Reichl’s book, a spice cake. Dinner is payable at the end of the event, but reservations should be secured in advance.

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Campeón Gives the Sports Bar a Mexican Twist

Just in time for the World Cup is the debut of Campeón (9 East 16th Street; 212-675-4700), a Flatiron sports bar with a south-of-the-border spin — decor is inspired by Mexico City, down to the hand-painted ceramic tiles. Sports fans will be excused if they miss that detail, though: The place also boasts 36 high definition televisions.

While sports bars rarely shake their bro-y vibes, Campeón is doing its best to attract non-sports lovers, too: Vibrant swatches of purple and gold, sidewalk seating, and large open windows help distinguish the place from a dark dive.

Chef Juan Manuel Reyes, a Mexico City native who worked the burners at China Grill and Diablo Royale, is in charge of the kitchen here, and he’s putting out a board that includes bar snacks like guacamole hybrids — including one with sauteed lobster — and wings glazed in habanero sauce and pineapple. You can also opt for a “nuclear option” for those wings, which gets you bird coated in ghost pepper — they’re so hot, you’ll actually have to sign a waiver before you eat them. “It’s the spiciest sauce I’ve ever had,” says Reyes.

Follow up the appetizers with more traditional Mexican fare, like tlayudas (Mexican pizzas) topped with chicken mole and oaxaca cheese and tortas filled with grilled skirt steak or scrambled eggs, or Reyes’ lobster enchiladas, ancho bbq glazed salmon, or a Frank’s Red Hot Kobe burger served on a jalapeño brioche bun. Campeón is also serving a few health-conscious options, like fresh salads and tuna tacos.

Cocktails are predictably filled with tequila for the most part — there are about 50 versions of the spirit on offer, including fresh fruit-infused varieties like strawberry-vanilla.

Head to the next page for photos.

Guacamole comes with ingredients like lobster or blue cheese
Guacamole comes with ingredients like lobster or blue cheese
Wings coated in spicy habanero and pineapple sauce
Wings coated in spicy habanero and pineapple sauce
Finalista Torta with grilled steak, cheese, scrambled egg, onions, jalapeños
Finalista Torta with grilled steak, cheese, scrambled egg, onions, jalapeños

Can you handle the ghost chili? Sign this waiver and find out.
Can you handle the ghost chili? Sign this waiver and find out.



Here’s a Map of Former Food Stands That Now Have Brick-and-Mortar Locations

Each weekend, tourists and locals descend on the makeshift aisles of a New York City’s multiple outdoor food fests, stuffing their faces with bulgogi beef tacos, dosas, and chicken biscuits, sometimes all in one sitting.

These markets — often overrun with crowds — provide a good launch pad for concepts exploring viability before they sign a lease. Several seasons in, many of the pop-ups from Smorgasburg, the defunct Dekalb Market, the Hester Street Fair, and other gatherings have, indeed, made that jump. Here’s a map of NYC’s successful pop-up-to-permanent-location restaurants. You might use it as a handy guide to getting the Smorgasburg experience while avoiding the long lines.

Why wait in line when you can sit and enjoy air conditioning at Mighty Quinn's East Village?
Why wait in line when you can sit and enjoy air conditioning at Mighty Quinn’s East Village?