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This Is Why You Should Put Activated Charcoal in Your Cocktail

Though many drinks are timeless classics, others owe their existence to classic timing. Such is the case of Beauty & Essex‘s (146 Essex Street; 212-614-0146) Black Tie White Noise cocktail, which features an ingredient that’s growing in popularity right now: activated charcoal.

“The best thing the charcoal does is it gives [the drink] a chalky texture,” explains bartender Carlos Abeyta, who adds that the ingredient doesn’t necessarily have an overpowering flavor. However, you will need to look at charcoal as more than just a necessity for summer barbecues.

“We always want to try things that are a little different,” says Abeyta. Given the establishment’s beauty-related name, as well as activated charcoal’s recent fame as a beneficial skin product, the idea of using the nontraditional ingredient was easy to support.

The activated charcoal gives the drink a memorable texture that makes it fun to sip, and it’s also catching on with bartenders thanks to the color it creates. Abeyta explains that the ingredient can dye a drink black without it being too thick and sticky. “Darker ingredients are going to be a little more viscous,” says Abeyta. After testing the charcoal with water and several spirits, Abeyta and general manager Vincent DeGrezia crafted a cocktail that was ready to be put on the menu.

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte, a heavily peated scotch, was included in the drink because of its rich smokiness and similarities to charcoal’s odor, while Gentleman Jack Tennessee Whiskey (which is filtered twice through — you guessed it — charcoal) was used to bring a smooth, stable heat. To balance out the cocktail, simple syrup, lemon juice, yellow chartreuse, and Angostura bitters break through the charcoal’s chalky texture and lead to equally enticing flavors.

“If you want to step outside your boundaries, it’s definitely the right move to do,” says Abeyta, which may be why naming the drink after a David Bowie album — recorded by an artist who defied boundaries — was most appropriate.

Below, find the recipe for Black Tie White Noise, so you can give activated charcoal a try at home.

Black Tie White Noise at Beauty & Essex

.5 oz simple syrup
.75 oz lemon juice
.5 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1.5 oz Gentlemen Jack
.25 oz Bruichladdich Port Charlotte scotch
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 capsule activated charcoal

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake. Pour into a coupe cocktail glass.

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The Boozy Holiday Gift Guide, 2015 Edition

For all the supposed joy of the holiday season, gift shopping can bring out the Grinch in the best of us. Regardless of how well you think you know your friends and loved ones, that perfect item remains stubbornly elusive. Your dad clearly doesn’t need another tie, and a gift card to the iTunes store is far too impersonal to carry any lasting significance.

But there’s a simple solution: booze. It’s fun to shop for, everyone loves getting it, and it’s readily available all across town. It also runs the gamut of pricing, so you can land on an appropriate bottle for naughty and nice alike. Here’s a look at some stocking stuffers this winter to please everyone from casual acquaintance to devoted spouse. Invest appropriately, and you might even end up turning the former into the latter.

Like most brown liquors, Cognac is enjoying a renaissance in New York. The double-distilled grape spirit from southern France is turning up in more cocktails, while it continues to reveal its virtue and accessibility as a soulful sipping beverage. There’s also some damn good deals to be had from quality producers. Celebrating its 250th anniversary this year, Hennessy unleashed a collector’s edition release that retailed at $650 a bottle. It flew off the shelves. The elegant expression, packaged accordingly, is befitting of a loved one. But if you’re shopping for a co-worker, or a semi-decent friend, the brand offers their VS Holiday Gift Box at a far more affordable pricepoint. The juice inside, aged for at least two years in French oak, will surely deceive the gifted into thinking you spent at least double the $32 it commands at most liquor stores.

At a similar price, Hochstadter’s Vatted Straight Rye Whiskey is a veritable steal. The blend incorporates grain spirit from across North America, much of which fetches a statelier sum when packaged in prettier bottles. Don’t fall for the hype — it’s what inside that counts. And the rye lovers in your life will surely appreciate Cooper Spirits’ mixture of slightly spicy stock, ranging from four to 15 years in age. A throwback label imbues the gift with a nostalgic edge, best appreciated by seasoned drinkers. Give this one to dad — or grandma, if she’s a badass.

While nobody wants coal in their stocking, Scotch lovers wouldn’t necessarily mind a similar flavor profile in their whisky bottle. Oblige them with Bowmore Small Batch Single Malt. It’s a meditation on bourbon-like tones of oak and vanilla, peered through the peat bogs of the Scottish isles. Straddling that chasm between smoky and sweet, it exists as a sensible Scotch for bourbon aficionados. Best of all, it sits on the shelf at the inviting price of $40 a bottle. A tremendous value for any single malt scotch, particularly one arriving in any easily wrap-able gift box.

Beer, too, can be a thoughtful present. Though a six pack of Coors Light might be pushing it, craft beer connoisseurs in your circle are likely clamoring for something a bit more exclusive. Seek out the 2015 editions of the Bourbon County Brand Stouts, from Goose Island. Aged for a year in ex-bourbon barrels, these heavy-hitting dark ales upwards of 10% in ABV, age beautifully, and are always in high demand after their annual release, the day after Thanksgiving. Here in the city, you’ll be able to find the original stout, as well as the Barleywine, and coffee-infused variations at most high-end bottle shops. They’ll typically range from $10-15 a pop, so you won’t be too intimidated to secure the entire set. Thick on the tongue, with lingering notes of vanilla, caramel, and roasted cocoa, it’s dessert disguised as beer.

If you’re looking for something seasonally-inspired to bring to an upcoming holiday party, Brooklyn Brewery and Captain Lawrence Brewing out of Westchester, each produce their own take on a Winter Ale. Brooklyn’s is a take on a scotch-style beer, with creamy notes of caramelized malt. Captain Lawrence’s is a solid example of a winter warmer, brewed with tongue-tingling spices reminiscent of nutmeg and clove. Both beers are in bottle throughout the city, retailing at under $12 a six pack.

If you want to make your gift a bit more immersive, The New York Beer and Brewery Tour is just the ticket. For $115, attendees get a four-hour adventure highlighting a few of the best brewpubs and beer bars of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Beer, food tastings, and  transportation are included.

For something a bit more playful, if not far more expensive, the Whisky Advent Calendar from Master of Malt is a welcome surprise. The 24 day countdown to Christmas is honored with two dozen, wax-sealed 3cl drams of single malt, each hidden behind their own cardboard window. The set, available for $188 online, includes an exclusive 50-year-old Scotch, Japanese whisky, and other rarities, some of which go for as much as $500 in full bottle format. If you haven’t ordered it already, fret not, whisky lovers will surely have little problem playing catchup to arrive at the proper day of the calendar. Alternatively, you could enjoy them all on Christmas, to make your in-laws that much more tolerable.

Dom Perignon Luminous Collection
Dom Perignon Luminous Collection

No alcohol crams as much festivity into the bottle as bubbly. And the world’s most renowned Champagne brand has packaged something special this winter to light up the lives of your loved ones. Dom Perignon’s Luminous Collection includes a ten year old vintage, branded with it’s own backlit label, available in several colors. The $250 bottle isn’t overly extravagant, and it expertly navigates the thin line between classy and flashy. Plus, there’s the added bonus that whomever your gifting it to might pop it open in your presence. A gift that keeps on giving. Even after the bottle runs out, it still makes a radiant mantle piece. The glowing glass is now only offered on-premise, but Shoppers Wines in Union, New Jersey is currently offering a limited allotment on discount for December. Easier on the wallet is Veuve Cliquot Brut’s holiday gift bag. The special packaging includes a space to sign and dedicate the offering, and the water resistant packaging doubles as a makeshift ice box.

 

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Join Owl Farm’s 3rd Anniversary Party with Craft Beer All-Stars on Tap

In just three short years, the Owl Farm (297 9th Street, Brooklyn; 718-499-4988) has cemented its place in Park Slope as a formidable destination for craft beer and canines. This Saturday, they mark the anniversary with a 20-hour celebration of suds kicking off at 8 a.m. If you think that’s too early to be drinking beer, you’ve never tried Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Breakfast. They have a whole keg of the rare Danish import rearing to go. And the draft list gets even more exclusive from there, as the bar slowly unleashes selections they’ve been hoarding for months. Don’t sleep on this one.

The selections showcase venerated ales and lagers from across the globe, including special release bottles that will be available by the glass, throughout the day. Multiple offerings from Belgian lambic legends like Cantillon, and Tilquen, the final keg in existence of Other Half’s Greenbacks IPA, a small barrel of Schneider Aventinus that’s been aging for 12 years, not to mention the unique beer distillates. Four boilermakers have been paired specifically for the big day.

Come for the coffee stout, stay for the smoked ale aged in scotch barrels (Xbeeriment #44). Either way, if you’re a fan of craft beer, make it to Owl Farm tomorrow, and bring an insatiable thirst. Below is a list of everything announced thus far. Expect additional surprises—Brooklyn’s own Grimm Artisanal Ales just confirmed they will be unveiling the first keg of their unreleased Simcoe Double IPA. Imagine what Owl Farm’s tenth anniversary list will look like.

Drafts:

Allagash Four
Barrier + The Owl Farm Chewy Porter
Bayerischer Bahnhoff Dry Hopped Berliner Weiss
Bell’s Quinannan Falls
Birrificio Italiano Tipopils
Brewery at Bacchus Good old Neon
Brewfist + Prairie Grappa Barrel Aged Spaghetti Western
Cantillon Iris
Crooked Stave Vieille Artisanal Saison
Del Ducato Beersel Mattina
Hitachino Nest White Ale + Distillate
IQhilika Red Wine Barrel Aged Mead
Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast – 2014
Millstone Sidra Americana
Montegioco Demon Hunter
Narragansett Lager
OEC Artista Zynergia: Gosatequin
Orchard Hill Red Label Cider
Other Half + Mission Dolores Greenbacks – Last keg in existence
Reissdorf Kolsch + Distillate
Schlenkerla Urbock + Distillate
Schneider Aventinus 2003 (yep, it’s 12 years old) + Distillate
Stillwater Readymade Vacuum
Thirsty Dog Cognac Barrel Doppelbock
Transmitter H2 Harvest

Beer Bottles:

Alvinne Cuveee Freddy Sofie
Baladin Xyauyù Fumè
BFM Cuvee Alex le Rouge 2010
Buxton Wolfscote
Cantillon Saint Lamvinus
Cascade Blackberry
De Ranke XXX Bitter
Green Bench Saison de Banc Noir Brett
Hanssens Oudbeitje 2012
Kerkom Ruess
Praire OKsi
Tilquin Oude Gueze 2012
Trois Dames Grande Dame Oud Bruin
Xbeeriment #44 – Scotch Whiskey

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No Distillery, No Problem: Why You Should Buy Whiskey Without a Corporate Legend

So there’s this dirty, not-so-little secret in the whiskey industry involving production and bottling: A large majority of so-called craft spirits aged in the barrel aren’t actually distilled by the folks whose name you see on the label. That means many celebrated small-batch brands are little more than pretty bottlers. This fact has been well documented, yet it continues to shock many a drinker.

Now, does this make these products inferior? Absolutely not. In fact, with Barrell Bourbon, a strong case can be made for just the opposite. And unlike others, which sell a misleading story on the label to cloak the origins of what lies beneath, Barrell is straightforward with the consumer. It’s not selling you a story, just a damn fine whiskey, and its newest release just hit shelves earlier this month.

Every whiskey drinker has been sold a myth at some point. It’s easy to fall prey when a brand can technically state “made by” or “produced by” on the label so long as that brand was responsible for putting it into the bottle. My own bamboozling came at the hands of a certain “Colorado” bourbon attributing its greatness to the pure Rocky Mountain snowmelt used to make it. Turns out this whiskey is likely distilled and aged far away from anything resembling more than a rolling hill. Regardless, I still love the stuff. I’d just be happier to know precisely where it came from. And most drinkers, also thirsting for knowledge, are capable of handling the truth.

Barrell’s company founder, Joe Beatrice, lives in New York, but distilled his Batch 001 Whiskey in Indiana. Although he’s not allowed to divulge the precise distillery from which it’s sourced, the new release proudly asserts its Indianan heritage on the back label. “We’re as transparent as we can be, contractually, about our whiskey,” he says.

Beatrice can also tell you that this 122.5-proof, cask-strength expression is a proprietary blend of seven- and eight-year spirit, aged in Kentucky rickhouses. What I can tell you is that there’s a bright, almost coconut-like sweetness to this whiskey, slightly suggestive of rum. This is likely a function of the grain being catapulted to the forefront as the oak notes have been muted. There’s less wood flavor here, because the barrels had already been used to age a previous batch of bourbon — that’s also the one element of production preventing this particular whiskey from being considered a bourbon itself. But that hardly leaves it with an inferiority complex. It shines golden, both in the bottle and on the tongue, departing with freshly baked cornbread in the finish.

“For people who savor fine spirits, it’s all about the discovery of great new things,” says Beatrice. Although he didn’t distill it, the blend and proofing all bear his distinct signature on the finished product. “We are bringing unique and unreplicated batches of whiskey to the market that would never be tasted as is at cask strength.”

Independent bottling has long been considered an upstanding tradition in Scotland. These third parties procure barrels of scotch, oftentimes from prominent distilleries, and release them as their own. Sometimes their packaging will reflect the location where the scotch was sourced; other times it’s withheld as trade secret. But what these bottlers never do is attempt to misrepresent themselves as the distillers. Far from being shunned in the U.K., these rarer releases can command higher retail value than their single-malt counterparts. They appeal to the connoisseur because they are unique expressions, as opposed to the big-name distilleries, which strive for consistency in flavor from one batch to the next.

“We’re proud to carry on that tradition,” Beatrice says. “Independent bottlers in Scotland have produced some of the world’s finest whisky. I can’t speak to why some American bottlers choose to disguise the fact that they’re not a distillery, or that they supplement their production with sourced whiskey.”

Aficionados have taken note: Batch 001 whiskey, priced at around $55, just took home double gold at the prestigious San Francisco Spirits Festival. It will likely sell out by the end of spring, the second of roughly four annual releases. Joe Beatrice never distilled a drop of any of it, yet he knows great whiskey as well as anyone. And that’s precisely what he’s moving from barrel to bottle — minus the hogwash.

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Toast the Irish With a Single Grain Whiskey Made in Dublin

As we celebrate the great holiday of the Emerald Isle, it’s worth nothing that Ireland’s capital city of Dublin — long associated with Jameson and other Irish whiskeys — hadn’t housed a working distillery in nearly half a century. That dry spell ended mercifully in 2012 when Stephen Teeling and his family opened Teeling Whiskey in the industrial outskirts of town. The distillery’s flagship offering was finished in rum casks for a subtle sweetness in the nose and finish. This month, Teeling launched its single grain corn whiskey. It’s a gentle sipping spirit with a history as complex as the drink itself. And today’s as good a day as any to sit down with a native and talk shop over a tipple.

With a family legacy in Irish whiskey dating back to 1782, Stephen Teeling is something of an expert on the subject. “For centuries Ireland’s unique climate has given us a competitive advantage globally for whiskey production,” he notes. “It is a flavorsome yet approachable spirit that has a huge character but doesn’t offend.” This might be a slight gibe at popular single malts of the day, known for their aggressively smoky characteristics. Irish whiskey, by contrast, tends to be far more accessible to the masses.

“Key ingredients like cereals, quality water, and a consistent temperature for maturation impart a DNA that is uniquely Irish,” Teeling asserts with pride. When it comes to his new Single Grain, that key ingredient is corn — a delicate component that can be overpowered when not aged properly. “So it was important we used the correct wood to mature it in,” Teeling points out. He ultimately trusted Californian Cabernet Sauvignon barrels to impart subtle notes of red berry fruit and a tannic dryness without overbearing the mash bill.

Bottled at 92 proof, as opposed to the traditional Irish standard of 80, Teeling Single remains gracefully drinkable. It also bears striking similarities to straight bourbon, and so will be welcomed widely by a new generation of drinkers — or so Teeling hopes. “The demographic that is driving the dynamic growth of whiskey,” he says, “is a younger consumer with a palate for lighter and sweeter products. Irish whiskey, although a serious whiskey in terms of taste, wouldn’t be as formal in its approach as scotch and is closer to its American cousin rather than its Celtic one. It is inclusive and attractive for younger consumers.”

And now that it’s hit shelves and bottle shops here in the city, it’s also relatively easy to procure. This is something of a coup in whiskey production, as it’s traditionally been a rarer expression. “Our Single Grain is one of only a handful of bottlings in the world,” says Teeling. Rarer still, it’s an authentic craft whiskey from Dublin. That’s something worth celebrating.

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Whisky Live at Chelsea Piers Tomorrow

Whether or not you spell it with an E, Whisky Live is a dream come true for any lover of the brown spirit of life. A tasting show that travels the globe over the course of the year, the three-and-a-half-hour event parks itself at Chelsea Piers tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. With over 300 whiskies — including small-batch bourbons, single-malt scotches, and Japanese rarities — the only drawback is having to deal with work on Thursday.

Tickets aren’t cheap; general admission fetches $119, and a $30 upcharge entitles you to VIP entrance at 5:30 p.m. But for that premium, attendees gain access to unlimited samples from brands far and wide, as well as three hours of buffeting, and live entertainment. While the specifics on the entertainment remain unclear (there will be bagpipes), the dinner spread promises to include carved brisket braised in Four Roses bourbon. With enough booze and beef, a puppet show would qualify as a perfectly reasonable live act.

For the higher-minded crowd, however, there will be three master classes offered throughout the event, each an hour in length. The first of the evening provides a glimpse into the evolution of scotch over the past five centuries. Later on, Balblair’s brand ambassador explains the philosophy behind vintage releases, before the concluding seminar delves into the effects of wood on whisky.

Assembling so many renowned spirits under one roof presents a welcome challenge: explore exclusive expressions that you have yet to experience, or head straight to the faithful go-tos? The answer is “yes.” You certainly won’t want to pass up new releases from local favorites like Hudson Whiskey, or Kings County — I’m hoping that the former bring their Double Charred and the latter their Peated Bourbon. But save room for faraway sensations such as Yamazaki and Nikka from Japan. Just don’t be afraid to use the spit bucket from time to time; Whisky Live reserves the right to remove anyone who doesn’t sample responsibly.

Live Entertainment at Whisky Live

Live Entertainment at Whisky Live

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Whisk(e)y Fest 2015 Offers Free Booze and a Shot at Pappy

Boozehounds, mark your calendars: Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit (5 West 19th Street, 212-929-2323) is hosting its third annual Whisk(e)y Fest throughout the entire month of February. Each day of the month will be dedicated to a featured brown spirit, which you can taste for free between 5 and 8 p.m. And with every whiskey purchase of $100 or more, you’ll be entered into a raffle for a chance to buy a bottle of the infuriatingly rare Pappy Van Winkle — at retail price: ten-, fifteen-, and twenty-year expressions will be sold to the winners for $88, $149, and $198, respectively. Not bad, considering that they’re now fetching close to that on eBay…for an empty bottle.

Why does this particular bourbon command such a princely sum? Scarcity of supply is the most obvious culprit. Every October, the distillery releases around 22,000 bottles to the public. Jim Beam, by comparison, produces about 96 million bottles in one calendar year. Pappy also relies upon a wheated grain bill, characterized by a softness that tends to age well in the barrel. Not just any spirit could (or should) sit in wood for upwards of two decades. Pappy clearly benefits from its lengthy slumber, and there is at least some legitimacy to all the hype.

Beyond the ultra-exclusive expressions, Whisk(e)y Fest showcases 50 significant spirits from around the globe, with many of the distillers and ambassadors on hand to discuss what makes their brands unique. Everything from small-batch American ryes to super-peated Islay single-malts will take a turn in the spotlight.

And what better day to kick things off than Super Bowl Sunday, when Bottlerocket features some high-end pours from the Beam catalog. Booker’s, Basil Hayden, and Knob Creek should be enough to make the game worth watching. The special inaugural tasting runs early, from 3 to 6 p.m., leaving plenty of time to get home in time for the coin toss.

From there, Bottlerocket will move on to Irish whiskey and Macallan single-malt, and circle back local for Breukelen Distilling before week’s end. The only drawback to Whisk(e)y Fest is that it arrives during the shortest month of the year. Graciously, leap year is right around the corner.

Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit bills itself as a “new generation wine and spirits shop,” and the Flatiron-based outpost features a children’s play area, wine selections categorized by suggested food pairings, and an airy atmosphere designed to promote social gatherings. A full day-by-day breakdown of Whisk(e)y Fest is now available on its website.

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Why You Should Order More Craft Whiskey on the Internet With Caskers

The past decade has been marked by an explosion in the craft spirits industry. Small producers from every corner of the country now offer bold flavored booze to an expanding market of connoisseurs. Although they’ve added a diversity never before seen in the landscape, micro-producers are not without their drawbacks. Chief among those limitations is insufficient availability. Enter Caskers, a virtual outpost offering an unrivaled inventory of artisanal liquor. They’ll deliver those elusive craft labels directly to your door, anywhere — even Staten Island.

A two-year-old start-up with offices in Manhattan and San Francisco, Caskers is the brainchild of partners — and former corporate lawyers — Steven Abt and Moiz Ali. “[We launched] in 2012 after noticing that the spirits available in one part of the country were different than the spirits available in another part,” says Abt. “As craft spirits, and whiskey in particular, continued to grow in popularity, the inability to get a certain spirit depending on where you live was both frustrating to consumers and posed a real barrier to growth for craft distillers.”

That frustration was also an opportunity not only to fill a niche, but to create a site focused on promoting awareness. “With all the new spirits released each year, it’s incredibly difficult and time-consuming for consumers to learn about products and decide which they want to try, which is why we decided to curate Caskers,” says Abt.

So in addition to offering an exhaustive catalog of à la carte offerings, as can undoubtedly be found elsewhere on the Web, Caskers manufactures brand distinction through club programs, the liquor-store equivalent of a chef’s tasting menu. Starting at $149, it provides quarterly packages containing hand-selected brands adjusted according to customer preference. The client provides general guidelines (e.g., absolutely no vodka or rye, under any circumstance), and Caskers fills in the rest.

“Our goal was never to become the Amazon of spirits, but rather to introduce our members to a small number of products at a time, so they can really learn the story about the spirit and the people who make it,” Abt says.

And for the advanced drinker, enticed more by exclusivity than education, Caskers offers special releases not found elsewhere. “We work with distilleries to try various barrels that they have been aging and, when we find one we like, have the whole barrel bottled for our members,” says Abt.

Next up are two single-barrel whiskeys from Smooth Ambler: Old Scout 8 Year Old and Old Scout 9 Year Old. Bottled at cask strength, these West Virginia–born bourbons boast a significantly high rye content — which can easily be nosed long before even a drop hits the tongue.

Putting the lie to the notion that older equals better, Abt and several of his colleagues preferred the subtleties of the 8 Year Old to its slightly more aged counterpart. A neat pour of each, side by side, and I was obliged to agree. If you want to decide for yourself, you’d best act fast; I suspect neither expression will last long on the site.

Finding a way through the increasingly dense market of contemporary spirits is both wondrous and daunting. Nothing beats accumulating that knowledge empirically, but it’s always nice to have some outside guidance behind the wheel. With the vision of Steven Abt and his team at Caskers, the vast expanse of craft is that much easier to navigate.

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Recipe: Here’s Why the Penicillin Cocktail Is a Good Segue Into Scotch

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. Check out our Good Call archives for another round.

Today’s call comes by way of Jay Zimmerman, co-owner of craft cocktail focused bars Sekend Sun (32-11 Broadway, Queens; 917-832-6414) and Basik (323 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-889-7597).

Zimmerman connected with Attaboy’s Sam Ross over beer and hotdogs at a Mets game, and Ross educated Zimmerman on the benefits of a class of cocktail via the penicillin. “He kind of introduced me into the world of blended scotch cocktails,” says Zimmerman. “The drink hits all the notes: spicy, sweet, sour, smokey. It’s not a drink that’s served up that’s a soft cocktail that you need to let sit on your tongue. Immediately, when you drink the drink, the flavors explode in your mouth.”

A veteran of the New York, D.C., and Miami hospitality industry whose body of work includes stints behind the stick in Ian Schraeger and Andre Balazs establishments, Zimmerman’s gone from manning corporate hotel chains to opening up intimate, under-the-radar cocktail spots in up-and-coming neighborhoods. Working in management positions at boutique hotel bars like The Breslin at The Ace Hotel, Zimmerman gained valuable experience; however, it was his decision to actually get behind the bar that really helped him appreciate the beauty of a drink.

“I spent a lot of time in divey bars and nightclubs,” he says. “The quick drink. Not a huge focus on using fresh ingredients. I tended to drink a lot of tequila and beer.” Taking a step back to work as a bartender helped him appreciate the details of a well-thought-out tipple. However, there were other key moments that played a role in shaping Zimmerman’s path. He had guides like John Thrasher in Washington, D.C., and John Lermayer of The Florida Room at The Delano in Miami. “He [Lermayer] kind of introduced the idea in Miami of mixing high-quality cocktails with high-end nightlife,” says Zimmerman. “When I was with Andre Balazs, I really started going out in this small circle, the who’s-who of the cocktail industry.”

Now Zimmerman spends most of his time at his own establishments, but he still pops into Attaboy for a penicillin, his first foray into blended scotch cocktails, and recommends you do the same. He notes most well-respected cocktail bars in the city, like Little Branch and Employees Only, can easily serve one up, too.

Penicillin Cocktail

1 1/2 ounce blended scotch (Zimmerman enjoys Pig’s Nose scotch)
3/4 ounce sweetened ginger juice
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce honey syrup

Shake all that up, and then strain it over fresh ice. Float a quarter-ounce of Islay scotch — Laphroaig is a favorite for Zimmerman — on top.


 

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Threes Brewing Launches Brewpub in Gowanus

When Threes Brewing opened their doors earlier this week, it brought more than just craft beer to the neighborhood. Brooklyn’s newest brewpub is also a sizable event space, offering live performances, a coffee bar, and a rotating pop-up eatery.

Of course, beer will remain a central theme, and owner Andrew Unterberg–along with two partners, Joshua Stylman and Justin Israelson–express an interest in unique styles of suds. Sour beers, for example, will play a prominent role on the menu here. Tart and tangy, and brewed in the tradition of Belgian Lambics, sours are fermented using wild yeasts and bacterias that impart a wicked, unpredictable funk. To reign in inconsistencies, they usually spend time aging in wine barrels for up to three years. Threes Brewing has a whole stash of funky beer sitting in barrels on the north fork of Long Island, slowly awaiting their introduction to the brewpub’s two dozen tap line system.

Those 24 handles include four dedicated to kegged wine, and an enviable assortment of local guest brews. There’s also a noteworthy collection of whiskey lined up behind the bar.

“We are a place where craftsman — like mad-scientist-poets — create illuminating beer, where music performances enliven, and art performances enlighten,” says Unterberg. Pretty lofty aspirations for a brewpub. But Threes clearly intends to be much more. “It is our aim to create a pillar, both as a responsible manufacturer and a community space, that will be here for years to come.”

Kicking off with a New Orleans-based brass band and a week’s worth of Roberta’s pizza is a great way to start. Threes Brewing opens daily at 4 p.m. and is a three block walk from the Union Street subway station.