Tag Archives: New York City

Cocktail Culture Goes Baking!

Cupcakes baked by sugar Sweet sunshine bakery in NYC with a Hiram Walker Watermelon Satin Buttercream icing. How can you not resist?!

I like to think I’m somewhat of a better than average cook and can hold my own in the kitchen with relative ease. But, humbly, I admit that I’m at a complete loss when it comes to the art of baking. Maybe it’s that I stink at math and can’t quickly calculate various ratios. Or that I’m one to veer far from the directions laid out in front of me.

But when I got wind that a New York City bakery chose to use Hiram Walker Watermelon Schnapps as an ingredient in a cupcake icing, I knew I HAD to have the recipe! sugar Sweet sunshine, a NYC-based bakery, developed a Watermelon Satin Buttercream cupcake icing for a Hiram Walker-hosted Happy Hour at Pernod Ricard USA’s NYC office.  And, according to Brand Manager Sarah Sercia, the cupcakes were a tremendous hit!

sugar Sweet sunshine’s owner, Peggy, was kind enough to share her hit recipe with Cocktail Culture and it’s featured in its entirety below:

Watermelon Satin Buttercream (yields enough for 2 dozen cupcakes)

  • 1 lb or 2 C unsalted butter
  • 2 C granulated sugar
  • ½ C water
  • 5 large egg whites
  • ½ + 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/3 C Hiram Walker Watermelon Sour Schnapps
  • 3-4 drops of pink food coloring

Using a standing mixer, beat 1lb butter until smooth and softened.  Set bowl aside in a cool place.

In a small saucepan combine 1-1/2 C of the sugar with ½ C cold water.  Cook on stovetop over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.  After sugar has dissolved and sugar syrup is bubbling, place a candy thermometer in the syrup and let simmer until firm ball stage is reached.  (248-250 degrees).

While sugar syrup is cooking, separate 5 eggs.  Place whites in another mixing bowl.  Beat until foamy, then add the cream of tartar.  Beat on medium high until soft peaks form when the beater is raised.  Gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Turn mixer off.

When syrup has reached the firm ball stage, remove from heat and carefully pour the liquid into a glass measuring cup to stop the cooking.

Pour a small amount of the syrup into the egg whites.  Turn mixer on and beat on high for 5 seconds.  Turn mixer back on and pour a larger amount into the egg whites.  Beat on high for another 5 seconds.  Repeat until all the syrup has been poured.  Beat on high another 10 seconds and then turn the mixer to it’s lowest speed and continue to mix until the mixing bowl is completely cool.

When mixing bowl is cooled, add butter one spoonful at a time,  mixing on medium high speed until each addition is incorporated.  When all butter has been added, beat on high.  Do not worry if the icing looks thin or curdled during the mixing process.  It will come together in a smooth silky texture.  Lower speed and drizzle in the liqueur and food coloring to desired shade of pink.

Are you drooling on your keyboard yet?

Please be sure to 1. check out sugar Sweet sunshine Bakery and like them on Facebook and 2. invite me over when you plan to make these desirable cupcakes yourself. You provide the standing mixer and I will bring the hooch! 🙂


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MCC Kicks Off Tonight

Year 2 has dawned upon us and the action gets underway tonight in the Big Apple. I’m referring to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, a five-day festival through the vast concrete jungle of New York City that includes a variety of educational seminars, tasting events and not-to-be-missed parties.

Tonight’s main attraction is The Gala, where the Classic will once again take over the sprawling main branch of The New York Public Library.  Encompassing four stories, two city blocks and over 25,000 cocktails, the Gala will once again be the starlet of the Cocktail Classic.

I’d love to hear what other events people will be attending so please share with me some of the highlights on your own calendars! I’ll most certainly be at the Gala tonight (and intermittently around the city for the rest of the festival) so tweet me up @stephaniejerzy if you’d like to say hello and share a drink.

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NYC Stop: Pioneers of Mixology

Oh, hey there! I spotted myself in the crowd at the NYC seminar of the 3-stop roadshow. Photo from Pernod Ricard, Pioneers in Mixology.

As this lovely picture to the left demonstrates, I was very fortunate to be among the 120 bartenders attending the NYC edition of the Pioneers in Mixology roadshow, an exclusive program extended to graduates of the BarSmarts WIRED and Advanced certification programs. Sponsored by Pernod Ricard USA, the program for bartenders featured many of the industry’s world-class presenters speaking on topics of interest in advanced mixology and technique.

So what exactly does one get educated on when in the good hands of host Gary Regan at a Pioneers in Mixology program? Here are some of the highlights and key takeaways from my experience:

  • Starting the day with a 5-minute silent meditation led by Gary is the perfect way to brush all the day-to-day craziness aside and get in the zone (even after a hectic early morning commute of cabs, trains, and automobiles).
  • Aisha Sharpe (Contemporary Cocktails) and Dushan Zaric (Employees Only, Macao Trading Co.) taught us that a confident Bartender is a balanced union of three equally developed parts: sage, mixologist, and rock star. Each of these skills has a unique set of characteristics to make us more mindful of our performance behind the bar.
  • Molecular Mixology guru Tony Conigliaro (69 Colebrooke Row, London) taught us that you can in fact  infuse flavors into eggs, among my other progressive scientific techniques that are well over my head so please forgive my poor wording. In simplest terms, Tony explained that letting eggs sit in a sealed container with essential oils lets the eggs absorb the scent through its penetrable membrane.
  • A champagne cocktail is a lovely mid-afternoon treat amidst all this education. Do I really need to explain this any further?
  • Nick Strangeway gave us innumerable suggestions on incorporating local ingredients into our cocktails and the great sense of community it can influence as a result. Remember, way back, when the bar or pub was the center of the community? There’s lots of ways to start finding, or even growing yourself, local ingredients in your area, such as starting a community garden or even “guerrilla gardening”.

In addition, Pernod Ricard has indicated that proceeds from all Pioneers in Mixology events are being donated to the charity Wine to Water, an aid organization focused on providing clean water to those in need throughout the world.

Many thanks again to the fantastic presenters along with the team at Pernod Ricard USA for developing this phenomenal education program to continue bartender education. If you have not yet participated in BarSmarts, I highly encourage that you do so; more information is available on both the BarSmarts WIRED and Advanced programs online. Registration is now open for both programs.

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A Lesson in Blended Scotch

I’m sure many of you have all sampled a blended Scotch whisky before, but have you ever tasted the individual components that make the whisky’s final blend?

Chivas Regal 18 with the different malt components tasted during the live Chivas tasting event: Islay 18, Longmorn 18, Grain 18, and Strathisla 18

A group of influential Scotch and spirits bloggers had the opportunity to do just that thanks in part to the team behind Chivas Regal. In early October, on a blustery afternoon in New York City that just had “Scotch” written all over it, many of us gathered together live in New York City where we were guided in our Scotch adventure by Chivas Brothers  Global Brand Ambassador Alex Robertson. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Eventi Hotel in NYC to participate in the live component and monitor the chat room feed throughout Alex’s highly educational tasting.

Meanwhile, throughout the country (Well, world actually. We had people participating in Canada and, ironically, in Glasgow, Scotland!), bloggers alike logged in to a chat room set up by Chivas to watch and listen to the action as it happened in New York. And on our way we went! Alex was our fantastic guide to breaking down the Chivas Regal 18 into its various 18-yo malt components and “rebuilding” it to better understand what makes up the final blend.

So what happens when you have one blended Scotch whisky, four regional malt components, and participants spanning time zones at least eight hours apart? Well, why don’t I just leave that to the experts…Here are the blog posts I’ve come across to date following the event, that all provide some fine-tuned insight (in no particular order). If I’m missing a post, please holler at me and I will add it on to this accruing list.

  • Geoff at Drink Spirits seemed to have a blog post updated within mere minutes of the tasting’s final slainte!
  • Blair at Good Spirits News compares whisky samples to The Beatles
  • 2500 miles wasn’t enough to keep Scotch Hobbyist Jeff from participating in the tasting
  • Hal of A Muddled Thought takes “A look at the blend behind Chivas 18”
  • Half the Whisk(e)y Apostle duo was live in NYC, but both authors provide invaluable insights
  • The gentlemen behind Whisky Party rallied the troops and whetted our appetites for the tasting ahead
  • Update 12/9/10 – NY Drinks Examiner Robert Haynes-Peterson remembers “Ol’ Blue Eyes” himself, Frank Sinatra, with a toast to Chivas 18.

I must also add that we had a fantastic cocktail created especially for this live event from PDT’s Lindsay Nader. Here is the delightful recipe:

The Crooner Fizz

  • 2 oz Chivas Regal 12
  • .5 oz Chairman’s Reserve Rum
  • .5 oz lemon juice
  • .5 oz raisin syrup

Add all ingredients to a champagne flute and top with Perrier Jouet Champagne.


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The Big Apple’s Best Commuter Bars

Grand Central Station's main concourse (photo from destination360.com)

James Mulcahy is a mind reader.

For reals. New York’s all-around barfly wrote a piece special to Metromix earlier this month about some of the top commuter bars to crawl into while in the vicinity of the city’s many transit hubs: Grand Central Station, Penn Station and, yes, even Port Authority.

My locale in CT is just far enough that I still have to plan pretty ‘on-point’ to get into the city by a certain time but close enough that I can be under Manhattan’s big lights on any given day. As a somewhat frequent Metro-North commuter, I’ve come to learn the ins-and-outs of shuffling through Grand Central Station, but a light bulb clicked on when I read James’ story – I really haven’t explored the drinking scene near the stations! This clearly must be changed.

I’ll be doing a bunch of traveling in and out of New York over the next several weeks (both for work – more to come there! – and for pleasure) so I’m going to start a running list on this blog entry of the different bars I come across in my adventures.

In the interim of not having begun my commuter bar crawl, be sure to give James’ story a read. There are definitely a slew of options on there to lead me in the right direction along my imbibing adventure.



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Highlights from the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Gala

Dan Warner hides in the dimly-lit, yet festive, Beefeater Summer Gin bar at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Gala.

The multi-day festival that was the 1st annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic has come and passed and I was lucky enough to participate in a sampling of the events and educational seminars that the Big Apple’s biggest cocktail party had to offer. Pernod Ricard USA invited me along for the opening gala on May 14th, for the introduction of Beefeater Summer Edition, a lighter style gin specially designed to reflect the more relaxed style of summer drinking. The bar also featured Beefeater 24 which was introduced to the market last year and has successfully launched throughout the country.

At the Beefeater bar resembling a summer garden, I had the opportunity to finally meet Dan Warner, Global Ambassador for Beefeater. We had a chance to chat across the bar about the unique flavor profile in the Summer Edition gin, which features the addition of elderflower, black currant and hibiscus botanicals. Along with Warner, Kenta Goto of Pegu Club NYC and TJ Lynch of The Breslin served punch and stirred martinis to order for the 2,500 guests in attendance. Want the recipes? You got ‘em:

Demsond Payne, Master Distiller of Beefeater Gin with a Summer Gin Punch at the MCC Gala. Photo Courtesy Pernod Ricard USA.

Summer Gin Punch

5 parts Beefeater Summer Gin
1 part St Germain
1 part Maraschino
5 parts Chilled Green Tea
1 part Lime Juice
5 parts Prosecco
Method: Add ingredients to Punch Bowl with Ice Block
Glass: Punch Bowl
Garnish: Pineapple sticks, strawberries, lemon wheel, pink grapefruit wheels, mint sprigs

How perfect does this sound for your Memorial Day festivities coming up?!

24 Martini
5 parts Beefeater 24
1 part Lillet Blanc
2 dash orange bitters
Method: Stir all ingredients until ice cold and strain into glass.
Glass: Coupe
Garnish: Grapefruit twist

Steve Raye, and I at the Gala.

Beefeater’s summer gin was certainly a hot topic throughout the gala event. But what other ground did I span over the four stories of the New York Public Library? I got to connect face-to-face with some of my awesome online cocktail friends, play “Where’s Waldo?” with others, and sample a slew of beverages (oh, and I did I mention that there were Oompa-Loompas roaming near the front entrance?!). Not a bad gig, right? Many thanks again to Pernod Ricard for letting me join in the festivities.



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The Manhattan Cocktail Classic May 14-18

The New York Public Library in daylight. Can you imagine this place, covering four stories and spanning two city blocks, filled with cocktailians alike!

It’s finally here! After it’s smashing fall preview event, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic is back to the city that never sleeps for a multi-day event “celebrating the history, contemporary culture, and artful craft of the cocktail.”

According to the Web site, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic is:

Part festival, part fête, part conference, part cocktail party, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic brings together the unparalleled talents and opportunities of the bars, bartenders, and restaurants of our great city for five days of activities, both educational and celebratory in nature, championing the common ideals of authenticity, equality, sustainability, service, and pleasure.  (There will be some drinking involved, too.)

The event kicks off this evening with the sold-out gala, where cocktail enthusiasts and professionals will be in the hands of the finest mixologists stirring up what I can only assume to be an exorbitant (but what else would you expect?!) number of crafty cocktails at the New York Public Library.

The rest of the weekend is jam packed with seminars, tours from Behind the Bar at some of New York’s most renowned cocktail bars, and a three-hour booze cruise. Need I tempt you more?

These events are sure to sell out, so get your tickets soon.

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British Invasion! Beefeater 24 Arrives in the States!

beefeater_24_bottle-shotEarlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the official launch party for Beefeater 24 gin. For many cocktail writers, mixologist, bartenders, and enthusiasts, the “tea party” at Ella in New York was their first opportunity to try the product. Little secret here (ok, maybe not since I’m blogging it): it was my first chance to try it as well. Biased though I may be, I’ve got to tell you it’s fantastic! But you don’t have to believe me…take a look around online and you’ll see many others are raving about it as well.

So what is Beefeater 24 and what makes it different from the regular Beefeater Dry Gin? Created by Beefeater’s master distiller Desmond Payne, Beefeater 24 was inspired by the fact that Beefeater’s founder, James Burrough, was a prominent tea merchant. Though Beefeater 24 is made from many of the same botanicals (steeped for 24 hours—get it? 24) featured in the original, the addition of Chinese Green Tea and Japanese Sencha Tea makes for a totally different gin.

So, how about a few recipes? Here’s what they were serving up at the party:

Triple Citrus 24 by Dan Warner:cimg3119

1 ½ oz. Beefeater 24
3 oz. Q Tonic Water

Build in an ice-filled Collins or highball glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel, lime wheel, and orange wheel.

cimg312124 Martini by Dan Warner:

2 oz. Beefeater 24
1/3 oz. Lillet
3 dashes Regan’s orange bitters

Stir all ingredients until ice cold. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

The shifting Sands by Sasha Petraske:

cimg31001 ½ oz. Beefeater 24
½ oz. Maraschino Liqueur
¾ oz. grapefruit juice
½ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Dash of simple syrup
Top with soda water

Shake first five ingredients. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with soda water. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

cimg3104The launch party brought out the likes of Gary Reagan, Audrey Saunders, Simon Ford, and Charlotte Voisey, among many others. Dan Warner, brand ambassador for Beefeater, chatted up the crowd while Desmond Payne served as the honorary Mad Hatter. Check out the bartenders in their fab top-hats. It was so much fun and the drinks are so tasty—perfect for warmer weather!

Next week we’ll be examining the product even closer and creating more great cocktails so stay tuned! Chip chip cheerio!

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If these walls could talk…

jameson1-2If you’ve been to New York (or, for that matter, any other major U.S. city) anytime recently, you’ve probably noticed that ads are everywhere! Much more than before, ads are popping up in truly unconventional spaces across the city, as brands try to get their message heard above all the noise. So, it’s no huge surprise then that Jameson Whiskey has started to advertise by projecting images on the sides of large buildings. Impressive ads, several stories high are showing up across New York and Los Angeles this month as Jameson begins this innovative campaign. What’s so innovative about it? Well…the walls are talking…


Ok, maybe they’re not “talking” per se, but they are communicating—with passers-by in real time. Imagine approaching a huge ad on the side of a building with a message that says “Hey you! Yes you, in the blue shirt.” It might just grab your attention, huh?


Copy-writers will be engaging people, whom they can see via camera, by communicating to them in real time—very cool. Wouldn’t you love to be behind that camera, watching people’s faces contort with confusion as they realize the ad is talking to them? I can imagine the stages in this process.


  1. The unenthused passer-by quickly glances at yet another ad on the busy New York City streets.
  2. Passer-by slows to a stop to contemplate why the ad’s text “Hey You” is so random. “How’s that supposed to sell Jameson?” passer-by will think to self.
  3. After ad types “Yes, you,” passer-by will point to self and look around to see if anyone else is noticing.
  4. After ad types something more detailed like “you, in the blue shirt,” passer-by will look at his/her shirt to confirm that it is, indeed, blue.
  5. A look of shock followed by goofy smiling and unbelievable laughter will follow, while the passer-by attempts to tell everyone around about what is going on.
  6. A crowd gathers to join in the fun and everyone is late for work. It’s ok, it was worth it.  

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Meaghan Dorman and the Autumn Gingerbread Flip

autumn-gingerbread-flipThis post is a part of a series that will profile participants in the Hiram Walker Gingerbread Cocktail Competition and their drink entries. The winner of the contest will be announced the week of Thanksgiving.


Meaghan Dorman is relatively new to the world of blogging, though she’s no rookie in the cocktail world. A former bartender, Meaghan is a spirits writer based in New York City. At Spirit Me Away, she’s kind enough to share the details of her fabulous Carrie Bradshaw-esque life of late night cocktail parties with the rich & famous and exclusive tastings with some of the country’s best mixologists with envious readers such as myself who live in decidedly less fabulous places (such as the Insurance capital of the U.S…thrills!).  


Meaghan was kind enough to contribute her skills and creativity to the Hiram Walker Gingerbread Cocktail Competition with this lil’ number—The Autumn Gingerbread Flip.


The Autumn Gingerbread Flip by Meaghan Dorman:


1.5 oz farmer’s market apple cider

1.5 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey

.5 oz Hiram Walker Gingerbread Liqueur

.5 oz egg white


Rinse a cocktail glass with Cherry Heering liqueur. Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass and dry shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Add ice and shake again.  Strain into rinsed cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed orange zest. Enjoy!


Thanks Meaghan, for a tasty submission that’s relatively easy to make (just watch yourselves when flaming that orange zest!). Make sure and check out Meaghan’s blog for the latest in NYC’s spirits scene.

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