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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Bars

Sneak Peek: Cocteleria in New York City's East Village

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Cocteleria, the about-to-open rum punch bar and Cuban restaurant.

I’m with Urban Daddy on this one. The East Village did not need another great bar. But they got one anyway: Cocteleria at Cienfuegos, the about-to-open Cuban restaurant and rum punch bar that’s upstairs from the Cuban sandwich shop Carteles.  I haven’t been—it’s soft opening Thursday and officially opening next Monday—but F&W Cocktails 2010’s excellent deputy editor Joaquin Simo got in the door. He loved the distressed walls and the Old Havana ambiance. He also loved mixologist Charlotte Voisey’s punches (they’re all rum-based!), particularly Movable Feast (a Voisey original with silver rum, vermouth and dry French cider). He loved that the punches are served in different sizes, from single servings to much larger amounts (“$100 buys punch for the whole family,” Robert Simonson smartly blogged). And he loved the menu, especially the roast pork–filled tamales. “It’s a great bite when you need to take the edge off your hunger,” Simo said. "And to justify ordering another round."

 

More of Cocteleria's awesome-sounding menu after the jump.

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Entertaining

Kentucky Derby Day Juleps

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The Tupelo Julep

© Daniel Krieger

This Saturday is the Kentucky Derby, and even though I know it's all about the horses, who can blame me for thinking of refreshments instead, when the contenders have names like Sidney's Candy and Ice Box? If I were in Brooklyn this weekend I'd get my julep fix at the Vanderbilt, Saul Bolton's six-month-old Prospect Heights restaurant, which put a julep variation on the menu a few weeks ago. My Kentucky-born, bourbon-loving husband might chastise me for liking their well-balanced Tupelo Julep, made with rye, cognac and apricot-mint syrup instead of the traditional bourbon and mint, but he would agree that the bartender, Brian Patrick Floyd, gets the ice perfect, so that the glass frosts over as the drink slowly melts. Variations of the julep abound; here are a few to try at your own Derby party:

Mint Julep
Blanca Julep
Parsley-Gin Julep
Champagne Julep

Cocktails

Mumbai Nightlife

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Aer

© Red Lion
Aer at the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai.

Thursday is the night to go out in Mumbai and I had India’s top fashion photographer, Farrokh Chothia (he shot the striking photos hanging in Vermillion restaurant, escorting me past the ropes of the city’s newest bars.

Farrokh met me at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, which will be reopened in its entirety this July, once the tower wings have been restored (they suffered damage in the 2008 terrorist attacks). The hotel’s legendary Harbour Bar (it became Mumbai’s first licensed bar when it opened in 1933) just reopened at the end of March with a great list of Prohibition-era cocktails that are theatrically mixed and poured, plus there's also an extensive selection of single malts and whiskeys.

After watching a night polo gam at Mahalaxmi raccourse, we checked out Tote on the Turf next door. Malini and Rahul Akerkar, the couple behind Indigo, opened this enormous new restaurant and bar last September. Up-and-coming architect Kapil Gupta is responsible for the space, which has 40-foot vaulted ceilings designed to look like tree branches. Its lineup of DJs and a smart drink list that includes the signature Tote Mary (a Bloody Mary with balsamic vinegar and crushed cucumbers) has made midtown suddenly cool.

For the best view of the city, we went to Aer, the posh new bar on the roof of the Four Seasons Hotel. Elsie Nanji is responsible for the futuristic design and great accents like Ross Lovegrove’s Love bench as well as chairs and stools from Driade’s Tokyo-Pop series.

After three supertrendy spots full of beautiful people, I was ready for something more laid-back. Farrokh took me to Blue Frog,  an awesome live-music venue in an old warehouse in Lower Parel that’s been brilliantly redesigned. We ended our night there, rocking out to a Pearl Jam tribute band with some of Farrok's friends from Vogue India.

Menus

Painkiller Tiki Drink Preview

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Cradle of Life flaming cocktail at Painkiller

© Alessandra Bulow
Cradle of Life flaming cocktail at Painkiller.

I can’t stop talking about tiki. Not because of the Tiki Barber sex scandal, but because I recently got an exclusive preview of the tiki drinks that Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzalez (Dutch Kills) are going to be making at their supercool new bar Painkiller, which is opening in early May in New York City.

In addition to smooth daiquiris, flights of mini zombie drinks and all-you-can-eat hot dogs (“They’re not going to be fancy, Grade-A or kosher, but they’ll be free,” said Boccato), they’ll be serving fantastic rum-based flaming cocktails like the Cradle of Life (made with spiced rum, white rum, lime and orange juices and almond syrup; the green chartreuse on top is set on fire, pictured). The menu will also include communal drinks served in custom-made ceramic vessels called Scorpion Bowls. Each Scorpion Bowl will be named after a 1970s NYC street gang, like the Electric Coffin, a large coffin-shaped bowl that will billow steam from a hidden chamber for dry ice in its underbelly.

Boccato got the idea for the Scorpion Bowl names while narrating a friend’s documentary about the gangs and he's continuing the urbanized-oasis theme by asking some of NYC’s classic old-school graffiti artists to tag the walls of the bar.

“Half of tiki is about presentation,” said Boccato. “Tiki bars usually look like a dive, a Disney ride or Grandpa’s basement. We’re going for something different.”

Bars

PDT’s New Choptank Hot Dog

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The new Choptank dog at PDT.

It’s not like I need another reason to go to PDT, the fantastic bar-behind-a-phone-booth in New York City’s East Village. But I got one anyway. Jim Meehan, PDT’s bar manager and also the deputy editor of F&W’s about-to-be-released Cocktails 2010, has just announced a new hot dog on the menu. It’s the Choptank Dog, and it’s an ode to the fun new Chesapeake Bay–themed restaurant Choptank in the West Village, where waiters bring bowls of crab dip and Old Bay–seasoned chips to the table as soon as customers sit down. “Basically, it’s chips and dip meet the hot dog,” says Meehan. Exactly: The deep-fried hot dog is topped with crab dip, crushed Old Bay chips and pickled jalapeños, with a slice of cheddar cheese tucked underneath. Meehan recommends it with a whiskey smash (ask for it with Maryland's own Monongahela rye whiskey).

Cocktails

New Projects from Berlin’s Star Mixologist

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Bar Amano

© Hotel Amano
Mario Grünfelder created the cocktail list for the bar at Hotel Amano.

 

For the last few days (and very late nights), I found myself restaurant-and-bar-hopping around Berlin with Mario Grünfelder, the star mixologist of the city’s coolest bar, Tausend. F&W’s European correspondent, Gisela Williams, had been telling me about a number of ambitious projects the Swiss-born spirits genius been working on. He already co-owns Tausend, along with W Imbiss and the superhip Café 103 (which he says will be transforming into something even cooler very soon). Mario is good buddies with the brilliant, semi-maniacal chef Christian Lohse, so we met for lunch at Lohse’s Michelin-starred seafood-centric Fischers Fritz to talk about potential collaborations, which included talk of a 24-hour bar-hopping bus.

Later, Mario invited us to Cantina, the new restaurant in a room behind the bar at Tausend. The former chef of Berlin’s popular Shiro I Shiro is turning out casual Latin-Asian dishes like Peruvian tiradito, tuna tataki wrapped in foie and Momofuku-rivaling pork buns. Over a second round of the stellar pork buns, Mario shared his newest passion, making his own spirits, including an unbelievably smooth wheat-based vodka he’s named Greenfield and Harter 73 (Greenfield being an Americanized version of his last name; 73 referring to his date of birth; and Harter the last name of Tausend co-owner Til Harter). I’m hoping we’ll see bottles stateside soon.

When Tausend gets too crowded late at night, Mario heads to his newest bar project at the chic, affordable new Hotel Amano in the Mitte neighborhood. The low-lit lounge serves late-night snacks and Mario’s cocktails, like the Grischenko (Xoriguer gin, cordial lime juice and Limettensaft bitters) until 4 a.m. The prolific spirits obsessive is now off to Barcelona. Maybe he’ll be opening his first project outside of Germany soon.

Bars

Grammy Winning (Drinks) at the Beverly Wilshire

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Halo with a Twist Tied for Best Grammy Cocktail at the Beverly Wilshire

Although I'm totally looking ahead to the Oscars, I'm still thinking about the Grammys. Here's where I wish I was, besides front row for the awards: At the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Not just because the place was filled with the people who won awards (and who can’t be named here) but also because its restaurant/bar, Blvd, honored some Grammy nominees with an adorable list of drinks. The Best Drink nominees included:

*“Halo” with a Twist: Champagne, St.-Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon twist
*Lady’s Poker Face (After Tequila): tequila, cassis, lemon juice and sugar
*Fearless n’ Swift: vodka, Navan (vanilla-infused Cognac), caramel sauce, black lava salt

The hotel announced that the drink winners were a tie: Halo and Lady's Poker Face. Those drinks are now off the menu now that the Grammys are over. But starting next week, look for Blvd's special Oscar drinks, perhaps the Precious Pisco Sour or a Sandra Bullock Sazerac. (And if you want to work on your own versions of those drinks, F&W has some key recipes for pisco sours and Sazaracs, too.)

Bars

High West: Utah's Best New Après-Ski

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Hot toddy at High West Distillery.

© Kristin Donnelly
A riff on a hot toddy at High West Distillery in Park City, Utah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not really a skier but I always love the après party—which, as my coworker Jen Murphy mentioned in her envy-inducing posts about a recent trip to Austria, is more popular in Europe than in the U.S. David Perkins, founder of the High West Distillery in Park City, Utah, is trying to change that. On Saturdays, in the cozy new saloon next to his copper stills, he’s serving hot late-afternoon cocktails to skiers fresh off the slopes while a local bluegrass band plays. I popped into High West while I was out in Utah last month and loved the Rock n’ Rye. Made with freshly muddled oranges and lemons, hot water and High West’s Rendezvous Rye, it’s essentially a riff on a hot toddy with a cute little addition: a rock-candy stick so drinkers can sweeten it to taste. After finishing the drink, I couldn’t decide what surprised me more: that I got this lovely, warming buzz hassle-free in Utah (read more about that here) or that I briefly considered taking up skiing.

Recipes

A Rye Toast to J.D. Salinger

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© Alessandra Bulow
Rye House Punch at Rye House in NYC

In a tribute to J.D. Salinger, the famously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye, who passed away this week, my colleague Kristin Donnelly and I raised a glass to him last night at Rye House, a new cocktail bar in New York City’s Flatiron District. We especially liked the citrusy but not too sweet Rye House Punch (made with chai-infused Rittenhouse Rye, Batavia Arrack, lemon, grapefruit and Angostura bitters, pictured) as well as the flaky pork belly and smoked Gouda-filled empanadas.

Here, a few rye-based cocktails to toast the author’s life and literary works:
Carra-Ryed Away
Manhattan
Silver Lining

Cocktails

Big Star in Chicago

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When I vacationed in Chicago last weekend, my first stop was star chef Paul Kahan’s latest bar and taqueria, Big Star. The large rectangular bar that dominates the space holds two of Big Star’s three specialties: some 50-odd bourbons and a couple dozen tequilas. The other specialty comes from the kitchen: tacos—hundreds of tacos.

Tapping along to a Loretta Lynn record, I elbowed my way to the bar to order a drink, from a list conceived by the team from the adjacent cocktail haven The Violet Hour. I started with a San Antonio Sling, a bracing combination of tequila, St-Germain and grapefruit. I followed that with the Hud, an Old Fashioned–like lowball heavy on the bourbon and light on the citrus—tangerine, in this case. Then I turned to food. First up was a fondue-like casserole of rajas chiles, house-made chorizo and cheese. A quartet of tacos followed: lamb, al pastor (marinated pork) and my two favorites, poblano with queso (cheese) and pork belly. The food was delicious, and with nothing exceeding five dollars, also a bargain.

When the weather gets warmer, Big Star will offer a huge alfresco dining area. As long as the music remains louder than the nearby El train, Big Star will be a party few will want to leave.

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