Jim Meehan

•July 26, 2009 • 10 Comments

Over the course of the next series of posts I’m going to share the recipes of some of the luminaries that attend, and mix drinks at, Tales of the Cocktail.

One of my favorite events at Tales every year is the Cocktail Hour, an event that gathers the who’s who of the cocktail world into one room, and then forces them to make alcoholic beverages for lucky chumps like me. Now normally I would walk around the room taking pictures of each bar star, note their recipe and post here. Unfortunately this year the lighting in the rooms was quite poor, and I’m a horrible photographer of people, so the combination of both ensured that many of my pictures did not turn out. To add to my incompetence, this year Tales didn’t offer cards detailing the recipes at each table, in an effort to boost sales of this year’s Tales Cocktail Book I suspect. This would have been fine and dandy, but unfortunately all the recipes didn’t make it into the book so some drinks were omitted due to this lack of recipe. Anywho, enough compunctions, let’s get to our first bartender deity of the series and his recipes.

From his Tales biography we get this about Jim Meehan:

Jim Meehan’s career in the restaurant business began in 1995 while studying English Literature and African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He worked his way from doorman to manager at both State Street Brats and Paul’s Club between bartending stints at The Great Dane and Café Montmartre.

One year after receiving his diploma in 2001, he moved to New York City and landed his first job at Five Points Restaurant on Great Jones Street. Two years later, he opened Pace, an ambitious Italian restaurant where he managed the bar and worked on the floor as a sommelier. When Pace closed, he spent over two years rebuilding the cocktail program at Gramercy Tavern while shaking drinks for renowned mixologist and mentor, Audrey Saunders at The Pegu Club. He currently runs PDT, a hidden cocktail lounge in the East Village where his work has been recognized by rising star awards from Star Chefs in 2007 and Cheers Magazine in 2009.

In addition to his work behind the bar, Jim is a contributing editor of Food & Wine Magazine’s annual cocktail book, Mr. Boston’s Bartender Guide and Sommelier Journal, a monthly trade magazine that features his bartender column. He has developed cocktails for numerous spirits companies, lectured at local and international trade shows and works as a wine and spirits educator.

Jim and his cocktails have been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, New York Magazine, Time Out New York, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Imbibe, Details, The Malt Advocate and Wine Enthusiast.

Unfortunately, what the Tales website does not say is how great and down to earth of a guy Jim is. He always has a smile on his face and always has an ear to lend; not easy feats when you consider how many people want a piece of his time. It is thanks to Jim that I was able to work on this year’s Food & Wine 2009 Cocktail Guide and have drinks in two editions of Mr. Boston Bartender’s Guide. He was even kind enough to name a drink after me and put it on his menu at PDT. If that wasn’t enough for you, he had to go and win this year’s American Bartender of the Year at Tales. It’s almost enough to make you want to hate the guy, but to do so would be an act of foolishness and unnecessary jealousy, so instead you should just mix up one of his concoctions and toast Jim, who, for one day at least, was King of New York.

BURKE’S CUP

1 ½ oz Plymouth gin
¾ oz grapefruit juice
½ oz Pernod absinthe
½ oz simple syrup
¼ oz anisette
3 slices cucumber (+1 for garnish)
6 mint leaves
add cucumber, mint and simple to a mixing glass and muddle
add everything else with ice
shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with pebble ice
garnish with a cucumber wheel

SEÑOR

2 oz Jose Cuervo Platino
1 oz lime juice
½ oz Dry sack
¼ oz Benedictine
1 teaspoon St Dalfour Royal Fig
slice of fig
add all into iced mixing glass
shake and fine strain into a chilled coupe
garnish with a slice of fig

THE DUBOUDREAU COCKTAIL

2 oz rye
¾ oz Dubonnet
¼ oz Fernet Branca
¼ oz St. Germain
stir with ice
strain into a chilled cocktail glass
garnish with a lemon twist
**a perfect example of why he’s a better man than I. He took one of my recipes, added Dubonnet and bettered the drink.

(Seriously though Jim, congrats and thanks for your support throughout the years.)

Santé!

Jim Meehan

Jim Meehan

Drinks by Jim Meehan
Unworthy picture by:
Jamie Boudreau

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Tales Winners

•July 18, 2009 • 4 Comments

So I’ve been asked to list the winners at Tales of the Cocktail this year, and to the best of my Sazerac-drowned memory the winners are in yellow, below. Congrats to all who won, and to all who were nominated.

World’s Best Drinks Selection

Criteria: A venue stocking an outstanding range of spirits and liqueurs. The judges will favor discernment as well as sheer numbers of bottles stocked.

The Merchant Hotel, Belfast
Le Lion Bar de Paris, Hamburg
ZigZag Café, Seattle

Best American Cocktail Bar

Criteria: This award recognizes the influence on cocktail trends within the United States and seeks to award the country’s best cocktail bar.

Death & Co, NYC
PDT, NYC
Pegu Club, NYC

World’s Best Cocktail Bar

Criteria: Only truly world-class bars will be considered for this illustrious title. Some bars attain worldwide recognition and this award recognizes the very best of the best.

Door 74, Amsterdam
High Five Bar, Tokyo
PDT, NYC
Pegu Club, NYC

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar

Criteria: Only bars which opened after 1st March 2008 may be nominated. This award aims to reward new creativity and ideas as well as well executed drinks.

Clover Club, Brooklyn
Drink, Boston
Quo Vadis, London

World’s Best Hotel Bar

Criteria: The classic ‘American Bar’ played an important role in the history and development of cocktail culture. The judges are looking for hotel bars, which uphold this tradition (but are not necessarily old) and offer five-star service and consistently well-made drinks.

Dukes, London
The Connaught, London
The Merchant Hotel, Belfast

American Bartender of the Year

Criteria: From Jerry Thomas onwards, American bartenders have been amongst the most influential on drinks styles and cocktail culture in general. This award seeks to recognize the most influential American bartender today. The winner should be proficient at making all recognized classic drinks and also have created contemporary cocktails, which have been copied by his/her peers.

Audrey Saunders
James Meehan
Phil Ward

International Bartender of the Year

Criteria: The absolute best drinks mixer in the world. The winner must have received international recognition of their work with their own recipes crossing borders to appear on cocktail menus in numerous countries. (US citizens are not excluded.)

Agostino Perrone
Charles Vexenat
Tony Conigliaro

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book

Criteria: The best book published in 2008 regarding cocktails, liquor, and bars, bar design or bartending in general. New editions of existing works may also be nominated.

Cocktails Made Easy – Simon Difford
Mud Puddle Books – Greg Boehm
The Essential Cocktail – Dale DeGroff

Best Cocktail Writing

Criteria: Great journalism is one of the best ways to communicate to the general public the value and significance of great cocktails and related products. This award is for any non-book journalism (Magazine, Newspaper, Website, etc) that promotes bars, bartender, or cocktails in general.

Camper English
Dave Wondrich
Gary Regan
Jared Brown & Anistatia Miller

Best New Product

Criteria: This is awarded to what the judges consider to be the best new cocktail ingredient (spirit, liqueur, syrup or juice) or piece of cocktail equipment (muddler, shaker etc.). To qualify products must be on general retail sale in at least three US states.

Angostura Orange Bitters
Bols Genever
Ocho

World’s Best Cocktail Menu

Criteria: The judges seek to reward innovative and thirst inducing cocktail menus. Both the design and content will be considered.

Hawksmoor, London
Le Lion Bar de Paris, Hamburg
Merchant Hotel, Belfast

Best American Brand Ambassador

Criteria: An award, which recognizes the importance of personality in the promotion of drinks brands across America.

Jacques Bezuidenhout, Partida
Julio Bermejo, Tequila
Simon Ford, Plymouth

If I Could Sum Up Tales With One Picture…

•July 13, 2009 • 3 Comments
Jacob Briars & Naren Young

Jacob Briars & Naren Young

Eagle Cocktail

•July 4, 2009 • 3 Comments

Victoria Gin

Victoria Gin

When most people think of Tales of the Cocktail, they usually think of the seminars, but that is merely one of the many reasons that one goes there for. Another reason, (and a more exciting one perhaps) to partake in the week-long party that is Tales is to experience the unknown: in this case, spirits. Every year, spirit companies and importers choose Tales to launch new and exciting products, or perhaps give one an opportunity to taste spirits that aren’t available in many States. Today we will discuss two such spirits: one that probably won’t be shown at Tales, and one that definitely will.

Victoria gin, the pièce de résistance of Winchester Cellars, bills itself as the first (and only) premium gin of Canada. You’d think that with Canada’s long standing ties to Britain that they’d be awash with the stuff, but alas, due to prohibitive government, this is not the case. Encased in a gorgeous, thick-glassed, hydrant-plug bottle, Victoria gin is small batch, pot-distilled and reminiscent of better Pacific Northwest gins.  Nosing of this impeccably clear spirit gives one juniper quickly followed by citrus. I found that the longer that this gin was allowed to breathe, the more the citrus overcame the juniper, until finally it nosed almost like a lemon vodka (this was over the course of hours). The palate entry is nicely textured, silky and sweet and one would not guess that this gin is 45% ABV. First tastings gave me an earthy woodsy note that made me believe that American juniper was used, but as the opened bottle took in some air, the earthiness dissipated to leave a much better balanced product than when first opened. The gin finishes with good acid and bitter lemon. Overall this is a gin that I would recommend to those that can get their hands on it.

The second spirit that we’re going to discuss today, is a creation by wunderkind spirit producer Robert Cooper (ok maybe he’s not a child, but he’s younger than me and doing a whole lot more with his life!), of St. Germain fame. Rob has gone back in time to recreate the wonderful, but until now defunct spirit known as Crème Yvette. A hybrid of violette and dark fruit (think cassis and Chambord) crème Yvette was famously known as the “blue” in the Blue Moon and the “sky” in the original Aviation. For the lucky ones out there that are going to Tales of the Cocktail this year, have it be known that it will be there for all to taste and cocktails such as the Aviation, Blue Moon and The Stratosphere will be mixed by yours truly.

UPDATE: due to my inability to read, I had mistakenly thought that Yvette was in the first recipe for the Aviation. It was not, as pointed out to me by Erik Ellestad. A quick check in Hugo Enslin’s 1917 Mixed Drinks confirmed that violette was used, but the Yvette makes a fine sub.

Since we’ve discussed a base spirit and a liqueur, I feel that it is only fitting that we mix a cocktail containing both, don’t you? Today I went to the Stork Club Bar Book, a tome that I’ve always enjoyed, but haven’t pulled from my shelves in well over a year. The beautiful thing about the Stork Club Bar Book, is that not only is it a snap shot in time, but that it also has a section in the book devoted entirely to morning cocktails. Ah, to live in an era where beginning your day with a cocktail was not only socially acceptable, it was damn well civilized! So let’s begin our day with the:

EAGLE COCKTAIL

1 ½ oz gin
¾ oz crème Yvette
juice of half a lemon (I used ¾ oz)
1 tsp sugar (I omitted)
white of an egg
shake and serve in a 4 oz wine glass
(as with any egg drink shake hard. see here for more on eggs)

This is a very tasty drink that just wouldn’t have the same effect if one used violette. The teaspoon of sugar is more for texture than sweetness, but may be omitted if one has a drier palate. I’d tell you more about how delicious this is, but instead I think I’ll just keep it to myself and make you go out and buy a bottle of Yvette to find out for yourself. Until then!

Eagle Cocktail

Eagle Cocktail

Photography by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Mother-In-Law Cocktail

•June 26, 2009 • 2 Comments

I’ve just received my copy of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh, and let me tell you, it’s a glorious piece of work! More recipes, more history, better cover and binding, and bigger, better pictures than the original.  The back of the book has a section for the  Pioneering Champions of the Forgotten Cocktail, which lists the 25 most influential online cocktail pioneers. It is with great gratitude that the good Doc chose me as one of the pioneers, however it is with great dismay that I have to point out an error, one that was probably done on my end (I tend to be a sloppy on the keyboard and I suspect that Ted’s substantially better and more careful), that states that  my blog was started in 2003, when it was actually started in 2005. The only good thing to come of it was that my name was finally put in front of that dastardly Jeffrey Morgenthaler, owner of a blog that for some unknown reason (besides better writing and wit, I’m sure) gets many fold more traffic than mine.

So there you have it, I’ve written about it before, and now that I have it in my hands, I have to insist that each of you go out and buy a copy. Or wait. But only wait if it’s because you’re going to Tales to have Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh sign it for you.

I’ll leave you with an interesting recipe from the book, as it’s been a while since I’ve given you a cocktail recipe. Since I’ve recently acquired one of these I thought that it might be best to share the:

MOTHER-IN-LAW COCKTAIL

1 teaspoon Peychaud’s bitters
1 teaspoon Angostura bitters
1 teaspoon Amer Picon
½ oz orange curaçao
½ oz simple syrup
½ oz maraschino liqueur
9 ounces bourbon
shake in an iced cocktail shaker and strain.

As one can see by this recipe, it’s obviously for an experienced drinker (ok maybe three experienced drinkers, as this is a recipe that is supposed to be strained into three glasses; but it’s still a lot of booze). The Mother-In-Law, as Doc tells it, was truly obscure, coming to him from Brooks Baldwin by way of Chuck Taggart.

As told to Doc by Brooks, from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails:

“My grandmother (born in New Orleans in 1895) inherited this recipe from her mother-in-law shortly before the beginning of the First World War. As specified in the original recipe, my mother concocted this libation by the quart and stored it in an antique lead crystal decanter. Informed that science had linked lead crystal to lead poisoning, my grandmother said: ‘It’s a pretty bottle, so hush’”

As for my own two bits: you gotta love the amount of bitters!

Tales Spirit Awards

•June 23, 2009 • 2 Comments

The Spirit Award nominees for Tales of the Cocktail have been announced, and unlike previous years, Seattle has little representation. Fortunately our good friends at Zig Zag Café have once again been able to bail out our city’s reputation by being the only spot nominated. Now if we can only get Eric to NOLA to accept the award and watch the hilarity ensue!

The following is the list of awards and nominees:

World’s Best Drinks Selection

Criteria: A venue stocking an outstanding range of spirits and liqueurs. The judges will favor discernment as well as sheer numbers of bottles stocked.

The Merchant Hotel, Belfast
Le Lion Bar de Paris, Hamburg
ZigZag Café, Seattle

Best American Cocktail Bar

Criteria: This award recognizes the influence on cocktail trends within the United States and seeks to award the country’s best cocktail bar.

Death & Co, NYC
PDT, NYC
Pegu Club, NYC

World’s Best Cocktail Bar

Criteria: Only truly world-class bars will be considered for this illustrious title. Some bars attain worldwide recognition and this award recognizes the very best of the best.

Door 74, Amsterdam
High Five Bar, Tokyo
PDT, NYC
Pegu Club, NYC

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar

Criteria: Only bars which opened after 1st March 2008 may be nominated. This award aims to reward new creativity and ideas as well as well executed drinks.

Clover Club, Brooklyn
Drink, Boston
Quo Vadis, London

World’s Best Hotel Bar

Criteria: The classic ‘American Bar’ played an important role in the history and development of cocktail culture. The judges are looking for hotel bars, which uphold this tradition (but are not necessarily old) and offer five-star service and consistently well-made drinks.

Dukes, London
The Connaught, London
The Merchant, Belfast

American Bartender of the Year

Criteria: From Jerry Thomas onwards, American bartenders have been amongst the most influential on drinks styles and cocktail culture in general. This award seeks to recognize the most influential American bartender today. The winner should be proficient at making all recognized classic drinks and also have created contemporary cocktails, which have been copied by his/her peers.

Audrey Saunders
James Meehan
Phil Ward

International Bartender of the Year

Criteria: The absolute best drinks mixer in the world. The winner must have received international recognition of their work with their own recipes crossing borders to appear on cocktail menus in numerous countries. (US citizens are not excluded.)

Agostino Perrone
Charles Vexenat
Tony Conigliaro

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book

Criteria: The best book published in 2008 regarding cocktails, liquor, and bars, bar design or bartending in general. New editions of existing works may also be nominated.

Cocktails Made Easy – Simon Difford
Mud Puddle Books – Greg Boehm
The Essential Cocktail – Dale DeGroff

Best Cocktail Writing

Criteria: Great journalism is one of the best ways to communicate to the general public the value and significance of great cocktails and related products. This award is for any non-book journalism (Magazine, Newspaper, Website, etc) that promotes bars, bartender, or cocktails in general.

Camper English
Dave Wondrich
Gary Regan
Jared Brown & Anistatia Miller

Best New Product

Criteria: This is awarded to what the judges consider to be the best new cocktail ingredient (spirit, liqueur, syrup or juice) or piece of cocktail equipment (muddler, shaker etc.). To qualify products must be on general retail sale in at least three US states.

Angostura Orange Bitters
Bols Genever
Ocho

World’s Best Cocktail Menu

Criteria: The judges seek to reward innovative and thirst inducing cocktail menus. Both the design and content will be considered.

Hawksmoor, London
Le Lion Bar de Paris, Hamburg
Merchant Hotel, Belfast

Best American Brand Ambassador

Criteria: An award, which recognizes the importance of personality in the promotion of drinks brands across America.

Jacques Bezuidenhout, Partida
Julio Bermejo, Tequila
Simon Ford, Plymouth

Good luck all!

EUVS

•June 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The EUVS has finally updated their website and it’s a doozy.

Check it out!

 
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