“Is The Varnish the Best Bar in the World? Spirited Bar Awards Finalists Announced” 5/17/13 – LA Weekly

May 21st, 2013 — 11:09am

Is The Varnish The Best Bar In The World? Spirited Bar Awards Finalists Announced, 5/17/13 – LA Weekly
Hot on the heels of last year’s Best American Cocktail Bar award at Tales of the Cocktail, The Varnish is this year a finalist for World’s Best Cocktail Bar, along with 9 other finalists. Eric Alperin, who leads the crew at The Varnish, is also up for American Bartender of the Year. Read the article in its entirety here!

What We’re Reading: School for Spirits, Cracking Down On Drinking And Driving, Rare Cognac With World-Record Pedigree To Be Sold For $157,000, Stand And Deliver

May 20th, 2013 — 5:38pm

In Louisville, A School For Spirits, 5/17/13 – New York Times
Whether its products are called moonshine or artisanal spirits, the small-batch distilling movement has expanded in recent years, bringing to market whiskey from Brooklyn, vodka born in Wisconsin and brandy made in Portland, Ore. Now Louisville, the gateway to Kentucky’s bourbon country, is ensuring that it maintains a reputation as a prime player in the spirits world with Moonshine University, an educational program from the grandly named Distilled Spirits Epicenter where Mr. Blake is creative director. The institution is meant to instill liquor appreciation as well as the craft of booze-making, bottling and marketing. The Distilled Spirits Epicenter’s Moonshine University classes, which began in December, revisit homemade Prohibition-era bathtub gin and whiskey — and such cocktails as the aptly named Scofflaw, created from them — that were ubiquitous before the 1933 repeal of the 18th Amendment. In addition, since February the center has held monthly one-night bourbon-focused classes ($50) meant to explore food pairings, the aging process and bourbon cocktails, among other themes. There are also five-day distilling courses ($5,500), covering everything from how to mill grain and make spirits to finding a distributor for the finished product. Presenters include professionals from some of the biggest distillers in the area, including Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Brown-Forman. The next one, titled “So You Want to Build a Distillery?” starts in mid-June. Read more here!

Cracking Down On Drinking And Driving,  5/14/13 – New York Times
A revived plan by the National Transportation Safety Board, an independent federal agency charged with investigating transportation-related crashes, aims to lower the legal blood alcohol concentration to 0.05 percent. The safety board’s report, “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving,” was released on Tuesday.
The United States has long lagged behind most other countries, which have blood alcohol limits of 0.05 percent or lower. The time has finally come to put Mr. Plymat’s plan into action. Drunken driving raised few hackles in the mid-20th century. Two decades out of Prohibition, Americans — and alcohol manufacturers — were more likely to extol the virtues of drinking as opposed to warning of its dangers. This mind-set extended to drunken driving, which resulted in relatively few successful prosecutions, even in instances where people were injured or killed. Law enforcement officials told grieving relatives that their loved ones had been “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Read more here!

Rare Cognac With World-Record Pedigree To Be Sold For $157,000,  5/13/2013 – Forbes
Want to throw one back like a billionaire? This bottle of Croizet Cuvée Léonie predates both the French wine blight and the American Civil War. One of a handful of such bottles in existence, the 1858 vintage will be available at New York’s Financial District Wine & Liquor in July for $157,000. Its sister bottle from the same batch broke the price record for cognac sold at auction when Hong Kong’s Maggie Vong bid 1 million yuan (roughly $156,760) in 2011. The rumor is that Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower tippled this vintage while planning the Normandy invasion. Now you too can quaff Croizet as you lay siege–to your savings, that is. Read more here!

Stand And Deliver: Kickstand Coffee Goes For The Tea Bag,  5/15/2013 – Tasting Table
The cold-brew method has received a zealous embrace from the coffee-drinking community; now tea drinkers are waiting with open arms. Kickstand, a bicoastal pioneer of bottled cold-brew coffee, has now expanded its line to include coffee’s morning cohost. Founder Aaron Davis was inspired to explore tea on behalf of his brother, who doesn’t drink coffee. After tinkering with a few different tea blends and various extraction times using the same cold-brew process he uses for coffee, Davis landed on an Indian black tea ($20 for 32 ounces of concentrate). To reach his desired level of concentrated flavor, he steeps the tea for double the time as he does coffee, up to 36 hours. The resulting liquid is viscous, and powerfully flavored with sharp tannins and notes of plum. Dilute it 1:1 with water over ice for one of the better glasses of iced tea we’ve ever had. Or use it in cocktails: Mixed with equal parts vodka and lemonade, it makes a dangerous spiked Arnold Palmer. Read more here!

Huge News!: Tales of the Cocktail Announces Top 10 Finalists for the 2013 Spirited Awards! (and We’re Nominated!)

May 17th, 2013 — 1:14pm

NEW ORLEANS – May 17, 2013 – Following a rigorous evaluation of hundreds of nominees, ten finalists for each award category have been chosen for the 7th Annual Spirited Awards®, recognizing the year’s best bars, bartenders, writers, experts and more. American and International judging committees comprised of the most respected minds in the cocktail industry selected the finalists for the eighteen award categories. Winners will be announced at the Spirited Awards® taking place at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans on Saturday, July 20, 2013 as part of the Tales of the Cocktail® 11th anniversary celebration.

“Clearly the Nominees for the 2013 Spirited Awards represent the best of the best, in our industry. Regardless of who the ultimate winner is, being recognized by one’s peers, above all, is simply put, an honor in its own right.” said Paul G. Tuennerman, Co-Founder of Tales of the Cocktail®.

Through its annual Spirited Awards®, Tales of the Cocktail® recognizes those that continue to represent the cocktail industry in exciting new spotlights. To embody the ideals in which Tales of the Cocktail® was originally founded, these awards were developed to recognize both national and international honorees across eighteen categories. From these top ten, the top four finalists from each category will be invited to attend the awards ceremony. The top four finalists will be announced Friday, June 7, 2013 and invited to be guests at the live ceremony in New Orleans. Each award recipient will receive an exclusive Riedel Crystal trophy.

See our nominations below and read the list in it’s entirety here!

American Bartender of the Year
• Charles Joly-The Aviary-Chicago, Illinois
• Eric Alperin-The Varnish-Los Angeles, California
• Erick Castro-Polite Provisions-San Diego, California
• Ivy Mix-Clover Club-Brooklyn, New York
• Jack McGarry- The Dead Rabbit-New York, New York
• John Lermayer-Regent Cocktail Club-Miami, Florida
• Leo Robitschek-The NoMad Hotel-New York, New York
• Naren Young-Saxon + Parole, The Daily-New York, New York
• Sean Kenyon-Williams & Graham-Denver, Colorado
• Steve Schneider-Employees Only-New York, New York

World’s Best Cocktail Bar
• 28 Hong Kong Street-Singapore
• Black Pearl-Melbourne, Australia
• Callooh Callay-London, United Kingdom
• Candelaria-Paris, France
• Clover Club-New York, New York, USA
• Death and Co.-New York, New York, USA
• Drink-Boston, Massachusetts, USA
• Milk and Honey-New York, New York, USA
• The Dead Rabbit-New York, New York, USA
• The Varnish-Los Angeles, California, USA

World’s Best Drink Selection
• cannon: whiskey and bitters emporium-Seattle, Washington, USA
• Cure-New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
• DaddyO-New York, New York, USA
• Eau de Vie-Melbourne, Australia, USA
• Mayahuel-New York, New York, USA
• Saxon + Parole Restaurant-New York, New York, USA
• Seven Grand-Los Angeles, California, USA
• The Dead Rabbit-New York, New York, USA
• The Hawthorne-Boston, Massachusetts, USA
• Whistling Shop-London, United Kingdom