eat. shop. love. nyc.

New York loves Japan Punch Party

Tonight, the New York Loves Japan Punch Party is going down at Summit Bar in the East Village/Alphabet City from 7 pm to 11 pm. Sample some tasty boozy punches and whilst listening to the grooves of DJ Kimiko Masuda and supporting Japanese disaster relief efforts. A $20 donation gets you unlimited open bar servings of six Japanese-inspired punch cocktails, and all proceeds benefit the Japan Society’s Earthquake Relief Fund.

Sponsors include Beefeater Gin, Pernod Absinthe, Tequila Corazón, Leblon Cachaça, Belvedere, Sailor Jerry Rum, The Tippling Bros. & Classic & Vintage Artisanal Spirits Portfolio.

Drink: The Summit Bar (East Village/Alphabet City) 133 Avenue C (between 8th and 9th). New York Loves Japan Punch Party from 7 pm to 11 pm today, Monday, April 11, 2011.


Colt & Gray’s San Francisco Handshake
March 18, 2011, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Drink | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One of the best drinks I’ve had in a while. Thank you, Kevin.

Drink: Colt and Gray (Platte) 553 Platte Street #120. Denver, CO 80202. Happy hour 4:30 to 6:30 pm weekdays.

More hot booze to keep you warm

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you all had fun-filled holiday festivities full of friends, family, and food.

Judging by my site stats, it looks like everyone’s been on the prowl for some warming winter cocktails as of late. I’m with you. I’ve been buying apple cider in mass quantities at Whole Foods and heating the cider with cinnamon and whole cloves before pouring mugs of the stuff and adding shots of Captain Morgan’s or Wild Turkey and topping with whipped cream and a dusting of ground cinnamon. And sure, while it’s fun to make yourself some hot drinks at home, sometimes you want just a little something extra, and you’d rather pay someone else to make it for you. It’s time to update my “Hot Alcoholic Drinks to Keep You Warm in the NYC Cold” post, so I have been doing extensive, ahem, research for you New Yorkers. I know. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

After the blizzard aka Snowpocalypse or Snowmageddon 2010, it seems like pretty much every bar with a chalkboard is offering your standard hot toddies and such. Maybe Usher was onto something. I haven’t been able to try every hot boozy beverage in the city, but I have tried a few, and I can comfortably recommend the following bars/drinks without hesitation:

Summit Bar (Alphabet City): The Road Well Traveled, Driving Ms. Davies (cold), Like Water for Chocolate (???)
How did this warm, sexy bar go unnoticed (by me) for so long? I’d walked by it several times thinking it’d be just like any other East Village bar, but I was wrong, because partners Hamid and Seider are two of the coolest cats around. Case in point? Like Water for Chocolate. (More on that later.) I liked the three separate bar islands, the eclectic sightly mismatched track lighting and chandeliers, and the long expanse of exposed brick punctuated with small walls of richly patterned wallpaper. There are a couple of couches for limited group seating, and we’d recommend arriving early as the place fills up around 11/midnight. I showed up on Thursday night around 9 with a friend and ordered their holiday punch, The Road Well Traveled ($12?), a hot brew of spiced apple cider with bourbon, walnut liqueur, cinnamon agave, lemon juice, and chipotle powder. It was kept in one of those metal soup warmers, and I was concerned that the alcohol might evaporate since it had already been added to the mix, but they maintain the temperature at a warm but not boiling temperature so fear not, the alcohol is very much present. We also ordered the Driving Ms. Davies ($12), a cold winter cocktail served with Templetown rye, gingerbread syrup, cardamom infused agave, and orange and whisky barrel bitters. I was especially impressed with the ice cube. Yes, singular. Ice cube. A large, single 2×2 ice cube from a special ice cube mold designed to cool your beverage with minimal dilution.

Driving Ms. Davies at the Summit Bar

The attention to detail here is impeccable. I started chatting with Hamid about my quest to find a proper (spiked) Mexican hot chocolate with my friend the day after the blizzard, and he mentioned the movie Like Water for Chocolate wherein Tita whips up a chocolate mole sauce so full of passionfor her lover Pedro that it incites in her guests all sorts of amorous urges. I told him I wanted that, but in hot chocolate form. Hamid introduced me to his partner Seider – a mixology savant with a culinary background – who was also intrigued. Moments later, they sent someone out to pick up some whole milk and Lindt dark chocolate. I like to call the drink Seider concocted that night Like Water for Chocolate, but it may very well never make its way onto the Summit Bar menu, living only in my memory and in urban legend as the best boozy hot chocolate in New York City. There were three layers there: one layer of dark chocolate melted with a little milk, having the consistency of drinking chocolate; another layer of whipped milk with gingerbread sugar, cinnamon, chipotle pepper powder, and sea salt; and finally the addition of Ilegal Reposado mezcal tequila – smoky and spicy, but still smooth. And he just threw that ish together, just like that. Color me impressed, Greg Seider. Duly impressed. I’m coming to Summit Bar with some chocolate bars and milk in hand this week. See you again soon! Winter hours: Sun-Wed 5:30 pm to 3 am, Thurs-Sat 5:30 pm to 4 am.
The Summit Bar
, 133 Avenues C between 8th St. and 9th St.; no phone – e-mail

Elsa (Alphabet City): Sweet Potato Cider, Cortez the Killer, Elsa’s Toddy
Elsa is my favorite under-the-radar neighborhood cocktail lounge (it’s a little closer to me than Summit Bar, and those 5 extra blocks do make a difference). If a guy were to take me here on a date (without my suggesting it), he’d be one step closer to another date. Elsa has a sweet, faux speakeasy vibe with its white parquet walls, cozy tables and booths, and soft but not dark lighting. After all, you do want to be able to see your date, don’t you? Here, you have three choices of hot booze. The Sweet Potato Cider ($12) is filling, but incredibly satisfying. Made with hot organic apple cider, Jack Daniels, a housemade sweet potato puree, and spices (likely cloves and cinnamon), it tastes like a cross between sweet potato pie and apple cider with a hint of whiskey. I’d recommend this if you are drinking on an empty(ish) stomach, as it drinks like a meal. If you’re in the mood for a spicy Mexican hot chocolate, get Cortez the Killer ($13), which is made with Mast Brothers hot chocolate, ancho chilies, and silver tequila. If you like some tea with your whiskey, you can’t go wrong with the Elsa’s Toddy ($10), which is generously spiked with rye whiskey, lemon, maple syrup, and, surprisingly, mint. Also a bonus: they actually take reservations for Sunday through Thursday.
Elsa, 217 East 3rd Street (between Avenues B and C); 917-882-7395.

Sidewalk Cafe and Bar (Alphabet City/East Village): Makers Hot Toddy, Peppermint Patty, Apple Jack
You get your choice between three hot drinks at this unassuming Avenue A bar (attached to the Sidewalk Cafe), and each hot drink is $10. The Makers Hot Toddy is made with Makers (duh) Mark bourbon, hot tea, lemon, honey, and cinnamon. I’m not sure if it’s because I went in the day after the blizzard or what, but this was one of the best hot toddies I’ve had in my life, and I’ve had a few. Strongly recommended. Also delicious is the Peppermint Patty, a hot chocolate fortified with Stoli vanilla vodka, peppermint schnapps, and topped with a bit of whipped cream. It’s sweet, and you can barely taste any booze, so this is the best choice at Sidewalk for non-whiskey drinkers. The Apple Jack is a hot apple cider spiked with Jack Daniels and sprinkled with cinnamon. Sidewalk is open 24 hours on the weekends and until 2 am on Sunday nights and until 4 am on Monday through Thursday nights. When you walk in, you feel like you’ve walked into a bar. Nothing more, nothing less. Of note: is one of the live music venues that launched antifolk superstar Regina Spektor. Two-for-one happy hour daily 2-8 pm, though I don’t recall that we were given a second drink when we went in around 4 on Monday afternoon. Pint and any shot for $9 after 8PM.  Rumored to have an all-day-long happy hour at the bar on Tuesdays and Sundays.
Sidewalk Cafe and Bar, 94 Avenue A at 6th St.; (212) 473-7373.

The Redhead (East Village): Hot Chocolate Car Bomb
I just saw the Hot Chocolate Car Bomb featured in the Serious Eats Best Winter Cocktails slideshow and nearly choked on my coffee. You will find me at the Redhead very soon to try out the hot cocoa laced with Jameson, Guiness, and topped with Bailey’s Irish Cream marshmallow fluff. Irish car bombs: not just for the violently drunk on St. Patrick’s Day anymore.
The Redhead, 349 E. 13th St. at 1st Ave.; 212-533-6212.

Huckleberry Bar (Williamsburg): Ixcacao
I haven’t actually been to Huckleberry in Williamsburg, but when I read about the Ixcacao on Refinery 29, I knew it had to be in this post. My friend Kim and I had actually gone into several bars and restaurants asking if they could serve us Mexican hot chocolate spiked with silver tequila, and couldn’t find any (this was before I remembered Elsa, doh!). The Ixcacao ($10) at Huckleberry is apparently named after the Mayan goddess of chocolate and combines house-infused peppermint tequila with blood orange liqueur and home-made hot chocolate with a kick at the end. Follow Huckleberry Bar on Twitter for daily specials – they’ve featured hot fig mulled wine ($5 a glass!), homemade gingerbread, and other toasty goodies recently.
Huckleberry Bar, 588 Grand Street (between Powers and Maujer streets); Brooklyn; 718-218-8555.

If you are more of a DIY type, I suggest you order some Ibarra Mexican chocolate pronto – it’s not the highest quality Mexican chocolate out there, but it sure beats Nestle Abuelita and is still easy enough to order or to find at your local grocery store in the Mexican/International food aisle.  Typically, Mexican chocolate is made with roasted and ground cacao nibs, sugar, and cinnamon. Depending on the chocolatier, it may also include nutmeg, allspice, and chilies. Chop or grate the Mexican chocolate and stir it into hot (but not boiling!) milk on the stovetop until fully dissolved. Pour the hot chocolate into individual mugs, and if you have a frother (I use my Aerolatte), froth away: Mexican hot chocolate is usually served with a bit of foam. If desired, add a shot or two of tequila, and enjoy.

Taiwanese Hanukkah brunch

Brunch mashup at its best. This Sunday (12/5/10), we had a small but intimate Taiwanese Hanukkah brunch at Julie and Kelvin’s. How can a brunch be both Taiwanese and Jewish, you may ask. Are there any Taiwanese Jews? I cannot answer the latter, but I will tell you how our brunch with an identity crisis came to be.

Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 at Rendezfoods Hotpot dinner

Julie: Kelvin and I watched “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network and they mentioned the bagel and lox from Russ & Daughters. Is it good?
Me: Is it GOOD?!? Does the pope love Jesus?!?*
Julie: Where is it again?
Me: Near my apartment. It’s in LES on Houston at Allen. We should do a brunch for Hanukkah! In the spirit of open-mindedness and celebration. (Any excuse to party/eat.) Isn’t it coming up?
Sara: Hanukkah starts next week.
Mel: Sweet. We’ll bring bagels from Atlas (they’re H&H and they are more delicious than the ones at R&D) and we’ll pick up lox from R&D.
Julie: Yeah! We can do it at my place. I’ll make Taiwanese beef noodle soup.
*moment of confusion and silence as we contemplate the Jewishness of beef noodle soup*
Mel & Sara: We love noodle soup. Done!

*Slight paraphrasing in recalling this conversation may have occurred.

We were on a mission to prove Michael Psilakis right: Russ & Daughters rocks (we didn’t get the Gaspe Nova, however, and it still rocked).

The table settings at brunch were impeccable, as always. Baby blue and tan polka dots! Julie is the hostess with the mostest. Look – she even has the bellinis on a serving tray.

The Russ & Daughters spread (like my plating?): two types of lox (Norwegian shown here was saltier and smokier than the Scottish on the other platter), quartered sesame and poppyseed bagels, thinly sliced red onions, grape tomatoes, lemon wedges.

Also from Russ & Daughters: ramekins of the whitefish and smoked salmon salad/spread, plain tofu cream cheese (a blessing for the lactose intolerant – and still divinely creamy), whitefish roe, and capers.

Julie made us bellinis with pureed peach and champagne, garnished with orange peel and strawberry quarters! It’s this kind of attention to detail that elevates a cocktail from the everyday to a special occasion. You know. For Hanukkah.

The perfect bite: lox, tofu cream cheese, red onion, whitefish roe, capers, and half of a grape tomato, finished with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon.

I thought Sara and I may have gotten too much food for four people from Russ & Daughters, but we were wrong. We had grossly underestimated our collective ability to eat, and we polished everything off, knowing full well that the Taiwanese portion of our Hanukkah brunch would soon be underway.

Julie made a Taiwanese beef noodle soup she had been meaning to try, and it was phenomenal. Not too sweet, not tart (I don’t like tomato in beef soups as it tends to get too sour for my tastes), with just a touch of salt so all of the warm, beefy anise flavor shone through. Again, attention to detail is one of Julie’s fortes – she garnished the soup with pre-blanched baby bok choy!

The soup was served with cilantro, scallions, and pickled cabbage as sides for guests to add to taste. Yum!

Julie also pickled some cucumbers by immersing them in salt to release water and salt the cucumber, rinsing, then adding rice wine vinegar, sugar, sesame seed oil, and I forget what else. So crunchy and refreshing, a great accompaniment to the noodle soup.

For dessert, Kelvin contributed Dunkin’ Donuts.

Life is good.

Happy Hanukkah! (How do you say that in Mandarin?)

Eat: Russ & Daughters (LES) 179 East Houston St. at Allen St.. New York, NY 10002. (212) 475-4880. Takeout only. Jewish holiday catering and special menus available. Another recommended combo: whitefish spread and wasabi flying fish roe.

Spiced cranberry ginger punch aka Witches’ Brew
October 21, 2010, 8:04 am
Filed under: Drink | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was glad to see that the Witches’ Brew punch was so well-received at Hobby, even if no one could see the ice hand floating in the punch because I was too lazy to buy a punch bowl for the occasion. I now see the error of my ways, and I will be sure to shell out for a punch bowl next time I go to the trouble of making ice hands so you can witness them in all their gruesome glory.

For now, the recipe for the punch, which I modeled after the recipe I found on Epicurious (surprise!) by Kemp Minifie. I’m going to rename it “spiced cranberry ginger punch” because that’s way more descriptive than “Witches’ Brew.” Though “spiced cranberry ginger punch” is a mouthful.

Ingredients (Yields ~2 gallons of punch):

  • 4 to 6 cinnamon sticks – I used 4 2-inch sticks and found myself wishing for a stronger cinnamon taste so I’ve upped the recommended amount of cinnamon.
  • 12 to 15 whole cloves
  • 2 fingers of shredded ginger – I just used a peeler to shave off thin slivers of fresh ginger. For a stronger ginger kick, use more.
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 quarts of cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
  • 1 2-liter bottle of ginger ale, chilled
  • 1 2-liter bottle club soda or seltzer, chilled
  • 1 bottle of dark rum – spike to taste. I ended up using close to an entire bottle of rum and got something like 40 people pretty tipsy, and it tasted deceptively un-boozy but packed a serious punch (no pun intended).
  • Ice

Preparation of spiced syrup

  • Bring cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, water, and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, uncovered, 1 hour.
  • You can refrigerate the spiced syrup, covered, for up to a week. Strain out the solids before use.

Preparation of punch

  • Combine cranberry juice, seltzer/club, ginger ale, spiced syrup, and rum in a punch bowl. Stir to mix. Add ice and serve.
  • Note: if you want to turn this recipe into individual cocktails, just keep to a ratio of 1/2 cranberry juice, 1/4 seltzer, 1/4 ginger ale, spiced syrup and rum to taste.

Yumi Kim summer soiree
June 24, 2010, 11:26 am
Filed under: Shop | Tags: , , , ,

Cupcakes & cocktails & summery silk dresses @YumiKim soiree tonight 6-9pm – 25% off everything in the store.

Shop: Yumi Kim (LES) 105 Stanton at Ludlow.

Bo ssam at Mandu DC

David Chang has a lock on the big feast format of Korean dining, and bless him for all of his family-style Korean fried chicken and bo ssam (pork shoulder/butt lettuce wraps) dinners at Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Ssam Bar.

But what about those of us who can’t find 6 to 10 like-minded diners? What then? Should we be denied our bo ssam?

Enter: Mandu DC. See how amazing this bo ssam platter looks? They use pork belly and chill it so that the meat is firm to the touch but fork tender, and the fat (largely trimmed) has a pleasant coolness and easy chewiness. The bo ssam platter comes with lettuce leaves (sangchu) for wrapping, spicy pickled daikon radish for a zesty crunchy topping, and ssamjang (wrap dip) for sweetness, spice, and a little funk (from the fermented bean). It’s a truly refreshing summer meal, especially when eaten outdoors on Mandu’s cute little patio.

On the corner of 18th and S in Northwest DC, just off-center from the craziness that is Adams Morgan, Mandu is a lovely gem of a Korean restaurant, perhaps the only of its kind within the city limits. The food here has a home-cooked feel, but with attention to presentation, ambiance, and all of the other things you don’t usually find at Korean restaurants in the States. Sure, there’s great Korean food to be had in Annandale, but then you’d have to find your way out to Virginia, and you wouldn’t even get to have an aloetini! Aloe juice + aloe pulp + soju = delicious x drunk. You do the math.

On weekends, Mandu has an $11.00 Korean Brunch Plate with gimbap (Korean rice & seaweed rolls – like sushi rolls without any fish), Korean omelet, chive pancakes, Korean-style hash browns, and a choice of marinated beef, chicken, pork or vegetables and tofu, all with a side of fruit. They have $4.00 Sojutinis and $4.00 Soju Bloody Marys to boot!

The Mandu Bloody Mary is made with soju, Clamato, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, sriracha, and a cucumber kimchi garnish. It is not for the spice averse, but it will cure your hangover. I felt AWESOME after drinking mine!

Not to be missed at Mandu: the mandu (dumplings) – 6 pieces for $5, the bo ssam – $13 for the platter shown above, the dak jjim (sweet and spicy chicken simmered with potatoes & onions, served with rice), aloetini, Mandu Bloody Mary.

And it gets better… there’s a happy hour! Daily 4-7pm: $4.00 Sojutinis, $4.00 liquor drinks, $2.00 beers, $3.00 mandu (dumplings).

Eat: Mandu (Adams Morgan, NW Washington DC) 1805 18th St. at S St., Washington, D.C. NW (202) 558-1540. Follow mandudc on Twitter.