New Documentary Goes Behind the Bar
Hey Bartender tells the bartender's story in the era of the craft cocktail.
May 23, 2013
Chances are, you have a favorite watering hole in New York City where your bartender-turned-mixologist not only knows your name, but your specialty cocktail of choice. Ever wonder what life is like behind the bar? A new documentary by award-winning director Douglas Tirola explores just that.
Featuring commentary by nightlife and dining legends like Graydon Carter, Danny Meyer, Frank Pellegrino (Rao's), and Amy Sacco, Hey Bartender (4th Row Films) follows two bartenders trying to achieve their dreams through bartending: former marine Steve Schneider (of New York's Employees Only), and Steve "Carpi" Carpentieri—who buys his hometown corner bar and struggles to keep the business alive.
So in an era of the craft cocktail, what is bartending all about? "Being a bartender is increasingly seen as a craft, the same way people now look at chefs," says director Tirola. "Someone who is creative and has a knowledge of ingredients and how to put them together. Right at this moment in New York City, the rest of the country, and even the world there are so many interesting things happening for bartenders and the craft of making cocktails."
Certainly, the bar business has evolved in recent years, and according to Tirola, one change that many patrons find surprising is that "most people getting into bartending today see it as a career, not just something to do in between jobs." But with all of the pursuits of modern mixologists ("creating new drinks, creating products like bitters and bar tools, and even in some cases, their own spirits"), bartending has become a "lifetime career choice," says Tirola.
Also, the filmmaker explains, although "bartenders are also a very tight-knit community, socializing, and having lunch," many bartenders also take their training and business development very seriously. They attend, he says, such seminars as the one held by independent, family-owned distiller William Grant & Sons, which was shot for Hey Bartender, and in which bartenders were taught by brand ambassadors, distillers, and other experts about the history and uses for gin and whiskey.
"I think for most people it's hard to imagine bartenders going to high level seminars the way Wall Street types take classes after work at Columbia Business School, but that is exactly what this is. The level of knowledge and skill that bartenders put into every drink is the greatest sign of where the craft is today."
Hey Bartender opens June 7th, Village East Cinema, 189 Second Ave., 212-529-6998
Jamaican Juice in Downtown New York
Melvin's Juice Box serves fresh juice, shakes, and wheatgrass shots at Miss Lily's.
May 15, 2013
With summer just around the corner, thoughts turn to sunshine and refreshing warm weather libations. Enter Miss Lily's, downtown Manhattan's beloved Jamaican diner. Inspired by Caribbean beach shacks (with a fun music and great Jamaican food) the restaurant has recently expanded and opened a variety shop, and bakery, and Melvin's Juice Box, which is helmed by Melvin Major Jr., who has more than 20 years of experience in the art of juicing. His totally organic menu of fresh juices and shakes include Jamaican-inspired delights like the Caribbean Coco shake, made with coconut, two choices of fruit, and wheatgrass. Other popular coolers include the Strawberry Riddim shake (apple, banana, strawberry), the Jamaican Green juice (kale, apple, lemon, ginger, celery) and the Rise-Up (wheatgrass, pineapple, apple, bee pollen, strawberry, banana). There are also simple juices, protein shakes, and several varieties of wheatgrass shots. 132 West Houston St., 646-588-5375
Slideshow: The New York Culinary Experience
Behind the scenes at the annual culinary camp for foodies.
May 07, 2013
A veritable pantheon of New York City chefs assembled for the fifth annual New York Culinary Experience this past weekend. The two-day event, hosted by New York magazine and The International Culinary Center (ICC), gave participants the chance to cook with 35 food world heavyweights (Masaharu Morimoto and Jean-Georges Vongerichten among them). A portion of the proceeds from the event supported The Future Chefs scholarship, an ICC program that provides funding for students wishing to pursue their dream of attending culinary school.
Grown-Up Grilled Cheese
New York chefs reinvent the cafeteria classic for National Grilled Cheese Day.
April 12, 2013
Beer Cheese, Oaxaca, and Tomato Grilled Cheese at Rogue & Cannon
From Antica Pesa chef Simone Panella’s deep-fried mozzarella and anchovy sandwich to Bagatelle NY chef Romuald Jung’s beef short rib grilled cheese, these gourmet riffs on a childhood classic are worth a try this National Grilled Cheese Day.
Short Rib Grilled Cheese
Recipe by executive chef Romuald Jung, Bagatelle NY
2 slices Pullman loaf white bread
2 ounces smoked mozzarella, sliced
4 pieces tomato confit
1 four-ounce slice beef short rib
2 ounces canola oil
Layer mozzarella, beef short rib, and tomato confit between two slices of bread. Heat a non-stick pan with canola oil and sear until golden brown.
Mozzarella in Carrozza
Chef Simone Panella, Antica Pesa
2 slices pan brioche or sandwich bread
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
Combine mozzarella and anchovies into a sandwich and dip in egg, flour, and again in egg. Cover with breadcrumbs and fry in hot canola oil at 360 degrees until golden brown.
Beer Cheese, Oaxaca, and Tomato Grilled Cheese
Chef Adam Slamon, Rogue & Canon
2 slices Pullman sourdough bread
1/2 cup cheddar beer cheese*
1/2 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese
2 oven-dried tomatoes**
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
On one slice of bread, layer tomatoes and beer cheese. On the other slice, layer Oaxaca cheese and beer cheese. Sandwich together and smear exterior with mayonnaise. Sear in frying pan on low heat until golden brown. Finish in the oven at 350 degrees until cheese is completely melted.
*For the cheddar beer cheese: In a medium sauce pot, melt two tablespoons butter and whisk in two tablespoons flour. Add one tablespoon mustard powder, two tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and one bottle dark beer. Reduce heat and slowly add one pound shredded aged cheddar cheese. Stir until combined.
**For the oven-dried tomatoes: Using a small knife, cut an X into the top of each tomato. Place tomatoes in a boiling pot of water for 30 seconds. Remove tomatoes from water and place in an ice bath to cool. Remove skin, beginning at the X, and cut into four wedges. Bake wedges at 250 degrees for about two hours.
Ichabod’s Channels Rustic New York
The Irving Place resto nods to a book by the street’s namesake with a fresh, country theme.
April 05, 2013
The interior of Ichabod's is decorated to look like a rustic upstate New York farm.
New Union Square eatery Ichabod’s pays homage to its Irving Place address, and subsequently, the street’s namesake writer, Washington Irving. The restaurant particularly plays on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’s protagonist, Ichabod Crane, bringing the book’s late 18th-century “country setting”—at that time Westchester County, if not everything above the modern-day Union Square area, was widely considered the wild—to life in a cozy 40-seat space ornamented with rustic trappings like simple tables and chairs, exposed wooden ceiling beams fashioned from raw and reclaimed wood, and low lighting by way of candles.
The theme applies to the food, too, its seasonal menu filled with upscale twists on American classics. For current starters, executive chef Matthew Etchemendy serves up of-the-moment kale in a salad alongside pickled cranberries and walnuts, drizzled in hot cider vinaigrette. A cold bar is a different way to begin your meal, featuring choices from oysters to crab Louie to clams, and beyond. Yet another option is the share plates, with standouts like savory-sweet squash dumplings, served with lightly truffled chestnuts, sage, and sherry butter; and marrow bone with Cabernet jelly and pickles. Entrees comprise duck leg, skirt steak, brook trout, scallops, and roast chicken—all with farm-fresh accompaniments. Dessert is especially relevant to the rustic New York feel, including a campfire-inspired ice cream dish, served in a mason jar with melted marshmallows, roasted peanuts, pretzels, and caramel sauce.
Cocktails by Jeremy Strawn of Mulberry Project take on a similar country-focused perspective by creatively fusing in fresh produce. For something strong that deceivingly doesn’t taste so, try the Volstead, with vodka, elderflower liquer, lemon, strawberry, and prosecco; or the Depth Charge, a combination of tequilla blanco, lime, Cointreau, Dolin Blanc vermouth, and watermelon. The Bramble offers a sweeter sip, with a simple mix of gin and lemon juice that comes served with housemade berry jam on top. To really round out your experience, order beers or wines that hail from around New York state: a Captain Lawrence or Ommegang brew, or a glass of vino from McCall Vineyards. 15 Irving Pl., 212-777-5102
Wise Men Restyles the Steakhouse
A fashionable take on steak and martinis arrives on the Bowery.
April 04, 2013
The first Western-style steakhouse in New York’s Chinatown is the eponymous inspiration for Wise Men, a cool new martini bar and steakhouse on the Bowery. And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: The 1960s predecessor was the family business of Christina Chin, one of the fashionable co-owners of the recently opened Wise Men.
In total there are three women behind Wise Men. A noted fashion stylist, Chin is also the creative director of S Magazine; co-owner Danielle Levitt is a portrait photographer; and the third “wise woman,” Caroleyn Ng, is a hospitality industry veteran whose experience in concept nightclubs extends from New York to South Beach. But the design of Wise Men is wholly New York, with a dark setting, mural tile floor, and plenty of retro nods to ’70s Chinatown, thanks to a design by sculptor and set designer Andy Harman.
Open for dinner, drinks, and late-night dining, the neighborhood hangout features signature cocktails and a menu of small plates. Steakhouse staples range from a bavette steak with “Wise Men steak sauce” to lamb chops with mint pesto to stuffed cremini mushrooms, and there’s also a patty melt, fried clam strips, and crab toast for late-night appetites. House cocktails include the Classic French 75 (cognac, lemon, and prosecco), the Vesper (Bulldog gin, vodka, Lillet Blanc, and orange zest), and the Sazerac (Old Overholt Rye, absinthe, and Peychaud's Bitters). 355 Bowery, 646-590-4244
Pearl & Ash: Global Dining on the Bowery
A slideshow tour of the worldly new small plates eatery.
March 25, 2013
Downtown’s newest and most buzzed-about dining destination is Pearl & Ash, a modern and globally-inspired small plates restaurant helmed by executive chef Richard Kuo. The menu, which is broken down into categories like "Raw" and "Sugar," highlights chef Kuo’s past culinary experiences and travels. Most recently, Kuo manned the kitchen at the wildly popular Brooklyn pop-up Frej, and he has also cooked at Corton.
A Brunch Party at Day & Night
An ultra-exclusive brunch event in the MPD is the perfect prelude to a Saturday night.
March 15, 2013
Brunch usually conjures up images of lazy weekend mornings/afternoons spent quietly sipping a caffeinated beverage and recovering from the previous evening. Turn your perception of brunch around with Day & Night at the Highline Ballroom, brought to you by Dual Groupe founders Daniel and Derek Koch. The concept was founded in 2008, but came to its current location in late 2012. Day & Night now runs weekly on Saturdays (2-7 pm) and turns brunch into a bona fide party with world-famous DJs, spinning disco balls, pulsating colored lights, and on-stage dancers.
The stylish crowd enters through an unmarked door down a side street in the Meatpacking District, where the only tip-off that a party is happening is a line, bouncers, and a velvet rope. Once inside, expect white tablecloths, purple upholstery, and silver furniture set against black walls and floors (all the better to enhance the scene). Tables tend toward large parties, and the flaming bottles sent to various groups call out to celebrations: birthdays, bachelorette parties, or just toasts to the weekend.
Although Day & Night could make a covetable party out of its ambiance alone, the new food and drink additions from chef Erik Blauberg are decadent and well executed. For starters, sample the imported burrata, wood-smoked salmon with guacamole, or an array of salads that feature everything from sliced filet mignon to roasted fingerling potatoes. Newly launched mains of note include a Maine lobster salad on a brioche bun served with homemade fries; or the steak signature et oeufs, an elegant combination of breakfast and lunch with blackened tenderloin, organic poached eggs, truffle fries, and black truffle mayonnaise. Other items to try: tuna tartare, Cajun blackened chicken breast, or fried calamari with sumptuous chipotle dip and truffle mayonnaise.
Aside from an extensive bottle service that offers premium Champagne, wine, and spirits, guests can now choose from a list of carefully concocted cocktails. Savor a twist on the usual sangria with The No. 1 English Sangria, comprised of Pimms No. 1, 10 Cane Rum, Cointreau, and topped with red wine and fresh seasonal fruit. Those looking for their caffeine fix can find it an unusual way: the Orange Blossom Tea mixes Makers Mark Bourbon, orange and black tea, and fresh lemon, then tops it all off with orange blossom essence. But every guest should try the signature Day & Night with Belvedere Vodka, ginger, fresh lime, and dark rum molasses.
Whatever you order, and whichever renowned DJ is spinning, this party atmosphere is the perfect opening act to a luxurious night on the town. Reservations can be made by calling 212-201-1222 or emailing email@example.com. 431 W. 16th St., Meatpacking District
Nightcaps for New York Power Players
Made with edible gold, caviar, and truffles, these cocktails are filthy rich and delicious.
March 06, 2013
The Russian Tea Room's Cavatini
A Voce beverage director Olivier Flosse and his mixology team have crafted a new signature cocktail in the Tartufo Speciale ($33). Starting with house-infused black truffle vermouth, the drink is concocted with 10-year aged bourbon, black truffle syrup, and bourbon-honey-pickled black truffles. Half of the martini glass is rimmed with white truffle honey to provide a sweet and savory sip. 10 Columbus Circle, 212-823-2523; 41 Madison Ave., 212-545-8555
Using top shelf Patron Platinum tequila (produced from hand-selected blue agave plants, triple distilled, and retailing for approximately $200 per bottle), S Prime crafts its Platinum Margarita ($48). Executive chef Joel Reiss keeps the flavor crisp and pure with a mix of Patron Platinum, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar. The drink is served in a martini glass rimmed with salt. 35-15 36th St., Long Island City, 718-707-0660
The Russian Team Room serves the ultimate vodka martini for caviar lovers, The Cavitini ($25). Fit for a tsar, the cocktail is made with Imperial Vodka (distilled eight times and proofed with glacial water), ten grams of hackleback caviar, and olives. Served dry and chilled, it’s the perfect end (or start) to a fabulous New York night. 150 W. 57th St., 212-581-7100
Nestled in the St. Regis New York, King Cole Bar serves decadent drinks in a stylish, sophisticated setting. While you can choose from an assortment of Bloody Marys, the most luxurious drink on the menu is undoubtedly The King’s Passion ($29). The drink combines Champagne rosé, Grand Marnier 150 (a bottle of which will cost you $220), and passion fruit juice. 2 E. 55th St., 212-339-6721
As if Mr. Trump would have it any other way, gold is king at The World Bar in the Trump World Tower. Its $50 World Cocktail packs Rémy Martin XO (aged at least 21 years), the French aperitif Pineau des Charantes, fresh grape and lemon juices, a dash of bitters, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, and 23k edible liquid gold. 845 United Nations Plaza, 212-935-9361
Q&A: Laurent Tourondel on Arlington Club
The chef of the new steak and sushi restaurant tells us what’s good to order.
March 06, 2013
In addition to making one of the most addictive popovers we’ve ever tasted, French chef Laurent Tourondel knows his way around a cut of beef, as is evident at his sleek new steakhouse, Arlington Club (1032 Lexington Ave., 212-249-5700). He chats with Gotham about fusing sushi with steak, Arlington Club’s decadent new brunch menu, and his hectic schedule.
How did the idea for the restaurant come about?
LAURENT TOURONDEL: Well, the original idea was to create a steakhouse, but also something different, something that would create some buzz around the Upper East Side. It's a swanky neighborhood. Marc Packer [of TAO group] approached me and he said he had a space and we came up with the concept together.
What did you think of the space when you first saw it?
LT: I knew the space because it used to be Francois Payard's. I’ve always lived on the Upper East Side so I knew the space very well.
How would you describe the menu?
LT: It's definitely a steakhouse-oriented menu, but the sushi is also important. We're trying to create something different with our sushi—we sell a lot of it. The restaurant concept was really to blend the sushi with the steakhouse offerings. We wanted to be approachable to the people that want that steakhouse experience but maybe want to eat a little lighter. It's perfect for that.
What are some of your favorite dishes at Arlington Club?
LT: I like the fluke with the yuzu kosho, which is very light. I also love the toro served with dashi and nori salt. That's probably one of my favorite dishes on the menu.
Any recommendations from your new brunch menu?
LT: One of the most interesting items is the stuffed popovers. They’re served with mushrooms, spinach, and short ribs inside and a poached egg and mushroom hollandaise on top. It's eggs Benedict meets eggs Florentine, essentially. We're also doing an amazing Bloody Mary. It's a classic, but it's very nice.
What’s your schedule like these days?
LT: I'm spending most of my nights at Arlington Club until we get it right—until we're happy and customers are happy.
The crowds have been crazy!
LT: Yes, and it’s kind of funny because it's happening late at night. I think it's good, we have a good bar crowd. It’s definitely a busy restaurant.