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Posts Tagged ‘just cocktails’

Moses Laboy: Potent and Warming Cocktails For Winter Sipping

Posted on: March 8th, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

Warming cocktails work their magic when temperatures drop. See a trio of cocktail with a base of rum, bourbon, and rye that will be a welcome addition to your next gathering. One cocktail included a smoking scenario, for those who like to play with fire.

In charge of the drink program at Bottle and Bine is Moses Laboy, who puts the muscle behind its sixteen draft lines, which change daily, with interesting wine and beer selections. But what he really excels at are cocktails. We tried this trio, and were totally wowed. Luckily we got him to share the recipes with us. So sit back and chill, with a warming cocktail in hand. If you are into fanfare, creating The Smoke Show comes with a small performance and a little fire. Rum lovers will adore the Fun in the Storm and its lemongrass flavors. My Little Butter has bourbon that has been infused with—yes—butter. You may have also sampled some of Moses’ cocktails at: Gotham Bar & Grill, Le Colonial, Los Americanos, Red Rooster and Donatella. [Bottle and Bine has since closed]

The Smoke Show

Smoky flavor is added on the spot.

Make the Smoke:
few sticks of cinnamon
2 star anise
butane torch
cutting board
rocks glass

Torch ingredients until they are smoking, then cover with rocks glass to capture the smoke.

Make the Cocktail:
2 oz James Pepper Clove Infused Rye
1/2 oz Demerara
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
smoked rocks glass

Stir ingredients over ice till cold and strain into the smoked rocks glass over a large ice cube.

Fun In The Storm

A soulful rum with a tropical touch.

2 oz Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum
1 oz Lemongrass
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 dashes Angostura and Orange bitters

garnish: candied ginger

Shake over ice till cold, strain into rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with candied ginger.

My Little Buttercup

This one was served with our dessert, and was off-the-charts, sinfully good! (see the photo at the top of this post)

Make the Fat Washed Bourbon:
1/4 LB butter, melted
1 liter Evan Williams bourbon

Add melted butter to the bourbon at room temperature. Let it absorb into the spirit for a few hours. Move to the fridge or freezer until butter solidifies. Skim off hardened butter. The flavor of the butter will remain, even after skimming.

Make the Cocktail:
2 oz Fat Washed Bourbon
2 oz cardamom simple syrup

Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a rocks glass over one large cube.

Irish Whiskey Cocktails to Ace Your St. Patrick’s Day Tear

Posted on: March 2nd, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

It’s only appropriate to spend March 17 with the real deal. Enjoy these five splendid Irish whiskey cocktails from Teeling Irish Whiskey. You’ll be carrying on traditions from 1782 when the Teeling Family started crafting their spirit.

Walter Teeling set up a craft distillery on Marrowbone Lane in the Liberties area of Dublin. Today, Jack and Stephen Teeling are carrying on the family’s legacy and forging a bright new future for distilling in Dublin.

The Teeling Whiskey Distillery is the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years and will bring the craft of distilling back into the very heart of Dublin city centre. Located in an ancient market square called Newmarket, an area long associated with brewing and distilling, the new distillery is a three copper pot still operation reviving the traditional style of Dublin whiskey distillation.

The distillery is open for visitors allowing you to come see, smell and experience Teeling whiskey. To make the day even more special, memorize some quaint and humorous authentic Irish toasts.

Grisly Mint (photo)

1 1/2 oz Teeling Irish Whiskey
1/2 oz Brancamenta
1/2 oz Glogg
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Brovo Amaro #14

Stir and strain into a coupe.
— recipe courtesy Jacob Tschetter, The Jeffrey NYC

Irish Coffee

2 oz Coffee infused Teeling Irish Whiskey
1/2 oz Bittermens New Orleans
1/2 oz Ancho Reyes liqueur
1/2 oz maple syrup
Dash mole bitters
Islay scotch rinsed coupe

Shake with ice, double strain into coupe.

The Old Fashioned Irishman

2 oz Teeling small batch
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Bittermens Hiver Amer
1/4 oz Luxardo

Stir/strain into a coupe. Garnish with flame orange peel

The Red Leg Rebellion

1 oz Teeling Small Batch
1/2 oz Clement Creole Shrubb
1/2 oz Taylors Velvet Falernum
1/2 oz Pineapple Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Swizzle in glass or short shake and strain.
Glass: Double Old Fashioned or Small Tiki Mug or Julep Cup
Ice: Crushed
Garnish: Large mint sprig, pineapple wedge (preferably dehydrated), cocktail cherry

The Tipperary

1 3/4 oz Teeling Single Grain
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica, Dolin or similar)
3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
2 dash Peychauds bitters

Add all ingredients to mixing glass with ice and stir until required dilution is achieved. Strain into a chilled small coupe or Nick and Nora style glass (5 oz size). Garnish with an expressed lemon peel.

The Philter: A Tantalizing-Tricked Up-Tequila Love Potion

Posted on: February 2nd, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

Your night is about to get interesting. The Philter (another word for love potion) brings together a trio of flavors: a tantalizing tequila, chai tea, and freshly-squeezed blood orange juice.

HOBNOB’s signature cocktail for the Aphrodisiac party plan begins with an exquisite tequila as its base, adding a delicacy of spiciness not found in other spirits, providing a nice tingling on the tongue. Add to that some chai tea, which is considered an aphrodisiac because it’s packed with antioxidants—which increase blood flow and sensitivity to sexual organs. A little dose of caffeine also does its part to add focus and energy. Lastly, the blood orange balances out the drink, adds some vitamin C, and lends its beautiful stimulating, red color.


[1] Fortaleza Reposado Tequila Fortaleza Reposado has a very distinct character, and is made with 100% of the finest estate-grown Blue Agave Tequila Weber, aged in oak barrels for 6 to 9 months. The full story: Picture a thick-walled brick oven which cooks the agaves for 36 hours. Afterwards, a horse-drawn stone mill crushes the agaves, which then get washed with pure mountain water that separate the pulp from the woody fibers, creating an agave juice called mosto. The agave mosto is then naturally fermented for five days in small wood vats, and then double distilled using small, labor-intensive copper pot stills. TASTING NOTES: Flavors include cooked agave, citrus, vanilla, apple, earth, and cinnamon. The finish is long and rich, delicately spicy, and it has an oily texture the make this a joy to drink. Tequila Fortaleza is the American label for Tequila Los Abuelos, due to a Rum with the name “Abuelos” already being distributed in the USA. About $65. tequilafortaleza.com

HOBNOBMAG love potion cocktail w tequila

[2] Dona Chai chai tea concentrate is a convenient pre-brewed chai, made in Brooklyn. The brewing process begins with cold-pressed fresh ginger and freshly-ground whole spices: cinnamon bark, cardamom, vanilla bean, cloves, black peppercorns. Organic, loose-leaf black tea is then slowly brewed in small batches to bring out a powerful balance of flavors. The caffeine and mix of herbals will enhance your energy levels. A little goes a long way, just one of these bottles will create many a cocktail. Available in Manhattan at Forager’s Grocery on 22nd/9th. donachai.com

[3] Blood Orange Juice Blood oranges are in season over the winter, and lend a special orange aroma and unique flavor. If you cannot find fresh blood oranges, or cannot be bothered to fresh squeeze, try a carton of Noble’s Blood Orange Juice instead. noblejuice.com

[4] Luxardo The Original Maraschino Cherries One taste of these cherries, offered to me by a die-hard fan, and I was sold, and thankfully only one block from where I could purchase a jar of my very own. They are perfectly textured, sour Marasca cherries in a sweet syrup. From the Veneto region of Italy, The Luxardo family has been cultivating cherry trees for this treat and its renowned Maraschino Liqueur. No preservatives or thickeners added. About $20. luxardo.it

Bubble-licious! Sparkling Rosé Minis

Posted on: February 10th, 2016 by Ellen Swandiak

Serious, not so serious? Who cares? Take a light, and tickle-y approach to your Valentine’s Day sipping. Martini & Rossi Sparkling Rosé Minis are the most adorable way to share that romantic moment.

There’s something a little romantic about sharing champagne, and the rose color of this species adds more to the mood. A lightly-sweet flavor is packed into petite, pink bottles. Be playful, and add a straw for extra sipping pleasure.

The mini bottles come in a 4-pack, for $14.99; traditional 750 mL bottle, $12.99.  martini.com

HOBNOB Holiday Drinking Guide: 23 Recipes for Exceptional Sipping

Posted on: December 15th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Here’s a collection of cocktail recipes that will get you through the holiday season with flair. From spiced rum to dessert-worthy eggnog, this Holiday Drinking Guide has you covered for all occasions.

Download the pdf at the bottom of this post to see the 23 recipes that range from classic to avant garde. Inside the guide you will find:

HOBNOBMAG Holiday Drinking Guide 23 Recipes

01 Fireside Cranberry + Tequila + Maple Syrup

02 Black Gold Honey Liqueur + Rye

HOBNOBMAG Holiday Drinking Guide 23 Recipes

03 Wave Hill House Punch A Champagne + Whiskey Punch

04 The Sorcerer Honey Liqueur + Whiskey + Aperol

HOBNOBMAG Holiday Drinking Guide 23 Recipes

05 Tequila & Cheese Tasting A Trio of Casa Noble Tequilas Perfectly Matched to French Cheeses: Mimolette, Époisses, and Fourme d’Ambert.

HOBNOBMAG Holiday Drinking Guide 23 Recipes

06 Garnet of Delight Half and Half + Pomegranate Liqueur + Cognac

07 Joshua’s Moon Cachaça + Lillet Blanc

HOBNOBMAG Holiday Drinking Guide 23 Recipes

08 Fernet-Apple Toddy Apple Cider + Fernet

09 The Apple Turnover Spiced Rum + Apple Cider + Fall Spices

HOBNOBMAG Holiday Drinking Guide 23 Recipes

10 Unique Liqueurs Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur + Kronan Swedish Punsch

HOBNOBMAG Holiday Drinking Guide 23 Recipes

11 Drops of Paradise Cucumber Infused Pisco + Fruit Liqueurs

12 The Noble Ruby A Punch with Pomegranate Liquor + Rum

HOBNOBMAG Holiday Drinking Guide 23 Recipes

13 A Hop, Skip and A Jump  Rum + Ginger Liqueur + Fresh Mango Juice

14 Four Calling Birds Tequila + Sherry + Apricot Liqueur

HOBNOBMAG Holiday Drinking Guide 23 Recipes

15 Autumn Clouds Sake + Cinnamon

16 Spiced Old Fashioned Jagermeister Spice Twist

17 Mapletini Rye + Vanilla

18 Aberdeen Old Fashioned Port + Chivas

19 Old-Fashioned Eggnog With Real Eggs + Whiskey

HOBNOBMAG Holiday Drinking Guide 23 Recipes

20 Havana Sunrise Rum + Honey Syrup + Half and Half

21 Night Cap Vodka + Coffee Liqueur + Chocolate

HOBNOBMAG Holiday Drinking Guide 23 Recipes

22 Morello Mulled Wine With Orange + Brandy + Cherry

23 Spice Box Rum + Port + Anise

Download the pdf with recipes:

HOBNOB holiday drinking guide


Rafael Reyes on How to Serve Cocktails at Home Like a Mixologist

Posted on: December 12th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

If anyone can show you how to serve cocktails at home like a mixologist, it’s this guy. I’ve never seen a more well-stocked bar, between tools, spirits,  fresh herbs and concocted syrups. Learn the tricks.

Mixologist Rafael Reyes and his wife love throwing parties in their lovely Brooklyn apartment. HOBNOB stopped in to investigate the scene and got some great tips on hosting guests and making creative cocktails.

HOBNOBMAG Serve Cocktails at Home Like a Mixologist

How did you get started in the spirit biz?

My journey started in the early days of the cocktailing about ten years ago, when I worked in Northern NJ with the former bar manager of Patria. It was the first time I saw someone create cocktails with fresh juices daily—pressing fresh cane and even coconuts. Soon after that experience, I ended up working at a cocktail lounge in Nolita. After my shift I would visit Remy and Tim Cooper at Gold Bar and was amazed at how great a team they were. There was something about the style of Gold Bar that I really identified with—it was fast paced, with great cocktails, badass bartenders and that rush of having massive amounts of people in front of you and wanting more. I was determined to get to this level.

I had the chance to work on the opening of Yerbabuena Perry and was able to push my craft further with the help of Cervantes (PDT, Little Branch, The Ship) and Artemio (Pegu Club), who had deep roots in the classics. After that I started venturing off by myself, doing brief stints with renowned chefs where I was exposed to a variety of culinary toys and ingredients. It made me realize that my cocktail style was definitely kitchen-inspired. With this focus, I continued to develop my style at 1534, ECC, and with Chefs Jesus Nuñez, Andres Grundy and Didie—and most recently at Betony, where the level of skill and discipline was mind blowing. I will forever be grateful to Chef Bryce Shuman and Eamon Rockey for welcoming me into in their  kitchen and allowing me to stage and put my free time to learn from their chefs.

What are your 5 statement bar essentials?

[1] Herbs I’m the biggest sucker for herbs—I cannot create a menu or live without them in my apartment. When delicate herbs like lemon verbena are in season, it makes me happy! Basil blossoms, lemon balm, flaming shiso, anise hysop, lemon thyme, coriander flowers… the list goes on and on.

I buy herbs from websites like Fresh Origins and the Chefs Garden. They are a bit pricey, but the key is to always have more than one use for them. To save money, my wife and I grow them at home and make sure to grow a diverse selection during the warm months, so we can use them for parties all year round.

[2] Spices I’m a big believer that you should always try to introduce people to new flavors, and the options with spices are unlimited, and the level of complexity that you can add to your drinks is amazing. As opposed to herbs, most spices are not too expensive and last for a long time.

My style has never been classic, the more obscure an ingredient, the more I want to use it. My rule of thumb: For every weird ingredient, balance it with a familiar one. Examples: cherry tomatoes and champagne, or Orujo liqueur & grapefruit with IPA. Some of my favorite spots for buying spices are Lhasa Karnak and Mountain Rose Herbs. If you prefer using extracts, Terra Spice has pretty good ones, just be careful with amounts, as they are not quite like bitters, and need to be used sparingly.

HOBNOBMAG Serve Cocktails at Home Like a Mixologist

[3] European Hawthorne Strainers & Multilevel Bell Jigger Some people dislike Hawthorne strainers, but I feel it’s the only one you need at your bar for making stirred, rolled and shaken drinks, plus, it allows you to drop pours really high, with a perfect flow. Multilevel bell jiggers are also my favorite. It takes practice getting the measurements correct, but once mastered, it becomes a pretty stylish and functional tool. I like how it allows for flair and stylish moves behind the bar.

[4] Sous vide & Dehydrator I love the Sous vide machine. If you love to create amazing syrups and infusions you should own one of these. Controlled temperatures can help you in so many ways. There is no evaporation, stronger flavors, better infusions. It is also pretty handy during cold months, for making hot drinks.

The dehydrator allows you to create edible garnishes and preserve delicate herbs, especially, when they are hard to find and you want to to keep them in your repertoire.

[5] Kitchen & Home Bar Throughout my career, every cocktail program I have created has had deep roots in the kitchen. I love to cook and I believe the more you do it, the more you develop your palate, thus giving you a point of reference for future creations. At home I have an open kitchen which allows me to view my all my spices and liquor bottles while I’m cooking, making for inspired choice in drinks, food or desserts.

My wife eats super healthy. She is Paleo and also owns a paleo, gluten-free dessert company. So there are always some healthy factors that play into the dishes that I cook for her (Yes, I do the cooking!). No flours, no sugars, no dairy, etc. always creates an exciting challenge. (Me on the other hand, I eat whatever I want to eat! haha.)

HOBNOBMAG Serve Cocktails at Home Like a Mixologist

Give us some of your party throwing tips.

You might say my wife and I are party-friendly people. We love to fill the room with great friends, cocktails, charcuterie and cheese platters, and plenty of foodie-food for everyone. We even sneak in the healthy desserts.

Every Christmas, we throw a big party. Last year, there were about 20 of us up on the roof, where we sent paper lanterns into the sky and made wishes for the next year. It was a very unique moment with special people—what I think the holidays are all about.

In our kitchen, we have a self serve wine unit that is meant to store 3 bottles at selected temperatures that lets you press a button and fill your glass. We use it at parties for bottled Negronis, Rum Manhattans or any kind of a stirred drink, creating a kind of a self serve, easy access bar.

On the bar there are about 300 bottles to choose from—so anything’s possible. We also set up a cooler on the counter, full of sherry and other vino options. Usually, someone will start making drinks for everyone and when they start shaking, everyone starts cheering them on. There is no fakeness in the room. You get a sense of community and friendship, which reminds me a bit of the holidays back home in Colombia—lots of smiles and laughing. It is an affirmation of what I stand for. No matter what, its always, always, ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE.

HOBNOBMAG Serve Cocktails at Home Like a Mixologist

We love the new bottle for Santa Teresa Rum, the spirit featured in this issue’s bar—it’s so elegant. What other mixers do you recommend with this spirit?

The new bottle was designed to portray the rum’s premium level, while still showing that nothing inside has changed. Santa Teresa 1796 has always been perfect to drink on its own, like any good whiskey or cognac. It’s blended with spirits aged from 4 to 35 years, and has hints of dry fruits and American and French Oak. It finishes dry, which makes it perfect for cocktails like an Old Fashioned. It also tastes delicious in long time classics like a Right Hand or a Presidente. Perhaps you can make an amazing daiquiri or a tasty Hemingway. I personally invite you to get out of your comfort zone and let this rum express itself in a stirred drink, like a Manhattan or a Negroni. Keep it simple, though, in this case less is more!

A Late Autumn Cocktail with Cider

Posted on: November 13th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

The assortment of sweet and spicy notes in these ingredients are perfect for the late fall season and the focus of this month’s Autumn cocktail with cider.

This cocktail takes advantage of the ciders appearing in your local liquor store and mixes beautifully with vodka, a sweet touch of cola, and salty grapefruit. The bitters pull it all together.


[1] Signature Cocktail: East Cider Apple and fall flavors are emphasized in this slightly sweet and fizzy seasonal cocktail. Take advantage of the ciders now appearing in your local liquor stores. See the recipe with this post.

[2] Shacksbury Classic Craft Cider Some of the most gnarled trees in New England and old world orchards in England and Spain go into making this intense cider from Vermont. Cider is slowly fermented with cultured yeast in stainless steel, then aged for six months. The flavors really hold up in a cocktail. $9. shacksbury.com

hobnobmag Autumn Cocktail with Cider

[3] Industry Standard Vodka Direct from Brooklyn, and distilled from sugar beets, Industry Standard boasts a fruity, complex flavor with hits of vanilla and spice. Vodka “made by nerds” utilizes yeast grown in an on-site lab, from a strain originating in beet fields of France, thus adding dimension to the vodka’s delicate flavor. Go and see how its made for yourself! A tasting room is open to the public, and offers tours, cocktails, plus views of New York Bay every Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10PM, no reservation required. $36. drinkicd.com

hobnobmag Autumn Cocktail with Cider

[4] More Good Syrups Using locally sourced and organic ingredients, More Good has created a line of hand-crafted soda syrup concentrates. In this month’s cocktail we added a bit of the Cassia Kream Syrup whose recipe started out as a take on historical cola, but has added cinnamon and vanilla. With 50% less sugar than main stream sodas, this is the one to use with your Soda Stream. Their shop in Beacon, NY, also offers organic loose leaf tea, organic & fair trade herbs and spices, an extensive selection of over 50 flavors and varieties of cocktail bitters. Another reason to drink More Good: founder Jason Schuler, has partnered with Generosity.org in an effort to make clean water accessible to everyone on the planet, and the company has raised thousands of dollars for the cause. $13. drinkmoregood.com

[5] Bittermilk No. 5 Charred Grapefruit Tonic with Bulls Bay Sea Salt Bittermilk has created a line of cocktail mixers that each feature a bitter agent, a sweetener, and an acid—thus contributing to a well-balanced cocktail. The company is the brain child of husband and wife, Joe and MariElena Raya, of Charleston, South Carolina, a couple with deep roots in the restaurant/bar industry. In developing the No.5, lime and lemon juice were combined with cinchona bark, (the source of quinine for tonic). Fresh grapefruits are peeled and the skins are charred to help bring out bitter yet refreshing notes, then a touch of sea salt helps pull savory caramel notes and rounds out flavor. Works well with any light spirit. $15. shop.bittermilk.com

hobnobmag Autumn Cocktail with Cider

[6] Junior Merino Cachaca Lavender & Yuzu Bitters Junior Merino’s Intensives do the job of intensifying flavors in cocktails, and add complexity and elegance. Each is created with a different spirit base, which gets infused with botanicals. In this month’s cocktail we added a few drops of Cachaca Lavender and Yuzu. Also perfect for salad dressings, marinades, ceviche, soup, stew, desserts or seafood. $18.

Strong & Intoxicating: Cognac Cocktails

Posted on: November 2nd, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

At the Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cocktail Competition, Hobnob got to witness mixology in action. Savor this special spirit in these six special cognac cocktails, and pick a winner for yourself.

It’s fabulous when a brand hosts a cocktail competition and to experience all the creativity that goes with it. Louis Royer and their high-proof cognac sponsored one at Porchlight, NYC in November. The featured spirit, Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cognac was the key ingredient in all the cocktails, and at 106 proof, did add a potent kick.

“Force 53” mixed nicely in these cocktails adding a powerful caramel apple flavor, plus notes of fresh citrus. Bartenders took these flavors into account and matched them with notes of fig, chocolate, tiki, cardamom, and more. This spirit received the Gold Medal at the San Francisco Wine & Spirits Competition. Here are the results and details for each cocktail, where six bartenders competed, much to our sipping pleasure:

HOBNOBMAG Louis Royer Cognac Cocktail Competition-

Dave Nurmi of Porchlight created the Brother Mon Frère with LR Force 53, Cappelletti, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Peychaud’s Bitter, and Salt.

HOBNOBMAG Louis Royer Cognac Cocktail Competition-

Dustin Olson of Holiday Cocktail Lounge offered the Forced Holiday with LR Force 53, Santa Teresa 1796 Rum, Amaro Ramazzotti, Giffard Banane du Bresil, and Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters.

HOBNOBMAG Louis Royer Cognac Cocktail Competition-

Gregory Buda of The Dead Rabbit, the winner of the competition came up with Book of Matthew. His cocktail was a combination of LR Force 53, Lemon Juice, Fig Cordial, Pineau des Charentes, and Dale DeGroff Pimento Bitters.

HOBNOBMAG Louis Royer Cognac Cocktail Competition-

Jeremy Hawn of Seamstress used a cute red umbrella blown inside out to adorn his cocktail. The Peach Me a Lesson was a mix of LR Force 53, Combier Creme de Peche, Creme de Violette, Lemon Juice, and Bittermens Tiki Bitters.

HOBNOBMAG Louis Royer Cognac Cocktail Competition-

Jim Palumbo of The Up and Up made the Vinyl Record with LR Force 53, Wolffer Estate Verjus, Meletti Amaro, Creme de Cacao, and Tawny Port.

HOBNOBMAG Louis Royer Cognac Cocktail Competition-

Kirsten Holloway of Pink Magnolia, the only female and bartender from Texas. She created An Isle Away, a combination of LR Force 53, Amaor Nonino, simple syrup, Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters, and Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters.

HOBNOBMAG Louis Royer Cognac Cocktail Competition-

Remee Klos of Holiday Cocktail Lounge Shares a Couple of Retro Cocktails

Posted on: October 17th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Retro cocktails from a landmark spot on St. Marks Place in the East Village, NYC. One comes complete with cocktail umbrella and plastic toy you can keep as souvenirs. It’s sophisticated kitsch.

It’s so commendable, and quite rare, to see a NYC neighborhood stand-by come back to life without losing its original charm and downtown spirit. For nearly 100 years, this St. Marks Place bar has attracted notables with personality (including Madonna, Sinatra, Keith Richards, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, Allen Ginsburg, Leon Trotsky) that have infused their mark and energy into the space.

HOBNOBMAG Retro Cocktails from a NYC landmark

Holiday Cocktail Lounge, has received a loving, modern-with-kitsch makeover with the vision of Barbara Sibley, the East Village’s ‘resident anthropologist’. Under her guidance, extruded paneled walnut walls and a mint-green banquette give the space a vintage feel, transporting you right back to the ’50s. The renovation unearthed remnants of past incarnations, including a mural of a harem scene from the bar’s time as Ali Baba; a phone booth (one of only a handful left in NYC) with its original phone number; and, remarkably, a Prohibition-era tunnel that allows escape across St. Marks Place.

Her menu is hyper-local, featuring the best within a five-minute stroll from Holiday—including saffron, turmeric and shiso leaves to home-cured kielbasa and freshly baked challah. Sibley is chef and owner of neighboring restaurant, La Palapa, another staple of the neighborhood.

HOBNOBMAG Retro Cocktails from a NYC landmark

Cocktails are cultivated by brothers Michael and Danny Neff, so you know they are stellar. “We are committed to honoring its gritty, celebrity-studded past, while maintaining the creative ‘anything can happen’ ethos of the East Village. By marrying the bonhomie and warmth of a timeless neighborhood bar with a world-class drinks program, we’re planning to incubate some fantastic experiences,” says Michael Neff. ‘Nuff said.

On our visit, we got our cocktails from the funky and lovely Remee Klos, who gives us her terse report on working at Holiday.

HOBNOB: What’s the vibe like at Holiday?
RK: Fun. Always.

Do you get any visits from former luminaries?
What happens at Holiday, stays at Holiday.

What’s the best night to go?

That depends on how much tomfoolery you are in the mood for. You get more quality time with the fantastic bartenders Sundays and Mondays. But here, everyday is a Holiday.

Where have we seen you before Holiday?
The Library, Saxon & Parole, Hop Sing Laundromat.

Open every day from 3pm to 4am, as a landmark should be. holidaycocktaillounge.nyc

I included these two cocktails as part of a plan for hosting a Day of the Dead party because right next door at La Palapa, Barbara Sibley hosts a fabulous tribute to the holiday, with her authentic, traditional Mexican fare.

The Chocoholic Cocktail Featuring Exotic Dark Rum with Pineapple

Posted on: October 11th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

The Day of the Dead party gets even more spooky with this shadowy concoction. In this chocoholic cocktail, I  created a deep, dark mix with a unique, antique rum and married it with tropical flavors. Chocolate and cherries also make an appearance.

This recipe goes with the party plan for hosting a Day of the Dead party or Halloween party, with all of the food is celebratory orange and black.


[1] Signature Cocktail: The Chocoholic Dark and stormy hues, and strong waves of fruit and chocolate make this the perfect autumn sipper. Brew the tea ahead of time and store in the fridge before your gathering. See the recipe with this post.

[2] Plantation “Stiggin’s Fancy” Pineapple Dark Rum Do not think of this as a flavored rum, a la Captain Morgan. Cocktail historian David Wondrich worked with the owner of Maison Ferrand to create this Caribbean wonder. In fact, recipes from the 1700s were referred to, and this experiment wowed bartenders from around the world at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail event in New Orleans. To create this exquisite mix, pineapples are first soaked in the dark rum for 3 months, then the rind of the pineapple is macerated into the blend, thus extracting all its essential oils. It’s a truly sophisticated taste that can be sipped on its own, or mixed as it is here. $30.

hobnobmag chocoholic cocktail

[3] Republic of Tea Hibiscus Coconut Tea In keeping with a tropical palate, hibiscus flowers and coconut join the notes of pineapple in the rum in this cocktail. So refreshing, and positively good for you. Buying this tea allows you to Support Action Against Hunger, with $1 for each tin donated to create sustainable food and water solutions to communities faced with scarcity. Republic of Tea responsibly packages the goods in air-tight, light-resistant tins holding 36 unbleached tea bags, without unnecessary envelopes, strings, tags or staples. $10.25. republicoftea.com

[4] Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters A family business since 1864, these bitters add the chocolate-y touch, and take the cocktail over to the dark side. About $10. feebrothers.com

[5] Luxardo The Original Maraschino Cherries It is highly recommended to keep a jar of these in your fridge, for adding a punch of wow to cocktails, cheese boards, and sweets. These specimens are perfectly textured, sour Marasca cherries in a bright, sweet syrup. From the Veneto region of Italy, The Luxardo family has been cultivating cherry trees for this treat and its renowned Maraschino Liqueur. No preservatives or thickeners added. About $20. luxardo.it

A Cognac Cocktail from Gregory Buda of The Dead Rabbit

Posted on: September 15th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Enjoy this exquisite sipper from the bar voted “best in the world”. This cognac cocktail includes a touch of rye, madeira, and amaro, a trifecta of smooth, intense notes.

This party’s suggested  cocktail comes from the renowned bar located all the way downtown, NYC. The Dead Rabbit models itself on a traditional Irish bar from the 1800s, where a shop selling pantry favorites would be located on the ground floor. There are two more floors boasting truly excellent cocktails, some served in tea cups, and all in a boisterous atmosphere. The second floor is where you want to be for the full-service experience.

See more of my tips for hosting a five-star sports viewing in the UP YOUR GAME party plan. You’ll see recipes for upscale small bites, and more. Serve this potent cognac cocktail sipper to your fellow fans at the end of the game, to drown your sorrows, or celebrate!

Read our interview with Gregory Buda, and his take on working at this extremely popular establishment.

The Dead Rabbit was just awarded “World’s Best Bar” at Tales of the Cocktail. Has there been an increase in customers? Is the pressure on?
I would say that there has definitely been an increase in volume resulting from the press about our awards, which is great, especially in the summer. As for the pressure, it’s always on! Being the best means being dynamic, and we recognize that we can always do better and always improve. We have an awesome staff that constantly brings new ideas to the table on how we can up our game. We won that award not because our drinks are better than everyone else’s, but rather because we offer a really cool and unique experience when you come in.

hobnobmag Cognac Cocktail The Dead Rabbit

What is the most asked for spirit at the bar?

Dead Rabbit is known for having one of the most extensive Irish whiskey selections in the world, and a lot of people come in curious to try something new. It is also one of our goals to promote Irish whiskey as a category, which we do through cocktails, education, and tastings. However, in terms of other spirits, I have been thrilled that more and more guests come in asking about Japanese whisky, mezcal, and Armagnac, three categories that I am very excited about and that have been under people’s radar until recently.

hobnobmag Cognac Cocktail The Dead Rabbit

You are a photographer as well as mixologist. Are you influenced by how the drink looks as well as tastes?
Without question! Your experience of a drink has many facets to it. The obvious ones are aroma, taste, and texture, but presentation and glassware play a huge part as well. The visual appearance of a cocktail is the first part of your experience, so if I make sure it is spectacular, it sets your expectations appropriately for how the drink will taste. A normal comment that I get when I am behind the bar is “What is THAT drink over there?! I’ll have one of those.” And this is said without the guest having any idea what is in the cocktail or how it tastes. Personally, I prefer drinks to be presented in a classic but elegant way. Overly extravagant garnishes and glassware make me question whether the cocktail can speak for itself.

hobnobmag Cognac Cocktail The Dead Rabbit

How many cocktails at The Dead Rabbit can be credited to you? What’s your favorite ingredient that can improve almost any mix?
Currently, 12 of the cocktails in our third edition book menu are my creations, and I have come up with another seven or so for our seasonal menus. My secret ingredient is sherry, and I use different styles of sherry in almost all of the drinks I come up with, whether for menus, competitions, or articles. Before coming to Dead Rabbit, I worked at a beautiful sherry and cocktail bar called The Beagle (now closed) on the Lower East Side, and fell in love. As a bartender, it is a personal mission of mine to promote sherry as a category, and my favorite way to introduce people to its beauty is with a good sherry cocktail. I find that sherry really is a magical ingredient, and if I just can’t get a cocktail to taste the way that I want, adding a little sherry is usually the answer.


Host an Exotic Tequila Tasting, Featuring Easy Prickly Pear Margaritas

Posted on: September 7th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Tequila is what we like to call the cognac of Mexico. You have to appreciate the artisanal quality of the spirit, birthed from the purest of environments. Host a tequila tasting at your next gathering to learn to discern the nuances.

Doing a proper tasting educates your palate to the nuances of each spirit, allowing a proper appreciation for the subtleties and leanings. Try this tasting at your next big sporting event gathering and check out my party menu of upscale bites to serve.

In this month’s crusade for party fodder we met with Chef Richard Caruso of Javelina (who shared his recipe for Habanero Glazed Chicken Wings) and there we also got to sip and taste a selection of premier tequilas. It certainly was a heady afternoon.


[1] Signature Cocktail If you are not sipping tequila straight, try the Prickly Pear Margarita enhanced by Bungalow 23’s mixer for Prickly Pear Margarita. (see recipe with this post, and details on Bungalow 23 below)

[2] Dulce Vida Organic Tequila Los Altos, in the Tequila region of Mexico, is known for its abundance of large and fruity agave, which is the sole source for this organic tequila. Powerful at 100 Proof, this spirit definitely provides an extra kick. Our fave, the Añejo, is aged in American bourbon whiskey barrels, where it achieves its rich, amber color and full-bodied flavor. Tasting Notes: intense agave and fruit notes with delicate flashes of vanilla and wood, giving way to a sweet, smooth finish. An excellent sipping tequila, especially delicious with a slice of orange sprinkled with cinnamon. About $53. dulcevidaspirits.com

hobnobmag Exotic Tequila Tasting Party

[3] Selección Suprema de Herradura This was the most popular of the tasting, and adored for an exceptional smooth and mellow experience. Estate bottled at Casa Herradura, this 100% pure agave, extra añejo tequila is allowed to age a whopping 49 months in imported oak barrels. Savor a sip of this one for sure. About $300. brown-forman.com

[4] Milagro Tequila In 1998, college friends Danny Schneeweiss and Moy Guindi loved the creativity happening in Mexico City and wanted to bring this passion to the world of Tequila. They teamed up with Pedro Juarez, a Master Distiller, who created a master plan starting with 100% blue agave from the Jalisco Highlands, then cooked the piñas in traditional, hand-built, brick ovens for 36 hours to pull out the most flavor. The Barrel Reserve Reposado Select, then gets aged in both American and French oak barrels for 3 to 6 months, resulting in a perfect balance of agave and oak. Tasting Notes: Focus on vanilla, white pepper and cinnamon, with a dry finish. About $55. milagrotequila.com

hobnobmag Exotic Tequila Tasting Party

[5] Blue Nectar Tequila A father and son with a shared love for tequila, who made a tradition of gifting each other special bottles, led them to creating a special brand of their own. They took a journey searching the lowlands of Jalisco, and on one horrid day in the pouring rain, and at the end of a muddy road, they came across a pair of wild brothers in cowboy hats whose passion for tequila matched their own. Blue Nectar tequila is the result, and is totally true to the terroir of the region’s volcanic soils. Distinct and well-balanced with a rich, earthy body. Aged in North American white oak whiskey & bourbon barrels. About $45. bluenectartequila.com

[6] 1800 Milenio Extra Añejo Originally released in 2000 to celebrate the millennium, the 1800 Milenio exemplifies the taste of fine Weber Blue Agave and worthy of only those who appreciate the best sipping tequilas. This brand is aged for five years, then finished in French oak ex-cognac barrels for four months before bottling. The dark amber gold color shows off its association with oak and is compared to many major bourbons on the market. Tasting Notes: balanced and soft with unique flavor—notes of vanilla, red fruit and cinnamon. About $125. 1800tequila.com

hobnobmag Exotic Tequila Tasting Party

[7] Bungalow 23 Mixers Premium spirits deserve a mixer of the same caliber. By sourcing optimal ingredients, Bungalow 23 has developed a trio of intricate mixers that elevate and enhance a spirit—with just a pour. Their mixes are complex and dense and can stand up to a glassful of ice. For this month’s cocktail, we chose to accompany our top-notch tequilas with the Prickly Pear Margarita mix, whose star fruit comes from California’s Salinas Valley and mingles with fresh limes and oranges plus a smattering of blue agave and cilantro. (See the recipe with this post for creating a sophisticated, mixologist-worthy margarita) Other flavors include Pear Ginger Martini, which starts with pears grown from the Cascade Mountains in Washington and mixes with ginger, lemon, lemongrass, and a touch of sugar. Light and luscious, it marries beautifully with rich dishes, ripe cheeses, and Asian cuisine. Blueberry Lemon Drop harvests blueberries from Willamette Valley in Oregon, and rounds it out with not only lemons but lemongrass and lavender to complete the experience. Stock this assortment in your bar. $17.50 b23mixers.com

Host this tequila tasting at your next big sports match-up. We guarantee a raucous time will be had by all!

Wellness Cocktail: Pam Wiznitzer’s Low-Alcohol Sipper

Posted on: August 28th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Wellness cocktail, that may be an oxymoron, but there are certainly different degrees when it comes to imbibing. Pam Winitzer, of Seamstress, NYC, shares a recipe for her bright cocktail with low-alcohol, and her thoughts on mixology trends.

This month’s cocktail recipe, by the lovely Ms. Wiznitzer, is a lightly-sweet blend, with low-alcohol content, ideal for daytime parties.

You just attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and were busy giving seminars and classes. What are you focused on right now?
Right now my focus is on Seamstress and our team at the venue. We have a busy fall coming up and a killer team behind the bar and on the floor that keeps expanding and making every night really memorable for our guests. With menu changes on the horizon and some fun tricks up our sleeves, Seamstress keeps me pretty busy. Beyond the bar I have our amazing USBGNY chapter programming that keeps me attached to my emails and phone, some incredible projects with brands, travel and cocktails weeks, and just leading healthy lifestyle by keeping to a workout regiment and eating well.

Did you see any new trends that intrigued you?

The most outstanding trend that is sweeping our country right now is a focus on the health and wellness of bartenders. There is a stronger emphasis on not only eating well and working out, but also taking social responsibility by drinking less and keeping the “partying” to a more appropriate level. I felt that this year at Tales was and exemplary one with many bartenders and industry professionals really honing in on their behavior and enjoying the week without getting overly intoxicated. In fact, there are loads of people who are cutting out alcohol altogether!

For cocktails, there is a shift towards low proof/session drinks and also incorporating more unique spirits onto a cocktail menu. Vermouth and sherry were stars of the show and incorporated into many of the cocktails currently on menus across the country. As well, the appearance of spirits such as applejack, pisco, Raicilla, Sotol, Eau de Vie, Cognac and other more obscure liquors are finally getting their chance to shine at bars. It’s an exciting time for the smaller spirit producers from these categories because consumers and bartenders are both seeking our new flavors for their programs.

hobnobmag Wellness Cocktail

You’ve switched bars from way downtown (The Dead Rabbit) to the upper east side…how would you say the clientele compare?
New York clientele are the best! I love that the majority of guests who come to Seamstress are locals from the UES, as well as many doctors, nurses, teachers and some other business individuals who work uptown. A phenomenal part of our guests happen to be other industry personnel who work in restaurants and bars above 59th street and love to join us post shift for a great cocktail. As well, many of my guests from the Dead Rabbit (along with my old co-workers from the bar) have traveled uptown to visit, which means the world to me. I really love the people who come to eat and drink with us every night and love to see the returning faces week after week!

hobnobmag Wellness Cocktail

There’s a wee store in the entryway of Seamstress, with a great selection of handmade items, how do you choose who to include?
Steve Laycock and Josh Mazza help to curate the store. We focus on American goods that are of the highest quality and reflect the same ideals that we have at Seamstress (craftsmanship, attention to detail). We currently have syrups from Max Messier’s company Cocktail & Sons, Original drawings from artists Meredith Wing (@moomooi on instagram), Lotuff leather bags, Shinola watches from Detroit and Pendleton Blankets. You can check out our store online to see all of the updates:


Brooklyn Backyard: Branch Ofc’s Cocktail Basics by Chris Buckley

Posted on: July 16th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Soon as warm temps hit, people start looking for cool outdoor spots to relax in. This Brooklyn backyard has a sweet vibe, and nicely-priced libations to boot.

There’s a new bar in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn, and this one has got the big backyard for those days when you simply must find a spot to linger outdoors, along with a wallet-friendly cocktail menu and beer offerings. (Our photos show all three $11 cocktails, one of which is sure to please.) Those cocktails work perfectly as part of my party scenario for hosting a sensational summer bbq.

hobnobmag Brooklyn Backyard Branch Ofc

Owner Christopher Buckley earned his stripes in the restaurant world in fancy private clubs down south, which has definitely left a mark on his level of hospitality. He made his way back to NYC, with his wife who is a fifth generation resident of the borough. This is their second bar in Brooklyn, and the new location 10 blocks from the former Ebbets Field was inspired by an uncle who was a sportswriter who covered baseball during the Jackie Robinson-era. To hark back to those times, the couple referenced family photos, looking for 1950s design elements, and set up the bar to be that friendly, casual spot that draws a relaxed crowd.

hobnobmag Brooklyn Backyard Branch Ofc

Buckley has the gift of gab, and can offer the best advice to locals and tourists alike on where to head out to experience the best in the NYC bar scene. He often connects with world travelers and sets them on the right course. Enjoy the recipes. branchofcbrooklyn.com

See more of the formula for throwing a fabulous summer bbq in our ULTIMATE SUMMER issue.

A Calvados Cocktail + Striped Bottles of Sparkling Wine

Posted on: July 6th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Calvados, that wonderful spirit made from apples in the Pays d’Auge region of France, gets mixed into a fantastic summer sipper: a calvados cocktail with hints of vanilla and chocolate mint.

To include in our fresh menu for summer, I’ve developed a cocktail made with Calvados from Domaine Dupont, one of the leading craft Calvados and Cider makers in France. Plus, to go with the stripes them, I suggest a couple of bottles of Chandon, a bubbly wrapped in a pretty striped  party package. (see the rest of the menu for a summer gathering with a Stripes theme at this link)


[1] Summer Cider This party’s cocktail pairs calvados with vanilla accents in the form of syrup and tea. Then I added some chocolate mint to heighten the flavor. This is a super-sophisticated summer cocktail. See the recipe with this post.

[2] Domaine Dupont Calvados orchards in the Pays d’Auge region of France, exist in an area with chalky soil, which limits the size of the trees—but is essential to the quality of the final product. Thirteen varieties of tiny apples with thick skins thrive here, each with its own flavor profile, and are blended and aged with the same levels of elegance and expressiveness found in the best wines.

The Hors D’Age is made with 80% bittersweet apples and 20% acidic apples, aged for six years in toasted oak barrels. This bottle is best savored on its own. Tasting notes: Lightly wooded, fruit aromas of apple and banana, hints of rose and jasmine. The aroma is heavenly.

Vielle Réserve is a younger version, aged for four years. Its notes of vanilla and lemon and lighter body inspired our cocktail recipe. calvados-dupont.com

HOBNOBMAG Calvados Cocktail says Summer

[3] Heilala Vanilla Syrup This is a sweetener that could hijack your sugar fix. Heilala Vanilla Syrup is 100% pure vanilla and adds a whole vanilla pod to ensure the spectacular flavor continues to develop in the bottle. Great in cocktails and for baking. heilalavanilla.com

[4] Republic of Tea Caramel Vanilla Black Tea Enjoy the flavors of a sugary treat sans calories. This tea was inspired by traditional Southern yellow cake with homemade caramel vanilla frosting. We made a batch and flavored it with vanilla syrup to heighten the flavors, and served it in our cocktail. The Republic of Tea is known for canvassing the most prized tea gardens of the world to make their extensive line of teas. republicoftea.com

HOBNOBMAG Calvados Cocktail says Summer

[5] Chocolate Mint The sensational flavor of chocolate mint blended with the tea to add a fine accent and edge. The first time I sniffed a batch of this mint, it seemed too good to be true. Mint is so easy to grown, so I suggests growing a batch of this to have on hand to add to all sort of things—ice tea, yogurt, desserts, and of course, cocktails. It adds super impact to this party’s signature cocktail.


[6] Chandon Limited Edition Brut Classic and Rose Sparkling Wine To round out the bar, offer this lovely striped number. This is the third year that Chandon, a sparkling wine house in Napa Valley, has added playful and patriotic pops of red, white and blue stripes to add pizazz to your summer entertaining.

The Brut is nautically-chic in blue, and its sister Rosé version features the same crisp, classic stripes in a vibrant pink. Available Memorial Day through Labor Day. $22-$24. Brut minis also available. $8. chandon.com

A Summer Cocktail for Amaro Lovers from Lana Gailani of Pouring Ribbons

Posted on: June 20th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Pouring Ribbons, a place known for their serious dedication to creative cocktails and a great oral history, offers up a cocktail for amaro lovers, with hints of jasmine and peach, to celebrate summer.

Lana Gailani, a mixologist at Pouring Ribbons, is preparing the summer cocktail menu for summer. She says: get ready for lighter and brighter cocktail ingredients for summer—infused into in complex configurations . I interviewed her to see her philosophy behind the cocktail strategies. Amaro lovers, it’s your time!

This cocktail is part of the Pouring Ribbons new summer menu…what else can we expect to see, ingredient-wise?
We’ve gone for lighter, brighter cocktails with pretty classic summer ingredients—we have a tequila negroni with muddled strawberry, we have a vodka cocktail with watermelon juice and soda, and a take on a pina colada with peach instead of pineapple. These drinks all have a bit of a twist to them, though—the watermelon cocktail features cachaca and amaro, and the pina colada sneaks in a bit of scotch.

HOBNOB Cocktail for Amaro Lovers

You described this cocktail as a “beginners” introduction to Amaro…are you a fan? How do you like to use it?
I love amaros—they can add depth and complexity while using very small amounts due to their intensity. They can be spicy or herbaceous, sweet and/or bitter, sometimes quite earthy. On their own they make wonderful digestifs and I often have one as a nightcap. The amaro in Safe Word is Cardamaro, which is lighter in style, made with blessed thistle and cardoon, which is in the artichoke family. Its slight earthy tones match the malty qualities of the genever very well and help this cocktail come across almost more as a light whiskey drink than as one based on gin.

How did you get involved in mixing drinks?
I fell in love with mezcal. I’d worked in pastry before, and while waiting tables and working as a sommelier, I realized that I really missed *making* something every day. The craft. I had a job waiting tables at a restaurant with a very extensive agave collection (Empellon Cocina) and I realized that mezcal had a lot in common with wine, and if I managed to get behind a bar I could have everything I wanted. I could be a nerd and study spirits, make something with my hands every day, and meet new people all the time. So I started harassing them to let me behind the bar, and eventually they did.

HOBNOB Cocktail for Amaro Lovers

Name your favorite summer sip:
Rosé all day!

What are your plans for Pride weekend?
I’m working Friday and Saturday, but Sunday is still up in the air…

hobnobmag Cocktail for Amaro Lovers lana

Not-Too-Sweet Blue Cocktails & Grand Vintage Champagne

Posted on: June 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Go natural. The color in this blue cocktail comes from iris flowers immersed into the artisanal gin. Make a pretty and unusual statement on your party bar.

In planning this month’s menu of rainbow colors, the most practical choice for representing the color BLUE turned out to be the cocktail. In order to keep things on an upscale note—and not offer a menu of sickeningly-sweet junk booze—we went on the hunt for more sophisticated and subtle flavors. Luckily, we encountered a light sparkling blueberry liqueur and floral gin deluxe, see the details below.

Offer both at your gathering to cover those who prefer light and fruity or demand a crisp martini.

And for those who prefer a little bubbly with their celebrating, offer a sip of a cellar master’s crowning achievement, see details on Moët’s 2006 vintage below.


[1] Touch of Cyan This month’s signature cocktail gets served up in a coupe glass, mixing slightly fruity flavors with lime. See the recipe with this post.

[2] Gin-Tastic The initial attraction of this gin was its show-stopping color. Upon tasting, we were pleasantly surprised to experience its soft, complex floral notes. Choose to serve either in a cocktail with lime accents or straight up for the martini-lovers in your crowd. Recipes appear with this post.

HOBNOBMAG Blue Cocktail for the Rainbow Party

[3] Blue Ice American Vodka
An honest pure vodka, made from russet potatoes, perfect for those avoiding gluten in your crowd. Mixed with water from deep within the Rocky Mountains, this vodka is distilled in five-stages and filtered through charcoal, garnet, and crystal. Blends perfectly in the cocktail. Nicely priced for parties. $20. blueicevodka.com

[4] LeSutra Sparkling Blueberry Liqueur This Blueberry liqueur announces itself in a pale turquoise tone with just a bit of sweetness and sparkle. Made in Michigan, the brand was inspired by hip hop artist Timbaland and is a blend of vodka, chardonnay, and fruit liqueurs. Sutra in Sanskrit means “a thread that is used to hold things together”. Perhaps this liqueur will stimulate conversation and relationships that will linger. About $30. NOTE: HAVING TROUBLE LOCATING THIS ITEM, PERHAPS HOBNOB HAS PURCHASED THE LAST BOTTLES OF THIS.

[5] Santa Cruz Organic Limeade
A go-to brand for building cocktails, Santa Cruz offers all types of all-juice blends ranging from apricot to white grape. They were the pioneers of organic practices in the early 70’s starting with founder John Battendieri’s efforts to revitalize orchards in the Santa Cruz mountains, an area known for its outstanding fruit. Lately, they have led in efforts to conserve water and pooled together organic growers to sustain the brand and the planet. About $4 for 32 oz. santacruzorganic.com

[6] Magellan Iris-Flavored Gin In the final part of the distilling process of this gin, iris flowers are immersed, thus lending a lovely blue tint. This also adds a distinctly floral taste, with beauty in its subtlety. Also in the mix: cloves, cinnamon, juniper berries, orange peel, cassia, coriander, licorice, grains of paradise, cardamom, and nutmeg. It works wonderfully in the cocktail or as a simple sip. About $30. magellangin.com

[7] Fee Brothers Blue Curacao Cordial Syrup A non-alcoholic version of a classic cordial, Blue Curacao is sweet with the flavor of orange. Add this to any clear cocktail to get a blue effect. For this party you might want to get the 32 oz bottle, about $15. feebrothers.com

HOBNOBMAG Blue Cocktail for the Rainbow Party

[8] Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2006 Every so often, Moët allows the cellar master free-reign in developing a grand vintage with charisma, ending up with a champagne that is unique and original. The last time this happened was 2006, the house’s 40th vintage rosé, and is a blend of the season’s most interesting grapes. Its flavor is designed to be paired with food of any persuasion. We sampled it at a tasting with spicy Korean fried chicken. Drink through 2019. $69. us.moet.com

Learn How to Pioneer—In Style—with Georgia Pellegrini’ Modern Pioneering

Posted on: May 20th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

It’s always good to have skills and honor nature. Modern Pioneering takes you outside in the city and rural areas and shows you how to survive in style.

Whether you’re an urban city slicker or have the great outdoors at your fingertips, Georgia Pellegrini’s Modern Pioneering will show you how to live off the grid and get connected to nature in style. In this independent spirit, you’ll learn earth-to-table dining at its best: grow your own garden even if your patch of land is only your fire escape or a windowsill; create a modern-day larder and build a self-sufficient pantry with the tried and true techniques of pickling, smoking, curing, jamming, and fermenting; and learn to live off the land by foraging, camping, and other survival techniques for both rural and urban dwellers. With recipes, hand-drawn illustrations, and guides for adventurous tasks big and small, Modern Pioneering will empower you to get your hands dirty and embrace your strong, self-sufficient side.

Enjoy a recipe from the book for making dandelion wine. We chose this recipe to include in Hobnob’s party plan with a focus on wild things and foraged ingredients. See the entire plan at this link.



Dandelion Wine

Dandelions bloom for only a few weeks in early spring, with a few stragglers throughout the summer. They look like bright yellow suns and have a particularly good supply of vitamins A and C, calcium, and phosphorus, some of which will remain even when you dry the flowers. Pick them from an open field far from any insecticide spraying, and if you can, pick early in the season when the leaves of the plant are still tender. Newly bloomed flowers are ideal. Dandelion wine is traditionally sipped from very small glasses. I have also combined it with seltzer water for a spritzer, or you could do as my godfather does and pour it over a roasting chicken for a caramelized skin. Some people prefer to make dandelion wine with just the petals, but I use the whole flower bud. The reason is that fermentation can sometimes get stuck before it is complete. This can happen when there aren’t enough micronutrients for the yeast. You increase the chance of success by using whole buds because they contain more micronutrients, but you will have a slightly more bitter wine.

8 CUPS whole dandelion blossoms, washed well, stems removed
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon
peel of 1 large orange, coarsely chopped
peel of 1 lemon, coarsely chopped
16 CUPS water

2 1/4 tsp brewer’s yeast
1/4 CUP warm water

6 cups sugar
8 whole cloves
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and diced

1. Wash the dandelion blossoms well in a colander. Place them in a large pot with the orange juice, lemon juice, the orange and lemon peels, and 16 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and allow to boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Let it sit, covered, for 24 hours.

2. Dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup of warm water and let it sit for 10 minutes.

3. Add the sugar to the dandelion liquid and stir. Next, add the yeast mixture and stir to combine.

4. Fit a large jug with a funnel and set a small fine mesh strainer in the funnel. Ladle in the liquid one spoonful at a time, pressing down onto the dandelions to ensure all of the liquid is extracted. Dump the dandelions and peels into an empty bowl to allow each new batch of liquid to strain easily.

5. Add the cloves and ginger to the jug.

6. Place an airlock on the jug, so that the CO2 can leave the jug but bad yeast doesn’t enter. This can be done with a deflated balloon—poke holes into the latex, then fasten the balloon around the neck of the jug. Alternatively, you could use plastic wrap. The airlock is used instead of the lid; if you screw the lid on tightly, you run the risk of having the bottle explode. Shake well and let it rest for 1 week in a cool, dark place as the fermentation begins.

7. Using a funnel and fine-mesh strainer, strain the liquid into bottles. Add an airlock over each of the bottles and allow the uncorked bottles to sit in a dark, cool place for 3 to 6 weeks. Then cork the bottles, or use bottles with screw-on tops, and store them in a cool, dark place for at least 2 months and up to a year. This kind of wine is best consumed while it is young, about 6 months after you cork it.

Reprinted with permission from Modern Pioneering by Georgia Pellegrini (Clarkson Potter, 2014).

Franky Marshall Mixes Up a Winning Carrot Juice Cocktail

Posted on: May 12th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

This carrot juice cocktail is loaded with extra vitamins and takes on a super-hot color. Special thanks to mixologist Franky Marshall for sharing her winning recipe with adorable garnish.

World traveler, linguist, gourmande, and bon vivant, Franky Marshall has her finger on the cocktail pulse. If you follow this trendsetter, you will always be at the coolest spot in NYC. [Holiday Cocktail Lounge; The Dead Rabbit; Monkey Bar; Clover Club, to name a few!] I asked Franky to share a recipe for my party plan, whose theme is wild. When she suggested the carrot juice in the mix, I knew it was a winner, but little did I know…

hobnobmag Carrot Juice Cocktail by Franky Marshall

I was lucky to catch Marshall before she took off to France, as the winner of the Grand Marnier cocktail contest—with this very recipe. I urge you to make the Garnier, or sample it from Marshall herself. It’s quite an original mix, just like her! You can accomplish this at Le Bar at Le District near the World Trade Center Memorial.

hobnobmag Carrot Juice Cocktail by Franky Marshall

You can also catch her now at The Roof at Park South, where we did this photo shoot. This rooftop cocktail lounge boasts loads of comfortable seating areas situated around glass-front fireplaces and views. A 36-foot long bar sets the stage for bar director Ted Kilpatrick’s artisan cocktails. Delight in the ultra-thin vintage glassware selections that add to the cocktail experience, as seen in the photo.

A Baijiu Cocktail—the Unusual Spirit You’ve Probably Never Had

Posted on: May 3rd, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Baijiu (pronounced bye-jo) comes from China and has a unique taste, unlike any other spirit. The aromatics have been likened to blue cheese, mushroom, sesame, and some unappealing things. You might say it’s an acquired taste, definitely not for the meek. Our baijiu cocktail  is a take on a piña colada.

When tasting baijiu for the first time, the first sip will tease your brain—and have you wanting to sip more to actually define it. In this cocktail, a take on a piña colada, the savory notes of Baijiu marries fruity caramelized pineapple and mangosteen with touches of sesame. A unique taste sensation, to say the least.

See the recipe for Sesame Colada, by Orson Salicetti, with this post. I chose to include this cocktail in my party plan featuring all things wild. The menu features foraged and some out-there ingredients.


[1] Mixologist Orson Salicetti launches NYC’s first Baijiu cocktail lounge, Lumos. HOBNOB got a first peek at the space and a tasting of the high-proof, and high-priced spirit. Salicetti (seen in photo above) has been experimenting with loads of brands and has planned an extensive cocktail menu, highlighting the nuances of each one. Head to West Houston near West Broadway, and take the stairs under the hat shop. Have fun tasting! (sadly, this place has since closed)

HOBNOBmag Baijiu Cocktail Orson Salicetti

[2] Lumos First look at the space, which features an extra long marble bar, that plans to be bar-stool-free. Owner Orson Salicetti wants everyone to get a chance at a taste of Baijiu, and be able to mingle and move freely. A shelf will be added to the back wall facing the bar for resting drinks. The bar features an extensive assortment of brands of Baijiu, plus a curated selection of traditional spirits for those who insist on classic offerings. A lounge area with benches of reclaimed wood is situated at the back. For upcoming events, see details at facebook.com/lumosnyc

HOBNOBmag Baijiu Cocktail Orson Salicetti

[3] Kweichow Moutai Baijiu (50% Alc./Vol., 106 Proof) is a rare, small-batch blend perfect for sipping at special occasions. This exceptional aged baijiu is rich, earthy, and incredibly fragrant, with a long rounded finish, full of umami-soy notes. About $250.

[4] Hong Kong Baijiu (43% Alc./Vol., 86 Proof), in its distinctive bright red bottle, is one of the most popular brands of baijiu, and was first designed with the Western consumer in mind. Handcrafted in Sichuan, China, its fruity, lightly sweet taste may be less traditional, but it’s a great place to start for baijiu novices. About $50.

HOBNOBmag Baijiu Cocktail Orson Salicetti

[5] Portobello Road Gin Fast becoming popular with gin lovers comes this brand from London’s famous shopping street. Juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, lemon and orange peel, licorice root, cassia bark, and nutmeg blend together for a clean and herbacious taste. Next time you are in London, book a session at their Ginstitute, where you can sample and create a gin to your liking. portobelloroadgin.com

[6] Lakewood Organic Mangosteen Juice is made with 100% Fruit Juice Fresh Pressed Mangosteen maintaining micro-nutrients. Restores electrolytes and supports digestion, and adds another indescribable taste to the cocktail—something in between a strawberry, kiwi and plum.

[7] Chinese Sesame Paste differs from tahini, in that roasted sesame seeds are used to make it. It comes in a dark brown and full-on sesame flavor.

HOBNOB Magazine