GSN Alert: gaz regan’s “Just One Shift”

image002Bartenders Worldwide Unite from May 12th-18th to Raise Money for Wine to Water

New York / April, 2014:  gaz regan, the bartender previously known as Gary Regan, is pleased to announce the return of Just One Shift, which plans to raise $100,000 for charity in a one-week time period by inviting bartenders worldwide to donate all or part of their tips from just one shift.

The 2014 program will take place Monday, May 12 through Sunday, May 18; the first shift kicks off at 7 p.m. on May 12th at The Dead Rabbit in NYC’s Financial District where gaz will be a special guest bartender.  All earnings are given to Wine to Water, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Doc Hendley, ex-bartender and CNN Hero from North Carolina.

In 2013, its inaugural year, 327 bartenders in 34 countries participated, raising $40,000. The charity reports this amount can save 40,000 people from death due to water-borne illness for a full year.  Specifically in Uganda, $40,000 can provide 10,000 people with clean water for 10 years.

The first step to joining forces with some of the country’s finest individuals is for bartenders to sign up on the Just One Shift site which will maintain a running list of participating bars sorted by state, as well as a calendar of shifts.  At the end of the given shift, the bartender will personally make the donation online.  If unable to attend any of the listed shifts, anyone may make a donation online.

gaz, who has a network of over 20,000 social media followers, says, “Bartenders can change the world and last year’s success has proved it. If we meet this year’s goal I will shave my head.”

For more information, please visit http://www.justoneshift.com and http://www.facebook.com/gaz-regan; @gazregan will also tweet; refer to the hashtag #justoneshift.

GSN Alert: Auchentoshan Switch 2013 Winners Announced

image006Auchentoshan® Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky REVEALS WINNERS OF AUCHENTOSHAN SWITCH, A Trans-Continental Bartender Swap

Winners are MICHAEL WEBSTER from BAR ISABEL in TORONTO and AIDAN BOWIE from THE BLYSTHSWOOD SQUARE HOTEL in GLASGOW

Glasgow, Scotland (November 19, 2013) Auchentoshan® Three Wood Single Malt Scotch Whisky is happy to announce the winners of the 2nd Auchentoshan Switch global bartender competition that literally has the winners ‘switching’ continents for two weeks to work in acclaimed bars in New York City and London. The Auchentoshan Switch North American winner is Michael Webster from Bar Isabel in Toronto, Canada and the European winner is Aidan Bowie from The Blysthswood Square Hotel in Glasgow, Scotland. The winners will be ‘switching’ continents sometime in early 2014, with Canadian Webster working at the acclaimed NightJar Bar in London and Glaswegian Bowie heading to the prestigious Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in New York City.

The Auchentoshan Switch was open to all bartenders in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and Sweden in 2013. Regional heats took place in each of these countries this past summer to determine the group of semi-finalists (12 from each continent) to compete in the Finals. The Auchentoshan Switch Finals were held in London on Oct 1 and in New York City on Oct 27.

The North American final was held at the Dead Rabbit in New York City, where bartenders had to demonstrate their skill and creativity in front of judges and guests in three knockout rounds.  In the final round, Michael Webster was pitted against the Dead Rabbit’s own Pam Wiznitzer for the win:

  • Round 1/Creativity and Presentation – 12 finalists present their Three Wood drink from the heats
  • Round 2/Your Spin – Six finalists create a spin on a Classic Three Wood cocktail chosen at random
  • Round 3/Working Under Pressure – TWO FINALISTS create a drink from a basic pantry of ingredients plus all three ingredients from a ‘mystery bag’

“I was honored to be here to compete with these people,” said Michael Webster after his win. “Everyone was super-pro, totally dialed in. I am stoked to go to NightJar, it’s an incredible dream come true and I’m really excited. I want to send my respects to everyone involved in creating this competition.”

Says Auchentoshan Brand Manager Jennifer Meenan, “The bartender talent on both sides of the pond was incredible and made the competition so intense! We congratulate Michael and Aidan on their win and wish them the best of luck in the actual switch. The creative and delicious cocktails proved to us that Auchentoshan Three Wood is truly a darling of the cocktail community. The Auchentoshan Switch is a unique bartender competition that allows the winners to learn about cocktail culture in other parts of the world and they can share their own tricks of the trade with the host bar.”

Michael Webster’s winning cocktail: The Mixed Bag
1.5 oz Auchentoshan Three Wood
.5 oz French Muscatel
.25 oz. Amer Picon
1 heaping barspoon apricot preserve
1 egg white
7 drops Burlesque Bitters
3 drops Orinoco Bitters

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Judges for the North American Final were:

  • Iain McCallum – Master of Malts at Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd
  • Charles Joly – Head Bartender at the Aviary, Chicago and 2011 winner of The Auchentoshan Switch
  • Allan Katz – Owner of the New York Distilling co. and Master Mixologist for Southern Wine and Spirits
  • Sean Muldoon – Owner of The Dead Rabbit, where the European winner will be based
  • Jack McGarry – Bar Manager/Owner, The Dead Rabbit

Judges for the European Final were:

  • Rachel Barrie – Auchentoshan Master Blender
  • Edmund Weil – Co-owner, Nightjar
  • Ryan Chetiyawardana (AKA Mr Lyan) – Cocktail genius

For more information about Auchentoshan Switch, please go to www.auchentoshanswitch.com

Michael Webster

Michael Webster

GSN Alert: 2013 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award Winners

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Here’s a list of the winners from this year’s Spirited Awards extravaganza.  Congratulations to everyone!

American Bartender of the Year: Charles Joly

Best American Brand Ambassador: Todd Richman

Best American Cocktail Bar: Clover Club, Brooklyn

Best Bar Mentor: Julie Reiner

Best Cocktail Writing: gaz Regan

Best Cocktail Writing (Publication): DiffordsGuide.com

Best High Volume Cocktail Bar: Clover Club, NYC

Best Hotel Bar: Nomad Hotel

Best International Bartender: Jack McGarry, Dead Rabbit

Best International Brand Ambassador: Jacob Briars

Best New Cocktail Bar: Dead Rabbit, NYC

Best New Cocktail Book: Drink by Tony Conigliaro

Best New Product: Ford’s Gin

Best Restaurant Bar: Saxon and Parole

World’s Best Cocktail Bar: Drink, Boston

World’s Best Cocktail Menu: The Dead Rabbit

World’s Best Drink Selection: Canon, Seattle

The Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award: Salvatore Calabrese

GSN Review: Summer 2013 Cocktail Guides

imagesLooking for a little summer reading?  Good Spirits News has some suggestions for you!

Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle (Running Press)If you enjoy puns, this is the book for you.  Loaded with 65 easy-to-make cocktails loosely based on literature (Gin Eyre, anyone?), it’s a fun and breezy little volume for the book lover who also enjoys a libation while they curl up with a good read.  There are even punch-sized recipes for book clubs, non-alcoholic drinks (The Phantom Tolljuice is clever, no?), recipes for edibles to munch on and even a few literary games to play.  GSN Rating: B-

imagesAn Illustrated Guide to Cocktails by Orr Shtuhl (Gotham Books)As much an introduction to the perennial classics of the last 150 years, as a guide to the men and women who created them; this book is a primer in all things cocktail.  What makes it especially fun are the lighthearted illustrations by Elizabeth Graeber who has a “New Yorker Magazine” style of cartooning.  But, the heart of this volume is the collection of stories illuminating how and when and where the world’s greatest bartenders came up with their timeless creations.  GSN Rating: B+

imagesGin: A Global History by Lesley Jacobs Solmonson (Reaktion Books) I have well over half a dozen books on the history of gin on my bookshelf, and yet there always seems to be more that needs to be said.  Ms. Solmonson’s brilliant little tome takes it’s place among the best.  It truly is a global history, focusing on the development of gin styles from sweet and malty to dry and crisp, along with relevant period illustrations giving the reader a broad sense of just how important gin has been in the world of spirits.  After the well researched facts have been laid out, there are a few appendices which are of especial value.  Cocktail recipes by the likes of Dale DeGroff, gaz Regan, David Wondrich and others, along with short bios of gins that are worth seeking out.  A very nice volume in an ongoing series dedicated to all things edible and libatious.  GSN Rating: A-

indexCocktail Kingdom Professional Barware Product Catalogue Vol. 1 (CocktailKingdom.com)Not so much a cocktail guide as a snapshot of high quality tools available to bartenders today, this is a booklet which replicates many of the 20th century barware guides. Japanese mixing glasses, silver julep cups, copper Moscow Mule mugs, gold barspoons and so on….  I own several of these pieces and use them on a daily basis.  You will not be disappointed by the quality of these tools.  Do yourself a favor and check out their selection of indispensable barware.  They also have a selection of museum quality reproductions of classic, long out of print (re: expensive) cocktail guides.    GSN Rating: B+

indexVodka Distilled by Tony Abou-Ganim (Surrey Books)Go to any decently stocked bookshop and you will find myriad books on whiskies, gins, rums and tequilas.  How many books can you find on the subject of vodka? Answer: Next to none.  that situation has been rectified by the inestimable Tony Abou-Ganim.  Do you think vodka is a plain, boring spirit used as a fast route to inebriation?  Think again.  Tony lays out the fundamentals of this timeless spirit and its many uses.  The sheer number of cocktail recipes will keep you coming back for more, as well as the insightful reviews of vodkas currently on the market.  What Tony understands that few bartenders realize, is that vodka is as complex and subtle as Scotch whisky.  After reading this fascinating book, you will realize that all vodkas are not created equal.  Well done, and a crucial asset to your library.  GSN Rating A

indexObituary Cocktail: The Great Saloons of New Orleans by Kerri McCaffety (Pelican)Having been to New Orleans several times, I’ve always thought that a book about the bars in the world’s greatest cocktail city would be a no-brainer.  Turns out that one was published back in 2011.  So, not a new book, but one that escaped my notice until now.  An over-sized coffee-table book, Obituary Cocktail takes the reader on a journey through the deepest recesses of some of NOLA’s most iconic bars.  For anyone who has sat at the Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar or sipped an Absinthe Frappe at the Napoleon Bar, this is a walk down memory lane.  For those of you who have not had the pleasure of sipping cocktails at Tujague’s or aboard the Natchez Queen, this will serve as an enticement to make plans to visit and stay for as long as you are able.  The pictures give a closer look at many of the details a casual visitor might miss, and the text is insightful and expressive in its love of the Crescent City.  Beautiful and elegant, this book is a lovely way to spend an afternoon or evening while sipping a Sazerac or Ramos Gin Fizz.  GSN Rating: A

indexMicro-Distilleries in the U.S. and Canada Third Edition by David J. Reimer Sr. (Crave Press) – I’ve previously reviewed the second edition here.  Suffice it to say that the third edition continues the tradition with an up-to-the-minute listing of North American craft distilleries.  What is particularly noticeable between the two editions is the exponential number of new distilleries.  Virtually every state in the union and every province in Canada now have their own craft distilleries.  Ten years ago, this would have been a laughable prospect.  Certainly, many of these distilleries will either not make the cut (no pun intended) or be eventually be bought out by some major spirits conglomeration.  But, the overall pulse of the industry is one of self-expression, excitement and hope.  If you are looking for a weekend road trip to go on a spirits tasting, this tome is invaluable.  For the liquor connoisseur, this book serves as a guidepost to the brave new world of craft spirits.  GSN Rating: B+

Dead_Rabbit_Mixed_DrinksThe Dead Rabbit Mixed Drinks List 1st Edition (Drinksology) – No.  This is not a list of cocktails that celebrate the method of finding out a woman is pregnant.  This is THE list of cocktails available at New York City’s latest world class bar.  I myself made a journey down to the tip of Manhattan a few months ago to check out this oddly named neighborhood grocery and grog.  Oh my god.  If you ever have the chance to darken their doors, do so.  A veritable step into everything a bar should be and a replication of the best that a local ever was, is epitomized in the Dead Rabbit.  When seated upstairs, you are presented with this menu, which honestly should be called Cocktail History 101-104.  If I could have secreted a copy on my person when I left the premises, I would have; but I did the honest thing and purchased a copy.  It is amazing, beautiful and of the highest standards both in publication and in choice of beverages.  You will learn more reading this scant volume in an hour than you might think possible.  To truly grasp the development and significance of cocktails throughout history, you need to obtain a copy of this book.  Never mind the hefty price tag, it is well worth it. My only hesitation in giving this an A+ rating, is that the recipes do not specify proportions for the home enthusiast.  Still, well deserving of a GSN Rating: A-

indexAphrodisiacs With a Twist by Mark Sexauer (1 Pony Rye Corp.) – A true cocktail guide, this book seeks to initiate the reader into the world of alcoholic sexual enhancements.  Surprisingly, there have been no other cocktail books published that I’m aware of that seek to go under the covers and undress the world of aphrodisiacs.  Many of the ingredients are already in your kitchen, but you may be unaware of their potential libidinous power behind the (um…) stick.  Over 250 pages of recipes using everything from Banana to Vanilla are included with eye-catching full-color photographs.  Some ingredients will definitely make you think, such as damiana and mustard, but they work!  Most recipes are fairly simple and require a minimal amount of preparation, and if you have a decent amount of kitchen tools and spices already, you will be well ahead of the game.  An excellent book that shows just how forward thinking West coast bartending is, this book gets a rare GSN Rating: A+.