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The Balanced Bartender

August 20, 2015

Hey everyone!

No, I have not disappeared. It’s been a busy summer here in Santa Fe, but I want to share soemthing really special and new.

A little while back I wrote a post called Zen and the Art of Bartender Maintenance talking about balancing life between personal and professional.  And I described one of the things I do to help balance my life.  There are many like me who do this like my friends Natalie Bovis and Patricia Richards who created Mind Body Spirit offering yoga sessions for bartenders and many cocktails festivals around the country

IMG_1151For me it’s whitewater rafting, and that is exactly where I have been the past few months: out on the Rio Grande River letting go and balancing my life.

20110303-novo-fogo-bottles-500I was blessed last June to have Novo Fogo Cachaca take interest in my way of aligning my world, and they added me to a wonderful series they produce called The Balanced Bartender.

Check out the video here.

Peace my friends, and hope you find your Zen as well.  Comment and share how you balance your life.

Tales of the Cocktail Announces Top 10 for the 9th Annual Spirited Awards

June 10, 2015
7af8e446-0b2c-4e64-8ad1-99e4937f560dNEW ORLEANS, LA – June 9, 2015 – Following a rigorous evaluation of more than 2,000 nominees, Tales of the Cocktail® is proud to announce the top ten for each of the 24 award categories for the 9th Annual Spirited Awards®. Since 2007, the Spirited Awards® have recognized the year’s best bars, bartenders, writers and experts, becoming the industry’s most prestigious and coveted awards program. A panel of 100 American and International industry experts reviewed all nominees and voted to determine this year’s top 10 nominees.

“Since the first Spirited Awards in 2007, I have witnessed the cocktail movement go from strength to strength and each year the work of the Spirited Awards judging panel has become tougher and this year was no exception,” said Simon Ford, Spirited Awards® Chairman and awards show host. “We had thousands of nominations, which our judges had the almost impossible task of voting on to determine our final tens and ultimately our winners. Enjoy this list of great people and bars and please celebrate with the people who are being recognized this year.”

On Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. (Pacific Time), Simon Ford and Jacob Briars, International Committee Chairman, will announce the final four in each category live from San Francisco presented by Perfect Puree. All finalists will be invited to the Spirited Awards® ceremony, being held at the Sheraton New Orleans on Saturday, July 18, 2015 as part of the 13th Annual Tales of the Cocktail®. Each award recipient will receive the coveted Riedel Crystal trophy.

“There’s probably no greater honor than being recognized by one’s peers,” said Paul G. Tuennerman, Co-Founder of Tales of the Cocktail®. “The individuals, establishments, products, and publications recognized as finalists for the 2015 Spirited Awards are representative of an industry’s collective efforts to make the world a better place to drink.”

The 9th Annual Spirited Awards® are sponsored by The 86 Co., Bacardi USA, BarSmarts, Beefeater, Chivas, Cognac Ferrand, Courvoisier, House of Angostura, Luxardo, Nicolas Feuillate, The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley, Rums of Puerto Rico, Silencio Mezcal and William Grant & Sons. For more information about the Spirited Awards® ceremony, visit

2015 Spirited Awards® Top 10 Finalists
American Categories
Best American Bar Team
ABV (San Francisco)
Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
Attaboy (New York)
Clover Club (Brooklyn)
Dead Rabbit (New York)
Drink (Boston)
Employees Only (New York)
Herbs and Rye (Las Vegas)
The NoMad Bar (New York)
Williams & Graham (Denver)

American Bartender of the Year
Jeff Bell (New York)
Tim Cooper (New York)
Marcovaldo Dionysos (San Francisco)
Chris Hannah (New Orleans)
Bobby Heugel (Houston)
John Lermayer (Miami)
Ivy Mix (New York)
Jeffrey Morgenthaler (Portland)
Leo Robitschek (New York)
Pamela Wiznitzer (New York)

Best American Brand Ambassador
Brooke Arthur (House Spirits)
Colin Asare-Appiah (Bacardi)
Elayne Duff (Diageo)
Jamie Gordon (Absolut Elyx)
Guillaume Lamy (Cognac Ferrand)
Bernie Lubbers (Heaven Hill)
Anne Louise Marquis (Marnier Lapostolle)
Johnnie “The Scott” Mundell (Bowmore)
Chris Patino (Pernod-Ricard)
Nicola Riske (Edrington)

Best American Cocktail Bar
Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
Attaboy (New York)
Aviary (Chicago)
Canon (Seattle)
Maison Premiere (Brooklyn)
Prizefighter (Emeryville)
Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco)
The Varnish (Los Angeles)
Trick Dog (San Francisco)
Williams & Graham (Denver)

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar
Celeste (Chicago)
Employees Only (New York)
Flatiron Lounge (New York)
Harvard & Stone (Los Angeles)
Herbs & Rye (Las Vegas)
Honeycut (Los Angeles)
Pegu Club (New York)
Shady Lady (Sacramento)
Sportsman’s Club (Chicago)
Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago)

Best American Hotel Bar
15 Romolo (San Francisco)
Ace Hotel Downtown LA (Los Angeles)
Bellocq (New Orleans)
Breslin at Ace (New York)
Proof on Main (Louisville)
Sable Kitchen and Bar (Chicago)
Sazerac at Roosevelt (New Orleans)
Spare Room (Los Angeles)
The Broken Shaker (Miami Beach)
The Hawthorne (Boston)

Best American Restaurant Bar
Acorn (Denver)
Bestia (Los Angeles)
Betony (New York)
Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks (Boston)
Eveleigh (Los Angeles)
Gramercy Tavern (New York)
No. 9 Park (Boston)
Nopa (San Francisco)
Scopa Italian Roots (Los Angeles)
The Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange (Kansas City)

Best New American Cocktail Bar
ABV (San Francisco)
Boilermaker (New York City)
Dear Irving (New York)
Julep (Houston)
Latitude 29 (New Orleans)
Lost Lake (Chicago)
Seamstress (New York)
The Happiest Hour (New York)
The NoMad Bar (New York)
The Normandie Club (Los Angeles)

International Categories
Best International Bar Team
28 Hong Kong Street (Singapore)
American Bar at the Savoy Hotel (London)
Baxter Inn (Sydney)
Black Pearl (Melbourne)
Le Lion Bar de Paris (Hamburg)
Licoreria Limantour Roma (Mexico City)
Nightjar (London)
Schumann’s American Bar (Munich)
The Connaught Bar (London)
White Lyan (London)

International Bartender of the Year
Marian Beke (London)
Ryan Chetiyawardana (London)
Gareth Evans (London)
Shingo Gokan (Shanghai)
Zdenek Kastanek (Singapore)
Chris Moore (London)
Tim Philips (Sydney)
Carina Tsou (Paris)
Hidetsugu Ueno (Tokyo)
Charles Vexenat (Ibiza)

Best International Brand Ambassador
Ian Burrell (Global Rum)
Dean Callan (Monkey Shoulder)
Max La Rocca (Diageo World Class)
Louis Xavier Lewis-Smith (Sailor Jerry)
Joe McCanta (Grey Goose)
George Nemec (Becherovka)
Shervene Shahbazkhani (Bacardi)
Claire Smith-Warner (Belvedere Vodka)
Camille Vidal (St. Germain)
Max Warner (Chivas)

Best International Cocktail Bar
Artesian (London)
Buck & Breck (Berlin)
Candelaria (Paris)
Happiness Forgets (London)
Hemingway Bar (Prague)
High Five (Tokyo)
Le Lion Bar de Paris (Hamburg)
Nightjar (London)
The Baxter Inn (Sydney)
White Lyan (London)

Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar
Callooh Callay (London)
City Social (London)
Eau de Vie (Melbourne)
Lidkoeb (Copenhagen)
Ruby (Copenhagen)
The Black Pearl/The Attic (Melbourne)
The Diamond (Vancouver)
The Everleigh (Melbourne)
The Lobo Plantation (Sydney)
Trailer Happiness (London)

 Best International Hotel Bar
American Bar, The Savoy (London)
Beaufort Bar, The Savoy (London)
Black Angel’s Bar, Hotel U Prince (Prague)
Coburg Bar, The Connaught (London)
Lobster Bar, Island Shangri-La Hotel (Hong Kong)
Manhattan, Regent Hotel (Singapore)
Ohla, Ohla Hotel (Barcelona)
The Punch Room, The Edition Hotel (London)
Widder Bar, Widder Hotel (Zurich)
Zetter Townhouse (London)

Best International Restaurant Bar
Blind Pig at Social Eating House (London)
China Tang (London)
Delicatessen (Moscow)
Duck & Waffle (London)
Hawksmoor Spitalfields (London)
Le Mary Celeste (Paris)
Mash (London)
The Red Bar at Bam-Bou (London)
Tippling Club (Singapore)
Zuma (Dubai)

Best New International Cocktail Bar
Bar Termini (London)
Baton Rouge (Paris)
Cocktail Trading Co. (London)
Dandelyan (London)
Le Syndicat Cocktail Club (Paris)
Mabel (Paris)
Operation Dagger (Singapore)
Seiberts Classic Bar & Liquid Kitchen (Cologne)
The Clumsies (Athens)
This Must Be The Place (Sydney)

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication
Australian Bartender
Difford’s Guide
Food & Wine Magazine
Ginger Magazine
Punch Drink
Saveur Magazine
The Cocktail Lovers
The Spirits Business

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer
Jeff Berry
Dave Broom
Wayne Curtis
Simon Difford
Camper English
Amy Hopkins
Jeffrey Morgenthaler
Leslie Pariseau
Robert Simonson
Naren Young

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book
Celebrity Cocktails by Brian Van Flandern
Classic Cocktails (Updated Reissue) by Salvatore Calabrese
Cocktails on Tap by Jacob Grier
Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, and Alex Day
Futurist Mixology by Fulvio Piccinino
Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail by Dave Arnold
Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times by Michael Dietsch
The 12 Bottle Bar: A Dozen Bottles. Hundreds of Cocktails. A New Way to David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson
The Bar Book by Jeff Morgenthaler
The Old-Fashioned by Robert Simonson

Best New Spirits Book
American Spirit by James Rodewald
Brooklyn Spirits: Craft Distilling and Cocktails from the World’s Hippest Borough by Peter Thomas Fornatale
Distilled by Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison
Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition, and a Small Town in Cahoots by Bryce T. Bauer
Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers
Sherry by Talia Baiocchi
The Curious Bartender: An Odyssey of Malt Bourbon & Rye Whiskies by Tristan Stephenson
Thinking Drinkers: The Enlightened Imbiber’s Guide to Alcohol by Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham
Whisk(e)y Distilled, A Populist Guide to The Water Of Life by Heather Greene
Whisky: The Manual by Dave Broom

Overall Categories
Best Bar Mentor
Bridget Albert (Chicago)
Jacques Bezuidenhout (San Francisco)
Tony Conigliaro (London)
Jason Crawley (Sydney)
Philip Duff (New York)
Francesco Lafranconi (Las Vegas
Jim Meehan (Portland)
Agostino Perrone (London)
Andy Seymour (New York)
Angus Winchester (God knows)

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient
Amaro di Angostura
Balsam American Amaro
Grey Goose V/X
J. Rieger & Co. Kansas City Whiskey
Mister Katz’s Rock and Rye
Mr. Lyan’s Bottled Cocktails
Redemption Rye Barrel Proof
Small Hands Foods Yeoman Tonic Syrup
Suze Bitters
The Bitter Truth Cucumber Bitters

World’s Best Cocktail Menu
Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
Artesian (London)
Beaufort Bar at the Savoy (London)
Canon (Seattle)
Dandelyan (London)
Dead Rabbit (New York)
Nightjar (London)
Pouring Ribbons (New York)
The NoMad Bar (New York)
Trick Dog (San Francisco)

World’s Best Spirits Selection
Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
Canon (Seattle)
Eau de Vie (Melbourne)
Jack Rose Dining Saloon (Washington DC)
Multnomah Whiskey Library (Portland)
Scopa Italian Roots (Los Angeles)
Silver Dollar (Louisville)
The Baxter Inn (Sydney)
The Office at The Aviary (Chicago)
Tommy’s (San Francisco)

For more information on past winners and Tales of the Cocktail®, visit the website or call 504-948-0511

New Mexico Cocktails & Culture Weekend

May 17, 2015

No, I am not dead or on the LAM.  It’s been a busy busy Springtime here in Santa Fe.  What’s got me so tied up other than Secreto Lounge?


We are raising the bar here in the Land of Enchantment May 31st-June 1st.

nm-cc-logo1This is the first cocktail fiesta of its kind here in New Mexico founded by Santa Fe Native Natalie Bovis aka The Liquid Muse, and she along with many other local bar folks are excited to be a part of this monumental event, which includes celebrity bartenders Charlotte Voisey, Kim Hassurad, Tony Abou-Ganim, Bobby “G” Geason, and King Cocktail himself Dale DeGroff!

Yes, all of these amazing bartenders are coming to Santa Fe to speak, teach, and enjoy the  cocktails and culture of New Mexico.

Here is the full Schedule of events:

 New Mexico Cocktails & Culture (click for tickets to all events and lodging options from Hotel St Francis)

Saturday, May 30, Scottish Rite Temple:

  • 3:30 – 7 pm: Award-winning documentary Hey Bartender and VIP Cocktail Party presented by William Grant & Sons ($15 for all)

Sunday, May 31, Skylight:

  • 11:30 – 12:45 pm: Vodka Distilled with Tony Abou-Ganim ($30 public / $15 industry with NM Servers License)
  • 12:50 – 1:20 pm: Santa Fe’s Hard Cideries (FREE to ticket holders)
  • 1:30 – 2:45 pm: The Great Whiskey Cocktails with Bobby ‘G’ Gleason ($30 / $15)
  • 2:50 – 3:20 pm: Meet the NM Distillers Guild (FREE to ticket holders)
  • 3:30 – 4:45 pm: Food & Cocktails: A Culinary Adventure with Kim Haasarud ($30 / $15)
  • 6:30 – 10 pm: Rockin’ Blues & Booze VIP Cocktail party & Sean Healen III Concert, presented by Beam Suntory ($15 for all)

Monday, June 1, Skylight:

  • 11:00 am – 12:15 pm: Mind Body Spirit(s) balance seminar (FREE to industry with NM Servers License)
  • 1 – 2:30 pm: USBG NM luncheon (FREE to members, $10 non-members)
  • 2:45 – 4 pm: I’ll Take Manhattan / Bitters seminar with Dale DeGroff ($10 industry priority)
  • 6 – 8 pm: Tequila Social VIP Closing Party ($15 for all)

So, if you are in New Mexico, please join us for this amazing weekend of events.  If you are not in New Mexico, buy a plane ticket, rent a car and get on over here!!

What NOT to drink on St. Patrick’s Day: What’s In A Name…

March 3, 2015

St Patrick’s Day here in the US is, as we all know, is a HUGE day for drinking and celebrating the Irish culture.  It is one of my favorites actually, being of Irish heritage.  It is however very unfortunate how certain “traditions” and associations get attached to the way we celebrate.  In fact, some are downright insulting, if not racist.

Yes, the Irish fancy a drink.  Who doesn’t?  But some of the drinks we associate with the celebration of St. Paddy’s Day (yes it’s ‘Paddy’ not ‘Patty’)* are actually very degrading to the culture.  Let’s take a look at some of them:

BTBlack & Tans
Yes, black and tan are the colors that you see when you layer Guinness with Harp or Bass Ale (depending on your preference), but that is not where the name came from.  Originally this combination of beer was called a Half & Half, and is a wonderful way to consume a pint.  So, why is this insulting? During the Irish War of Independence, Winston Churchill recruited temporary constables to help maintain control and fight in Northern Ireland. Their uniforms were khaki pants and a dark shirt, and they became known as The Black & Tans. Sadly, their methods for “maintaining control” were brutal at best, using their position and power is ways that make what’s been happening here in the U.S. recently look like a playground fight. They were notorious for public murders, property destruction and brutal beatings of civilians.
In the British pubs, The Half & Half beer was jokingly renamed The Black & Tan as a scoff toward the Irish people.

360_omagh_bombing_0608Irish Car Bomb
I despise this drink. 

First of all, that is what the basic design of the drink is going to get you…bombed.  It is drinking to get drunk:not drinking for the enjoyment of the drink. Now, I have done my share of  Boilermaker type drinks in the past, and yes I did enjoy the moment.  But this drink ‘s name i the absolute worst thing ever!

For years during The Troubles 1969-2010),  3568 people were killed, of which 1879 were civilians with the Irish Republican Army able to claim responsibility fo 1696 of those deaths.  One of the IRA’s favorite tactics…..Car Bombs.

But we Americans don’t look at history and etymology sometimes and realize what we are saying.  To the Irish, especially those from Northern Ireland, family and friends were killed by car bombs.  For perspective’s sake, imagine someone asking you if you wanted to do a 9/11 Al Queda  Plane Bomb….how would you feel?

45464_10200609037530562_1813935733_nSo what should we drink?

Have a pint of Guinness, harp, or Smithwick’s, sip some Jameson, Tullamore DEW, Bushmills Black, or if you’re daring Power’s.  Toast a great land and great people each filled with joy and hospitality.  Sing, laugh and cheer on to all the great contributions the Irish have given to the U.S. Smile and celebrate the way you would want another culture celebrating America.


*Paddy” is the proper short name of Patrick, even though Patrick is spelled with a ‘t”.  “Patty” is short of Patricia. So Paddy is a boy, and Patty is a girl.  Got it?


Rainbow at the Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare

Toddy Twist

January 14, 2015

Nothing beats a warm libation on a winter night, and we all have occasions that winter warmers are the perfect topper.  Whether it is after a day skiing or in front of the fire at home, there is something comforting and relaxing about a nice warm beverage.

One of my favorites is the Toddy.  Traditionally a combination of honey, citrus, hot water and booze of choice with the option of spice, the toddy is a staple in cold weather.

Recently I was reading an article on homeopathic teas for cold and flu season and came across something that intrigued me, and in turn inspired this recipe as a twist on the traditional toddy.

First gather your gear and ingredients:

  • 12 oz jar
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped ginger
  • locally made honey

First, slice the lemon into half wheels and place them in the jar.  Next add the chopped ginger, them fill the jar with honey.  Let this stand at room temperature of a day to macerate. Afterwards refridgerate for up to two months.

Use this Ginger-Lemon Honey as not only the citrus but the sweet and spice in your Toddy. I personally like Irish Whiskey in this

Irish Toddy

  • 1 1/2 oz Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger-Lemon Honey
  • 4-6 oz boiling water.

Combine all ingredients in your favorite mug and sip soothingly.

(this is also great for a soar throat, or warming up from a cold: just leave out the whiskey….or not)


Holiday Drinks: The Divinity Cocktail

December 19, 2014

This holidays are here and ’tis the season for cheers and spirit(s)!  Normally during this time of year I stay with the classic drinks or classic twists on drinks, as most people prefer tradition over innovation ( I remember once wanting to theme a Thanksgiving dinner in a Caribbean style and was met with great resistance).

Suffice to say, that is what most want, and in years past I have posted many of the classic drinks like homemade Eggnog, Mulled Ciders, and Hot Buttered Rum.  But this year, I was asked by a local tourism group to provide a drink based on holiday candy. The first thoughts of peppermint bark, and chocolate something or another passed through my mind along with ideas of local cookies like biscochitos, but all of that has been done to absolute torturous points of death, that….i’ll save the gory analogy fro another time (my gift to you this season).

I wanted something different, but simple, and I thought of one of my favorite holiday treats: Divinity candy.  I haven’t had divinity since I was a kid (OK, that sounded odd, but you know what I mean).  I loved the simple light, fluffy, nutty, sugary pieces of holiday clouds as a child and thought this would make a tasty little drink.  And here is what I came up with….

IMG_1494Divinity Cocktail

  • 2 oz Vanilla Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Licor 43
  • 1 egg white
  • Pecan Sugar rim

In a mixing glass add egg white, vodka, and Licor 43.  Dry shake for 20 seconds to emulsify.  Add ice to the shaker then shake again for 10-12 seconds to chill.  Strain into a pecan sugar rimmed cocktail glass.


Pecan Sugar.  take 1 oz of pecan pieces in a plastic bag and lightly crush.  Combine with 4 oz sugar.  Seal the bag and shake to combine evenly.

Cheers to all and have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season.

Teeling Irish Whiskey Review

November 26, 2014

When I started in the bar business, there were two…..yes two Irish whiskeys on the market.  I’d hear from customers who had been to Erie about all the many others they had tried, but here in the states we had the… well you know who they are.

Now, two decades later, Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirit category showing mass increasing over the past five years.  And it is high time that the world know this spirit as it,as far as I am concerned, where whiskey as we know it today was mastered.

I have my loves, and I am married to them.  But recently when I was introduced to Teeling Irish Whiskey, I had to take a second glance, and I felt almost adulterous, as there is something unique here that appealed to my booze soaked heart.

Allow me to digress for a moment….Again when I started tending bar, my Uncle Tony introduced me to bourbon: not the rot gut that i had imbibed underage in the cemetery with friend a mile down from my house I grew up in, but TRUE bourbon and for years I was obsessed in learning all that I could about it.  We know from history that the original bourbon makers were Irish and Scottish immigrants who found the perfect water sources in Appalachia to distill whiskey.  This then led me to learning about the whiskies of the world, but I always came back to bourbon.  However, Irish whiskey always had a special place in my heart and there were occasions, moments that only a dram or Irish was appropriate, like a reverence that very point in time.

Jump ahead a few years as my career took off, I began to lean towards rum.  Again I don’t refer to swill: I mean rum.  Why rum?  Because it is first fricking tasty done right, and two it is the least regulated spirit in the world and left to great interpretation of the place and the time and the people from whom it comes from.  Rum is freedom.

So what does all this have to do with Irish Whiskey?

teeling-whiskey-2Here it is.  Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, bottled at 46 % abv, is smooth, correct, decent, loving, and is like sipping the best of three worlds.

Tech time: Teeling is small batch finished in rum casks in Flor De Cana Rum casks which lends its sweet vanilla and light wood passion to this Irish beauty.  And Flor De Cana, as most rum producers, use one time bourbon barrels as their aging vessel. (it is also the first rum that made me take rum seriously thanks to me mentor Jeff Ferris)

See where I am going here?

Whiskey2The flavors of the original bourbon cask imparted next to the rum and  finished with a  well done Irish whiskey?  This, in my spirited married mind, made my eyes turn and see a true, genuine beauty, that before I didn’t believe possible.  Yet there she is right thee in my glass.  And I embrace the beauty, and she has to offer as she is unyielding and free from restraint.  Teeling Small Batch is the spirit if freedom, yet being true to tradition.

And I invite you to join me in a toast to all that is beauty in this world as we embark upon a Thanksgiving Weekend here in the states and pay honor to all we have and all we are and remember what brought us to this moment.  we are a blend of beauty.  And Teeling Irish Whiskey is at the heart of ll things inclusive good

Go raibh an éirí gréine a thaispeáint ar an gealltanas gach lá agus is féidir leis an luí na gréine a thabhairt dúinn síocháin inár deireadh



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