Back in October I was involved in rounding up bartenders for Martha Stewart’s “American Made” awards event that was held in a made-over Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Station. Still not quite sure how this happened, but I was the point man between the production team and some seriously blue chip bartenders from around NYC, including Richard Boccato of Dutch Kills , Rustin Nichols of Wythe Hotel, and Rob Kreuger of Extra Fancy (who made his Fancy 75 which I’d written about for Men’s Journal.) The emphasis was on American spirits and ingredients which I started to realize was more about being local than being patriotic, and a rather cool angle for the Martha empire to take on.
BHB’s main man Alejandro helping get our Black Mission Fig (and Bulleit) Sours set up. The intensity in that room as hundreds of catering staff, publicists, food purveyors and bartenders raced to be ready for the starting pistol was unlike any event I’d ever worked.
In the weeks leading up to the event I kept throwing out the suggestion that we do a small little bitters tasting table–if this was all celebrating American artisanal food and spirit makers then the new wave of American bitters makers certainly deserved a little featuring, right? Of course I’m biased. The idea bounced around and never quite caught hold but I couldn’t let it go, and when there wasn’t a firm answer either way the by day of the event, and in the midst of the serious hyper-activity I kinda decided to beg forgiveness later and made a little extra space on our bar station (space was a huge premium) and invited Eduardo Simeon of Hella Bitters (and MS Living, as it happens) to come and man this ad hoc bitters booth and talk to guests about the category. I’d rounded up some offerings from some of my personal favorite bitters outfits, including Hella, Bitter End, Dram and of course the godparents of the American Bitters Renaissance, Bittermens.
Slightly Guerilla Bitters Summit: Jomaree Pinkard and Eduardo Simeon of of Hella Bitters flank our own Mark Buettler
For the event I constructed the kind of absurdly complicated version of a very simple drink that you only do for big splashy events–a Bulleit bourbon sour set off by our Black Mission Fig Bitters, with the sweet coming from a combination of candied sour cherry syrup, maple syrup and demerara syrup. Pretty damn tasty, if I do say so myself. And those Fig Bitters just love bourbon.
Spooky ice effect courtesy of Dutch Kill’s dry ice.
Our pals at Brooklyn Gin’s fine liquid was featured in Dutch Kills’ “Army & Navy” offering.
Emil Jattne and Joe Santos of Brooklyn Gin chat with the crew from Dutch Kill.
It was a great night for New York cocktails, and a really, really great night for bitters. Hopefully we’ll be invited back to next year’s awards despite our slightly outlaw bitters booth.