London Bartender Makes World’s Oldest And Most Expensive Cocktail




World-renowned mixologist Salvatore Calabrese has recently broken the Guinness World Record for making the world’s most expensive cocktail, “Salvatore’s Legacy.”

The video above shows Calabrese creating the concoction in London at Salvatore at Playboy, using the world’s most expensive and oldest spirits. The total price of the drink is $8,830. Supposedly, the “world’s leading cocktail expert” had to get creative and modify his recipe after a customer dropped and smashed a $77,480 bottle of cognac.

Curious as to exactly what’s in it? According to The Atlantic Cities, the recipe calls for “40 mL of 1788 Clos de Griffier Champagne Cognac, 20 mL of 1770 Kümmel herbal liqueur, 20 mL of 1860 Dubb orange curacao and two dashes of Angostura Bitters, a combination that involves a collective 730 years.”

Check out the video above to see the lavish libation being made by Calabrese.

10 Best Underground Bars In New York


the vault at pfaff's


New York
offers many experiences for the traveler looking for a quality libation. As the weather gets colder and the streets get more crowded, try warming up away from the masses at one of these cozy, underground spaces.

The Vault At Pfaff’s
643 Broadway

Located underground at Broadway and Bleecker in NoHo, The Vault at Pfaff’s is a neighborhood bar and lounge inspired by Charles Pfaff’s original beer cellar. The space played host to numerous actors and literary legends in the 1850s, such as Walt Whitman and Mark Twain. The bar pays homage to its history with refined touches like menus on newsprint, while also keeping the space modern with stylish interiors. On the menu, expect handcrafted cocktails, world-class wines, Champagne, beer and upscale bar bites like mahi mahi ceviche, filet mignon medallions and truffle mac and cheese.Village Vanguard
178 7th Avenue South

Located in Greenwich Village, Village Vanguard is a small underground bar and jazz club with much history. Since its birth in 1935, big name musicians have come here to play – and still do – and you’ll see their photos adorning the walls of the small but cozy venue. Village Vanguard was also the recording space for many important live jazz albums, like Bill Evans’ “Sunday at The Village Vanguard,” John Coltrane’s experimental Vanguard recordings from the late 1960s and Jason Moran’s “The Bandwagon: Live at the Village Vanguard.”


lilium


Lilium
201 Park Avenue South

Previously called Underbar, Lilium is located underneath the W Hotel-Union Square. Inspired by the detailed appearance of a cave of wild lilies, the 1,600-square-foot space features a twisted metal ceiling that descends down the wall and complements the myriad black steel lilies. Along with an interesting decor that plays on nature, guests can enjoy craft beers, classic cocktails and small-batch spirits like Kings County, Hudson Baby Bourbon, Woodford Reserve and Elijah Craig.

Pravda
281 Lafayette Street

Pravda is an underground Russian bistro caviar bar serving handcrafted cocktails and martinis. It’s one of the larger and more pristine underground spaces in the city, with classy, modern decor. From the food menu, items like caviar with blini, potato pancakes with smoked salmon and chicken kiev add to the Russian experience. In terms of drinks, they serve beer, wine, cocktails and feature over 70 different vodkas including 10 that are house-infused flavors.


the bar downstairs


The Bar Downstairs
485 5th Avenue

Located in the cellar level of the Andaz Fifth Avenue hotel, The Bar Downstairs is a dimly lit space serving up pre-Prohibition style libations and upscale tapas. The space takes on a cozy yet social ambiance, with two Claro Walnut bars, an open kitchen, communal tables and over-sized banquettes.

124 Old Rabbit Club
124 MacDougal Street

This secret underground bar is a beer-lover’s haven. With more than 70 brews on the menu, 124 Old Rabbit Club is frequented by more locals than tourists. Immersing drinkers in a speakeasy-like atmosphere, the space is like a dimly lit cave with quality service, rare beers and a small wine selection. To enter, walk down the metal stairs until you find the black door with a white stenciled “124” and spray-painted bunny. If the door is closed, you can ring the buzzer to be let in.


the tippler


The Tippler
West 15th Street

Tucked beneath Chelsea Market you’ll find The Tippler, a historical space featuring locally salvaged artifacts like reclaimed water tower wood and train rails from the High Line park. The venue has a speakeasy-feel, with bartenders serving made-to-perfection cocktails that often take on an international twist. Try “The Crippler,” made with WhistlePig rye, J.M overproof rhum, Stroh Jagertee, Fidencio mezcal, Yellow Chartreuse and bbq bitters, “Diego’s Donkey,” a blend of Barsol pisco, lime, ginger and Peruvian bitters or the “Caipisutra,” made with Mãe de Ouro cachaça, pineapple, grapefruit peel, lime and garam masala.

The Cabin Down Below
110 Avenue A

The Cabin Down Below is not only located underground, but was once one of the East Village’s best kept secrets, although over the years it has become a local favorite. Decorated to look like a friend’s basement, the laid-back space draws a crowd of elite hipsters, one-hit-wonders and rock ‘n’ roll band members. To access the bar, which is located underneath Niagara and Black Market, enter through the Seventh Street alleyway. You’ll see a black door and metal staircase that will lead you down the backside of the restaurant to the bar.


jimmy's no 43


Jimmy’s No. 43
43 East 7th Street

Jimmy’s No. 43 is an underground beer bar and restaurant in the East Village. Renowned for its thoughtful selection of tap, bottled and canned beers, you can order interesting brews like Butternuts Beaver Pond, Evil Twin Before, During & After and Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale. Additionally, the relaxed, community atmosphere and welcoming staff, including the notoriously friendly owner, Jimmy Carbone, make this a local favorite.

Sake Bar Hagi
152 W. 49th Street

An izakaya, or Japanese pub, Sake Bar Hagi offers unusual tapas as well as a wide selection of, you guessed it, sake. Though the service can be a bit slow, be patient, izakayas are focused around socializing and the food and libations are worth the wait. Also, you may pass the venue a few times before you find it due to the fact you’ll only see a small sign with steep steps leading down into a vibrant, friendly space hidden from view.

What’s your favorite underground bar in New York?

[Images via The Vault at Pfaff's, Lilium, The Bar Downstairs, The Tippler, Jimmy's No 43]

Aspen’s ‘Revolutionary’ New Restaurant: Is This The Future Of Fine Dining?

maroon bellsAspen is well known for many things, some more savory (its restaurants) than others (Charlie Sheen arrests). There’s also the world-class skiing, but a person’s gotta eat, and Aspen definitely boasts some of Colorado’s finest restaurants. In a ski town, that’s saying a lot.

In June, Aspen’s restaurant scene just grew a little bigger, better and more groundbreaking, with the opening of Chefs Club by Food & Wine, at the tony St. Regis resort. The innovative restaurant, which opened to great fanfare during the 30th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, marked the completion of a $40 million redesign of the resort.

The first restaurant of its kind worldwide, Chefs Club’s concept is simple, almost like a long-term pop-up. A select group of four Food & Wine Best New Chefs curate a bi-annually-changing menu of “seasonally-inspired cuisine.” The chefs will rotate on the same schedule, as well: the Fall/Winter talent will be announced November 15, via the restaurant’s website and Facebook. Following their initial, one-week tenure the chefs will make appearances throughout their “term” to offer menu specials, and showcase the Chefs Club concept to guests and the local community.

Notice that I said the concept is simple. Having four guest chefs, who are most likely total strangers, design a compatible collaborative menu, and having it consistently executed to high standards by a kitchen staff of complete strangers with varying degrees of training is a monumental task. I freely admit I was more than a little dubious when I first heard about Chefs Club. I’m writing this piece now, nearly six months after its opening, because I wanted to follow-up with staff and guest chefs, and find out how things are going.

Chosen to inaugurate the restaurant and menu were former Best New Chefs: George Mendes (2011) of Aldea, located in Manhattan; James Lewis (2011) of Birmingham’s Bettola; Alex Seidel (2010) of Fruition, in Denver; and Sue Zemanick (2008) of Gautreau’s, in New Orleans.

I was able to wrangle an invite to the grand opening reception at Chefs Club last June, as well as dine there the following night. It’s rare that I attend restaurant openings, because they’re usually a bit of a clusterf–k, as the kitchen hasn’t had time to work out the kinks or refine the menu. In this instance, however, I was curious to see how such a challenging concept would be carried out, especially given immense pressure for things to run smoothly.

%Gallery-165852%chefs clubSome of the culinary industry’s biggest players attended the grand opening and/or the Classic, including the Food & Wine editors and publisher, and some of the nation’s most prestigious chefs, among them Jacques Pepin, José Andrés and Thomas Keller.

If you’ve never been to a restaurant opening, just know it’s an ulcer-inducing event for any chef, no matter how experienced. The decor, service and every single dish is scrutinized by both diners and press, and in the weeks that follow, it’s critical that any flaws be ironed out. Yes, it’s just food, but it’s also the livelihood of dozens of people, from dishwashers to investors. Chefs/restaurateurs face a lot of pressure with the opening of a new place.

The biggest challenge, as I saw it, was finding chefs willing to relinquish control (or their egos), because unlike a normal restaurant, Chefs Club means entrusting an unfamiliar staff to carry out their vision. That means it’s up to the Chefs Club powers that be to find participating chefs who fully understand the concept of collaboration, and are capable of letting go to a certain degree.

Fortunately, St. Regis Aspen/Chefs Club Executive Chef Thomas Riordan is equally adept at ensuring his kitchen does right by guest chefs. Says General Manager Paul Duce, “I think this is a revolutionary concept, and it’s amazing to see it all come together so beautifully. [Riordan] has a very difficult job, and our team works so well together.”

Based on my experience, which included dining at Chefs Club on its third night of operation, the team kicks ass. In fact, I was astounded by how smooth the service was (the wait staff and sommelier were also genuinely friendly and enthusiastic; no pretense whatsoever). I sat in one of the seats located right in front of the open kitchen, and was amazed by how calm everyone seemed to be, guest chefs included. In fact, there was a lot of camaraderie and joking around.

As for my dinner, it wasn’t flawless (no meal is), but it was very, very good. I enpastajoyed a luscious Duck Confit Crostini from Chef Zemanick; Charred Mediterranean Octopus with cannellini beans, local lovage and pancetta by Chef Lewis; Colorado Lamb Saddle with Fruition Farms (Seidel’s sheep dairy) ricotta gnocchi, baby artichokes, and pine nut gremolata (Chef Seidel), and for dessert, an outrageous Malt Chocolate Semi-freddo with peanut butter fudge, toasted marshmallow, and graham cracker crumbs (Chef Zemanick). The sommelier graciously paired wines for all of my courses.

I left not only full, but very satiated, and convinced that Chefs Club might be onto something. Couldn’t this concept provide a feasible way for talented young chefs to avoid the pitfall of opening their own restaurants before they’re ready (emotionally or financially)? A way for older, more settled chefs to eliminate the stress, long hours, and administrative b.s. involved with owning a restaurant, but still allow them to do the thing they’re passionate about, which is cooking? An opportunity for experienced, savvy restaurateurs to keep their places relevant and exciting, long after the opening rush has passed? What about hosting guest chefs from around the world, as a sort of educational exchange for professional cooks and armchair travel experience for diners?

A month later, I asked Chef Seidel his thoughts when first approached by Chefs Club. “It’s a great concept, if challenging,” he said. “Being the first group of chefs meant there were a lot of unknowns, and participating chefs need to understand the level of commitment needed for this.”

If being a part of Chefs Club means time away from his own kitchen, farm and family, and entrusting that his staff will run Fruition as if it were their own, Seidel feels the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

“The opportunity to cook for so many different people, and work with great chefs from across the country is amazing. At my restaurant, we don’t cook with any attitude or ego, and this shouldn’t be any different. The four of us got a chance to hang out, learn from one another, and work together, and I gained three new friends out of the experience.”
chefs club
Other things to know about Chefs Club
The editors of Food & Wine have a hand in putting together custom wine and cocktail lists to coincide with the menus, while Jim Meehan, one of the nation’s top mixologists (PDT, New York), creates an original selection of seasonal cocktails (I’ll vouch for their excellence).

Don’t have any preconceptions about the menu, and be open to a diverse, but harmonious, melding of cuisines (there’s a three-course tasting menu with wine pairings for $85).

If you want to dine when a specific guest chef is in the house, check Chefs Club’s website and Facebook page for special events.

The elegant, white-walled dining room – done up in a mod ski chalet aesthetic, replete with giant snowflake cut-outs on the ceiling – features a long, low bar and row of seats in front of the open kitchen. If you enjoy watching the inner workings of a restaurant, reserve a seat here. There’s also a 24-seat patio, and 99 seats inside, including a communal table.

Make a reservation, regardless.

Enjoy yourself. This isn’t a pretentious, hushed temple of gastronomy. It offers a convivial atmosphere, and the concept and vibe are all about having fun, and a spirit of adventure. Cheers to that.

The bar is open to the public, not just diners. Says Duce, “A lot of the time, people will poke their heads in and say they’re just looking, and I’ll invite them in to check out our kitchen, or pour them a bit of Prosecco. We’re here to serve the community, and everyone should feel free to come have a drink at our bar.”

For information and tickets to the 31st annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, June 14-16, 2013, click here.

[Photo credit: Maroon Bells, Flickr user mland329]

Sweet New Hotel Trend: On-Site Beehives And Honey Programs

honey Going local, consuming natural products and being kind to the environment is becoming more important to people as they try to lead healthier lives. Luckily, many hotels are recognizing this, and trying to bring this philosophy to guests. It’s for this reason I find myself on the 20th floor rooftop of the Waldorf Astoria New York, wearing a beekeeper’s suit mere centimeters from 360,000 active hives.

“You probably won’t get stung,” assures Andrew Cote, the hotel’s resident beekeeper as well as an advisor for the bee initiative and leader in the NYC movement, who isn’t wearing any protective clothing. “If you do, though, know the poison from a bee sting is very good for you. Some people pay hundreds of dollars to have stingers placed into their skin.”

Not only is their poison good, but so is their honey. The roof has six hives in total. They look like small dressers, containing different compartments and drawers. Andrew sprays the hives with burlap as the smoke calms the bees, which tend to more aggressive in the fall when their hives are dying. One by one, we pull out wooden frames containing honeycombs. They’re tasty works of art, as the different honey varieties, wax and eggs form colorful patterns and designs. To keep the eggs out of the top frame where the pure honey is extracted, a “Queen Excluder” screen with tiny holes is used to keep the queen bee out. The result is pure honey produced from local wildflowers.So, why are the bee hives beneficial?

“It is great for the environment. Bees help pollinate flowers, trees and all kinds of flowering plants helping to further the greenery in NYC and purify the air we breathe,” explains Chef Garcelon of the Waldorf Astoria New York, who is very involved in the program. “… Best of all, it provides great quality honey that we can use in soups, salad dressings, savory dishes, pastries, baked goods and cocktails. In addition we can highlight the source of the honey on our menus and tell the story to our array of guests from around the world.”

beesThe Waldorf-Astoria isn’t the only hotel jumping on this sweet new trend. Hotels all over the United States are employing professional beekeepers to maintain onsite hives and work the delicious product into their dining and amenity programs.

At the Fairmont San Francisco, honey beehives are installed in the hotel’s culinary garden. About 800 pounds of honey is harvested, which is used to make dishes more organic and sustainable. For example, the honey is used in soups, salad dressings, pastries and as an accompaniment to their afternoon tea service. Most recently, the honey has also been used to create a “Fairmont San Francisco Honey Saison,” a handcrafted Belgian beer that infuses the pure honey from the rooftop.

“We were already using the honey in various dishes and our afternoon tea at the hotel, but wanted to offer guests something even more unique,” explains the hotel’s Executive Chef, JW Foster. “… We partnered with the local Almanac Beer Co, which shares a passion for the environment and makes a great product.”

According to the hotel, guests love it. In fact, it is their number one selling beer on draft.

Additionally, the Brown Palace Hotel & Spa in Denver, Colorado, implements a “Royal Bee Initiative” into their hotel programming. Originally a small honey program, it was expanded in order to enhance the food and beverage program, grow the spa menu and educate people about how bees are in peril and how we can help.

The luxury hotel uses their on-site bee colony to offer a number of innovative experiences to guests in terms of food, beverage and relaxation. In terms of drinks, the Brown Palace works with local breweries and distilleries to offer a “Brown Palace Rooftop Honey Saison,” honey-infused bourbon and signature cocktails like the “Brown Palace Bees’ Knees” and the “Honey Brut.” During their high tea, honey is used to sweeten guests’ teas and scones.

spa Their spa also incorporates the pure rooftop honey into treatments and products. The “Queen Bee Body Scrub” combines organic brown sugar and in-house honey to exfoliate, hydrate and balance the skin’s pH levels. Furthermore, “Bee Royalty Signature Products” like lip balms and soaps make for artisanal gifts, and a portion of the proceeds generated go toward helping the Denver Beekeeper Association.

“There are a total of four bee hives, with more than 200,000 bees,” explains the hotel’s resident beekeeper Matt Kentner. “It would be great to continue with the work we’ve been doing – we’d love to continue to grow our hives; but most importantly, we want to continue to educate the public on the importance of bees, and how we couldn’t live without them.”

Some other U.S. hotels with on-site bee hives and honey programs include The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton, The Royal Sonesta Hotel Harbor Court, Baltimore and Ohio’s Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, among others. And, as the trend continues to catch on, more and more hotels are continuing to adopt beekeeping programs.

honey drink Festivals

Along with staying at select hotels, travelers can experience the honey trend by attending honey-focused festivals. From September 29 to 30, the Arizona Honey Fest will debut at the Boulders Resort in Carefree, Arizona. The event will focus on the health and culinary benefits of the product, as well as the history. Cooking with honey demonstrations, honey spa treatments, beekeeper demonstrations, a Gala Honey Dinner, honey-infused cocktails and an outdoor marketplace will be featured.

Also coming up on September 29 and 30 is the annual Honey Harvest Festival in Cockeysville, Maryland. Beeswax candle making, a honey basket raffle, honey wine making and hive demonstrations are all part of the weekend lineup.

Each fall, New York City holds their annual Honey Festival. Honey-themed events are put on throughout the five boroughs, like honey tastings, honey-themed menus and drinks, city beehive tours, film screenings and speakers.

What do you think of the beehive hotel trend?

[Images via Shutterstock]

The 3 Best Spots For A Drink In Newport, Rhode Island

castle hill inn newport During summer, the city of Newport, Rhode Island, brings in millions of visitors who want to experience history, mansions, sailing, boutique shops, delicious restaurants and relaxing on the water. One facet of Newport worth exploring is the drink scene. To help you enjoy scenic views, historical cocktails and quality craft beer, here are three of the best spots for a drink in Newport.

Castle Hill Inn
590 Ocean Avenue

Located at the end of Ocean Drive, you’ll find a welcoming waterfront mansion with a rich history. While most people know of Castle Hill Inn as a luxurious hotel, many don’t realize it’s also Newport’s most scenic drinks spot. Once you have your car valeted, you can make your way to the hotel’s spacious backyard, which features a patio, bar and an award-winning restaurant, as well as a lawn littered with Adirondack chairs. While the drinks are a bit pricey – about $12 for a cocktail, $10 to $35 for a glass of wine and $5.50 to $14 for a beer – you won’t be spending much more than you would anywhere else in Newport, and you’ll have a great view. Relax with a cold drink while watching sail boats passing by, children giggling and playing tag and calming waves on the waterfront. If you’re hungry, you can order from the “lawn menu,” which has dishes like “Surf ‘N’ Turf Burger” ($24), “Native Fish Wrap” with chickpea salad ($16) and artisanal cheeses with jams, almonds, honey and grilled bread ($19).white horse tavern White Horse Tavern
26 Marlborough

While this dimly lit bar may appear unassuming, it’s actually said to be the oldest tavern in America. White Horse Tavern was originally constructed in 1652 as a two-story residence. In 1673 when it was acquired by a new owner it was converted to a tavern. For the next 100 years, before the Colony House came about, it was a meeting place for the Colony’s General Assembly, Criminal Court and City Council. With its clapboard walls, plain pediment doors and gambrel roof on the outside, and wide fireplaces, giant beams and tiny front hall on the inside it’s said no building in the town better resembles colonial Newport. The staff is extremely friendly, and will be happy to show you their international wine or quality bourbon lists. Additionally, this is one of the only places in Newport you can order a Long Trail IPA, a much-loved beer with a golden color, small white head, flowery nose and herbal notes.

pour judgement Pour Judgement Bar & Grill
32 Broadway

Beer nerds will love this brew-focused venue, which features one of the widest selection of craft beers in the city. Unlike many drink spots in Newport, Pour Judgement Bar & Grill is reasonably priced, with $2.50 Narragansetts, $4 Newport Storm Winter Ports and $4 Peak Organic Nut Brown Ales, as well as other local, domestic and international beers. Not only will you get to sip quality brews without breaking the bank, you’ll also be getting to experience local life, as this is a popular hangout for Newport residents. Moreover, staff are friendly and are more than happy to help you choose the perfect beer to pair with your burger, turkey chili or seafood curry.