The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2011

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SIPPED & SCENE Taste of the bona fide jet-setter. Perhaps you can’t afford an overnight stay at The Pierre, but any lush-life fiend with a few extra dollars to dish out can certainly visit the Two E Bar for a glimpse of that je ne sais quoi lifestyle. And, for just $18 a glass, you can taste it! H So I turned to serial traveler Simon Ford of Pernod Ricard USA to find out what defines a memorable hotel bar. He offered up this insight- ful tidbit: “A good hotel bar must have an innate understanding of international guests, from atmosphere, décor and design to the creative cocktail menu.” On a recent visit to New York, I dedicated an entire weekend to hotel bar-hopping with some of the industry’s trend setters, all of whom have impacted the NYC bar scene. First up was Willy Shine, co-founder of Contemporary Cocktails at the Royalton Hotel’s Forty Four Lounge. Shine, along with Ford, is part of the Cocktail Collective, a cherry-picked crop of cocktail taste- makers who came together to shape the Forty Four’s bar program. Contemporary Cocktails co-founder, Aisha Sharpe, who designed the cocktail list for the Lobby Bar as well as the Breslin Restaurant and Bar. “Cocktail Collective is a group of individuals who stand together with a shared dedication to the spirits and hospitality industry,” opines Shine. Hailing from backgrounds as diverse as high-volume clubs and craft cocktail bars, the members also include Richard Boccato from Dutch Kills and Painkiller, John Lermayer from the Florida Room in Miami Beach and the recently-opened Imperial No. 9 at the much buzzed-about Mondrian Soho and Misty Kalkofen from Boston’s Drink. Shine and I enjoyed The Stone Place, a cocktail comprised of organic fresh lemon juice, grenadine, nutmeg and Appleton Reserve rum. We also tried the Ford-friendly English 75, a blend of Plymouth gin, fresh squeezed organic lemon juice, raspberries, sugar and rosewater topped with champagne. With all of the expertise and power behind one libation list, I could’ve been content to sip my way through the entire 26 / the tasting panel / may 201 1 otel bars have always held a special allure for me. They have this magical ability to make me feel special and sexy, like I’m a High Life ON THE TOWN WITH BLAINE ASHLEY The “A” List: Jeff Isaacson, Managing Partner of Gerber Bars, at the W Times Square Living Room Bar. Cocktail Collective menu, but had to save up for the hotel boîtes ahead. The next night, I joined Jeff Isaacson, Managing Partner of Gerber Bars at the W Times Square Living Room Bar. As a 2000 alumna of Honolulu’s W Hotel Bar, I was curious to learn a little more from the bar biz veteran about sustaining and maintaining the Gerber ethos through various trends, social media platforms and spirited hype. “I’ve been positioned, based on my business lifestyle acumen in mentoring some of today’s nightlife icons; when media talk about trends, they usually speak to a few ‘key’ resources in a market to see what is hot at ‘their’ locations.” With over 20 bars under his entrepre- neurial belt, Isaacson is a true leading force in the nightlife and spirits industries. On Sunday, I saved the best for last—the Ace Hotel. I met up with Shine’s Contemporary Cocktails co-founder, Aisha Sharpe, who designed the cocktail list for both the Lobby Bar as well as their Breslin Restaurant and Bar. Leaving my cocktail selections to Sharpe, I thoroughly enjoyed her recommendation, the Lovely Day, a refreshing Sunday sip of lime-juice, simple syrup, Ribena (an uncarbonated British fruit soft drink), Milagro tequila and soda. The edgier Sharpe opted for the Buffalo Soldier, made of lemon juice, tea syrup, Appelton Reserve and Whiskey Barrel bitters. A taste of her award-winning cocktail list left me wanting more. This is just a taste of the high-life. More to report next month. PHOTO: SUNNY NORTON

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