Highland Park Releases Loki, a Scotch From Norse Mythology

Single malt scotch has a reputation as a serious whisky for distinguished, tweed-jacketed men who sip it from crystal tumblers while sitting in leather armchairs in the library of some manor house as a gray-whiskered hound sleeps on the carpet beneath an oil painting of a fox hunt. This reputation has not been thrust upon it. Scotch producers have carefully cultivated it, likely on the assumption that such a scene represents the reality of a few scotch drinkers, and the aspiration of many. Yet now it seems they feel a bit chained to it. The scotch industry would love to nab some younger drinkers, but that stuffy scene just doesn’t play with the modern twenty-something set. What to do? Well, if you’re Highland Park, you take a look at where you’re from and adjust accordingly. The Highland Park distillery happens to be the northernmost distillery in Scotland, located in Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands. After being occupied by a number of different tribes, the Orkney Islands were annexed by Norway in 875 and settled by the Norse, who used the islands as a base for Viking raids until the Scottish Crown took over in 1472. So while the Orkney Islands are a part of modern Scotland, the area maintains a cultural duality, with vestiges of its Nordic past found in its dialect and cultural traditions. Thus, Highland Park has the luxury of choice: it can position its whiskies as traditional Scottish products, or it can tap into its Nordic side. Given the intense competition among traditional scotch producers, it’s hardly surprising that they’ve decided to go Viking.

And that’s how I found myself at an event space called the Foundry in Long Island City, New York on Tuesday night, entering a darkened chamber bathed in red light and accentuated with Norse iconography. Highland Park was releasing the second expression of its Valhalla series, a collection of four whiskies inspired by Norse mythology. The series began last year with the great warrior Thor, a strong (52.1% ABV) malt with vanilla, blackberry, and cinnamon flavors. It was delicious. This year we were being introduced to Loki, a crafty shape shifter with a command of fire, and the event was designed to underscore its mythical underpinnings.

As a sharply-dressed crowd of New York journalists, bar owners, and other assorted whisky lovers filled the room, waiters circulated with trays of mini shepherd’s pies, and a concealed kitchen produced salmon three ways. Put your hand in this hole for raw salmon. This hole gets you a tasty bite of smoked salmon. The third gets you torched salmon. Hope you like salmon. Pre-mixed Blood and Sand cocktails were offered, but since I don’t fancy them, I hit each of a pair of bars serving Highland Park’s traditional 12- and 15-year-old whiskies neat. Next to each bar was a water station complete with waterfall, where an attendant would happily add a few drops of mineral water to your dram so you could watch it squirm. I reached for a flask. "Please let me pour for you, sir," pleaded the attendant. "It’s my only job here." My F&B needs properly sorted, I made my way back into the crowd to enjoy the theatricality of it all.

After a half hour or so attempting to mingle, my group–I was somehow lumped in with a couple dozen other "impulsive" souls–was summoned into an adjacent chamber by the god Loki, whose commanding voice over the PA system somewhat resembled that of one of the female publicists I greeted on the way in. No matter, this was the moment we were here for, the grand unveiling of the Loki the whisky. Smoke machines set a misty scene around the T-shaped table arrangement, into the center of which strolled Highland Park brand ambassador Martin Daraz, who introduced the spirit and led us all in a toast.

Finally, amid the smoke, red lights, music, and thunder (I’m pretty sure there was thunder), I took my first sip of Loki. And then another. I liked it immediately. Loki is a 15-year-old single malt that shares the DNA of its more traditional cousins, but goes off the rails a bit with a few out-there flavors. At 48.7% ABV, it’s another elevated-strength whisky, but it’s smooth enough to take a generous sip without having to put your fist through a wall to get it down. It smells of bitter orange and has a complex yet pleasing flavor, with notes of apple, lemon, grapefruit, and a faint wisp of smokey chocolate. The essence of vanilla lingered on my palate for several minutes.

And so we made our way to the balcony of this magnificent space to spend the remainder of the evening relaxing with our whisky as visions of Vikings danced through our heads. Music played and laughter echoed off the brick walls as I chatted with strangers and ate savory and sweet hors d’oeuvres out of order. At one point I swear I saw a man in a Druid’s cloak wandering around, but then it was dark, and there was whisky.

Evaluated on its own, Highland Park Loki is an excellent whisky, bold and flavorful, but smooth enough to not overpower the senses. It’s fun to drink. If there ever was a whisky that’s truly the "water of life," it’s Loki. But will its market positioning amid the pantheon of Norse mythology help it gain traction with the hip set? Maybe. The party certainly was fun, and the historical connection seems to make sense, moreso than, say, a German tequila. Who knows, maybe over the next few years more distilleries from northern Scotland will identify with Viking regalia as a point of differentiation. There certainly seems to be a lot more latitude for creativity on that side. Marketing-wise, it’s all but a blank slate, waiting to be filled with a dramatic scene.

All too soon, it was time to leave Valhalla and return to Park Slope, a soft landing if there ever was one. I took the warming glow of the whisky with me all the way to my couch, where I plopped down and turned on the TV. Fumbling with the remote, I landed on a show that was all too perfect: Vikings.

Highland Park knows what it’s doing.

Highland Park Loki has a suggested retail price of $249, and is available at select whisky retailers. Check the website for more information. If you’re in New York and want to sample different scotches, drop by Highlands, St. Andrews, or the Brandy Library.

[Related Content: A Sample of This Season’s Most Scholarly Scotch; BlackBook New York Nightlife Guide; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Industry Insiders: Stephanie Macleod, Dewar’s Master Blender

As master blender of Dewar’s Scotch Whisky, Stephanie Macleod’s job requires a mix of science and art. Creating such whiskies as the iconic Dewar’s White Label, Dewar’s 12 Year Old, Dewar’s 18 Year Old, and Dewar’s Signature is no easy task, but with a background as a sensory analyst at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow – the gritty home of Dewar’s – and years of whisky experience, she’s up to the challenge. Since we’re more than casual fans of whisky, we asked her about how it’s made, and, more importantly, the best way to drink it.

How exactly do you blend Dewar’s? Do you have a recipe or do you just wing it every time? 

We have a recipes for all of our brands. We’ve got hundreds of different types of whiskeys we work with, and each go into different types of casks. We manage the inventory by splitting it up into different categories. We might have a fruity category, a grassy category, a peaty category, etc. The recipe might call for a certain percentage of Category A spirits in it, a certain percentage of Category B spirits, and so on. We have substitutes if certain components aren’t available.

What’s it like creating a new blend compared with something you’ve been doing for a long time?

For Dewar’s White Label, it’s tried and tested. When we’re creating a new blend, there’s lots of trial and error. I’ll do some pilot blends of what I think they’re looking for so I’ve got a sensory picture of what they require. That makes it more tangible. Then we have more pilot blends and more testing in the lab, and we’re taking them home as well.

Oh man. Homework. 

It’s important to taste it in a more relaxed atmosphere to make sure there’s nothing else coming through other than what we want. I’ll try it with different mixers.

So there’s a proper Dewar’s lab in Glasgow, with the white coats and everything?

We have a lab complex, and we have a sensory room that has been set up to specifically assess samples of whiskey. We even have red light to minimize color differences. All our perceptions are recorded on computer. But we also have the blending room where we’re basically sloshing about lots of different malts and grains, putting them together in little sample bottles, leaving them for a while to settle, and then testing them.

Sloshing about sounds perfect. What’s the procedure for tasting the samples?

The first phase of testing is done in the blending room. Seeing what works and what doesn’t. Then the actual sitting in front of a panel is done in the sensory laboratory. Along with sensory work, we’re also running it through chemical analysis to make sure there’s nothing untoward with the whiskey that we’re either blending that day, or introducing as a new product. The components of the blend have been tested from the beginning. Everything is rigorously tested through the whole process.

So exactly how many whiskies are blended to make Dewar’s?

Marketing says up to 40 different whiskies.

Well, if that’s what marketing says …

Ha, yeah. We have to work within the confines of the Dewar’s house style, but we can tweak it and show different facets. We draw samples from different casks and we set them out in the blending room. Let’s try a bit of this and a bit of that, put it in a sample bottle, leave it to settle, and taste it. All the while we’re writing down, recording what we’re putting in. Once I’m satisfied with three pilot blends we’ll go to the market and see what they prefer. We’ll go through all the iterations of the different blends.

Sounds like fun.

That is the part of my job that I like the best because it’s creating something new. It’s really interesting to discover and create exactly what your customer wants. That is obviously what we all want to do as blenders, create something in your name.

Dewar’s is doing a number of different things, right? 

We also do quite a lot of single-cask expressions, like Aberfeldy. One single cask from that distillery, a particular year, a particular cask.

Take me through the tasting process. How should I be experiencing whisky?

Okay, let’s use the Aberfeldy 21 as an example. First, I would advise a tulip-shaped nosing glass, but if you don’t have that, a wine glass that’s tapered at the top. Make sure it’s clean, of course. Sparkling, everything about it. Crystal is a good start. You want something with a thin rim. Put a quantity of whisky in the glass. First you’re going to admire its color, so you gently swirl it. Hold the glass by the stem so none of the odors from your hand – hand cream, aftershave – get in the way of the flavor. If possible, it’s a good idea to have a watch glass at the top to keep the odors inside the glass. Now swirl the glass, admiring the legs as it runs down the inside of the glass. You’re looking for a deep golden amber color. Take off the watch glass and dip your nose into the glass, taking short breaths. The first thing that hits you with Aberfeldy 21, for example, is a sweet honey nose. An intense sweetness, and a wonderful creaminess. Then you’ll find floral notes, also a kind of Christmassy note. Dried fruit, sumptuous plum notes, and a hint of coconut. The coconut comes directly from the oak. It’s oak lactone that causes that. Although you notice that the wood is there it doesn’t overexert its influence. You still know it’s Aberfeldy.

Come on, I want to drink.

Take a small sip to start with, just to coat your palate. Let it go all over your tongue. There’s a wonderful sweetness coming through. Some whiskies are quite dry. There’s a wonderful malty, cereal note resting on the palate. A note of expensive chocolate. So the finish is long, and you’ll find that its full-bodied. It feels fuller in the mouth, doesn’t feel thin. Slightly spicy.

Sounds good. 

That isn’t the end of the story. We then add some still water at room temperature. In order to explore all the aspects of a whiskey you really should add some water to it. You’ll notice that strands seem to form, and it seems to squirm in the glass. That’s the whiskey accommodating the water. When we add the water you get fresh fruit and more creamy notes coming out, and a slight smokiness at the very end. Adds another layer of interest. Some people taste orange marmalade. But it’s always good to have the right glassware and the water is the right temperature, not fizzy. 

Anything else I need? 

The company of friends is always good as well.

Dewar’s Scotch Whisky is available pretty much everywhere. We like drinking it in bars like the Brandy Library in New York. Check out the BlackBook City Guides for more great places to enjoy a dram. Download the apps, subscribe to the newsletters. Knowledge is power. 

Nightlife Try Outs: 5 Posh Bars To Visit When You’re a Party of One

New York might be the city that never sleeps, but that doesn’t mean your posse is always awake and ready for adventure. Don’t let other people’s home-bound plans keep you from treating yourself to a night on the town. Sometimes people scoff when they hear about my inclination for going it alone, but getting over your fear of facing social situations solo opens up an entirely new side of the city. You don’t have to stress out about making plans, you needn’t worry about other people’s loves/hates/dietary restrictions, and doing things off the cuff can lead to so many other surprising adventures. Plus, you can treat yourself to really lavish experiences without worrying about splitting up the tab—deliciously empowering. Whether you are a single girl in need of a dose of romance, a New York newbie looking to make friends, or a culture-addict searching for a unique experience, these posh bars are some of my favorite treats for when I’m flying solo.

1. Brandy Library It’s 7pm on a Friday evening and the library has a gathering of friendly, smartly-dressed folks. The sophisticated ambiance is slightly intimidating at first blush, but once you settle beneath the flattering lighting and sidle up to the mahogany bar in all of its snazzy glory, you’ll immediately feel at ease. Ask the knowledgeable barkeep a ton of questions about the menu—your solo session can double as a free liquor class. Perk: The bar is usually filled with singles that appreciate a well-made cocktail. Best For: Single girls who aren’t afraid to share a Brandy tasting with a stranger. Tip: The record will skip if you order a cliché whiskey and cola. Ask for a recommendation if you need help.

2. Bowery Poetry Club What? Not exactly glamorous, you say? Try telling that to the man reciting E.E. Cummings and drinking cognac. A night of poetry readings might not spell “Night on the Town” for everyone, but if you’ve got a hankering to expand your circle, meet new people, and take advantage of one of New York’s great cultural experiences, BPC is a great place to discover the luxury boho scene on your own. Sure, you’ll bump into a prose-snob or two, but you can always use the live performances and the full bar as an excuse to get away. The crowd is constantly in mingle-gear, and you’ll end up meeting an amazing cast of characters. Perk: The bar is a WiFi café from 12-noon to 6pm. Best For: Those in need of culture shock. Tip: Stop in on Mondays and treat yourself to a night of bingo!

3. Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel Rose Bar runs a tight ship in the small hours of the evening, but early on, the large, lavish spot is filled with interesting locals and outgoing foreigners celebrating in the city. Park yourself at the front bar around 6pm and watch as a slow trickle of hotel guests begin their night. The clientele is high-end, savvy, and inclined to learn more about their surroundings—in this case, you. Gramercy locals still cite it as the best way to start or end their night, and the sensual, tranquil space is a great venue for interesting conversation—even if it’s only with one of the attractive bartenders. Perk: The pool table near the front is a great way to get the night started, and can distract you in case you’re not feeling chatty right off the bat. Best For: Solo girls who want a scene. Tip: Use the art pieces as a sneaky icebreaker—Julian Schnabel designed the furniture, original pieces from Warhol and Keith Haring hang inside.

4. Per Se So, Prince Charming has yet to take you to the (so-called) best restaurant in America? Why not take yourself? This first-class restaurant, full of pomp and circumstance, will certainly put a dent in your pocketbook if you ever decide to overdo a date night, but sit stag at the bar and get sucked into your own little world of complete culinary euphoria. The Salon menu offers lavish dinner and dessert dishes in the front lounge area, priced between $24 and $46. Treat yourself to Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster or go easy with “The Cheese Course, ” and a glass of wine. The serene bar area is full of single parties. Perk: Every staff member is incredibly attentive, making for a surprisingly unstuffy atmosphere. Best For: A date with yourself. Tip: Indulge in the “Brownie And Malted Milk,” a $14 dessert luxury—double chocolate brownie with chocolate “marquise,” caramel ice cream and malt mousse.

5. City Winery Breathe a sigh of relief: this is not a house of hard-core winos. Instead, it’s a venue that pairs a jovial atmosphere with fine wine and music. If you feel like truly being by yourself, you’ll find that the space is cavernous enough for you to melt into the atmosphere. But if you’re feeling chatty, the bar offers a great view of the stage, and friendly patrons often take up casual conversations between sets. Perk: The venue schedules classes like wine pairings and tastings, perfect for a solo act. Best For: Live shows when you’re solo. Tip: Skip City Winery for stag nights when they aren’t hosting a class, or live performance. The giant space can be awkward without their presence.

More Tips For Going Stag in NYC

-Research Your Bars: Even the most out-going girls might feel awkward after popping into a sceney bar or a romantic couples lair. On my first night in the city, I made the mistake of heading to Marquee alone on a Tuesday night after I overheard some girls raving about it. I actually ended up having a great time, and I met a ton of people, but clubbing alone is just a tad unnerving. -Take on a Traveler’s Mentality: Hit up hotel bars, where the ambiance is usually forgiving and people are dying for conversation. Aim to learn about other people. -Give Yourself a Good Reason: Live bands, distracting performances, a great love for foodie fare or mixology—all sneaky props to take the focus off of your party of one. -Draw Attention to Your Confidence: You’re out alone! You’re an independent girl who loves the city and can enjoy it on her own. Celebrate that and strangers will, too.

The Stag-at Guide: Brandy Library

Hopefully, you’ll find Brandy Library‘s “well-endowed and perfectly indexed liquor menu” informative and distracting: you’ll be scouring it as you “wait and wait and… wait for Prince Charming to show up, or at least look up from the hushed conversation he’s having amidst a cluster of club chairs.” While selecting a drink you’ll also wonder, “Where are all the cigars? There really should be cigars in this scene, or at least a cigarette girl in a sparkly outfit.” Needless to say, neither the girl nor Don Draper appears to give you a smoke. Just as you begin to accept this, you spot, behind a curtain beneath the bar, “the gentleman’s equivalent of ‘the glass slipper’: rows of personalized, engraved snifters.” The puzzled look on your face will prompt the bartender to explain, “Oh these? Our members each have a private bottle as well, miss.” Suddenly, you realize this could go two ways: out the door, or with you “like Maggie Gyllenhaal in that scene towards the end of Secretary where she’s glued to the desk [you’d sub in the bar] for days and days.” If you pick the latter, you’ll obviously be less thirsty, but, still, the choice is clear: Run!

Comfort level for a single lady(1-30): 20 (very comfy bar stools!) Drinks purchased for a single lady: 0 Male to female ratio: 3:1 Single to couple ratio: 1:1 Overheard: *Crickets* set to some lite piano jazz. Chances of returning (1-30): 28… he’s gotta come back for that glass someday, right? It really seems like his natural environment.

BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where cool customers go out — bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, you name it. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living.

EDITORIAL ● Editorial Director/Editor-in-Chief – Ray Rogers, Café Mogador (NYC) – Hummus, crack-caliber coffee, and outdoor patio for primo people-judging and “novel writing.” ● Creative Director – Jason Daniels, Babettes (East Hampton) – Don’t let the word “organic” turn you off . ● Executive Editor – Chris Mohney, Pegu Club (NYC) – OCD cocktail heaven. Pith helmet and ivory cane optional. ● Senior Editor – Nick Haramis, The Jane Hotel and Ballroom (NYC) – Latest smash from Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode gets all Edwardian on the WVill.

● Editor-at-Large – James Servin, The Raleigh (Miami) – The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont. ● Staff Writer – Ryan Adams, Republic (NYC) – Minimalist fave and only vaguely communist, which is more fun than the full-bore thing. ● Writer-at-Large – Alison Powell, Wurstküche (LA) – Hey, sausages! Downtown hipsters with a secret inner-manly-man are pleased. ● West Coast Editor – Matt Diehl, Cole’s (LA) – The 100-year-old buffet-style cafeteria comes back as something new (but the French dip stays). ● Nightlife Correspondent – Steve Lewis, La Esquina (NYC) – Day and night, eating, meeting and playing. ● Paris Correspondent – Dana Thomas, Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel (Paris) – Posh sips & historic ambiance at the Ritz. ● Assistant Editors – Ben Barna, Tokyo (Montreal) – Buy one for the buff bartender while you’re at it—he’s a starving actor. Cayte GrieveCafé Asean (NYC) Foster Ethan KamerLa Superior (NYC) – Quite possibly the best little taqueria this side of town. ● Editorial Assistant – Eiseley Tauginas, Alta (NYC) – Alta, as in “high,” as in “haute,” at this sexy Village tapas spot. ● Copy Editor – Michèle Filon, Sripraphai (NYC) ● Editorial Interns – Annie Clinton Moto (NYC) – High-flavor food with dungeon loos. Sure, Moto’s for metros, but it’s hot anyway. Delia Paunescu Schiller’s Liquor Bar (NYC) – McNally’s successful entrée into the LES mess. Desiree Pais, Lit (NYC) – Rock bar du jour for hos and bros of the ain’t we the shit? set. Alexandra Vickers, Colette (Paris) – Art, style, music, sex and water.

ART ● Art Director – Amy Steinhauser, Five Leaves (NYC) – Café posthumously funded by Heath Ledger does justice to the work and hype put into it. ● Photography Assistant – Stephanie Swanicke, Brandy Library (NYC) – Highbrow mixology, let us know when it’s time to dust off the antique bottles on the upper shelf. ● Design/Photo Interns – Angela Chen, Dinosaur BBQ (NYC) – Roadhouse bringing southerners to Northern Manhattan. Krista Quick – Ottobar (Baltimore) – What can we say, this place rocks.Jeremy Jones – Tokyo Bar, (NYC) – Schizo décor and food, but decently done all the same.

FASHION & BEAUTY ● Fashion Director-at-Large – Elizabeth Sulcer, China Grill (NYC) -Heaping plates of Asian fusion amid fashionable environs. ● Market Editor – Bryan Levandowski, Bondi Road (NYC) – Wizards of Aus in NYC, we like your style. ● Fashion Assistant – Wilson Mathews III, Per Se (NYC) – Advanced gastronomy at the Time Warner Center. Thomas Keller pulls out all the stops. ● Fashion Interns – Samantha Shaw, Chez Janou (Paris) – Boisterous southern bistro near the Place des Vosges. Julien Blanc, La Esquina (NYC) – Fairly authentic Mexican and one of the city’s best-known “secret” bars. Laura Watters, Café Habana (NYC) – Scarfing roast pork is so much better when Mary-Kate is watching, longingly. Lindsay Abrams, Sketch: Gallery (London) – Quirky soho hot spot. BlackBook magazine Founder – Evanly Schindler, The Smile (NYC) – Earnest Sewn owners take over abandoned Double Crown space for Med-inspired cafe/boutique.

BLACKBOOK MEDIA CORP ● Chairman – Bob Hoff, Guys & Dolls (LA) – Sophisticated sexy in West Hollywood. 7 nights a week. ● CEO – Ari Horowitz, L’Ecole (NYC) – Get schooled in fine French cuisine at this tasty training center. ● Associate Publisher – Brett Wagner, Café Select (NYC) – SoHo café marries Swiss Alpine to downtown design, garners Next Brunch Place status. ● Director of Finance and Operations – Joe Friedman, Lucky Strike Lanes (NYC) – Scenester bowling from the dudes behind Marquee and Tao. ● Corporate Counsel – Drew Patrick of Drew Patrick Law, Dutch Kills (NYC) – Modern-day antique saloon from New York’s cocktail kings. ● Executive Assistant – Bridgette Bek, Motorino (NYC) – Belgian-bred Mathieu Palombino’s Billyburg pizza joint serves up personal pan-sized genius, one pie at a time.

ADVERTISING ● Senior Account Executive – Dina Matar, Gascogne (NYC) – Southern French cooking without the Southern French ‘tude. ● Account Executive – Brian Kantor, Botanica (NYC) – Dive that must be working some kind of Santeria to keep prices down in this excessive nabe. ● Executive Director, BlackBook Access – Gregg Berger, La Piaggia (Miami) – Keep your feet in the sand and your hand on the rosé glass at this waterfront café francaise. ● Detroit Account Executives – Jeff Hannigan, Blind Tiger Ale House (NYC) – Beer bar institution finds new home, devoted crowd. Kristen von Bernthal, Pure Food and Wine (NYC) – Say goodbye to a future of pacemakers and a gut the shape of China. Raw food is real food. ● Midwest Account Executives – Susan Welter, Perennial (Chicago) – This could easily become Chicago’s summer hotspot for years to come. ● Andrea Forrester, Mirai (Chicago) – Thumpin’ music and bumpin’ elbows don’t deter crowds from gathering for some of the city’s finest sushi. ● Southwest Account Executive – Molly Ballantine, Gjelina (LA) – New Venice, new American hotspot takes on Hollywood posturing and tude. ● Northwest Account Executives – Catherine Hurley, 15 Romolo (San Francisco) – Bourbon & Branch without the passwords and financial types. Shawn O’Meara, Suppenküche (San Francisco) – Fun place, hearty food. Check the diet at the door. Sales Coordinator – Claire Pujol, Fat Baby (NYC) – Dank in a clean way. Do not enter without skinny jeans.

MARKETING ● Marketing Manager – Julie Fabricant, Kingswood (NYC) – Creative Aussie eats. Feel like king of the W. Vill woods. ● Partnerships & Promotions Manager – Andrew Berman, Bozu (NYC) – Sunken Japanese paradise. Delectable sushi, incredible drinks. ● Interns – Rebecca Hill, Chicago Brauhaus (Chicago) – One of the last of Chicago’s great German restaurants with live oompah bands and an Oktoberfest menu year-round. Delna Joshi, Hudson Terrace (NYC) – Rooftop pleaser for drunk summer afternoons. Brianne Murphy, Beauty Bar (NYC) – Kitschy theme bar serving up mani/drink combos under a row of hair dryers. Elizabeth Pirozzi, Pink Elephant (NYC) – Gangsters, models, and house. Where one goes, the others must follow. Monica Dybuncio, Cha Cha Cha (San Francisco) – The Haight’s never-ending Caribbean party where Santerias and sangria rule. Emily Pflug Presidio, Delfina (San Francisco) – Overly moussed males, technophiles, and high-class hipsters collide in this local fine dining favorite. Lea Abeyta, The Annex (NYC) – Grown-up newcomer from Dark Room boys. Tiswas Saturday, Interpol’s Paul B holding down Wednesday. Joanna Rubinstein, Bar Breton (NYC) – Fleur de Sel’s tastes of Brittany now available in brasserie form. Marie Baginski, East Andrews Cafe & Bar (Atlanta) – Label toters run amok at Buckhead restaurant-bar and pack the place on Thursdays and Fridays. Megan Kunecki, Blender Theater at Gramercy (NYC) -New indie rocker hosting artists you put on your iPod for show while you’re really listening to “Since U Been Gone” again. Jay Kassirer, The Smile (NYC) – Earnest Sewn owners take over abandoned Double Crown space for Med-inspired cafe/boutique. Suhee Eom, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (NYC) – Chef-of-the-minute David Chang fancies up Korean burritos and gets avant-garde after 6pm. Jaime Marie, Sueños (NYC) – Sweet dreams of organic tequila and make-your-own-tacos really can come true! Rana Razavi, Sanctuary (Miami) – Swank rooftop bar and the promise of hanky panky in the pool.

DIGITAL ● Director of Development – Daniel Murphy, Yerba Buena (NYC) – Petite hot zone with wide range of Pan-Latino small plates. ● Lead Architect – Matt Hackett, Beast (Brooklyn) – Small plates and top brunch, come get lost in Prospect Heights. Developer – Bastian Kuberek, Motor City Bar (NYC) – Front like you remember how to drive and these 8 Milers might let you hang. ● Developer – Dan Simon, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill (NYC) ● Designer – Matt Strmiska, Manuel’s (Austin) – Immaculate cleanliness, smart design, and Wine Spectator-designated mole don’t come cheap even for the downtown lunch crowd. ● Developer – Sam Withrow, Pacific Standard (NYC) – Mellow, big-hearted Slope pub keepin’ it pacific. ● Quality Assurance Engineer – Sunde Johnson, Stone Park Café (NYC) – White on white, Williams-Sonoma, Maclarens, fish sandwiches, and burgers. ● Mobile Developer – Otto Toth, Centolire (NYC) – Mangia, mangia, and then ride up and down in the funny glass elevator until the hostess kicks you out.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS ● Bob Hoff, Guys & Dolls (LA) – Sophisticated sexy in West Hollywood. 7 nights a week. ● Ari Horowitz, L’Ecole (NYC) – Get schooled in fine French cuisine at this tasty training center. ● Eric Gertler, SoHo House (NYC) – Members-only decadent den where you may find scruffy English rockers or snaggle-toothed English bankers. Guess which is more likely. ● Joe Landry, Local (LA) – Anything goes, as long as it’s not beef. ● Irwin Lieber, Fishtail by David Burke (NYC) – Fresh seafood in the UES by celeb chef David Burke. ● Dan Pelson, Marea (NYC) – Hopes for a high tide abound at Michael White’s temple to Italian seafood. ● Barry Rubenstein, Shun Lee Café (NYC) – Haute Chinese and dim sum on a glossy, ’80s-fabulous set. ● Jack Sullivan, Blue Ribbon (NYC) – Bromberg bros brasserie takes care of Soho’s after-midnight crowd.
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New York: Top 10 Cold-Weather Cocktails

imageForget spiked egg nog, pumpkin-based drinks, and all those other seasonal libations. Don’t even think about a chilled beer or frozen concoction unless you plan on spending the night perched over your heater. Instead, head to one of the spots below where the mixologists are whipping up specialty cocktails for sun-deprived-drinkers.

10. Thai chili hot chocolate @ Thom Bar (Soho) – Made with Thailand’s national spirit — Mekhong, which is sort of like a pisco — there’s no hotter way to beat your chills. 9. Wake-Up Call @ Brandy Library (Tribeca) – You could spend all night sifting through the never-ending list of options, but make it easy for yourself and go straight for this warm, aptly named mix of espresso, vanilla vodka, and homemade chocolate and coffee liqueurs. 8. Gingerbread cocktail at Empire Hotel Rooftop (Upper West Side) – The sunny skies may be gone, but the rooftop continues to attract with sweeping views, dim lighting, and a crackling fireplace — all of which are best enjoyed while sipping on their creation made with gingerbread syrup, Ten Cane Rum, apple juice, and lemon.

7. Black currant sake martini at Bond St. (Greenwich Village) – Get your blood pumping with this mix of gin, acai berry liquor, sake, triple sec, and black currant puree. 6. Hot chocolate martini at Gramercy Tavern (Union Square) – The winter equivalent to a summer burger at Shack Shack, Gramercy Tavern’s hot chocolate comes spiked with Stoli Vanilla and amaretto. 5. Woodcock Reserve hot spiced cider at Via dei Mille (Soho) – Forget about any brewing winter storm with this homemade classic. 4. Madame’s preserves and jams at Madame Geneva (Soho) – Skip dessert and indulge in a spoonful of house-made preserves served over Beefeater Gin or 42 Below Vodka — the 18th-century-inspired concoction comes in three varieties: mixed berry & vanilla, orange & green cardamom, and fig & ginger. 3. Whiskey-based hot toddy at Aspen Social (Midtown West) – Only in NYC could you find an Aspen-inspired cabin with this much glitz. 2. Hot buttered rum at Freemans (Lower East Side) – Nothing like warm rum and taxidermy to take away the winter chill. 1. The Randy Toddy at The Randolph (Nolita) – Conjured-up with Sasha Petraske-precision by a decidedly attractive and friendly staff, this enticing libation is made with honey, lemon, Applejack, hot water, nutmeg, and cinnamon.