Drink Up Brooklyn: Spirits of the Borough

While Brooklyn is known for the hipster side of do-it-yourself artisanal foodstuffs, the small-batch sprits coming out of the borough go beyond cool—and are actually pretty awesome. “Brooklyn spirits are all made in small batches as opposed to most liquor which is produced in mass quantities,” said Brooklyn Shaken and Stirred organizer Sharon Beason. “This lets Brooklyn producers be creative and experiment more while honoring the traditions of making handcrafted spirits.”

Go celebrate local drinking tonight at the event Brooklyn Shaken and Stirred in the Green Building in Carroll Gardens. From 6 to 9pm, $45 gets you drinks made with Brooklyn Gin, Greenhook Ginsmiths, Brooklyn Republic Vodka, White Pike Whiskey, and El Buho Mezcal, which is actually made in Mexico, but imported through Henry Steele Imports in Brooklyn. The drink masters include bartenders from Fort Defiance, Maison Premiere, Pok Pok, and Sycamore. They will also offer up wine from Brooklyn Oenology and Brooklyn Winery, plus beer by Sixpoint Brewery.

But you can’t drink on an empty stomach. While you sip cocktails you can nibble on food by Brooklyn-based restaurants including Allswell, Dressler, and Van Horn Sandwich Shop, to name a few.

“I believe Brooklyn as a whole has taken off, from the arts and culture scene, to restaurants and bars that have placed us on the international culinary map, to the artisanal goods that line the corners of Smorgasburg every week,” said Beason. “Brooklyn is so community-focused and its residents so proud of all things Brooklyn that many only buy and use these products and they tell everyone they know about them.”

So do it, go get your Brooklyn on.

The Things We Do For Love: New York’s Top Date Spots

To some, love is motivated by how fat one’s pocketbook is. To others, it’s based on where one is able to get a reservation at peak time on a Friday night. Excite your summer love with these unabashedly romantic restaurants — incredibly sexy date spots, dripping with intimacy, dishes that arouse the senses, good lighting, or otherwise just priced to impress. For more inspiration of the culinary sort (inspiration of the other sort may be too, uh, inspirational for this site), check out Restaurants in the guides and choose the Romantic/Date Spot vibe.

Casa la Femme (West Village) – Former downtown romantic gone uptown returns to camp out in the West Vil. The softest of soft lighting, plush seating, and intricately detailed decor set the mood; signature fig martinis and French Kiss cocktails spell romance; the hip-swiveling belly dancers spell something else, but it’s all sexy. ● The Bourgeois Pig (East Village) – A dark, red room that’s a perfect post-dinner spot when things are going well, or a date spot to pull out all the stops. The fondue makes things romantic for him and her, because let’s face it; dip-able things are sexy as hell.

August (West Village) – Raw bar for those that still hang on to those aphrodisiac superstitions; comfort food for a cozy atmosphere. Sweet nothings will have to be whispered quietly, as this place is tiny. Size in this case is just an excuse to get closer. Hold hands in the romantic garden and cherish the moment — September will be here before you know it. ● Babbo (Greenwich Village) – The only dirty talk you’ll need here is “Baby, this is Mario Batali’s place,” and “I pulled strings to get a res here on short notice.” If this isn’t enough to set the mood, then the fact that you’re sandwiched between a former mayor and Gwyneth Paltrow should do the trick. The food, of course, stands on its own as reason enough to bring your summer lover by. ● One If By Land Two If By Sea (West Village) – Whenever I poll the office on where I should take my date for a romantic evening, the unanimous cry is this place. Aaron Burr’s haunted carriage house is true romance: flowers, firelight, and a piano that plays the lilting soundtrack to your dream date. Get engaged here if you think you might need some persuasion. Fall in love here by accident. ● JoJo (Upper East Side) – For those of you buying Vineyard Vines for him, and pearls for her, here is your classic UES date spot. Slightly stuffy but enduring townhouse romancer. Love, Franco-American style. Conclude with infamous warm spicy Valrhona chocolate cake. Sex to follow. ● Capsouto Freres (Tribeca) – Long-running French romantic will get you laid. But it’s not about that, it’s about romance and the presentation — the candles, tablecloths, quiet corners, and booze make the perfect ambiance to get you feeling romantical. The French know romance, and the exceptional desserts and the extensive wine list add to the way you’re looking at your other half. ● barmarché (Nolita) – Relaxing go-to brunch spot. Because honestly, brunch done right is one of the most romantic things. Subdued, rendezvous lighting. Wear his button up belted as a dress and enjoy the Barmarche Cuban Burger. The New Old American cuisine and the sight of you with bed head makes the Saturday brunch rush worth the wait. ● Relish (Williamsburg) – Cute place for young love — perhaps you might not perceive this classic diner as a place where romance blossoms at first sight, but give the outdoor patio five minutes, and suddenly you have found “your” place. But really, nothing says romance like sangria. In pint glasses. ● Dressler (Williamsburg) – Food to die for, and just enough off the beaten path to call it your own. The mirror/light/candle combo works magic, the food is above par and quite impressive for foodies, and the dark and stormys will take care of the details.

Industry Insiders: The Real McCoy of Larry Lawrence Bar

Over on our Mixology site in the Pros section, we asked the hottest bartenders in New York and Los Angeles to whip up a specialty cocktail while describing their perfect New Year’s Eve. Tatsuya McCoy, the owner, manager, and bartender of Larry Lawrence Bar in Williamsburg and craftsman behind the Sweet Lawrence, tells us about living extravagantly, a year on the wagon, and guys who get straight to the point.

Where do you go out? Dressler. Its American French food. The food is excellent, and the restaurant is beautiful. They also have a really nice bar. I like this bar called Happy Ending in the city. They have a lot of events. Another restaurant I like is right across the street from us, and its called Bozu.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? That would have to be going to a really expensive restaurant that I can’t afford, and having a chef’s tasting and a wine pairing.

What do you do? What do you drink? It’s not just bartending — I would say my job is to set up a very nice environment and vibe for my customers and make sure they’re having a great time. Currently I am not drinking. I decided to take a year off and see how that feels, but what I usually like is vodka on the rocks with a splash of soda. In the winter I like having a beer or a nice bourbon.

How did you get your start? Wow. I’ve been in the restaurant and bar industry for a long time. I’ve been doing this for 14 years. I started by waiting tables and moved on to bars. My happiest bartending memory was at Double Happiness in New York City, when it was very popular in 1998-2002.

What is the worst cocktail you’ve ever had to make? Oh yeah, I had to make one recently. It was Jaegermeister and Red Bull.

What’s the worst pickup line you’ve ever heard while tending bar? Probably the really forward ones that sometimes work. For example, when a girl and a guy have been talking for a while, and then the guy will say, “So, you want to have sex tonight or what?”. I’ve seen it work. What celebrity would you like to share a drink with at your bar? That would be Anthony Bourdain. He’s just a well-rounded person. He probably has great stories, and I just think I’ll get along with him.

What’s your ideal bar-hopping night in New York/LA? It would start during the day with lunch. When I used to drink, I liked to go and taste different beers at various bars. If they have food, that’s good too. Just sort of nibble on things and go place to place, probably around Williamsburg, and end up back at my bar and say hello to everybody.

What are you doing tonight? Tonight I might go to an art opening that my friends are having at their loft. Then I’m probably going to drop by Larry Lawrence. Using three out of five of the following ingredients, make me a dream cocktail: grenadine, pepper, Tequila, avocado, lemongrass. I would use tequila, avocado, and pepper. I would make a cocktail by pouring tequila and fresh lime juice. I would use some grenadine, and then I would shake it straight into a cocktail glass with a slice of avocado and sprinkle pepper on top of it. I would call it the Salsa Fiesta.

New York: Top 5 Date-Night Dinners 2.0

imageA new generation of creative spots covers your foreplay duties …

1. Dressler Williamsburg elegance defined, stepping up from Dumont with brilliant fish dishes and top wines. 2. Little Owl Top Mediterranean fare fueled by Greenmarket’s latest arrivals, West Village looks quaint as all get-out through paned windows. 3. Applewood Sates your Earth Day alter ego with sumptuous organic bites and an atmosphere like a Vermont B ‘n’ B.

4. Dovetail Stealth door, minimal but warm brick and slate brownstone. Seriously sophisticated cooking delivers on all counts. 5. Freeman’s Hunting lodge chic, worth the effort to find, with a meaty menu and perfect lighting.