George Clooney’s New Tequila Is Actually Quite Delicious

Celebrities. They’re so good at, well, being celebrities, with the acting and the smiling and the making people like them, but when they step out of that realm, the results can be mixed. Celebrity-owned restaurants have flopped, celebrity-designed clothing lines have been mocked, celebrity-driven charities have been exposed as farces. And yet they keep at it, because you’ve got to do something with your spare time. And so actor and humanitarian George Clooney has come out with a tequila which people will no doubt buy just because of his involvement, regardless of its quality. It’s called Casamigos, and I tasted it last night while watching celebrities celebrating themselves at the Oscars. But here’s the thing about George Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila: It’s excellent.

I’m not surprised, because he partnered with the right people to make it. Casamigos is a group effort, with Clooney hooking up with his longtime pal Rande Gerber, who owns the Gerber Group of bars (Whiskey Blue, Stone Rose, Lilium, etc.) as well as Mike Meldman, founder and CEO of Discovery Land Company. Gerber’s a serious authority on nightlife because his company has been successful at creating sleek and stylish bars, often found in W Hotels, that remain popular for the long term, while other nightlife operators are happy to make a quick hit before packing up and moving on. He’s also Clooney’s neighbor: they own vacation homes adjacent to one another in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

The story goes that the two longtime pals loved tequila so much that they decided to make it for themselves, with their initial batches intended to share among family and friends. But the feedback was so positive that they expanded it into a proper enterprise, and now bars and restaurants across the country are beginning to stock Casamigos. Casamigos, which is made from 100% Blue Weber agave, comes in two expressions: blanco, which is the clear stuff, and reposado, which is "rested" in oak barrels for seven months before bottling.

I poured myself a small glass of the reposado as Seth MacFarlane started his monologue and gave it a swirl. It’s a gorgeous, light amber color, and it smells divine, with aromas of sandalwood and vanilla. On the palate it’s pure pleasure: smooth, smokey, and mildly sweet, featuring the vegetal note of the agave without the bitter ick factor found in cheap tequilas. I tasted faint whispers of artichoke and honey, as if the savory and the sweet were doing a sexy dance together. I gave my wife a taste. Her observation was that it tasted like George Clooney, by which I hope she meant it tasted smooth, sophisticated, complex, and fun. 

It’s not Gerber’s first foray into the spirit world. He partnered with Roberto Serralles to launch Caliche rum last year, which is also quite tasty. With Casamigos, he’s building a spirit empire to supply his nightlife empire. Sounds like synergy to me.

Casamigos Blanco has a suggested retail price of $48 a bottle, while Casamigos Reposado goes for an even $50. I’ve tasted tequilas that cost three times that, but they’re nowhere near three times as delicious. Nice job, guys. Maybe we can hang out and drink tequila some time. Those vacation houses in Mexico must have some guest rooms, right?

[Photo: Andrew Macpherson]

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Industry Insiders: Rande Gerber and Roberto Serralles, Spirited Entrepreneurs

Having mastered the art of owning and operating stylish bars and lounges, nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber (right) decided to enter the next closest line of business: producing and marketing his own spirit. "I love rum, but I wanted to do something different," Gerber says. "I decided that if I wanted to do well, I needed to team up with the best." The best, in this case, is represented by Roberto Serralles (left), a master of distilling, blending, and aging whose family has been producing rum in Puerto Rico for nearly 150 years. The result of their collaboration is Caliche, an aged white rum with citrus, caramel, and vanilla notes that’s smooth enough to enjoy on the rocks, while versatile enough to mix into daiquiris and other cocktails. "The idea is to make a really light distillate and then let the barrel do its magic," Serralles explains.

Caliche rum is available in the Gerber Group’s many venues, including Lilium in New York, Stone Rose Lounge in Los Angeles, and Whiskey Sky in Chicago. 

Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey Launches Halfway Day, A Day Dedicated To Drinking Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

“Why can’t there be a holiday that commemorates the fact that St. Patrick’s Day is just six months away,” said nobody ever. Nonetheless, Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey decided that it would be neat to invent a holiday called Halfway Day that celebrates precisely that, and they’re launching it this Monday, September 17, 2012. Gentleman, grab your tumblers.

I joke about it, and fortunately, they do too. In fact, Kilbeggan commissioned a moderately funny Funny or Die video that depicts a bewildered man driven nearly to madness in an attempt to find out what exactly Halfway Day is. (It seems like there should be enough contextual clues to fill him in, but he’s a bit thick, in a male TV sitcom character way.) In any case, the people at Kilbeggan have as much right to make up a holiday as anybody else, since most holidays were created out of whole cloth at some point in history anyway. I mean, Arbor Day, really? And let’s not even get into the real St. Patrick’s Day.
 
And at least Halfway Day is a fun holiday, where you do fun things like going to bars and drinking whiskey. It’s not a day dedicated to doing your laundry or helping the poor or something. And the whiskey works. I sampled some last night, launching my Halfway Day celebration four days early. Established in Ireland in 1757, Kilbeggan is supposedly the world’s oldest distillery, but even if it’s not, they do turn out a nice beverage. According to my tasting notes, it has a fresh aroma of wood and spice, and a smooth, light vanilla flavor. It’s easy to drink neat, and, at about $24 a bottle, is a good choice for whiskey cocktails like a Black and Red, which is basically a Manhattan (whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters) made with Irish whiskey instead of rye or bourbon. I’ll paste two more Kilbeggan cocktail recipes below. 
 
Since Kilbeggan is owned by Beam Inc., which is a very large spirits company, there’s a major push behind Kilbeggan in general and Halfway Day in particular. Look out for Halfway Day parties in Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia on Monday. You can find out where exactly by visiting Kilbeggan’s Facebook page. And if you’re not near one of those bars, your local lounge or publick house probably has it. (I’ve sipped Kilbeggan at Lilium at the W New York – Union Square, an upscale rock ‘n’ roll bar where your drink might be poured by the lovely Michelle Romano. My drinking partner, Jon Glaser, made some funny comments about Kilbeggan.) So go forth and celebrate the fact that St. Paddy’s day–and remember, it’s Paddy’s, not Patty’s—is just six months away. See you at the rail. 
 
Kilbeggan Irish Breakfast Shot
– 1/2 part Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
– 1/2 part DeKuyper Buttershots Liqueur
– 1 part Orange Juice
– 1 slice of Bacon
To Serve: Enjoy the Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey and DeKuyper Buttershots Liqueur followed immediately by the orange juice. Finish with a slice of bacon.
 
Kilbeggan Dubliner
– 3 parts Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
– 2 parts Sweet Vermouth
– 1 1/2 parts Cherry Syrup
– 1 1/2 parts Cranberry Juice
– Dash Simple Syrup (optional)
To Serve: Combine all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake for 60 seconds. Strain neat into a martini glass. Garnish with a black cherry.

Industry Insiders: Raphael Chejade-Bloom, Mr. Hospitality

As managing partner and director of marketing and entertainment at Gerber Group, Raphael Chejade-Bloom is in charge of the guest experience for the company’s many sleek nightspots, including the new Lilium at the W New York – Union Square. We asked him to divulge a few secrets to staying on the top of the nightlife game, and he didn’t disappoint. 

 
Where are you from?
I was born in San Diego, went to high school in Princeton, New Jersey, and college at American University in Washington, D.C.
 
Do you consider yourself an East Coast or a West Coast guy? Your temperament is kind of laid-back, but you do have that New York energy.  
That’s what I like to be. I have a funny, laid-back West Coast disposition, but I had some formative years on the East Coast. I can’t exactly say that Princeton was much for cutting my teeth, but it was better than hanging out on the beach all day.
 
How long have you been with the Gerber Group?
It’s been three years this month.
 
What is your job title and your main responsibilities?
I am the managing partner and director of marketing and entertainment. Day to day, I oversee everything consumer-related for the company throughout all of our properties. I work a lot with strategic partnerships and I’m booking all the entertainment. I like to say that if Gerber Group is a bar, I’m doing the front of the house.
 
When you book entertainment are you talking about DJs or live acts?
Both. We’ve had a lot of success in the last couple years doing live music. We try to work with artists before they get huge. One example would be Jessie J. We had her perform live for the first time in the United States before her album dropped. I think she did SNL a month later, so that was exciting for us. We’ve been doing a lot of events with artists who come in and do a show and then they will do a DJ set and then throw an after-party at one of our venues. We’ve had Foster the People. We’ve had Iron & Wine, and by the time this runs we will have had Young the Giant.
 
Do you work with all the venues—every Gerber venue in New York and beyond?
I oversee the entire portfolio. I do have a very dear friend by the name of Rob Goldstein and he is the southeast marketing director and I oversee his work, but he is pretty much running point in Atlanta, where he lives, Fort Lauderdale, and New Orleans.
 
The Gerber Group strikes a nice balance in New York nightlife. All of its bars are upscale and special-feeling, but there’s never a sense of snobbery at the door. They’re pretty welcoming.
Thank you. We are definitely not in the business of exclusivity. We are in the business of longevity. Consistency is key for us. It’s the benchmark of our brand. We are a classic brand, and we’ve been around for twenty years. We celebrated our twentieth anniversary last year and I think the welcoming attitude comes from the top. I’ve been taught that this is a business of hospitality first and foremost, and that’s what’s going to perpetuate the brand for another twenty years. 
 
This might be a sensitive question, but which is your favorite Gerber bar?
I am a little biased because I started as a manager at Whiskey Park, so I really like that one. It’s kind of the Cheers of the portfolio. Lilium is quickly becoming a favorite as well, because everyone loves the redo of the former Underbar. But Whiskey Park is where we all go if there’s a Giants game on or if we are going to hang out and just relax.
 
The music at Lilium is really great. The tracks they pick really hit the right notes. It’s such a comfortable place to hang out at, yet still quite chic.
Funny story. Before Lilium opened, I sent out an email to all of the top DJs throughout the company, and I said that we were opening this new bar and I want everyone to get together at Whiskey Park so we can do a musical test run. I want you to give your interpretation of a one-hour set for a Sunday night at Lilium. We tried to keep it under wraps, but I got a call from our corporate office saying that someone just called asking if they could enter our DJ battle that we were having at Whiskey Park for Lilium. And I’m like, what’s going on here? And I guess somehow it had leaked to a New York nightlife blog, which posted “DJ Battle at Whiskey Park for New Lilium DJ,” so that was pretty funny. The point is that we went above and beyond to make sure that the sound was right. And that’s for our core hours. We have extended our music offering on Friday and Saturday nights after 11 pm because people want to hear different things. But when you are going in there for our core customer hours – after work on a Tuesday or Wednesday, for example – you are going to hear the Lilium soundtrack, which I appreciate that you liked.
 
Any particularly memorable moments in the line of work?
I think having Foster the People at The Living Room at the W Times Square was pretty exciting. We had decided to pump a little more energy into the bar, and that opportunity came about with perfect timing. We had a line down the block. Foster was really hitting their stride at the time. It was right after BlackBook did its bit with us and Foster the People and they were right at the point of breaking out. It was really exciting. And then, on our twentieth anniversary, we had Fitz and the Tantrums perform live at Stone Rose Lounge, so that was pretty great. More recently, during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, we did the after-party for Betsey Johnson. Stone Rose Lounge was the official lounge for Fashion Week, and that was a formidable party. It was probably the most packed that I have ever seen Stone Rose.
 
Do you enjoy what you do? Are you having fun?  
Absolutely. I love the camaraderie of this business. That is really the most exciting thing. And, you know, I look at myself really as an industry apprentice. I’ve got great people that I work with. Scott is an amazing mentor. I feel very, very lucky. 
 
What are the most challenging parts of your job? What takes the most leg work to accomplish?
Keeping up with the programming can be a challenge. Everyone in the nightlife business is fighting with each other to get the hottest new act, the best new DJ, the new acoustic set, or the most exciting impromptu performance. The challenge for someone like me in the marketing space is maintaining the right energy and keeping consistent with the core values of our business.
 
A lot of people would like to do what you do. What advice would you give to a younger person that wants to get into the space that you’re in? What do you need to know to succeed?
Much of it is maintaining a sense of hospitality. You have to be wired for this business. Yes, at times you’re attached to your phone, but more often than not, you have to be receptive to personally interacting with people. If you’re a nice person and you enjoy taking care of people, you can go far.
 
What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies or leisure activities that help you unwind?
I love working out and running, and I definitely like to spend my time exploring and traveling. I am a huge travel junkie. Last year I went to so many music festivals and special events, everywhere from Art Basel to Night Club and Bar in Vegas to Coachella, South by Southwest, Ultra, Lollapalooza. This year I will be going back to Coachella and back to South by Southwest. Anywhere I can go I’ll go. It’s important to get out of the city sometimes. 

Two Cinco de Mayo Cocktails from Gerber Group Bartender Michelle Romano

It’s Cinco de Mayo, the day Mexicans and Americans celebrate the victory of the Mexican Army over the French in the Battle of Puebla (May 5, 1862) with tequila shots and loutish behavior. Tequila shots are great, and loutish behavior is okay in certain circumstances, but I think we can do better. Fortunately, so does Gerber Group bartender and manager Michelle Romano (above), who was kind enough to invent two amazing cocktails for us that are worthy of the holiday. 

I dropped by Whiskey Blue Thursday afternoon for a tasting, and I’m glad I did, because it expanded my cocktail repertoire quite a bit. The idea was to just have one drinko for Cinco, but when Michelle told me it involved a jalapeno-infused tequila, I got scared. I like spicy food just fine, but spicy drinks – jalapeno tequila, black pepper vodka, etc. – don’t do it for me. I like the heat in my mouth, but not down my throat. So she took pity on the widdle baby and came up with a milder option as well. It’s called the Watermelon Cilantro Margarita, and it’s a good place to begin.  

Watermelon Cilantro Margarita

2 oz Excellia tequila
12 cilantro leaves
3/4 oz agave syrup
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
4 large chunks of fresh watermelon
 
In a cocktail shaker, muddle watermelon and cilantro with agave syrup. Add ice, lime juice and tequila. Shake vigorously and pour directly into highball glass.
 
This is a lovely and refreshing cocktail with a great smoothie-like texture. The cilantro and lime play nicely against the watermelon and you’re forced to drink it slowly because leaves keep getting stuck in the straw. Forced moderation is better than no moderation at all. A great drink. 
 
The second cocktail she made was the one I was afraid of, but I figured I’d give it a try, because Michelle knows what she’s doing behind the bar (more on that later). 
 
Jalapeno Cooler
2 oz Tanteo Jalapeno Tequila
12 cilantro leaves
1/2 oz agave syrup
4 large chunks of watermelon
 
In a building glass muddle watermelon and cilantro with agave syrup. Add ice and tequila. Shake vigorously and pour directly into a rocks glass.
 
With some trepidation, I took a sip. And then another. And another. Where was the heat? Ah, there it is, on the lips, on the tongue, and a bit in the cheeks. But nothing in the throat, nothing in the belly. It’s a spice that knows when to quit. Like I said, I’m fine with spicy food, but I’ve got nothing to prove. Give me a little bit of a kick, enough to wake me up a bit, but don’t start an inferno inside me. Michelle balanced the jalapeno perfectly agains the other ingredients. It’s still not something I’d go out of my way to order, but for those who like their cold drinks hot, it’s as good as they get. 
 
And as for Michelle, she’s one of the coolest bartenders in New York. I know this because she hosted us at Lilium when I sampled upscale St. Patrick’s Day cocktails with actor Jon Glaser. Not only were the cocktails amazing, but we all had a great time sitting around and shooting the breeze. To find out more about Michelle, let’s ask her.
 
Where were you born, where did you grow up, and what kinds of things were you into as a kid?
I’m originally from Mt. Shasta California, which is the very top of Cali near the Oregon border. I spent 25 years in Cali before I transplanted myself to the East Coast. I grew up climbing trees, catching lizards, and playing in the mud. I was a total tomboy and complete ham, loved to be the center of attention and had a wild imagination, but I guess that’s no different from me now. 
 
How did you get into bartending? What about it appealed to you, and when did you realize you had a knack for it?
I actually lied my way into my first bartending job. One day I just woke up and said "I want to be a bartender," so I Googled some drinks and shots, made myself flash cards with the recipes, and went to my favorite restaurant/club in town and asked them for a job. I told them I had bartended at another local bar in town (where the owner was willing to fake a reference for me). They hired me as a happy hour bartender and quickly realized that even though I knew what was in the drinks, I had no clue how to make them. But  what I lacked in knowhow I made up for in personality, and I had a great bar manager who was willing to show me the ropes. Shout out to Jeff Lennon! 
 
What exactly are you doing now? What is your title and basic responsibilities?
I currently work for two Gerber Group properties. At Lilium in the W Union Square, I’m the head bartender, team leader for all the staff and back up managerial support for the GM.  At Whiskey Blue I’m a full time manager where I do a lot of everything. Back of the house stuff like invoicing and payroll, as well as managing the floor and interacting with customers to enhance the guest experience.
 
What’s an average day like for you, if there is such a thing as an average day?
Lately every day has been something different. I just recently transferred to Whiskey Blue so I’m still getting my footing and the craziest things seem to happen when I’m running a shift. I’m constantly on call for both properties between staff, corporate, or other managers. My phone and email never stop, but I like it. I work well under pressure.
 
Any crazy stories you can share? Celebs-gone-wild, that kind of thing?
Honestly I have no celebrity dirt, but I wish I did! Gerber has such a good reputation among the celebrity circle so we have a regular flow of celebrities in our New York properties and everyone I’ve met has been really cool. I think the best moment for me was when I had first moved to NYC and met Chris Noth. I was of course a huge Sex and the City fan and my friend Sally always calls me her Carrie Bradshaw. Now I’m not one to get star struck, after living in LA you get pretty used to seeing famous people wandering around. But I’ll be honest when Chris sat at my bar for the first time it felt like the perfect New York moment. It took every ounce of my composure not to run up and hug him and call him Mr. Big!!
 
What spirits and mixers do you enjoy working with?
My favorite part of New York has always been the use of so many fresh ingredients and infusions. I’m really into gin these days. It’s become an obsession of mine to get non gin drinkers to enjoy a gin cocktail I craft. I Haven’t had someone dislike something I’ve made as of yet, knock on wood. I don’t want to give away my secrets but herbal gin infusions are where my head is right now.
 
What trends are you seeing in mixology these days? What is the Gerber Group of bars mixing up?
I’ve noticed that many bars are doing a play on flavors, mixing the sweet with the salty or savory. Like doing a sweet martini with a white pepper rim. Gerber Group has a new spirit favorite called Caliche Rum, which is new to the market. We actually just added two amazing Caliche cocktails to our cocktail lists company-wide. What I really like about it is that its a silver rum but it has some 30 year old rum mixed into each batch, giving it a lot more character than most silver rums you taste. 
 
What do you drink when you’re kicking back? What’s your favorite cocktail, wine, beer, etc.?
Well I love any beer I can put fruit in, and I even put fruit in some beers you wouldn’t think need it. like Stella with lime. I’m weird. If I’m drinking a martini its gin-based. I typically scope out the fresh ingredients the bar has and have them make me something I invent on the spot. Which I’m sure the bartenders just love! But if all else fails I’ll always go back to Hendrick’s with a splash of St. Germaine and a splash of grapefruit. Can’t go wrong there.
 
Any advice for aspiring bartenders out there? How do you make it to a high-end bar like a Gerber bar?
At the end of the day anyone can make a Jack and Coke. You have to have a personality if you want to get anywhere in the business. Too often I see bartenders who don’t smile, who look like they hate their jobs or hate people in general, and I think to myself "why are you even doing this? The money? Your tips can’t be very good with that attitude." Gerber hires personalities, not just bartenders. The reason I’ve gotten so far in this company in such a short period of time is because I’m a genuine, likeable person who enjoys what I do and works damn hard at it. 
 
Finally, what do you like to do when you’re not working? Any hobbies or leisure activities that keep you balanced? Photography, travel, etc?
I’m a jet setter. Last year I visited Spain twice and also Italy. This year I went to Costa Rica and am deciding where to head next. Every time I come back from a trip I feel renewed and reinvigorated towards life. I picked up photography a year ago and have fallen completely in love with it, and I’m actually quite good if I do say so myself. Those two things keep me balanced. Knowing that the world can look completely different through a camera lens drives me to see things other than how they appear on the surface and helps me to stay open to all the possibilities around me. 
 
[Photo: Eric Fischer]

Jon Glaser Raises a Few Glasses to Toast St. Patrick’s Day

Perhaps regular old acting was just too easy for Jon Glaser. How else to explain his choice to perform in his sitcom entirely while wearing a black balaclava and using a vocal pitch shifter to disguise his voice? Yet, despite these Harrison Bergeron–style impediments—or perhaps because of them—his performance as a flawed family man who doesn’t let being in witness protection keep him from starring in a reality show is truly inspired.

Delocated, which recently began its third season on Adult Swim, follows “Jon” as he tries to make a life in New York while avoiding getting rubbed out by the Russian mafia for testifying against them. In the process, his wife walks out on him, leaving him foundering in a world of awkward moments with his bodyguard, the sudden death of Paul Rudd, and a small business called the Rage Cage. It’s weird late-night TV at its finest, and Glaser, a comedy world veteran who was on the writing staff of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, seems perfectly suited to the role, which draws inspiration from countless sources.

"There are a lot of elements of my dad in that character,” Glaser says as he settles into a booth at Lilium, a sleek new bar beneath New York’s W Union Square hotel adorned with sculptural black steel lilies and a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. “He came to visit the set last spring while I was in character, and I could see the resemblance.” We’re here to sample a series of cocktails that embrace the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day while elevating it beyond green beer and Irish car bombs, hoping to add a touch of class to a holiday often associated with debauchery and loutish behavior. Our bartender this evening is Michelle Romano, a fetching, raven-haired lass with a mastery of flavor, balance, and presentation and the admirable ability to suffer fools gladly. Throughout the course of the night, we sample seven sublime cocktails that capture the essence of the holiday while encouraging us to stay on our best behavior—sort of.

 

Grassy Kroll

Muddle 3 pieces of fresh ginger and 5 stalks of lemongrass in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 2 oz Żubrówka bison grass vodka, .5 oz simple syrup, and .5 oz fresh lemon juice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a stalk of lemongrass.

"It’s very good; clean and not too tart, like a mojito but lighter. I’m going to have to make an effort to not drink it all. It’s a bookend drink—it could work at the beginning or the end of the night. A strong start.”

Jameson & Ginger All Grown Up

Muddle 5 pieces of fresh ginger in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 1.5 oz Jameson Gold Irish Whiskey. Shake and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with skewered ginger.

"It’s smooth. The ginger really complements the whiskey. It seems impressive, the kind of drink some young Wall Street dude who flirts with the bartender would order. ‘Gimme a Jameson Gold and ginger beer, babe!’”

Red Breasted Lady

Combine 2 oz Redbreast 12 Year Old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, .5 oz pure maple syrup, and .75 oz fresh lemon juice in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.

"I’m surprised I like it as much as I do, but the maple syrup and lemon blend really well. It’s a good combination of flavors and very easy to drink. This seems like it should be the official drink of the band Hot Hot Heat.”

The Whiskey

Combine 2 oz Bushmills Irish Whiskey, .5 oz antica liqueur, .5 oz Cherry Heering, and 2 dashes bitters in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into an absinthe-washed rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Rub the rim and garnish with a freshly peeled orange twist.

“This is delicious. I love the deep red color. It’s so well mixed—this Michelle is a great bartender. It reminds me of the kind of drink my grandfather on my mom’s side, Sol Stein, would drink. He drove an orange Stingray convertible. This drink says ‘This is who I am!’ In the future, cocktails are going to have little legs, and if you don’t like them they’ll walk back to the bar and kill themselves.”

Blond Manhattan

Combine 1.75 oz Original Moonshine Clear Corn Whiskey, .5 oz Cointreau, .75 oz antica liqueur, and 3 dashes orange bitters in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Rub the rim and garnish with a freshly peeled lemon twist.

“This is tasty, and it’s also the strongest drink we’ve had. With every sip it becomes more delicious. Michelle clearly rubbed the rim on this one. I’d imagine some character named Cool Joe, who wears a brown turtleneck and a mustard yellow cardigan, would drink this drink. He doesn’t even like it that much, he just thinks it’s going to make him look good.”

Irish Iced Coffee Martini

Combine 2 oz Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey, 1 oz fresh-brewed espresso, and 1 oz simple syrup in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with 3 coffee beans.

“This is a nightcap to get you to your daycap. The coffee taste is just too strong for me right now. It reminds me of the time I forced myself to drink Stroh’s in an attic. Some post-frat/sorority couple drinks this in Aspen on a ski trip after they had anal sex for the first time and they’re trying to work out their relationship. This might have messed things up for them.”

Kilbeggan 18 Year Old Irish Whiskey

Serve neat in whiskey tumbler.

“It’s smooth, soft, and fluffy, like drinking a glass of kittens. There’s a good balance between the throat burn and the satisfaction. With every sip it feels like you’re conquering fear, and then you look forward and see the blue sky. I imagine that this whiskey is made in some distillery built into the cliffs of Kilbeggan, where there’s an 89–degree drop, and the only way you can get there is by rappelling—or you can take these egg elevators like they have in the St. Louis arch.”

[Related Story: A Collection of Sublime Irish Whiskeys For Your St. Patrick’s Weekend Enjoyment]

New York Preview: Lilium

I’m excited about the impending opening of Lilium at the W New York – Union Square, and not just because it’s a stone’s throw from BlackBook’s editorial offices. No, it’s because Lilium is the 25th venue to emerge from the Gerber Group, and I’ve never had anything less than a grand time at their other bars, which include, but are not limited to, Stone Rose Lounge (where Patton Oswalt and I sampled gin-based cocktails) and Whiskey Park (where Vinny Guadagnino and I recently tasted winter warmers).

Lilium has a lot going for it. Its location makes it convenient as both an early-evening spot for pre-dinner drinks and a proper late-night destination to add to your downtown bar-hopping repertoire. It was designed by Gulla Jonsdottir, with all kinds of eye-catching flourishes, and will feature nightly DJs spinning good old rock ‘n’ roll. As for the libations, bartenders will ply patrons with classic cocktails and hearty pours of small batch whiskeys. And if it’s true to the DNA of both the Gerber Group and the W, it will achieve that perfect balance of uptown class and downtown cool we’ve come to expect.

Lilium opens on December 12.