2014: A Drinker’s Preview

Even though we’re just three days into the new year, we’re very excited for the rest of 2014. We’ve tapped our network of advisory board members as well as other top bartenders and experts to find out what cool bars, books, spirits and more are going to be launching in the next 12 months. Cheers!

NEW WATERING HOLES:

Talented bartender and Liquor.com advisory board member Julie Reiner is working on a new establishment, Bar 54, at the Hyatt Times Square in New York, set to debut in February. It will have 122 seats and will be the highest bar in the city, occupying the hotel’s 54th floor. She created the menu with Tom Macy, the head bartender at her Brooklyn joint Clover Club, and will feature seasonal originals, classics and punches.

Award-winning writer (and another of our advisors) Gary Regan is working on a new establishment in New York with cocktail consultants David Kaplan and Alex Day. It will be aptly named The Gaz Bar, and Regan told us that it will be “a dive bar that serves fabulous cocktails in lower Manhattan, and our focus will be to give off-duty bartenders and bartenders visiting the city a joint where they can feel at home and let it all hang out.”

Noted mixology consultants the Tippling Bros. are pioneers in the field of kegged cocktails, and their latest spot, Mercadito Counter, will take the trend to the extreme. The Chicago joint, set to open in February, will have only drinks on tap, with 20 choices ranging from classic Margaritas and Sangria to more complex concoctions and even tequila shots.

With five tropical-drinks books under his belt, it’s safe to call Jeff “Beachbum” Berry a tiki expert. And now the historian and author is opening his first-ever bar, in New Orleans. He can’t share many details—even the name is still a secret—but Berry says, “oh yes. There will be rum.” If all goes well, it’ll be open in late spring.

The talent behind famed San Francisco bar Bourbon & Branch is opening a new watering hole across the bay in Berkeley. Debuting this spring, the bar (called Tupper & Reed, after the music store that called the building home a century ago) is sure to offer the same top-notch drinks as its older brother.

Another big-name San Francisco establishment will be undergoing an overhaul this year. Fifth Floor is shutting down on January 17 for a complete renovation. It’ll reopen in the spring with a new name and all-new menus from chef David Bazirgan and bar manager Brian Means.

In New York, a legend is coming back to life. The Rainbow Room, from which Liquor.com advisory board member Dale DeGroff helped launch the craft-cocktail revolution, will reopen this fall. The owners are currently undertaking an international search for a chef and bar manager.

AN OPEN DISTILLERY:

Calling all gin fans: For the first time ever, Beefeater Gin is going to be opening its London distillery to the public this spring. Expect tours, exhibits and a cocktail bar.

DRINK IN LA & THE BIG APPLE:

Going to be in Los Angeles at the end of the month? Check out the first ever Golden State of Cocktails conference January 27 to 30, which features a range of educational sessions and parties.

And in the Hudson Valley, on Saturday, February 1, Liquor.com editor-in-chief Noah Rothbaum will lead a discussion about and tasting of spirits made in  New York during Mohonk Mountain House’s annual Locavore Weekend.

GET INTO THE (NEW) SPIRIT:

Scotch lovers will be happy to hear that Diageo is increasing the size of its Mortlach distillery in the heart of Speyside and will begin bottling its single malt on a large scale for the first time. (The distillery’s output used to go almost entirely to whisky blenders.) This summer, look out for four Mortlach bottlings: a Rare Old, a Special Strength, an 18-year-old and a 25-year-old.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, Pernod Ricard is bringing over to the US two highly acclaimed Irish whiskies: Green Spot ($50) and Redbreast 21 Year Old ($250).  We can’t wait to properly welcome these latest immigrants from the Emerald Isle.

New York Distilling Company, co-founded by Liquor.com advisory board member Allen Katz, is releasing a few new products over the next few months, including an aged version of its potent Perry’s Tot Gin and Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye in the spring, and a yet-to-be-named three-year-old straight rye whiskey in the fall.

While we’ve tasted whiskey from all over the world, we were blown away when we tried Kavalan from Taiwan. The Scotch-like single malt, which has won plenty of awards, will go on sale in the US this month.

For the first time ever, Jim Beam is coming out with a single-barrel bourbon in March, which will be 95-proof and cost $35. If you visit the distillery, you can even fill your own bottle. And at the end of the year, retailers will be able to select and purchase their own whole barrels of the whiskey.

RAISE A GLASS:

Star mixologist and Liquor.com advisory board member Tony Abou-Ganim is going to introduce a line of glassware for both home and professional bartenders. It will complement his existing Modern Mixologist line of bar tools.

REQUIRED READING:

We’re looking forward to reading The New York Times drinks writer Robert Simonson’s new book, The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes, which comes out in mid-May.

Keep an eye out for bartender Greg Seider’s Alchemy in a Glass: The Essential Guide to Handcrafted Cocktails, which is scheduled to be released in April. In addition to creating drink menus for numerous bars and restaurants, Seider is also the co-owner of New York’s Summit Bar.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler, cocktail blogger and manager of Clyde Common in Portland, Ore., is also coming out with Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique in May.

MORE BOOZE NEWS:

New Orleans’ Museum of the American Cocktail, which closed for relocation in 2012, will open in its new, larger building in a few months. The space offers room for special exhibits, demos, lectures and tastings, and the organization is also planning to take its mixology seminars on the road to Los Angeles in the coming year.

(Bar 54 rendering courtesy SPAN Architecture)

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