Bar Talk: A Fresh Face

Posted on | September 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Jeremy Hawn, Gotham Bar and Grill, New York City

For nearly 30 years, chef Alfred Portale’s Gotham Bar and Grill has been serving up green-market cuisine in classy Greenwich Village digs. With the arrival of Jeremy Hawn, the bar has taken a forward-thinking turn, adding cocktailian flair to a beverage program better known for wine.

The Beverage Network: How do you inject new life into a classic restaurant via cocktails?

Jeremy Hawn: You don’t want to interfere with what made the restaurant successful, but that’s the easy part. I looked at Gotham’s menu and made cocktails that featured many of the same ingredients used in our food, and also designed cocktails that would pair well with menu items. You’re really just doing everything you can to try to have the cocktail program and the bar reflect the quality of the food, service and atmosphere that have made that restaurant an institution.

TBN: Explain Gotham’s new cocktail program. What’s the mission, and how does it jive with the restaurant’s vision?

JH: Aside from drawing ideas from Chef Portale’s menu, I have tried to move toward more locavore, farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients. For example, one of my summer cocktails, the Hook and Blush, featured Greenhook Gin—which is distilled in Brooklyn—and a strawberry/rhubarb jam grown by Blue Hill at Stone Barns, up in Westchester.

TBN: Do you and Chef Portale work hand in hand on the drinks?

JH: I am lucky to be where I am. Chef leaves the cocktail menu entirely to me, and I’m grateful for that trust. But, I have drawn ingredients and flavors from his dishes and followed the philosophy set forth for the restaurant in general, so the cocktails end up working in tandem with the dishes even if we aren’t collaborating.

TBN: Which drinks have proven the most popular so far?

JH: The Seersucker. We infuse Greenhook Gin with cucumber and mint, then mix it with my own orgeat, lemon and top it with club soda. It’s a crisp, herbal, refreshing drink that helps you get over the heat and humidity of a New York summer.

TBN: And what can we look forward to this autumn?

JH: My fall menu will feature many flavors that people associate with the season: plum, allspice, beets and cranberries. I believe in having cocktails that are seasonally appropriate. People’s palates change with the seasons. They’ll be eating a bit heavier and heartier in the fall than in summer and the cocktails will reflect and support that.

TBN: Many of Gotham’s guests are regulars, who are eager to order their favorite glass of wine or a familiar martini. How do you educate them about the new offerings?

JH: I’m not trying to tell people what or how to drink. What I focus on are the people who are interested in either trying something new, or in trusting us as bar professionals to be able to make them something that will appeal to their specific tastes. The key, really, is having cocktails that will resonate with different people, using a range of spirits and flavors to get them interested. To give a food analogy: If someone knows they like pasta and doesn’t tend to be adventurous, you don’t tell them they’re wrong and then take them out for sushi. But if someone says they’re feeling adventurous, then you might feel free to take them to that great Sri Lankan hole in the wall down the street.

TBN: What is the biggest challenge of working at a bar set in a restaurant?

JH: In restaurants, the bar itself is often built for the aesthetic pleasure of the guests first and the efficiency of the bartender second. In a bar, the space is designed from the perspective of the bartender and their ability to make drinks quickly and efficiently—then with the thought of how it looks from across the room. I am lucky, however, to work at a bar that has plenty of space for anything we could possibly need and a management team that is committed to doing everything they can to make the bar as efficient and well-equipped as possible. 

Memo From American Sommelier: Gearing Up For The Busy Season

Posted on | September 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Get organized & efficient to stay ahead.

Andrew Bell, co-founder and president of American Sommelier.

Buckle your seatbelts—we’re heading into the Busy Season! The fourth quarter can be overwhelming. On top of the usual everyday duties of the sommelier, there is the extra work of planning for holiday parties and monitoring inventory that—with the high volume of seasonal traffic—disappears before your eyes.

Time management now is more important than ever. If you have an assistant or a team of sommeliers at your disposal, delegate pre-shift responsibilities; teach your staff to help you with routine duties like:

1. Checking the previous days sales and confirming that everything on the wine list is in stock
2. Refilling dining room pars
3. Comparing sales to restocking pulls
4. Updating the wine list to remove items no longer in stock

If you are open for lunch, of course you’ll also need to clean carafes and polish glassware, champagne buckets and stands… all before 10:00am!

You will need to be extra vigilant with inventory during this busy season, to avoid running out of wine. Be sure to adapt to increasing depletion rates and adjust your standing inventory accordingly. Use sales and purchasing data from the fourth quarter of previous years to help gauge what to expect.

If you are running a large program with designated banquet wines and you know to expect many large-scale, seasonal parties, check with your suppliers weeks ahead of schedule to make sure their stock is sufficient for your needs. Consider having back-up selections ready to discuss with your clients before an error happens or shortages occur.

If you are working within an operation that has multiple layers coordinating on private events (i.e., Private Dining Room Sales, PDR Service, Purchasing), communication is key. If communication breaks down between these moving parts, the beverage department is usually the one left dealing with an emergency, caught short of needed inventory. Be in contact with the sales team daily.

Plan Your Day

Daily service prep, plus a heavy load of seasonal responsibilities, plus tasting appointments and mise en place—the work can really add up.

Plan your day: allot specific amounts of time per task and stick to those parameters. Set specific times for tasting with your reps and make sure they know that you taste by appointment only (drop-ins can seriously derail your day). It helps to have a fixed routine that each day is structured. Give yourself adequate time to accomplish each task and add time for unknowns such as delays in setting up, delays in deliveries or tasks taking longer than expected.

Prepare yourself adequately for the coming busy season and you might actually have time to enjoy the fun part of your job—making customers happy with great wine and great service.


Andrew Bell is a co-founder and president of American Sommelier. Through the Sales, Service and Buying Seminar Series, American Sommelier provides professionals with the tools needed to build and maintain a successful wine program in any restaurant environment. Member benefits include events, career guidance, discounts and a the American Sommelier newsletter. For more details and a calendar of classes, visit or call 212-226-6805.

Bulldog Gin Hosts Fashion Week Kick-Off Party

Posted on | September 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On September 6th, Bulldog Gin invited fashion savvy guests to have a Bloody Good Night at No. 8 in New York to celebrate New York Fashion Week. Bites were provided by The Churchill and gift bags were on hand from Ted Baker. People enjoyed beats from DJ Valissa Yoe and Bulldog cocktails all night.

Moët & Chandon is Official Champagne of the U.S. Open

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Before the start of the U.S. Open, Moët & Chandon celebrated its 270th anniversary in New York City with a party hosted by Moët & Chandon President & CEO Stéphane Baschiera and global brand ambassador Roger Federer. During the U.S. Open, the Moët & Chandon Suite was the place to be to watch courtside action and celeb watch—Joe Jonas, Alexander Skarsgard, Jessica Alba, Leonardo DiCaprio were just a few of the celebs who enjoyed sipping the official Champagne of the U.S. Open, Moët Impérial Champagne, out of golden goblets.

Harvest East End at McCall Vineyards Is a Success

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On August 24th, the fourth annual Harvest East End presented by Wine Enthusiast took place at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue on Long Island. More than 3,100 guests enjoyed offerings from 43 wineries and 32 restaurants. Governor Andrew Cuomo was on hand to present McCall founder Russell McCall with the Winery of the Year award, announced at the New York Wine & Food Classic. The event raised nearly $50,000 for several charities.

Made For Peroni Young Designer Awards Fashion Week Competition

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At the second annual Made for Peroni Young Designer Awards, design hopefuls in menswear, womenswear and streetwear from New York, Los Angeles and Miami vied for financing and production of their collection to be shown at Fashion Week 2014. Winner Chris Gelinas of New York will receive a presentation at Milk Studios in February 2014 and $40,000 toward production and creative for the show.

Oak Participates in Warsteiner Black Forest Mills Oktoberfest

Posted on | September 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Oak Beverages joined in the festivities at the Warsteiner Black Forest Mills Oktoberfest, held at the Black Forest Mills Restaurant in Highland Mills, NY. Approximately 200 Warsteiner, Konig, Ludwig and Yuengling fans were on hand to enjoy brews and traditional German foods, music and a steinholding contest.

8th Bi-Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party Features St.-Germain Cocktails

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The 8th Bi-Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party took place August 17th-18th on Governor’s Island. More than 9,000 flappers and dapper gents enjoyed a weekend transporting them back to the roaring ’20s. Mixologist Lynette Marrero created signature cocktails including the Sangria Flora and the St-Germain cocktail, with St-Germain, of course. Guests also enjoyed a curated “Taste of the 1920s” menu by chef Jimmy Carbone.

Santa Teresa Holds First “Sip A Nightcap” Cocktail Competition

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Hanna Lee Communications hosted the first-ever “Sip a Nightcap” Cocktail Competition with Santa Teresa “1796” Solera Aged Venezuelan Rum. Shake-Stir handled recipe submissions. Jessica Gonzales of The Nomad took the Grand Prize, which includes an all-expenses paid educational trip to the Hacienda Santa Teresa in El Consejo. Second and third place winners respectively were Will Peet of The Nomad and Gin Palace and Nick Nistico of American Cut.

R&R Marketing and Wagner Family of Wine Join Forces

Posted on | September 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On August 28th, the Wagner Family of Wine held a launch meeting with R&R Marketing to formally kickoff their new partnership in New Jersey. Effective September 1st, R&R Marketing was appointed full line distributor of the Wagner Family of Wine portfolio, which includes award-winning brands such as Caymus, Belle Glos, Meoimi, Conundrum and Mer Soleil. Chuck Wagner, owner and founder of Wagner Family of Wines, addressed the R&R Marketing sales team at The Stonehouse in Warren.

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