Blog: The Dizzy Fizz' Holiday Spirits Bazaar
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All was merry and bright Thursday evening inside the Bowery Hotel’s ballroom for the 6th Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar hosted by The Dizzy Fizz. Though the weather was not yet cold enough to turn the rain outside into snow, the ballroom’s decor transported us right into winter with wreaths, lights and tables appropriately decked with actual boughs of holly.
Despite the jovial atmosphere, not all was fun and games. There was a serious competition going on: a Punch-Off. Nestled among pine cones and ornaments were giant bowls of blended booze, showing off each bartender’s holiday-inspired creativity. Each cocktail had an assigned number that guests and a judging panel could text to place a vote, and the bartenders meant business. Eventually taking home the prize was Don Q’s ‘Holiday Punch,’ made with their anejo rum, Barrow’s intense ginger and lemon and orange juices. Lightly sweet and zippy, the cocktail was festively garnished with cranberries. It represented the simpler side of the punches with only four ingredients, easily replicable at home.
Similarly citrusy and lightly herbaceous was Maxwell’s ‘Return Punch,’ made with Brooklyn Gin and green chartreuse. They were kept busy the first part of the evening, conveniently located between the entrance and a table of very busy oyster shuckers. Along with the other VIPs, we were treated to an extra hour of libations and an oyster bar piled high with Bluepoints. Figuring that the best thing to pair with this was something sparkly, we sought out ‘The Grand Life Punch,’ an elevated strawberry lemonade punch made with Kappa Pisco, Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach and Moet Chandon.
Another bonus of the early entry was tasting some savory brisket courtesy of Mable’s Smokehouse, served with their tangy sweet BBQ sauce that deliciously cut the smoky meat. At the bar nearest the food was an equally smoky offering from Montelobos Mezcal, whose pepper notes were complimented by Ancho Reyes Chile Licor and balanced with sweetened hibiscus tea and lime juice. They also served up their mezcal straight with an orange slice chaser dipped in either sal de aguacate or sal de jamaica, a much more mature and delicious version of the typical lime and salt. Later in the evening the Brooklyn barbecuers served the packed house with pulled pork sliders and all the trimmings: baked beans, pickles, potato salad and cole slaw. The fare went nicely with the ‘Trading Post Punch,’ a Bulleit Bourbon based cup with lemon and vanilla bean sugar with a nutty finish from the addition of Lustau Amontillado, sweet but not overwhelmingly so. Also showing the happy pairing of sherry and whisky was the ‘Evening Edition Punch’ with Black Bottle Scotch Whisky which also featured Owl’s Brew Salted Caramel and Cornelius Applejack. The successful pairing of the caramel and almond forward sherries with whisky seems like a no brainer and is a cocktail move we will certainly be borrowing.
While most of the punches could satisfy your sweet tooth, we were still very excited to see Cesar Christian Ramirez of Inka Chocolatier. Sourcing his chocolate from Peru, the former pastry chef turned chocolate-maker had us taste an all-dark chocolate truffle and a labor-intensive toasted white chocolate truffle, which we deemed totally worth the hours of baking and stirring it required to make. Steps away, we found a chocolate influenced punch from Usquaebach Reserve Whisky called ‘Christmas in Calcutta.’ Along with almond Orgeat and meyer lemon juice, the whisky was complimented with chilled cocoa nib and clove infused darjeeling tea and finished with a dash of chocolate bitters and grated nutmeg. Chocolate also inspired – and topped – the ‘Maestros Rondos Holiday Punch’ by James Menite of the Plaza’s Palm Court bar. With dried cranberry infused solbeso (a spirit made from cacao), pineapple sage syrup, rooibos red tea and root beer, this Brugal Anejo Rum cocktail was perfectly suited for a pairing with Thanksgiving dinner. This was perhaps the best illustration of a common theme of the evening, even embraced by DJ Tomas Delos Reyes: updating old favorites with some new school influences with a focus on classic holiday tastes.
The Dizzy Fizz, the event’s host, checked one other crucial holiday season must: gifts. A collection was open for donations to Toys for Tots and Food Bank NYC. Cocktail books were on sale for those inspired by the evening to show off during the upcoming holiday season or to drop a heavy hint to the host of their next party, with many authors on hand to sign copies. A silent art auction ran the course of the evening, benefiting community public art. Guests could go home feeling a bit better knowing that part of ticket sales went to the Children’s Aid Society, supporting New York City’s children in need, at least before the next morning’s post-cocktail haze kicked in.
- Mallory Sullivan