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Partiers Pick Prosecco for New Year's

Partiers Pick Prosecco for New Year's


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Italian producers are pleased that prosecco sales boomed last month

Wikimedia/Nicholas Gemini

Revelers around the world are celebrating with prosecco.

2015 is off to a great start for Italy’s sparkling wine producers, because they saw sales boom through 2014 and well into the holiday season as people all over the world started drinking more prosecco.

Champagne might be the traditional way to celebrate the New Year, but more and more people have been celebrating with prosecco instead. Prosecco is generally less expensive than Champagne, but its bubbles are just as festive, and the lower price means people can buy a lot more of it. According to The Local, by the end of the holidays, an estimated 220 million bottles of prosecco are expected to have been consumed around the world in 2014.

All varieties of Italian sparkling wine showed a massive 24 percent increase in sales in 2014 compared with 2013, and most of that growth has been credited to the increasing popularity of Italian sparkling wines abroad. In Italy, prosecco sales have not shown a notable increase over 2013, and consumption in general is down from a peak several years ago.


All-Star New Year's Recipes

Find out how to keep the party going into the new year with easy recipes and cheery cocktails. Find more recipe ideas on Food Network.

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No matter whether you are throwing a fancy black-tie affair or a small family dinner, these cookies (with two surprises inside!) will surely be a hit.

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Premium Prosecco is a new Martini moment

Is the Prosecco bubble about to burst? The short answer is almost certainly no. We’re mad for the stuff. Sales have sparkled like the drink itself, with double-digit annual growth in both the US and Britain in recent years, out-fizzing Champagne and leaving Cava confused. The Prosecco DOC has been expanded, production has been ramped up, and the export figures are the envy of the industry. If you want a measure of its success, consider the fact that Freixenet, Spain’s biggest Cava producer, has just launched … a Prosecco.

Having said all that, ask yourself this: when was the last time a bottle of Prosecco set your tastebuds alight? With greater volumes, quality has suffered. To me, most of it has a rather bland, ‘homogenous’ feel. Those delightful blossom aromas subsumed in a slightly synthetic cloud of pear drops, that delicate mouthfeel clobbered by a cloying sweetness. It feels like a long time since I fell for its charms in a Venetian wine bar. Nowadays, I don’t tend to buy it. Prosecco has become ‘commoditised’. In short, it’s boring.

So it was quite a shock to taste Martini’s latest twist on the Glera grape. The brand made its name making Vermouth, of course, but they are a big player in the sparkling wine world too. Asti Spumante was their 1970s star (and makes a great sparkling dessert wine, if you ask me) but, as a company, they were late to the Prosecco party. They are making up for lost time now though, dodging the race to the bottom on price, with a sensible step into the premium market.

Martini Vintage Prosecco D.O.C is the international name for what sells as ‘Collezione Speciale’ in Italy. Newly launched into the UK within the last month, it has already collected a gong at the Drinks Business Masters awards, where it was awarded 95+ points. I loved it too, and I wasn’t alone. At a recent tasting, a veteran wine journalist, who shares my lack of enthusiasm for modern mass-market Prosecco, leant over to me and whispered “I can’t believe I’m asking for another glass!”

So what’s all the fuss about? Well, it’s definitely designed to appeal to Champagne lovers. Though it’s not Traditional Method, it has spent longer on its lees, giving it aromas that reminded me of focaccia dough, complementing the delicate blossom and green apple that come from quality grapes and low temperature handling. It has a light, yet persistent, refreshing mousse and nothing cloying on the finish. It’s packaged in a thick bottle embossed with glass bubbles and comes in a handsome box. The look shouts “premium” to which we might mutter “bling”! And what’s more, it’s great value, launching at £15 in the UK (currently only in Asda, but I suspect the other big supermarkets won’t be far behind).

There’s an old saying at Martini that “tradition … is innovation that went well”. This latest launch into the crowded Prosecco market certainly looks like it’s one such move.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Tomorrow we will unleash our final celebrations upon the world (which, for us, is this house), and the true twist ending to this madness will be revealed. Spoiler: it turns out the celebrations were in our hearts the entire time. Or something equally as trite, I’m sure. No, there isn’t much left to celebrate, and on January 1 I hope to have a final count of our acknowledged tributes throughout the year. I’ll probably also hammer out a quick summation of how I feel this project has gone before turning the word processor off and getting the hell back to life. Because life is still happening, as much as our calendar tries to point us elsewhere. Yesterday, however, the calendar didn’t have much to say. Here was our Tuesday:

Tick Tock Day

No, this has nothing to do with that video-sharing site, as evidenced by the proper English spelling of both tick and tock in its title. This is one more Thomas and Ruth Roy celebration creation, a day for us to fashion our list of the stuff we still want to get done before the year expires. It’s true – this article will land on the interweb machines less than 48 hours before the year comes to a close.

Of course, haven’t we done enough for 2020 at this point? We’re all eager for the new year to begin, not because we believe it holds the promise of an instant-fix for all that plagues the world, but because we are optimistic that a fresh start might begin a steady uptick in quality of life that will restore our lives at least mostly back to what they were before 2020 kicked their asses.

Here’s what I still have to do this year:

  • Celebrate. We have a handful of celebrations to cover today and tomorrow, and we don’t plan on simply crawling feebly over the finish line.
  • Write. Whatever we celebrate gets documented. Probably not on our social media channels, as we have most abandoned sharing everything there. But you’ll see it all right here.
  • Cook. I’m the cook of the house, and I have one more meal to make this year. We’ve decided on Chinese food for tomorrow night, because we know how to live.
  • Walk. These dogs need exercise, and while I’ve vowed to avoid walking them when the mercury plunges below -20, we aren’t anywhere near that. So off we’ll go.
  • Puzzle. We started a jigsaw puzzle a couple days ago, and we plan on finishing it. And maybe starting another.

That’s it. 2020 can fuck right off, apart from those few remaining chores, none of which are particularly gruelling or unpleasant. We may as well enjoy these last few hours of a year we’ll all spend the rest of our lives trying to forget.

National Hero Day

One of my primary sources for this project, National Day Calendar, created this one, likely because if they hadn’t, there wouldn’t be much of anything to fill the spot on December 29. It’s a day to celebrate real-life heroes (as opposed to, say, Iron Man) for all the greatness they have bestowed upon the planet throughout the year.

It’s going to be really cliché and potentially hokey if I use this time to praise front-line healthcare workers, right? Well, fuck it. I can’t think of anyone I know who exemplifies the notion of ‘hero’ right now more than Kohley, Jenny, and the other doctors and nurses I know who are out there getting all close-up with sick folk right now. They’re not only fighting a pandemic which scientists are still figuring out, but they’re fighting a wealth of ignorance and unearned chutzpah that propels anti-maskers to march in the streets and ignore recommendations.

In 2001, the firefighters and police were the heroes everyone swooned for. And those folks are still heroes by today’s standards (though the police system has certainly be shown to be broken lately). But it took a worldwide health emergency for the doctors and nurses to get the spotlight, and really it’s one they’ve deserved since the dawn of their professions. Would you want to sponge up gross human fluids, or hold someone’s hand as they fearfully tumbled into the void beyond this existence? I sure as hell wouldn’t, pandemic or not. Yes, they get paid for this work, and yes, they could opt out and get a job selling Subarus or something. But they don’t. They keep our world going.

So that’s my big salute for this one. I hold teachers and other people who work in relatively thankless jobs in the same regard, but the front-line healthcare folks get the attention today. They have had a year rougher than most.

National Eggs Benedict Day

This day landed on April 16, and it was – in my opinion – our greatest failing of the year. Well, my greatest failing. I tried making hollandaise sauce, and the butter was poured in too quickly, causing the sauce to separate into something gross and inedible. We ate our eggs benedict sauceless on that day, and it tasted about as good as it sounds.

On Christmas morning, I tried again. And the result was tasty enough for eggs benny to become our new Christmas brunch tradition. With proper hollandaise. I’m not counting this as another celebration, just as a fix of an earlier disaster. Huzzah.

Such a short day, though I assure you I re-celebrated National Chocolate Candy Day, just to make sure I’d done it right. We can’t be too careful with some of these. National Rum Day (from August) was also revisited. Here’s today’s lineup:

  • National Bicarbonate of Soda Day. Well, if we need Alka-Seltzer to come to the rescue today, we’ll be ready.
  • Falling Needles Family Fest. A time to clean up after Christmas. I guess that means we tidy the house.
  • National Bacon Day. Yes, this one was cleverly stashed at the end of the year. It might be the only way we’ve made it this far.
  • Festival of Enormous Changes At The Last Minute. Sure. Is this where we announce that we’re celebrating for the next 365 days? (spoiler: no)

How to host a wine tasting

I celebrated a birthday, and now I might die from a wee bit of exercise?

I see my age every time I go to church, where just a few short years ago, I was a youth group adviser to kids 10 years my junior. Today, though, I'm more than twice as old as those in youth group. I am, frighteningly, old enough to be their mother.

Except when I notice how many of my friends are struggling with their own or their parents' illnesses, I certainly don't feel that old. Usually I still feel barely into my 20s, and hardly the figure of grace and self-assurance that I expected to come with age.

But I have found one way to feel happily, thoroughly adult, complete with full sentences and intelligent conversation about something other than how many hours my baby slept last night: wine tasting.

A friend and I started a wine-tasting group last summer, putting together snazzy invitations for a hot summer night. We don't bother with fancy invitations anymore, and the group tends to change from month to month depending on who can get a babysitter and who has no sick children--but the adult-ness remains.

For the first party, we tasted two proseccos--sparkling Italian wine--just for the fun of having something bubbly to kick us off. I've been in love with prosecco since a trip to Italy 10 years ago it's inexpensive and has thus far proved hard to find a truly unpleasant bottle. It's just the thing for a summer night or anytime when you want something bubbly but unpretentious. From there we made a major switch to shiraz, tasting four from around the world.

Most of the partiers were new to wine tasting and a bit nervous about expressing an opinion at first, but that didn't last. (Note: Make it clear to people what "a taste" is--don't pour anything close to a full glass unless you have cabs--taxis, that is--lined up outside the door!) What helped was a tasting sheet for everyone to fill out. I got mine off www.wineskinny.com/reviews/tastingnotes.htm. It's a detailed sheet that gave people a way to say more than "this smells like wine," which was often the only comment I could muster in the early wine tasting sessions I had at cooking school.

We also printed out a suggestion sheet for how to taste and smell a wine (such as what you look for when you swirl the wine in the glass and how to judge color). Internet sites can offer you more help than you could possibly want in this, along with such detailed lists as what food generally goes well with what wine and how to serve cheese with wine.

Some wine snobs will tell you to use fresh glasses for each wine tasted personally, I've no desire to wash all that at the end of the night. Instead, we bought inexpensive sets of glasses from a linen shop, and provided pitchers of water for rinsing the glasses between wines (along with bowls for dumping out the water or wine).

As a vague rule, expect to get about eight tastings from a bottle of wine we aim to taste five or six wines each night. Any more than that and we lose the ability to compare the last bottle with the first. Because we're not serious wine tasters (we almost never spit, for starters!), we tend to go through a bit more wine than that--when people find one they especially like, they want to pour a whole glass and relax with some food.

How to choose the wine? Generally, we choose what kind of wine we want to taste (shiraz, viognier, etc.), then take our money to the wine store and ask for help. We get ours from the Chapel Hill Wine Company, which also will print out its descriptions of each wine so that at the end of the night, tasters can read them and feel stupid or vindicated.

For a dessert-wine tasting in December, however, much of what we drank came from one winery, offering a chance to see the similarities in style from one winemaker.

Then, how to choose the food? As I mentioned, internet sites can guide you in what foods go with what types of wine, as can a decent wine store. We always have cheese (wonderful with dessert wines as well as regular), and we always have some dessert (a good ending can make people forget any flaws that went before). Not only does this not need to equal a full meal, it shouldn't: Aim instead for enough food to keep guests from feeling sick from too much wine, but not so much that your palate grows weary. Offer plenty of bread and crackers, some dips and things with crunch--I find crunchy food especially necessary at a wine tasting.

Lately I've become attached to the frozen phyllo cups made by Athens Foods when you're pressed for time, these make a great vehicle for everything from a goat cheese mousse to lemon curd and berries. (You can easily make your own phyllo cups, but these are simpler to eat than any I've ever made, which tend to be messily flaky.) On the other hand, I may never again buy a tortilla chip, now that I've finally tried baking my own. I've known for years about this trick (it's too simple to be called a recipe) but never got around to trying it. Recently, though, I took small flour tortillas, brushed both sides lightly with melted butter, stacked them and sliced them into triangles (eight per tortilla), spread them out on greased baking sheets and sprinkled them with fine sea salt. Baked at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes until they were deeply golden and crisp, these chips were utterly addictive, perfect for scooping up guacamole. Better yet, they kept for several days in a sealed plastic container, so while they're best fresh, they're an easy do-ahead for parties. The same method works for corn tortillas, but the flour ones crisped better. For a sweet snack, you could sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar before baking.

No matter what, keep it simple. Don't plan for much that needs be served hot, given that people eat exceptionally randomly at tastings. There may be parties where you don't mind being stuck in the kitchen, but not these. To feel like an adult, go be with the adults!

Cook's notes: It's hard to go wrong with chocolate, but simple fruit desserts may be a better option at the end of a tasting. I generally want to avoid temperature-sensitive foods for dessert so that I can put them out midway through the party and then be done. The exception to all this could be chocolate fondue it's easy to make ahead and can be served with plenty of fruit, plus cake cubes. I suggest putting out half of the fondue you've made, then restocking if needed. Spend the $10 or so for a dessert fondue pot if you're unlikely to make any other fondue again (these sit over a tea light look for one with the light as low under the pot as possible to avoid a burned spot in the middle). Or consider spending more for electric fondue pots. I was skeptical of these, given the lifetime I'd spent learning from my father how to fiddle with the sterno flame to keep our annual cheese fondue from overheating. But, though they lack romance, they are absolutely wonderful, with quick-response temperature control and low settings. They'll also work better if you're feeding a crowd. Most chocolate fondue recipes suggest using chunks of pound cake for dipping, but I prefer the recipe here, from Gourmet magazine it's quick, tender, moist and lighter than pound cake.

Almond Cake
36 to 64 squares, depending on size
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (preferably a soft Southern flour such as White Lily)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or butter a 9-inch square cake pan and line bottom with parchment or wax paper. Butter paper and dust pan with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, milk and almond extract in a large bowl until combined well, then whisk in flour and salt.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer at high speed until they just hold soft peaks. On low speed, very gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating until whites just hold stiff peaks. Fold about a third of the whites into the yolk batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Pour into prepared pan, spreading evenly, and bake in middle of oven until pale golden and a tester (such as a toothpick) comes out clean, 14 to 16 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack before cutting.

Dark Chocolate Fondue
Serves 4 to 6 can be doubled or tripled
3/4 cup heavy cream
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (you may also use high-quality chips, such as Guittard)
1 tablespoon liqueur of your choice, optional (such as Kahlua, Amaretto, Cognac, Grand Marnier)

In a heavy medium pan, bring cream just to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate and let stand a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add liqueur and whisk until smooth.


Unfiltered

• A Splashy Celebration: A banker who was partying in the exclusive London nightclub Mo*Vida grabbed local headlines for ordering nearly $40,000 of Champagne and then spraying it around his VIP room. The Soho club, whose patrons have included Paris Hilton, Scarlett Johansson and Pierce Brosnan, reports that the banker, who was visiting from Monaco, and 20 friends wasted six magnums and 49 bottles of various vintages of Cristal, as well as two magnums and 13 bottles of Dom Pérignon. The lavish behavior ended up setting the guy back more than $75,000 after the club slapped him with a massive clean-up bill, plus service charge. "The whole place had to be reupholstered," said a club representative. "It has been known that a few bottles of bubbly have been sprayed in the [private] rooms before, but not to the extent that we had to charge a cleaning fee." Clearly, the financier was not a wine fancier. A quick glance at a copy of the bill showed that the rest of the tab went toward a few bottles of Belvedere Vodka, at $320 a pop, and a variety of mixers, which the partiers did actually drink.

• Foster's Wine Estates, the wine giant formerly known as Beringer Blass, has been busy consolidating its operations since forking over $2.5 billion for its chief competitor Southcorp in June. The latest gossip in Northern California is that the company is primed to sell the winery and restaurant at Chateau Souverain in Sonoma County's Alexander Valley, though it would keep the brand name. While Foster's declines to comment, if that turns out to be true, it would be consistent with how the Australian wine industry often operates, selling off regional facilities and placing the winemaking in one large plant. (The company has a massive new winery in the works in southern Napa Valley.) Rumored to be interested in the facility is vintner/filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who is said to want his Niebaum-Coppola winery in Napa Valley to concentrate solely on estate wines, such as Rubicon. One scenario is that he'd make the non-estate wines, such as the Francis Coppola Diamond Series and Coppola Presents, over at Souverain. Other reports are that he wants to create a destination restaurant at the bucolic spot in the rolling hills along Highway 101. While the Chateau Souverain restaurant has long been an underperformer, the local food scene has been taking off, with the addition of Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen and the recently heralded Cyrus, both in nearby Healdsburg. But officials at Niebaum-Coppola aren't talking either. Stay tuned.

Merlot! White Zin! Get yer Fetzer here.
• Take me out to the ballgame, take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and … Chardonnay? Yes, since early this year, wine has been available at some sports stadiums, such as SBC Park in San Francisco, which sells Fetzer Valley Oaks Chardonnay, Merlot and White Zinfandel in 187ml, unbreakable, recyclable plastic bottles topped with screw caps. (The wines also come in four-packs at retailers across the country and can be found at outdoor facilities such as zoos and golf clubs.) Not to be outdone, Beringer is introducing its Stone Cellars Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet and Merlot in similar containers--just in time for fall tailgating season. The wines will retail for around $8 for a four-pack and $14 for an eight-pack. It's all part of a trend toward more convenient, more portable packaging, which has brought us plastic wine bottles on airplanes , as well as wine in cans and cartons. Fetzer and Beringer are hailing their moves as firsts. No word yet on when Mouton and Yquem will follow suit.

• Beaujolais growers are spending a lot of money to give their wine an image makeover. The big push behind Beaujolais Nouveau--the drink-now red released every November--has been so successful that no one seems to realize the French appellation also makes wines that can be drunk any time of year. To change that, Inter Beaujolais, a union of producers, is partnering with the Italian olive oil federation on a three-year, $5 million marketing campaign in major U.S. cities, sponsoring "License to Chill" events such as Beaujolais bar nights and in-store tastings. But why are the French partnering with an Italian food? Because the European Union will pay half the tab for marketing campaigns for agricultural products from two different EU nations. As for the "License to Chill" name, it's a play on two themes: That Beaujolais is a wine to serve at relaxing parties, and that it's one of the few reds best served chilled. Considering that Smirnoff is now running a series of ads with the slogan "Chill Sip Chill," Unfiltered hopes Beaujolais hasn't spent $5 million just to get mixed up with a vodka.

• Waste not … Australian pig farmer Claire Pennicard has come up with an unusual use for the leftovers from the winemaking process--bedding for her 4,000 or so swine. Finding ways to get rid of pomace--pressed grape skins, stems and other material--has plagued some winemakers because it's generally too acidic to use in farming as fertilizer or mulch. But the pigs appear to love relaxing on the squishy stuff, according to reports from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Pennicard believes she'll end up with high-grade compost. For now, Pennicard reports, the pigs have pretty much steered clear of eating the stuff. Looks like she won't be selling any Shiraz-flavored ham.

• Winemakers are a resilient bunch. They've kept going in the face of droughts, hail storms, fires, earthquakes and floods (we're sure there's been a plague of locusts somewhere). But hurricanes aren't typical weather in wine country. Unless you're in Florida. When Hurricane Ivan swept through Panama City Beach a little less than a year ago, it wiped out pretty much everything in its path, which happened to encompass SeaBreeze Winery. Owners Fred and Lynn Webb were expecting their Kyotee vineyard to be devastated, but when they assessed it a few days later, they found the vines intact, and one section still had fruit hanging. "The one thing the storm did was a culling process, and all the grapes left on the vine were just perfect," said Fred. "It took off anything that was overripe or a bit weak, and just stripped them down." The result is 80 cases of Hurricane Ivan wine, a $15 semi-dry red made from the Muscadine grapes native to the southern United States. As a souvenir, it sure beats an insurance claim form.


Before Dating Apps, Retro-Futuristic Telephone Bars Nurtured Introvert-Friendly Flirtation

C.E.V. stood for Controlled Entropy Ventures, the experimental technology company behind Remote Lounge, a concept bar that opened in NYC’s East Village less than a month after 9/11/2001. Inside the lounge were 60 miniature cameras (or was it more?) that filmed patrons and allowed them to surveil each other in hopes of generating love connections — or impromptu hookups.

Considered mind-blowing and transgressive at the time, Remote Lounge seems antiquated if not downright childish today, when literally everyone at every bar has their head down, staring at their phone. Still, looking back at the bar offers a fascinating insight into social culture in the final days before iPhones and dating apps. While hardly remembered today, Remote Lounge rather presciently foreshadowed the vaguely performative, look-at-me digital narcissism that has pervaded, if not somewhat ruined, modern nightlife in NYC and worldwide.

The Telepresence Bar

“The genesis of the idea came from working with Josh Harris,” explains Leo Fernekes, one of the three partners of C.E.V. “He basically funded these crazy experimental ideas and I used them as a paid lab learning experience.”

Labeled New York’s first internet millionaire, Harris was the founder of live-streaming network Pseudo Programs — and a bit of a conceptual artist. With $85 million in his bank account after cashing out an early dot-com IPO, he hired C.E.V. to produce “Quiet: We Live in Public” in December 1999. It was a “Truman Show”-esque experiment in which 100 volunteers lived in a four-story human terrarium in SoHo, filled with free food and drink, not to mention machine guns, while webcams followed their every move.

“People want to turn the camera on themselves,” Harris told Wired at the time. “There is a pent-up desire for personal celebrity.”

The toilets lacked walls, the only shower was in a see-through geodesic dome, and the basement had a system that allowed residents to control cameras to watch their housemates having sex. A giant sign constantly warned the residents: “WE LIVE IN PUBLIC.” Their experiment later became the subject of a 2009 documentary of the same name.

“One thing that convinced me to open Remote Lounge is that Josh threw a party with all those cameras,” Fernekes says. “There were cameras in the bathroom and during the party, people would go in and perform for them. Doing sexy, naughty things, knowing they were being broadcast and monitored outside. Then they’d come out of the bathroom and people would cheer.

“‘Wow, that’s something I’ve never seen before!’” Fernekes remembers thinking. “It seemed natural to extend it into a business concept.”

A bar appeared to be the most practical move, especially since another one of C.E.V.’s partners, Bob Stratton, a software developer, knew the industry a bit from his stint as a bartender at 2A, a dive on 2nd Street and Avenue A.

“Our concept of voyeurism is very much along the lines of a normal bar,” Stratton told the L.A. Times. “People are constantly checking each other out anyway.”

The startup took over a storefront on the skid row Bowery where Bowery Electrical Supply Company, an electrical wiring outfit, had resided since 1947. They cleaned up the space’s rotted floors and outfitted it with cameras and monitors. The equipment was hardly state of the art, even by nearly 20-year-old standards.

“This has to be as inexpensive as possible,” thought Fernekes, claiming if he had developed a fancier bit of technology he wouldn’t have wasted it on a bar. They used the cheapest possible consumer-grade televisions and mounted them in interesting places around the space. There were 12 cameras over the bar, six more scattered in random places, and 24 cameras placed at custom-designed “Cocktail Consoles.” They were all rigged together like a cable TV setup — each console had joysticks that could move any camera 360 degrees, able to see every inch of the bar — as well as a monitor that customers could tune to any camera’s black-and-white broadcast.

C.E.V. called Remote a “telepresence” bar, but critics thought the NASA-gray consoles and traffic-cone-orange seating was more “retro-futurist.” Based on this 2002 picture of Remote Lounge, it resembles a 1960s vision of the future “The Jetsons,” if you consider that a positive, or �: A Space Odyssey” if you don’t.

Fernekes estimates it cost them about $1 million to set up the bar, but about 75 percent of that was just exorbitant Manhattan real estate costs.

“My partners and I were high on the total hubris of the dot-com era,” Fernekes says. “We were delusional in the thought that everything we touched could be turned into gold. I look back at it now and it’s a little sad. Sad, but humorous.”

Remote Lounge opened in NYC in 2001 with retro-futurist interiors. Credit: JPDA.net

A Digital Playhouse for Local Hipsters

Yet Remote Lounge was almost immediately a hit with the “in” crowd, and it quickly (and briefly) became a part of the East Village party circuit. From its Oct. 9, 2001 opening onward, there were lines to get in every night for the first six months. Microsoft and Apple even fought over which would be the first to hold a party there (Microsoft won).

“The whole city was still in mourning, in shock and disbelief [over 9/11] and Remote kind of popped up as this cute, happy story,” Fernekes says. “The media also went bananas for it.”

Within the first month, The New York Times called it “perhaps the most media-intensive public setting in the city.” CIOL thought it was “a digital playhouse for local hipsters.” Reading these articles in 2019 is incredibly amusing, given the very public nature of social media, dating apps, and nearly every other facet of modern society.

“The concept is incredibly simple: hand over your privacy at the front door and enter a world where anyone anywhere can follow your every move,” proclaimed a 2001 BBC News article, crediting its development and acceptance to “a mix of instant messaging and reality TV, both becoming extremely popular in the last few years.”

Early Yelp reviews are even more hilarious:
“It’s like on-line/chat room dating but you’re in a real room and everyone’s eerily watching you! (sic)”
“I guess you can call it ‘instant’ video-dating?”
“why would you call someone on the phone when they’re in the same room with you??”

Adding to the surreality, Fernekes would often lie about how many cameras were actually in the bar (that BBC article claims a remarkable 120) and made up names for the drinks they served (he told writers their most popular cocktail was the Vertical Hold, an archaic term for adjusting a tube television set).

In actuality, Remote Lounge was like any other bar, serving Brooklyn Lagers and Vodka Sodas in the early-aughts era of New York nightlife — except for all those creepy cameras.

“Culturally the world was evolving to having a greater comfort for these ideas,” Fernekes says.

The visionary Harris had previously predicted to Business Week that the world was already headed toward a place where “people want their fame on a day-to-day basis, rather than in their lifetime.” And Remote Lounge fit the bill, even screen-grabbing the most outrageous moments of the night — which often involved nudity — and uploading them to the lounge’s website instantaneously. This encouraged introverts to monitor what was happening at the bar and, if they saw something they liked, hopefully lure them out for the evening. (Curious to see what they were seeing? You can! For unknown reasons, someone is still fitting the website’s hosting bill.)

Still, if Remote Lounge was the world’s first “telepresence” bar, Fernekes knew there was a bit of a precedent in the form of “telephone bars.”

A Neat Party Trick

Telecommunications have a long history in nightlife. The telephone was invented in 1876, and by the early 1900s, diners at higher-end restaurants could request to have phones brought to their tables for important calls.

In 1920s Berlin, some nightclubs had installed tischtelefonen on every table, so Weimar-era partiers could dial up random guests at any other table, which were marked by lighted numbers. At Femina and the Resi, two Berlin dance clubs that each held thousands, customers could even send pneumatic tubes filled with cigarettes, Champagne bottles, and notes to other tables. (Though nothing too provocative, as “messages sent by tube [were] checked by female ‘censors’ in the switchboard room,” according to The Chicago Tribune.) This gimmick was memorialized in “Caberet’s” “Telephone Song” and still occurs at Ballhaus Berlin.

A few decades later, in 1968, a pricey joint called Ma Bell’s opened in New York’s Times Square. Each table at Ma Bell’s had its own “old-timey” landline with free calling privileges (even long distance!). It was open until the mid-1980s and was featured as a setting in a Season 6 episode of “Mad Men.” While bar-hopping, Joan (Christina Hendricks) and a visiting gal pal hit the new spot, noting that, “Apparently, there are quite a few men here who go for a certain type.”

Yes, whether Berlin in the 1920s, Times Square in the ’60s, or the Bowery at the turn of the 21st century, these bars were, of course, mainly designed for amorous purposes. USA Today believed that, with Remote Lounge, C.E.V. had created “a setting that could revolutionize flirting in New York.” The L.A. Times wasn’t quite as certain, mocking the bar as a place “where Stanley Kubrick and Michel Foucault would go scouting for dates.”

But 20-something New Yorkers immediately loved the concept, a harbinger of their technological dating futures to come. “Around midnight, a long-haired man dressed in requisite all black, sidles up to writer Kate for a rare moment of face-to-face human interaction,” observed journalist Lauren Sandler in 2002. “His parting words are the ultimate postmodern pickup line … ‘Find me on screen later.’”

“It’s a legalized version of stalking,” a female NYU student told CIOL on opening night, observing how the monitors only showed grainy, black-and-white images. “It makes people look a lot better than they do in person, masking their flaws and making them look more attractive.”

That was intentional. Fernekes had realized that the impersonality of it all was why the concept worked so well. When the place was packed, you could be ogling a person on the monitor with no sense that they were just five feet away from you, unaware where you were as well. If both parties actually liked what they saw on their monitors, you could message a “hello” using the system’s crude text-messaging capabilities or ask to speak to them on the console’s land lines.

“That gave you the freedom to say outrageous things, as if the person wasn’t really there,” says Fernekes. “This chaos diffused into a sense of detached, impersonal anonymity.”

Rejection didn’t hurt as much either, claims Fernekes, because, unlike a face-to-face interaction in the real world, you didn’t have to actually see them reject you. They could just ignore your console-to-console texts. It became a total free-for-all, with customers trying to pick up as many people as they could at one time. Get rejected, and you could simply flip the TV channel, quickly moving on to the next person on screen, then the next. If in-person pick-up culture used to favor the bold, Remote Lounge favored the shy and timid.

“Remote Lounge provides yet another opportunity to erect a barrier between ourselves and the people we hope to meet. It is almost as though we yearn for the days of an appointed chaperone to play interference,” Stacy Kravetz wrote in her 2005 book “The Dating Race,” ultimately denigrating the cameras and monitors as nothing more than a “neat party trick, a way to entertain myself while I sit at a table.”

Our Technologically Perverted World

“Twelve years later, it’s funny to think how this novelty bar in NYC would so closely mirror our modern experience,” says Brian C. Roberts, a popular online personality. “Sometimes I’m shocked at how my experiences at the Remote Lounge would be recreated time and time again by following a hashtag on Twitter, to a photo on Instagram, to a small conversation online, and finally with meeting someone face to face … all over the course of 10 or 20 minutes on my iPhone at a local bar.”

Unfortunately, though, whether Remote Lounge was shockingly prescient, or just a neat party trick — or probably both — it ultimately wasn’t enough of a gimmick to create a thriving business. Nor was all that media coverage.

“The truth is, [Remote] reached a huge international audience,” explains Fernekes, “but those people couldn’t come to our bar, so it was lost at that point.”

C.E.V. had once hoped to franchise its idea, with pop-up Remote Lounges all over America and Europe. It hoped to then connect them all through the same system so drinkers in, say, Dallas could flirt with bar patrons in Amsterdam — “the time-shifting of content,” Fernekes called it. “The problem is, the only way we were making money is by selling drinks and there’s a limit to what you can charge people for a cocktail. It just didn’t make much economic sense.”

Eventually, Fernekes realized the bar also suffered from what you would call a “critical mass” problem. A packed house on Saturday was great. But what if you came in on a Monday evening and there were only two other customers in the bar?

“It was very uncomfortable, like going into a hall of mirrors,” Fernekes says. “If the bar had less than three or four people, it was a very unpleasant experience.”

People quickly realized that as well. First, Mondays started being dead, then Tuesday, then the whole week, and little by little Remote Lounge was only getting viable crowds on the weekends. Soon the cameras and monitors quit working drunk and disorderly patrons even broke a few. Eventually you had a mostly empty, windowless, retro-futurist bar with dozens of monitors broadcasting bright-white static.

“It was a novelty at first, but gave way quickly to just being creepy,” Eater wrote in a 2007 postmortem. “The crowd got seedier over time.”

The real world was changing, too, and finally catching up to Remote Lounge’s vision. In 2007, Americans sent more texts than phone calls. Dating websites were becoming more prominent and mainstream. Then, in June 2007, the iPhone hit the market. This was perhaps the final nail in the coffin for Remote, and the one topic Fernekes seemed unwilling to discuss still today. Remote Lounge closed a few months later in November 2007.

“Nowadays you’re just numb to all of it. It’s too much of a technologically perverted world,” Fernekes says. “I think Remote definitely alluded to the perversely artificial and competitive nature of Instagram. The technologically augmented social interactions that are completely fabricated and just designed to tap into the human instincts. It’s a bit perverse and unhealthy. Our genetic, instinctual evolution has not caught up with the technology.”

And the technology is still racing forward. Smartphones have gotten better and more widespread in the last decade. Meanwhile, texting grew more prominent, and a plethora of dating apps arrived. In 2009, Grindr launched, and in 2012 Tinder. Now all the pieces are in place — everyone has a tiny Remote Lounge in their pocket or purse at all times. You just need to add drinks.

“I see kids on their phone today [at the bar],” says Fernekes, now 56 and living in Bangkok. “And I think, wow, that looks kind of sad. It’s just not a reality that seems very interesting to me.”


A Global Guide to Cocktails &amp Summer Drinks

A refreshing drink is the perfect antidote to a day of sightseeing or the perfect end to a day on the beach.

Ice-cold drinks are refreshing in summer, but ice also helpfully dilutes hard spirits in cocktails. Allen Katz, host of the Cocktail Hour on Martha Stewart Living Radio, reminds us that in the summertime heat, hard spirits hit the body faster. "You don't want to be one and done," Katz says. In summer, take your drinks on the rocks.

Of course, water is the ultimate summertime drink. Drinking plenty of water on a long-haul flight will help prevent jet lag and help your body adjust to your new time zone. Staying hydrated in warm climates is especially crucial to warding off sunstroke. If you get sunburned, drink plenty of water to aid the healing process.

Here are the best summer drinks (alcoholic and nonalcoholic) to enjoy in a few classic warm-weather destinations. Plus, we've included some basic recipes to help you mix some summer cocktails and drinks at home.

Photo Caption: Frozen caipirinhas from the Academia da Cachaça

Tequila, lime, salt, ice. Add a dash of triple sec and a sunny Mexican beach to wiggle your toes in and you've got a classic margarita recipe. This frosty drink is most strongly associated with Mexico, but it is not a purely Mexican invention. The numerous legends about its origin all involve Mexican, Texan, and Californian experimenters in bars and vacation homes from south Texas to Acapulco in the 1930s and 1940s. Many tell of Mexican bartenders concocting the drink for American patrons who couldn't stomach a classic tequila embellished with the traditional squeeze of lime and dusting of salt. Today, the margarita is the quintessential tequila cocktail in the United States and a mainstay of beach bars on either side of the border. Though the original recipe calls for the simplest ingredients -- Mexican key limes are preferred for their thin skin and pungent juice -- the modern margarita is flavored with practically any local fruit.

Opinions on the best margaritas are deeply personal. One person's "too salty" is another's "just right." This Mexican-American hybrid has as many variations as restaurants and bars that serve it. Finding the best margarita is a favorite past time of expats and frequent travelers to Mexico. Some will point to gringo-fueled beach resort bars, like the Cabo Wabo (tel. 624/143-1188 www.cabowabo.com) in Cabo San Lucas, old classics like Hussong's Cantina (tel. 646/178-3210) in Ensenada or even its new Las Vegas branch (tel. 702/632-6450 www.hussongslasvegas.com), or an anonymous beachside palapa bar in the Riviera Maya. Others might send you inland to the high-fashion lounges of Mexico City, like the rooftop of the Hotel Condesa DF (tel. 55/5241-2600 www.condesadf.com), or north to Tommy's Mexican Restaurant (tel. 415/387-4747 www.tommystequila.com) in San Francisco, California.

Photo Caption: The Original Hussong's Margarita, Las Vegas.

Rum, as we know it today, originated in the Caribbean's sugar plantations of the 17th century. It is the base of an infinite variety of fruity, umbrella-topped cocktails named to evoke sunny Caribbean beaches and a laid-back reggae lifestyle. However, rum is historically a sailor's drink. Pirates famously coveted the spirit and Great Britain's Royal Navy issued a portion of Pusser's Rum everyday to its sailors for more than 300 years. Pusser's Rum was the Navy's own standard recipe until 1970, when daily rations ceased.

Around the same time, Daphne Henderson was mixing Pusser's Rum cocktails at her tiny Soggy Dollar (tel. 284/495-9888 www.soggydollar.com) beach bar on the island of Jost Van Dyke, in the British Virgin Islands. The only way to get to her bar was to sail to White Bay, anchor your boat, and swim ashore. The bartender would hang soggy dollar bills out to dry, hence the bar's name.

Henderson's Painkiller recipe has changed little since then: orange and pineapple juices, coconut cream, fresh grated nutmeg, and Pusser's Rum. Though taxis can now reach the Soggy Dollar bar by road from Great Harbour, motor and sailboats still bob offshore while their sailors nurse Painkillers under the palm trees. It's not a Painkiller unless it's made with Pusser's and you're not in the Caribbean until you swim across clear turquoise waters to a white-sand beach to get your day's allotment of rum.

Photo Caption: Pusser's rum is a main ingredient in the Painkiller, the official cocktail of the British Virgin Islands.

The caipirinha is to Brazil what the daiquiri is to Cuba: a local adaptation of the traditional Caribbean cocktail of rum, sugar, and lime. A caipirinha is simply muddled limes and sugar with cachaça and ice. The lime can be easily substituted with fresh fruit like strawberries or kiwi and if you replace the cachaça with vodka, you have a caipirosca. However, Brazil's most popular local spirit is cachaça, a sugarcane distillate similar to rum, produced only in Brazil for nearly 400 years.

For a classic Brazilian experience, order an ice-cold caipirinha from one of the stands lining Ipanema Beach, in Rio de Janeiro. Sip away while taking in the country's best people-watching, as the bronzed bodies of Brazilian society parade and lounge along the golden sands.

For a lesson in the subtle differences of cachaças from across Brazil, browse the cocktail list at the Academia da Cachaça (tel. 021/2529-2680 www.academiadacachaca.com.br), in neighboring beachfront Leblon. The refined list has more than 80 unique cachaças and cachaça infusions to go with traditional Brazilian meals such as feijoada (pork and black bean stew) and vatapá (shrimp and ground nut stew).

Photo Caption: An assortment of fruit caipirinhas from Academia da Cachaça, Rio de Janeiro.

Sangria is a Spanish recipe for cold wine punch with citrus juice and fruit. Europeans have been drinking wine punch for hundreds of years, and "sangria" is a catch-all term for an infinite variety of summertime wine drinks. Though the name translates to "blood" from Spanish and suggests a deep red-colored drink, sangria can also be made with crisp white and rosé wines, which are perfect for summer. Recipes call for a young wine because the wine's flavor improves with the addition of sugar, citrus juice, and sliced fruit. Add club soda for a bit of sparkle or brandy for a little extra kick.

Sangrias can be tailored to match the unique flavor of a specific region because the main ingredients are wine and fruit. No matter where you are in the world, you can create a sangria that evokes a particular wine region. A Northern California sangria might have a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with strawberries and apples from local farms a Spanish Sangria could be a Rioja Tinto with cherries and peaches. Combine a bottle of wine with the juice of an orange or lemon, a tablespoon of sugar, and slices of fruit in a large serving pitcher. Let chill overnight in the fridge to infuse the wine with new, fruity flavors and serve cold.

Photo Caption: Pitcher and glasses of Sangria in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by bastiend/Flickr.com.

Count Cammillo Negroni walks into a bar in Florence, Italy, in 1919. He orders an Americano cocktail with gin. Henceforth, the Negroni aperitif is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, bitters, and Campari garnished with an orange slice. This pre-dinner drink is best taken sip by sip at sundown because the swirling deep-red Campari evokes the Florentine sunset. As the sun sinks into the Arno River, it paints the surrounding Tuscan hills soft shades of red, and spills a warm orange glow over the marble Duomo cathedral.

Since the Negroni is purely spirits, mixologist Allen Katz recommends ordering the cocktail on the rocks. The ice acts as an additional ingredient to lighten the combination of spirits and adds a refreshing chill to this "uniquely bitter" cocktail.

Italian drinking culture is focused on wine, but for something a bit lighter than a Negroni and still distinctly Italian, try a bellini. The pastel-pink cocktail gets its name from colors favored by 16th century Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini and is said to have been invented at Harry's Bar (tel. 041-528-5777 www.harrysbarvenezia.com) in Venice between the 1930s and 1940s. The bellini is one part peach puree and two parts Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, or champagne served in a chilled glass.

Photo Caption: Harry's Bar in Venice is the birthplace of the Bellini.

The French 75 is a World War I cocktail unapologetically named for a cannon. Tradition says the drink's combination of gin and champagne packs enough punch to match a French 75mm howitzer. But as mixologist Allen Katz points out, champagne in cocktails almost always suggests a light and bubbly time.

The classic recipe is gin, sugar, and lemon juice shaken with ice with champagne added in the glass. The difference between a French 75 and a French 76 is not just a millimeter: a 76 adds a dash of grenadine and might replace gin with vodka or brandy. The delightful nose-tingling effervescence of the French 75 comes from the champagne's reaction with the sugar, making your bubbly even more so. The result is a refreshing and chilled sparkling cocktail.

During WWI, the French 75 became famous at Harry's New York Bar (tel. 01-42-61-71-14 www.harrys-bar.fr) in Paris, the traditional hangout of American expats and servicemen since 1911. Today, Harry's New York Bar is an obligatory stop on any Parisian cocktail tour. However, to get off the tourist trail, Katz recommends seeking out the French 75 at L'Experimental Cocktail Club (37, rue St.-Sauveur tel. 33-1-45-08-88-09), a semi-secret lounge in the Second Arrondissement, or the historic Hemingway Bar (tel. 01-43-16-30-30 www.ritzparis.com) at the Ritz.

New Orleans also lays claim to the French 75, thanks to Frenchman Arnaud Cazenave who opened a celebrated restaurant here during WWI. When in New Orleans, there's no better place to order the drink than the historic French 75 Bar at Arnaud's (tel. at 504/523-5433 www.arnauds.com), the original restaurant.

Photo Caption: Bartender at Experimental Cocktail Club in Paris pours a freshly-made French 75 cocktail.

The humid and hot New Orleans summers encourage a slow-paced lifestyle and days spent lounging in the shade. Two relaxing drinks invented in New Orleans represent the full spectrum of city's cocktail-drinking culture: the Sazerac and the hurricane. On the one hand, you've got a "celebrated, distinctive, respected cocktail culture," says mixologist Allen Katz, developed over 300 years of New Orleans gastronomic history. On the other hand is modern-day Bourbon Street churning out fruity, crowd-pleasing cocktails for endless Mardi Gras-style parties.

The Sazerac is a complicated New Orleans drink and one of the oldest American cocktails. Essentially, the Sazerac is rye whiskey with bitters and simple syrup or a sugar cube. This base is strained into a chilled glass coated with absinthe or Pernod and garnished with a lemon twist. The 19th-century original was made with a Sazerac brand cognac, hence the cocktail's name, though the drink no longer includes cognac. Order a Sazerac in Tujague's (tel. 504/525-8676 www.tujagues.com), one of the French Quarter's oldest restaurants and bars.

The hurricane was first served in hurricane lamps by French Quarter bar owner Pat O'Brien. He invented the drink in the 1940s to use up a few extra cases of rum. Nowadays, Bourbon Street bars serve hurricanes in plastic cups to partiers on the street, but Pat O'Brien's (tel. 504/525-4823 www.patobriens.com) uses distinctively curvaceous souvenir glasses that mimic the original. They also sell a trademarked hurricane mix, but the classic recipe is so simple, you can easily create your own at home. This fruity cocktail is light and dark rum with grenadine and juice (such as orange or passion fruit) on ice. The tiny umbrella is optional.

Photo Caption: Pat O'Brien's.

The Bloody Mary is the quintessential brunch drink. Thanks to its spicy nature and savory flavors, this is a summer drink best enjoyed one sip at a time. The base is tomato juice, Worchester and Tabasco sauce, lemon, pepper, and other spices with vodka, but the variations are endless. Like a little more heat? Add cayenne pepper. Prefer a bit of pucker? Add olive brine, as you would to a dirty martini. The Bloody Mary is believed to have been invented and popularized during the 1930s at Harry's New York Bar (tel. 01-42-61-71-14 www.harrys-bar.fr), a 100-year-old expat bar in Paris. From the beginning, this thick concoction was touted as a hangover cure. Surely the vitamin C- rich tomato base can aid a morning time recovery (then again, so can vodka), but it is also refreshing and fortifying on a hot summer day.

Sunday brunch is a tradition in New York City, when locals are crowding restaurant and bar patios and terraces for a leisurely meal. Sometimes, the cocktail is the main attraction, such as at the Clover Club (tel. 718/855-7939 www.cloverclubny.com), the preferred Brooklyn Bloody Mary of mixologist Allen Katz. Café sandwich-board signs dot the sidewalks -- from the Upper West Side, Chelsea, and the West Village in Manhattan to Park Slope and Williamsburg in Brooklyn -- proclaiming the weekend's prix-fixe brunch. The house special Bloody Mary is often included in these specials.

Photo Caption: Christian, master bartender at The Algonquin Hotel, shows how to make some of their drinks. In the center is a Bloody Mary. Photo by flickr4jazz/Flickr.com.

Coca-Cola enthusiasts rave about the superior Mexican Coke recipe, which uses cane sugar rather than corn syrup like in the U.S. However, Mexico's traditional cool-down drink is the appropriately-named agua fresca. The "refreshing water" is simply fruit pulp steeped in cold water, sometimes with added sugar. Aguas frescas are not quite juice but more than just flavored water. All across Mexico, restaurants and street vendors steep lime, pineapple, tuna (prickly pear), tamarind, and plenty of other local fruits in clear barrels filled with chilled water. Perhaps the most common flavors are flor de jamaica and horchata. Hibiscus flower tea (flor de jamaica), with its light, berry-like taste, is a natural diuretic rich in antioxidants. Horchata, icy and sweet rice milk with vanilla and cinnamon, is the New World version of the classic southern Spanish recipe made with tiger nuts.

To make your own agua fresca, simply wash, peel or hull, and chop your favorite fruit. Puree with water in a blender then strain out the pulp. Add more water and a dash of lime juice and chill in a large pitcher. For an even lighter infusion, simply add chopped fruit (or even cucumbers) to water and let chill for two hours. Vodka infusion, a long-standing tradition in Slavic cultures and a perfect base for summer cocktails, is simply sliced fruit, herbs, and spices steeped in vodka for at least three days.

Photo Caption: Aguas frescas stand in Oaxaca. Photo by Y! Musica/Flickr.com.

In any season, the beverage of choice in India is chai (black tea with milk). But after a long day of touring temples in India's scorching spring or summer heat, a hot cup of thick chai can have little appeal. An ideal alternative is the lassi, a chilled fresh yogurt drink blended with water and spices or fruit. A salty lassi's pungent bite, thanks to the added black pepper and cumin, might surprise a Westerner accustomed to sugary yogurt drinks. A sweet lassi, on the other hand, is blended with fruit pulp, such as mango, and is akin to a fruit smoothie. Salty or sweet, this thick and cool drink provides the antidote to spicy Indian cuisine: If you're sweating from the heat in your meal, a lassi will put out the fire immediately. Originally from the Punjab region of northern India, lassis are now found throughout India, Pakistan, and their diasporas. Variations in central Asia include the salty ayran drink in Turkey.

The active cultures in yogurt can help your body maintain healthy digestion. According to Ayurveda, the ancient health system from the Indian subcontinent, a lassi soothes upset stomachs and aides digestion salty or sweet lassis are prescribed according to a person's individual body constitution and are recommended with a light lunch. While in India, should you fall victim to Delhi Belly, or traveler's diarrhea, this home remedy may well help your digestive system recover so you can enjoy the rest of your vacation.


Bottomless brunches in London

Bad Egg

Price : £35 per person (unlimited Bloody Marys, prosecco or Mimosas), two dishes whole table only two-hour time limit. Saturday 10am to 7.30pm and Sunday, 12pm to 5.30pm.

You followed your hangover here. So thankfully this part of the City-to-Shoreditch pass is a ghost town at the weekend &ndash and all the gentler for it. Meanwhile American-style diner Bad Egg is hopping &ndash but don&rsquot recoil, everyone&rsquos in the same morning-after boat. Sit back and enjoy unlimited hair of the dog, including a spicy gochujang bloody mary that&rsquoll slap you straight. You can choose from two plates from a crazy-ass fusion menu (plus your choice of soul-reviving pancakes or French toast), so go with a group and order strategically.

Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings

Bourne & Hollingsworth does bottomless brunch in its purest form. The venue? A light-drenched conservatory filled with ferns and palms. The menu? Two courses of simple breakfast food &ndash smoothie bowls, pancakes, avo on toast, hash browns &ndash alongside as many Bellinis and Bloody Marys as you can handle, plus hot drinks. It&rsquos a formula that&rsquos been copied across the city, but these lads do it properly

Daddy Bao

Price : £18 per person for one hour of speciality cocktails. All food items priced individually. Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 4pm.

A welcome spin-off of Mr Bao in Peckham, Daddy Bao is Tooting&rsquos answer to reliably good Taiwanese cuisine. Go for the much-lauded fluffy steamed milk bao of course, but don&rsquot miss the small plates and rolled spring onion pancakes (with slow cooked beef or mushrooms) while you&rsquore there. The atmosphere oozes contemporary Asian: trad red lanterns hover above and hand-drawn Mandarin characters adorn the walls. It&rsquos distinctly moody and buzzy (but fun) &ndash pull up a pew and watch your food being made in the kitchen while you wait.

Darcie and May Green

Price : £39.50 per person for two dishes plus unlimited prosecco and Mimosas). Whole table only. Monday to Saturday, 10am to 3.30pm Sunday, noon to 3.30pm. Ninety-minute time limit.

Darcie and May Green aren&rsquot two old toffs, but a pair of floating barges moored up on the Grand Union Canal outside Paddington station &ndash complete with artwork from Brit Art godfather Sir Peter Blake. Head to Darcie for its Aussie-style bottomless brunch, which brings you unlimited prosecco and Mimosas plus two dishes &ndash one savoury, one sweet. Try the &lsquoFancy bacon roll&rsquo (poached eggs, crispy onions, bacon, holy f*ck hollandaise, paratha roti) or the award-winning banana bread sandwich slathered with mascarpone. Craving a hearty full English? Order The Bondi. The same menu is offered at Darcie and May Green&rsquos sister restaurants, including Ziggy Green off Regent Street and Timmy Green in Victoria.

Double Standard

Price: £20 for unlimited Blood Marys and prosecco. Food priced separately. Sunday 12pm to 5pm.

When the original, ultra-sleek Standard hotel opened in LA, it was a place for hyped bands to stay and for the city&rsquos scenesters to party at super-exclusive disco nights. It&rsquos no wonder, then, that its King&rsquos Cross outpost feels very, very hip. Its restaurant Double Standard &ndash with its sleazy &rsquo70s aesthetic and dive-bar menu &ndash is a big ol&rsquo part of that. On Sundays, it hosts bottomless brunch, with unlimited Bloody Marys and a brunch burger with, er, Bloody Mary ketchup (plus American classics like banana pancakes). It&rsquos also got a very nice, sunny terrace if eating breakfast in a space that screams &lsquo4am afterparty&rsquo feels wrong.

El Pirata

Price: £37. Saturday 12pm to 3pm.

Few London restaurants channel big holiday energy like El Pirata. The luxury Mayfair spot has the vibe of a fancy joint on a Spanish city break. Bottomless brunch comes with free-flowing Sangria and beer and is more about snacking on very good small plates &ndash padron peppers, tortilla, prawns with chilli, garlic and olive oil &ndash than eating and drinking yourself into a stupor.

Venue says Lunch under £15 two tapas, bread & alioli and a soft drink, all for £13.50. available Tuesday-Fridays from the 18th May. Book now!

Flesh & Buns

Price : £39 or £59 per person (depending on the menu you choose), including unlimited red or white wine, prosecco or lager. Sunday and bank holiday Monday, noon to 4pm (last seating). Two-hour time limit, groups of six maximum.

After a heavy Saturday night, what do hardcore caners do? They carry on the party somewhere where the sun don&rsquot shine and where the rock music doesn&rsquot spare their tender eardrums. The Flesh & Buns brunch is a no-brainer for postponing and minimising your oncoming hangover, with a selection of chips, dips and edamame plus a choice of three small dishes per person (and a signature bao bun to boot) &ndash plus as much hair of the dog as you can stomach (lager, prosecco, red or white wine) to ease the pain (for now). It&rsquos not a traditional brunch menu by any stretch of the imagination, but it&rsquos all tasty ballast.

HotBox

Price : £25 per person for bottomless prosecco, Mimosas and a selection of other cocktails. All food items priced individually. Tuesday to Sunday, 11.30am to 2.15pm, Sunday, 1130am to 2.20pm). Two-hour time limit.

They call it a &lsquoliquid brunch&rsquo here, which probably sets the tone nicely for a bit of a Texas hoedown. Big, meaty flavours mean this is as bombastic as bottomless brunch can get, with the likes of beef-rib taco and a pork-belly eggs benedict with spiced hollandaise on the line-up &ndash choose from a selection of cocktails, unlimited prosecco and Mimosas. Traditionalists don&rsquot have to go in heavy on the meat and can complement their unlimited booze with huevos rancheros or the classic hipster combo of crushed avocado with feta and a poached egg on sourdough. There&rsquos even a twist on a classic cheese toastie made with truffle, fontina cheese and asparagus. Fancy!

Venue says Delivery and Call & Collect available! Find us on Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats. We also now have at-home meal kit available!

Lantana Shoreditch

Price : £30 per person with bottomless prosecco, Mimosas and coffee with any brunch item. £25 with unlimited juices and coffee. Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 4pm. Ninety-minute time limit.

Rise and shine in Shoreditch with a menu of Aussie-leaning brunch treats &ndash from shredded confit duck with roasted sweet potato, edamame and a peanut sesame seed chilli crunch to corn fritters and smashed avocado every which way. Speaking of smashed, guests can choose from bottomless Mimosas for classic brunch vibes or go classy with prosecco a-flowing. Lantana is sympathetic to the teetotallers too, offering coffee and juices on tap. And with its Aussie roots, you know the coffee will be bonzer.

Mr Bao

Price: £18 for bottomless cocktails. All dishes priced individually. Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 5pm. One-hour time limit.

Toast devotees, shield your eyes &ndash the menu at this Peckham restaurant offers Taiwanese takes on brunch classics with the traditional bready carbs replaced by Mr Bao&rsquos soft &rsquon&rsquo springy milk-white steamed buns. The bao benedict is the pick of the bunch, topped with the same slow-braised pork that stars in the restaurant&rsquos signature bao. The veggie version with teriyaki shiitake mushrooms is a stunning option, too. Whatever you choose, at least one punchier-than-average bloody mary is non-negotiable. With sparkling saké, wasabi and sriracha getting in on the party, it&rsquos a slap in the face of trad brunching, in a very, very good way.

Pachamama

Price : £25 per person for food, £20 extra for unlimited prosecco. Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 4pm. Two-hour time limit.

Inject some colour into your mid-morning feasting, with the prettiest Peruvian plates paired with bottomless prosecco. That booze also goes well with sharing plates of sea bream tiradito, fried aubergine with smoked yoghurt or Pachamama&rsquos signature brunch waffles &ndash the sweet version topped with peanut butter, grilled plantain, coconut and Peruvian chocolate is a must-try. If you&rsquore missing the famous full English, order up the bacon, egg and yacon syrup waffle while you jam to bachata beats.

Quaglino's

Price : Q brunch (£25 extra per person for unlimited prosecco for the duration of your meal when eating two or more courses), Saturday, 11.30am to 2.30pm. Q lunch (£23 per person for bottomless bubbles or £20 per person for bottomless white or rosé wine for the duration of your meal when eating two or more courses), Sunday 11.30am to 2.30pm. Parties of 13 or more must have three courses.

Fashion fades, but class lasts, and swanky Quag&rsquos just keeps on rolling along &ndash always ready for the latest celebrity bash or dressed-up party. It&rsquos also worth putting on your glad rags for the &lsquoQ brunch&rsquo &ndash a fancy socialising affair fuelled by bottomless bubbles (of course) and live music. You can eat handsomely from a roster that runs from native lobster thermidor to roast loch duarte salmon, a flashy croque monsieur or wild mushroom linguine with herby truffle and aged parmesan. Ready for pud? Try the mandarin and pistachio baked Alaska. There are buttermilk pancakes plus eggs every which way too &ndash if that&rsquos more to your liking.

Restaurant at Sea Containers London

Price : £19 per person for bottomless prosecco, Rossinis, Mimosas or Grey Goose Bloody Marys, or bottomless Laurent-Perrier Brut for £59. All brunch items priced individually. Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays, noon to 4pm (last seating). Ninety-minute time limit.

The perfect brunch-time distraction for culture vultures who have bookmarked a weekend meet-up with friends and a visit to Tate Modern or the South Bank, Sea Containers&rsquo waterside dining room offers a sharing deal in maritime-themed, trompe l&rsquooeil surrounds. The menu goes on a transatlantic cruise, stopping off for buttermilk fried chicken with waffles and blue cheese or a poshed-up mac &rsquon&rsquo cheese with braised beef and garlic crumbs &ndash with the odd detour for heritage tomato and ricotta flatbread and a crowd-pleasing aged cheddar cheeseburger. Check in at the Grey Goose Bloody Mary station to juice your own tomatoes and add garnishes from the market cart.

Venue says Enjoy weekend bottomless brunch, lunch or dinner with stunning views across the river Thames as your backdrop. Our outdoor terrasse is open!

Roka Aldwych

Price : £59 per person for ten sharing plates, a main course, dessert and unlimited red, white and rose wine throughout your meal plus a bellini on arrival. Saturday, 11.30am to 3.30pm, Sunday and bank holidays, 11.30am to 8pm.

The weekend brunch menu at Roka Aldwych goes under the title of &lsquohan setto&rsquo, which is Japanese for &lsquogently wasted&rsquo. Just kidding (it means &lsquoset menu&rsquo) although the procession of ten sharing plates, plus a main and a sumptuous dessert platter, does come with the option of unlimited prosecco, red or white wine throughout the meal &ndash and you&rsquoll be pleased to hear that staff don&rsquot hold back with top-ups. Move from dumplings, sashimi, tempura and the like to hearty grilled meats and veg from the robata. The dessert platter&rsquos sugar rush will lift you from any post-wine slump.

Smiths of Smithfield Farringdon

Price: £60 per person for bottomless prosecco, Mimosas or Bloody Marys, a Little Bird Gin welcome cocktail and a three-plate meal, or £85 for the above plus champagne instead of prosecco plus caviar and cream cheese blinis. Saturday, noon to 8pm. Two-hour time limit.

Sure, breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but brunch is obviously the most fun. If you&rsquore in the game for top-notch cuts of quality meat and sausages, Smiths is right down your alley. Go all out for its all-day breakfast, baked eggs with suffolk chorizo and wood-fired peppers, or try the Severn & Wye smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and crème fraiche on toast. There&rsquos also a pretty decent vegan option, too.

Temper Covent Garden

Price: £39.50 for bottomless wine, beer or cocktails and a barbecue brucnh platter. Saturday noon to 3.30pm.

Temper&rsquos held a solid top-ten spot on our Best Restaurants list since it opened in 2016. One of a wave of chic barbecue joints that have set up in London over the past few years, it&rsquos a sort-of industrial, sort-of retro space where tough-nut chefs chuck huge hunks of meat on to charcoal fires in a central open kitchen. At the weekend you can sit back and watch the show with unlimited cocktails and a platter of Asian- and Latin-spiced flesh. Think: impossibly juicy pork and full-flavoured, smoked and &lsquoblow-torched&rsquo mackerel, tucked into tacos and flatbreads.


HOW the Wine Industry can Recover in 2011: Use Less Oak

Positive signs of recovery for the wine industry in 2010. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that consumers are drinking again. Well, they never stopped drinking, just now they're drinking the good stuff. Consumers are now buying $25-$50 bottles of wine whereas last year and the year before they were buying bottles under $15.

I got to thinking about what it costs to produce a bottle of wine. Things that factor into the price have a lot to do with the work done in the vineyard. Each time vineyard workers go through the rows and touch the vines, it costs money. In good vintages, a winery will get good fruit with less touching of vines, hence, less cost basis. In a bad year, a winery might have to do a significant amount more work just to get fruit to a good place by harvest. From vintage to vintage, these are unfixed costs that can't be controlled. If a winery is buying fruit from another vineyards, there might also be a fluctuation of what the fruit costs per ton. In 2010, many vineyard in Northern California lost 20-30% of their crops because it was a cool summer. Grapes weren't getting ripe, so vineyard managers cut leaves off the vines that normally act as shade from the sun. Mother nature, it seems, has a sick sense of humor. Shortly after leaves were cut off, there was a heat spike over 100 degrees for a few days. That turned 20-20% of grapes into raisins. Without the normal leaf shade, the grapes didn't stand a chance.

One (somewhat) fixed cost in wine is the cost of oak barrels. A brand-spanking new French oak barrel costs somewhere around $800-1200. A barrel can be used a few times before it becomes "neutral," or doesn't impart oaky flavor. American oak is an option, but French oak is the preferred choice. Wineries order pallets of oak barrels each year. Do the math with me. If a winery buys 500 new oak barrels at an average of $1000 per, that's $500,000 in barrels.

Here's where my brilliant idea for financial recovery comes into play: Use less oak. Simple, huh? In 2010 I tasted more overly oaked wines than I cared to. Why on God's green earth are winemakers oaking the shit out of their wines? This is a debate that's been around for years, but I'm really baffled. Cut the amount of oak down 25% on your next barrel order. Actually make wine that expresses the vineyard and don't cover up flaws with an orgy of French oak. Not only could wineries save a few hundred grand, but they might actually make a better wine. Why has nobody done this?

Take for example the 2007 Quilceda Creek Red wine from Washington state. For years I've been a lover of QC wines, and have ordered from their mailing list. After drinking (or trying to drink) this wine, I decided to drop off the list. At 15.2% alcohol, the lower tier QC resembled Vodka and Robitussin rather than a world class wine. There was so much oak on this wine, my wife and I literally could not finish it. We ended up making a sauce instead.

In Napa and Sonoma I've experienced something similar. Dozens of overly oaked wines that really have no reason to be so oaky. Robert Parker isn't helping any by giving these behemoth's inflated scores, and essentially rewarding them for oak.

So there it is, use less oak. That reduces the carbon footprint for shipping. It saves more trees. Wineries save on costs and wine drinkers get a better wine. What do you think?


Watch the video: 1-1-2021 - ΠΡΩΤΟΧΡΟΝΙΑ 2021.