Sunday, March 29, 2009

Drink in the Dark 2009 Earth Hour Success

Drink in the Dark an Earth Hour Success

by Amelia Sauter, Ithaca, NY

85 people, 37 candles, three brave bartenders and one confused dog: Drink in the Dark for Earth Hour 2009 was a success at Felicia's Atomic Lounge! On March 28, 2009, people all around the world turned off their lights and electrical appliances for one hour, 8:30pm-9:30pm, to show support for our Earth and a commitment to stop global warming.

As the lights were turned off one by one, the crowd cheered and the bartenders lit candles so they could see the cocktails they were making. One bartender donned a headlamp. Staff placed multiple candles in the bathrooms, in the kitchen and on the tables. Off went the music. Eesah the Lounge dog ran around with an LED light attached to his collar. "We should do this more often," said virtually every patron we talked to, as their eyes adjusted from the non-participatory glowing streetlights to the darkness of the bar. Co-owner Amelia Sauter's response as she paced around, checking in with patrons and nervously peeking into the candlelit bathrooms? "Not too often. Drunk people and fire is a slightly worrisome combination." She added that she checked all of the fire extinguishers before the event started.

Did any other Ithaca businesses participate? If they did, no one seemed to know about it. Makes you stop and wonder how people in Kuwait, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia could have unified, mass de-lighting events, but Ithaca, a hub of enlightened do-gooders, did little to publicize and encourage Earth Hour. Yes, the Tompkins County Legislature proclaimed that Ithaca would participate in Earth Hour and the Ithaca Journal published a paragraph about it on the morning of March 28, but we expected more from our eco-sensitive community. The peaceful darkness of Felicia's was surrounded by the light of the glaring streetlights and garish business signs like one at the infamous State Street Diner.

Let's start planning now for 2009 so we can make Earth Hour a meaningful event in Ithaca and all over our electricity-addicted country.

What does it look like to Drink in the Dark? See the candlelight cocktail videos below:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Drink in the Dark for Earth Hour 2009

This Saturday, March 28, people and businesses around the world will be turning off their lights from 8:30pm-9:30pm for Earth Hour, to show support of the Earth over global warming. Felicia's Atomic Lounge will be participating in this worldwide event. Drink in the Dark with like-minded Ithacans, and show your commitment to the Earth.

Who needs electricity to make and drink cocktails? Drinking cocktails by candlelight is sexy. Loving our Earth is sexy. Maybe we should be doing this more than once a year. Flashlights will be available for the bathrooms. Get your flatbread orders in before 8:30pm so we can turn off the oven, too.

Register your vote by signing up to participate in Earth Hour online at See you (in the dark) at the Lounge on Saturday!
Sign up for Earth Hour
Update: Are you a food or drink blogger? Participate in the cook-in-the-dark challenge this Saturday at the blog Morsels and Musings.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, March 23, 2009

Road Trip! Finger Lakes Distilling

A still! Right in our own backyard, and a legal one to boot. Brian McKenzie, president of Finger Lakes Distilling in lil ol' Burdett, NY invited Leah and I for a private tour of his new distillery which will hopefully be open to the public this spring.

We were greeted by a massive, shiny copper still, a wagging dog, liquor fumes and a guy with a molasses-like, Alabama drawl who identified himself as Thomas McKenzie, no relation to Brian, which we had guessed by his accent. The distillery had 60 foot hight ceilings, big and little barrels of aging whiskey and brandy, looming storage containers and a long trough filled with mash. Seeing how New York is a bit short on distilleries, this was my first time seeing mash. Cool. This is where my booze comes from.

These guys are going to be our new best friends. Seriously. They let us taste some of their liquid treasure and boy howdy was it good. We got to sample their gin, rye whiskey, new catawba brandy and aged brandy. That's right. I said catawba, as in Vitus labrusca, the crappy upstate New York grape used to make sweet party-girl wines like Hazlitt Winery's Red Cat, and now used to make phenomenal liquor. I think we tried something else, too, but the memories are all swirling together now.

Was it good hooch? Cousin, it rocked our world. And we're pretty fussy bitches. The gin was delicately floral and smooth as silk. So smooth, in fact, that it could be a sipper, no ice necessary. How many gins can claim that quality? The rye whiskey went kaboom on our palates. Heavy with flavor and almost peaty, Leah drank more than her fair share of it (the whiskey was heavy and peaty, not Leah). The young catawba brandy was as clear as water and had a sweet edge reminiscent of cachaca. When I tasted the caramel-colored two-year-old brandy, I ran off with the half-full tasting glass and hid behind a big barrel so I would not have to share. I'm not making that up. It was pure heaven, like an expensive special-occasion-only cognac. Also in the works but not available for tasting that day were vodka, wild berry vodka and various brandies including apple maple and walnut honey.

Brian and Thomas are going to do great on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, which can now also be referred to as the Corn Trail. They are true locavores, growing their own grapes and purchasing all of their grains in New York State; an ancient farmer and his wife dropped by while we were there to show Thomas some of their grain. Mother nature permitting, they plan to grow their own herbs, too. Finger Lakes Distilling is slated to open in late spring, and we definitely will carry their liquor at the Lounge and make some original Finger Lakes cocktails with it, provided we don't drink it all ourselves.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, March 16, 2009

Singha Lonely Planet Great Bars of the World

Vote for Felicia's Atomic Lounge or write a review! Just search for "Ithaca, NY" and there we'll be.

Lonely Planet wrote a great review of us:

"With a casually hip style that welcomes everything from dreadlocks to business suits, Felicia’s is a mirror of Ithaca’s comfortably diverse personalities. All the bartenders are “mixologists”, showing a passion for new flavors that has led to a tradition of constantly creating new concoctions (like the beet martini). The most successful recipes are added to a pleasingly diverse menu of rotating specialty drinks that compliment more traditional favorites. Technology trendy, Felicia communicates with patrons through satirical blogs and sassy emails to promote new drinks, a never-ending stream of live music, and events such as Recession Wednesdays."

Vote here.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why Won't She Make Me a Drink?

That's not Leah ignoring you while she washes all the bar glasses as you thirstily wave your money in the air. That's Sarah, our new occasional barback at Felicia's Atomic Lounge. Quite a resemblance, isn't it? DNA testing, anyone?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mixology Monday: Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

For this month’s Mixology Monday, the ladies at LUPEC Boston have challenged us to come up with a good gateway drink for the cocktail virgin, that is, one who has never imbibed or one who typically does not drink alcohol.

First question is, why don’t you drink? If Felicia’s is going to fix you your first cocktail ever in an attempt to bring you over to the dark side, we want to know what we are up against. Are you scared of alcohol? A lightweight? Maybe you do not like the taste of alcohol. Maybe you have bad memories of the horrible things that happened after Uncle Jimmy polished off a bottle of Old Granddad by himself, you remember, that Christmas when he almost burned the house down.

Ok. We will not start you on whiskey. Typically, first-time drinkers need something sweet to water down their cocktails and make them think they are drinking soda pop, fruit juice or dessert. Like the good ol’ Kahlua and Cream. That’s what I drank when I snuck into my first bar, The Golden Pond, at age 15 (Mom and Dad, I swear I just made that up to impress my friends so they would not know what a nerd I was back then). That’s me in the picture above. I was so totally awesome in 1987. Leah started at age 13; she was an early bloomer. Her drink of choice was Fuzzy Navels. We will not subject you to teenager drinks, however. At Felicia’s Atomic Lounge, we would be much more likely to recommend you try the Horny Ninjarita (our margarita with fresh lime juice and grated ginger), our homemade Sangria or a mojito, all of which mask the flavor of alcohol with fresh ingredients. Mmmm. Getting thirsty.

I am sitting at home at the computer right now, and I don’t have any fresh grated ginger, red wine or mint, so I am going to fall back on an old 1980’s standby that made a comeback in recent years: the fruit punch-colored Cosmopolitan. The most important thing for drink virgins to know is that the cheaper the alcohol, the more biting the flavor. Go for Grey Goose or Ciroc, or if today’s economy has you thinking more about quitting your vices than adding to them, Svedka is an acceptable substitute. You definitely want fresh squeezed lime juice, and use Cointreau, not triple sec. As for cranberry juice, most of what you find in the store is filled with mystery ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and Red #6, so consider substituting pomegranate juice (Shout out to Pom Wonderful! Thanks for the juice!) If you use cranberry juice and make the cosmo correctly, it will be a pale pink like my tie-dyed shirt in the photo above. With pom juice, the drink will be a deeper red.

Now a warning: Good drinks taste good! Cosmopolitans are addictive. The answer is out there, Neo, and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I will show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

1 ½ ounces of vodka
½ ounce Cointreau
¼ ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ ounce simple syrup (half sugar, half water)
1 ounce pomegranate juice (or cranberry juice)
lime wheel

Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into chilled cosmo glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Be sure to read the Mixology Monday round-up at LUPEC Boston's website!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Operation Outdoor Furniture Recovery

About a month ago during a brief thaw, a big rain and windstorm and came through Trumansburg and swept someone's cast iron lawn furniture into our creek. We have since been staring at it stuck in the ice. Leah took advantage of the current respite from the cold weather by donning a pair of muck boots, braving the rapids and rescuing the lawn furniture, which will likely end up in Felicia's alley. In her words, "It's ours now."


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Manhattan

I come from a long line of whiskey drinkers. My dad loves his whiskey, as did my grandfather before him. My grandmother drank whiskey, too, hiding hers in an empty syrup bottle in the kitchen, in her words, to keep my grandfather from drinking too much.

Grandpap favored whiskey and soda, and was known to drink it with his brothers late at night straight from the bottle. Like the rest of my family, he had no preference for brands. Whiskey was whiskey. When times were hard, he drank some pretty rough stuff. One time as a joke my dad replaced some of Grandpap’s nasty whiskey with the brown sulfur water that came from the faucet at their camp. Grandpap didn’t know the difference.

Perhaps our family's tastes have become more discerning with each generation. My mom says that my dad discovered Manhattans when he was in grad school, at a party where he consumed seven Manhattans and a Rob Roy and then “got the flu” the next day. I learned to appreciate Manhattans a little later in life, with a splash of cherry juice to smooth the rough edges. Though I have never met a whiskey that I didn’t like, nowadays I fancy a Manhattan with Knob Creek or Woodford Reserve bourbon. On occasion, though, you still might catch me passing the bottle with friends.

Photo by Leah Houghtaling of Groove Woodworking. Top Ten Ways to Get Your Blog Read: the latest post on Amelia's other blog, Drink My Words.

Stumble Upon Toolbar