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America’s top bar trends

Cocktail Clubs

Look out faux-speakeasies, there’s a new semi-secretive cocktail club in town. Billed as a CSA for liqueurs, Brooklyn’s Sister Liqueurs unites organic boozehounds each month with a bottle of homemade infused liqueur at special cocktail parties where members and a guest get to sample libations made from that month’s special sauce.

Can’t make a membership meeting? You can pick up your monthly elixir just as easily at the Sister Liqueurs headquarters. Moonshine this is not: Handmade with organic herbs, spices, fruits and veggies, Sister Liqueurs are epicurean delights with past flavors running the gamut from roasted beet to ginger grapefruit and wild plum. Membership fills up quickly—thanks to the three-month membership costing a mere $75—so check the Web site monthly to hop on board this boozy Brooklyn bargain. —JP


check out the article on Sister Liqueurs in the Summer 2010 Edible Brooklyn

Locavore Liqueur
by Stella FIore
Photograph: Dina Kantor

Hunny Vermouth steeps her Bloody Mary liqueur for two months but tastes it every week for spiciness, pulling out a little horseradish or cayenne as she sees fit. When I ask for the recipe, she responds, "Well, first you have to grow and harvest the tomatoes, the beets and the peppers."

Combine equal parts urban farmer and cocktail connoisseur, add a jigger of underground DIY sensibility, and you've got yourself an illicit liqueur CSA, providing members with a monthly bottle of alcohol (usually vodka, bourbon or rum) that Hunny's infused with herbs, spices, nuts, flowers, fruits and/or vegetables.  In summer, members might receive a bottle of Cucumber Basil, Ginger Grapefruit, or Elderflower liqueur. For fall, Sour Cherry and Wild Plum are in the works. Come winter, Spiced Herbal Bourbon redolent with black tea, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and cardamom can spike a hot toddy or be reduced for a caramel sauce to serve over flan.

Hunny's an urban farmer by day, but she doesn't grow all the aromatics herself. Rosemary cuttings come courtesy of her mother's three-year-old bush, Meyer lemons from trees planted by her former professors at UC Santa Cruz, fair-trade vanilla beans via the Park Slope Food Coop, wild plums are harvested by a friend who's an organic farmer, and Artemisia are collected in the California wild. As for that Bloody Mary liqueur, Hunny's horseradish is harvested from her nagyapa's plant (that's "grandpa" in Hungarian) but she's grown all the other ingredients herself. She's especially proud of the Early Girl tomatoes that she sun-dried along with the peppers before grating the horseradish and roasting the beets.

The results are sublime, but membership has other privileges, including invitation to the monthly cocktail parties at which shareholders collect their 32-ounce bootleg bottle. At the April pickup, Hunny's waiting with a glass of Cardamom Limoncello in hand, ready to serve us after a hard day's work in the urban jungle.  A trio of cocktails featuring the new liqueur arrive on trays in mismatched Mason jars alongside finger foods by Betty Brooklyn.  We take the first sip of the month and smile; the cocktails are aromatic, nuanced and just plain delicious.

Hunny's not the only one who's taken a nom de booze. A woman originally from Ethiopia introduces herself as Bellini; she's brought last month's bottle back for a refill (it made the rounds at a few dinner parties). A New Zealand transplant going by Hell's Bells starts a game of Exquisite Corpse with an artist called Dark & Stormy who runs her own supper club. Dirty Goldschlager, a DJ and birding tour guide, suggests they all swap cocktail recipes next month. Sentences overheard include: "we're incorporating our farm," and "I'm sorry I didn't make it to the fermentation festival," and "we're so fun and fabulous," spoken by Hunny herself.
We leave with our handcrafted liqueur in tow, slightly buzzed, feeling fabulous indeed. Next month, we'll pull out a party dress for the pickup.

Three- and six-month memberships are available as are cash bars for local fundraising events. Visit

Art On The Run: Homestead Gallery

Johnny Sanford :: Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 12:10 pm


 When one thinks of a traditional art gallery in New York City, what comes to mind is often a sterile place, with bright lights pointed at stationary works of art. Usually there’s an air of importance; a “look at me” quality to the space in which the art is presented. Homestead Gallery aims to change all that. Instead of finding a “home base” that might gain an ounce of pretentiousness, curators Andrea Henry, Nathan Margoni and Leah Tacha have opted for a more unique approach: Finding apartments in Brooklyn and Manhattan and turning them into a gallery for one night only. This past Saturday evening was even more unique: they were granted access to three stories of an apartment complex near Brooklyn St. and Pacific Ave. as a homestead for their most ambitious project to date. The result was a huge success, with packed floors and a unique art experience. I got the chance to do a small interview with co-founder Leah Tacha on their fourth exhibition, entitled “Three Rooms”.

What’s your beef with the traditional art gallery scene?
We had no “beef” with the more traditional gallery setting, we just wanted something to happen right now for us rather than wait around hoping that someday, by some miracle and after hundreds of applications that one of those galleries would see our work and love us and want to give us a show. That’s not to say that we aren’t all still applying and trying to be a part of those institutions, but for now, Homestead offers up amazing work in a new environment and a new community where the work can be highlighted and celebrated within the comforts of one’s home. We are making connections with new people and making things happen for artists, and for ourselves, right now. We don’t need to wait for the economy to get better, we can make it happen as long as we continue to have these amazingly generous “apartment donors” as well as artists who are interested in showing their work. And at this point, there is no shortage in either department.
How come you didn’t have free booze like at the last opening?
We usually do have free booze, but for this past opening we wanted to highlight a friend’s growing business “Sister Liqueurs” ( where she makes her own organic citrus infused alcohols. So instead of having the traditional “3 buck Chuck” from Trader Joe’s, we helped out a growing business as well as gave our attendees a delicious beverage at a low cost. (Note: They did have excellent beverages, so this wasn’t a real complaint.)
How did you come up with the idea for Homestead?
Andrea Henry, Nathan Margoni, and I were sitting on a Brooklyn rooftop about a year ago drinking a beer talking about how in the world, now that we are not in school anymore and the economy is so bad, are we going to survive as artists and continue to be involved in the artistic community? Walking around the Chelsea galleries the idea of ever showing in one of those massive spaces seemed impossible at this point. Isn’t it sad that we know SO MANY incredible artists and not a single one of them has had a show in New York yet? The longer we sat there and the more we talked we realized that we had to take action and take notice of the very place that we were: a rooftop in Brooklyn, New York. Why couldn’t we have a show on this very rooftop? Why couldn’t we have a show in our apartment? We’ve met a million people through too many years of art school to just let those connections dwindle off into the abyss of Manhattan.
And so Homestead began. We sat there that night and brainstormed all night about who we would include in our first show. We set a date for October 10 and hoped that these artists would want to be a part of our project. The response that we got was incredible–everyone wanted to be a part of it and help out in any way possible. So we went for it. We came up with a name: Homestead. This not only has sentimental qualities for myself because that is the name of the street that I was raised on in Kansas, but it also refers to the act of Homesteading, or “claiming unused land”, which is basically what we do. We take apartments, rooftops, gardens, and we transform these “unused” and atypical art spaces into a place where art and people can gather together in a relaxed and comfortable environment to discuss the work being shown as well as create connections within an artistic community.
What does the future hold in store for Homestead?
As for the future of Homestead, Andrea, Nathan, and I simply want to continue down this path that we are on. Our hope is to help the artists gain more recognition, maybe get a show with another space through us, as well as continue to open doors in different places and continue to introduce ourselves to these people that love artists and art, or are perhaps curious about the art world but have been too intimidated to attend an opening at a more “traditional” gallery. It would be great if someday we could afford to have a space for more than just a one-night only opening so that for the people who can’t make it to the opening could still see the work being shown. But for now, we will continue to ask for people’s apartments, show the artists’ work, throw the party, clean up the next day, and keep on Homesteading.
Their website is and you can find out about up-and-coming shows by becoming a fan on facebook under “Homestead.”