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Pop the Portuguese Punch

Now that it’s officially spring, we decided to break out the punch bowls. USQite Seth White whips up a refreshing vinho verde punch, based on the young Portuguese white wine. We, however, determined that it needed a bit more…booze (to celebrate the warm weather, of course). Check out this vodka-and-vinho-verde version, the Portuguese Eastside Punch, to kick-start the sunshine season!

Rosemary Syrup
2 cups water
½ cup sugar
4 sprigs rosemary, rinsed

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer over moderately low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the syrup and chill. Can be made up to one week in advance.

Portuguese Eastside Punch
7 bottles of Sogrape Vinho Verde Gazela
4 cups Absolut Mandarin Vodka
1 cup rosemary syrup
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
⅓ cup mint leaves

In a punch bowl, mix the wine, vodka, and rosemary syrup. Add the cucumber slices. Let stand for one hour. Garnish with the mint and serve over ice. Note: You can substitute Leroux’s Triple Sec for the rosemary syrup, but you will lose some herbal notes.

Get the ingredients here.

Kiss Me, I’m Irish

Catch some luck of the Irish tomorrow, as we host our USQ St. Patrick’s Day party from 2 to 5pm. Our pot of liquid gold features tastes of Irish whiskey and Irish cream from Emerald Isle producers including Jameson’s, Redbreast, Midleton’s, Bushmill’s, Tullamore Dew, Concannon, Coole Swan, and Ryan’s Irish. Be sure to don green, though, because you don’t want a nasty pinch from our team of leprechauns.

Admission to this tasting is free, and reservations are not required.

Looking for a cocktail to spice up your St. Paddy’s Day party? Check out our concoction, the Tyrconnell Clementine and a lucky standby, the Nutty Irishman.

Pack a Punch: La Tigresa

siete leguas reposado tequila

It’s warm and sunny, and we’re ready to pack a punch. This South American-themed cocktail may be a bit pre-mature (It is still March, after all) but tequila sounds delightful. Spirits Director Tom Smith discovered La Tigresa years ago during an interactive mixology session at the Salon, and well, hasn’t stopped drinking it since. Named after Argentine boxer Marcela “La Tigresa” Acuña, (as she was known to be rather sweet outside the ring and rather savory within), this cocktail calls to mind the poolside jaunts coming soon.

1 ½ oz Siete Leguas Reposado Tequila
¾ oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
½ oz fresh lime juice
2 cubes fresh pineapple
1 slice red bell pepper

In a clean shaker, combine pineapple, red bell pepper, and lime juice. As opposed to the classic “twist-and-pulverize” muddling technique, perform a gentler pressing of these ingredients. Next, add the St. Germain and Siete Leguas Reposado. Fill with ice and shake. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a skewer of pineapple and red bell pepper.

Get your Siete Leguas Resposado here.

Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth

One of my favorite things to drink, period. This red vermouth, based on Giuseppe Carpano’s original recipe from 1786, is a delightful melange of candied red cherry, bitter gentiene and quinine notes, and touches of orange peel and mint. Silky, spicey, herbal, bright are all adjectives that come to mind when sipping on a Carpano Antica. Enjoy as I do, simply over rocks, or as an addition to any traditional cocktail calling for sweet vermouth; makes a good Negroni great. Check it out here. -Charles Sasson

PSIn the mood for a Manhattan? The New York Times recommends Carpano Antica Formula in the latest Diner’s Journal

Classic Sidecar

After our Cognac & Blues event on Wednesday, we’ve had a hankering for more Cognac brandy. Which brings us to the choice cocktail of the weekend: Sidecar. The Sidecar is thought to have been invented in Paris for a patron of the bar who typically arrived by motorcycle sidecar. The first mention of the drink can be found in Robert Vermiere’s Cocktails: How to Mix Them. His concoction calls for equal parts Cognac brandy, Cointreau and lemon juice. But we follow the more popular recipe, found in The Savoy Cocktail Book:

1/2 Cognac brandy
1/4 Cointreau
1/4 lemon juice

Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

It’s popular to add a sugar rim, as Schiller’s Liquors (photo above) does in Manhattan. For that, coat the rim with a fresh lemon and dip into sugar. 

Dirty Dog Martini

At the Martini Bowl 2012 last Saturday, Bulldog Gin served up one “Dirty Dog” of a martini. While the London-based spirit didn’t take home the top prize (that went to Poland’s Zubrowka bison grass vodka), it did win in our minds for the herbed feta-stuffed olives. Make one yourself with the recipe below.
3 oz. Bulldog Gin
½ oz. olive juice
speared olives for garnish
Shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with olives.

USQ tastings photos now on our Facebook page

USQ tastings

See what was poured and who was drinking in our USQ Tastings photo album on our Facebook page!

Whisky & Jazz Single Malt Tasting

“Jazz was born in a whisky barrel,” according to musician Artie Shaw. And what better way to celebrate that theory than with a live jazz and Scotch tasting, complete with dark chocolate? On Thursday, February 9, USQ will have more than a dozen single malt Scotchs on hand to sip alongside the sounds of the Ralph Williams Jazz Trio. Look forward to selections from Glenfiddich, including an unveiling of their limited edition Cask of Dreams bottling (only a few are even available in New York!), as well as Lagavulin, Oban, The Balvenie, Highland Park, Talisker and Bruichladdich. But we’re not done yet. Pure Dark Chocolate will help guests explore and discover their own favorite Scotch and chocolate pairings…just in time for Valentine’s Day!
Reservations are required to attend this events. Tickets are $30 each, and include a $10 voucher toward purchase the evening of the event. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Fluid Fridays: Finger Lakes Distilling

Join USQ and Finger Lakes Distilling every Friday in January for a spirited look at this local producer’s stunning portfolio! Owner Brian McKenzie and Master Distiller Thomas Earl McKenzie are quietly crafting amazing spirits from local grapes and grains that have a lot of people talking! Everything from their barrel-aged Bourbon and Rye, grape spirit-based gin and grappa, to vodka and liqueurs are making their way into bars, restaurants, and retail shops throughout New York State. Stop by the barrel as Finger Lakes Distilling takes attendees on a tasty tour of Seneca Drums Gin, McKenzie Rye, McKenzie Bourbon, and Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey. Mixologist Alexis Kahn has promised to kick things off with a killer Negroni featuring Seneca Drums Gin. This and other cocktails will be accompanied by bone-warming drams of their whiskies each Friday in January!