Vodka Goes Global – An Event

The Culinary Historians of New York and Astor Center are putting on an event December 2nd, exploring all things….Vodka! Really.

Since vodka is a primary ingredient in the bloody Mary, I’ve got to check it out. I’m also amazed at all the new, small vodka companies that have been popping up– Spring 44 (love them), Juliet Vodka, Tru Vodka, Vixen Vodka, 42 Below, and many others. It’s interesting to think how and why they have come to be and what is is like going up against the big boys like Absolut, Greg Goose, Belvedere, and others.










The event is at Astor Center, 399 Lafayette St., (at East 4th St.,) (upstairs).

The main speaker is Patricia Herlihy. She’s is a specialist in Russian and Ukrainian history and the author of The Alcoholic Empire: Vodka and Politics in Late Imperial Russia, and Vodka: A Global History.

Truthfully, I had no idea there were thick books written on vodka. But I was a History and Poli Sci major in college so these actually might be interesting reading for me. I’m in a book club and I think I’m going to recommend one of them. So much of the content is about history and culture, and that has always been an interest of mine.

Here is an overview of what the event will be about. It sounds quite interesting, and I think it will make me and you think of vodka in a whole new way.

From the invitation:

Vodka has been the staple drink in Slavic lands for at least 600 years and is inextricably bound to their culture. Clear but powerful, this distilled beverage not only supplied an alcoholic drink for celebrations, but also fueled the Russian and Soviet economies. These days, vodka is blamed for Russia’s soaring death rates. So why has North America embraced this fascinating and versatile drink? And why has vodka overtaken America’s own native drink, bourbon? How has vodka gone global?

Vodka distillers have packaged and pitched their product, just as consumers have come to define themselves through their choice of brands, and this packaging and branding reveals as much about vodka as it does about our own world. However vodka is drunk, whether straight, infused, flavored, or mixed, the history of vodka is a story of an old spirit transformed into the perfect postmodern drink. Mysterious in its origin, beguiling in its allure, vodka is a rising star.

Sign up here:

Cheers Brunchies™


A big Thank You to Kelly S.

I wanted to follow up on the Group Dining Guide I had posted about yesterday.

We had a woman who really found the Guide useful to her Shower search, and was very appreciative via email. We ended up helping her out with other details that went into her shower as well. She also invited us to her shower which was So. Darn. Nice. I  sent Kelly a note wishing her Congratulations on her Shower and upcoming baby and I thought I’d share this little video with you.

Cheers Brunchies™


This is going to be Brunchtacular!

If I didn’t go out of town this past weekend, I would have been the first in line at the Greenpoint Brunchtacular.

On April 27th noon to 3pm, a group called Rally Downtown (created after Superstorm Sandy to help businesses recover and non-profits succeed) organized the ultimate brunch event.

I’m talking Brooklyn favorites like AnellaBrooklyn Label, and Ovenly… all in one place.

Greenpoint and Williamsburg restaurants gathered together at t.b.d. in Greenpoint for a three hour ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT brunch with bottomless mimosas. t.b.d also has a back yard area, which is good to keep in mind for this long awaited spring the summer weather we finally have.

Check it out here for future events.

-Caitlin Heikkila

The Birthday Brunch. Part II

My 20 person birthday brunch: Gusto, on Greenwich Ave btwn 7th Ave & Perry St. (For the one-on-one birthday brunch Part I post, see here)

While I originally planned to rent half of the back section of Bread in SoHo, ultimately the price at Gusto was just impossible to beat. I wanted my friends to have more food and more booze for their money. Gusto has a $22 prix fixe which includes an Appetizer, an Entree, and Unlimited Mimosa’s and Bloodys. It was a no-brainer.

The other thing that sealed the deal was the fact that Gusto has a space in the back with 4 round tables and booths. (Booth’s make everything better don’t they?!) Fully packed, the space can fit 28 seated. It’s not a completely closed off space so you don’t feel isolated, but you do feel like you are there with your group primarily.

Gusto’s back section would also be great for a social or even a “networking” brunch where you would want a “stand-greet-cocktail” situation before you sit down. Going to Gusto for this year’s large group birthday brunch was just easy.

In summary, Gusto is: *Great prix fix deal, *Good option for birthday party group brunch, *Great back section for group events, *The banana bread pudding (PANE AFFOGATO vinsanto & cinnamon soaked Italian toast with caramelized bananas) rocks. *And, the Chocolate cake with butterscotch compote is a birthday girl’s dream.

I’m thinking of throwing a larger brunch party in Gusto’s back section since the space just works. It will be for BrunchCritic fans. Stay tuned.

Map & Photos: Gusto Ristorante e Bar Americano

The Birthday Brunch. Part I.

It’s true. I’ve turned another year older as of last weekend. The old adage may say I’ve turned “another year wiser,” but frankly I think I’m the anomaly if that’s true. Clearly I’m going to analyze this at the BrunchTable in the near future.

Anyways the point of this post is to share where I invited friends to join me in celebration. My birthday weekend consisted of two awesome brunches. One more intimate, and one more celebratory. Today’s brunch is about the former, Burger & Barrel. Sunday’s post will be about the latter.

Burger & Barrel (B & B), on Houston btwn Mercer & Greene.  I met an old friend who I hadn’t seen in ages at B & B. It is owned by the same team behind Lure Fishbar and Merc Bar, and I’ve been wanting to try it for a while. (Oh and I guess the proprietors have a thing for only owning places with “Bar” in the name…? Actually now that I think about it, “Brunch Bar” would be a cool name for a place…).

Anyways. The menu has multiple bloody Mary options beyond the classic vodka & tomato juice version. That always keeps things spicy, no pun intended. Everyone seated around us seemed to have at least one burger on the table, and it is probably because when the waiters walk by with it on a tray, your head turns and follows along, as everything somehow moves in slow motion.  It’s a big burger, and the bun is topped with two huge onion rings made steady by a toothpick. The best plate on the menu was the French Toast Sticks.  Excellent in flavor, but also great for sharing. If you are like me and always want both sweet and savory, ordering these are an ideal way to get that small “sweet,” without getting a larger dish and then the resulting sugar-coma.

The crowd is mixed, so is is a good choice for any type of party young or old. At the end of the day, this brunch was about having the opportunity to see a very dear, old friend. I was actually thrilled with my pick. It was the perfect atmosphere for our catch up.

In Summary, Burger & Barrel (B & B) is:

*A Good place for catching up with an old friend, *The crowd has a mix of people & ages,  *Has a notable Burger,  *Serves great French Toast Sticks, *Great for a group of 4, * and Has a fair number of baby strollers (which was fitting, since my friend is preggers).

I will be back to B & B next time I need a spot nearby the shopping in SoHo or when seeing a flick at the Angelika. It’s perfectly located next to both.

B & B photos and map: here

(For the one-on-one birthday brunch Part II post, see here)

What happens when you get a-lotta cheese, a pop-up space, & competitive people? The Big Cheesy.

The Big Cheesy is back. 

Openhouse is hosting their annual Big Cheesy, a grilled cheese competition featuring New York’s finest sandwich chefs, on Saturday, March 23rd and Sunday, March 24th. Eat, vote, and enjoy.

And if you’re lucky, you can win a pair of tickets ($50 value) to the big cheesy, sponsored by yours truly, BrunchCritic. To win: Be part of our community on Facebook with a “Like,” and simply email with your answer to: “Why do you like brunch?” See below for this year’s contenders…

This year’s lineup includes:

- Returning Champ Melt Shop (midtown)

- 2011 Winner Milk Truck (roving)

- Last year’s Bronze Winner Lucy’s Whey (Chelsea Market)

- Murray’s Cheese Bar (Bleecker St)

- Say Cheese (UWS), a catering company gone rogue

- Sons of Essex (LES) the irreverent throwback

- ’wichcraft by Tom Colicchio

Plus, Sixpoint beer (Red Hook) tallboys all around.

Like last year, tickets are $25, guests enjoy the competition in one-hour time slots, and each guest gets one vote. The Big Cheesy runs from 12-7pm both days and it’ll be delicious!

201 Mulberry St (between Spring & Kenmare)
New York, NY 10012

Click here for tickets, or here for information on last year’s event.



Events Calendar

 In case you haven’t seen it, we post BC’s Signature Brunch events in our official “Brunchie Events” calendar on the homepage. In addition to the events we host, like the Signature Orange Party, Buns-n-Biscuits, and others, we also post numerous brunch happenings hosted by other organizations. This can range from Brunch Launches, Brunch Parties, Supper Clubs, Drag Brunches, and more, all with the goal of keeping you in the know of great get togethers and fun happenings on the weekends.

Today we added some new and notable upcoming events that might be of interest, (and eventually when we get our newsletter up and running we’ll tell you that way as well…).

Salvation Taco Launches Brunch: New restaurant Salvation Taco launches their brunch service this weekend. They’ve got quite an eclectic menu…everything from steak & egg burritos (yum, this Californian loves that), to crispy pig ears…? Yes, really. You’ll have to tell me how that is. Then again, I will try anything once. (Like that time I tried frog legs. Loved them!)

All You can Eat Desserts: We’ve had this on the calendar for a while. Benoit is a more upscale, French brunch spot you’d take a grandparent, a discerning uncle who lives in a château in Switerland, or a significant other you need to break up with – note: the noise level – that person will certainly hear “breakup,” not “make-up.” Benoit serves Unlimited Desserts for $16 on Sundays. Not a bad deal. Stuff grandma’s face so she can stop telling you to get married, please the uncle who keeps telling you to get a real job, and suck on the pastries, creme brules and macarons if that break-up scenario really does happen.

The Brunch Supper Club: A couple friends of ours run a supper club in Brooklyn and I’ve been to their dinners. This Sunday is their first brunch event, named “Brunch Communion.” Actually that’s pretty funny. It’s a play on the fact that many say “brunch is the new religion.” I’ve enjoyed myself at their dinners, have met new people and eaten good, fresh food. I suspect their brunch will be fun as well. Casual, tasty, easy to relax at, and an overall good time.

The Yacht Week Brunch Party: A wild raucous affair by a group of Brits who are promoting their company, Yacht Week, where a hundred or so people can join a yacht that travels to the Caribbean, Greece or Croatia for a week in the Spring/Summer. The brunches invite people to partake in a “Nautical Theme.”

Vegan Mexican Brunch Culinary Demonstration: Whole Foods is way ahead of the game announcing this event which is happening in April. It’s an interesting concept, and props to them for having planned so far ahead.

And that’s a round up of the recents events we posted. No go forth, and enjoy.

Happy weekend everyone.