Mixologists from the City's top restaurants today competed for winning titles in the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) 4th Annual Sidewalk Café Drink Mix-Off in celebration of the City's booming sidewalk café industry. DCA Commissioner Jonathan Mintz was on hand to emcee the event and announce Southern Hospitality's 901-derful as the 2009 winning drink recipe.
The competition, sponsored by DCA in collaboration with the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) and The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), was judged by a distinguished panel of food and wine critics, including the "Insatiable" Gael Greene, who crowned the 901-derful (with alcohol) prepared by Southern Hospitality (1460 Second Avenue, New York, NY) as this year's must-have drink for sidewalk café dining in the Big Apple. Judges tasted the finalists' submissions at The Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, where the mix-off was held.
"Enjoying a winning drink at one of the City's sidewalk cafés is truly one of the great ways to enjoy the summer season in New York and support this thriving industry. Visit nyc.gov/consumers to find the nearest sidewalk café in your neighborhood," said Jonathan Mintz, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. Mintz also thanked the judges Michael Cecconi, Gael Greene, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.
"NYSRA is proud of all the talented mixologists whose creative concoctions help ensure a vibrant outdoor dining scene all summer long," said Andrew Rigie, Executive Vice President of the NYSRA.
"ICE was thrilled to host the annual New York City Sidewalk Café Drink Mix-Off again. The mixologists showed great creativity, combining both exotic and traditional ingredients, to mix new and unique summer drinks," said Rick Smilow, President, The Institute of Culinary Education. "It's great to see restaurant beverage lists mark calendar changes with seasonal ingredients, the same way that chefs do with restaurant menus."
All restaurants in New York City with legally operating sidewalk cafés were invited to submit one recipe per beverage category—alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Chosen finalists were asked to prepare their drinks at the event. Judges used three criteria to select the winning beverages: appearance, taste and overall presentation/technique.
The runner-up was the Sikatini prepared by Ovelia
Psistaria Bar (34-01 30th Avenue, Astoria, NY). Other restaurants participating
in the final mix-off included Da Silvano, Chow Bar, Roots & Vines, Mustang Grill, Jack Bistro, Taboon, Café Bar and Tony’s Di Napoli Restaurant.
The number of restaurants with a sidewalk café is at an all-time high. DCA currently licenses more than 1,000 legally operating sidewalk cafés in New York City—a more than 50 percent increase in the past five years alone. DCA has streamlined the application process to secure a sidewalk café license and works closely with the restaurant industry and neighborhood organizations to ensure those sidewalk cafés operate legally.
New Yorkers and visitors alike can find an updated list of all sidewalk cafés, searchable by zip code, at www.nyc.gov/consumers. The winning mix-off recipes are posted there, as well.
DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law and other related business laws throughout New York City. Ensuring a fair and vibrant marketplace for consumers and businesses, DCA licenses more than 70,000 businesses in 55 different industries. Through targeted outreach, partnerships with community and trade organizations, and informational materials, DCA educates consumers and businesses alike about their rights and responsibilities. DCA's Office of Financial Empowerment is the first municipal office of its kind in the nation with a mission to educate, empower and protect New Yorkers with low incomes, to help them make the best use of their financial resources to move forward economically. For more information, call 311 or visit DCA online at www.nyc.gov/consumers.
About the judges: Michael Cecconi is the bar manager at Chef Peter Hoffman's restaurants Savoy and Back Forty. Gael Greene, restaurant critic and author of Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess helped change the way New Yorkers think about food in her role as restaurant critic of New York Magazine. Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg are James Beard Award-winning co-authors of The Flavor Bible.