Friday, June 4, 2010


LeNell, one of the most enchanting good-time chicks you'll ever meet. I'd venture to guess most everyone who reads this has at the very least visited her shop in Red Hook (as any self respecting NY spirits aficionado should have) Sadly, NYC lost her, but Mexico has gained a force to be reckoned with. I know we all miss her, so for those of you who can't make it out to Casa Coctel just yet, this will have to tide you over... Viva La LeNell! (Is that even right? eh, I tried)

1. I was a virgin until 21.

2. I began bartending when I was 21. You do the math.

3. I hate cigarettes and testified in front of New York's City Council in
support of the smoking ban. You know you like to breath.

4. I used to be evangelical Christian. During my undergraduate studies I
had plans to be a missionary. Now the only missionary plans I have are,
well, you know.

5. My man Demian is half my age. I got it good like that.
I know you talk about it.

6. I have never used cocaine.

7. Cattiness in women bothers me. We need more wise, confident women
mentoring, training, and supporting the troops.

8. Demian and I enjoy spending hours cooking together. We make our own
pasta, ice cream, and even catsup and dogfood. Baking especially helps
reduce stress. There's something about the creation of cakes, breads, and
cookies that satisfies head and belly.

9. In a previous life when I had a boring desk job, I got my thrills by
exploring the underground as a caver, even holding court as an officer in
chapters of the National Speleological Society. Rapelling deep pits of
over 400 feet exhilarates and challenges the mind and body.

10. Bartenders who cannot talk of anything but cocktail recipes, pretty
stir methods, and hard shakes bore me. If you have no smile or interest
in caring about your customers toils and troubles, I don't care how
fabulous you and your drinks are.

11. I once danced on stage at a strip club called Big Daddy's in NOLA.

12. In my fantasy world I am a madame of a brothel with exotic dancers,
great food, great drink, lotsa laughs all geared to please both men and

13. Tattoo 1: The circular chain with fire around my belly button. Each
link of the chain represents a sibling. The fire is the hell our mother
put us through. When she died, we all got this tattoo on different parts
of our bodies. I chose the navel as a maternal spot since I am the oldest
and raised two siblings.

14. Tattoo 2: The words "Bitter Truth" in black goddess font on my
abdomen. I never had an affair with Stephen Berg of Bitter Truth. I
don't do married men. This tattoo came after a a difficult but liberating
transition period in my life, and is a reminder to always be true to
myself and my loved ones, no matter how difficult that truth may be.

15. Tattoo 3: The wormwood behind left ear. Like the "bitter truth"
this bitter herb image was inspired by another transition period, giving
up my beloved liquor store LeNell's in Brooklyn and defining what is
really important in my life. Bitter medicine sometimes makes our footing
stronger for the next adventure. My sister Lisa and I decided to have
some sisterhood bonding and got tattoo'ed at the same time at Brooklyn
Tattoo. Co-owner Willie touched up a vampire bite image on Lisa's neck
while the other co-owner Adam Suerte worked on my artemisia absinthia with
a hand so gentle and relaxing I almost fell asleep under the needle. Lisa
had a mohawk and for giggles, I let her give me one, too, before our art
session. We got our tattoos with full liberty spikes at the same time.
However, my hair was so long that my spikes turned into a unicorn after
all but one toppled over. The night was great for laughs.

16. Next tattoo? Possibly damiana, a flowering herb with a long history
in Baja as an aphrodisiac. Demian and I are discussing both getting this
tattoo. Always wanted to get the "bitter" lettering from the Campari
bottle somewhere, too. At one point I thought of having a whole Mucha
inspired panel done on my back, but have not found the right artist to
make that happen, yet.

17. Casa Coctel, our private reservation only bar (and our home) has over
100 bottles of a rare bitter Italian liqueur called Amaro Cora. It's
hilarious to see bottles of this all over the place here. Doc Cocktail
has lust in his heart. I know he does.

18. Typically when asked what my favorite whiskey is, I reply that I
don't have one just like I don't have a favorite sex position. However,
my favorite bourbon experience was drinking some Very Very Old Fitzgerald
from Pappy Van Winkles's time at the now defunct Stitzel Weller
distillery. My Red Hook Rye project was an experience I will always
cherish. The great folks of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers helped me bottle
four barrels of exceptional rye and make it as much fun as it could
possibly be. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Charbay first release whiskey. It's odd,
it's funky, and bourbon lovers often just don't get it. This hoppy
whiskey is not to be compared to anything else. It's in its own class.

19. I listen to Celine Dion. I am not ashamed.

20. Dirty Helen and Mae West are some of my greatest inspirations. Dirty
Helen poured two things in her bar: whiskey and whisky. Both women
called their own shots, lived life to the fullest, and loved to sport a
good hat. Shockingly, Mae West, as naughty as she was, hated cigarettes
and drunkenness.

21. Once while hanging with some barmen friends, I heard quite a few
naughty stories. "Remember that time when bartender X videotaped that
girl in China on his camera phone while they were having sex?" Ha Ha Ha
until I threw in a story or two. Silence. "LeNell, men are intimidated
by you." I find it ironic that so many of our male friends in this biz
can booze it up and sex it up and it's all fun and games. We women do the
same thing and get called untrustworthy, slutty, and intimidating. Hey,
guys, do you really think the women in the stories you tell aren't also
talking?" Wake up!

22. On the Kinsey scale I'm probably between 0-1. I had a crush on a
woman once, but never did anything naughty. Although I can appreciate the
beauty and sex appeal of a woman, I really do just love the male physique
so much more.

23. I don't define myself by any procreational abilities; however, I am
open to becoming a mother. I imagine having a kid in one hand and a
cocktail shaker in the other. I'd love to raise a kid with respect for
alcohol and a love for people. What's wrong with learning to make
biscuits, a martini, and good espresso while you learn your numbers and

24. When gods like Dale Degroff share openly how many years in our boozey
biz have taken their toll on his health, I think we should all open our
ears to learn from this wise man. Instead of giving me nasty looks when I
turn down the offer to do shots, how about showing some respect instead of
acting like juvenile delinquents? I have a high tolerance for alcohol, as
a few pics, videos, and stories probably can prove, but I've had just as
much fun stone cold sober. I've never needed anything else to have a
great time. I am more than ever valuing real human time with folks who
have the "huevos" to know when enough's enough. Finding a drinking, drug,
or sex buddy is easy. Finding true friendship is not. Instead of just
having drinks with folks, I'd much rather have a walk in the park, cook
for each other, go on a camping trip or something that allows real
connection instead of just surface camaraderie.

25. I love to wear hats. My grandmother is in the Red Hat Society and
her hat collection is out of control. It is rumored I will inherit it
should I outlive her. A lady always wears a hat...and I ain't always a

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My First Victim

Alright Guys- consider yourself warned. Get your Red Hook Rye ready and hunker down in front of your laptops. The lovely and innocently demure LeNell Smothers has elected to be my first victim. Her 25 Hush Hush Facts will be posted tomorrow. Stay tuned.... She's going to be a hard act to follow- Cheers!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My first blog entry. Ever. Really.

Hello Ladies and Germs-

I am starting a little blog. Just for fun. Cause everyone should have a blog right? This is basically a rip off of those questionnaires they give the stars in things like US magazine (25 things you didn't know about Mariah Carey or some shit.) We don't care about Mariah, or Miley Cyrus, or the brats from Twilight. We are all self proclaimed dorks who find things like using whale cholesterol in a punch and the newest way to chip ice or tips and turds about obnoxious customers (perhaps even some celebrity gossip in this case) not only interesting, but exciting, dare I say mesmerizing, spellbinding! Plus, I just thought it would be a fun way to get to know each other a little bit better, especially since many of us are separated by cities, states, and even countries. I am starting soon, like, well, now. So if you would like to be one of the first to take part in this little adventure of mine please contact me- It's time to force yourself to get personal!

You get the idea, this doesn't have to be life changing information.The more personal it is, the better, I don't want this to be some sort of silly survey, (though I am cutting it dangerously close) because that would just be boring. It doesn't have to be Bar related, if a bartender wants to tell a funny story about a childhood pet, a first birthday party or a funny quote Grandpa once shared with you, that is also encouraged. Really, anything that is on the minds of bar-folk that they want to share with the world or think people might find entertaining is welcome.

The Cocktail world is hanging on the edge of it's champagne coupe... Who will my first victim be?