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Scene Last Night: Terfel on Cocktails, Grenier Plays Host

St. John Frizell, proprietor of Fort Defiance, a bar in Red Hook. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
St. John Frizell, proprietor of Fort Defiance, a bar in Red Hook. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

March 16 (Bloomberg) -- St. John Frizell, proprietor of the bar Fort Defiance in Red Hook, Brooklyn, speared a black plastic dagger through a grapefruit peel last night as he recited from “Macbeth”:

“... Or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?”

The Metropolitan Opera’s third cocktail contest was under way. This one was held before the curtain of Verdi’s “Macbeth,” with Thomas Hampson in the title role, and called for cocktails inspired by Shakespeare’s tragedy. Among the judges was a thirsty baritone, Bryn Terfel, who starting in April will take the role of Wotan, king of the gods, in three complete cycles of Wagner’s Ring.

Contestant Frizell, in a Hickey Freeman suit and Pucci pocket square, prepared his Dagger: a light, citrusy drink using Scottish gin, Italian wine and American bitters.

Fresh thyme was also spied on the bar counter of the Met’s Grand Tier.

“That’s my ‘double, double, toil and trouble,’” Frizell said, invoking the incantation of the play’s three witches.

The verdict: “It’s deceptive, like a dagger,” said Abigail Gullo, a bartender at Fort Defiance. “It tastes light and refreshing, but I suspect it has a lot of alcohol. It could sneak up on you.”

Frizell lost out to Meaghan Dorman from Raines Law Room, a bar in Chelsea. Her prize: opera tickets.

$94,000 Bottle of Whiskey

The prize on Liberty Island last night was a 55-year-old bottle of whiskey.

Mahesh Patel, an Atlanta-based real-estate developer, claimed it for $94,000 in a live auction organized by Glenfiddich to mark its 125th anniversary.

The liquid in the bottle was made in honor of Janet Sheed Roberts, the granddaughter of Glenfiddich’s founding distiller, William Grant.

“It has a very strong pear taste,” said Brian Kinsman, master blender of William Grant & Sons, which produces brands Glenfiddich, Hendrick’s and others.

For most of the party the bottle sat in a corner of a tent, neglected in favor of men in kilts serving drams of whiskey, lobster and chicken pot pies, and a view of the Statue of Liberty’s back.

At auction, Patel vied with one other bidder in $500 increments, on and on. Let’s just say auctioneer Rachel Orkin-Ramey of Christie’s showed extreme patience. (Whiskey, by the way, is not her specialty: She said she is an Asian art expert excited about a sale next week of ancient bronze mirrors.)

Patel’s victory was cheered by actor-producer Adrian Grenier and producer Peter Glatzer, co-founders of SHFT Initiatives; its programs promoting healthy, sustainable living benefited from the auction.

Patel said he likes whiskey because “it has so many flavors and aromas.” His passion has become a business: He is the chief executive of the Universal Whisky Experience, a company that plans tasting events, most recently in Las Vegas.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net or on Twitter at @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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