Exploring NYC's Home Bar Scene: Welcome to the McClures' (PHOTOS)

All photos by Billy Lyons unless otherwise noted
An inside look at the McClure's home bar
New York is iconic for its lively bar scene; the collection of characters, cocktails, and companionship give people good reasons to spend their free time out, posted up on stools with drink in hand. But what about the home bars? Some individuals in this city keep their liquor cabinet stocked just as well as the gin joints and beer gardens open to the public. We're sporadically checking in on industry members and enthusiasts with awesome home bars. Here's a look at one such set-up, courtesy of Sean and Emily McClure.

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Brewmaster O'Sheiss Uses Gowanus Canal Water in His Beer

A cool frothy glass of Sheiss Weiss Dunkel

Brooklyn breweries pumping out craft beers are now common enough, so it takes a new approach to cause a splash, and that is just what Sanford O'Sheiss, founder of fledgling Olde Gowanus Brewery, has done. This Stevens Institute graduate began his project (How else?) with a Kickstarter campaign early last year that eventually netted him $75,000. He plowed that money - quite literally - into a property on Brooklyn's Second Avenue, in the shadow of the F tracks on the lip of one of the Gowanus Canal's tentacle-like arms. Sheiss partly bulldozed, partly rehabbed the three- story brick structure dating from the 1880s that was there already. It had been a chemical factory for most of its life, then was converted to a day-care facility during the '90s. FiTR caught up with O'Sheiss in the brewery office, which is in the newer half of the building - a soaring, international-style atrium that's all glass and reflective surfaces.

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Food Curated Goes to the (Artisanal) Slaughterhouse

Meneer Zjeroen/Flickr
She's no beefer ... but you get the idea.
Last year, the Times ran a piece on the shortage of slaughterhouses in the northeast, which hampers our efforts to eat locally raised meat. CADE (the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship) to the rescue. This New York State nonprofit is working to install the infrastructure needed to open slaughterhouses upstate to better meet the demand of farmers and locavores alike. Food Curated takes a tour of one such meat processing plant.

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The Kings County Jerky Co. Gives Beef Jerky the Royal Treatment

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Kings County Jerky Co.: It'll give you something to chew on.

For Chris Woehrle and Robert Stout, the Slim Jim's time has come. Late last summer, while casting about for ideas for a food product, they realized that while other morsels of Americana, such as the pickle and the candy bar, had already received their time in the artisanal, sustainably sourced spotlight, beef jerky was still relegated largely to the lowly confines of gas stations and convenience store shelves.

Around the time they had their epiphany, the Rooster Design Group announced its Next Big Small Brand competition, promising free design and marketing services for the winner. So Woehrle and Stout set about building a better jerky, using local, grass-fed beef and fine-tuning its flavor. Their efforts were rewarded earlier this month at the contest's final judging: Although it didn't win the competition, Bklyn Batch Craft Jerky -- which is now known as the Kings County Jerky Co. -- won the audience favorite award, as well as a meaty helping of word-of-mouth publicity.

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Meet Brooklyn's Historic Gastronomist, Sarah Lohman

Ever wonder what people were eating at the turn of the century? Brooklynite Sarah Lohman does every day. Her blog Four Pounds Flour chronicles her "retro-innovative" exploration of what people ate back in the day, from slave staples to French Huguenot desserts. Sound like the next big food blog-turned-cookbook deal? Um, yeah...

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Meet Leah McLaughlin, Publisher of Edible Queens (Coming Soon)

As any true New York foodie will tell you: the most vibrant, authentic and prolific of the city's food scenes can be found in Queens. Whether you're up for hand-made noodles pulled right before your eyes, whole Indian spices you can't find anywhere else, or traditional Greek meze, the borough knows how to deliver on soul-warming epicurean experiences.

Still, Queens is a mystery to many of us. One woman hopes to uncover its secrets and publish them for all to read. Leah McLaughlin is the owner and publisher of Edible Queens, which launches this fall. Like its sister publications, Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan, the Queens magazine will tell the story of the borough's chefs, bartenders, restaurateurs, farmers, food purveyors, and various mongers. But Edible Queens will differentiate itself by looking at the home cooks living in the borough because, as McLaughlin says, "people in Queens cook at home for their families."

We had a chance to chat with McLaughlin, who hopes the magazine will entice New Yorkers from other boroughs to visit Queens. (And isn't afraid that the influx of Manhattanites seeking out "authentic ethnic" experiences will ruin it.)

You're a relatively new transplant to Queens. Why did you move there?

I've spent time in Manhattan on the Lower East Side, East Harlem, and in Brooklyn. After awhile in New York, it starts to become like a small town. Everything starts to look the same. I had never set food in Queens--maybe once in Jackson Heights to buy spices. But two-and-a-half years ago, I moved to Long Island City. It's a huge, awesome borough.

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A Night in Exile--Chef Hosts Underground Supper Club in Queens

Photo by Kerri Brewer
Underground supper clubs are all the rage these days. A number of toques around the city are known to hang up their whites at the end of the night, then go home to plan the menus for the secret dinner parties they throw for their friends and friends of friends.

Lisa Lee is one of three consulting chefs at Macao Trading Co. (Before that, she was at Chanterelle.) When she's not at work, you can still find her cooking for large groups of people at a recurring party she puts on in a secret location.

This past weekend, we scored an invite to one such dinner held at a bona fide speakeasy on a bleak street in Queens. Lee hosted an evening of Moroccan food and music for a select group of about 30.

We've heard that underground supper clubs are something of a trend among young chefs in the city. What do you get out of it?

It's true. A couple of my friends who cook at other restaurants have their own supper clubs. For me, it's strictly about creativity. It's just a chance to play. I get to do recipe development at work, but not to the degree I can do it for these dinners, where I get to do the shopping and design the entire menu.

Photo by Kerri Brewer

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Sandro Celebrates 25 Years in NYC with Gael, Mimi

Sandro Fioriti of the eponymous Roman restaurant on the Upper East Side, celebrated 25 years in the city's restaurant industry last night--even though not all 25 years were actually spent in New York. The Umbrian chef opened up shop under the 59th Street Bridge back in 1985, serving authentic Roman food the likes of which had never been seen in New York. When his place closed in 1992, he fled to the Hamptons, then the Caribbean before resurfacing in Manhattan at a string of different establishments, including a second Sandro's in Chelsea in 2002. The current incarnation of Sandro's opened in 2007.

In his signature multicolored pajama pants, the hulking chef welcomed food writing royalty to his humble establishment last night--Gael Greene, the founders of Food & Wine and Food Arts Ariane and Michael Batterberry, and Mimi Sheraton of the Times, who recently singled out Sandro's amatriciana as the best she'd ever had, were in attendance--as well as members of the Italian press (and us).

"It's been challenging but it's a great feeling to be cooking in this great city," Sandro told us, adding, "My relationship with food writers has always been one of respect. I have to say that the press has been fair with me even when the article was not too good."

To keep the party going, Sandro will be offering a special $25 three-course menu all next week.

For Heaven's Sake--Japanese Rice Wine Is No Longer Just A Boys' Game

Apparently, New York Sake Week starts June 1. What great timing because we've just met one of the sake world's most talked-about personalities: Miho Fujita, president of the Mioya Brewery Co. in Ishikawa, Japan.

She may be in charge, but Miho gets her hands dirty in the brewery everyday, working closely with her brewmaster, and even tending to the rice. As one of only a handful of women in the industry, she has become something of a media darling in her native Japan. (It doesn't hurt that she's freaking adorable.) A relative newcomer to the industry, she earned fast praise for reviving the 90-year-old brewery with Yuho, a brand she conceived whose name translates literally as "happy rice." The lavender label may look girly, but there's nothing tame about this sake. Sure, it's floral with strong lavender notes, but it's full-bodied and complex, able to stand up to grilled meats and tangy sauces.

Tell me about the Yuho sakes. What was your vision for the brand?

Yuho means "happy rice" in Japanese. I think that when the rice is happy, it makes a better sake. And that makes me happy and, I hope, the people who drink it happy.

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Clover Club Pays Homage to Tom Bullock with Horse Thief Cocktail and Cohasset Punch

Clover Club in Brooklyn changes its menu of classic cocktails seasonally and likes to feature a historically important bartender in each new menu. Right now, patrons can try two cocktails by Tom Bullock, the first African-American to publish a cocktail book, back in 1917. George Herbert Walker, Dubya's grandpa, was not only a big fan of Bullock's cocktails, but contributed the introduction to his book, The Ideal Bartender. We speak to Julie Reiner, owner and beverage director at Clover Club, about the man, his drinks, and how to best enjoy them in her bar.

Why did you choose to feature Tom Bullock?

This was the suggestion of one of my bartenders, Nate Dumas. Tom Bullock was one of the only Black bartenders at the time, and the only one to publish a cocktail book. Nate is a real enthusiast--he collects cocktail books and when he suggested Tom Bullock, I thought it was a great idea. We made a couple of the cocktails and settled on two that we like a lot.

You're featuring the Horse Thief Cocktail and Cohasset Punch. Why did you choose these two?

The thing with all these old books it that a lot of the stuff wouldn't work today--it's just not palatable. Quite a few that we tried were like that. These were the two that we liked best.

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