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The Vodka Contract: Rediscovering Vodka in the Heart of Polish Brooklyn

  • MOFAD Lab 62 Bayard Street Brooklyn, NY, 11222 United States (map)

Discover the hidden history of Williamsburg's waterfront through a tale of entrepreneurship, romance, and war. At the second event in our Spring Spirits series, curator Elizabeth Koszarski-Skrabonja shares the dramatic story of how her father’s passion for vodka changed his life—and how he brought a taste of home to New York's Polish community in the form of three remarkable spirits: Zubrówka (bison grass vodka), Wisniówka (cherry vodka), and Wyborowa (pure rye vodka).
Join us for a lively celebration of vodka and its fascinating local history. Sample traditional Polish bites from educator and chef Karolina Gumpert in partnership with Le Fond and Karczma. Taste Williamsburg’s newest cocktail, The Kościuszko Bridge, designed especially for this event by Joel Lee Kulp—owner of local watering holes The Richardson and Grand Ferry Tavern—featuring the complex, herbaceous, and elusive Żubrówka vodka. Enjoy live entertainment and pre-war Polish tango from Azuz Ensemble.

Ticket buyers will get $1 off all drinks all night at Pete's Candy Store and can try the vodka-based Greener Pastures cocktail for a reduced price of $8.

PURCHASE TICKETS (must be 21+)

Co-presented by THE POLISH CULTURAL INSTITUTE NEW YORK, founded in 2000, a diplomatic mission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, operating in the area of public diplomacy. The PCINY is one of 24 such institutes around the world. It is also an active member of the network of the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) in its New York cluster.
The Institute’s mission is to disseminate around the world comprehensive knowledge of Poland, Polish history and national heritage, as well as to promote Poland’s contemporary contributions to the success of world culture. The Institute does so through initiating, supporting and promoting collaboration between Poland and the United States in the areas of art, education, research and in many other aspects of intellectual and social life. The Institute’s main task to ensure Polish participation in the programming of America’s most important cultural institutions as well as in large international initiatives.

About Elizabeth Koszarski-Skrabonja
Elizabeth is an artist, curator and art historian. She has cared for collections and designed exhibitions, served as an arts administrator, and taught art and art history. Her father was the first manager of the Polish Liquor Department in 1936 for the International distributor Austin Nichols (located on Kent Street in Brooklyn). It was his responsibility and challenge to introduce an American public emerging from the constraints of prohibition to Polish vodkas.

About Le Fond
In French culinary terms, le fond means “stock.” Stocks are the foundation of many sauces in French cuisine and sauce is the essential and defining component of many French dishes. Colloquially, cooks refer to the browned bits that form at the bottom of the roasting pan as the “fond.” Cooks deglaze the pan with wine and scrape up those bits with a wooden spoon. This is where deep, complex flavor is generated and that is why the wooden spoon is the symbol of Le Fond restaurant. The spoon depicted in the logo is an actual spoon owned by Jake, worn down on the one edge by years of scraping up the fond.

About Azuz Ensemble
An ensemble of friends whose major goal is telling a story through music that reaches every heart in the audience.  In styles ranging from early jazz, blues, Latin and tango, William and Sylwia emphasize narrative and emotional performances as opposed to technical wizardry and complicated musical interpretations. With the deep rhythm of Steve’s bass and lyrical beauty of Hashem’s saxophone, the group creates an intimate atmosphere and unforgettable climate, staying close to the audience.

About Karczma Polish Restaurant
Karczma Polish Restaurant is located in the heart of Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s traditionally Polish neighborhood. Karczma opened in 2007 and its goal is to provide top-quality and affordable Polish food with excellent service. The restaurant is decorated to look like an old country farm house. Traditional Polish food, Polish folk music and servers dressed in traditional folk costumes will give you an unforgettable journey back in time. You'll get $1 off all drinks at Karczma all weekend (May 25 through May 28) if you can dare not only to order the new cocktail The Kosciuszko Bridge, but also pronounce it correctly!

About Wyborowa
Wyborowa is the #1 Polish Vodka in Poland, and has been awarded over 30 prestigious awards from around the world, including Gold Medals from the International Spirits Challenge in 2015 and the Los Angeles Spirit Competition in 2016. Created in 1927, this genuine Polish vodka is based on over 500 years of local craftsmanship. Pure rye grains, pristine water, and traditional distillation techniques--perfected for close to century-- give Wyborowa its exceptional smoothness. GMO free and Kosher certified, Wyborowa is exported from Poland around the world. Just call us WYBO as our friends do.

About Joel Lee Kulp
Joel Lee Kulp has logged over twenty years behind the bar and inside the hospitality industry. In 2008, he opened The Richardson, a spirits-focused Greenpoint neighborhood bar where he honed an ethos of “Not done fancy, just done right” that continues to strike a chord with neighbors today. In 2013, he brought that same ethos to the burgeoning Williamsburg Waterfront neighborhood and opened Grand Ferry Tavern, a traditionally-styled barroom & restaurant which pays homage to the neighborhood's roots while catering to the local's hunger for oysters, comfort foods, quality drinks and relaxed service.

About Karolina Gumpert
Karolina Gumpert (b. Poland) is a recipe developer with a culinary passion. She creates work that uses the edible object as a means of evoking an emotional response with maximum visual and appetite appeal. Currently working with independent chefs managing menu tastings and private events. Gumpert graduated with MA in Psychology and Food Studies from Silesian University. In 2015, she lead and managed the Polish Flavors Workshop at Le Fond in Greenpoint that rediscover the modern taste of Polish traditional cuisine. Her work has been featured internationally, including Glasserie (New York), Frenchie (Paris) and Tokyo Eat (Paris). She has also been writing for the National Center for Eating Disorders (Wroclaw, Poland) and KUKBUK (Warsaw, Poland).

Pete's Candy Store Promotion
Just around the corner from MOFAD, Pete's Candy Store is offering attendees of The Vodka Contract special drink promotions after the event. Their Greener Pastures cocktail (House Infused Cucumber Vodka, Green Chartreuse, Lemon, Mint) will be $8 instead of $11 and all other drinks will be $1 off all night.
709 Lorimer St. between Richardson and Frost

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