Here in Spirits

Last year, Camper English, one of the liquor industry’s most prolific and tireless chroniclers of all things cocktail and spirits and the man behind Alcademics.com kept a written record of all of the drinks he tasted while at Tales of the Cocktail.  I remember thinking at the time that this was totally cool and that I should try it this year myself.  So with pen and notebook in hand I dutifully recorded my first cocktail: a Pimm’s Cup at the Napoleon House, one of the starting points for many Tales attendees.

Off to my second drink and the next entry: a Sazerac at the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone with Michael Silvers the genius behind Uber Bar Tools.   The third entry reads:  I came, I saw, I drank and I quit. Camper, I love ya, but what the heck?  I have no idea how you managed to do this. Perhaps if I had a voice recorder and a pair of blinders? But even then I would need to hear myself over the ooohs and ahhs or, in some cases the stinging critique of the drink being freely offered by me or the other Atlanta USBG members making the tasting room rounds with me. This would also mean I would have had to limit the questions to the distiller, often the one from whom I had received the drink. Additionally I would need to b able to decipher the ongoing disruptions of “Hey! – “great to see you!”  or   ” Hey! where have you been hiding, have you tried this – you gotta” that seem to accompany every drink.  So, fair readers, I’ve decided that what I could offer, was documentation of the bookends: the first and the last cocktails of my TOTC 2011 experience.  Drink number one is below; stay tuned for the last. Who knows what number that will end up being? My rough guess is 318. Maybe it’s best not to know for sure.

Tales of the Cocktail, always a group experience,  is even more so this year. The event venues are packed, the seminars are filled, the parties are overflowing and almost every drink is offered to someone else to taste too. But this year there are two new trends: Big Drinks and a non-stop flurry of text messaging.

Two fun events that featured the “World’s Largest” format were:

  • The World’s Largest Bold Genever Kopstootje Toast was held Wednesday, right after the Tales of the cocktail official opening ceremony on the front steps of the Hotel Monteleone.

The Bols Genever Kopstootje® (pronounced kop-stow-tjuh) represented the original Dutch ritual of a beer paired with a Bols Genever shot; the unique Dutch century long tradition of a “beer and a shot”.

  • The World’s Largest Negroni – Campari, Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin and M&R Sweet Vermouth mixed by none other than  Master of Ceremony Mr. Francesco Lafranconi, one of our favorite contributors to in the Mix and an internationally-awarded Italian mixologists. Salute!
Other highlights yesterday:
  • Sitting on the panel of judges for the blind tasting portion of the USBG/ Bacardi Rum Pina Colada Contest.
I am happy to report that the top three winners were also my top three highest scorers. Debbie Peek of Chicago’s the Bristol took both the technical top prize and the blind tasting highest score. With her skills, creativity and energy, Debbie  will be representing us  well in Warsaw, Poland in November at the International Bartenders’ Association Competition.
  • Jumping in a rare cab at midnight after Moet Hennessy’s Bartender’s Brawl  with two strangers (they looked like bartenders so I knew I was fine) one of  whom fortuitously turned out to be Brian Facquet, the  distillers for Bootlegger Vodka, a new small-batch vodka from Prohibition Distillery in New York. After a pull from his hip flask we agreed to accompany him for a quick drink at Pirate’s Alley Cafe and Old Absinthe House. This bar’s historic location at  sixteen feet from the Saint Louis Cathedral (the oldest continually operating church in the U.S.)  and eighteen feet from the Cabildo makes it the bar in closest proximity to Church & State anywhere in the world.
  • The Hum and Bubbles party at Adam Seger’s house where the endless pop of bottles of Prosecco being sabered out the front door and into the balmy night of the French Quarter topped of the night with another only at Tales experience.
Looking forward to the Spirited Awards dinner tonight. And to each drink left on boozy path to the last.

I won’t forget to take a picture of it, I promise.