Monthly Archive for July, 2015

Tales of the Cocktail Day 4: Prehistoric Cocktails and Dale DeGroff


10:28 am : I went to bed relatively early last night (midnight). Down side is I turned down entrance to a VIP party (should I have gone??) upside is I didn’t sleep through my morning seminar, like yesterday.

I was on site early for a booze free ginger smoothie to settle my digestion, and for a turn through Cocktail Kingdom’s shop. I bought a copy of The South American Gentleman’s companion, from 1939, which has been on my wish list for a long time. CK’s bar ware is also the most lovely I have ever seen.


I’m at the Prehistoric Cocktail Technology Demo (really it was more 19th century techniques useful today) presented by Alcademics.com. A few fun facts:

  • Milk Clarifying:  used in 19th century punches.  Adds proteins that makes the alcohol frothy when it’s shaken- he called it a “frothy bonus!” but also I’ve notified changes the mouth feel. It’s full and soft. Creamy. Just pour milk in your sprit and wait; it cuddles, then you filter it through a coffee filter. Recommended as a way to filter out tannins in a tea infusion.
  • Ammonium nitrate – cooles water by 30 degrees. Used today for instant cool packs for injuries, Used before ice was readily available. Even when there was ice, it was often impure and not fit to mix in drinks. 18th c punch bowls had pockets to pour ice that would cool, but not touch the drink.
  • Tasted Baked agave- tastes like something from thanksgiving
  • Rye straws: original 19th c straw I’ve been obsessed with for awhile. Apparently there was a kickstarter to start remaking them! Let me product test for you, straw straws!

And he had some interesting slides, so here they are!

  

 


Demo on how to inpregnate water with air–carbonating.

 12pm I went to Lucullus Culinary Antiques. Mind blowing- and expensive! Because they have the best examples of what’s out there.

  

Afternoon: I had a few hours of chill out time, so I went to Cane and Table, which is describe as upscale tiki. I wanted something with their house made orgeat, and I’m not sue what in got, but it was crest and delicious. Also, fresh puffed pork rinds and three bean hummus with chips! Salty. Helpful.

  My last seminar was with cocktail legend Dale DeGroff, who talked is through bitters and how they can change the taste of a classic Manhattan. My phone died, so I have but the one photo.


And now I’m at the airport. The last four days have been a whirlwind, and I’m not sure if I’m sad or relieved to leave. I would do it again. Next year? Ever other year? I’m not sure. But when I come back, I want to see more, do more, flirt more, drink more.

Tales of the Cocktail Day 3: Rum and Pig

 

3:30 PM you may have noticed this is my first update of the day. Let’s just say it was a long night and a rough morning. I just got up. And I’m in line for my first seminar, a history of rum. These are all the rums I have to taste. Oh well, hair of the dog.

5pm a few quotes from the talk:

“Old is not always good. They made a lot of deadly shit back then.”

“But what’s missing (from alcohol) today are those lovely, tasty poisons!” panelists on 19th and early 20th c alcohol

“How can we evoke the past without recreating the past?” -David Wondrich

And I tasted a fantastic, historic pineapple rum.
 The pineapple rum is from a recipe in an old patent; both the rind and the fruit are infused in separate rums and blended. It’s a collaboration between Wondrich and Plantation Rum.

6pm I was just at an orange is the new black pool party? This drink was awful.

  

7pm dinner at Cochon– best meal I’ve had in NOLA


  

Then more drinks and drinks and drinks.

Tales of the Cocktail Day 2: The Last Word and Old Bars of New York




9am
I’m fresh as a daisy but my colleagues are not. Breakfast at Slim Goodies Diner will fix them up–all the food in NOLS is salty and spicy. It helps you deal with the weather. And your hangover. I highly recommend the diner.

NOLA smells like puke in the morning, which is different than NYC, which smells like all he body fluids.
Also I want to move into every building in New Orleans.


  
10:30 am I’m at my first seminar, the stories behind the Harvey Wallbanger, The Last Word, and the Sazerac.

The Wallbanger was invented in LA in the 1950s and became popular when Galliano adapted it as to promote their liquor in America.
10:30 am I’m at my first seminar, the stories behind the Harvey Wallbanger, The Last Word, and the Sazerac.

The Wallbanger was invented in LA in the 1950s and became popular when Galliano adapted it as to promote their liquor in America.

  
 Can we talk about how perfect this orange peel is from my sample cocktail? They’re made by legions of cocktail apprentices, relative bartenders, who do this shit for free.
the story of the Last Word was told by the always charming St. John Frizell of Ft. Defiance in Red Hook Brooklyn. The last word, Frizell said, was like a secret handshake amongst bartenders, you kept it in your back pocket and pulled it out or when you needed it. It Personified the craft cocktail movement c 2005, because it was a drink from an old obscure source
Invented in Prohibition, it’s Tart and sparkly but also marschino and chartreuse–if you had these things behind your bar it said you were a serious mixologis (a decade ago).
Recipes for you!


 And cocktail historian Wondrich talked on the sazerac. It used to be made with cognac, but switched to rye whiskey both at NOLA became less French and more American, but also because of a fungus that killed a lot of French grapevines in the 19thc.
An 1843 article calls it “Un coup de canticlaire” or called by the vulgar name a cocktail.

An 1842 source says you can make it from Gin and sugar, rum and lemon, or peach brandy and honey.


 12:30 pm I went to a rating of “indie spirits.” Not only were their cocktails, and I had the best caprinha I’ve ever had, but at the bar you could literally point to what you wanted to try and they would pour it.


12:30 I’m at my second talk of the day, on nyc drinking history. David Wondrich mentions some of my fav NYC 19th c personalities.


10:31 PM I think I’ve really hit my stride.

Tales of the Cocktail Live Blog Day 1


It’s 7:00 AM and I’m at Newark airport. I’ve been up since 3:45. Even I am asking why I would subject myself to Newark this early.

But it’s a very special day. At the other end of my flight is New Orleans and Tales of the Cocktail, the annual gathering of industry professionals and cocktail enthusiasts. It’s my first year and I don’t really know what the expect.

Which is why I’m sharing it all with you. I’m going to be live blogging all weekend, sharing with you every historic factoid, adventure, and drink enough stumble the next few days bring. I’m kicking off with a seminar by David Wondrich and Jeff Berry about WWII drinking, and later on the weekend I’m attending a demo on prehistoric cocktail making techniques. Whatever that means.

Check back, stay tuned, and I’ll see you in NOLA!

10:15 AM I have been on site 15 minutes, and I’ve already been handed a drink. Its a Singapore Sling– cherry herring, Benedictine, lime uice and some other stuff. It’s spicy, like a fruit Bloody Mary.

“You can’t make a good speech on iced water.” -Churchill. You got that right, sir.

4:05 PM and I just woke up from a much needed nap. I’ve already been drunk and sober once–the morning lecture fed us 4 (half) cocktails total, and while I noticed the folks around me were pacing themselves by not finishing their drinks, the concoctions were too good and I am too frugal to let them go to waste. That combined with my early flight and the searing heat (which I kinda like)…well, I think part of being an adult is realizing when you’re fussy and need to be put down for a nap. I feel like a new person.

A few words on NOLA: there’s something so eerie and foreign about this place. The pulsating green overgrowth, the unreal above ground cemeteries, the accent like no other I’ve ever heard. Even the clouds are different here–pudgier and puffy. I though I was nuts but my brother (who is here too) noticed the same thing.

The conference itself is a madhouse, bedlam that I haven’t quite figured out. The Hotel Monteleone, where it’s hosted, is not a huge convention center, but an old labyrinthine hotel. I’m not sure where to be, or how to take advantage of the system. It feels a bit like the first day of summer camp, like I’m an outsider not making the friendship bracelets. Yet.


I’ll take some photos of the craziness later.

In my morning talk about WWII I learned:

  • All the drinks seemed to have cherry herring in them. But more importantly it “wasn’t just prohibition” that ruined the American cocktail scene, it was also the unavailability of most liquors during the war. We became vodka drinkers, and most alcohols were produced locally–including Dubonnet, which is still made in the states.
  • Dirty Helen
  • Three dots and a dash

In addition the the Singapore sling, I so had a MacArthur punch and a PB2Y. And a potent martini.


And the event has an official scent? It smells like grapefruit and shrimp.


10:15 PM despite the fact that it’s a toddler’s bedtime back home, I am ready to turn in. Here are my notes, exactly as written, from this evening:

  • Workers with drinks on the st
  • Everyone is drunk and stepping on me
  • No chill out space
  • Bedlam
  • Dudes
  • Forcible removal (not me)
  • Drink responsibly wink wink
  • There is no shame here
  • I am so sweaty I have to throw away my dress at the end of day

I realize it doesn’t sound like I had a good time, but at the pools party at the end of the day, I did! I went out to dinner later at Purloo, which focuses on regional Southern cuisine, then had  a St. Germaine cobbler at Belloqc.Here are my photos from the evening:




And with that a good night.

Etsy: How to Make Gin

IMG_8332

I’ve got a new, summer-fresh post up on Etsy all about the history of gin! Such a refreshing drink for the hot weather.

Gin’s most famous role came in the early 20th century, when Prohibition prevented the sale of alcohol. It was particularly easy to produce “bathtub gin” in those trying, dry times. Gin is commercially made by distillation — steaming the alcohol through a basket of spices — but it can be made by infusion. Any plain spirit, like industrial-grade alcohol, could be transformed into “gin” by infusing it with strongly-scented spices, which would hide any bad flavors from the sub-par spirits. Calling the homemade hooch delicious would likely have been a stretch.

Read more about gin history & how-to here!

And if you live in the NYC area, I’m doing a tour and cocktail hour at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden all about the ingredients that go into gin. You can get tickets here!