Yes, I know what you’re thinking… it’s only August, yet I’m trying to wrap up 2009. Well, what can I say, it’s been a long year, and there’s still so much to go.
New Orleans was, how can I say, absolutely outstanding. I really didn’t get any time to post, as I was involved in the Tales of the Cocktail Apprentice program. I don’t know if you know, but that thing was work like noone’s business. I put a write-up of the Apprentice Program on the Tales blog that gives a bit (and just a bit) of insider info. I wish I could remember more, but there was a lot of mezcal being passed around.
Tiki Night at Vessel in Seattle was an absolute blast. Now, mind you, I’m not always known as a Tiki Aficionado when I’m behind the stick. I make the house drinks, any classics called upon, or whatever is popular that evening. Hell, ordering a Dark and Stormy gives me the giddies. That Sunday, I think I must’ve made at least a dozen each of Nui Nuis, Pearl Diver’s Punches, Zombies, Mai Tais, Scorpion Bowls, and even a few 151 Swizzles. What a blast we had. Thanks to the proximity of Archie McPhee, we had a metric ton of fun plastic stuff to garnish with too… and a few ounces of Stroh 80 for flame. I’ll just let you know now, the two don’t mix too well… best to go with one or the other. The good news? There will be another Tiki Night at Vessel!
Thanks to a morning back spasm, I was able to attend more of Tiki Kon 2009 than I thought I would be able to. Also, did you know a pitcher of PBR makes for a wonderful muscle relaxant? Two even moreso. Friday the 7th was a night of local fun, with bowling, beer, and that other B word… sounds like “rubies”. Saturday was a working night for me, so I had to miss out on the trip to the fabulous Tony Starlight’s. However, Sunday was in full effect with a few visitors coming in to the Galley! I held a rum tasting in the Galley, opening up my private selection, while upstairs my wife manned the pre-mixed Zombies and my world famous P.Y.O. Punch* Station. Mount Gay ponied up some of their finest, and some of our finest polished off the bottles!
After a long slew of fun, and a bit of a breather, it’s time to get back rolling into regular content. Expect a few more rum reviews this month… lord knows I’ve been drinking my fare share of it, I might was well drink with pen in hand!
What’s left for the rest of the year? A trip to New York in September, Tiki Night at Teardrop Lounge September 20th, perhaps a brief trip to South America in November, a dash to Vegas in December… there’s still a few good months to squeeze out of 2009.
Well folks, it’s about that time again, heading on back to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail 2009!
Sunday morning, around midnight, I’m catching the Red Eye and spending 8 hours on a plane headed out to 90+ degree weather and 90+% humidity. I am totally my wife’s favorite husband for her to be accompanying me.
At Tales, I’ll be taking part in the Cointreau Apprentice Program, a sort of who’s who of who wants to work while on vacation. I can be found at the Molecular DNA of Classic Cocktails, Sugar: Science of Sweet, and Are your Bitters Better sessions, as well as a few parties and other events. I’m really looking forward to working with some of the best bartenders/suckers from across the country!
I’ll also be doing a piece or two for Tales Blog, a collaboration of cocktail bloggers from across the country getting together to drink, write, and sweat out a week of summer down in New Orleans.
I’ll be posting tweets from the events over on the sidebar, or follow me on twitter.
Hope to see you there!
During any Tales of the cocktail seminar or event could expect a few drinks in 2 ounce sample cups to be passed around, and eventually make its way down your gullet. On Thursday evening, during The Cocktail Hour, just about every drink made for or inspired by the event was made available, all in one room… right before the 4-5 full size drink Spirited Dinner. I preferred to think of The Cocktail Hour as the “beginning of the end”, as it made for a wee-bit tipsy of an evening.
Now, do understand I’m biased both physiologically (I’m a non-taster, thanks Darcy) and socially (meet my friends) towards Tiki Drinks… that doesn’t mean I don’t love a damned well-done Brandy Crusta, Margarita, Corpse Reviver #2, or just about anything else out there. But given a choice, I’ll tend to lean towards the Rum ‘n spices.
After a few sippy cups filled with drinks, some memorable for the right reasons, others maybe not (Jaeger pop-rocks, really Kevin?), this little number by Martin Cate of Forbidden Island had me coming back for rounds 4, 5, and blitzed. I am announcing it here as my Trader Tiki Most Officially Excellent and Outstanding Original Drink for Tales of the Cocktail 2008, for whatever good that means.
I asked Martin about the origins of this drink, and in his typical fashion, you ask for a handshake and you get a walk in the park.
The origin of this drink comes from something Joy Spence, master blender at Appleton told me when I was touring the estate in Jamiaca with her. We were trying some of what they call “wet sugar” at the refinery- it’s the first boil of the cane juice before the initial seperation of sugar and molasses. So it’s like molasses with all the sugar still in it- thick, and chunky with big sugar crystals. She told me that in Jamaica they like to take the wet sugar and use it to make lemonade, with of course a big splash of rum in there. So I took that idea, lengthed it with soda instead of water, and added a little St. Elizabeth’s for some Jamaican allspice flavor, mon. Combining molasses and simple comes pretty close to the taste of wet sugar.
It was a Diageo sponsored event, so I had to use their rum, but Pampero was a nice choice for this drink. Originally, it would be Appleton Extra. The name is a riff on Pampero- the Pampanito is a fish in South America, and also the name of the WWII submarine docked in San Francisco.
Here is the recipe, corrected from the Tales recipe card… when creativity and branding clash, there are no clear winners.
1 1/2 oz Pampero Aniversario
1/2 oz Mild (aka first boil) Unsulfured Molasses
1/2 oz Simple Syrup (2:1)
1/4 oz St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
Dash Angostura Bitters
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
2 1/2 Charged Water
Shake and strain into ice-filled Collins Glass
I wasn’t quite sure about the shaking and straining, as Rum and Allspice tend to need quite a bit more watering down, and with the molasses there to bind things up (plus, I saw Martin doing this at the event), I slapped that pappy in the ol’ DRINKMASTER and gave it a whirl. It is a fine drink, with the rich molasses providing one hell of a backnote to the rum, lemon and allspice. This one goes down smooth with almost no resistance whatsoever. With the use of molasses in early rum drinks (Bombo, Black Stripe) to make them more palatable, I can see that this stuff will be getting much better use in my home bar.
A note on the use of molasses. I tend to be keep my jiggers away from anything over a 2:1 simple, and will usually use a barspoon to measure items like molasses, coconut cream, orgeat, or any of the other super-sticky stuff out there. I have only a makeshift wet bar (bottled water and a bucket), so cleaning such stuff out tends to be more difficult on a jigger, with its rough angles. Yes, I do clean my jiggers between drinks, quickly and quietly. Got a better method for removing goo from bartools? Let me know!
When in New Orleans, it’s hard to turn one way or the other without seeing a Hawaiian shirted tourist headed towards the Cafe du Monde or Pat O’ Brien’s. But the most prominent placement of the brightly colored vestments this week has been inside the Hotel Monteleone elevators, as Tiki fans and aficianados make their way through the various panels and presentations with a big emphasis on Tiki.
It seems there’s not a panel this week where Donn Beach or Trader Vic hasn’t been mentioned in some way shape or form. Hell, these guys ruled the roost for 40 years of the American restaurant and drinking scene, their influence on modern mixology should be (and really is now) well recognized. For awhile, Tiki seemed to be the illegitimate stepchild of the up and coming cocktail renaissance, until the likes of Jeff Berry and Martin Cate (The books and the bar) made the scene. The resurgence of fresh ingredients, a wide selection of rums, and an emphasis on making them as they would have been originally has brought the Tiki cocktail culture back into the spotlight, though there is still a lot of work to be done. A Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane served at Pat O’Brien’s today is, sadly, horrific. A Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane made according to the original recipe is a wonder of nature.
During the Jerry’s Kids panel, led by Ted Haigh, David Wondrich, and Brian Rea (a national treasure, I should mention), they couldn’t help, once rum was brought up, to discuss Trader Vic, Donn Beach, and a few of the cocktails developed by them. Rum, once upon a time a cheap commodity that bar managers had to buy in order to get their whiskey, bourbon, etc. was elevated to the status of exotic elixir once Donn Beach got his hands on the stuff (with a little lime, mint, and pastis/bitters). Here’s a short clip of the panel discussing rum and the fellas that brought it into the limelight.
In a much more related panel, Rum, Ron, Rhum, Angus Winchester, who is a dynamic public speaker if ever there was one, brought up the subject with all the due respoect and swagger. No wonder he had to bring it up right, as Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Martin Cate of Forbidden Island were in the audience… as well as Wayne Curtis (Tale of the world in 10 cocktails) next to him on the panel. Here’s a short clip from Angus’ speech. Oh, and Angus, if you’re ever looking to get rid of that swizzle stick (or a drop of the 17 year old J. Wray & Nephew), I’ll gladly hold onto either, preferably both.
Of course, there was also the Tiki Dinner, with drinks by Jeff Berry and food by Chris DeBarr. I think Seamus and Rick have already said quite enough about it, but I’ve got a few pictures in the Tales of the Cocktail gallery to share. Oh what a night.
Today marks Tiki’s true time to shine at Tales. Starting this morning with the Potions of the Caribbean session, led by Jeff Berry, then moving onto Martin Cate’s Garnish panel, and ending off with the Tiki block party. I’ll be writing up a few notes once these are done with… I’m sure there will be pictures, memories, and a brutal hangover.