Archive for the ‘New Orleans’ Category

July 7th, 2009

Drinkboston in NOLA … and Wellfleet!

Just a quick post before I leave on a Jet Blue plane for New Orleans and my third annual stint at the booziest convention in the known universe, Tales of the Cocktail. I’ll be tweeting (yes, I finally took up microblogging) and posting during the festivities — my posts will appear here and on the official Tales Blog. (See my preview post on Sunday’s hangover seminar.) So check back over the next few days, y’all.

I hear this a lot during the days leading up to Tales: Am I going to be able to get a decent drink in Boston that week? Yes, don’t worry. It’s true that a lot of industry folk from Boston participate, but they don’t all go at the same time, or for the whole time. There will still be talent behind the stick at most if not all of the best cocktail-centric Boston bars.

happy-oyster-showMeanwhile, starting this Sunday, July 12, drinkboston guest blogger Scott N. Howe will be performing in the Happy Oyster Spectacular Show at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT) in Wellfleet, Cape Cod (whose oysters kick southern oysters’ ass — sorry New Orleans). The premise of this part-live, part-video comedy that Scott co-wrote: “Two Wellfleet oystermen, Hewlett Packard and Pitney Bowes, host a variety show featuring live sketches, video, musical performances, and segments on oysters, clams, experimental theater, lyme disease, documentary filmmaking and dog poop.”

I will unfortunately still be in NOLA for the first show, but luckily there are five more running through August 23. Scott and his troupe are funny people, so if you’re looking for some laughs in the outer Cape this summer, check it out. (Buy tix here.)

Tags: , , ,
Posted in New Orleans | 4 Comments »

June 20th, 2009

Nips – 6/20/09

doctordrinking» As I prepare to make my third annual trip to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, two New York Times articles this week combined in my head to form a timely and contradictory message: “Booze is bad for you. New Orleans is good for you.” The first article, Alcohol’s Good for You? Some Scientists Doubt It, looks skeptically at studies that show health benefits from moderate drinking. The takeaway is this: “It may be that moderate drinking is just something healthy people tend to do, not something that makes people healthy.” If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you figured that out a long time ago. I’m guessing that, even if you are a moderate drinker (one drink per day for women, two for men), you aren’t drinking for your health, but because it’s fun. Imagine — doing something that confers no benefit other than fun!

» Which segues perfectly into the second article, The Way of the Bayou, about New Orleanians being completely out of step with “progress” and not fretting about it one bit. “While the rest of us Americans scurry about with a Blackberry in one hand and a to-go cup of coffee in the other in a feverish attempt to pack more achievement into every minute, it’s the New Orleans way to build one’s days around friends, family, music, cooking, processions, and art. For more than two centuries New Orleanians have been guardians of tradition and masters of living in the moment — a lost art.” This is a rosy view of the city, but there’s truth in it. It’s something you pick up on pretty quickly when you’re down there, especially during an event as joyously frivolous — and bad for your health — as Tales of the Cocktail.

» Speaking of Tales, the event culminates in the annual Spirit Awards, which recognize the best bars, bartenders, writers, brand ambassadors, products, etc. in the cocktail world. This year, Drink has been nominated for Best New Cocktail Bar. Cross your fingers and hope for the best, ’cause Gertsen and co. deserve to win.

» Some Boston bar proprietors received a strange promotional item this week: a tasteful looking box with the words “Thanks for nothing” on the outside and an empty bottle of Knob Creek bourbon on the inside. An accompanying letter explains that consumer demand has literally drained the barrels dry, and it thanks the recipient for “helping make it happen.” As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. The letter continues, “We ask for your patience and your continued support. We plan to capitalize on this temporary shortage by creating customer communications and conducting outreach that underscore Knob Creek’s commitment to quality. Working together, I’m sure we’ll all be even more popular and profitable once supply is restored.”

Ooooh. Commitment to quality. Working together. Popular and profitable. The boutique bourbon market is wielding some fancy PR! The letter should’ve just said, “If you’re paying $10 more a bottle than you used to for our bourbon, bless your soul. By the time supplies are replenished, your customers will be used to paying the higher price. Genius!”

» And good gawd, y’all, MC Slim JB (food/drink critic and occasional contributor in this space) just posted There’s a riot going on in the cocktail world, an eloquent tribute to and smart summation of the rise of the craft cocktail scene in Boston. If you’re a regular here, a lot of the nuts and bolts of what he’s saying will already sound familiar, but his thoughtful take on things is well worth checking out. As he explains, his food-oriented audience and writing peers are often surprisingly ignorant of what’s been going on for the past several years, drink-wise. It’s time they knew.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Booze in the news, Boston bars, New Orleans, Nips | 6 Comments »

September 9th, 2008

From the Ward Eight to the Ninth Ward

A photo of Brother Cleve with his cocktail, the Ninth Ward

I’ve been meaning since I returned from Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans to write about the Ninth Ward, a drink that Brother Cleve created for the event. First, a little context. Cleve was supposed to be a presenter at this year’s Tales but wasn’t able to travel because of an illness from which, thankfully, he now appears to be recovering. His cocktailian friends from Boston (and around the country) were as sad as he was about this state of affairs. To cheer both him and ourselves up, we carried a framed photo of him wherever we went, taking snapshots of him ‘hanging out’ with us at the Napoleon House, the Absinthe House, the Carousel Bar, Vaughan’s, etc. As Cleve remarked when he saw the photo album, “Maybe Travelocity can get rid of that gnome and use me instead.”

In addition to taking the majority of the Cleve pics, Boston bar doyenne Misty Kalkofen graciously subbed for her friend at the Tales Cocktail Hour, introducing the Ninth Ward to spirits enthusiasts from around the world. The drink — a play on Boston’s best-known cocktail, the Ward Eight, and an homage to one of the NOLA neighborhoods most beset by Hurricane Katrina flooding — was a hit. It’s an unusual, sophisticated and damn tasty cocktail. The best thing for me to do is let Cleve tell you in his own words the story behind its creation.

“I wanted to create a drink for the event that would have some sort of New Orleans and Boston connection. As disparate as the cities’ cultures may be, I’ve spent a lot of quality drinking time in both. The Saturn Bar, in the Ninth Ward, is probably my favorite bar of all time — definitely my favorite dive bar. The owner-bartender, O’Neil Broyard, died not long after Katrina, which almost destroyed the bar as it did so much of the Ninth Ward. The Ninth Ward shares certain similarities with my neighborhood, Dorchester. While both are among the poorest and most crime-plagued areas of each city, there are also some spots of architecturally stunning homes in areas mostly revitalized by gays and artists.

“So my idea was to take the Ward Eight, the best-known drink created in Boston, and turn it into a tropical cocktail for New Orleans. The Ward Eight is bourbon, grenadine and lemon juice. First step, keep the bourbon. I used the Bulleit brand (known as a ‘frontier whiskey’) since the Ward Eight was a 19th-century drink, and Bulleit has the character of that era’s whiskies, sharp and smoky and not too sweet. I flipped the grenadine for falernum, since falernum is a Caribbean syrup and is found in many tropical drinks. Lime juice is also more ubiquitous in the tropics than lemon juice; almost all the classic Don the Beachcomber/Trader Vic concoctions use it.

“I added a new ingredient to the mix, the fab St. Germain elderflower liqueur. Even though elderflowers grow in the Alps, St. Germain is a French-produced beverage, and the U.S. bought Louisiana from the French. Plus, tropical cocktails almost always feature some form of liqueur, so here’s one for this drink. Then, to hold it all together, a few dashes of Peychaud’s bitters, which of course were created in New Orleans.

“I guess, as a postscript, one could also say that the politics of both Boston and New Orleans have historically always been corrupt. Let the good times roll!”

The Ninth Ward

1 1/2 oz Bulleit bourbon
1/2 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
3/4 oz Fee Brothers falernum syrup*
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Shake well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

* Cleve says, “I used the Fee Brothers falernum, which is non-alcoholic but works beautifully. I tried making the drink with Velvet Falernum, but it was too light. This is a problem with VF in most classic tiki drinks, as Ted Haigh has pointed out. (The VF is great in a Corn ‘n Oil or anything with black rum, like Gosling or Cruzan). The homemade (alcoholic) falernum syrup works just fine. I think this is probably closer in flavor/texture to the classic/discontinued Sazerac brand, which was probably used by Don & Vic in the ’40s. I’m sure there are some small Bermudian or Trinidadian brands that are not imported that may be closer to the Sazerac. Time for an investigative field trip!”

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Cocktails, New Orleans, Whiskey | 8 Comments »

July 25th, 2008

Tales – the reckoning, part 2

As I had hoped, Tales – the reckoning has generated some feedback, both positive and negative, both online and off. Some people have appreciated my honesty in pointing out some of the problems with this year’s event, and some have called the post too negative. This is my response to the latter group.

First, there is no doubt that Tales is a whopper of an event to plan, and it takes a ton of dedicated people, many of them volunteers, to pull it off. I never intended to diss those people — hell, I’m one of them. Playing my own small part as a volunteer, I gave a presentation about Tales at a Boston travel show this winter, spent time organizing my panel on media coverage for the bar and spirits industry (I even brought with me to New Orleans the bottles of Amer Picon required for one of my recipes), and helped promote Tales both through and the Tales Blog. All of what I wrote about Tales up to “the reckoning” has been positive. And it has been honest.

So it would have been dishonest of me, after the dozen or so posts I have written about Tales and New Orleans, not to report on the flaws that occurred this year. They could not be ignored. And just to make sure I wasn’t a lone, pissy voice in the blogosphere, I solicited comments in order to get multiple, honest takes on the matter from others who attended. I hope the comments keep coming. Because if you take the time to comment, it’s probably because, like me, you appreciate that Tales is the premier spirits event in the U.S., and you want it to keep being as awesome as it has been in the past.

Posted in New Orleans | 2 Comments »

July 24th, 2008

The Globe’s take on Tales

God bless Boston Globe correspondent Liza Weisstuch. She attended the events of Tales of the Cocktail with, of all things, a notebook, writing things down. Her short, sharp summaries of each day appear in today’s Globe article “Mixing it up with the best of them.” Not that I’m mentioned anywhere in the article. Nope, not at all.

Posted in drinkboston in the news, New Orleans | 1 Comment »