Posts Tagged ‘Tales of the Cocktail’

August 12th, 2010

Nips – 8/12/10

A friendly reminder that this coming tax-free weekend doesn’t just apply to TVs, leather armchairs and solid-wood shellcases for your iPad. It also applies to booze. Have your eye on a bottle of green Chartreuse VEP ($130)? Strathisla 1967 Speyside scotch whisky ($175)? Remy Martin Cognac Louis XIII Grande ($1700)? Well, grab your shopping cart and boogie down the aisle of one of these fine establishments.

» Boston wins. Damned if Boston didn’t hit it out of the park during Tales of the Cocktail in July. First of all, more Boston bar industry folk represented our city at New Orleans’ annual drinks convention than ever before. Second of all, Drink won the Grand Marnier-sponsored Barroom Brawl, besting five other top-notch cocktail bars from around the U.S. and earning the title Best Bar in America. Third of all, Drink’s Misty Kalkofen won the Pisco Sour Pentathalon and will in the near future enjoy her prize: a trip to Peru to see how desert-grown grapes turn into white brandy. Congrats to all! Liza Weisstuch offers a vivid snapshot of the competition and, more generally, the Boston slant on Tales in today’s Phoenix. Good stuff.

» Remixology. Speaking of contests, there’s a new bar celeb in town: John Mayer of Cambridge’s Craigie on Main. A relatively new member of the staff there, he wowed everyone at the Appleton Estate Rum Remixology contest earlier this week with his mixing skills, sense of humor and ability to explain how a favorite song inspired a new cocktail. His presentation involved Frankie Valli’s “Sherry Baby,” a powder-blue brocade blazer, three mixing glasses spinning on a turntable, a small disco ball, a history lesson on Jamaica’s first prime minister — Alexander Bustamante — and the year 1962. He will compete in the national finals of the competition in NYC on August 30. Go, John! Here are recipes for the Bustamante and the other semi-finalists’ tasty drinks.

» Literature. Geoff “Psycho-Gourmet” Nicholson’s fantastic essay, Drink What You Know, appeared in the New York Times’ Book Review recently. He starts by comparing the advice writers dispense about drinking to the way they depict drinking in their literature, and arrives at his thesis:

“When you think about it, rules for drinking are not so different from rules for writing. Many of these are so familiar they’ve become truisms: Write what you know. Write every day. Never use a strange, fancy word when a simple one will do. Always finish the day’s writing when you could still do more. With a little adaptation these rules apply just as well for drinking. Drink what you know, drink regularly rather than in binges, avoid needlessly exotic booze, and leave the table while you can still stand.”

Read it. And then check out the response over at Jezebel: the Reader’s Drinking Game.

» History. I was putting off going to Plymouth to learn about Pilgrims until my retirement years, but now I have a reason to go earlier. Pilgrim Hall Museum (“America’s museum of Pilgrim possessions”) is running an exhibition called “Plymouth History in a Glass: The Artifacts and Culture of Beverages and Drinking” until December 31. Silver tankards. Ceramic punch bowls. Glass tumblers. Ooh, I’m getting hot flashes. Not only that, there are two related lectures: one on historic Plymouth-area taverns on August 25 and one on September 29 called “The Design of Drinking: from the Jazz Age to the Space Age.” Far out.

» Name that bar. What would you call a bar frequented by venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and hardworking graduate students from all over the world who converge on the high-tech cluster that is Kendall Square, Cambridge? The people behind the in-the-works “Venture Cafe” are seeking a more clever name than the working title for their “place-based social networking” project. They have partnered with restaurateur Gary Strack from Central Kitchen and the Enormous Room and are scouting Kendall Square locations for a 2011 opening. With any luck the place will liven up the woefully nightlife-less neighborhood. Got a suggestion for what to call the place? Chime in on their Facebook page.

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Posted in Bartenders, Booze in the news, Cocktails, New Orleans, Nips, Pisco, Rum | 1 Comment »

July 21st, 2010

When everyone else is at Tales


This year, I decided to skip the enlightening, invigorating and exhausting bit of debauchery known as Tales of the Cocktail, for which everyone in the drinks industry converges on New Orleans each July. I admit that it’s bittersweet to watch most of the city’s top bar workforce board planes heading south this week. And then there are all the Facebook and Twitter updates. “There were 40 of us on the flight — so fun!” “First round of Pimm’s Cups!” “I’m at a seminar on blending whiskey!” “About to board the Beefeater party bus!” “Dancing to Kermit Ruffins at Vaughan’s!” “Doing shots of Chartreuse at the Old Absinthe House!” “Running naked down Frenchmen Street!” “Woooooo!….Zzzzzz….”

No, really, I’m cool with my decision (sniff). Actually, I’m impressed that more Boston bar industry folk are attending Tales this year than ever before. This is not only good for New Orleans — Beantowners have an affinity for the place, and Tales tends to inspire return trips — but good for Boston as well. These men and women will be surrounded by a few thousand people who are truly passionate about their profession, and they will return charged up with ideas about how to make their good establishments even better.

In the meantime, if you, like me, are hanging around town this week wondering how to approximate the fun you’d be having if you were in New Orleans, here is a list of activities common during Tales, with their rough Boston equivalents.

  • A Sazerac served by prickly old pro Paul Gustings at Tujagues = A martini served by prickly old pro Reggie St. Paul at the Blue Room.
  • Well-crafted cocktails at a tasting room in the Hotel Monteleone = Well-crafted cocktails at Craigie on Main.
  • Kermit Ruffins’ jazz band at Vaughan’s = Jazz at Wally’s or a rock show in Central Square.
  • Beignets at Cafe du Monde = Pastry at Cafe Vittoria in the North End.
  • Fried chicken and Abita at Coop’s Place = Fried chicken and High Life at Trina’s Starlite Lounge.
  • Oyster po’ boy anywhere in NOLA = Oysters on the half shell anywhere in Boston.
  • The French 75 Bar at Arnaud’s = The bar at Locke-Ober.
  • A Vieux Carre at the Carousel Bar = A Vieux Carre in a flask on the Rose Kennedy Greenway Carousel.
  • A 4:00 a.m. party in a suite at the Monteleone = A 4:00 a.m. party on your friend’s porch in Somerville.

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Posted in New Orleans | 12 Comments »

July 15th, 2008

Yankees in NOLA

Sazerac Cocktail posterFrom what I’ve heard, there is a sizable contingent of Boston-area bartenders, writers and cocktail enthusiasts heading to New Orleans this week for Tales of the Cocktail. I’m looking forward to running into my fellow New Englanders wherever I go, whether it’s the panel on gin called “Juniperlooza: A Journey Deep into the Heart of Mother’s Ruin,” the French 75 bar at Arnaud’s or the cemetery where part of Easy Rider was filmed.

New Orleans is still doing some serious rebuilding and repopulating three years after Hurricane Katrina, and for me and a lot of other attendees, Tales is partly about showing the natives some moral support and generating some cash for the restaurant and hotel employees who make our good times roll.

So leave a nice tip for that Sazerac, which, in case you hadn’t heard, was just declared New Orleans’ official cocktail by the Louisana legislature (thanks in part to Tales organizer Ann Tuennerman). Writer, bon vivant and New Orleans native Chuck Taggart, whom I’m looking forward to seeing again this year, writes lovingly about the Sazerac here. Scroll down a bit for the recipe, and be sure to follow it to the T if you want to taste the real thing.

I’ll be drinking Sazeracs (and Obituaries and Vieux Carrés) this week and blogging from the Crescent City.

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Posted in New Orleans | 1 Comment »

June 24th, 2008

World’s booziest blog

Tales Blog - logoWhether or not you plan on attending Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans this year, you should check out what the event’s planners are calling the World’s Largest Collaborative Cocktail Blog. It’s collectively written by a group of bloggers who will be participating in and writing about panels and other events at the World’s Largest Cocktail Convention (or, as Scott likes to call it, Macworld for Drunks).

The Tales bloggers are dishing up previews, commentary, interviews and how-to’s on a riot of boozy subjects that may be helpful and interesting to the drinking public at large (not just those who are heading down to New Orleans). A sampling of recent posts gives you an idea: Death in the Gulfstream — An Underappreciated Hemingway Drink, by Seamus Harris of Bunnyhugs; Artisan Still Design and Construction, by Jonathan Forester of SlashFood; and Getting Your Booze into the News, by some blogger from Boston.

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Posted in New Orleans | No Comments »

February 22nd, 2008

Tales of the Cocktail 2008: A preview

Obituary CocktailI’ve been drafted to represent Tales of the Cocktail 2008 at the Boston Globe Travel Show this Friday and Saturday (February 22-23). TOTC Founder Ann Tuennerman is busy promoting her event elsewhere around the country, so I, along with Misty Kalkofen of Green Street, signed on for the job. Since Misty and I (and several of our fellow Boston cocktailians) are attending TOTC again this year, you’ll be hearing more about this be-there-or-be-square cocktail party as its time (July 16-20) nears. And, of course, there’ll be posts about the event during and after the fact, just like last year.

Misty’s and my presentation will involve a few cocktail demos, of course. Two of the featured drinks celebrate New Orleans and its cocktail history; the third gives Travel Show attendees a taste of what’s happening in today’s Boston scene. Try them out yourself while you plan your trip to New Orleans this summer. FYI, we used Hendrick’s gin (a TOTC sponsor) in the recipes below.

Obituary Cocktail

2 oz gin
1/4 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz absinthe (or Herbsaint)

Stir all ingredients well over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. This cocktail was created at Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon St., one of New Orleans’ oldest saloons.

French 75

1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup

Shake gin, lemon juice and simple syrup over ice. Pour into champagne flute or saucer and top with Champagne. The bar at the famous New Orleans restaurant, Arnaud’s, is named for this drink. The drink is, as you know, named for the rapid-firing cannon the French used in World War I.

Flapper Jane

1 3/4 oz gin
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz Wu Wei tea-infused simple syrup*
dash of Peychaud’s bitters

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. The Flapper Jane was created for the LUPEC Boston Tea Party.

*Wu Wei tea-infused simple syrup: heat 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 1 Tbsp Wu Wei tea in a saucepan until all the sugar dissolves. Pour into a container and let cool. Store in fridge.

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Posted in Cocktails, Events, Gin, New Orleans | 6 Comments »