TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2011 – part 1 – Toast, Rum and Negroni

Saintsations and Young Pinstripe Brassband to kick off the Taless 2011 toast.

Brassbands…some of the best music you can hear.

The yearly toast to kick off Tales started with music and dance by the Young Pinstripe Brassband and the Saintsations! and as a huge Saints fan i was very happy to see them! And then followed the toast to Tales to honor the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society and the Sazerac Seal of Approval winners.

The 2011 Sazerac Seal of Approval recipients are Sylvain, Napoleon House, Tujague’s, Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, Dominique’s and Loa in the International House hotel.

This was followed by the the world´s largest Genever slurp toast –  the Bols Genever Kopstootje (pronounced kop-stow-tjuh) represents the original Dutch ritual of a beer paired with a Bols Genever shot.

So the street was set with long tables with shots, a Bols t-shirt and a cold beer and everybody who did get a space did the slurp together. Those who didn´t get a space (me for example) since the street was completely packed did get the beer and  t-shirt.

The calm before the storm..

People wanna do the Kopstootje slurp!

And slurp!

So with this Tales was on!

The first seminar i went to was not surprisingly a seminar about rum. “6 Rums You Will Probably Never taste Again” led by Ed Hamilton from Ministry of Rum.

THERE´S A LITTLE BIT OF MAGIC IN EVERY BOTTLE OF RUM…


Six very special rums is what we got to hear about and taste and these six were rums from Prichard`s – barrel aged (Tennessee), Botran Reserva and Solera 1893 (Guatemala) Flor de Cana (Nicaragua) Abuelo Centuria (Panama) Santa Teresa Bodega Privada selection (Venezuela) Neisson Réserve Spécial (Martinique)

Ed showed us pictures from the distilleries and told the story about these rums. These were all very good rums, i specifically liked Abuelo Centuria and Neisson Réserve Spécial.

Taste is personal…but here´s a little about how i found these six rums:

Prichard`s – barrel aged – fruity, a bit oaky and vanilla.

Botran Reserva and Solera 1893 – sweet, a little oak,  fruity and caramel

Flor de Cana, from a barrel sample that was put aside for Ed – lots of depth,  this was unfiltered rum right out of the barrel. Woody, oak, much complexity and long finish. each sip was full of flavor.

Abuelo Centuria – The only one of these six that has been commercially bottled and fetch a price of USD 136. It´s a blend of rums, where the oldest rumis over 130 years old.

Very tasty and fullbodied, sweet, round, sugarcane, excellent rum.

Santa Teresa – As part of their Bodega Privada selection, the Santa Teresa sells a blend of aged rums to those who want their own rum which is stored in casks at the Santa Teresa warehouse until it is bottled for the owner.

This sample belons to an anonymous friend in the industry. The oldest rum in the blend is 12 years. A quite light rum with flavors of vanilla and oak.

Neisson (1993) – 18 yo, a bit higher proof. Rhum agricole made from sugarcane juice. Excellent, dry, rich and aromatic, very flavorful – superb.

That was a rum filled and interesting seminar with some good rum samples to enjoy!

Next seminar was all about the Negroni.

NEGRONI AN ICONIC COCKTAIL


I went to this session because i`m a lover of the Negroni and of Campasri and so this was a must. We got the history of the Negroni told with some very interesting photos to see from the old days in italy.

This seminar was moderated by Paul Clarke and the panelists were Jacques Bezuidenhout, and Livio Lauro

The Negroni – both a perfect and icoic cocktail, fresh and vibrant with a deep and true history which you`ll soon be able to read in a new book that is coming out.

The book is written by Kuca Picchi and is called “The true Story of the Negroni Cocktail” and if you´re interested you can send an e-mail to – Negronibook@gmail.com for further info and to reserve a copy.

The Negroni originates from the italian coffeeshops and the aperitivo is a way to keep italians from going home…and the ritual started in Turin, Florens and Florens or Firenze is the capital of the Negroni.

We tasted 3 different Negronis, one classic, a Negroni Swizzle and one carbonated. What vermouth adds to a cocktail is both sweetness and acidity and bitters adds some spice and fun! The appeal of the Negroni is that it uses bitters, speaks of it`s place (Italy) and is a very special cocktail!

There was actually much more Negroni to come during this Tales…


There was also the Negroni with a Twist Party with the World’s largest Negroni cocktail ever made at the Sonesta and a more packed room than that one i have never seen before, i tweeted “How much people can they possibly fit into a room”??????

It was almost impossible to move…much less balancing two cocktails and a plate of food….seems like most everybody wanted a taste of the world´s biggest Negroni…which was served from a huge ice block. Well, huge crowds is very much a part of the Tales…

The recipe included Campari, Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin and M&R Sweet Vermouth. Also other twists of the Negroni was served made with talian brands such as Luxardo, Aperol and Mionetto Prosecco.

 

 

To go with the Negroni cocktails was served crispy grissini sticks, strawberries with balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese and some very fat yummy green olives.

The third Negroni event was a Negroni toast hosted by Campari to celebrate the nominees of this year’s Annual Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award and Negroni´s was served in the Monteleone lobby.

This was all  for now – part two from Tales is soon to be posted. I apologize for being late with my posts but i just came back to Sweden after almost a month in New Orleans.

Next up are the sessions about the Mai Tai, the 151 Swizzling around the World, Vanilla and Agave spirits followed by part 2 about some good Nola food.

DEAR CAMPARI

campari-close-label

The content in my glass is glistening like red rubies and i get thirsty by just looking at it. I know too well how completely satisfying a glass of Campari can be – on the rocks, with soda or orange juice.

From the land of bitter aperitifs and digestifs – Italy – we are blessed with a whole range of bitter aperifs and digestifs such as Campari, Aperol, Cynar, Ramazotti and Fernet Branca to name a few. These are all good for our digestion and has medical properties as well as wonderful flavors even though to many it`s an aquired taste. But give them a chance – you might get hooked.

These has been my companions for many years and my first accuintance with Campari was in right there in Italy where i had my first glass sitting at a restaurant in Napoli after we had a wonderful day in the beautiful island of Capri. My memories of that first glass are so (bitter) sweet.

I shall never forget the first chocking sip and then the next eventually leading to a long life love relationship with this wonderful apertif. Unusually maybe, i didn`t dislike it at all and came to love it very fast. Some people are just “bitter” types..

Italy is also the place where i also made my first experiences with vermouth, and therefore vermouth is to me also connected with that special atmosphere of Italy as well – which is a mèlange of tranquility and chaos – the lazy afternoon in the cooler shadows, the hot sun, the food, the fragrances…the chaotic traffic and the blue mediterranian sea.

Few things are to me so pleasant as a glass of Campari before a good meal and especially if that dinner was a pasta dinner with something like say – a lobster sauce. The typical and also the most tasty way to drink these bitter aperitifs and digestives is to keep it simple and enjoy them neat with ice and a slice of orange or lemon.

But they are also wonderful mixers for cocktails and there´s no limit to what you can do with them, especially Campari and Aperol are well suited for mixing. So my favorite above all – the Campari is what i used here for this post which really, is about playing with Campari.

And with it the very common but proved combination of fresh blood orange juice, (they just go hand in hand) – its hard to fail. I was going to stop there because nothing more is needed – but just for the heck of it i decided to rinse the glass with absinthe and for freshness, a sprinkle of lime juice and then something for the nose – fresh mint wrapped in lime peel.

This cocktail celebrates my sunny memories of Capri.

CAPRI

capri-sunset

2 oz Campari
2 oz fresh blood orange juice
sprinkle of lime
Absinthe rinse

Fill a rocks glass half full with large ice cubes, pour the ingredients and stir, add more ice and garnish with mint wrapped in lime peel and a slice of blood orange.

I discovered that the Campari almost overpowers the Absinthe – but its there even though quite subtle, so if you want more, just add a few extra drops.To me it was ok though as the emphasis is on the Campari, the Absinthe is just there to add a little subtle tingle, something i think Absinthe is very good for.

Another classic Campari drink that never a fails is the Campari and Soda, just a splash of each, ice  and lemon or orange wedge in the glass..unbeatable! Here is another take on this refreshing drink that uses fresh mint and crushed ice.

CAMPARI AND SODA WITH MINT

campari-soda

Take 10 mint leaves and muddle with 1/4 oz simple syrup, add 2 oz campari and stir with ice to mix, then strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice and top up with Soda. Add a sprinkle of fresh lime and garnish with mint and a lime wedge.

Unfortunately the old Campari (the one with cochineal) is no more produced and what is available here is the new one. Even if the flavour difference maybe isn´t that dramatical its still there – very subtle but there`s a difference. R.I.P Old Campari.

I think they also have made some new artsy labels for Campari, making it more classy and modern in style – which i don`t particularly like, i like it the old style – not too fancy but more down to earth genuine, the way it always been.

Campari is one of my absolute favorite spirits. please don`t destroy it.

MxMo XXXIX – AMARO

mxmologo1

Oh how i love this topic! thank you Chuck for hosting this MxMo at the Gumbo Pages which i consider being a fantastic blog.

amaro-ramazotti

One amaro two amari..

These bitter herbal liqueurs are very dear to me because for some weird reason its some of the first alcohol drinks that i tried and that was in Italy, and therefore i always feel the memories of that wonderful country when i drink a nice amaro. I just need to look at a bottle  to get that special feeling. Oddly enough Cynar is one of the amaris which i tried later than sooner.

Now its not just the italians that makes bitter liqueurs but really the italians have made it into an art to create diverse liqueurs from all sorts of unlikely ingredients, just think about Cynar! (artichoke) or Amaro Nonino which is made from grappa infused with herbs, plus grain alcohol, and ingredients that include caramelized sugar, bitter orange, cinchona, galenga, gentian, liquorice, quassia wood, rhubarb, saffron, sweet orange and tamarind.

One of the most famous amaris is Amaro Averna from Sicily which among other things contains chinotto, the bitter orange which i really like. I once read somewhere that the italians have invented more than 300 different kinds of after-dinner digestive drinks for relieving the heaviness that often follows their meals.

Amaro means bitter in italian and its a bitter herbal liqueur, a digestif usually drunk after dinner, having a tonic effect, cleansing the palate between meals. Amari are most often drunk neat with a citrus wedge, ice or with a topping of tonic water, here simplicity is the best, but they are also wonderful mixers for other cocktails.

For this post i decided to use Ramazotti menta which i don´t use that very often and now i got a wonderful opportunity to make more use of it. Ramazotti menta is also a bit challenging i think as the mint flavor really can be a bit overpowering, i think mint has a way to do that unless its fresh.

The original Amaro Ramazotti is a reddish-brown digestive that sits somewhere in the mid-range of bitterness with a bit of an orangey flavor. Its made with 33 ingredients and among them are cinchona tree bark, cinnamon, gentian, oregano, bitter orange from Curaçao sweet oranges from Sicily.

Ramazotti was first made in Milano in 1815 by Ausano Ramazotti who created it in his shop as a tonic liqueur made from herbs and spices including gentian root, rhubarb, cinnamon and the peel from Sicilian oranges. Ramazzotti does not contain artificial color or flavour materials.

Now with this menta version i made a very simple digestive, amaro menta with some ice and fresh orange juice topped off with a small splash of fernet, another famous amaro and one of my favorites along with campari..

MENTA AMARO

amaro-bitter-menta1

1 oz Ramazotti menta
2 oz fresh orange juice
Small splash fernet branca
Soda to top
Ice cubes
Garnish orange wedge and mint

Half fill a rocks glass with ice cubes, add Ramazotti menta and orange juice, stir. Add a small splash fernet branca and top with soda. Fill up with more ice and garnish with a orange wedge and mint sprig.

The topping off with a small splash of Fernet followed by soda will layer the bitter flavors a bit.

I was very tempted to even top off with a few dashes of bitters but i resisted, that would have been too much different bitter flavors outdoing each other. Even the combination of Ramazotti menta and Fernet is maybe a bit unusual but actually i find it tasty. The color isn`t the most appetizing, a cloudy murky sort of brown but dont let that fool you, this tastes much better than it looks.

Overall this cocktail was tasty enough to make me want to drink it again. The fun thing is that rather than feeling like a digestive it sparked my appetite for wanting more of both the dinner and another drink.

 Finally one last thing, i sometimes enjoy a shot of Swack which is a lighter version of the original Unicum (or i enjoy a shot of Fernet).

 amaro-unicum

And with this i want to finish by saying that i really looking forward to read the roundup, so don`t forget to check out the Gumbo pages in a few days.

amaro-ramazotti-menta