After all the heat in New Orleans and the summer isn´t over yet even though much cooler here than say +37 – its always welcome with a tikidrink. This post´s theme is a Summer Tiki Drink containing a new product – Root.
Root is spicy and deep and has its origins in root tea which was before the root beer. Its a new pre-prohibition liqueur with deep american roots dubbed “the first true American liqueur since the pre-Prohibition era.” Its made by Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction in partnership with the folks behind Hendrick’s Gin.
Welcome to read my post on a summer tiki drink with Root and sample my recipe over at the Mixoloseum blog.
Saturday was the last day i could attend as we were leaving for PA and NYC on Sunday.There were 2 very good sessions that I attended, the first i went to was Citrus in history and application. This session was led by Eric Seed who told the history of citrus and Charlotte Voisey who showcased a very interesting and tasty blood orange liqueur called Solerno as well as others and mixed up a lovely brandy crusta with Solerno instead of Orange Curacao. Unfortunately Solerno is only sold in NYC for the time being.
The next session was Agavepalooza which was one of the most interesting i`ve been to – fan of tequila and mezcal as i am. Here we were taken on a long journey where the tequila and mezcals are made.
CITRUS in history and application
I`m a citrus lover so it was to me a very interesting session sponsored by Angostura orange bitters. Many types of usual and more unusual citrus plants were described and we learnt their history and where the hybrids come from. An interesting refreshener from India was also described – Nimbu Panu which is lime, cane juice, soda, salt & pepper. That would make a base for a nice tikidrink..in my mind i add something like dark and light rums, pimento dram and get a Tiki Panu. Haven´t tried that yet though..
Further we learnt some things about Angostura which was formulated in 1824 by Dr Joham Siegert operating in the town of Angostura on the banks of the Orinoco River inVenezuela. Dr Siegert were originally from Germany and a scients most of all. He experimented with formulas for a cure against fevers and internal stomach disorders. And finally in the year 0f 1824 his work resulted in a unique blend of herbs which he called “Amargo Aromatico” or aromatic bitters..
The rest is history and here we were at the tales of the cocktails with Angostura orange bitters bottles in front of us and lovely cocktails to imbibe while we learnt a thing and two about both Angostura, the lovely citrus fruits and their use in cocktails.
AGAVEPALOOZA – The fine mexican Spirits
Drinking mezcal in these clay cups gives a different experience.
Due to the long queue– this was a popular session. While standing for a long time in the queue i got toreally study the pool area and came to the conclusion that this is the first time i see an entire pool filled with drunk bartenders. A LARGE glass with some kinda punch was passed around.
They took us on a long journey to learn the history of and experience and sample the magnificient spirits of Mexico.Not only did we sample some very unusual spirits like hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol reposado which is made from a different agave than tequila and mexcal and is distilled in double copper stills having a very different flavour, we also did taste raw agave which was a very interesting experience.
Other interesting mezcals i tasted were the tobala (made from wild mountain maguey) and the pechuga. (macerated with fruits and nuts and infused with a chicken breast)
One of my favorites among their products is the crema de mezcal – “made for women only and a few strong men”. Its really tasty and smooth and the smokiness is not upfront it grows upon you.
Earth roast agave
The entire cathegory of distillates made from the steamed and roasted agave plant hearts is within the term mezcal and tequila is a specific type of mezcal which originally was produced in Jalisco and around and in the town of Tequila but now is legally produced in 5 states in Mexico.
Distillation was brought to Mexico by the Spaniards in the early 1500s and before tequila was produced the Aztecs consumed pulque which was a wine-like liquid made from fermented syrup extracted from the heart of the agave plant. The result of distilled roasted fermented maguey (agave) is mezcal. Tequila was more or less only consumed in Mexico until the American prohibition.
The tastings of tequila, sotol and mezcal were done in clay sipper cups which really made a difference in how you experienced the flavours of these spirits. After the session we were treated to more mezcal tasting and cocktail drinking n the pool area.
I had one of the best cocktails i have ever tasted made by Junior Merinho at this session – Alma Blanca Margarita who told me its inspired by an old maya drink containing mashed corn. Do yourself a favor and try this one! if you can´t find Hoja Santa (and who can?) just do it anyway, this cocktail is AMAZING.
ALMA BLANCA MARGARITA
2 oz SiembraAzul Tequila Blanco infused with orange habanero pepper
0.5 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
0.5 oz Liquid Chef aloe-vera – lemon grass syrup
1 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz Boiron pineapple puree
2 tablespoons fresh corn
Pinch of Hoja Santa
Rim the glass withThe Liquid Chef hibiscus-rose salt
Muddle corn and syrup and add the rest of ingredients, ice, shake and double strain over ice into a Margarita glass.
One thing i`ve noticed about the US is that they have tons of days they celebrate, like today – its National Tequila Day. I ask myself why can`t that be an International Tequila Day? anyway, i don´t want to miss an occasion to raise a toast with one of my favorite spirits and therefore i decided to infuse some tequila with red habanero pepper and mix up a drink to toast.
The classic Margarita calls for tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice. Its a wonderful drink in all its simplicity and very thirst quenching. The fact that tequila mixes so well with fruity flavors is one reason why i like it so much, the other and most important is of course its flavour.
It also mixes well well with hot peppers and i love peppers so here we go, i took my favorite pepper which is the habanero, sliced off a little bit and infused a tequila blanco, just long enough (a few hours in this case) to give it a bit of a peppery bite without being too hot.
I made a similar drink when i was in the US for the New Orleans TDN called the MixoHouse Cocktail but with jalapeno infused tequila, seems i`m on a pepper infusion craze these days. Another of my addictions is as some of you know, Ting – the jamaican grapefruit beverage which traditionally is paired with JWray overproof rum. But Ting pairs well with much things and tequila is one of the best partners i know so don`t be surprised – here is T&T – Tequila and Ting and a toast to tequila.
2 oz red habanero infused tequila
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz agave syrup
Top with Ting
Rim a rocks glass with lime-sugar (raw sugar and grated lime zest) Add the ingredients except for Ting in a shaker and shake, strain and pour into the glass filled with large ice cubes, top with Ting. Garnish with a speared habanero.
When you go to the Tales for the first time you sort of have a vague picture of how it may be based on what you read and hear from others. The reality is much more overwhelming because its so much of everything and so intense during a short time. So much people, so many sessions, the heat, the food… the beauty of the city, the drinks…its all just wow.
Another quite overwhelming experience during the Tales is the Monteleone lobby – a bit chaotic…a good thing is that you don`t need to be there for very long before you meet someone you know. And the Carousel bar is there to rotate your senses.
To me Tales is all about the people, meeting everybody is what i will remember the most and its from all these fantastic people you learn. It was great to meet so many great people in the industry, all cocktail geeks, bloggers and bartenders all gathered in one place. I have learnt a lot of things and had more fun than i probably deserve.
As for New Orleans i think its a fantastic city, i knew i would love it and be right at home! As the Tales is located at Monteleone in the french quarter that`s what you`ll see most of unless you can get away for a while or stay longer than the Tales week (will definetily do that next time). But really the quarter has a unique athmosphere with many funny smells, music, cocktails and food everywhere, beautiful houses with their wrought iron balconies so full of tropical plants and flowers, lovely shotgun houses colorfully painted – as well as all the tourist traps that adorns the one and only Bourbon Street which is very touristy. Its the mix of everything that makes this place so magical. Its a long time i wanted to get myself over here and finally i did.
And the food is amazing, the best i`ve had anywhere, everything from poboys to the beignets and chickory coffee at Café du Monde – is not to be missed!
As a member of the CSOWG i found myself living in the Mixohouse located on N Rampart right opposite the Armstrong park – and living there was wonderful and quite an experience, one of the best bars in New Orleans right in our living room and another good one a few steps away, Bar Tonique, plus good friends all over.
It was fantastic and the ambiance in the house was very special. I fell asleep to the sound of shakers and woke up to the sound of laughter (and one morning – shakers.. ) Of course having a bar in the livingroom didn´t prevent us from visiting bars in New Orleans like for instance Attiki where i had a fantastic Gin Bloody Mary with okra and olive garnish.
Before i left i read those survival guides for the Tales written by other cocktailbloggers and even though you pace, drink water, eat, try to sleep at least 5 hrs a night – its very intense – and there`s a reason Cocktailnerd wrote a stumbling-guide for us.
There are a few things though that i`ve learnt and which i will try to remember the next time i attend the Tales.
1 – Bring a very sturdy suitcase and big enough. My too small and too soft suitcase broke on arrival in DC, survived to PA where it was fixed MacGywer style by Rick but it finally died in NYC.
2 – Bring a fan, mine was my best friend during my stay because its seriously hot and humid during the summer . Always carry at least 2 bottles of water with you everywhere you go. They provide tons of waterbottles at the sessions at Tales.
3 – Dont drink everything that is handed to you just because its free, i actually didn´t or i would have passed out so its a good point worth mentioning.
4 – Take more notes during the sessions than you think you need, i wish i had written down more info than i did, that would have made me able to write better blog posts. Unfortunately the only laptop in the house at home broke down shortly before my departure so i had to travel without one which made my blogging more difficult, so bring a laptop.
5 – Cocktails and drinks – try the worst and compare with the best, there you will see what enourmous difference it is between a well crafted cocktail and a….hm..Handgrenade?
6 – Don´t try to go to as many sessions as possible, i choosed those i really wanted not to miss and you will miss out on something anyway, its impossible to keep up with everything.
7 – Don´t miss Attiki, they make mean Gin Bloody Mary´s, and don`t miss French75, and Cure.
9 – Pearl made me one of the best little gumbos i`ve ever had. Pearl is a little place just 2 blocks from the Roosevelt hotel (where you also will find the Sazerac bar) Pearl maybe isn`t the most well known place and i`ve read so-so reviews of it but the gumbo i got was delicious.
10 – And by all means – DO NOT miss the charbroiled oysters from Drago’s !! – i could go back all the way to Nola only for those! they are a charcoal smoky, cheesy, garlicky, spicy, juicy heaven on a plate! they are the best single dish i´ve eaten in my life.
11 – There´s a big chance that you´ll bring a hat from Nola home with you;-)
The Carousel bar at Hotel Monteleone where you slowly rotate around the bar.
There has been so amazingly much things to do that i dont even know where to start but here are a few short glimpses, every day has been totally awesome and very intense.
I’ ve had well crafted cocktails from the worlds best bartenders and i” ve tried the worst you can get here as well – like the so called handgrenades and the infamous (at least among cocktail folks) Pat O’ Briens Hurricane – i knew it was going to be bad but not that bad..they look prety but they’re cloyingly sweet and made from a chemical instant mix…almost undrinkable.
Far from the fresh ingredient original…
When it comes to cocktails this is quite a contrasting place with many choices which adds to the charm.
The best drink on the table was definetily the coke, the Zombie tasted canned pineapple – and oh…have you ever had instant test-tube cocktails?
Anyway, if you haven´t done it and come to New Orleans you must try the POB Hurricane at least once – just because.
Or how about some instant cocktails-on-the-go? just make sure you have a spit-bucket around if you choose to try the less well crafted uh..drinks. Nevertheless..even though quality – as far as crafted drinks go may vary…the go-cups is a great invention!
Its legal here to walk the streets with cocktails in hand as long as they are in plastic cups (a go-cup) – so everywhere you see this and the signs – Cocktails To Go!
One of the best seminars so far has been ‘Science of Sweet’ with Darcy O’Neal taking us on a sweet journey, explaining the different sugars and we tasted many different sweeteners. There will be a wrap -up at Art of Drink. I`m very interested in sugar and found this seminar very good. We tasted all kinds of sweeteners.
We tried about 8 different gins including Bol´s genever.
The cocktail party at the Presbytère sponsored by Diageo was one of the highlights and quite a blast, imagine 40+ of the top bartenders all in one place mixing drinks for you…i even got to see David Wondrich in action with the giant ice-crushing hammer which i’ve seen in the amazing video where Chris MacMillan made his mint julep who i also had the pleasure of meeting right there.
I got the feeling that everybody was there sampling cocktails and the servants that walked around had their plates full with some yummy little snacks – there was one that carried some roast steak and chicken on skewers. I have never ever stalked a person before in my life but this time i did.
The famous giant wooden ice crusher.
Yes, that party was was a party not to forget. Another quite amazing party was the Beefeater 24 party – yes there were many parties during the Tales including our own and sponsored parties every night at the Mixohouse.
Can you party too much at Tales?
Beefeater 24 party.
When it comes to the seminars, the best i’ve seen was ‘The fine art of tending bar’ with Stanislav Vadrna teaching us about the Japanese way in bartending and also demonstrating the carving of the iceball, the stirring and the shake.
It was an amazing and very passionate session about japanese bartending and how most of all – how to be a good host. One that i will remember and i hope we will see Stan again next year.
He made the ice-carving look so easy..but it is not.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry as well who i hope to serve a special Mai Tai tonight.
My friend Chris Stanley entered the USBG Caipirinha cocktail competition sponsored by Leblon so i had to go there and see what drink he had made, and we sampled many of the contestant drinks. Then we went back to the Mixoloseum house where we found ourselves in a giant party (what else?) with Bryan Davis of Esmeralda Distillery stopping in bringing his Port of Barcelona Gin and Obsello products to discuss and showcase with us. Our house was packed with people and among others i was pleased to see BobbyHeugel and Martin Cate.
There were also the bloggers reception sponsored by Martin Miller´s gin held in the famous antique store, MS Rau antiques. Martin Miller´s is my favorite gin ever since i tried it a few moths earlier. So many things to do! next year i must try to get myself a bit more organized, as a newbie you tend to just float around totally stunned by everything you see and its much – and therefore you also miss many things.
The food here is definetily worth mentioning, its amazing, especially if you like spicy food The tastiest thing i ever had in New Orleans was the char broiled oysters from Drago`s that were brought to the Mixohouse..i`ll never forget them.
Here is a gumbo and a poboy with shrimps – nom nom nom!
I’m soon heading over to hotel Monteleone and the sessions and i’m going to attend the agavepalooza among others. Its sat day already, time flies here but maybe or maybe not will i get the time to relax over at Morgenthalers domains using my new awesome sunblock that came in our CSOWG swag bag.
The most beautiful of all the balconies (galleries really and the wrought iron design is actually spanish) in the quarter if there´s such a thing as the most beautiful – there are so many nice balconies, galleries as they actually are called…so much tropical plants and flowers. But in this humidity and heat its no wonder they grow well.
I wish i could have a balcony like this..
Chris Stanley (Rookielibations) with his communal Queen`s Park Swizzle in the kitchen at the Mixohouse.
It was much appreciated! Getting people to work on twists, fire garnishes and what not…
We (the panelists were Martin Cate, Rick Stutz and me) covered the topics – cocktail garnish history, twists, spirals, fire, ice, flowers and leaves and how to incorporate garnishes that matches the cocktail – as a garnish can tell a bit about whats in the glass.
After we spoke about those things and showed a power point presentation of various garnishes and drinks etc we turned the session into a workshop. (UPDATE:Here is Marhall´s post about this session that he posted on August 3)
The garnish is really important – its the final touch and mostly its about matching or contrasting and depending on type of drink, ingredients in it etc the garnish may be elaborate or simple, like a twist. The garnish adds not only a look or flavour but also aroma which also imparts a feel.
For example the fragrance of say strawberry – from a strawberry rimmed glass may transport you to childhood for instance.
One thing i once learnt from a chef while working with salad garnishes and which i`ve taken with me into the cocktail garnishing is to not be afraid of experimenting or being bold, which isn´t necessary the same thing as always think “more is better” – often less is more, but in any case, dare to try new things.
Prepping garnishes for our drinks to be served during the session and Rick and Martin discussing the pictures to be shown.
What makes me happy about our Foxy Garnish session is how it brought out so much creativity in everybody, all kinds of amazing and crazy garnishes were made – especially at the last drink where the attendants were told to make the craziest garnish they could think of. Everyone really enjoyed themselves. If you see Rumdood with a lemon spiral around his head and Camper with a orange moustache, you know you have succeded.
Camper and RumDood.
The table looked like a battlefield of fruits.
Discussing the use of flowers as garnish.
Trying out flaming garnish.
The range of cocktail garnishes that were made are right here..and the finish of our session was quite amazing, Martin Cate showing his garnish with live ladybugs (!) designed to fly out in the free in a garden after the drink is imbibed…
Here are a few of the fun and inventive cocktail garnishes that were made by the attendees, it was a joy to see how the session really brought out creativity in people and it was a lot of fun and learning.
During the session the attendees were served 3 cocktails that Martin, Rick and i had created and which were designed to be garnished. Martins drink was a tiki drink (surprised?) called Blog Grog and the attendees made hollowed out lime shells that were filled with Lemon Hart 151 and set alight, and finally sprinkled with dust of cinnamon to get the flames to sparkle.
Fleur de Lis…
Grapefruit man and knots..
The garnish session was followed by a fantastic lunch sponsored by Zwack and then the next session started – it was led by Jamie Bodreau , Darcy O`Neill and Rick Stutz discussing cocktail photography, a topic i`m particularly interested in.
The main points made during the photo-session were these:
A_- You dont need to have the most expensive equipment to take good pictures but if you have good stuff, it helps. Look for cameras that are good with low-light and close-up-macros.
B – Daylight is always the best.
C – Get a good lens/lenses.
D – Indoors, cheap desk-lamps will do.
E – Things to consider – visual interest, surfaces one or two, neutral background example – paper. Glassware is important, try to vary, look in 2nd hand shops. Garnish of the cocktail is important for the final touch.
F – The lowest possible number you shoot, the more light you`ll have.
G – try to get a macro of 12.
The photography session covered many topics from equipment to practical cocktail photographing outdoors.
Cocktail photographing outside on Rampart st (almost facing our house)
These two sessions were followed by the bloggers reception sponsored by Martin Millers Gin where all the bloggers got to meet each other which was held at the antique store MS Rau on Royal street. After the bloggers reception we went back to our house for a while (oh….home sweet home……)
Then it was time for the Diageo party in the Cabildo with 40 of the world`s best bartenders shaking up drinks galore for everybody. There was also a very interesting Mardi Gras exhibition in the rooms next to ours that we freely could enjoy as well….with vintage Zulu costumes and coconuts and all…
And for the first time in my life i stalked somebody! yes i did…the server who walked around with a silver plate full of the most amazing grilled chicken and steak skewers i ever had…
Not bad, not bad at all…and later that night the Ron Zacapa folks came to our house armed with their Zacapa 23 yo rums – took over our bar and started shake up drinks for us and a quite amazing karaoke party took off and is still going on with Marin Cate singing the loudest 🙂
The party level here during Tales (well, year round really) is unreal…New Orleans is an amazing place! and the pressing heatwave that was covering the city like a hot wet blanket has slightly cooled down to a bit more bearable temps as well and with that i mean around 95F ( around +35C)
Drink-Write Conference is over…but not the Tales of The Cocktail!
I arrived on the midnight of july 4th and saw some fireworks on my way into the city, so it has been a kick start to the DrinkWrite 2009 and the Tales. Flying in over New Orleans in a beautiful sunset was quite awesome.
Next morning we went to The Museum of the American Cocktail (which i strongly recommend) before hitting the Mixoloseum house on N Rampart which is going to be my home this following week and where some of us CSOWG members are staying. Meeting up with all my fellow cocktail bloggers was amazing and we kicked off with a Sunday Drink Night – a live version of the usual TDN – right at our Mixoloseum bar.
If you look into the mirror you`ll see three cocktailnerds photographing Stan and the bar.
But don’t think we are lazy here, next morning up at 8 am and the first sessions of the DrinkWrite 2009 held in the French Annex within a comfortable 5 min walk on the other side of Rampart street. The first one was called Community Building as a Cocktail blogger with panelists Jay Hepburn (Oh Gosh!) SeanMike Whipkey (Scofflaws den) Paul Clarke (Cocktail Chronicles) and Camper English (Alcademics)
One of the topics was why we are blogging – from hobby to a higher level. Anyone can start a cocktail blog which isn´t the same as being an expert on the topic but you`re on the way if you are willing to work hard.
Further topics was how to build the value of your writing/blog in the community among others and to support your local bartender which is one of the best things you can do and to respect their time and their way to do their work. Then we discussed how a blogger can get info about a brand and how to use your blog to bring value to the topic/brand/bar etc..
Other things adviced by Camper for us cocktail bloggers is to consider the importance of using original photos and material as well as not being too wordy, do original experiments and show helpful hints. All good advices.
There were in all four sessions which lasted t 2-2.5 hours heavily focused on practical application of skills and an intimate educational experience for the attendees. The sessions focused on skills and techniques that can be used to improve online writing, self-publishing, and blogging.
The session was very educational and the ambiance and cocktails wonderful. After the seeions were over we all left the house for a while to have lunch. We drove through the quarter to Iris restaurant ay Bienville House hotel which was a very beautiful location for an awesome lunch with fantastic food sponsored by Aperol and and we had some really great and inventive cocktails made by Alan Walter.
One of the nicest cocktails i ever had containing aperol, cucumber, clementine, brandy, limoncello, pineapple beer aka tepache, and house made strawberry-oak bitters made with oak chips from Old New Orleans Rum distillery and local strawberries.
The next session was led by Darcy O’ Neill (Art of Drink) , Paul Clarke, Matthew Rowley (Rowley’s Whiskey Forge) and Chuck Taggart (Gumbopages) adressing how to improve a cocktail blog’s reach, readability and appeal to a broader audience.
The session lasted for about 2 hrs as well and was just as educational as the first.
The posts here will be fairly short and hopefully frequently updated (i’ll do my best) and probably updated later as well – i’m soon off to the CSOWG member dinner at La Rambla restaurant. Tomorrow i’ll do a cocktail garnish session with Rick Stutz (Kaiserpenguin) and Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove)