TOTC 2013: The Tastings! part 2 – Rums, Bitters, Jade Liqueurs and Combier

The picture parade from this years tastings at the Tales of the Cocktail continues! i had to break it up in two posts, there´s simply too much..

The hard part when you do all these tastings is to remember everything..because there`s a LOT! I won`t even be able to blog about it all – but the meaning with these posts about the tastings (and the seminars) is to give those who haven´t been to Tales a picture of what it looks like – plus show some about what things i liked the most from those i went to which are just a very small part of all that was going on.

I don´t know really how to describe it…the sounds of all the people, the shakers, all the booze, the running back and forth between places in the heat outside, the quick chatting with people you meet on the way to the next seminar or tasting.

Or the long in-depth discussions about some obscure cocktail or booze related topic with your fellow booze nerds, the joy and surprise when you discover something new and really exciting, the crowds….it all carries that special feeling and it needs to be experienced in person.

So here´s some more pictures from the tastings:

TB absinthes

One of the most interesting tasting i went to was Jade Liqueurs & Combier USA at the Windsor Court Hotel where we could taste the whole portfolio of Jade liqueurs absinthes and Combier´s traditional liqueurs.

On top of that, and here`s what i found really exciting, was Ted Breaux`s own homemade pre prohibition bitters and syrups – and these were not the ordinary….these blew my mind!

These were made from old pre-prohibition recioes and were presented in stunning ancient looking glass bottles. First time i ever heard of and tried something like “blood-liver syrup” – it was used during the victorian era and cured “everything” and was mostly used by the ladies.

TB tastng Blood lver syrup

It tasted strong, herbal and rooty – very interesting!

Then we had the Jamaican ginger bitter…oh my…it contains 90% alcohol so one drop was enough! They drunk this concoction during the pre-prohibition era in Jamaica and of course it “cured everything”! – but after i tried it i actually have no doubt…

It is VERY strong and after the alcohol settles there´s an explosion of ginger flavors that knock your socks off!

TB tastng jam ginger

Jamaican Ginger Bitters

I also tried quinine bitters which was very astringent, woody and rooty, Damiana bitters which was used by men for “strength”, Ayer´s sarsaparilla bitters which were rooty and woody and then i tried something he called “Old Velvet” which was a simple syrup with acacia gum or gomme which is very different from the common gomme syrup made with gum arabic. The Old Velvet was much richer in flavor and Ted made sazeracs with it…

TB Old velvet and Quinine bitters

Old Velvet and Quinine Bitters

Ted Breaux´s absinthes sold by Jade Liqueurs are excellent! it seems to me that everything that man touches becomes very special and of very high quality. And he also had his fantastic Perique tobacco liqueur there too, which i wrote a review of on this blog a year and a half ago. It`s one of my favorite liqueurs.

Combier presented a range of liqueurs and their triple sec is the original triple sec dating back to 1834 France where it was originally made by Jean-Baptiste Combier and his wife Josephine. It`s made with all natural ingredients and has a vibrant, crisp and bright citrus flavor.

Their other liqueurs are all worth trying out too, i tried for example their Kummel which is a sweet, colorless liqueur flavored with caraway seed, cumin, and fennel.

combier kummel

You find Jade lqueurs here and Combier USA here.


Another great tasting event was all the rums on the saturday starting with Shellback rum followed by Gubba rum, then the  Legends of rum – a meet and greet tasting hosted by Robert and Robin Burr – the creators of the yearly Rum Renaissance festival in Miami – where you got to try some of the world´s best rums and meet the producers, then at the same time Appleton had a tasting room with cocktails and Jamaican music and then we had Bayou rum streetside and Plantation rum by Cognac Ferrand.

It was a whole RUM day!! which this rum-lover really enjoyed! And that was just the tastings…there was also a seminar that day – European rums.

As always when i go to rum tastings – which i wish could happen more often…there´s one or two (new to me) rums that i never tried before that stick with me and this time it was Mount Gay 1703 Black Barrel with it´s deep flavor.

rum collage

Bottles filled with goodies…

Our Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell mixed up his Jamaican style “Lion Star” cocktail with Plantation rum using that cool ancient shaker i always seen him with and handed out badges with his own happy self on:-)

When he´s around you can be sure there´s entertainment! and a lot of rum education because he´s an edutainer! I wll never forget his story about grandpa Burrell…

Here´s the recipe for Ian`s cocktail, the Lion Star:

rum plantation lion star

 Rum is fun!!

rum plantation IAN

Ian shaking it up!

Also where there´s a rum event you can be pretty sure to meet this guy with all the Chairman´s Reserve rums…Mr Clyde Davis Jr will let you taste the liquid gold in his bottles and mix up a cocktail or two!

Chairman`s Reserve is a great rum from the island of St Lucia in the Caribbean and at this tasting Clyde carried the Spiced rum – which contains local spices and fruits including cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, coconut, all spice, lemon and orange and then it also contains Bois Bande bark!

And that is what i couldn´t figure out when i tried it, what that hint of rooty kinda flavor came from…

rum coll chairmans reserve

A great spiced rum!

And no rum tasting is complete without a few rhum agricoles and here was available Rhum JM and Rhum Clèment which both are excellent rhum agricoles. Here´s something i wish – more rhum agricoles at the Tales! why not a seminar about rhum agricole? with several brands to try and compare!


And this was all for today…The Tastings number 3 soon come!

Happy RUM DAY!

national rum day

Today we celebrate the (Inter) National Rum Day and of course i must make something that contains this noble spirit and make a toast for everyone that have had any part in the invention and creation of this sugarcane spirit called rum, ron or rhum and all who enjoy it and promote it!

This is one of the most varied and versatile spirits on this planet and it´s no secret which spirit i enjoy the most of all – RUM!

So let´s toast for the Rum Day and enjoy a glass or two! i`m in a summer mood so i`m gonna make one of the most common summer rum drinks there is – the Pina Colada which – in my opinion is an underrated drink.

And i`m gonna use a rum that i just recently got to try and which i will review here in a while, the Koloa coconut rum from Hawaii which is made with real coconut.

Also the cream of coconut i`m using here, Coco Real is made with real coconut and not artificial flavorings same as Coco Lopez. If you can`t find cream of coconut (NOT the same as coconut cream which is the thicker coconut milk) the use of coconut milk as substitution or a coconut syrup won`t be the same thing – so try get cream of coconut, it´s a key ingredient.

The name ‘Pina Colada’ literally means ‘strained pineapple’ – a reference to the freshly pressed and strained pineapple juice used in the drink’s preparation. Three Puerto Rican bartenders contest the ownership of their country’s national drink.

Pina Colada


2 oz white rum (or you may use gold or dark rum…for a darker more deep flavored version)

2 oz cream of coconut (Coco Lopez or Coco Real)

2 oz pineapple juice (preferably fresh)

1 cup crushed ice

Blend or shake and pour into a suitable glass and garnish with pineapple and cherry. (i didn`t have any cherries on hand so i used a tropical flower instead)

There ya go! Happy Rum Day!

pinacolada instagram

TOTC 2013 – The Tastings! Bloody Mary, Bayou Rum, Bulleit Mint Juleps and Ole Smoky Moonshine!

This is what you do before, after and in between seminars, you go to the tasting rooms and parties and try new products, cocktails, eat a bit of delicious food and snacks so you can handle all the alcohol and least but not last – you meet interesting people!

Here is a great opportunity to make new friends and contacts, learn new things, try new and old products and have a lot of fun!

Without further ado, here´s a picture parade of a few of the many tastings i went to!

Greeting us on the wednesday morning was the Absolut Bloody Bar that served two different types of Bloody Mary`s, a very good start of the day!

Totc2013 Absolut Bloody Bar collage

ABSOLUT VODKA was partnering for the first time with NYC’s Saxon & Parole and the S&P team served Tales guests cocktails using their signature Bloody Mary recipes which were delicious and exactly what most of us needed that morning.

The ingredients were fresh like morning dew!

Totc2013 absolut bloody bar 2

The global launch of Bayou rum was nice! i`m especially fond of their spiced rum. They had a tasting room and then also a tailgate on the street! the first 200 attendees got a “swamp survival kit” – which of course – included bottles of rum….

Not sure if you need rum to survive in the swamps but to make sure they had included a fishing lure…and of course cocktail recipes! 🙂 Look out for a review on this blog later of this rum.

Bayou rums

There’s a spirit that runs through the bayous of the land and veins of the residents of Louisiana that’s like no place on earth. From the culture to the cuisine, to the way people celebrate; it’s about living life to its fullest and having some fun along the way. It’s from this place, where sugarcane first came to the USA, that Bayou Rum was born.

For many it may been their first experience with a handcrafted Louisiana Rum made from raw unrefined Louisiana sugar and fresh Louisiana molasses distilled down the road in Lacassine.

Up for grab were also bites of tasty Cajun finger foods to go along with Bayou Rum cocktails or neat sips – let the good times roll!

bayou rum cup

Bulleit bourbon had both tasting street side and a fantastic mint julep laced event in the vieux carré room called “Juleps and Southern Porch Party” – where i got to meet Tom and Hollis Bulleit again! They are very nice people and their products are nothing but top quality stuff! They spoke about their brand which is always interesting!

The attendees also received complimentary Bulleit engraved mint julep cups with a mini bottle of Bulleit bourbon and a stirrer!

Bulleit julep cups

Shiny julep cups!!

Bulleit julep

Doesn`t it make you thirsty when the water on the cup  in the picture starts to defrost?

Bulleit Tom and Hollis coll

Hollis and Tom Bulleit.

Bulleit lunch pics

The amazing food was provided by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse! Here is one of the best steaks i ever had and a great smoky jambalaya!

Ole Smoky Moonshine was a new discovery for me, i loved their blackberry and peach moonshine and the how cool were jars they use!

Ole Smoke Moonshine collage

Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine Master Distiller Justin King presented the authentic flavors of Tennessee moonshine. Each iconic jar begins with 100% corn that’s grown at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains near the distillery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Using techniques passed on through generations, every mason jar of Ole Smoky is based on a 200-year-old family recipe.

Ole smoky moonshine blackberry