TALES OF THE COCKTAIL – CITRUS AND MEXICAN SPIRITS

LAST DAY AT THE TALES

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

citrus-session

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

agavepalozza-clay-cups

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 to really 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.

This session was moderated by Steven Olson and panelists were David Suro Pinera, proprietor, Siembra Azul, Ron Cooper, owner and founder of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals and  Dr Rodolfo Fernandéz,Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico.

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.

agave-raw

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.

agavepalooza-tasting1

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.

alma-blanca-margarita

agavepalooza21

THINGS I’VE LEARNT AT THE TALES

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NEWBIE AT THE TALES

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 Caf̩ du Monde Рis 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.

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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.

8 – Don´t miss the Museum of the American Cocktail.

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;-)

Drago’s Seafood Restaurant is located at:

3232 N Arnoult Rd
Metairie, LA 70002-4738
(504) 888-9254

It has been an experience for sure. The tales of the Cocktail was fantastic. Finally, all you people who i met – it was fun and lovely to meet you — hope to see you again next time.

la-rambla

Aperol dinner at Iris.

goodbye-nolasee-you-next-year

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL DAY 1- 4

carousel

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.

DRINKS

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.

gren-blairgren-chuckhurr-tony

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.

pob-drinkstube-cocktails

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!

cocktails-on-the-go

SEMINARS

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.

21st Century gins was also a very interesting seminar led by Angus Winchester, Ryan Magarian, Jim Ryan and by Charlotte Voisey. We heard the history of gin and sampled many different gins. This event was sponsored by Aviation, Hendrick’s and Tanqueray Ten. Well worth visiting.

We tried about 8 different gins including Bol´s genever.

gin-tasting

PARTIES

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.

hammer

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?

b24-party

Beefeater 24 party.

STAN

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.

stan

He made the ice-carving look so easy..but it is not.

ice

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  Bobby Heugel 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!

food

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.

a-poolsunblock1

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..

balcony

Dreamy…

chris-and-giant-queens-park-swizzle

Chris Stanley (Rookielibations) with his communal Queen`s Park Swizzle in the kitchen at the Mixohouse.