Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Top Ten Tales Tidbits - Take One

Sorry for the long gap in posting, folks! Somehow I fell off the blogging wagon again, but I'm back on it now. Since it's now been a couple of weeks since I started my Tales of the Cocktail recap, I've decided to fast forward to the highlights. Here's the first half of my top ten tidbits from Tales 2008.

#10 - the Grande Soiree d'Absinthe
On the last day of Tales, a large group of absinthe enthusiasts gathered in a lovely upstairs room at Muriel's for this event sponsored by the Wormwood Society. Filled with a mix of WS members, NOLA locals, and people from around the world, this event offered the opportunity to sample a range of absinthes in a relaxed, social setting. We met some great people, tried a couple of absinthes that were new to us, and shared our Sirène with the crowd. More on what came afterward when I get to #4.

#9 - Fantastic Food
The French Quarter is filled with great restaurants (as well as a lot of tourist traps). We had great food everywhere we went, once we started following Chuck Taggart's recommendations. Some of the fantastic places we went, and that we'd recommend, include Coop's, Mr. B's, Mother's, Johnny's, and the Napoleon House. I'd also add Yo Mama's to the list, which wasn't on Chuck's list. It might've been that we were hungry and drunk, but the burgers we had there were quite possibly the best we've ever had.

#8 The Scented Trail
This session was led by Audrey Saunders and Tony Conigliaro, and focused on building and enhancing the aroma in your cocktails. We started the session with a tasting of aromatized waters and a discussion of top notes, mid notes and base notes in aroma, and strategies for developing and enhancing them. This was the best tip I got from the conference, I think - Audrey and Tony suggested that instead of infusing flavors into syrups, where the aromas are pulled to the bottom of the drink with the weight of the syrup (and masked by the sugar), consider infusing them into waters or low-alcohol spirits, and then misting your garnishes, glassware and/or drink with them right before serving. Now that I'm caught up on things again, I'm going to be trying this very soon! I don't have a vapor still like Tony, but I might be able to get close to that... more soon!

#7 The Hemingway Bartender's Companion
This was the first official session I attended, and it was a fantastic way to start the conference. The session was led by Phil Greene, a true Hemingway scholar. We tasted five (yes five) cocktails that were Hemingway's favorites at different points in his life, and heard many great stories and related passages from Hemingway's works. I just might have to start reading Hemingway again, and I definitely have to go to Captain Tony's Saloon when I'm in Key West early next year. So the count stood at five drinks before noon, in true Hemingway style.

#6 Bloggers and the Blogosphere
I had the fortune of meeting many of the bloggers I correspond with in the ether, and to participate in a group blog and interact with many of these great folks throughout the conference. It was a great opportunity to make some new friends, and put many faces with names & blogs - I look forward to more opportunities like this in the future, both at Tales and elsewhere!

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