Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Top Ten Tales Tidbits - Take Two

Here are my top five tidbits from Tales - the ordering was the hardest part, but here goes nuthin'!

#5 - Cocktails, Cocktails, Cocktails
When we weren't at the Tales sessions or other happenings at the hotel, we wandered around the area watering holes. We had some fantastic cocktails in the great bars found in the Quarter. Our favorites were probably the Napoleon House (try the Pimm's Cup), the French 75 Bar (try the French 75, or whatever Chris Hannah is making), and the Carousel Bar (try the Vieux Carré, and definitely sit at the bar).

#4 - Sarah and Evil Bob
At the
Grand Soiree d'Absinthe (#10), we met Sarah and Bob. They live in New Orleans and both work in the hospitality industry. Bob is behind the stick at Johnny White's, one of a few bars in NOLA that never closes (he was on the 3 am to 9 am shift later that night), and Sarah is a GM at another area restaurant (unfortunately I can't remember the name!).

We were having a great conversation, and Sarah and Bob offered to take us around to some favorite places. So off we went. First stop: Johnny White's, where we hung out with Jamie, the very fun bartender on duty. Unfortunately, after a few beers & a shot or two, Bob (now we know why his nickname is Evil Bob) left us to go home and get some rest before his shift.

Next stop: Yo Mama's, where we had quite possibly the best hamburgers ever. Granted, we had been drinking absinthe, and then beer (and maybe a shot or two) all day, so we might've been hungry & a bit drunk, but they were fantastic. Final stop of the night: Erin Rose, another great neighborhood bar. By then, we had to call it a night, so we walked Sarah home and headed back to the hotel.

#3 - Burying the Appletini
For those who haven't heard, the Appletini is now dead & gone. We buried it, and held a proper funeral procession for it, including a band and a brief funeral service. This was fantastic - at
midnight, the police stopped traffic so we could march down the street in our funeral procession, following the band and casket with our good cocktails in hand.

#2 - Chicago Camaraderie
Although our group was small (we have to get more folks from Chicago there next year, so we can hold our own against the NY and SF contingents), it was fantastic to spend some time with the Chicago crew. My funniest memory probably falls into the category of "you had to be there," based on my husband's reaction when I told him. If you're curious, ask me over a cocktail sometime - I still think its funny when I think of it (maybe its just me? nah...).

#1 - Tasting, Tasting, Tasting
Because it was such an overwhelming part of the experience, I have to put the experience of tasting so many new spirits, cocktails, and flavor ideas down as my favorite part of the Tales experience. Just of few of my favorites tastes:
  • Sazerac 18 Rye - I went to Rye Nation, and we discussed and tasted 7 different ryes. The Sazerac 18 was my favorite, slightly edging out the Vintage 23. It was fun to see the range of variations within the rye category and hear a couple brand representatives talk about how they make them (and, importantly, what a minute part of their production time goes to rye - maybe we all need to start stocking up if you haven't already)
  • Plymouth Sloe Gin - I've never had a good sloe gin, just the syrupy sweet stuff that you might see at a run-of-the-mill liquor store in the liqueur aisle. I was impressed with this one, so much so that I bought a bottle of it when I got home. Gotta love a good sloe gin fizz in the summer, and it's fun to play with in cocktails too.
  • Noilly Prat Ambre - On Sunday morning (the fifth day of Tales), we found ourselves meandering around the lobby. We happened upon a tasting room for Noilly Prat vermouths, and decided to step inside. To be honest, it was the enticing buffet of fruit and pastries that got us in the room. Once we were there, however, we took a seat and listened to a very interesting presentation. Read on for a few notes from the NP seminar.
Truly, there are far too many to name. I got to revisit many favorites, and try many new things, and taste spirits and cocktails made in unusual ways. I'm still working through my notes and trying to build a cohesive summary for myself, so I may write more on that down the road.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a few factoids and notes from the Noilly Prat seminar:
  1. NP has recently changed the US formula for their dry vermouth - it will now be closer to the European version, which is less sweet and more herbal.
  2. They are also introducing new packaging this year, perhaps following in the footsteps of Martini & Rossi in that regard.
  3. They use 25 herbs in the dry, 30 herbs in the sweet and 4o herbs in the ambre.
  4. The ambre is not usually available outside of their facility in France, so it was a rare treat indeed to be able to try it. It tasted like a sweeter, dessert-style wine with hints of cinnamon, rose and vanilla. Very interesting indeed.

No comments: