Tales of the Cocktail Day 2, we embrace the asylum. On this day, some of the first time attendees and a few of the less well prepared are starting to look a bit worn. No matter how many stories you tell and how much you try and get everyone who will be attending to train and prepare their bodies for the marathon, a few will choose to sprint headlong into the maelstrom. There’s not a whole lot you can do for them besides make sure they have energy drinks and painkillers close at hand the next day. For many attendees, there is a day lost to the Tales flu, you burrow into your bed, lounge by the pool, drink cheap beer and sugary slushy drinks, this is also known as a day in the life of Jeffrey Morgenthaler.
Another morning for me, and my roommate is still feeling a bit under the weather. Once again my day starts in the caffeinated and breakfast provided media and sponsor lounge. As always there’s also more booze, it’s the default state of just about everything this week. Seriously, thank Todd for this room, it is my anchor and bedrock this week. It provides a routine stop in my day that I can cling to. As the week goes on, I can see my compatriots in the room get a bit more haggard each day, as I’m sure I look increasingly worn as well. This morning brings such mundane tasks as offloading pictures from your camera and uploading the to the internets, well, actually first comes about 15 minutes of swearing at the craptacular wireless internet service provided banging your head against the wall of the connecting to the network and hoping it actually works for once.
Evidence, err, pictures uploaded it’s time to start the days drinking earnest. This day there are three tasting room I want to hit before my first class. I blaze my way through gin, sherry, and aromatised wines before heading off to a class on overproof spirits. Today is off to a swimming start, or that might just be my perceptions after that morning whirlwind. Oh wait, it’s still morning, bugger. Properly prepared with booze in my system, flask in my pocket, and a lurch in my step, it’s off to class I go.
A history of over proof spirits, the thing that keeps to the fore is that so many of them were influenced by the Royal Navy. You have to love a bunch of guys floating around in tiny ships, in crappy living conditions who need to be kept appeased by a daily booze ration, a ration that ended up being a fair amount of alcohol each and every day. Imagine if you will, having regularly scheduled breaks to consume a mug of rather strong spirits a few times a day and then needing to haul around explosives, climb rigging, and do other things that would seem to call for a decent amount of coordination. People were so much more hardcore back in the day. I mean there’s being a functional alcoholic, and then there’s the navy, just saying.
At the end of the class there was a demonstration by Wayne Curtis of the test to see if something was of sufficient proof to meet the navy’s spec and also be worth drinking. Both of those items were defined by the ability to have the spirits be of a high enough alcohol content to be poured over gun powder and still have the powder light when touched by fire. Doing his best Wizard of Oz impression, Curtis poured various spirits over gunpowder and lit them. For the spirits that were of high enough proof , a flash and a nice puff of smoke ensued, bringing oohs and aahs from the crowd.
After the demo, a bottle of Black Tot Rum was brought forth and we all lined up as if taking communion to have a few drops placed in our mouths. I would definitely go to church if it always finished with rare, expensive, and delicious rum being placed in my mouth.
The next class of the day was the Smooth and Creamy History of Fern Bars, a very high calorie and period dressy class. If you’ve ever wanted to have a class full of ice creamy thick drinks being taught by Martin Cate and Jeff Berry dressed like Mr Furley from Three’s Company, this was the class. It was an epic exercise in drinks that don’t taste like any booze at all and wardrobe courtesy of Goodwill.
I’m going to go on record right now and say that there cannot be too many pool parties. Pool parties combine some of the greatest things around, drinks, a pool, relaxation, and girls in bathing suits. I dare you to argue with me and find anything at all wrong with that picture. This one was put on by Domaine Select and their Classic and Vintage Spirits Collection. What that means is that there was a lot of stuff to try, try again, and perhaps once more even. After that it was kind of blurry until finding myself at the Highland Park Suite. This was quite possibly the most brilliant low key event of the entire week, good scotch was paired with Popeye’s fried chicken, just a total win all the way around.
The night devolved in a most wonderful way from there. After making our way into the pool at the Roosevelt Hotel with Lindsey Johnson and relaxing for a bit after the Highland Park party, we were told it was now too late to be there, so undeterred we decided that we would attempt to find another pool. So donning a towel and dress shoes for me and a robe and shoes for Johnson, we traipsed through the French Quarter over to the Monteleone in hopes of getting into the pool there. Our hopes were dashed but in that moment of clarity the idea was put forth that we should just go to the Old Absinthe House for the usual nightly festivities so dressed. I believe that this was a bucket list moment for me. Walking through the Quarter wearing a towel and hanging out at the Absinthe House seems to be something that I definitely needed to do before I die and that’s one more off the list. Tales, it’s not just for boozing and partying, it’s for life fulfilment.
Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Contraveos