When I first started looking at this whole whirlwind around the country the ting that decided me was the ability to go to St Lucia and Martinique. For the rhum obsessed like me it was my golden chance to go visit the mother ship. Islands rising out of an azure sea, full rigged ships plying the waves, lush jungles, and most importantly cask upon cask of rhum as far as the eye could see, as soon as that image sprang to mind clicking the button to buy the ticket was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Crossing the continent again and then heading for points south, I swear I could smell the rhum in the air as the plane got closer and closer to St Continue reading
Category Archives: Booze
Everything really is bigger in Texas, especially the amounts of excess you can indulge in. I mean, one of my mottoes in life is ‘Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.’ Texas seems to embrace that ideal. Everything is just as you know it, just carried to the nth degree. For example, during my stay in Austin one of the days was a Saturday during college football season, so I needed to find a bar in which to watch my Huskies play. I looked up a few likely candidates and went to check them out. I knew I had found the right bar for me when I walked in, went up to the bar and amidst all of the requisite sports bar fixtures found Zwack, on tap. Let me say that again, Zwack, on tap.
I imagine the conversation that resulted in that decision probably went something along these lines.
“You know, Jäger on tap is everywhere, and I like daring people to take shots of black, herbally, bitter things. What’ll make us stand out?”
“Yeah, shots on a dare are great!”
“Let’s go to the liquor store and get one of everything from the shelf that Jäger is on and try them all!”
Time passes, many bottles, shots, and beers later…….
“Holy hell what was that last one?!”
“I think it says Zwack or something, you should have seen your face pucker!”
“That’s the one! Let’s put it on tap, and not some weak ass cooler machine, it gets a tap!”
For me though, it was a nirvana moment. Clouds parted, hosannas were sung, and I had found my home for the next several hours. That Zwack handle became my friend as the need to dull the pain grew more and more acute as my team sucked it up. We were terrible that day, and ice cold amaro dispensed in volume made it so much better.
I’d also like to take this moment to thank the genius who invented breakfast tacos. You sir, or madam, need one of those Bud Light Real Men of Genius commercials, except not ironic. In this wonderful time we live in of combining two things that are great into one awesome mashup, this has to be one of the most successful ever. Breakfast food, good. Tacos, good. Place one in the other and enjoy, what’s not to like? Thank you Texas. Continue reading
My All You Can Jet travels would begin in San Francisco. Taboo Absinthe in hand, it was nice to visit a familiar city that I had been to many times in the past to kick off the long trek. I visited a multitude of bars by day hawking my hooch, and then visiting even more by night for “research” purposes. I would get a lot of “research” done over the course of the month, a lot of research. Familiar places and new, there had been some really great new openings in San Francisco in the recent past.
One of the ones I was most excited about was Bar Agricole. Rum is my first love among all spirits and rhum agricole is first in my heart among r(h)um. Bar Agricole if you can’t tell from the name makes an especial emphasis on rhum agricole, making my heart leap with joy and anticipation. There is a phenomenal patio out front, exactly the most perfect place possible to have a refreshing beverage on a late summer night. I knew I’d be spending many visits here in the future.
Photo courtesy of Bittermelon a Flickr
A voyage comes to an end. Vessel will be closing for the final time this week. Vessel has been my school, my inspiration, my anchor for the last few years. It’s where I was able to really start learning the craft of bartending. I shook my first Ramos Gin Fizz and stirred my first Sazerac for someone who was paying for it for the first time there. Without Vessel and the family that came together there I would not have my life as it is today.
Tales of the Cocktail 2010 Day Four. Dear, sweet, baton twirling, Lucifer, we’re still here. This morning began much more smoothly than the last one. Back on the routine of hitting the media lounge for coffee and breakfast and the first hit of booze before hitting the first class of the day for me. Rolling out the Red Carpet for Rookies led by Michael Dietsch, Robert Hess, and Adam Lantheaume was a really well put together discussion on how to engage and draw in new customers and fellow bartenders into this thing that we do without seeming like a bunch of jerkholes. After all, it’s all too easy to start expounding, and saying I don’t want to make that, and going ewww, that stuff is gross. Not everyone is looking for a didactic experience when they come into a bar.
I love sharing with a guest anything they might want to know that I can provide, but that’s not the end all and be all of why you came into a bar. You came for a drink, a bit of escape maybe, a pause from the day, who knows, but you probably didn’t come to hear me wax poetic about the virtues of rhum agricole, but if you did I’m happy to oblige.
Then, to more tasting rooms, Mt Gay Rum, Laird’s, Brandies of Jerez, and Sazerac, a serious gauntlet to run through in the short time available before the next class. In a completely predictable move, the next class for me is Tiki Now!. Much tiki was talked and consumed, chatter on Twitter by attendees, bets placed on how many time Bair Reynolds would plug his own Trader Tiki products, and at one point a shoutout to yours truly for my night of completing Rumbustion Level One in a single sitting.
After class, I contemplate the Pig and Punch fundraiser but I have another class soon so instead it’s a quick run to Parkway Tavern and Bakery for po’ boys and fries covered in debris. Fries covered in debris is one of the most glorious things ever, consider this, a big heap of well executed fries, crisp and hot, then smothered in the gravy that roast beef was braised in, within that gravy is a ton of bits of that self same roast beef. The juices permeate the fries, making a big soggy, delicious mess, with cheese curds on top melting in and binding it together, poutine should die of envy. All of this attention to the fries does a disservice to the po’ boys – quite probably the best ones in New Orleans in my limited experience. After lunch it’s back to the Monteleone for more classes. Continue reading
Tales of the Cocktail 2010 Day Three, at least I’m pretty sure it’s day three. It’s starting to blur together. This morning is my turn to be a bit lost to the world. I am in a bit of a towel induced fugue, I miss a tasting room or two, maybe it was three, who knows anymore. I slowly pry myself out of bed and sit in the shower for a good 15 minutes, very thankful that I have a stock of water, Gatorade, and 5-Hour Energy in my room. I fortify myself, grab a slug of rum and then make my way to Antoine’s for a lunch hosted by Bulleit Bourbon. Into my haze comes the bright whirlwind of awesome called Hollis Bulleit. Remember the song Jump in the Line made famous by Harry Belafonte in Bettlejuice? She’s definitely a hurricane in all kinds of weather, she sweeps into a room and instantly the energy level is turned up to eleven.