Tales of the Cocktail 2010 Day Four – Energizer Bunny, Still Going

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.TOTC10 233 Continue reading

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Tales of the Cocktail 2010 Day Three – We’re Still Here

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.

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Tales of the Cocktail 2010 – Day 2, More Crazy

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. Continue reading

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Mixology Monday – Brown, Bitter, and Stirred

Mixology Monday Brown, Bitter and Stirred is brought to you by the incomparable Lindsey Johnson of Lush Life Productions.  She often tours the country trying out all of the bars that I want to visit and often inspiring me to find a way to get to some of them.  Her usual modus operandi – which also causes to many to become immediately enamoured of her, is to slide up to the bar and ask for a drink that is brown, bitter, stirred, and as mean as you can make it.  This has caused fights behind the bar as bartenders scramble over each other to fulfil the request.

As the host of this month’s Mixology Monday it only felt right that she would make her order the theme.  So here I sit at Teardrop Lounge in Portland with Johnson along with the equally incomparable Allison Weber producing our drinks and photographing them as time ticks down to the midnight hour on the Monday of the deadline.  My drink is a tribute to these two wonderful ladies a shameless plug for some of the products that I now represent.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Product Placement.

Product Placement

.75 oz Corsair Artisan Distillers Barrel Aged Gin

.75 oz Averna Amaro

.75 oz Amaro Montenegro

4 dashes Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters

Build over ice and stir, serve up with a lemon peel.  Hopefully collect paycheck.

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Tales of the Cocktail Day 1 – More beginnier

It begins even more.  Tales of the Cocktail Day One, the mayhem officially starts.  Shenanigans have been going on now for at least 24 hours, but according to the calendar, this is the first real day of the conference.  Classes begin this day and the kick off parties are scheduled for the afternoon and evening.  Now begins the real agony of deciding where to go.  Time conflicts abound and more booze than a Drunken Army can imbibe begins to flow.

How many ways can you split yourself and where’s the good swag?  Can you squeeze multiple tasting rooms, seminars, meals, and events into the same time slot?  How far away is that next thing you want to do?  Actually, where in seven hells is it?  Am I properly libated to make it there?  Oh man, I want to make sure we get a drink together!  What?  You’re going where for lunch?  I wonder if I blow this off, can I make it back in time for my next seminar?  That’s the general thought process that runs through your head in between every single block of seminars and tasting rooms.    Plans change, spontaneous things happen, and yet, sometimes you need to be disciplined and head to your damn class.

This was one of the best lineups of classes I’ve seen at Tales.  There were actually more classes I wanted to go to than I had slots in my days.  This is a great thing, while you may be disappointed or annoyed that you can’t attend everything you would want to, it just means that there are a lot of things worth going to.  Hopefully you’ll get a chance to go to them next year, so deal with it.  Here, have another pull off my flask.

This day began in the best way possible as far as I was concerned, and the worst way possible for my roommate.  Jim Romdall was struck down by the hand of god and laid out in a feverish state.  The previous night, there was a strange overlap of groups.  A church group was on its last night in New Orleans , being wholesome, fighting malaria, and who knows what else.  Probably, a hymn was sung or something.    Jim took it upon himself to heckle the churchy types and for his blasphemy was stricken with a nasty cold.  Myself, I went off to the Dos Maderas Rum Tasting Room.  Tried some delicious rum, snagged a few minis, a cigar, drank some more rum, and then went off to breakfast.

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Tales of the Cocktail 2010 – Day Minus 1, It begins

Tales of the Cocktail 2010, let the madness, sleep deprivation, gluttony, learning, and competitive toasting begin.  Technically it wasn’t officially Tales yet.  Tuesday is Tales Day -1, but this is when the majority of attendees start to arrive.  Arriving on the train that morning from Houston, as soon as we passed into city limits Mindy Kucan, John Hearns, and I all promptly took shot of Fernet Branca to toast our arrival.  After all, we must be cliché as bartenders and cocktail geeks and suck down some of the dark stuff.

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By the way, there is nothing like train travel, it’s decadent, relaxing, lets you do nothing but kick back, perhaps have a drink or three, sleep, and in general just pause for a little bit because you are not going anywhere else.  I absolutely recommend train travel whenever possible.

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A Tales Apperitif in Houston – Anvil Bar & Refuge

Most people who go to Tales of the Cocktail know that nearly a week of excess and debauchery with your fellow spirits minded and swilling friends is plenty of fun for anyone.  I am apparently not that smart.  I decided that two days before I went in to New Orleans for Tales 2010 I would have the brilliant idea of going to Houston and see some friends and visit Anvil Bar & Refuge.  After all, what better way to get ready for all that excess than with a few extra nights of excess?

I had been wanting to visit Anvil ever since my friend Chuck Taggart waxed poetic about it.  I then got to meet one of the owners and the mastermind behind the bar Bobby Heugel and one of his extraordinary bartenders Mindy Kucan.  That pretty much sealed the deal, I had to go as soon as possible.  As I sat there one evening booking my travel plans for Tales I realized that I would have to change airplanes in Houston anyways.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity for an extra drink or 20, off to Houston I went.

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