Friday, July 17, 2009

Tales of the Cocktail 2009

Well folks I’ve finally come back to earth from my first trip to the “Tales of the Cocktail” festival and it was by far one of the funnest and craziest “work” trips I’ve taken in a long time. I had the good fortune of attending the festival as media through Nirvino which brought on a whole slew of benefits including access to some of the hottest parties of the week. See random pics below.

Work is play.

New Orleans, Louisiana is the annual host to the internationally acclaimed festival of cocktails, cuisine, and culture, Tales of the Cocktail. This event brings together the best and brightest of the cocktail community — award-winning mixologists, authors, bartenders, chefs, and designers — for a five-day celebration of the history and artistry of drink making. Each year offers a spirited series of dinners, demos, tastings, competitions, seminars, book signings, tours, and parties; all perfectly paired with some of the best cocktails ever made. Basically lots of drinking.
As part of my “work” at Tales, I arranged 2 interviews, first with Kathy Casey, one of the first female executive chefs in the country, a TV and radio personality, author of 9 cookbooks including her latest “Sips and Apps”, mixologist and a few more tricks up her sleeve. Second was exceptionally eccentric as well as the man known for keeping the splendors of the Edwardian era alive through his curiously decorated Hotel Estates in Notting Hill and his oblivious take on changes in society as a whole. Mr Miller was accompanied by his Co-creative director David Bromige who did most of the talking.

As this was the first time I were to interview anyone for anything I was very excited and somewhat nervous. As I built my list of questions specifically directed towards the industry I realized that I would just be one of the many bloggers asking the same questions and getting the same answers. That doesn’t make a Boulevardist. I realized that the people I’m looking to reach are outside of the industry so I decided to look to my fellow Nirvino Ambassadors for questions they would ask from the outside looking in.

The following are a few questions and my interpretation of their answers.

Matt S asks: "for those of us who don't use bitters often, what liquors and flavors would bitters best compliment?
Kathy Casey: With her array of different bitters she looks at using them with any spirit as you would in cooking any meat or fish. She likes to think of them as the salt, pepper or even soy sauce of cocktail mixology. So it all works and should be played with.

Catherine P asks: "I have a theory that the rise of cocktail culture might curb alcoholism because cocktail culture, in my opinion isn't about "getting wasted". It is a slightly more cerebral pursuit that includes being present, savoring, and appreciating a craft. Do you think this theory has validity and/or has potential to create a new respect for alcohol?
Martin Miller/David Bromige: (jokingly)"Well first of all, it takes longer to get wasted because the cocktails take longer to make so your forced to be cerebral about it". As a spirit that's been around for 10 years, they had to reestablish tradition and not just be a trendy spirit. They didn't want to pay to play like other big brands but rather focus on expressing the fine details of crafting their gin and let that hold as their style and fashion. They understand the the cocktail culture has been rapidly growing and because you are sipping crafted cocktails that at times will cost more, they believe that there is more appreciation and time taken to enjoying them as well as promoting more conversation in between.

Neil G asks:
"I would like to hear about their favorite cocktails or any trick of the trade.
Kathy Casey: Although she's a trend forecaster, coming up with ideas that turn into tradition such as the lime in a corona is a big part of what drives her thinking process. She suggests an alternate with Asian food, a cucumber slice with a Tsingtao(its actually good!) Also, when you sit at a sushi bar you have all the fish displayed right in front of you while the chef preps your dish. Why don't these new cocktail bars use the same equipment practice? This could be a new trick in display well as keeping the fresh ingredients fresh.

As I am in this to serve I feel that this is the best way to understand what the consumer thinks and this industry can close into its own club at times forgetting the main reason why they're in it. To make money. Wheres the money to be made if you're only catering to your own colleagues and industry associates?

and now for some random "shots" of the craziness...

Funeral service for the "Red Headed Slut"cocktail

Don Q Mixologist Esteban Ordonez with the Nitrogen tank in a W Hotel suite!

At your service,


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