Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tales of the Cocktail - Day Two

I woke up pretty early (10am) considering the events of the night before. My head was buzzing as I walked down to Café du Monde for touristy beignets and cafe au lait. They were "OK." I later found a better place for beignets downtown near the hotel called Café Beignet. So after a not satisfying breakfast, I headed back to Hotel Monteleone for a Bloody Mary at the Carousel Bar.

Sadly, I had missed my morning seminar but was soon surrounded by Tales goers - aka a whose who of the industry! So, I washed down the hair of the dog and decided to spend the day walking around the French Quarter. Walked down Bourbon Street, headed over to Central Grocery at 923 Decatur Street for an original Muffaletta (A circular loaf of soft Italian bread is sliced horizontally and piled with salami, ham, and provolone, chopped green and black olives fragrant with anchovies and garlic)and a Peroni. Then went to Saint Louis RC Church for penance.

After lunch followed by a few Hail Mary's, I hit Napoleon House for a their house specialty, the Pimms Cup. What a classic venue! The peeling paint is the real macoy, so is the bar staff, the food, and Southern hospitality. The Napoleon House is a historic Vieux Carre bar that has been slinging cocktails since 1797. Wait, that was before Napoleon!! But whose fact checking after a few Pimms Cups? What a lovely place. Chatted up the bartender about various Pimms Cup variations, and walked away with a souvenir Pimms Collins glass.Yes, I paid for it (this time).

Back to the Carousel Bar where I met with Peche Austin crowd. Good guys who love the craft. Now Austin is a cocktail destination. Meanwhile, Danny Devito was hawking his Lemoncello (yes that is how he spells it) on the Chef and the Fatman live radio broadcast being filmed behind the bar at Monteleone. Every 15 minutes my seat would move toward the chaos of the radio show and then back around. Surreal. After a few go rounds, I decided to retire to the Iberville Suites and take a nap before dinner.

Grabbed dinner at Emeril Lagasse's NOLA. My friend Mona used to bartend at NOLA and sure enough the head bartender, Dean not only remembered her but is still a best friend. Naturally, I got the royale treatment. I opted for the tasting menu with wine pairing (only $55!). Next stop, the W Hotel across Canal Street for a competition.

The "On the Fly Competition", sponsored by Grand Marnier and Navan Vanilla liqueur was MC'd by cocktail blogger Jeffrey Morganthaler. The judges were straight out of a cocktail legends playbook - Tony Abou-Ganim, Bridget Albert, Antoine Gervais, Xavier Herit, Francesco Lafranconi and King Cocktail Dale DeGroff.

The contestants were seasoned mixologists and writers who know their cocktails:

- Giuseppe Gonzalez (Dutch Kills - New York)
- Eric Alperin (The Varnish - Los Angeles)
- Misty Kalkofen (Green Street - Boston)
- David Wondrich (Esquire Magazine - Brooklyn)
- Paul Clarke (Cocktail Chronicles - Seattle)
- Neyah White (NOPA - San Francisco)
- Todd Thrasher (PX Lounge - Virginia)

Ingredients included everything from Tea Forte to BBQ sauce, and the only other catch was that they had to use ½ oz. of either Grand Marnier or Navan. They had thirty minutes to do their work.

Had fun rooting for NYC and what do you know, Giuseppe got the win with his epic Trinidad Sour. Sat with Josh Linson of Tea Forte showing baby pics and discuss cocktails (what else?), then shared a cab across town to Pat O's with some LA bartenders and the truly charming Cheryl Charming. She busted out the iPhone and showed off the Hollywood Cocktails app. 5,000 bar questions, take that Trivial Pursuit!

USBG Leblon Cachaca competition at Pat O's on the water. United States Bartenders Guild had 18 bartenders from 9 cities represent their chapter to compete for the top prize and a golden muddler to bring back to the winning city. Winners this year were Peoples Choice: Tad Carducci (The Tippling Brothers) and Judges Choice: USBG Las Vegas Chapter which was composed of Tobin Ellis and Andrew Pollard.

Tippling brother Tad Carducci (New York) had the winning cocktail!
Masalarinha - A fragrant, Indian-Inspired Caipirinha.

2 oz. Leblon Cachaça
3 quarters lime
1/2 oz. honey
1 2” inch peel of grapefruit
1 1” inch cube of fresh pineapple
1/4 tsp. garam masala powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric for color

Muddle lime, pineapple and honey. Add additional ingredients and ice. Shake and serve over ice.

Tobin Ellis (Las Vegas) - Winning cocktail
São Paulo Flip

1 1/2 oz. Leblon Cachaça
1/2 tsp. apricot & fig preserves
1/2 oz. elderflower liqueur
1 1/2 oz. apricot nectar
2 dashes Peychaud bitters
Lemon Espuma*
Fresh hand charged seltzer

Combine all ingredients in mixing glass. Add ice, shake and then strain. Top with 3/8” Lemon Espuma. Sprinkle with dash of cardamom dust. Etch rosetta pattern with Apricot Coulis.

*Lemon Espuma: In Dessert Whip add 4 oz. fresh lemon juice, 4 oz. pure cane syrup, 4 oz. egg white. Charge mixture with 1 NO2, shake and chill.
(source: Leblon Daily Muddle)

The Grand Marnier after party at Tommy's Wine Bar on Tchoupitoulas

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