Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Water Spirits, the Elevator Muse, and the Lure of the French Quarter

This article was first published on July 18, 2008, as a part of the 2008 Tales of the Cocktail Blog. It was addressed to the contingency of cocktail bloggers and anyone who cared to read along.

The French Quarter, at Night, and still 90°

Now that we all are gullet-deep in the throes of cocktail passion, we need to take a step back and a deep breath, and share some advice.

1. WATER: Keep drinking it (there’s Fiji aplenty). If you don’t, you will of course dehydrate and become a lump of blathering goo.

2. ELEVATOR: Give yourself five extra minutes before pressing the little button that will take you to your next seminar, tasting, and tryst. Also, remember that you may meet some remarkable people in that little cramped car. Talk to them, engage them, and for Pete’s sake, if they engage you, talk back!

3. BREAK TIME: Like water, you need breaks to survive your time here. Hang by the pool (another great opportunity to meet some new people), walk around the French Quarter (and maybe beyond . . . there is actually life beyond this gorgeous haunted place . . . try a streetcar up the Garden District, you’ll love it!).

4. FOOD: Nibbles at a tasting do not comprise a meal. Take time to try a restaurant that a friend has recommended. Try some beignets and Po’ Boys and coffee with chicory, like at the Café Du Monde.

And speaking of food, our Spirited Dinner at Stella! was a meal blessed by the gods and goddesses of this famed city. Chef Scott Boswell, who we chatted with after the meal, along with Bar Chefs Phil Ward and Joaquin Simo (Brian Miller unfortunately was not present), created a gorgeous meal and cocktails that paired perfectly with every bite. Our favorite pairing was the second course: Lobster Roe Agnolotti with Edamame puree (Chef used edamame from his own garden, right next door to the restaurant!), Louisiana Jumbo Lump Crab and Cognac-Soy Crème, paired with the “Gypsy Woman,” a stirred cocktail made with Don Julio Blanco Tequila, Martini & Rossi Bianco Vermouth, Green Chartreuse, and Bitter Truth Celery Bitters. One word: incredible!

Our table companions, Curt Goldman and Kummi Kim, were a delight and we chatted for three hours about everything under the glowing white moon. Curt is the CEO of Cadre Noir, and he is the importer of the original triple sec called Combier, which he says removes the pith from the orange, creating a smoother more well-rounded liqueur. We can’t wait to try it! Kummi is from New York (just like Curt) and works for La Esquina, a highly touted Mexican Restaurant on the Lower East Side. The time just flew by, and before we knew it, the meal had ended, on such a high note.

The St-Germain Redux (Beefeater Gin, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Club Soda, Champagne, twist of grapefruit)

This morning’s breakfast at Brennan’s, sponsored by U’luvka Vodka and Alana Brennan, was a charming and fun way to start the day. We braved the sultry streets at 9am to get a seat at nicely appointed tables. We met some great folks there and had a meal rich in calories, steeped in New Orleans tradition (Southern Baked Apple with Double Cream, Egg Hussarde/Egg Sardou Split, and Bananas Foster, with a Bloody Mary made with U’luvka vodka). Thank you Ann Tuennerman for all you’ve done!

Egg Hussarde/Egg Sardou Split

The days have been so chock full of events that it’s hard to pick a seminar or tasting since so many overlap. We have enjoyed a seminar called Making Your Own Spirits: A look into modern nano distilling, and countless tastings so far. On schedule for today is one we can’t wait to attend, Sensory Perception in Mixology/What Your Taste Buds Are Telling You.

That’s all for now . . . and don’t forget, H2O is your best friend!

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