This months Editorial Message is provided by Robert Hess, who operates the website www.DrinkBoy.com, and is the secretary for The Museum of the American Cocktail.It's hard to imagine that almost a year has gone by since we first started thinking about putting together The Museum of the American Cocktail.
The thought of doing a Museum is something that several of us had thought about off and on over recent years, but it was always in the notion of "...it sure would be nice if somebody..." or perhaps even "...one of these days I'd like to...", but thought and deed can often be greatly separated.
The wheels finally got set in motion at last years "Tales of the Cocktail" event in New Orleans. This is when the right people, were in the right place, to actually breath life into this dream.
Since then, we have not only opened the museum, held several cocktail seminars across the nation, and have even published our first book. If this is what can be accomplished in less than a year, I can't wait to see what the next year will have to show for itself!
Our June Seminarsby Jill DeGroff
I am pleased to report that our June Seminar program was a smashing success! We held several seminars last month; two in the Washington DC area, and three in New Orleans.
Phil Greene gave presentations on Classic New Orleans Cocktails at two Washington D.C. area Ruth's Chris Steak House Locations. Guests were treated to hands-on instruction and several drink demonstrations that included the French 75, the Hurricane, Ramos Gin Fizz, Mint Julep and the Sazerac.
"Phil is clearly very knowledgeable and a great storyteller; the seminar struck just the right balance between scholarship and leisurely fun. The 'shake your own' Ramos Gin Fizzes were particularly memorable," commented Mark Zaineddin, a Washington, D.C. based writer.
The three cocktail presentations in New Orleans also went extremely well. Dale DeGroff and Tony Abou-Ganim gave presentations at the beautiful Omni Royal Orleans. Dale DeGroff, author of "The Craft of the Cocktail” (Clarkson Potter), presented: “Margaritas, Melons and Barbecue,” where he demonstrated some terrific tequila drinks that go great with grilled and spicy foods, including his popular watermelon punch presented in a carved out watermelon (recipe below), and he was joined by Bill deTurk who presented his "Comfortable Julep". Chef Anthony Spizale’s savory hors de oeuvres were a great accompaniment to these summer libations.
The next day David Wondrich, author of “Killer Cocktails; An Intoxicating Guide to Sophisticated Drinking,” (Harper Collins) gave a most interesting seminar: “Secrets of the Saloon” at Café Adelaide’s Swizzle Stick Bar, treating guests to the history of the Whiskey Smash,
Brandy Cock-Tail, Martinez Cocktail and other vintage drinks, accompanied by samples of all the different cocktails, and outstanding appetizers from Ti Martin's Cafe Adelaide.
New Orleans gave us a wonderful turnout and was attended by several journalists including Will Coviello from Bigeasy.com, Margarita Bergen of BayouBuzz.com, Cuisine Columnist Brenda Maitland, and journalists from New Orleans Magazine, the Times-Picayune, and New Orleans TV.
The La Riviera Rooftop at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter was a perfect venue for Tony Abou-Ganim’s cocktail presentation: “Make Great Cocktails at Home!” It was great fun to see him get everyone involved while demonstrating how to make the Cosmopolitan, the Manhattans, Martinis, and his own original Sunsplash.”
Our Upcoming Seminars
We are continuing to plan new seminars across the country, with one hopefully coming to your neighborhood soon!
At the current time, the following are the seminars we have scheduled through the end of the year. More seminars will be announced in the future, so be sure to check our seminar page for the latest details, as well as to sign up for any of these upcoming seminars.
Tales Of The Cocktail
Ann Rogers, president of Taste of Adventure and the founder of the Southern Comfort Cocktail Tour and "Tales of the Cocktail" has created a unique event that is steadily gaining popularity as she continues to expand upon the program each year.
Southern Comfort’s Tales of the Cocktail will welcome best-selling authors of pop culture, cocktails and cuisine literature to entertain locals and tourists at a mixture of events, including book signings, lectures, mixing demonstrations, happy hour and multiple-course dinners at some of New Orleans most famous bars and restaurants.
In the third year, this spirited event promises more than previous years. “Southern Comfort’s Tales of the Cocktail has brought together the top names in mixology in the city that boasts the creation of the cocktail,” said Dale DeGroff, author of The Craft of the Cocktail.
This year’s cast of authors, bartenders and chefs is more impressive than ever and will include many of Museum of the American Cocktail founders.
Sessions will include a panel discussion on bitters by Phil Greene, a direct descendant of the 19th century New Orleans pharmacist who concocted Peychaud's Bitters, a panel discussion on how to start, run and market a professional bartending consulting business led by Dale DeGroff; lecture and a cocktail presentation by authors Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown.
In addition: Spirits U,” led by Chris Morris of Brown-Forman; “Dine & Design,” featuring local author Beverly Church, and a film screening of Peter Moody’s “An Olive And Twist,” The seminars and luncheon will take place on Thursday, August 18, Friday, August 19, and Saturday, August 20.
Guests are invited to take the Southern Comfort Cocktail Tour on Saturday at 4 p.m., featuring author Kerri McCaffety, author of “Obituary Cocktail,” the book about New Orleans drinking establishments on which the tour is inspired; and tour guide Joe Gendusa. The walking tour takes visitors into the French Quarter to explore the history of New Orleans’ famous bars and restaurants, the spirits they are famous for and the stories behind them.
And during your visit be sure not to miss the extraordinary Museum of the American Cocktail exhibit on the second floor of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum! (514 Chartres Street, open Tues – Sunday 10-5.)
The following founders and representatives (and many more members!) of The Museum of the American Cocktail will be attending the Tales of the Cocktail Event:
Tales of the Cocktail : COCKTAIL HOUR
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Meet and greet nearly 40 authors of famous cocktail books, purchase autographed copies, sample signature cocktails and unique dishes, enter to win a hand-crafted Southern Comfort bar and meet our celebrity bartender at Cocktail Hour at the Hotel Monteleone Ballroom.
RSVPs are required to attend Cocktail Hour. Call 504-558-1820. For updated information on Cocktail Hour and Tales of the Cocktail, visit www.TalesoftheCocktail.com.
Bloody Marys at Harry’s New York Bar, Parisby Gary Regan
I’m sure that Gilles, the bartender who served Dave Wondrich and me during a recent visit to the birthplace of the Bloody Mary, makes wonderful mixtures of vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, and various sauces and spices, but I’ll probably never know for sure. Not a fan of the drink, personally. Wondrich neither. We opted for Sidecars instead. The drink was, after all, invented in the City of Lights, though nobody seems to know exactly where. At least we knew what we were doing--more than can be said of the two women from Boston who sat at the bar drinking Bellinis believing they were in the birthplace of that wonderful drink. No doubt there were people in Harry’s Bar, Venice, sipping Bloody Marys, too . . .
Originally we’d plan to seek out the best Sidecar in Paris--a somewhat formidable task--but time was tight. We were leaving to tour cognac distilleries the following morning, so we sampled the cocktail in only two bars--the Hemmingway Bar at the Paris Ritz was the venue for our second round, or should I say third, forth, and fifth rounds. Two drinks each at Harry’s, and another three, or maybe four, made by Colin Fields’ marvelous staff at the Ritz. (Colin Fields, the head barman at the Paris Ritz, was a guy I’d known only by e-mail until that evening. I was happy to discover that my suspicions were correct--he’s one helluva great guy, and a wonderful bartender, too.)
Personally I’d planned to take it easy, but that Wondrich guy shot down his first cocktail at Harry’s as though he’d been stranded on the Alps for three weeks and a St. Bernard had just arrived. I couldn’t let the lad drink his second quaff alone, now, could I? By the time we got to the Ritz we had food in our stomachs, it was late in the evening, and we didn’t want to offend the staff by having only one drink after we’d traveled so far to be in such an illustrious bar. Besides, we were on a cognac trip, and someone else was picking up the tab, so what the hey . . .
Wondrich and I tend to be pretty much whiskey freaks--he’s a straight rye man whereas I usually favor bourbon--so although neither of us goes so far as to avoid cognac, this trip provided a great opportunity for us both to focus our attention on the spirit of the grape, rather than the grain. Very interesting it was, too. The French distillers really know what they’re doing.
I searched my cocktail database when I arrived home from the trip, and found lots of very distinguished cocktail recipes with a cognac base. The Betsy Ross, Between the Sheets, and the Brandy Alexander, of course--stop rolling your eyes, it’s a great drink if you don’t kill it with too much crème de cacao. Café Brûlot is an incredible drink, too, and if you ever find yourself at Commander’s Palace in the Big Easy (while visiting the museum, naturally), don’t leave without sampling their version. They serve the quintessential Café Brûlot.
Even the Sazerac, one of God’s greatest gifts to us mortal imbibers, originally contained cognac, but the base spirit was changed to straight rye whiskey at some point toward the end of the 1800s, perhaps a result of a shortage of cognac due to the phylloxera epidemic that decimated the vineyards of France around the same time. And then there’s the Stinger, yet another wonderful, if simple, cocktail, that sips very well indeed if it’s made with good cognac and just a touch of white crème de menthe.
The Sidecar, though, remains my favorite cognac-based cocktail, and the versions we sipped at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris that day slid down our throats easily, releasing a beautiful late afternoon glow that lasted throughout our trip to France--the people in the cognac industry were eager for us to sample as many bottlings as possible, and we were eager to please them. They were, after all, footing the bill.
And speaking of footing the bill, I feel it necessary to point out that Wondrich never did dip his hand into his pocket at Harry’s. “I’ll get these,” I told him, expecting at least a little protestation, but no, Dave thanked me kindly, and reminded me to tip large. We were, after all, representing cocktailians from the U. S. of A. I’ll be seeing the lad again, though, and I’ll be sure to make my way to the men’s room when the tab is presented next time. It’s an art I’ve more or less perfected over the years.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t had yourself a Sidecar recently, mix one up right now, and make sure you use lots of good cognac--the cocktail will be sublime, and the guys in France will be able to bring more thirsty cocktail writers to their wonderful country. Once they’ve recovered from our trip.
David Wondrich adds:
As a non-profit organization, The Museum of the American Cocktail would like to thank our members for making our existence possible. We would also like to gratefully acknowledge the support and donations provided by the following sponsors and patrons: