Marleigh Riggins is a print production artist and cocktail enthusiast in Los Angeles. She publishes the blog SLOSHED!
The huge amounts of alcohol that one imbibes during Tales has turned me into a photo blogger this week. The short version of the last three days goes like this:
We started the day with a hilarious panel called Jerry’s Kids, led by David Wondrich, Ted Haigh and Brian Rea. It was a free-form discussion about famous bartenders that were not Jerry Thomas, full of fun anecdotes about “The Only” William, the second most famous bartender in America during the nineteenth century.
That was followed by a once-in-my-lifetime experience to have a Pousse Cafe made by David Wondrich with real Créme Yvette provided by Rob Cooper, the progenitor of St. Germain. The panel was composed (again) of Ted Haigh and David Wonrich as well as Rob Cooper, Chad Solomon of Cuff & Buttons and Joaquin Simo of Death & Co. You’ll all be happy to know that Créme Yvette will be making its way back to the market soon, and a new version of Forbidden Fruit will eventually be making its way back to the market.
After ogling (and sampling) some original Forbidden Fruit, we headed for Gary Regan and LeNell Smothers’ Essential American Whiskey tasting. It was amazingly entertaining and delicious, with the big surprise being the Evan Williams black label. I unfortunately prejudged the bottle based on the appearance of the label and was happily surprised with how delicious it was. We worked our way through some other very great whiskey—Old Fitzgerald, Bernheim’s, Rittenhouse and Elijah Craig—then each of us made the largest Old Fashioned ever. If you’re never been fortunate enough to see Gary or LeNell speak, I can’t recommend them highly enough. The seminar was informative, fun and, naturally, blue (in the best possible way).
When the seminars ended we gathered with all the other LA bartenders/writers/friends and had po’ boys at Mandina’s at Chuck’s recommendation. For those of you who have doubts about Chuck’s reliability as a food guide, allow me to tell you that I have experienced it first hand and he knows what he’s talking about. If he tells you to eat somewhere, eat there.
The next day we kicked the day off with more jocularity at the Potions of the Caribbean seminar, featuring Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Stephen Remsberg (owner of the world’s largest private rum collection), Martin Cate of Forbidden Island and rum aficionado and writer Wayne Curtis. The Bum put together the single best PowerPoint presentation I’ve ever seen and we learned about the rather dubious ways that sailors acquired rum on the high seas (it involves pickled dead monkeys), the very storied role that Cuba played not only in classic but in tiki cocktails, the flavor profiles native to various Caribbean Islands, and tasted four great drinks, though two were absolutely fantastic: the Rum Pot and Jasper’s Jamaican Cocktail.
Afterward we wandered about town for a bit and went to see Robert Hess, Jamie Boudrea, Paul Clarke and Erik Ellestad discussing making ingredients at home. We tasted the ever-awesome Tequila de mi amante made with Partida, falernum, orgeat (props to Erik—this was great). We learned a lot about precisely how lazy Jamie actually is (answer: very) and had a special guest in the form of Daniel from PDT who discussed their process of fat-washing, which is how they create bacon-infused bourbon for their Benton’s Old-Fashioned.
We spent the night wandering along Frenchman Street and had a lovely dinner at Bennachin, where we enjoyed delicious Gambian and Cameroonian food from West Africa, then had a beer with Paul, Erik and his wife, Chuck and Wes and some other new friends, and rolled out of bed this morning in time for the 12:30pm seminar titled “The Flowing Bowl”. David Wondrich, Allen Katz and Phil Ward from Death & Co. treated us to a lively discussion on the history and application of punches, complemented by a very large bowl of punch which provided first and second glasses for a room full of people.
Phew. It was been a long, wonderful, entertaining, informative, alcohol-filled five days. I’ve had a great time and enjoyed all of the seminars immensely. It’s going to take me a week or so to recover, but now I’m going to spend some time playing tourist with my remaining hours in New Orleans. I may be back with more exploits of drunken cocktail shenanigans, but not until I’ve had some lunch…