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Tales of the Cocktail: 2007


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#1 Dave the Cook

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 10:40 AM

For me, Tales of the Cocktail started with dinner at Cochon with several other members; I'll post about that elsewhere. The first seminar I attended was On the Rocks: The Importance of Ice, presented by Chad Solomon, Christy Pope and Sasha Petroske. The first half was interesting; had I not read Audrey Saunders' article in the most recent Mixologist, it would have been down-right fascinating. Still, Chad and Christy had a number of photographs that were very helpful, especially in illustrating how ice was cut and stored for commercial distribution. Besides, getting a second run-through of this material helped it find a secure place in my loosely-organized brain. Also, I don't have a copy of Audrey's article in front of me, but I don't recall the physics of ice formation being part of that piece's scope; this (and learning about how the Kold-Draft icemaker mimics the process to create perfectly clear cubes) was great stuff.

The second part of the session was an epiphany. I've tried "big ice" in cocktails, and not been impressed. It turns out that I wasn't going nearly big enough. Sasha not only demonstrated how they use it at Milk & Honey, he had photos of M&H's big ice production, including a gruesome evisceration of a silicone ice tray, and specifics of how they break down massive chunks into drink-specific sizes. Then he invited several attendees to come up on the dais and shake drinks with the stuff. I didn't partake, though I had a nice daiquiri as a result. Later, I talked to Paul Harrington, who had not been convinced of big ice's efficacy prior to the demo (Paul was one of the volunteer shakers), but had been converted.

Finally, the panel's emphasis on ensuring a quality customer experience, and the role that ice plays (or, in the right hands, with the right ice, can play) in that as an ingredient, an insulator and an aesthetic component was reassuring to this consumer.

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#2 JAZ

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 11:24 AM

Unfortunately, I didn't make the ice seminar. A problem I had with Tales this year was that in several cases, I really wanted to attend two (or more) seminars scheduled at the same time.

For that time period, I decided to forgo ice and instead chose the Cocktail Family Tree, led by Dave Wondrich, who was joined by John Myers, Jim Meehan and Ryan Magarian. The idea behind the seminar was to explore the history of drink families other than cocktails (in the original meaning of the term). For me, it was interesting to see the relationship, historically, between the various drink families -- shrubs and punches, the sour and the "fix" (a short punch). I didn't realize, for instance, that the Collins actually started out as a gin punch, with the addition of soda and ice.

Another revelation of sorts was Ryan's observation that most of the "new" drinks that are being created today actually fall into only a few families -- the Daisy, the Crusta, the Julep/Smash, the Sour, the Mule, and the Sangaree (wine-based cocktails). While I'm not sure he's right, it's certainly instructive to look at cocktails in family terms.

It was a great way for me to start the conference, because it gave me a structure in which to place a lot of the information I gathered throughout the other seminars.

#3 johnder

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 01:54 PM

I just got back from TOC myself, and have several hundred photos to go through and sort, as well as a lot of notes from the seminars I went to. The highlight for me was the lost ingredient one -- specifically the Creme Yvette part. Robert Cooper who developed and is marketing Saint Germain talked about 2 long lost products, Creme Yvette and Forbidden fruit. During the talk he produced one of 2 known bottles of Jacquin's Creme Yvette from 1944 that he was going to display to everyone, unfortunately for him, but fortunately for us, the cork broke and he was stuck with an open bottle. As a result, anyone that wanted could go up and taste an original 1944 Creme Yvette.

And to top that off, he gave us all a taste of a lab sample his company is working on that will hopefully result in a new production of Creme Yvette within a year or two.
It was amazing tasting the difference between the two, and thanks to Eric from Haus Alpenz, we were able to compare the Yvette's to his current amazing Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette.

I also got to taste the version of his forbidden fruit cordial as well... more on that later.
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#4 Dave the Cook

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 03:37 PM

. . . The highlight for me was the lost ingredient one -- specifically the Creme Yvette part.  Robert Cooper who developed and is marketing Saint Germain talked about 2 long lost products, Creme Yvette and Forbidden fruit.  During the talk he produced one of 2 known bottles of Jacquin's Creme Yvette from 1944 that he was going to display to everyone, unfortunately for him, but fortunately for us, the cork broke and he was stuck with an open bottle.  As a result, anyone that wanted could go up and taste an original 1944 Creme Yvette.

And to top that off, he gave us all a taste of a lab sample his company is working on that will hopefully result in a new production of Creme Yvette within a year or two.
It was amazing tasting the difference between the two, and thanks to Eric from Haus Alpenz, we were able to compare the Yvette's to his current amazing  Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette.
. . . .

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During the seminar, two samples of violet liqueur were passed around to the group. One was a true blue; the other more purple. Of the two, it seemed to me that the latter was more interesting as a cocktail ingredient (though I much preferred the pure blue color). Unfortunately, this was my third session of the day (which means six to eight drinks), and I lost track of which was which.

It was unfortunate that Paul Clarke's falernum didn't make it to the session. Later, I got a sample, and it's very good -- good enough to be used at several west-coast bars. I also found the pimento dram very interesting -- similar to Becherova in profile. Of course, pimento dram's tiki applications make it more versatile and welcome.

The Martini was presented between Ice and Lost Ingredients. After ascertaining the audience's interests and expertise, Robert Hess spoke almost extemporaneously. The first cocktail he presented was the "original" martini:

1 oz. gin (Plymouth)
1 oz. sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
1 dash orange bitters (Fee's)

I can't explain why I haven't seen this recipe before. It's not just a great introduction to the Martini, it's a great drink to introduce people to gin: balanced, with no hint of ginny harshness. (For that matter, it would be great introduction to vermouth for people locked into sours.)

Along with some observations about gin (Hess was the first of several presenters to reinforce the notion that among the base spirits, only gin is specifically formulated for mixing), Hess described the Martini as the offspring of the black widow Manhattan mating with the Martinez. The unfortunate husband Martinez died, survived by the Martini.

Hess also offered his explanation for the popularity and acceptance of the ultra-dry ("pour the gin and look at the vermouth") martini: every example of its expression can be traced back to a famous alcoholic: W.C. Fields, FDR, Winston Churchill, etc. I find this compelling, if slightly lacking in accommodation of the machismo redolence of 50s and 60s rat-pack phenomenon: only unsophisticated wimps used vermouth. It seems to me that Robert also explained the switch from sweet vermouth to dry, but it's not in my notes.

I'm not going to diss Plymouth Gin -- who sponsored the seminar -- but each attendee received a very nice Parisian shaker. Consequently, the "shaken vs. stirred" issue came up. Hess shook up a 3:1 martini (with bitters), and concluded his presentation. By the end -- twenty minutes later -- the drink had almost cleared.

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#5 johnder

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 03:42 PM

During the seminar, two samples of violet liqueur were passed around to the group. One was a true blue; the other more purple. Of the two, it seemed to me that the latter was more interesting as a cocktail ingredient (though I much preferred the pure blue color). Unfortunately, this was my third session of the day (which means six to eight drinks), and I lost track of which was which.


One of the samples was the Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette (the more violet/blue colored one), and the other was a sample of the Crème Yvette (the more purple colored one) which was the precursor to Crème de Violette.
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#6 eje

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 04:19 PM

Interesting!

I'll be quite excited to compare the Rothman & Winter with the Benoit-Serres I have.

However, I think violets are a bit more purple/blue than true blue.

If a spirit or liqueur is a true sky blue, they are likely using Orris, not violet, to color/flavor it.

Interestingly, I was reading a distiller's manual from the turn of the century, (The 1873 translation of Duplais, "A Treatise on the Manufacture and Distillation of Alcoholic Liquors,") and none of the various recipes for violet liqueur called for violets. They all used orris root exclusively.
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#7 bostonapothecary

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 11:33 PM

i used orris root today when i made sweet vermouth... i thought it smells of violets but when infused tastes really bitter....

supposedly violets have a chemical that lets you smells them once but then blocks your olfactory senses....
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#8 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 09:22 AM

However, I think violets are a bit more purple/blue than true blue.


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I think they're violet :wink:
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#9 eje

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 10:32 AM

OK, one more post about Orris, then I return you to your regularly scheduled Tales of the Cocktail wrap up...

All the violet liqueur recipes in Duplais were for distilled liqueurs, so perhaps the bitterness of Orris gets separated from the violet smell/flavor in that manner.

Anyway, really envious of all of you who got to go to TOTC.

Everything I've read so far, sounds really cool. I so wanted to go to the "lost ingredient" session.

Must plan better next year!
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#10 mbrowley

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 11:44 AM

supposedly violets have a chemical that lets you smells them once but then blocks your olfactory senses....

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It's been years since I read it, and don't have a copy here at the office to double-check, but Dianne Ackerman covered the fugitive aroma of violets pretty extensively in "A Natural History of the Senses." Violet smells don't change – we do. As I recall, humans are able to smell violets at first, but then are numbed to the aroma temporarily. Eventually our own internal chemical threshold allows us to perceive the smell again, so that the effect is of a fading smell that returns in sequential waves (even though the concentration of the violet may stay the same).
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#11 bostonapothecary

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 12:36 PM

so it doesn't block your olfactory senses of other smells??

i've never really had any to play with.... you can get the leaves easily enough but the petals are very expensive....
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#12 Dave the Cook

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 12:42 PM

Chad Solomon and Christy Pope also handled the applejack seminar, this time accompanied by Ted Haigh and Gary Regan. We were also graced with the presence of Lisa Laird, vice-president of the company that bears her name.

The presentation covered a fair amount of history, highlighted by archive photos of old bottles and labels, the production process and Laird & Company's Prohibition and war-time activities.
  • Though applejack might not be thought of these days as a hard-core spirit, this wasn't always true. For much of the 18th and 19th centuries, applejack and hard cider were the drink of choice in the colonies and the US.
  • During Prohibition, Laird & Company had a federal license to produce product for medicinal purposes. Consequently, they were also the first to return to legal production. Laird's then set about buying up lesser-quality producers in order to preserve the reputation of the spirit (not to mention the company). Laird's now produces 95+% of the applejack/apple brandy sold in the US. (This medicinal use still persists in parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.)
  • As part of their dilution step, Laird & Company adds apple wine. This accounts, at least in part, for the product's intense flavor.
  • There is no longer a Scobeyville, NJ, though there is a post office with that name. It serves the company exclusively, and a family member is the postmaster.
Lisa added immeasurably to the discussion with bits of history and little-known facts, as well as some honest talk about distribution issues, especially regarding the bonded product (Sam Kinsey got a nice shout-out from Chad, for his part in bringing the product to NYC).

Ted told a great story (detailed elsewhere, but better when heard in Ted's voice) about a phone conversation with Larry Laird, and both Ted and Gary emphasized the versatility of the spirit, saying that you could take almost any cocktail recipe and substitute the base spirit with applejack. Then they proved it with the Marconi Wireless:

1-3/4 oz. applejack
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

As Ted pointed out, the name alone dates the recipe (Marconi's first success was in 1897), but proves the point nevertheless.

This being a 10 am seminar (the night after the "spirited dinners"), attendance was off a bit, which was unfortunate. It did, however, mean bigger cocktail portions -- a mixed blessing, as I can remember the Marconi Wireless and the Jack Rose, but not the third . . .

Congratulations and thanks to Christy Pope and Chad Solomon for two great sessions.

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#13 Kent Wang

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 05:16 PM

Thanks for posting your notes for all of us that couldn't be there.

#14 TallDrinkOfWater

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 08:53 PM

Chad Solomon and Christy Pope also handled the applejack seminar, this time accompanied by Ted Haigh and Gary Regan. We were also graced with the presence of Lisa Laird, vice-president of the company that bears her name.

[...]

This being a 10 am seminar (the night after the "spirited dinners"), attendance was off a bit, which was unfortunate. It did, however, mean bigger cocktail portions -- a mixed blessing, as I can remember the Marconi Wireless and the Jack Rose, but not the third . . .


I was there too (really sorry Dave, didn't manage to meet you). I sent a bunch of my recipe cards, brochures, and sample bottles -- I think I ended up with half a case of the St. Germaine minis, not to mention several 750mL bottles of things -- home via UPS. Once I get those, I should have the mystery third Applejack cocktail noted somewhere. It was served in a champagne flute, I remember that much. The previous two drinks were HUGE.

I should extend an additional thanks to Chad and Christy not only for hosting the seminar, but also for making sure I got a bottle of the Laird's Bonded later since I'd mentioned how hard it was to get in Washington state.
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#15 little ms foodie

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 02:50 PM

I really enjoyed all of the seminars and events that we attended, starting at 10am on the first day with a gin fizz and LaNell and Charlotte Voisey in period costumes talking about women in cocktails was a kick! Loved all the enthusiasm and attandance of the Tiki and Forgotten Ingrediants courses. And I learned a lot in Ted's Absinthe course. The cocktail party was amazing and the spirited dinner we attended at Commanders Palace was so much fun!

Best of all were all the fantastic people we had a chance to meet! And of course being in New Orleans!

#16 JAZ

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 04:04 PM

Although I found all the seminars I attended enjoyable, I think I learned the most from the gin and vermouth sessions.

It's not that I didn't know anything about gin before, but it was educational to taste different styles one after the other (we tasted Bols, a Genever style gin; Junipero, a very juniper-heavy London dry style; Plymouth; and Aviation, a new gin from Oregon that was created as a "sipping" gin). Simon Ford of Plymouth (the sponsor) talked about the history of gin and the different styles, while Francesco Lafranconi mixed drinks and talked about cocktail ingredients and technique.

The highlight for me, though, was the "homemade" lime cordial that Francesco made for a Gimlet -- caramelized sugar syrup, lime juice, dried Kaffir limes and leaves, lime salt and gin (which was supposed to have been flamed, but that didn't work out). Maybe because Gimlets were one of the first real cocktails I ever drank, they've always had a special place for me. I know that Rose's Lime Juice is disliked by lots of cocktailians, who swear by fresh lime juice and simple syrup, but to me, it's just not a Gimlet without lime cordial. I've wondered about trying to make a better substitute for Rose's but had no idea how to go about it. This was exactly what I was looking for, and I plan to try my hand at it soon.

More about the vermouth session later. Now it's time for a drink.

#17 Dave the Cook

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 04:55 PM

. . . .
Once I get those, I should have the mystery third Applejack cocktail noted somewhere. It was served in a champagne flute, I remember that much. The previous two drinks were HUGE.
. . . .

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Um.

There were four cocktails at the applejack seminar (no wonder we can't remember). We had the aforementioned Jack Rose and Marconi Wireless -- and the Golden Dawn (an equal-parts drink):

applejack
gin
apricot brandy
orange juice

and the Wicked Kiss:

1 oz. applejack
1 oz. rye
1/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz. Benedictine
dash Angostura bitters

The latter was the one served in the champagne flute -- I suppose because, as Gary Regan said in the 2004 eG Q&A, he simply dislikes cocktail glasses.

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#18 johnder

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 09:28 AM

Here are some pictures from some various seminars and talks at TOC 2007:

Dave Wondrich and Sal Impastato of the Napolean House
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Tub o Sazeracs at the Napolean House talk
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Ted Haigh a.k.a Dr. Cocktail at the Vermouth Seminar
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Vermouth Seminar
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Sasha at the Ice seminar
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Sasha showing how the block ice is too big and needs to be cut down
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Sasha demontrating the proper shaking technique for block ice
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Charlotte Voisey, Hendricks Brand Manager at her Seminar
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#19 little ms foodie

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 11:23 AM

Here are a few that we took:

Charlotte and LaNell in the Spirited Women seminar

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from the Food and Drink from New Orleans- Ti Martin, Poppy Tooker

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Joe Fee and Chuck Taggart in the Lost Ingrediants seminar

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the whole bunch of them!

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from the (10am!) Absinthe seminar

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Kacy co owner of Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle with awards for both Best Drink Selection & Best Cocktail Bar!!

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#20 Chris Amirault

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 04:30 PM

Thanks for the snaps, John and Wendy! Any more info on the "Lost Ingredients" seminar?
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#21 Forest

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 01:51 AM

Yes, good pics, both of you! Looks like a lot of fun!

Wendy, does that mean cocktail hour at your place is even better now?!

I want to hear more about the absinthe seminar - was it just an absinthe tasting or did they talk about any cocktails using absinthe?
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#22 JAZ

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 06:57 AM

Thanks for the snaps, John and Wendy! Any more info on the "Lost Ingredients" seminar?

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The lost ingredients panel was partly a discussion of making homemade versions of hard-to-find ingredients, such as falernum and pimento dram, and presentations by companies that are recreating, importing or distributing such ingredients as Creme Yvette, Creme de Violette, Batavian Arrack and Absinthe. (For more information on the Creme Yvette, also check out John and Dave's comments earlier in this topic.)

If I have a complaint about it, it's that so many ingredients were covered that there wasn't much information on any one ingredient.

There's an informative article about the subject in the current issue of Imbibe magazine (we all received a copy), written by Paul Clarke, who was also on the panel.

#23 little ms foodie

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 10:11 AM

Yes, good pics, both of you!  Looks like a lot of fun!

Wendy, does that mean cocktail hour at your place is even better now?!

I want to hear more about the absinthe seminar - was it just an absinthe tasting or did they talk about any cocktails using absinthe?

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Our absinthe loucher arrived yesterday- it's like the one in the picture!

The seminar covered the history of absinthe and the Pernod family and then discussed all the advertising- how it went from pro to con. Ted talked a lot about the misconceptions of absinthe and what makes it up, etc. Then we tried two different ones. He also showed pictures of his distillary which has lots of iron work by Gustaf Eiffle in it!

This article actually covers a lot of what he talked with us about.

I'm going to map it so that we we are in Gadagne next year maybe we can visit it!

#24 KatieLoeb

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 01:08 PM

Wendy:

I can't believe you and Dayne went for it and bought the absinthe loucher. What a fabulous and unique souvenier! So when's the Green Fairy party to break it in? :biggrin: I do miss the olden days of gorgeous tabletop accoutrements. The multitudinous antique shops lining Rue Royal on my walk to the Monteleone every day had the most beautiful examples of oyster plates, artichoke plates, asparagus dishes, knife rests, cruet sets, etc. I love all that old stuff and am sorry we're too busy these days to take pride in setting a proper table. The absinthe loucher is awesome and I'm certain your guests will be amazed.

If any of you that managed to attend the Lost Ingredients seminar would be kind enough to post the instructions or a link to the recipes for said items, I'm certain I wouldn't be the only one grateful. I had other obligations that afternoon (I was off judging multiple delicious rums) and sadly missed the seminar, but hoped that someone would be able to share their notes with me.

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#25 little ms foodie

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 03:02 PM

Wendy:

I can't believe you and Dayne went for it and bought the absinthe loucher.  What a fabulous and unique souvenier!  So when's the Green Fairy party to break it in?  :biggrin:  I do miss the olden days of gorgeous tabletop accoutrements.  The multitudinous antique shops lining Rue Royal on my walk to the Monteleone every day had the most beautiful examples of oyster plates, artichoke plates, asparagus dishes, knife rests, cruet sets, etc.  I love all that old stuff and am sorry we're too busy these days to take pride in setting a proper table.  The absinthe loucher is awesome and I'm certain your guests will be amazed.

If any of you that managed to attend the Lost Ingredients seminar would be kind enough to post the instructions or a link to the recipes for said items, I'm certain I wouldn't be the only one grateful.  I had other obligations that afternoon (I was off judging multiple delicious rums) and sadly missed the seminar, but hoped that someone would be able to share thier notes with me.

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we all got a copy of Imbibe in which the recipes are printed. We shipped all our swag home just as you suggested so as soon as said box arrives we can post a few if others haven't. VERY fun meeting you again Ms. Loeb, do look us up if you ever find yourself in Seattle!

#26 KatieLoeb

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 03:09 PM

I think I have a copy of the magazine in my box that has arrived, but hasn't been opened yet. Are all of the recipes in there? I seem to recall seeing Pimento dram but not falernum. Anyway, I am sure others would be most interested in seeing the instructions if they weren't lucky enough to attend TotC or get a copy of Imbibe.

A pleasure to meet you and hubby as well! And I'll most certainly let you know if I'm a-visitin' up your way... :smile:

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#27 BrooksNYC

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 06:42 PM

I can't believe you and Dayne went for it and bought the absinthe loucher.  What a fabulous and unique souvenir!

To my mind, an absinthe fountain — filled, frosty, and dripping ice-water — is just about the prettiest thing you can put on a bar. Congrats, Ms. Foodie! Posted Image

Anyone thinking of buying a fountain will want to check out the goods at La Maison d'Absinthe. In addition to fountains, the shop carries imported, hand-blown absinthe glasses, spoons, saucers, sugar dishes.......the works. René, who runs the shop, is a great guy, and by purchasing from his French Quarter store, you'll be helping the New Orleans economy.

I loved this year's "Tales of the Cocktail." Already looking forward to 2008!

P.S. to Ms. Foodie: If you need to rinse out the lantern, be very careful, as sudden changes of temperature can cause the glass to crack. If you've had the lantern filled with ice water, empty it completely and allow the glass to warm to room temperature before rinsing it in barely tepid water.

Also, you'll be less likely to get mineral deposits in the spigots if you empty the fountain between uses. Allow the spigots to dry completely by leaving the handles in the "open" position until next use.

Edited by BrooksNYC, 29 July 2007 - 07:19 PM.


#28 eas

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 06:56 PM

I posted the recipe for the Swedish Punsch served at the Lost Ingredients seminar under the topic "Swedish Punsch".

Edited by eas, 30 July 2007 - 04:43 AM.


#29 limewine

limewine
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  • Location:seattle

Posted 29 July 2007 - 07:27 PM

The recipe for the falernum I meant to serve at the session (before the box of bottles was misplaced in the Monteleone storage room) is in the current issue of Imbibe; it's a slight variation on a recipe I posted last year. Please note that this is modeled on the Stansfeld-Sazerac family of falernum (used primarily in mid-century tiki drinks, and the model for Fee Brothers falernum), so it is much tarter and more citrusy than the John D. Taylor Velvet Falernum most people are accustomed to. Though, with the recipe, you could easily tweak it to the Velvet style, by reducing or eliminating the lime juice and very slightly increasing the amount of cloves.

The recipe for Chuck Taggart's pimento dram is on his site, The Gumbo Pages; we didn't have room for it in the Imbibe story, but the recipe is also listed on my site and on Imbibe's blog, so the bases are covered.

An item I mentioned at the Lost Ingredients panel but we didn't serve was a classic Amer Picon replica crafted by Jamie Boudreau (recipe for which is also in the current Imbibe). In my presentation, I said I hadn't had a chance to taste the replica side-by-side with the classic Picon from pre-reformulation, only the current version, which the replica dwarfed in vibrance and flavor; immediately after the panel, though, Lenell Smothers approached with a flask of the original, and since Jamie was in the crowd, we were able to taste the classic and the replica next to each other. The matchup was almost perfect -- Ted Haigh remarked the replica is just ever-so-slightly sweeter than the classic. From what I understand, Jamie is addressing this with his next batch.
Paul Clarke
Seattle

The Cocktail Chronicles

#30 KatieLoeb

KatieLoeb
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  • Location:Philadelphia

Posted 29 July 2007 - 10:28 PM

Thanks Paul!!! You're awesome! I shall have to commit these recipes to a separate file and save them for all eternity. Very excited to get started on these...

Now if we could just convince Jacquin's to restart production on Creme de Yvette... :smile:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol