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Dave the Cook

Tales of the Cocktail: 2007

33 posts in this topic

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.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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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.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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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.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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. . . 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.

. . . .

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.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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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.

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.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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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.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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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....


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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

I think they're violet :wink:


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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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!


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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

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).


Matthew B. Rowley

Rowley's Whiskey Forge, a blog of drinks, food, and the making thereof

Author of Moonshine! (ISBN: 1579906486)

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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....


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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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.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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

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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.


-Dayne aka TallDrinkOfWater

###

"Let's get down to business. For the gin connoisseur, a Martini garnish varies by his or her mood. Need a little get-up-and-go?---lemon twist. Wednesday night and had a half-tough day at the office?---olive. Found out you're gonna have group sex with Gwen Stefani and Scarlett Johansson at midnight?---pour yourself a pickled onion Gibson Martini at 8:00, sharp." - Lonnie Bruner, DC Drinks

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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!

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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.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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. . . .

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.

. . . .

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.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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

Dave Wondrich and Sal Impastato of the Napolean House

gallery_22527_4929_232903.jpg

Tub o Sazeracs at the Napolean House talk

gallery_22527_4929_282114.jpg

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

gallery_22527_4929_210555.jpg

Sasha showing how the block ice is too big and needs to be cut down

gallery_22527_4929_441040.jpg

Sasha demontrating the proper shaking technique for block ice

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Charlotte Voisey, Hendricks Brand Manager at her Seminar

gallery_22527_4929_32280.jpg


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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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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929519867_32b37c4595.jpg

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

929522243_915e0ac22c.jpg

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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?


52 martinis blog

@52martinis

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

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.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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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?

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!

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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.


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

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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.

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!

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