Tales Wrap Up
In our world of big names, our true heroes tend to be anonymous. In this life of illusion and quasi-illusion, the person of solid virtues who can be admired for something more substantial than his well-knowness often proves to be the unsung hero: the teacher, the nurse, the mother, the honest cop, the hard worker at lonely, underpaid, unglamorous, unpublicized jobs.
-Daniel J. Boorstin
Tales of the Cocktail is built on the generosity of some and the hard labor of others. I, myself was on three panels this year (and bartended seven more), and this was but a mere shadow of what others contributed. Leaving out the spirit ambassadors and the Robert Hess’ of the event, there was one group of professionals who single handedly made the event run and were not given proper recognition. I speak of course, of that rag-tag group of rock stars that prepped almost every single cocktail created at this enormous event.
Those of you who attended Tales, but did not present a seminar, would’ve been unaware of the scale of the behind the scenes work that was accomplished by this group of elite bartenders. Billed as a Cocktail Apprentice Program, this team organized ingredients, squeezed citrus and prepped recipes for five days straight, with little to no rest. And while this may seem to be a necessity at an event such as this (and it is), it must be shouted to the heavens that these were no mere apprentices, but rather some of this planet’s best mixologists, from New York to San Francisco, from London to Switzerland and places in between, anonymously doing work that most would have bar backs do at their respective places of employ. To give you an idea of the scope of their task, here are some of the numbers proudly touted from last year’s event (keep in mind that this year’s event was much, much bigger):
7250 mint leaves
3580 lime wedges
800 watermelon cubes
560 gin soaked dried cherries
1390 orange slices
2 tons of ice and more for 12,000 sippers!
I don’t even want to imagine what the prep was like for the Tiki Block Party (damn Tiki drinks and their 5ooo ingredients!).
So, the next time you are out on the town, and you see one of the following bartenders, be sure to buy him/her a drink, or if at their bar, leave an extra big tip, for they put their own pleasure, sanity and pocketbook before others in the name of making cocktails and bars better the world over.
In no particular order (and forgive me if I forgot someone) let’s stand up and salute:
John Paul Deragon
So what else happened at Tales? Well, I didn’t get to observe many seminars as I worked most of the ones that I attended, but I did attend many after-seminar events, my favorite easily being the Bartender’s Breakfast which began with our celebration of the death of the bad cocktail. What did this entail, you ask? Well, after the awards ceremony, everyone met outside of Harrah’s where a New Orleans funeral procession was about to get under way. Being put to rest? The Appletini. After a lively eulogy, we marched down Canal street (yes we had police escort, and yes they shut down New Orleans’ main street on a Saturday night for a mock funeral) until we got to Café Giovanni, where upon everyone tried to jam into the bar for a cocktail. Talk about clowns and cars in reverse. So for all of you that weren’t there: the Appletini is dead. If someone orders one, you’ll have to explain why you can no longer serve it (oh, to be a fly on the wall for that conversation).
As for my seminars, I thought they went fairly well, and hopefully people were entertained. I do feel that I have to offer somewhat of an apology, however. Last year, after Tales was over and I had sat back rummaging through my hazy recollections of the events that had just transpired, I came to the conclusion that a lot of actually useful, “meaty” information wasn’t shared. And I was a little disappointed. When I offered to do the seminars for Tales this year, it was of the mindset that I would rectify that wrong. And I tried. But what I had failed to realize last year, and am completely aware of now, is that it is almost impossible to offer a concise seminar due to the limitations that are presented.
Limitation number one (and the biggest limitation) would be the audience. Now before you get up in arms and call me a coward for blaming my inadequacies on the poor people who happened upon one of my seminars, let me explain. When planning a seminar we have to consider who it is for. In the case of Tales, it is for whosoever wants to buy a ticket, and this means beginning bartenders, cocktail geeks, the crème de la crème of the bar scene as well as media and the average curious Joe off the street. This means that I can’t really dive right into the meaty part of a subject as I have to begin with a lot of basic ground work, ensuring that the whole room will understand what I’m talking about when I get to a topic as complex as, for instance, hydrocolloids and their uses.
Limitation number two is the time constraint. All seminars are 90 minutes long, which may seem fine, but after taking into consideration that the preferred panel has at least three people, and factoring in introductions, setup and question and answer periods, you are left with approximately 25 minutes of presentation time per person. Not a heck of a lot of time for details.
I’m not making excuses here. I just know that a lot of the people in the room might have wanted a little more detail, (and I wanted to offer it) but in reality all I was offering were jumping off points and inspiration. In my opinion, the most interesting information was shared during the question and answer period, which almost makes me want to do a seminar that is 20 minutes setup and 70 minutes Q & A. Oh well. ‘Nuff said.
I’ll leave you with a cocktail created by one of the experts on my Introduction to Molecular Mixology panel, the esteemed Eben Freeman, who requested that all of us bloggers “don’t talk shit about him”. We would never think of it…
2 oz Tanqueray gin infused with cascade hops
1 oz Martin & Rosso Bianco
stir over ice and strain