Oh, the Cocktail Hour
Tried so many things that I don’t have time to post about. Lucid absinthe is mild but very tasty. Off to Delachaise with Paul and Darcy for dinner!
Lost Ingredients – Live Blogging
4:15pm – The panel is over. Filled with strange liqueurs, I seek food before the cocktail hour, which is sure to test my mettle. And be a hell of a lotta fun.
3:38pm – Rob is up next to talk about Creme D’Yvette. So many liqueurs are coming back on the market. I may even be able to make 75% of the recipes in The Gentleman’s Companion. He brought a bottle of 1944 Creme D’Yvette that he wasn’t planning on opening, but the cork popped in travel, so he is offering it for anyone to try. The sample is mystical. The two samples are so different, and both great.
3:34pm – Creme de violette is next. It’s on sale in New York and will be in CA in about three weeks. Samples are making their way around. It’s bright purple! The violet aroma is as intense as its flavor.
3:32pm – Eric is up now talking about Swedish Punsch. And the sample arrived! One of the best parts of cooking and mixing drinks is when you experience a flavor unlike any other. Swedish Punsch is it. It’s produced from arrack – a strong spirit distilled from sugarcane mainly in Asia. Dr. Cocktail describes it as the Drambuie of whisky.
3:25pm – Ok, this absinthe is awesome. A perfect balance of flavors; not too sweet, not to bitter, but just perfect.
3:15pm – Gwydion Stone is up to talk about absinthe. His quest went from soaking wormwood in vodka (gross!) to his creation of the Wormwood Society and is great fun. Oh, and now they are passing some out. This is a first for me. 40 years pass, Gwydion finds some ancient absinthe distilling manuals, and he just announced that he’ll be releasing his own absinthe next year! It will be exclusively available from Absinthe-Distribution.
3:06pm – Joe, from Fee Brothers, steps up and starts, “Can I picture them all naked?” He talks about his whiskey barrel-aged bitters and the two from breakfast: the grapefruit bitters and spiced syrup bitters. Joe is a riot and great spokesman for Fees.
3:03pm – Tasting #3 against the lone bottle of Wray and Nephew, it was different, though in a cocktail they both worked. Batch #4, made with Wray and Nephew overproof rum, is again completely different and good. Oh, they are passing out a sample of Chuck’s pimento dram. The excitement! Aromas of cloves, allspice, cinnamon fill my nostrils. A sweet, magical solution washes over my tongue. I must admit, I have made some tiki recipes that call for pimento dram without it. That was a huge mistake. Chuck is a miracle worker. I will begin making a batch the day I arrive home.
2:56pm – Chuck steps up to talk about pimento dram. Chuck is describing his visits to Ted’s house. Ted regularly hands Chuck a glass, and it’s some magical solution that he’s never tasted before. Ted asks excitedly, “Isn’t that great? Like the best thing you’ve ever tasted?” Ted pauses, “Well, you can’t get. It hasn’t been made for 50 years and I have all that’s left!”
Chuck began his adventure by trying to import pimento dram from Jamaica. After ordering four bottles, 1 arrived, and it was promised to Dr. Cocktail. Moving to Google, at about the 600 search, he found a recipe in an old Jamaican newspaper article in Google’s cache. It called for fresh pimento berries and many other crazy things. Chuck continues to describe how he tweaked the recipe. He is up to pimento dram #3, also featured in imbibe magazine. There’s also a recipe for it in Sippin’ Safari.
2:50pm – Paul takes the mic and distressingly says that his box of homemade falernum is quite lost and hasn’t arrived yet. That’s a shame, because it’s awesome. He’s detailing the motivation behind creating his own having taken notes from Dale DeGroff and Fee Brothers. Make some yourself if you’re as crazy as Paul. For a full article on Lost Ingredients, including pimento dram and amer picon, check out the July / August edition of Imbibe Magazine.
2:45pm – Dr. Cocktail is talking about his book, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten cocktails. He is saying how he feels bad at not including ingredients in his book that are impossible to find. His Holy Grails are: Forbidden Fruit, Creme de Violette, Arak, Swedish Punsch, Pimento dram, and falernum.
2:42pm – On the panel is Joe Fee of Fee Brothers, Paul Clarke, Chuck Taggart, Robert Cooper, President of
Cooper Spirits International, Gwydion Stone, Founder Wormword Society, and Eric Seed, Principal Haus Alpenz, LLC.
2:40pm – This place is packed! I finally got the wireless working, so we’ll see how live blogging goes, you know, for those 3 people out there that are spending their work day reading KP.com. I sat down to three samples: Fee’s West Indies Style Falernum, Fee’s Orange Flower Water, and St. Germain!
11:45am – Met Martin from Forbidden Island – he commented fondly on the agents I’ve been sending to his fine tiki establishment; he also had an excellent question which I’ll detail at the bottom of this update.
The panel has started! I’m sitting at a table with Beachbum, his wife and mother, Paul, Camper, and Dr. and Mrs. Cocktail. Wayne, author of and a Bottle of Rum, Jeff Berry, master tiki archaeologist, and finally Stephen Remsberg, the owner of over 800 bottles of rum are heading the panel today.
Wayne starts off by commenting on how he came across a punch including cow’s foot jelly in his research. Yummy. Punch has been plagued by two problems: old people and frat parties. Wayne brings up a rum punch genealogy tree – I note quickly that the Mai Tai is at the bottom, all happy and content.
Punch comes from the word “Ponch” containing spirit (usually arak), citrus, sugar, spices, and water. Arak is, if I caught them right, fermented palm sap and Javanese rice that have been distilled. “That sounds nasty, Wayne points out, “and it was.”
The first drink is on its way, served without ice since it wouldn’t have been when rum was “healthy,” about 300 hundred years ago. The drink is the Proto Punch which follows the sacred punch ratio: 1 sour, 2 sweet, 3 strong, 4 weak. Wayne recommends adding a pinch of nutmeg to the drink – the aroma is awesome. He adding only 3 weak to the drink, though.
- 1 1/2oz 10 Cane rum
- 1oz simple syrup
- 1/2oz lime juice
- 2oz water
Mix well with ice and strain. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Wayne brings up a map of the New England Colonies from 1607 – 1760. The New England colonies were trading timber and livestock for endless quantities of rum in the West Indies. The colonists were apparently insanely inventive in crafting rum drinks: Mamm, Tiff’s, mint water, Sillibubs, Bilberry dram, Sampson, Hotch potch, grog, slings, and lots of punches.
The Fish House Punch is next. It comes from a secretive fishing club called the Colony and State on the Schulykill River. George Washington was a member. Wow, real drinking in Pennsylvania! The drink is super sweet and strong. It was touted for its strength the same way the Zombie was in its day.
Fish House Punch
- 2oz 10 Cane rum
- 1oz Hennessy Cognac
- 1oz lemon juice
- 1oz simple syrup
- 1/2t peach brandy
Mix and chill with ice.
Wayne delves into the troubles of acquiring rum. Trade was restricted, and to make things even harder, whiskey began its rise to power. It was coming from over the Appalachians: cheaper, easier to ship. Prohibition even took on rum, even though whiskey was the real issue. Wayne points out that chanting about the evils of “rum” was a lot easier to rhyme “whiskey.”
During this whole speech there have been so many obscure cocktail jokes. The laughter is great. We are clearly all nerds.
Barcardi, back in the day, really did a lot to revolutionize rum. They made improvements to the distillation and storing processes. Wayne shows an awesome advertisement “only Bacardi is worthy of your luggage space on the way home.” A very excited couple is depicted packing their bags for a trip back home and more than excited about the rum that they are delicately adding to their bags. I could my head superimposed over the man eagerly packing his suitcase.
Stephen is up and the next drink is on the way. The Jasper’s Jamaican Planter’s Punch. It includes “Special mix,” which I hope, but doubt, Stephen will unveil. They are serving us small portions, but wow, they are packed. We get a hint that the special mix includes lime juice. Stephen is walking us through the tools needed to make the Planter’s Punch. It’s totally awesome, he clearly knows his audience. First, a spoon, then a jigger, then a glass.
Jasper’s Jamaican Planter’s Punch
- 1 1/2 – 4oz Myer’s Dark Jamaican rum
- 1 1/2oz Special mix
- 1 1/2c crushed ice
Blend 10 seconds, pour into glass and fill with ice. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.
The best Planter’s Punch is made with dark Jamaican rum, but Stephen has found only one bar after 5 hunting trips to the Caribbean that serves a truly unique one. Jasper LeFront, a non-drinker and bartender from Barok Hotel in Montego Bay (old colonial style British resort hotel), who looks like the man on the Indian head nickel.
Oh! Yes, the mix is made of fresh lime juice, sugar, angostura bitters, and nutmeg. Success! No proportions are given of course.
Moving on to Jeff Berry. He starts with a slide and short history of Don the Beachcomber.
Don’s Beach Planter
- 1/2oz lime juice
- 1/2oz passion fruit syrup
- 1oz pineapple juice
- 1oz amber Martinique rum
- 1/4oz dark Jamaican rum
- 1/4oz brandy
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 6 drops Herbsaint
- 4oz crushed ice
“Piratical pleasing taste” is an excellent phrase issued by the Beachbum that is sure to be included in all drinkers lexicon. He’s emphasizing the importance of using multiple rums in the same drink. Don was using incredible aged rums with rich bouquets and so flavorful rum, like Red Heart and Three Daggers. Nothing is made like this in the market today.
Jeff talks a little bit about the importance of “flash blending” tiki drinks. It dilutes them just the right amount and aerates them as well. The number he gave was 3 seconds.
The Beachbum’s “pointer,” which is really a swizzle stick from Martinique comes from a bush or tree, I didn’t catch exactly which. It’s basically a white branch with spokes on the end, and very cool. It was used to mix drinks like the Ti Punch.
There’s a return to new American rums with over a dozen micro-distilleries rum. Old New Orleans rum was the first. Prichards rum in Tennessee is another one.
Martin asked about New England rums, and Stephen responded jovialy with “I have 8.” He described it as an acquired taste. Two people are working on a colonial style rum and we’ll see them in about five years.
Cafe Adelaide and Joe Fee
10:18am – We were treated to a feast starting off with a Brandied Rum Milk Punch. It was sweet, but yummy for a breakfast cocktail. Our table included Paul Clarke, Gwydion Stone, Camper English, and Joe Fee. Less than five minutes passed before Joe whipped out two new Fee Brother’s products six-gun style. The first was grapefruit bitters (awesome!) and the second a spiced syrup. The spiced syrup had a nice cinnamon taste among other pumpkin pie-type spices. The grapefruit bitters had a wonderful citrus aroma and a surprisingly mellow but flavorful grapefruit taste. I wish I had Baker’s book on hand, as Joe hadn’t found any cocktails that originally included it. Does anyone have the Gentleman’s Companion who could look up any recipes using grapefruit bitters?
We were treated to blue crab, herb roasted oyster mushrooms, and melted leek scrambled eggs with buttered brioche toast and a brie fondue. It was creamy with a wonderful earthy crab flavor. Before long, an enormous plate of bananas foster with shortcake was placed in front of us. To follow was a Cafe Pierre (recipe below). It was also sweet, but the coffee and Galliano really brought everything together.
Two cocktails before 9:30am makes for a very nappy Kaiser Penguin. I think I’m going to rest up so I’m refreshed for Rum’s Punch at 11:45am.
- 1 lime wedge
- 1T sugar
- 1oz brandy
- 1oz Kahlua
- 1oz Galliano
- 1c hot strong black coffee
- 1/4c sweetened whipped cream
Wet the rims of two wineglasses with the lime wedge and rim them with sugar. Melt the sugar over a low flame until caramelized. Add remained ingredients, save the cream, and then spoon it in a thick layer on top.
In the Land of Cocktails, Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan
The Master Schedule which is sure to be changed 400 times
8:13am (time zone now CDT)
- 8:30am – Breakfast at Cafe Adelaide – An “interactive and unforgettable” breakfast is promised featuring cocktails paired with creole cuisine by Danny Trace and Lu Brow at the World’s Larget Bar Chef table. I have no idea what this is, but it sounds like a treat.
- 10:00am – I’m torn between a discussion on the importance and use of ice and cocktails and The Cocktail’s Family Tree with David Wondrich. The ice talk is doing its best to lure me with science but learning about the Negus, Flip and Daisy from David is enticing as well.
- 11:45am – Rum’s Punch – Paul recommended Wayne Curtis and Stephen Remsberg’s talk on rum. I must say I look forward to meeting the man that can claim to own the largest private rum collection in the country. I plan on blogging this one intensely.
- 1:00pm – Ask the Experts – The Beachbum and others will be on hand to answer questions, and I have lots of them!
- 2:30pm – Lost Ingredients – This is another panel that’s set in stone for me. Featuring Falernum, Bitters, Pimento Dram, Creme de Violette, Forbidden Fruit, Grenadine, Absinthe, and Swedish Punch, this one is sure to be a win.
- 5:00pm – Cocktail Hour – This will be a great opportunity to share a cocktail with fellow bloggers and meet the author’s of all the books that are bowing my bookshelf.
- 8:00pm – Spirited Dinner at Delachaise – Paul Clarke and Dary O’ Neil will be guest bartending and have paired a cocktail with each of five courses. The menu looks phenomenal – I’ll be sure to post about it and snap some pictures.
Phew, my cheeks hurt from smiling so wide while typing this list, and my liver is doing push-ups in preparation. Thursday is sure to be the most packed and intense day.
Check out Wednesday’s recap if you haven’t already seen it.