Tales Of The Cocktail ’09 Flashback

•July 22, 2010 • 1 Comment

tales07On the eve of my trip to New Orleans and in honor of the amazing time I had at last years Tales of the Cocktail in wonderful New Orleans, Louisiana, I want to do a broken little recap of some of the madness.  This is a post I started when I got back from Tales last year and never really go back to it.  The ending literally got a little fuzzy so I didn’t know how to wrap it up.   Sorry for the abrupt ending but that’s when the updates stopped and the real partying began.  Probably best that way.  :)

When asked what Tales is all about, I liken it to Jazzfest for bartenders, industry professional, and enthusiasts.  It’s five days of seminars, tastings, parties, networking and all around marathon style drinking.  For a detailed look at some of the goings on you can check out the Tales of the Cocktail website.

Last year as Tales of the Cocktail approached, I debated with myself whether or not I was going to try to do some live blogging with my iPhone and a nifty little WordPress app.  It sounded great in theory but when it came time to the actual hustle and bustle of trying to be at four places at one time, the live blogging was thrown by the wayside.  So I turned to Twitter.  Obviously everyone is familiar with Twitter at this point and it was a great way for me to make an attempt at telling the story of my Tales experience as it was all going down.  So with this post I want to try to do something different and use my “tweets” as a timeline.  Not only to try to tell the story of what went down in my world, but to also help remind me what the hell went down by possibly filling in some blanks.  So here is to the best of my ability my “tweet up” of Tales of the Cocktail ’09.

Wednesday July 8th:

When the going gets tough, the tough takes a redeye to NOLA for Tales of the Cocktail. Can’t wait to get there!!#totc0912:13 AM Jul 8th from Twitterrific

That’s right, I took a freakin redeye from LA to NOLA to kick things off.  My first seminar was The Bittersweet Truth of Opening a Bar at 10:30 Wednesday morning.  The only way to get there on time was you guessed it.  A redeye.  Otherwise the only other option was to arrive around 5 o’clock pm and that really wasn’t an option.

The albatross has landed in NOLA. And it’s thirsty.6:37 AM Jul 8th from Twitterrific

That’s pretty much all that needed to be said albeit 6:37am.  Hey, redeyes can be tough on your mental state.

First seminar of the week. Bittersweet truth of starting a bar. Complete with bittersweet Campari and rosemary syrup sour.9:24 AM Jul 8th from Twitterrific

By this point I’m feeling great.  I’m in NOLA.  I’ve dropped my bag off at the Bienville House where I’m staying, and I’ve made it just in time for my seminar at The Monteleone.  Couldn’t miss this one because the guy I work for at The Varnish (Eric Alperin) is on the panel.  Not to mention Cedd Moses, Ricky Kline, and H. Joseph Ehrmann as moderator.  More on the seminars later.

Courtyard at the Bienville House

When Morgenthaler tells you to get the Jambalaya at Coops you listen.11:12 AM Jul 8th from Twitterrific

After the seminar, massive hunger was starting to set in.  After meeting up with a few LA folk outside of the Monteleone we made a pilgrimage over to Coop’s Place for lunch.  Sure enough after walking in I recognize a rag-tag bunch of familiar faces.  The Jambalaya Supreme was so good I wept, er, maybe it was the spice.  The first and last meal I had in NOLA that weekend was at Coop’s.  Love those guys.

First Sazerac cocktail in New Orleans. Officially feel part of history. It was a little on the sweet side, but hey, it was still great.2:27 PM Jul 8th from Twitterrific

After lunch I was finally able to check in to my hotel and then made a b-line back to the Monteleone and promptly parked my ass at the Carousel bar and ordered a Sazerac.  Good times.

Hotel Monteleone

Continue reading ‘Tales Of The Cocktail ’09 Flashback’

Beverage Alcohol Resource & Manhattan Cocktail Classic

•September 23, 2009 • 4 Comments

Beverage Alcohol Resource MCC

The time is near where I give myself over the powers that govern alcohol and the way we enjoy and consume it.  In other words, next week I’ll be taking the Beverage Alcohol Resource seminar; held once a year by spirits industry mavens Steve Olson, Paul Pacult, Andy Seymour, Dave Wondrich, Doug Frost, and last but certainly not least, Dale DeGroff. Click here to take a look at their informative website.  Read some of their bios to get just a glimpse of the combined knowledge and wisdom that this group brings to the table.  Here’s the breakdown from the website.

“The Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR) Program is the spirits and mixology equivalent of a Masters of Wine or Master Sommelier program. BAR, a Limited Liability Company headquartered in New York, is an independent organization whose mission is to propagate the healthy and responsible use of beverage alcohol products through innovative and comprehensive training programs and seminars. Formed by six of the world’s leading spirits and cocktails authorities, Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Steven Olson, F. Paul Pacult, Andy Seymour and David Wondrich, BAR is revolutionizing the way in which spirits and cocktails are viewed, understood, appreciated and enjoyed.

One or more of BAR’s managing members/principals guides every course, using BAR’s own authoritative materials, innovative methods and textbook, The BAR Manual. BAR offers various programs and many other services (i.e., advisory and analytical services for the industry) both in New York City and out-of-state through the BAR Mobile Unit that, for hire, travels to suitable sites to conduct customized corporate sponsored programs. BAR’s unique instructional methods helped earn it the “Industry Innovator of the Year Award for 2007” at the Cheers Conference in 2007.

BAR is the most trusted, comprehensive, innovative, and autonomous source of systematic information on distilled spirits and mixology in the beverage alcohol industry. Anyone who successfully passes BAR’s Five-Day Intermediate Certificate Program is able to mix a balanced Sidecar, distinguish a Speyside malt from a Lowland malt, explain in detail the difference between Bourbon whiskey and Irish whiskey, recognize when a tequila is overpriced, identify a potato vodka by its nose alone, explain the origin of the Manhattan cocktail and why the bitters are an integral part of the drink, draw up a cocktail list that matches the elegance of the establishment it’s created for and, in short, do everything that one expects from a comprehensively informed professional. This Five-Day core program is conducted only once yearly in New York State.”

Needless to say, it will be an honor to take this course and without doubt (according to my colleagues who have taken it) will be one of the most challenging five days of classwork, palate exhaustion, and information soakage.

I would like to thank Grand Marnier for giving me the opportunity to take part in this years BAR.  I am one of the six recipients of the Grand Marnier BAR Scholarship and without it I would not be making the pilgrimage to NYC next week.  In return for the scholarship I will be working as a consultant for Grand Marnier at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic.  This will be an amazing experience as I’ll get to work alongside some incredible bartenders.  The Classic looks to be an unforgettable time, chock full of spirits industry heavyweights and the best bartending talent the country has to offer.  Here’s a little tidbit from their site.

“Welcome to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, New York City’s first ever multi-day event celebrating the history, contemporary culture, and artful craft of the cocktail. Part festival, part fête, part conference, part cocktail party, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic brings together the unparalleled talents and opportunities of the bars, bartenders, and restaurants of our great city for two days of activities, both educational and celebratory in nature, championing the common ideals of authenticity, equality, sustainability, service, and pleasure. (There will be some drinking involved, too.)”

Hope to see you there!

Chartreuse Sweet Sixteen Cocktail Competition

•September 19, 2009 • 1 Comment

Green ChartreuseRecently I participated in a amazing cocktail competition set-up in the style of the NCAA Mens Basketball tournament sponsored by the venerable and much loved Chartreuse.  The field consisted of sixteen LA bartenders going head to head bracket style, whittling the opposition down to the elite eight, the final four, and ultimately the championship.  The Doheny in downtown LA provided a perfect backdrop for this cocktail throwdown.  Here are a couple links to check out for some photos and more coverage.

LA Weekly
The Examiner

What I loved about this competition in relation to most other cocktail competitions was indeed the format.  All we had to bring in preparation was ourselves and a few ideas regarding the best way to use Chartreuse in cocktails.  After we had all arrived and were treated to shots of green Chartreuse for breakfast, we were then informed as to what would be available for us to use for our cocktails.  The fine folks at Doheny opened up their resources and allowed us to use (within reason) a wide array of mise en place and booze. Marcos Tello, who helped put the competition together along with Carbino Cattani of Cattani imports, even brought a cornucopia of fresh market goods, with everything from fresh thyme to multi-colored peppers.  For the Top Chef fans out there, the competition took the form of multiple quickfire challenges, only with this competition the judging was blind.

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Back to Business

•September 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

btbWell, it’s time to get serious again.  All excuses aside, I’ve really been slacking on keeping Blueprint Cocktail updated and fresh.  I’ll be honest, writing a blog is relatively hard work, especially when bartending full time.  When I started this blog I really had no idea what I was doing and just figured that I would learn as much as I could along the way.  While that has been true and I feel that I have learned much, I’ve also learned that throughout the early stages of a blog there are many hurdles and obstacles standing in your way on the path to consistent posting.  It’s these obstacles that I plan on taking head on and moving past.  While I won’t promise to be an everyday poster, I will do my best to post on a more regular basis.

Maybe It’s best if I redefine what exactly it is that I’m trying to accomplish with my blog.  My original intent was to join the wonderful and well connected online cocktail writers scene and while that hasn’t changed, a few of my approaches to what I would like to write have.  I am most certainly not the biggest online cocktail geek out there nor do I try to be.  If you want to see me in full geek mode then please, by all means come and see me behind the bar at the Varnish here in Los Angeles.  I do enjoy learning from others online and seeing what the community at large has up their sleeves.  It’s this nationwide if not worldly connectedness that in my mind is where the true progression of the spririts industry lies.  That being said, I would like to continue to take a bartender’s approach to what I write and chronicle some of the more interesting things happening in my world.  I hope that you will continue to join me.


Summer with Centenario Rosangel

•July 7, 2009 • 1 Comment

Gran Centenario RosangelSummer is in full swing and the farmer’s markets are chock full with seasonal bounty. Recently I was given a sample bottle of Gran Centenario Rosangel, a hibiscus infused reposado tequila, and decided to bring the two together into a couple of wonderful and refreshing summer cocktails.  By clicking here, you can read my coverage of the LA Rosangel launch party and my review of the spirit.

A few nights ago my girlfriend Kristin and I had a couple of friends over for a little post 4th of July bbq.  It was a small, low key affair in which to decompress from the rest of the weekends festivities.  I know what you are probably saying, “my lans, more bbq?”  Well to prevent withdrawal we had to taper down consumption.  ;-)  With them, my friends Robbie and Alexis brought some fresh cherries and peaches and asked if there was anything I could do with them.  Always up for a challenge, I knew exactly what to do and after taking inventory of what I had on hand I took to the task of quenching some thirsts.

Rosangel Cherry Lime SmashThe first cocktail I devised was a Cherry Lime Smash.  Having fresh mint on hand as well as some incredible limes off the tree in the yard prompted me to head in this direction.  Talk about refreshing, the hibiscus in the tequila complemented the mint and the cherry so well I could have knocked these back until I knocked myself out.           Continue reading ‘Summer with Centenario Rosangel’

Mixology Monday XL: Ginger

•June 15, 2009 • 12 Comments

Mixology MondayWow has this month flown right by.  I feel as if it were just a couple nights ago that I posted about my Amaro cocktails. Time flies right by when your’e settling in to a new job, and bartending at The Varnish in downtown LA has kept me pretty busy.  The work is hard but man is it satisfying.  If you find yourself in the LA area by all means stop in and pay us a visit.  We would love to craft a fine beverage for your enjoyment.  I digress.  Now for the task at hand.

This month’s Mixology Monday is being hosted by Matt at RumDood.com.  For our June exercise, ‘ol RumDood has chosen ginger for us to play around with. Here’s what Matt has to say, 

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Mixology Monday XXXIX: Amaro

•May 18, 2009 • 2 Comments

Mixology MondayAh yes, here we are again, staring down the loaded barrel of our favorite cocktail shaker.  What shall it be loaded with this time?  As host of this month’s Mixology Monday, local Los Angeles fellow and bon vivant Chuck Taggart (of the weblog Looka! found within his website The Gumbo Pages) has chosen Amaro to be stirred, shaken, whipped and consumed.  

Amari (plural of amaro) are generally considered bitter drinking liqueurs from Italy consisting of a multitude of herbs, spices, and sugars.  Medicinal in character, amari have long been considered to be wonderful digestivos, primed and ready to help you tackle the task of breaking down that 5 course meal you just jovially consumed.  Think Fernet Branca, Averna, Cynar (made with artichokes.  Artichokes!) and the like.  Those seem somewhat common to me at this point, but the more I gaze into the looking glass of amari, the longer the list becomes of handcrafted, secret family recipe liqueurs from all over the world.  This wonderful spirit is by no means locked down to Italy.  Europeans seem to love their bitter potables in many forms.  Whether it be Amaro, Amer, or Amergo, many cultures have long since known that quaffing the bitter stuff has numerous health benefits as well as providing a wonderful, warming buzz.  I like to think of a delicious Amaro as the thinking man’s Jagermeister 

Continue reading ‘Mixology Monday XXXIX: Amaro’


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