Thursday, March 20

Tales of the Cocktail 2008

It's that time of year again. Tales of the Cocktail 2008 is July 16-20th!!

Tales of the Cocktail is an annual event held in New Orleans that draws cocktailians from across the world. Every year this event has grown in size. Tales started in 2003 and was the brain child of Ann Rogers. Ann has been a consummate advocate of the New Orleans cocktail.

What makes this event different from in other bar and spirit convention is that this one is for the cocktail enthusiast/patron not the bar industry. It is a celebration of the cocktail and provides those passionate about cocktails opportunities to teach and learn about this New Orleans tradition.

I started going to TotC in 2005 and I kick myself to this day for missing the first 2 years. I have never been disappointed and each year it gets better and better. The seminars are given by the world’s top mixoligist however they are taught at a level that anyone off the street can understand.

My favorite part of Tales of the Cocktail of the past has to be Cocktail Hour and the Spirited Dinners. At Cocktail Hour there is a ball room full of cocktail book authors and other mixoligist. At each table you can get your book signed by the author and enjoy a sample of one of his/her favorite cocktails.

At the Spirited Dinners a mixologist is matched with one of New Orleans top restaurants. The dinner consists of a degustation menu and a cocktail paired with each course prepared by the chef and bar chef. Absolutely fabulous!

This year I have the pleasure along with some of my fellow cocktail bloggers to cover TotC from the inside out. We will be attending the seminars, going to the special events, and of course having a time that only New Orleans can deliver. All will be document at http://www.talesblog.com/.

At this year’s event there are over 100 scheduled events and seminars packed full of cocktail fun. With seminars/events of the likes of:


· Juniperlooza
· Bartending Techniques 101 and Barware
· Spice and Ice: The Art of Spicy Cocktails
· The History of the Margarita
· Martini Flights
· How to Create the Right Cocktail Menu for your Bar or Restaurant
· Save the Daiquiri Party

…just to name very few.

To check out the description of these and more go to http://www.talesofthecocktail.com/. I strongly recommend attending and if you do look me up while you’re there. If for some unfortunate reasons you can’t make it this year follow the action at http://www.talesblog.com/.

Tuesday, March 18

The Oddest of Mixtures

On March 4, 2008 I was saddened to learn that Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away. Back in 1974 Gary and co-creator Dave Arneson created a fantasy game world that brought the works of J.R.R Tolkien to life. I ask, who doesn't want to be the hero that saves the day by taking out a horde of goblins and orcs. The game-world created by Gary and Dave is a far cry, from the now spoon feed online bleeps and bits coming through your monitor. It lives in your head. It's a world that you can imagine and it is much greater and far reaching than any pre-programmed online/console adventure.

Okay, I'm a nerd and I'm proud of it. What do you expect? I work all day managing software development!

First off, there is an interesting parallel between D&D and cocktails. The game got a bad rap, much like bartending and cocktails did during prohibition. During the early 80's D&D was labeled evil and was shunned by a "holier than thou" group of fanatics hell bent on ruining a good time. Sound familiar?

As I started my journey down the cocktail highway several years ago I started to notice a trend. I noticed that many of my online companions that enjoyed the intricacies of mixing libations were also tech nerds. Could it be that I was noticing this just because I was sounding off online and the propensity of those other purveyors of libations also knew technology because of the venue? I don't know.

Nonetheless, I notice a mixture that seems to blend very well together in technology and mixology. This seems to be a very odd mixture. A mixture much like that of a Bloody Mary, where when one first looks at the ingredients you might say to yourself, "hmmmm, that doesn't sound quite right." But when you taste it you fall in love and can't get enough of it.

This mix may be a product of the fact that IT professionals have a lot of stress, but for me it is a bit more. Day to day I create new programs and utilities for my users. I can see that these tools make their lives just a little bit easier to deal with. This makes them very happy; gushing even. However, the process can take a very long time to develop.

On the other hand, with cocktails the gratification comes much quicker. I can whip up a Sidecar and serve it to my guests. A smile immediately crosses their face as the refreshing liquid passes their lips. To me, this satisfaction is very much the same and this is why I think the two blend very well together.

So here is my latest recipe. See if you agree.

My Hobbies
1 part tech computer nerd
1 part cocktailian
0.5 part RPG (D&D) player
0.25 part sports/television

Combine ingredients with ice, strain into the cocktail glass of "free time" and enjoy!

Unfortunate for me and my readers my free time glass is only that of the 5 oz variety and not the mondo chain restaurant cocktail glass size. However as with real cocktails, and not this very bad allegory, its quality over quantity.

So let's give a shout out to Gary Gygax and the wonderful game he created those many years ago. In fact, I bet there are a lot of cocktailians out there right now.... wanting to yell out... "Yes! I play D&D and drink cocktails, so what?" If so... sound off right here.

Cheers!!

Photo and miniature by: Wes Walker