From guest blogger Emily Cavalier: I'm back with my final recap of Tales 2011. Thanks for spending time with me here on The Dizzy Fizz. I hope to spend more time with you, whether it be here, on one of my sites or over cocktails.
Saturday, Saaaaturday Saturday! Saturday! Oh yeah. Let's just say we didn't get a ton of sleep on Friday night. We were out all hours and I really would not have gotten out of bed for anyone but Melanie and Lizzie da Trindade Asher of Macchu Pisco and La Diablada Pisco.
I went to their tasting Tasting Room for a traditional Peruvian breakfast and a pisco blending session, where we received vials of the different grape essences that make up the La Diablada blend. La Diablada is the higher-end sister to Macchu Pisco, and just 1,000 bottles are produced each year. Each vintage is a slightly different blend, and the pisco is one of the smoothest I've ever tasted (and I've tasted many). With a deconstructed La Diablada in front of me, I set out to create my own version of "the spicyness of the devil and the sweetness of the angel."
Bartenders John Hogan of Level Restaurant (Annapolis), Kevin Martin of Eastern Standard (Boston), Brother Cleve of Think Tank (Cambridge, Mass.), Rachel Sergi of Jack Rose (DC) and Lizzy Asher (representing her favorite cocktail from Eleven Madison Park in NYC) all presented a cocktail made with one specific varietal, with wonderful results.
I had two favorites. La Diablada Pisco Punch Fizz (made by Hogan) was amazing with fresh pineapples, torrontes white wine that had been carbonated, Barkeep Lavender Bitters, lime, simple and egg white. The second was The Panamericano from Eleven Madison Park. It was like a white Negroni with equal parts La Diablada Pisco, Cocchi Americano and Dolin Blanc.
It was a blast playing with proportions of Quebranta, Italia, Torontel and Moscotel grape brandies until I got my perfect mix. This was also the most entertaining of the daytime events I attended at Tales, as the participating bartenders were all dressed to represent the personality (metrosexual, dandy, macho, coquettish or sophisticated) of the grape they were mixing with. Brother Cleve playing the part of Macho Man in an El Luchador mask made my day.
I made a quick stop at the Grey Goose relaxation suite at Le Foret for a quick massage and some fresh fruit. After that, it was off to what was probably my favorite event of this year's Tales: Pig & Punch.
The Pig & Punch fundraiser was hosted by San Francisco bartenders The Bon Vivants again at Washington Square Park. I missed out on the awesome Pig & Punch logo t-shirts last year, so I made a beeline over to the table this time around and bought two (since it was a fundraiser and all).
The otherwise free outdoor pig roast boasted the Young Fellaz Brass Band and the same delicious spit-roasted pigs from Cochon as last year, as well as panzanella, cucumber salad and slaw. I was blown away by the quality of this year's barrels of delicious punch, which included variations made with Don Q Anejo, The King's Ginger, 42 Below, Combier, and loads of fresh fruit. There were Death's Door vodka lime slushies and a Don Q watermelon contraption. My favorite taste at the pig roast was a shot of Templeton Rye paired with a Templeton-cured, grilled sausage sandwich. But I can't forget the delicious Tenneyson Absinthe brownie. YUM!
2011 Spirited Awards: The Dizzy Fizz's (and my) home city of NYC cleaned up the Spirited Awards once again this year, which was held at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. We took home seven accolades. Here are the highlights:
Employees Only took home two honors for World’s Best Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Drinks Selection. Not bad. Kenta Goto (Pegu Club) and Sam Ross (Milk & Honey), tied for American Bartender of the Year award. Audrey Saunders (who we'll claim due to Pegu Club, though she's now bicoastal) won Best Bar Mentor. Dizzy Fizz friend David Wondrich walked away with Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book for Punch. Eleven Madison Park earned Best Restaurant Bar.
Congrats to Rickhouse in San Francisco for winning the category for Best High-Volume Cocktail Bar. I was there in June and can vouch for the fact that they've earned it. I think Clyde Common (Portland, OR), should have won for Best Hotel Bar, but what do I know? Maybe in future years, I'll get to judge!
Scroll to the end to see the full list of 2011 Spirited Awards nominees with winners in bold.
The rest of Tales is a blur. I did head to the Plymouth Gin Bartender's Breakfast. The downside to the party is that it was a madhouse to get in if you didn't have a special medallion, to the point where they weren't even letting in people working the party unless they could find someone to escort them in. The upside is that, once inside, I was treated to some of the best bar bites of the week as well as delectable cocktails like the "Coke Den Punch" created by The Florida Room, with mezcal, cucumber juice, apple cider and Plymouth Gin.
Had I paid more attention to the inscription on my commemorative Julep glass, perhaps I would have known what surprise was in store for us. But it was too dark, and I was too hazy to read the writing which says, "Congratulations Audrey & Robert." Yes, if you haven't yet heard, Audrey Saunders got married to her sweetheart and fellow cocktail giant Robert Hess (of DrinkBoy.Com). I saw it. It was lovely. And then we all danced.
I continued the tradition Selena, Carmen and I started last year, by ending the night with a dip in the pool at a secret location, as guests of Spirited Award Nominee Colin Asare-Appiah (nominated for Best American Brand Ambassador with U’luvka Vodka). The three of us hosted a little gathering of those still standing. Pizza was hand-delivered to me in the pool. People drank while they floated. I'd show you a picture, but it was a No Picture Party. Make sure you stay in touch with us if you want an invite next year.
Sunday started out with the closing party on the rooftop at Monteleone. I was afraid the rain would keep people from having fun in the pool, but with all the delicious Milagro cocktails flowing, I shouldn't have fretted. There were all sorts of treats, but the Milagro sno-cones might have been my favorite tipple of the bash. I was on the sidelines staying dry, so I had a low-key come down.
If you were anywhere on the perimeter of the pool, though, it didn't matter if you had an iPhone or money or a camera in your pocket. You were getting pulled in. Even Milagro's own brand ambassador Jamie Salas wasn't safe.
After sobering up with an oyster po' boy at Acme Oyster Bar and a nap, I headed over to Rematch, Beyatch!!! at Cure as if I needed more booze that night. I'm not sure what one would expect when getting some of the country's top TOP bartenders together for a speed competition involving craft cocktails, but ... it was a ish-show, and I'm tired again just THINKING about it, so read all about it and see some pictures here.
So that about does it for the tales of Tales. Missing from the story are specs for the best drinks of the week, more great photos and all the great southern meals shared with friends. For that and more, check out my photos on Flickr (booze here, food here) and stay tuned next week to Mouth of the Border. Until next Tales, if you can't be good, be careful!
Emily Cavalier is the founder of Mouth of the Border, an online community for lovers of ethnic food and culture in New York City. She’s also the hostess, founder and resident cocktail geek at Midnight Brunch supper club. In addition to food and beverage writing, Emily consults on event and digital media strategy with food and media brands like Conde Nast, The Vendy Awards and Google.
2011 Spirited Award Nominees (Winners in bold)
American Bartender of the Year Eric Alperin, Los Angeles, California Kenta Goto, New York City, New York (tie) Misty Kalkofen, Boston, Massachusetts Sam Ross, New York City, New York (tie) Joaquin Simo, New York City, New York
Best American Brand Ambassador Colin Asare-Appiah, U’luvka Vodka Jacques Bezuidenhout, Partida Tequila Jamie Gordon, Absolut Vodka Jim Ryan, Hendrick’s Gin
Best American Cocktail Bar Clover Club, New York City, New York Drink, Boston, Massachusetts Employees Only, New York City, New York The Varnish, Los Angeles, California
Best Bar Mentor Wayne Collins, London, England Steve Olson, New York City, New York Audrey Saunders, New York City, New York Dushan Zaric, New York City, New York
Best High Volume Cocktail Bar Eastern Standard, Boston, Massachusetts Flatiron Lounge, New York City, New York Florida Room, Miami, Florida Rickhouse, San Francisco, California
Best Cocktail Writing – Non Book BarLifeUK.com Imbibe USA Liquor.com The Tasting Panel Best Cocktail Writing – Author Toby Cecchini, New York City, New York Camper English, San Francisco, California Darcy O’Neil, London, Ontario Naren Young, New York City, New York
Best International Brand Ambassador Ian Burrell Claire Smith, Belvedere Vodka Dan Warner, Beefeater Gin Angus Winchester, Tanqueray Gin
Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book Fix the Pumps by Darcy O’Neill Left Coast Libations by Ted Munat & Michael Lazar Punch by David Wondrich Speakeasy by Dushan Zaric and Jay Kosmas
Best New Product Banks Rum Cocchi Americano Smith & Cross Rum Tequila Calle 23
Best Restaurant Bar The Drawing Room, Chicago, Illinois Eleven Madison Park, New York City, New York Hawksmoor Seven Dials, London, England Hix, London, England
International Bartender of the Year Erik Lorincz, London, England Dre Masso, London, England Sam Ross, New York City, New York Dushan Zaric, New York City, New York
World’s Best Cocktail Bar 69 Colebrooke Row, London, England Dry Martini, Barcelona, Spain Employees Only, New York City, New York High Five, Tokyo, Japan
World’s Best Cocktail Menu Artesian Bar at The Langham, London, England Eau de Vie, Sydney, Australia Mayahuel, New York City, New York Sanctuaria, St. Louis, Missouri
World’s Best Drinks Selection Artesian Bar at The Langham, London, England Cure, New Orleans, Louisiana Eau de Vie, Sydney, Australia Employees Only, New York City, New York
World’s Best Hotel Bar Artesian Bar at The Langham, London, England Clive’s Classic Lounge at Chateau Victoria Hotel, Victoria, British Columbia Clyde Common at The Ace Hotel, Portland, Oregon The Savoy, London, England
World’s Best New Cocktail Bar 1534, New York City, New York Dram, New York City, New York Eau de Vie, Sydney, Australia Painkiller, New York City, New York