By Francine Cohen
If you’ve been thinking lately that we’ve been very spirited in our editorial focus, you’d be right. It’s been an exciting time for drinks events these past few months, starting with the Absolut Sensory Experience which was an eye opening exploration of vodka that just may be the kick in the pants that many bartenders needed to revisit this category (more on this later), and a recent visit to NYC by Japanese cocktail master, Kazuo Uyeda (inventor of the Hard Shake and owner of Tender Bar).
Uyeda-san’s message was heard loud and clear by bartenders who took subways, buses, taxis and planes to be present and learn from a living legend. The two day seminar was a cultural exchange in which the audience was enlightened about the exacting and consistent Japanese approach to style, technique, and, above all, pleasing the guest through service and attention to deliver the most delicious drink (*Factoid: Uyeda-san mentioned the words “delicious” or “deliciousness” a minimum of 20 times each day. It definitely drove the point home.). The Tender Bar approach to crafting that perfectly delicious cocktail is an effort that exhibits the same amount of detail, finesse and grace as a Japanese tea ceremony. For more about this two day East meets West drinks exploration see this story: http://insidefandb.com/2010/05/turning-japanese/
Following right on the heels of this bit of international beverage bonanza a number of those same out-of- town bartenders returned for the inaugural NYC drinks fete/conference/ party that celebrates the mighty cocktail and is known as The Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com – affectionately referred to as the MCC). Embraced by their NYC brethren, many of these said bartenders were quickly put to work batching drinks for the masses who were about to descend upon the MCC gala. And, while all of them had bar backs, only a few lucky ones (namely Ricky Gomez, Danny Ronen, and Charles Steadman) had the assistance of Oompa Loompas as they manned the Willy Wonka themed bar showcasing Remy Cointreau’s portfolio (www.remy-cointreau.com).
While we previewed some of the MCC’s events in earlier editions of this magazine we’re happy to bring you an inside look at a few of the seminars and events that took place around town. Look for our coverage here (and more to come): http://insidefandb.com/2010/06/a-moment-with-fritz-maytag/
Anyone who was anyone in the beverage/cocktail world (and wasn’t scheduled to work that night or out of town) made it over to the New York Public Library for the MCC’s kickoff Gala. Dressed to the nines, 2500 thirsty guests sipped their way through four floors of the city’s beautiful repository for knowledge and, instead of reading quietly in a carrel; they explored their favorite brands and reveled through the night, with much laughter ringing out in the hallways. Upon arrival guests were immediately greeted by the smiling face of Damon Dyer who was pouring a Death in the Afternoon with Philadelphia Distilling’s (www.philadelphiadistilling) Vieux Carré. Just a touch behind Dyer’s bar the Beefeater men (Kenta Goto, TJ Lynch, and Dan Warner) offered up a refreshing punch utilizing the new spirit, Beefeater Summer (www.beefeatergin.com). Thankfully, they also rustled up some much needed H20. Diageo’s recreation of the famed NYC hotspot The Stork Club was a cool and welcome respite on the bottom floor while DonQ (www.donq.com) rums kept a cool head upstairs as frosty drinks created with the help of liquid nitrogen and an icy refresher by James Menite was passed around. Freemans’ had a beachhead on the top floor where they recreated their barbershop (www.fscbarber.com), offering everyone a partying respite with much needed shaves, facials and more. All in all it was a terrific evening. And we are pretty sure everyone had enough to drink.
Next up in the land of the big Apple drinking circus (also known as downtown NYC) is the Pipeline CKTL Jam scheduled for 6/28. Kicking off the new USBG fellowship program which enables one lucky (and hardworking throughout the year) USBG member to attend Tales, this one night laboratory of cocktail creation is a fun hands-on event that lets bartenders taste and play with spirits to their hearts’ content and gets brands into the hands of the city’s best cocktail creators.
While we’ve enjoyed many delicious cocktail creations this month, proffered by some of the best in the business (a special thank you to Danny Valdez for coming back to town a third time) we haven’t been all drinks and no food this month. That would be just plain irresponsible. Our hearts went a little south this month, straight down to the Spanish speaking parts of the world as the culinary and spirits cultures of Latin America were featured at the first ever Gourmet Latino Festival (www.gourmetlatinofestival.com) Expect to see more on this later; but for now, a quick taste of what you missed: Zarela Martinez’s huitlacoche crepe, Julian Medina’s tuna tacos, Iron Chef Jose Garces’ nod to his native Ecuadorean cuisine including ceviche and masitas and drinks (yes, we know, back to drinks again) served in a pineapple. The lineup of seminars pairing the liquid and food culture of Latin America was extensive; ranging from a trip down the mezcal trail, to an exploration of levantamuertos (awaken the dead) foods, an exploration of Peru’s Pisco, and a look at culinary traditions and women in the kitchen with the woman who forged a place for herself before anyone else did and introduced traditional Mexican cooking to American palates, Zarela Martinez. Muy delicioso.
As always, we’ll be featuring behind the scenes looks at products you want to try, people you want to know, and best business practices you’ll want to embrace to ensure your own success. So keep reading!
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