Posts Tagged ‘William Grant’

ROCKS STARS – TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2011

Friday, August 19th, 2011

A Few Of My Favorite Things
By David Ransom

Photo by Charles Steadman

Once again this past July in New Orleans, Mrs. And Mr. Cocktail (aka Ann & Paul Tuennerman) put on what those of us in the business have affectionately come to consider the triathlon of liver survival (drink-filled seminars, drink-filled tasting rooms, and drink-filled dinners and parties… not to mention the obligatory night-ending swing through Old Absinthe House on Rue Bourbon every night just to prove you didn’t expire during the course of the day) that is Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com).

Having just completed its ninth year, Tales has grown from a tiny industry-focused event that brought the nation’s top bartenders together for a few days of camaraderie, events, and parties, into a truly international symposium, complete with a “Spirited Awards” program (like the movie industry’s Oscars) that hands out honors to establishments and industry leaders from around the world, and now brings in professionals and consumers from all over the globe to celebrate the world of cocktails in the city that created them.

Rocks Stars and I feel honored to be given the chance to attend each year, and as always, I’m thrilled to be able to share some of my experiences…now that I have recovered enough to be able to write again…

So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things from this year’s Tales, both good and bad, but really all good, as nothing that includes having a well-crafted drink could ever really be bad… and in no particular order:

Best Hosts Under Pressure: Ann & Paul Tuennerman. Nine years into it, Tales could probably have run itself, but Ann and Paul were everywhere. Every event. Every day. Every night. What amazes me about this is that Paul was recovering from a health scare and had just spent time in the hospital. I have to tip my hat to these two intrepid souls for not staying in the background and recuperating at home while “their baby” was staged. Quite to the contrary, they were all over the place from Tuesday’s Media Welcome Party at Arnaud’s French 75 bar (beautifully run by Chris Hannah, one of NOLA’s finest drinks-smiths – www.arnaudsrestaurant.com),to the final Sunday Brunch with Mr. & Mrs. Cocktail, and everywhere in between. I even ran into Paul solo, visibly tired yet surely on the mend, at the Suntory Suite (www.suntory.com) one afternoon where we chatted on the balcony overlooking Bourbon Street while enjoying a glass of Japan’s finest single malt.

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MUDDLING QUITE WELL IN THE MIDDLE

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

The 5th Annual Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition
By Francine Cohen

Kansas City on the radar again this week. Suddenly we’re noticing something magical happening in this Midwestern town from killer restaurants (www.insidefandb.com/2011/08/eat-here-now-kansas-city) to a burgeoning cocktail festival that, on August 21st, marks its fifth year; behold, the 5th Annual Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition.

Set in the heartland where cattle is as important as cocktails, a whole new drinks fest is on the rise. Though the name belies a single event, don’t be fooled. This is not just some one night wonder competition that’s here and gone. The 5th Annual Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition is a week-long celebration of a lovingly crafted drinks culture that keeps pace with the rest of the country.

Ryan Maybee, the bartender/restaurateur behind Manifesto (www.theriegerkc.com) and festival co-founder, shares a bit about his brainchild for his hometown that next year will bear the name Paris of the Plains Cocktail Fest in honor of the nickname bestowed upon Kansas City during the Jazz Age by journalist Edward Morrow. He notes, “We’re branding it next year to indicate that it’s a festival and not just a competition. We think it’s great for Kansas City and for the industry. This year the competition itself will happen Sunday, August 21st; it starts at 7:00 p.m. and goes until 10:00 and throughout the evening food will be served and we’ve got live music and burlesque. But the week of that event – starting the prior Monday – there are going to be cocktail parties and tastings going on all around town. It will actually culminate with the competition.”

The competition features 13 contestants from Kansas City, and nearby cities

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BE THE ACME BARTENDER

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

When mixing cocktails isn’t enough
By Michael Neff and Sean Kenyon
And Francine Cohen

Photo courtesy of Cherry Heering

This year at Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com) there was so much knowledge and fun flying around between the plethora of seminars on everything from ice programs, to rotovapped scotch (www.theglenlivet.com), brand ambassador roles, effective menu design and all the great parties (Thank you Charlotte Voisey and Miguel Calvo for taking us back to the 1940s with your William Grant Portfolio Shore Leave party www.grantusa.com)

Of course, when it comes to fun, it would be impossible to leave out the week’s big fundraiser, Pig & Punch, which was created by the Bon Vivants (www.bonvivants-sf.com) and raised $6,000 for Kingsley House (www.kingsleyhouse.org). The rain couldn’t dampen anyone’s joy about being there.

But one less than joyful refrain was heard again and again; overheard at the pool, in passing in the Hotel Monteleone’s lobby (www.hotelmonteleone.com), and late at night whispered in the doorway of the Alibi…word on the street was a plea for a return to bartending and all that that encompasses- in short a shift towards the mindset that service is king and elitism is out.

Two well spoken and seasoned bartenders made this the topic of their columns in the esteemed publications to which they regularly contribute. On the left side of the country, in Denver’s Westword.com Sean Kenyon opined about titles on business cards and what they really should represent. On the right, on Serious Eats.com Michael Neff had a few choice words to say about bartenders after being inspired by his daily interaction with the busy bartender at Acme (www.acmeoyster.com).

You can read all about it here:

Behind the Bar
Sean Kenyon knows how to pour out both drinks and advice. A third-generation bar man with 25 years behind the bar, he is a student of cocktail history, a United States Bartenders Guild-certified Spirits Professional and a BAR Ready graduate of the prestigious Beverage Alcohol Resource Program. You can often find him behind the bar at Euclid Hall (www.euclidhall.com) and here most weeks, where he’ll answer your questions.

I just returned from Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, the biggest cocktail party/bartending/spirits convention in the world. While looking through the stacks of business cards I collected, I found the following lofty titles for bartenders: Mixologist, Master Mixologist, Master Bartender (says who?), Cocktail Chef, Liquid Chef, Craft Cocktail Specialist, Cocktailian, Cocktail Artist…
All just fancier names for one job. Bartender.

My father — who, in fact, is a bartender — used to say,

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ROCKS STARS – TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2010 TOP 5

Friday, July 30th, 2010

By David Ransom

Photo courtesy of Tales of the Cocktail

Rules are made to be broken, and while Rocks Stars, originally conceived as a profile column focusing on “Movers and Shakers” in the sprits industry, will for all intents and purposes remain that way, from time to time I may just throw in some thoughts on experiences I have along the spirits trail that I find need some play.

To that effect, I would like to bang a few keys on the keyboard, updating you on this year’s 8th Annual Tales of the Cocktail conference held in New Orleans this past hot and steamy week, by bringing to light what I consider to be the week’s top five events:

Here we go, in no particular order, except the last one:

5. Wednesday evening’s Beefeater Welcome party. Held in the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center, This “welcome party” had it all: Alice in Wonderland characters floating through the room, trapeze artists floating through the air, and some beautiful cocktails with the “always classic” Beefeater gin, made by some of the world’s great bartenders, like Jamie Gordon and Audrey Saunders, while others, like Tony Abou-Ganim and Dale DeGroff roamed the room. A great way to kick into the week’s festivities.

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ROCKS STARS: PROFILES IN CUBAGE

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Charlotte Voisey
By David Ransom

Photo by Jennifer Mitchell

Charlotte Voisey doesn’t look back.  Ask her why, and she’ll tell you it has nothing to do with her ambitions.  It’s more of a physical thing. It causes her no pain (don’t worry, her neck is fine), and actually makes her laugh.

Laughter comes easily to Charlotte.  With her easygoing nature and hardworking spirit, she’s found a niche in the world of spirits that few get the opportunity to attain, and she’s making the most of it.  As Portfolio Ambassador and award winning “Company Mixologist” for William Grant & Sons, Charlotte is in charge of promotions for a number of brands, most visibly, Hendrick’s Gin, one of the leaders in the wave of new world gins that have taken the cocktail world by storm over the last few years, and to say that she is good at what she does, is an understatement. Charlotte is as equally at home shaking cocktails behind a bar or in competitions, as she is teaching in front of a crowd, and her enthusiasm draws you in.  “You’ll find I‘m not shy,” she says.  A few minutes in conversation with her, and you’ll realize just how right she is.

Raised in London, England, Charlotte hails from a family of strong minds; all of whom have chosen a different path to their success (her mother is a top graphic designer, and her sister is a physics professor at Cambridge), so it’s no surprise that Charlotte ended up at the top of her chosen profession.

After majoring in international hospitality in university, Charlotte cut her teeth behind the bar in some of the London’s up and coming establishments, eventually working her way up to the management level.  After a while, finding she loved the business, but also wanting to see the world a bit,

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