Tales of the Cocktail – Part 4

Although we didn’t fly out until Sunday afternoon, Saturday, July 21 was our last day of seminars at Tales of the Cocktail 2007 in New Orleans.

The first one we attended was called “Cocktails and the Blogosphere.” I could write at length about the presenters in this session, or I could take the easy way out and just link to their blogs so you can get to know them yourself – Paul Clarke, Chuck Taggert, Rick Stutz, and Darcy O’Neil. I found Mr. O’Neil to be the most interesting due to his unique combination of front-line bartending experience married with a formal education in chemistry.

The next session of the day was a very informative history lesson on Tiki drinks and culture called “Tiki Drinks from A to Zombie – Celebrating the Island Lifestyle.” When it comes to researching Tiki culture, session leader Jeff “Beachbum” Sippin Safari by Beachbum BerryBerry is about as un-laidback as possible. Fellow presenter and rum aficionado Wayne Curtis humorously described his Tiki tenacity when he said, “If you are an aging bartender who worked at Don the Beachcomber’s and are lying in a hospital, the last face you might see is Jeff Berry saying, ‘What was the secret ingredient in that drink?’”

In the session, Berry recounted the tale of Don the Beachcomber and the invention of the Tiki movement. There was some pretty fascinating stuff involving world travel, meticulous drink experimentation and cocktail espionage. I’m not going to ruin the stories for you by butchering and cramming them into this small space. I will, however, make a shameless plug for his new book, Sippin’ Safari, which contains the stories and is available right here at KegWorks.

Our final seminar of the day and the conference was focused on what many consider to be the world’s first flavored vodka, simply titled “Gin.” Juniper berries implemented in the distillation process give gin its pine flavor. I got to sample four distinctly different gins and left impressed with the knowledge of Simon Ford, session sponsor Plymouth Gin’s brand ambassador.

In the end, Tales of the Cocktail was about what I expected going in. I learned a lot about alcohol. I discovered an entire culture devoted to the art of mixing drinks. I met some extremely passionate people… passionate about cocktails. Yeah. That about sums it up. I need a beer.


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