Sunday, 29 July 2007

Tales of the Cocktail - Absinthe in NOLA

Tales of the Cocktail hit New Orleans from July 18th to 22nd and seems to have hit some of the participants as powerfully as any hurricane!

Five days of sipping cocktails in seminars, catching up with old friends and making new ones, great food all followed by one or two bar visits: it sounds tough and very exciting. Try as I did, however, I couldn't justify flying there from London this year. But I have certainly been experiencing the whole event vicariously through the numerous blogs, press articles and forum threads about the event. And from a distance it is clear that absinthe played a major part in the festivities, or should I say "work load," of the participants.

First stop in my reading was the Wormwood Society: you have to be a registered member to read their accounts and see their pictures. Without giving away too many secrets, I can reveal that the highlights of the event for the dozen or so Wormwood Society members who attended were:-

1. Dinners and drinks together with great friends, many of whom were meeting each other for the first time. This gave many of them their first opportunity to sample Marteau, which will be launched later this year.

2. The Sunday 10:00 am absinthe seminar led by Ted Breaux and presented by the Maison d'Absinthe.

10:00 am Sunday? After a heavy Saturday night? Well, a drinks purist would probably say that provided those who attended had breakfast a couple of hours before the event, their taste buds would have been perfectly ready for Ted's creations, namely the Jade and Lucid absinthes.

3. Finding absinthe openly on sale in several of the bars in New Orleans.

Thanks for the photo, Larspeart!

4. For some, the opportunity to meet up with some of the team behind La Fée, although it is clear that several people were shocked to see that La Fée were offering all their absinthes (and not just the Bohemian) by burning the absinthe unless one insisted on drinking the right way. It seems they may not have studied the Wormwood Society guideline, or "mantra:"

which may explain why Hiram/Gwydion of the Wormwood Society does not seem to have met up with them!

5. And I wouldn't be a good blogger if I didn't also refer to the long discussion between Ted Breaux of Jade and George Rowley of La Fée, seen by several observers. Were they just discussing the New Orleans weather?!

Next up in my reading was the press, with several regional newspapers covering the Absinthe seminar. I also enjoyed the report in Zagat (where La Fée say that "Van Gogh .. was drinking loads of other alcohol, and smoking all kinds of weed," and the Washington Post coverage of the event including references to the presentations given by Dr. Cocktail, who talked about the "holy trinity" of lost spirits, including absinthe, and Drinkboy. I was privileged to meet them both in London in June for Bar Show 2006.

However most of the best coverage of TOTC 2007 is to be found in blogs with Kaiser Penguin having the best summary of the entire event. Absinthe is covered in detail by Cocktail Chronicles (who also covered the Wormwood Society dinner), The Art of the Drink, and Looka!

To sum up, I'm more than a little annoyed I didn't get to make it to NOLA for this event. To make things even worse, I understand that there are plans to have a separate absinthe event in New Orleans in the fall of 2008, meaning that there are two events that I should attend in NOLA next year. Well I can only hope that by then there are a few more bottles of La Clandestine in the USA. In 2007, I spotted just one among the photos of metodd1 (thanks!) from the Wormwood Society. I suspect that Dan (who appears to have made an impact with at least one lady in 2007) or whoever attends from La Fée will be much busier with their camera next year!

1 comment:

Double Dad Dare said...

Sounds like fun.

Honestly, I'm here more for a little bit more info on your note. Appreciated, by the way. But I'd been under the impression that most of the distilleries' new recipes didn't have the same flavor or quality that the original recipes did, that they became the absinthe equivalent of bathtub gin. What I'd read is that they had a rough, overpowering, taste compared to the smooth taste of the originals. If I've been misinformed, well, maybe I aught to track down one of clear bottles.