Saturday, July 24, 2010

I tried Black Tot -- have you?

[Dayne here...]

It's not often that I get to try a $1200 bottle of rum.

Only an eyedropper-full, but still...

As a special treat at the end of the At Full Sail session, two bottles of Black Tot, the bottled remnant of the daily ration of the British Navy, were served to attendees. I don't have too may words other than WOW to describe it.


I'm starting to figure out how I can justify acquiring a bottle... (if Wendy is reading this...hey look over there, something shiny!)

(More information on the release is available from an article here: http://www.examiner.com/x-15885-Rum-Examiner~y2010m5d20-Black-Tot-rare-reserve-rum-to-debut-on-Black-Tot-Day)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Like tuna fish to a cat

Review of the Tales session "At Full Sail -- Spirits at Proof, Navy Strength and Overproof in History and Application"

[Dayne here...]

I've discovered that late nights, "early" mornings, spotty or non-existent Internet access, and high proof spirits don't make for rigorous note-taking or timely blogging. Any mistakes in the following review can be blamed directly on one or more of those conditions.

Wendy and I (and seemingly everyone) attended a seminar on high-proof spirits that we'd previewed on this blog a few weeks ago. The panel was moderated by Eric Seed and consisted of Audrey Saunders, Britt Chavannee, and Wayne Curtis.

I had to have a stern talk with my liver, who tried to flee for the exits when he saw the menu of gimlet (using Plymouth Navy Strength), Royal Million (with Lemon Hart 151), a single barrel cask strength bourbon, and a Newark (from Death & Co. I think???) with Laird's Bonded.

Wayne kicked things off with a Proof in History segment, where he talked about what proof is (ABV % times 2), who's historically cared (sailors and tax collectors), and then discussed the evolution of the daily tot in e British and other navies. Since water, beer, and wine would go bad in casks, rum was a stable potable liquid with which to appease sailors (Wayne didn't go into buggery or the lash, the other two staples of the British Navy. Wrong conference, perhaps.)

Other topics included the evolution of the hydrometer (Syke's supplanting Clarke's), the change from alcohol by weight to alcohol by volume, the Bottled in Bond Act in the States, and the gradual lessening of proof in even well-know spirits (e.g. Jack Daniels) in fairly recent years.

Britt talked about her family distillery business, from where such treasures as Red Hook rye have come. Sorry Britt, I don't have too many notes from your portion (Liver was revolting again and had to smack him down).

Audrey covered some of her early experiences with high-proof spirits (can you believe that only 5 or 6 years ago, Rittenhouse Bonded was basically unknown in NYC???) and the success with which Pegu Club incorporated Rittenhouse into their house Manhattan and Laird's into their Jack Rose). Audrey mentioned that the current American palette is definitely leaning towards "boozy and bitter" and, like tuna fish to a cat, there's no going back!

Eric discussed the 3-tier system of taxing and the high accumulative cost of taxes on high-proof alcohol. I'm sure he said more but the previous night was taking it's toll at that point.

Finally Wayne concluded with a little experiment that definitely did NOT violate any fire codes. Using a little black powder, he had one control (no alcohol), and 3 other tiny piles on which he dropped Pama, Plymouth Navy, and Lemon Hart 151. Disappointingly the Plymouth-soaked pile didn't ignite, but the control and the Lemon Hart were quite satisfying!

I'll post some pictures of the event in a separate post!

A single-sample measurement of the rotational period of the Carousel Bar at 29°57'15"N 90°4'3"W

Unadjusted for temperature, altitude, or ethanol content.





Monday, July 19, 2010

Questions Answered! The How's & Why's of Cocktails

I'm really excited about Tales of the Cocktail this week! Trying to find the time to attend all the seminars, tasting rooms, events and parties is a challenge but one I'm happy to tackle!

One of the seminars I'm really looking forward to is called The How's and Why's of Cocktails…an exploration of techniques, ingredients, and methodology. It's a seminar geared towards bartenders (which as you know I'm not) but it speaks to my "foodie" side which is how I got interested in cocktails in the first place. The same interesting layers of flavors that you create when you saute, roast and braise are what I find in those cocktails made by people who really know their craft.

And speaking of people who really know their craft the seminar features Harold McGee, Audrey Saunders and Tony Conigliaro!

Harold McGee may be best know for his book On Food And Cooking: The Science And Lore Of The Kitchen. A food scientist and writer he has been recognized for his studies and knowledge by the likes of the James Beard Foundation & International Association of Culinary Professionals. He writes a weekly column for the New York Times and articles for a slew of other culinary oriented magazines. His insights are going to be really interesting and I'm looking forward to his discussion.

Audrey Saunders is owner of New York's Pegu Club, an institution in classic cocktails and a pilgrimage for most who are serious about their libations.   Audrey's ability to craft cocktails is no secret, her drinks are replicated by the world's best (I just had "Audrey's Gin Gin Mule at the newly opened Prescription Lounge in Paris, France last week!). Her thirst for knowledge is contagious and her ability to teach is impressive. Any seminar with Audrey is going to be fun, informative, fun, well researched and fun!

Tony Conigliaro is owner of 69 Colebrooke Row, one of London's premier establishments for original hand crafted cocktails. He has been in the industry for years and is know for creating drinks that are inspired and executed scientifically. His libation the No5 Champagne Cocktail has received much attention for it's ability to mimic the perfume of the same name.

Regarding this particular seminar (the only one Conigliaro is giving as far as we know) Tony mentioned to us that he's looking forward to discussing new and interesting concepts that will be simple and very usable by bartenders to get better use of their products. He's excited to work with Audrey and Harold "because I always feel I learn something as well". I think we'll all be learning a lot this this Friday!

At the time I wrote this there were less than 20 tickets left, grab one if it's not soldout!