Tales of the Cocktail: Thursday, 7/17/14 – Day 3

After a long day yesterday, I decided that it would be better to pass on the Absolut Bloody Mary Bar Orleans Coffeein favor for coffee from Orleans Coffee Exchange. That was probably a good choice!

First Event: Class to Glass

This was the event that I was most looking forward to. I was extremely lucky to have purchased a ticket to this event as it was limited to around 12 people. We had a chance to talk about Chartreuse as a spirit and also the lore that surrounds the company.

Wine educational programs

Quite possibly the most accomplished person in the wine industry is a gentleman by the name of Doug Frost. He recommends 2 different programs to pursue, each with a different focus.

  • Court of Master Sommeliers– An examination body, not an educating body that focuses on testing one’s knowledge on the world of wine with a focus on the hospitality industry. There are 4 levels and each level must be passed in succession to move onto the next one. He stressed that it would be impossible to achieve the highest level of Master Sommelier if you are not working with wine in a restaurant setting.
  • Institute of Masters of Wine– Once again an examination body and not an educating body that focuses on the ability to blind taste, understand the production of wine and sales. While the Sommelier title is more focused on service, a Masters of wine has a much broader focus on the overall wine industry, the 30,000 foot view as he calls it.

The next person that spoke was Cicerone Anne Becerra. A Cicerone is someone who focuses on understanding the world of beer. Some of the material a candidate must know is the history of beer, service, different regional styles, identifying flaws in beers and food and beer pairings. Once again this is an examination body and not an educational system. A few resources that Anne recommended were Cicerone.org, Siebel Institute, and Micromatic

Steve Olson was one of the pioneers of BAR, or the beverage alcohol resource along with Doug Frost, Dale Degroff and a few other industry leaders. The BAR focuses on educating bartenders about spirits. You will learn everything from history to tasting notes on many different styles of alcohol. They offer online training for their entry level program BarSmartsWired and is a prerequisite for their BAR 5 day training and testing in New York.

Pamela Wizniter also outlined one last resource that focuses on the food element of hospitality. This is a traditional educational program offered as a Masters Degree in Food Studies from New York University. For those looking to continue their formal education, this sounds like an amazing option.

Second Event: Rare and Defining Spirits

I was very fortunate to be able to try some amazing products, normally well outside my price range. The one spirit company that impressed me with all of their products was Sipsmith located in London. The VJOP gin or Very Juniper Over Proof was an amazing juniper-driven gin that comes in at 57.7% alcohol. This gin is not for the faint of heart.

Even though it is higher in alcohol proof and triple macerated with juniper, the body, complexity and overall experience of the gin is elegant. Also keep an eye out for their Summer Cup, easily my favorite product I’ve tasted at Tales.

Last Stop of the Day: Discovery by Hennessy

Hennessy hosted an event that was part entertainment & part education. I was able to meet with one of the members of Hennessy’s Tasting Committee to taste four different cognacs of varying ages & styles. He talked about the affects of age, different woods and affect of the Angel’s share on the distillate.

Key points:

  • Used oak will allow the distillate to express more floral qualities
  • New oak gives the distillate tannins and structure.
  • Angels Share, or the amount of alcohol or water that is lost through evaporation during barrel aging helps to concentrate the flavors of the alcohol and develops into a very rich and powerful expression of the distillate
  • Most Cognacs are blends of many different ages of distillates, and different varietals of grapes. They are blended together like ingredients when cooking to increase complexity, mouth feel, and overall identity to the spirit.

Midnight Toast with the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG)

Every year the USBG hosts the midnight toast in front of the Old Absinthe House and this is a great opportunity to connect with fellow members of the USBG from all over the country.

We’ve barely survived Day 3, but with some coffee and maybe a Bloody Mary tomorrow, we’ll be covering Day 4 of Tales of the Cocktail. I’m looking forward to Camper English’s talk on “A Better Understanding of Bitter Flavors.”

Drink Tally:

Note: Most drinks are tastings or small pours – don’t try this at home!

Chris: 21

Julia: 11

Schwag Giveaway:

We are getting some amazing swag from Tales & want to share!

Here’s what you can win:

  • Everything we got Yesterday
  • Two Angostura Rum Flasks (empty, sorry 🙂
  • White Luxardo Sunglasses
  • Pyrat Rum Keychain
  • Three Fernet Keychain Bottle Openers & 2 Fernet Golf Pencils
  • Plastic Pernod rocks glass
  • Crabbie’s Magnetic Bottle Opener
  • Beefeater London Hardbound Notebook
  • Beefeater Gin USB Thumb Drive (unknown size)

Win it all!

Comment on Posts in the “Tales of the Cocktail 2014” series to enter!

(Day 1Day 2 & Day 4)

You can comment once per post and each is a new entry – we’ll pick someone randomly on Monday, July 21st August 4th! (Extended!) We’ll announce the winner here and mail them all the swag!

Congratulations to Sharon!

You won the drawing – we’ll email you to send you the schwag!

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.