Tag Archives: Funny

The cost of creation

I recently watched the video above (courtesy of Liquor.com) and it got me thinking about a few things, in particular, the cost factor of going out and doing what I do.

All the restaurants and bars that my boyfriend and I visit produce some of the finest food and drinks you can get, this doesn’t always mean the menu is expensive, but often times it can be.

Many of my friends and family don’t quite understand the point of spending a huge portion of our paychecks on food and alcohol, but people often forget that it’s the overall experience you’re paying for not just the products. I may be fussy and certainly not rich, but I honestly have no problem spending my money on a good restaurant/bar. If I enjoy the atmosphere of a place, the friendliness of the service and the quality of what i’m putting in my mouth..I will happily spend a small fortune in one night!

I have recently heard many more people complaining about the ridiculous cost of cocktails at Mixology bars. Many customers think it’s a ‘rip off’ that a drink can cost anything from $12 to $20, and they always want the bartender to ‘hook them up’ by giving drinks away for free or adding extra alcohol, but as the video explains there is so much more to a quality drink than just mixing. Not to mention, adding ‘more alcohol’ often upsets the ratio and balance so the customer probably wouldn’t enjoy the end result anyway.

If you are the kind of person who would rather have a cheap vodka soda or a bottled beer that’s fine too, ¬†just understand that a Mixology bar is not the place to get it!

“Mixology bars are like fine dining for drinks”

Having worked behind a bar myself, I have first hand experience of the horror of hand juicing boxes of limes only to yield a little over a quart of juice. You’d think managers would just buy their staff a juicer…this isn’t always the case.

My boyfriend is a Beverage Director so I witness daily, the time and effort that goes in to creating a new menu, inventing tinctures and working on infusions/barrel aged cocktails. This is also a factor to think about. The recipes on menus at these places aren’t thrown together in a blind frenzy, a substantial amount of time and money will have been spent on testing brands, factoring cost of products and experimenting with different recipes and ratios. At the end of the day, all the customer gets is a delicious drink in front of them but often doesn’t know the effort and preparation that went in to it’s creation.

The economy is bad, yes, but if you’re going to go to a nice place…understand what it is you’re paying for, and thank your lucky stars you’re not in Europe where the price is (no joke) double!

That’s all I have to say about that ūüôā

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My Tale of Tales 2012

I can’t quite believe that it’s already been nearly two weeks since I returned from the sticky summer heat of New Orleans!…So much for blogging as I went along!?

I could use the excuse that there was just no time to blog, but lets be honest, I was more often than not far too intoxicated busy to document correctly!  What can I say though, this was the 10 year anniversary of Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC)!

Many of my blogging companions have long since posted there highlights from the trip, but one of the reasons I have taken so long to write this post is because I am almost overwhelmed with where to begin. ¬†There were many more parties, tastings and seminars than I have space to cover here so I am going to give a very brief break down of the events that interested, excited or inspired myself and my darling mixologist boyfriend FutureGreg (FG) in particular. This isn’t to say that there weren’t many more during the week that were great, these are just the ones that stood out and made it to MY tale of Tales.

Lets begin at the beginning…

On the shuttle from Louis Armstrong airport to our hotel in French Quarter we found ourselves stuck in a fair bit of traffic due to the arrival of President Obama,¬†who was visiting for the day. Ok, so this isn’t really all that relevant to TOTC, but come on, what a cool start to have the President wave at some of the World’s best bartenders!

An Absolut Welcome

Event: Absolut Welcome Party       Location: Contemporary Arts Center

First stop was the Absolut Welcome party. ¬†For those of you who read my posts regularly, you might recall I reported on the Absolut Stuga event last month for Tasting Panel Magazine. ¬†In that piece I noted how Absolut had managed to bring Sweden to Hollywood with the placement of small swedish cottages and snowy white trees around the room…fast forward to Wednesday night and I found myself again standing in Sweden, only this time I was in New Orleans.

The Absolut team had done a great job transforming the Contemporary Art Museum in to a Swedish landscape, complete with falling snow. I must mention, the snow was a beautiful touch but proved to be extremely impractical. I think I must have choked on at least 12 bubbly flakes blowing in the air and had many more land in my drinks, which was somewhat annoying and impossible to avoid.

Takafumi Yamada pours the Absolut

The event itself was nicely done though.  Blue lights made the room appear cold and wintery, which was a pleasant change from the humidity outside.  There were drink stations set up representing different areas of the World too. My favorites were Absolut Japan and Absolut Italia.

Hidetsugu Ueno had created the Absolut Diamond Tea drink that used local Japanese Honey and Japanese Tea a long with regular Absolut vodka.  The tea was a prominent flavor, but the drink itself was balanced and had a nice sweetness to it from the honey.  It was served over an ice ball that was skillfully carved in front of us using a Japanese ceramic knife.

Over at Absolut Italia I enjoyed a very¬†different¬†kind of drink, the Coppa Di Fiori. ¬†This was made with Absolut Citron, Cynar, Lemon juice, Mint, Simple syrup and Tonic water. It was certainly bitter, but still very enjoyable….even for my sweet tooth!

Later in the evening Simon Ford, Gary Reagan, Nick Strangeway and Lynnette Marrero¬†performed the song ‘Take a chance” by ABBA which was both hilarious and slightly disturbing! haha

   

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOTC

Event: William Grant & Sons     Location: New Orleans Museum of Art

Buses courtesy of TOTC shuttled us off to the 10 year Birthday Bash put on by William Grant & Sons.  On the ride we indulged in Hendricks flavored ice creams before arriving at an even grander Art Museum with giant candles lining the drive.

There was so much to see at this party I can only touch on a few of my favorite areas.  The Hendricks Gin spectacle was very peculiar, the bartenders would make drinks at the top of the roof and pour them down to the glasses below.

Inside there were¬†delicious¬†appetizers, desserts and drink selections provided by Glenfiddich and Belvenie. ¬†Outside there was a ‘Slap and tickle village’ (which had bartenders shaking drinks whilst jumping on trampolines), a giant birthday card to sign and burlesque dancers.

There were photo booths, clowns, a fireworks display and plenty of cocktails to be had in amongst the artwork. As fellow blogger Dave Stolte pointed out…

“A Henry Moore statue can also double as an impromptu drinks stand in New Orleans!”

Japanese Whisky, fill me up!

Seminar: Non-Stop to Kyoto     Presented by: Neyah White & Gardner Dunn

The seminar that really stood out to myself and FG on this trip was ‘Non-Stop to Kyoto’ which was put together by Neyah White and Gardner Dunn. ¬†This was a really relaxing experience and a great escape from the craziness of Tales.

The room had been transformed in to a little Japanese hut, with a great selection of some of the best Japanese Whiskies available, ranging from Hibiki 30 year to 1984 Yamazaki Single Malt. We each sat down at our own little table and were given a blending kit with a selection of whiskies in test tubes. Neyah explained that there was no right or wrong way to put together our own drink, it was simply a teaching aid to help understand how master blenders come up with combinations.  I actually really enjoyed my creation, it was a little smoky, a little sweetness and not too hot.

I tried the Yamizaki 1984 and really liked it, it was very smooth with no dramatic heat despite being 96 proof. ¬†It had a slight cinnamon nose which I am told could come from the Japanese Oak it’s aged in. It is named after the year 1984 which was the first time they felt their product was good enough to serve as a single malt, before that date Suntory had only ever produced blended whisky.

Small bites, which included a¬†delicious¬†‘Scrambled egg on vanilla brioche with bacon caramel’, ‘Banana Mochi’ and ‘Spicy caramel popcorn’ was provided by World famous Chef¬†Michael Mina,¬†as you can imagine the dishes were incredible and I wish there had been more. ¬†The spicy sweet popcorn brought out interesting flavors in the whisky too.

Ooh how that pig packs a punch!

Event: Bon Vivants Pig & Punch    Location: Washington Sq Park

The Pig and Punch party had us drinking a variety of creations out of trash cans, yes you heard correctly, trash cans.  Obviously they were clean and filled to the brim with alcohol and fruits, but it was quite an experience to say the least. The highlight of the event was when 4 men carried the cooked beast in and placed it on a fire pit while a classic New Orleans brass band played bouncy songs as if it were a Jazz funeral.

There was plenty of food on offer.  I had sausages with Templeton rye that were awesome and some incredible sorbets and gelatos created by Luxardo and La Divina Gelateria. My favorite flavor was the peach amaretto sorbet, which was like eating liquid marzipan. Just delicious!

Crawl to the Brawl

Event: Bar Room Brawl   Location: Generations Hall

I have to say, this was a little bit of a cluster f!@k to get in to. ¬†There were long lines and too many people on the guest lists, but once inside it was well worth the wait. ¬†For those who don’t know, the idea behind Bar room brawl is to find the best bar in the US, voted in by the industry.

This year saw no Los Angeles bars nominated so FG and I decided to cheer for The Passenger/Columbia Room of DC. ¬†My review of Washington DC is coming soon, but even if we’d never been or met the incredibly talented¬†Derek Brown we still LOVED all the drinks that this bar produced that night.

Beretta from San Francisco won the title of best bar, and Bar Manager Ryan Fitzgerald collected the trophy.

We weren’t by any means disappointed with this win, it was nice to have a Californian bar take the title even if it wasn’t LA.¬†Having been to¬†Beretta¬†ourselves just this past January, I can attest to the fact that the restaurant and bar program there is truly fantastic.

It was at Beretta that I finally found out I liked brussel sprouts (after Ryan forced me to try them)…it was one of the first times I had been convinced to try something ugly and green! That particular experience was one of the reasons I started the FussyOne blog a month later, to be able to tell others like myself, “it’s ok to try scary green vegetables!”

Tastings

There were several tasting rooms and vans that popped up during the week, below are just a few of the drinks and products I enjoyed the most.

Giovanni Martinez¬†representing Chivas Regal gave me a cocktail named ‘The Green Room’¬†which had Carpano Antica Formulae, Clear Creek Pear¬†Liqueur, Miracle Mile Toasted Pecan Bitters, and Chivas 12 yr. ¬†The entire cocktail was aged in glass with oak staves that had originally stored barley wine. The drink itself was served straight up and was really strong, but full of interesting flavors.

  

Ben Davidson, The National Spirits Ambassador for Pernod Ricard Australia had prepared two other cocktails that included Chivas and were barrel-aged. These were also very strong, and tasty.  I find that the new craze of barrel-aging cocktails is a great one, it gives complexity to certain drinks and softens other. I look forward to seeing more barrel-aged cocktails coming to bars in Los Angeles soon.

I tasted the White Montanya Rum for the first time and was pretty impressed by the product as a whole. ¬†It had a slight nuttiness to it and wasn’t at all harsh like most white rums. ¬†I am generally a dark rum drinker but the rep. explained that they age this rum in oak then filter it through coconut husk charcoal so it retains the flavor, but removes the color. ¬†Nice little product.

Nick Strangeway introduced us to his new Absolut Craft line at the Flavor Innovation Workshop, which was held at the creepy historical Pharmacy Museum. ¬†He gave a really interesting talk on how he came up with and created the three new flavors he’s produced with the Absolut vodka brand. ¬†The three flavors he’s created are Smokey Tea, Herbaceous Lemon and Bitter Cherry.¬†

The Herbaceous Lemon was very interesting, because although it had a strong citric flavor Nick explained it had no actual lemon or citrus in it. He wanted to create a citrus vodka with no citrus, just using citrus flavored herbs.  He certainly achieved this because it tasted like fresh lemon zest was incorporated, but instead he had chosen to use Lemon Mertyl, Lemongrass and Lemon Thyme to create the strong lemon flavor.  It was very original and an interesting concept.

The Bitter Cherry, was indeed bitter and not really my favorite but The Smokey Tea was a really fantastic product.  It had a really nice smokiness to it which we later enjoyed in a pineapple-tini style drink that was probably one of the best drinks we had the entire trip!

All good things must come to an end…

Like I said at the start, this post can only touch on a few of my favorite parts of the trip.  Juniperlooza, The Rum & Reggae pool party, The Macallan Ice Ball plunge and The Pink Pigeon Spirited dinner were all noteworthy events also, but I could go on and on so I have to stop somewhere.

Below I have thrown in a bunch of photos that can touch on the¬†mayhem that I simply don’t have room to write about…

                         

Please note, there were a number of Bars and Restaurants that FG and I visited separate from the Tales debauchery, including Commanders Palace, Cure, Arnauds and The Carousel Bar.  I will be writing a separate post about these soon so be sure to look out for that in coming weeks.

There’s really nothing left to say now, except…

Here’s to another 10 years of Tales! ūüėÄ

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Did you have to go to college for this?

I hate to do this to all my lovely bartender and “Mixologist” friends but this video is pure genius! Check it out and have a good laugh. ūüėÄ

La Descarga (where it was filmed) is one of my all time favorite bars too, so not sure what that says about me! haha… In all seriousness, keep up the good work guys. Some of us love going to Mixology bars and life wouldn’t be the same without you.

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Rookie moves to avoid at Tales!

In 2011 my boyfriend FutureGreg and I went to Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) in New Orleans, Louisiana. We had heard about it, read about it and finally decided to see it for ourselves.

This has to be the best cocktail convention in the World.  Thousands of the most influential and talented members of the cocktail community from all across the globe meet in the sticky heat of New Orleans and spend 5 days experiencing Tastings, Seminars, Parties and Competitions.

Having never been before we really didn’t know what to expect, so we jumped in head first. ¬†By the time we came up for air it was Sunday and we were leaving in a taxi to the airport, looking at a sign (below) and wondering ‘What the hell just happened?!’

Tales happened.

Our good friend Giovanni Martinez arrived a day after we did, took one look at my drunk boyfriend and said: “Oh my God, you guys are screwed.”

I proceeded to ask him “Why?”, to which he explained how getting drunk that early was a “Rookie move we would regret”

And so began my list of things to avoid. ¬†This year is the 10 year anniversary of TOTC and there will be even more people heading out to¬†Louisiana¬†and many more newbies. ¬†Here is the best I can think of to prepare for the trip. I suggest you heed my warning if you want to enjoy your time…

(All the photos in this post were taken from our trip to Tales of the Cocktail 2011)

Rookie move: Drink everything you see

Solution: Never finish the drink your holding!

This is a big one, you’re going to be tasting some of the best spirits and cocktail/mixed drinks in the World. If you finished every drink offered, you would die. ¬†I’m serious.

The number of full glasses I had to put down was so upsetting but a friend reminded me that I was supposed to be tasting the drinks also, so think of it as similar to a wine tasting. Obviously you can drink some of your favorites, but pace yourself. ¬† On our first visit we were wasted by 2pm on day one and struggled to get through the week…this year we know better.

Rookie Move: Play all day, Dance all night

Solution: Get some sleep, if only for an hour.

The events on offer are immense and run from 9am to 2am daily with a variety of after parties, after after parties and 5am meet ups at Absinthe house!¬†You will often find yourself thinking ‘When the hell can I go to bed?!’ However take in to account that a lot of the events (especially tastings and seminars) are repeated throughout the week. ¬†Listen to your body, when you feel you need to crash, do it.

Rookie Move: Who needs water, give me Gin.

Solution: Drink NON-Alcoholic drinks too

It is hot as hell in New Orleans during July so make sure you have a bottle of water or pedialyte close by to keep you refreshed. Coconut water was the beverage of choice last year.

All the alcohol will dehydrate you, add that to the sticky heat and it creates a pretty dangerous environment for your body if you don’t take it seriously. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!

Rookie Move:¬†“It’s weird how i’m not hungry”

Solution: For Gods sake, eat something!

I don’t remember much of Tales 2011, and even less about the food. ¬†Some events will have snacks to nibble on but these aren’t exactly a meal so¬†don’t¬†rely on them alone. ¬†There are some great restaurants and places to grab a¬†Po-boy or grits in New Orleans so make an effort to head there.

The beignets at Cafe Du Monde are a definite must. We ate them daily! People always say ‘Don’t drink on an empty stomach’ so as you’ll be constantly drinking it makes sense that you should make time to go eat something decent.

Rookie Move: 3am and your missing. Again.

Before we lost Dane… ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†After we found him…

   

Solution: Charge your phone & Keep it close

I can’t tell you how many times we lost people who stumbled off, particularly our friend Dane (pictured above). ¬†You may not be back in your hotel room very often, but try if you can to charge your phone between outings. ¬†Yes the French Quarter is pretty safe, but this is still a big city and has big city dangers.

You will meet lots of new people, exchange plenty of business cards but it’s always safe to be able to contact your friends (or the police!) so keep your phone charged and easily¬†accessible. Having a means of contact will also mean you can find out about the next secret party location…there are several!

Rookie Move: Do something crazy!

Solution:¬†What happens in Tales…¬†Goes on¬†Facebook!

This isn’t Vegas, there are no ‘codes of conduct’ or rules of what can and cannot be written about. ¬†If you talk to a blogger/journalist be sure to say the words ‘Off the record’ when divulging company secrets!

If I learnt anything about last year it’s that the photos taken (however terrible) end up on all the public forums. Bloggers, friends and work¬†colleagues¬†will happily tweet about your projectile vomit episode or instagram a snap of you with way too little clothing on, so be prepared for that to happen.

And if you’re the person taking the photos, try not to put the worst ones up…some of these men have wives back home!!! In all seriousness think before you do something you might regret and if you’re too drunk to think? Well, screw it. Don’t be mad at the person who found your¬†behavior¬†funny enough to post.

Tales 2012 runs from 24th July to 29th July this year. FutureGreg and I will be there again, hopefully no longer making these classic rookie moves.

Just so you know, this year there are many great Los Angeles bars, bartenders and writers up for nomination. The LA bars nominated are Harvard & Stone, La Descarga, The Varnish and Spare Room. It’s a really great time to represent LA and I wish everyone the best of luck in their category. ¬†For those of you coming with us, see you in NOLA!

For more information on seminars, tickets etc head to their website www.TalesoftheCocktail.com.  I will be blogging and tweeting throughout the week so be sure to follow me on twitter @TheFussyOne1, on Instagram TheFussyOne and my boyfriend too @FutureGreg

See you in New Orleans…

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Drinks fit for a Queen!

umm…No. Not that¬†Queen.

That’s Better… I give you, Queen Elizabeth¬†II

This week-end the Brits, Aussies and Canadians, (and many others) will be celebrating the Queens Diamond Jubilee. ¬†Several people (mainly my American friends) have asked me in the last few days what this actually means…so for those who don’t know, let me enlighten you.

On June 2nd 2012 it will be 6o years (yes, you heard correctly…60 years!!!) since Queen Elizabeth II took over the throne. ¬†This is a huge accomplishment and quite a rare feat, her reign is actually the¬†second-longest for a British monarch; only¬†Queen Victoria¬†has reigned longer (so far). ¬†Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne at age 25 after the death of her father, King George VI and was crowned as Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Other Realms and Territories on June 2, 1953 in the first televised Coronation service.

Sticking to my websites theme of Mixology and recipe history, I¬†thought it would be a nice idea to put up some drink ideas to mark this momentous occasion. ¬†There are many parties that will be going on throughout¬†the¬†World this week-end, and I know my family and¬†friends¬†in the UK will be relying on me to give some drink suggestions…so here we go.

Photo Credit: spiritedentertaining.com

Diamond Fizz

  • 2 oz London Dry Gin
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Powdered sugar
  • Fill with Chilled Champagne

Shake and strain ingredients in to a highball glass with ice, then fill with Champagne.

This drink works for two reasons, it has the perfect name to match the Diamond Jubilee year and it has champagne in it, which is the classic celebration tipple of choice!

Also known as a Champagne Fizz, this drink is similar to the classic Gin Fizz although it uses Champagne rather than soda water.  It follows the fizz characteristic of being served over ice, which is unusual for a champagne beverage.

The first printed reference to a fizz (spelled “fiz”) is in the 1887 edition of¬†Jerry Thomas’¬†Bartender’s Guide, which contains six fizz recipes including the Ramos Gin Fizz (A great Ramos Gin Punch Recipe can be found by clicking here.) The above recipe makes for a nice and refreshing celebratory drink.

The Coronation Cocktail

  • 3/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 oz applejack or apple brandy
  • dash of apricot brandy

Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

There couldn’t be a more fitting drink name for this occasion than The Coronation Cocktail. ¬†There are a few variations out there with the same name, however this is the one I found to be the most ‘Classic’ in it’s history as it comes from The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book by A.S. Crockett published in 1935.¬†¬†

It is a¬†vermouth¬†drink from the old days of bartending and really simple to make. It¬†won’t appeal to everyone, but for those who like a strong ‘stiff upper lip’ kind of drink, this is the one to choose. ¬†It does have some sweetness from the apple brandy and a friend¬†mentioned¬†that a dash of peach bitters works well in it also.

Photo Credit: Telegraph

Jubilee Punch

  • 35ml Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • 25ml home-made grapefruit-orange sherbet (see below)
  • 15ml fresh lemon juice
  • 10ml Orgeat syrup
  • 30ml Earl Grey tea
  • Champagne to top up

Combine the ingredients and shake over ice, top up with champagne.

The grapefruit-orange sherbet is made by mixing 200g sugar, 100ml pink grapefruit juice, the zest of an orange and a grapefruit, then simmering until the sugar is dissolved. Double strain and allow to cool completely.

Please note: This recipe provides the British measurement of ml, if you wish to have the recipe in US oz feel free to message me and I will give you the alternative.

This is clearly a complicated recipe to create at home but I wanted to include it because it’s creator is Erik Lorincz, head barman at America Bar at The Savoy Hotel in London.

When I was last back home in the UK, my boyfriend and I went to America Bar and had a wonderful experience. The drinks were balanced, the staff were knowledgable and the place itself was simply, beautiful. ¬†The bartenders all wear suits there, the glassware is made of crystal and the overall feel of the place is classic, formal and elegant. I read that it was at The Savoy Hotel that Princess Elizabeth (before she was Queen), was first seen in public with Prince Philip in 1946. That summer, Prince Philip asked King George VI‚Äôs permission to marry his daughter. They married later that year… ¬†isn’t history interesting!?

Photo Credit: Beefeater Gin

Beefeater Garden Party Punch

  • 3 parts Beefeater London Dry Gin
  • 3 parts sparkling English wine
  • 2 parts good quality pressed pear or apple juice
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1 part elderflower cordial
  • 1/2 part sugar syrup
Garnish: Pear and apple slices.
 
Serve in a punch bowl over a large ice block

This last recipe is one I came across when googling the term ‘Jubilee drink ideas’. ¬†I found out that Beefeater Gin has teamed up with mixologists Nick Strangeway and Dre Masso to create cocktails and punches to celebrate the Queen and her jubilee milestone.

This recipe looks the best to me and although I have not yet tried it, I think it sounds tasty and is the one I plan to make this coming week-end.  I love Elderflower in any drink with apple, so I think this recipe will have a very fresh and floral quality that is reminiscent of England.  Yet another drink ideal for the occasion and a punch is always a great option for large parties.

To all my fellow Brits who plan to celebrate this week-end, to my Fussy One followers and to everyone who plans to try one of the above cocktails… Enjoy, Be safe, ¬†and as we say in England… Bottoms Up! ūüôā

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