Thursday, July 24, 2008

Champagne Punch in New Orleans


I just came back from Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, the Lollapalooza of serious bartending and spirits. I'm not sure how one captures everything that took place - the tastings, lectures,parties and general naughtiness - but here goes.

The opening night featured a reception by the Pernod Ricard brand Beefeater's Gin, one of the event's major. The party featured a super cool bar carved completely from ice. The list of cocktails on offer were embedded in the bar! I made my way up to the bar, and ran into Desmond Payne, the master distiller at Beefeater's He's been at it for 40 years, using a recipe for Beefeaters originally created by a pharmacist named Burroughs. He points out that of all the spirits, gin is the one that gets its flavors from the unique blend of botanicals created by the distiller.

Though the Burroughs punch looks pink and very innocent, it had a definite tart bite with a bittersweet finish. And punches seem to be getting fashionable again; Julie Reiner's new bar Clover Club in Brooklyn features cocktails served in bowls for a crowd.

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