Kirsten Amann is everywhere. If you haven’t met, you may have seen her around town, or at least the aqua-blue Fernet Branca car she drives while working tirelessly as a brand ambassador. She has vast experience in the restaurant and PR industries, and, luckily for me is a terrific writer, her pieces appearing in the Weekly Dig, Daily Candy and a new cocktail book. As if all this wasn’t qualification enough, she also spearheads the United States Bartenders’ Guild Boston (USBG) and is one of the founding members of the Boston chapter of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC). What is she doing helping me out with some details from Tales of the Cocktail? I don’t know, but I’m smart enough to take it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Kirsten “Kitty” Amann.
Tales of the Horse Drawn Buggy
by Kirsten Amann
It’s hard to explain exactly what happens at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Over 20,000 cocktail nerds, enthusiasts, bartenders and liquor promoters descend upon the Crescent City for five straight days of seminars, parties, and revelry, all in homage to that great American invention, the cocktail. People with normal jobs often balk or think I’m joking when I say that I’m going to a cocktail conference. “Hey now,” I usually say, “This is the most important industry event I’ll attend all year!” Then I try not to rub it in because a cocktail conference sure beats a dentistry or accounting convention. Just sayin’.
One must approach such serious industry functions with poise and professionalism. Here are some tactics I employed this summer at Tales of the Cocktail:
1. Designate a handler. This will be the fourth summer in a row that I’ve traveled with a gaggle of girls from LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) Boston to Tales and I’ll tell you what: we broads are a handful. In an effort to ensure that we don't end up face down in a gutter on Bourbon Street, we always appoint a handler, typically a gentleman designated to step in if a creepy guy gets too close, carry our bags if they get too heavy, and help us across the tricky cobblestones of New Orleans when our platforms feel too tippy. We consider it an honor to be considered for such a prestigious and challenging position. Candidates typically puff up their chests at the heroics of the job, and often do quite a good job in the early hours of their working interview. Unfortunately, they usually underestimate our collective tolerance and end up drunk/drooling on themselves in a corner of the bar as we race for last call at the Old Absinthe House.
But this year’s handler was a dream come true. Fellow Bostonian Troy Clarke, who was in town to launch Twelve Twenty Four, his new line of absolutely amazing bartender bags, stepped up. He took to the job like a fish to water. His secret? The man has three little children at home. And drunk people are very, very similar to unruly toddlers. Troy Clarke, for reminding us to eat, reminding us to use inside voices without being rude, and putting us down for a disco nap when we were overtired and cranky, LUPEC salutes you.
2. Get out of the Quarter. New Orleans is an amazing city with so much to offer! Getting out of the French Quarter is a must. Preferably by hailing a mule-drawn buggy and asking the driver to take you to the Roosevelt Hotel, where your pal Will from Drink is staying. You just made your way there with the best ass in town.
Upon arrival at the Roosevelt, proceed directly to the rooftop bar, where you can order a Sazerac made from the same famous recipe they use at the recently reopened Sazerac Bar downstairs. Then sip your cocktail languidly at the covered rooftop bar as you wait for that summer rain squall to pass. And if Will from Drink happens to have a bottle of St. George Absinthe in his bag, don’t hesitate to order a bottle of bubbles and allow him to mix you up a Death in the Afternoon poolside. Even if he is wearing Ferragamo loafers and black socks with his swimsuit.
3. Do some mixology. Tales offers classes on everything under the sun from the science of shaking to molecular mixology to the history of cocktails and the Panama Canal. What better way to make the most of the conference than by applying those skills hand on? Preferably poolside with some of your favorite Boston bartenders. Because you totally travelled thousands of miles to New Orleans so you could hang out with the same clowns you see on the reg in Boston.
Many brands throw pool parties at Tales with lavish cocktails, sexy promo girls, and raucous fun. None could hold a candle to our impromptu BLL pool party at the Monteleone Hotel’s rooftop pool. By BLL we mean Bud Light Lime. A few quick text messages was all it took to assemble some of Beantown’s finest bartenders – Sam Treadway from Back Bar, Tyler Wang from No.9 Park, Adam Lantheaume of the Boston Shaker, Joy Richard of the Citizen & LUPEC, Sean Frederick of the Citizen, John Henderson and Rob of Scholars – for some Bud Light Lime mixology. There was no St-Germain to be found, making our favorite BLL cocktail, the Imperial Royale, impossible. But Lucas Bols rep Stefanie Melchert was able to step in and supply Bols Genever for a new delicious concoction, the Dutch Royale. A little Fernet turned them into Milan Royales. Boom, cocktail! As you can see by this picture, we didn't have any fun at the BLL pool party.
Professionalism, decorum, and poise. That’s what the Tales of the Cocktail conference is all about.
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