Top Five Favorite Drinks at Tales of the Cocktail
Hi there, yet again this week! This is my second and final post on this year’s Tales of the Cocktail (Tales, from hereon). This Tales was fun but also bittersweet for me. Since Jeremy and I are starting to travel full time in early June 2016, this Tales was my last one for the foreseeable future. Such is life, and I’m not sad about it because I’ve “done Tales” in ways that few others have. I’m grateful for the experiences.
Today I bring you my favorite type of Tales-related post because it concerns my favorite beverages of the week. Admittedly, this year I didn’t try as many drinks as I did in years past, but I still had quite a few. My regular and normal tastes are well-represented here, mainly because that’s most of what I drank during the week. Though I didn’t take full advantage of what Tales had to offer, I still had a great time and drank to my heart’s content. All in all, a total win!
These beverages are presented in no particular order, by the way. All were loved rather equally!
Hendrick’s Gin Punch
On both Thursday and Friday, The GREAT British Tasting Room took place in the Evangeline Rooms at the Royal Sonesta. Three of my favorite drinks come from this room because this was right up my alley. On the first day, I found the two Hendrick’s drinks included on this list. The other drink, to be revealed later, was the product of my second visit. On Friday, I returned for better photographs of my first day’s delights, only to find another tasty beverage waiting for me when I did so. Again, more on that later. The focus of this paragraph (really!) is a strawberry and lavender punch made with Hendrick’s gin. I loved this tasty brew. It’s no secret that gin is my favorite spirit so it makes sense that this punch would appeal to me so much. It was mildly sweet, light, floral, and incorporated the flavor of the gin so very nicely. Hendrick’s is such a lovely gin. It’s mild and tasty and mixes well with more delicate flavors like strawberry and lavender.
Made with Martini brand Prosecco, this simple Bellini was both satisfying and refreshing. Plus it had the honor of being served at the coolest Tales tasting room I’d ever seen: the Angela King Gallery on Royal Street was transformed into a chic Martini brand-themed bar replete with fresh flowers, small tables, and free-flowing Martini products. The Bellini is a classic drink made simply from Prosecco and peach puree. In this case, it was white peach puree, and it was, indeed, totally delicious. This was my first drink of the day on Friday, and that’s quite appropriate, all things considered. Bubbles and fruit always rank high on my list of favorites, and this Martini Bellini was on point, for sure.
Hendrick’s Gin & Tonic
Okay, I know some of you are literally rolling your eyes right now. Really? A gin and tonic? Ugh, predictable! (Okay, so maybe I’m projecting a little here, LOL). But YES, A GIN AND TONIC! The key here is that it’s not just any old gin and not just some run-of-the-mill tonic. Again, the brand that shone like a beacon of light was Hendrick’s gin. And the tonic was Fever Tree’s Elderflower tonic. Also: that cute cucumber garnish? Perfect. It soaked up little of the G&T and made for a tasty treat. All told, this was the most delicate, delightful, and floral gin and tonic I’ve ever had. I could have happily sipped this all day. Classic cocktails are such for a reason: they’re time tested, tasty, and reliable. Put an interesting twist like an Elderflower tonic, and I’m sold! Easy!
Monkey Shoulder’s Boulevardier
While whiskey (and yes, whisky, too) aren’t really my favorite spirits, I can appreciate them. Especially when it’s well-hidden behind Campari, as was the case with this drink. The Boulevardier is a cousin of the Negroni, whereby bourbon is typically substituted for the gin, though Monkey Shoulder was clever and used their blended malt scotch whiskey instead. The bourbon (or malt scotch whiskey, in this case) is supposed to be a half-ounce heavier pour than the standard 1:1:1 ratio that applies to the gin, vermouth, and Campari in a Negroni, but this particular cocktail was all Campari in flavor. AND I LOOOOOVVVEEEEE Campari so I didn’t mind this drink one bit. In fact, I loved it. It felt like I was drinking a glass of Campari on the rocks, and I was enamored with it. I drank that whole tall glass because I really just can’t get enough of that bitter, yet sweet, flavor of Campari. So maybe I didn’t like this drink for the reason its creators intended, but I still liked it, and that’s a mark in the WIN column, for sure. (Also, in case you’re keeping score, this was the third drink from the GREAT British Tasting Room.)
Jägermeister’s Leaving the Quarter
If a record were playing as you read that, it would have just scratched to a stop like you hear in the movies (something like this) because yes, I did just mention Jägermeister in this write up. Before you get all “I hate Jägermeister,” hear me out, please. This cocktail is composed of Jäger, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, fresh strawberries, and my choice of herb, which was sweet basil (sage and mint were also options). This drink was deftly designed and executed by Andy Seymour, a 20 year veteran of the bartending trade. I tried it, along with three other well-crafter Jäger cocktails, at a media luncheon at Purloo, the restaurant inside the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. This cocktail was quite harmonious and played well into all the flavor complexities of Jäger. The dominant anise flavor of the Jäger was balanced by the sour of the lemon juice and tempered by the sweetness of the strawberry. The anise favor of the basil complemented what was already present from the Jäger and of course, paired quite well with the strawberry and lemon, as well. I never would have dreamed to concoct something like this, but trust me, it works. When a bartender knows what they are doing with Jäger, the drink will be good, such as this one. I’m a believer and I never thought I’d say so, but hey, I have an open mind and wouldn’t kick a perfectly crafted cocktail out of bed, if it came calling! 😉
To Close / In Summary
Well, my tastes are quite apparent in this article. I love gin, Campari, and fruit, that’s for sure. I like my drinks to have sweet elements, but I don’t like “sweet drinks.” I can hang with high octane cocktails but can also appreciate the low proof (also called low octane) cocktail as well. I tend to gravitate toward the classics (gin and tonic, Bellini) but can appreciate an unexpected twist on something like Jäger as well. I also realized at this year’s Tales that while I can appreciate a bourbon, whiskey, scotch or rye when done well, it’s really just not where my flavor preferences lie. Give me a gin, rum, tequila, Campari or even vodka any day. The lesson here is that it’s important to know what your taste preference are so that you can make the most of drinking. It was on day one of this year’s Tales when I realized that bourbon wasn’t something I enjoy. So I ditched it and stuck with what I do like and had a much better overall experience in the process. To knowing what you like! Cheers! Salud!