Tickets are now on sale for Tales of the Cocktail 2019.
Some observations: There are now a row of seminars on Tuesday afternoon. I'd guess the rooms are smaller since many of the cocktails are saying "Hurry! Only 15 seats left" within a few hours of tickets going on sale.
Topics this year are geared toward bar managers even more than usual with no less than 4 seminars on sustainability, at least three on diversity and inclusion, a few on social media, and a bunch on budgeting and bar ownership.
This does still leave room for seminars on the actual drinks - some on literature and research of drinks, 101-level talks on a few spirits, and some fun-looking micro-topics like cream, grains, citrus, and Colombian spirits. Those are my jam.
As always, some great seminars I'd otherwise go see are slotted at the same time as mine.
But speaking of my seminars, I have two this year:
This seminar will study allergies and dietary restrictions as they apply to the cocktail bar. Many menus include a disclaimer about consuming uncooked egg whites, but should they also specify that orgeat and falernum contain almonds to alert those with allergies? Or note that clarified milk punch can still upset the lactose intolerant? Do bartenders owe it to customers to list every single ingredient on a cocktail menu (impossible when most liqueurs and bitters have secret recipes), or is it the customer’s responsibility to ask? We’ll start the discussion with a look at the current science on allergies and the specific spirits and mixers that activate them. We’ll cover dairy (milk and eggs), tree nuts/peanuts/seeds and pits, seafood, and grains including soy and wheat – plus some of the lesser-known allergies like corn and melons. We’ll try our best to separate the allergic from the sensitive to the intolerant. We’ll consider special diets like vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. We’ll form a list of the top allergy-activating products. And then we’ll get into the ethics – how trained should a bar staff be on the allergens on a cocktail list? What should you do when a customer claims they’re allergic to vodka? Should your bar produce a separate allergen menu, or should you clutter up the main menu with un-fun warnings and explanation- or should you let the customer take personal responsibility for knowing and asking about ingredients they might be allergic to? There is a lot to consider!
Moderated by Camper English
Saturday, 7/20/2019 Royal Sonesta
This seminar will examine color in spirits and in cocktail ingredients, from the history of naturally-derived colors (and how to use them today) to artificial coloring, to ways to remove color from cocktails and spirits. Until the creation of synthetic dyes – a laboratory accident in the attempt to synthesize quinine – food and beverage dyes were naturally derived from materials including tree barks (oak bark used to dye curacao liqueur), minerals including copper and iron to make things green and blue (and often, toxic), and insects (kermes scale insects, later replaced by the New World discovery of Oaxacan cochineal). The first synthetic dye (mauve), derived from coal tar, gave way to dozens of others that ended up in food and drink, including most colored liqueurs today as well as those neon maraschino cherries. We’ll study the history of synthetic dyes and modern safety concerns (did you know red M&Ms were taken off the market for 11 years due to a cancer scare?), as well as touch upon how some spirits use different coloring in different countries. And of course we’ll talk about blue wine, because yuck. These days there is a renewed interest in natural colorings for cocktails, with cochineal making the strongest comeback but bartenders using everything from beet powder to butterfly pea flower tea to annatto to alter the color of drinks and garnishes. We’ll talk through the options and pros and cons of using various natural colorings in your drinks at home and the bar. We'll also study the most popular natural coloring in the spirits world: caramel that’s used in rum, whisky, and tequila, and other spirits. And finally, we’ll review ways to remove color from cocktails and spirits: by charcoal filtration as is done with aged rum and cristalino tequilas, and we’ll briefly touch on how milk washing works to filter color from cocktails.
Moderated by Camper English