Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wine, Wine - Cocktails?

Last night I met up with my friend James for a quick drink before he had to run off to some sort of a wine event. When I pressed him as to what the event specifically was, all he knew was that it was sort of a trade affair, and that mixologist at large David Nepove would be there on behalf of Southern Wine and Spirits. When he asked me if I wanted to come along, I was certainly ready to go, but the part where it was trade only seemed fairly daunting. Thanks, however, to his kind employer (James recently got himself a few shifts behind the bar at the recent Magnet Lounge space) I was able to wrangle my way in.

The event was taking place in your generic hotel ballroom, and was packed with various wine vendors displaying their wares for tasting. The embarrassment of wine riches was a sight to behold, but I was there for the hard stuff. Mostly because wine is my secret weakness. I can fake like I know what I'm talking about with beer, and I think I've got just enough cocktail and spirits knowledge to have moderately intelligent conversations, but when it comes to wine I am naught but a simpering fool.

David's booth was easy to find as it seemed to be the most popular in the room. I suspect most people weren't expecting there to be cocktails at a wine oriented show, but by the look of things they weren't too disappointed. Looking at the crowd from afar I realized I was going to have to come up with some sort of strategy to get close to the drinks. It was going to have be a plan of simple elegance. A plan which, once set in motion, would emerge a juggernaut. It would be mistaken for nothing other than sheer genius! Or I could just push my way through.

The only real downside to the event was that David was not allowed to serve full cocktails. This meant that people were forced to straw taste all of the drinks, which was not only a bit messy, but frustrating for those of us who couldn't figure out a way to steal a whole drink and get out the door across the room un-tackled by security. Nevertheless I wielded my straw like a dagger (1d6, +4 Liver Damage) and dove headlong into the fray for my first taste.

I asked David what I should try first and he definitively pointed to a concoction garnished with a hot pepper (you can actually make it out in that shitty camera phone photo) he was calling Sweet Heat. I'm generally a bit wary about drinks with heat components as it is far too easy to overdo it and kill the drink, but this drink was a fine exception, as the heat was perfectly balanced the base Anejo Tequila, and the surprise for me, Navan (a Cognac-based vanilla liqueur) which bridged the heat and the Tequila nicely. Then there was the Cucumber Gimlet which did a great job of showcasing cucumbers imminently mixable nature, and preternatural refreshing abilities. I also had the chance to dig into a Blackberry Bramble which was far too delicious for its own good. I think I might have asked it if it wanted to go catch a movie or something after the event.

In case you're wondering how it is I suddenly seem to have a decent memory, many of the drinks that were out were printed out on a handy flyer that I was quick to grab. Sadly for my unprepared self, there were many other fantastic drinks for which I have forgotten the particulars, including a kick ass strawberry concoction, and a surprising peach tipple. Surprising because it was made with Absolut Peach - As much as I'm not a fan of flavored Vodka this one was rather tasty, and had some nice, subtle nuances.

Generally speaking, I can say it was the best wine event I've ever been to.

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