Andrea and I just got back today from Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans where we have been since Tuesday. Expect a whole lot of recipes from drinks we had there in bars, restaurants, tasting rooms, seminars, cocktail hours, and parties over the next few weeks. I havve narrowed them down a bit but it will still be a large undertaking. As a teaser, I will present my favorite new products. True, there were lots of new absinthes, rums, unaged whiskeys, and the like; however, I am focusing here on products that stood out for one reason or another as unique (besides tasting rather good).
Starting first are a few products from Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz. Aperitivo Cocchi Americano is a product already available in Europe but will soon be here in the U.S. It is possibly the closest thing to Kina Lillet -- the quinine-laden and sharper form of Lillet Blanc that got discontinued. With this product, people will get to see that James Bond meant a bit more business with the Vesper Martini and will be able to approximate older recipes truer to form. Bonal Gentiane Quina is another European product that will be introduced to the American market. Perhaps not a product for everyone's taste buds, but imagine Moxie mixed with a quinquina sweet vermouth. I thought it was delicious and imagined it immediately mixed with gin or rye along with a dash of Fernet Branca. Two more products of Haus Alpenz that stood out were R&W Orchard Cherry and Linnea Swedish Punsch, but I did not have a chance to taste these delights due to time constraints. While I believe that the Orchard Cherry is a new product, the Swedish Punsch will re-introduce a once available spirit to the American market (in the past by a variety of producers).
St. Germain formally presented Creme Yvette this year after presenting a prototype last year at Tales. Creme Yvette was a defunct violet liqueur that was resurrected from the recipe crypts. Unlike the more single note and slightly sharp Creme de Violette, Creme Yvette is more subtle and more fruity with hints of cassis. I felt lucky to have the opportunity to taste it straight and in a cocktail (a more full report later).
From the makers of Cherry Heering is Heering Coffee Liqueur. While I do not frequently use coffee flavors in my cocktails, this product is pretty close to what I would want it to taste like if I were to design a coffee liqueur myself. Rich, toasted espresso flavors as opposed to a syrupy, almost faux coffee taste I have experienced elsewhere. Again, this is another product available in Europe that will soon be made available here in the United States.
There were two grain-based spirits that stood out as unique. Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky from Virginia utilizes cherry and apple wood to smoke the barley instead of peat, so for lovers of smoke flavor but not necessarily peat, this product is rather good. And with a liquor score of 93, others apparently feel the same. From Piedmont Distillers is a flavored (legal) moonshine product called Catdaddy. Catdaddy uses their all-corn Midnight Moon as a base with a secret botanical mix to give it a custard, eggnog, clove, and cinnamon sort of taste. We also had the Catdaddy in an Carolina-inspired Aviation variant, the Kitty Hawk cocktail.
A quick mention is needed for Herbsaint re-introducing their Legendre absinthe since wormwood liquors are now legal again. Also, they were celebrating the 75th anniversary of Herbsaint itself, and the Herbsaint-flavored chocolate truffles that they handed out to celebrate this were the tasty!
Alas, sleep beckons. It has been a long, wonderful, but tiring week... and thanks to all the folk I met along the way who helped to make this a great experience. Cheers!