Monday, January 21, 2013

A Cocktail Here, A Cocktail There

As a girl who can make ANYTHING into a drinking game, I figured a trip to something called a Cocktail Conference would be a good adventure. I received no fewer than three invitations, so I thought was definitely a sign that I needed to give my liver a pep talk and do this. So I did.

For people who peddle booze, they're WAY more organized than my favorite bootleggers on Boardwalk Empire could ever be! You think Nucky would ever be so legit he'd have not just one but TWO glossy books detailing the agenda and mapping the places participants can go to learn about drinks and sample them (because just letting someone look at alcoholic beverages but never sample them would be as mean as taking a baking lesson and never getting a bite of cake).

We set out Saturday morning to see what this was all about. We watched a competition where bartenders were given ridiculous drink orders and were graded based on the amounts of alcohol in the drink. Apparently, they used to judge these competitions on taste, but that's subjective and participants could fill the room with their pals. Then, they passed these drinks around the room for all to sample. I had a sip of one drink from the first contestant. I am so easily impressed (and uncoordinated), I might have gasped when I saw him shaking a drink with one hand while stirring a drink with the other. It wasn't tossing bottles in the air (a la Cocktail) but it was magical!

Then, it was off to the tasting room. I'm going to try to tell you what I remember from these photos.

Tito's vodka. Made in Texas, y'all! That was a little taste of margarita. It was good. NOTE: I can't figure out how to make iPhone focus on things in the foreground sometimes. And some of those times are when I'm all "OOOOH! Tequila!!!"

I filled my goodie bag with a koozie, pin and I think a sticker. I'm not sure.
I asked for a sample of this concoction of cinnamon-vanilla something with cherry whiskey and cranberry juice. I was handed a full-on drink. Oh, I have to mention the ice. They had these giant squares of ice. The cubes were so big, you only needed one in your drink. It was like a teeny iceberg floating in alcohol. And it was heaven. This drink I liked, but I think it was the cinnamon warming my throat (oh, yes, I was drinking alcohol under the influence of allergy medication because I thought that was why my throat hurt).
If you haven't tried jalapeno tequila, you're missing out. This makes one of the best margaritas I've ever had. I had actually tried this before, but, again, the whole spicy thing makes a sore throat better made me finish this.

This whiskey was not fancy.  The guy on the right (who I kept looking at thinking he looked familiar before I realized he resembles Giovani Ribisi) wanted us to know how unfancy this booze was. He said it was for shooting. Then he offered us a Lone Star to chase it. Every bit of that made this booze a little cooler. It probably did not taste awesome, but who cares? It was FREE. And he was honest. You can't not like that. And if you can, you're a snobby jerk.
 That is Kinky Friedman! Not really. It's a cardboard cut out of him. He's in the tequila business. His tequila was pretty good. I might have taken more than my share of shot glasses.
By this point, I decided I might be getting tipsy and should quit tasting things I had before. When I turned the corner and saw this display, I had to stop.
Yes, friends, I had absinthe. It was very licorice-y. I kind of liked it, even though the guy did not have the sugar cube that is apparently required for serving this mythical booze. I did not hallucinate there on the spot. I did have a dream that I had a talking panda. Might be the best dream I've ever had!
I had wanted to try the sweet tea vodka (because I'm from Texas and we do sweet tea, y'all). This girl and her awesome hair made me a nice drink mixed with lemonade. I could (and probably should) have made this my only drink.
I knew it was vodka, but forgot all about it with every sip. I would have finished the whole thing if someone hadn't spilled it on me.
I don't know what this tastes like, but I have a small bottle of this vodka to try at some time.
I walked out of the room for a bit, then saw this guy. I followed him back in and took the picture. DUDE IN A SKIRT! THAT'S A DUDE IN A SKIRT!

This was something with ginger beer. I don't remember what that was, but it was the first time I've had ginger beer by itself. I liked it.

If you ever get the chance to go to one of these things, do it. Just have a driver or a plan that involves food (which, aside from olives and lemons, was not around) and nothing else on your schedule.

PS - you should know that consuming just about every type of alcohol in the world will NOT kill a cold. It will only make it angry.
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