Wednesday, May 14, 2008

World Cocktail Week Continues in Los Angeles

Living The Sporting Life

The third meeting of The Sporting Life (ie: Los Angeles-based barmen and other cocktail enthusiasts) took place this last Sunday. It was pushed back from the usual ‘first Sunday of the month’ slot because three or our LA-bartenders were doing the B.A.R. training in New York.

(Congrats to Marcos Tello of Comme Ca, Eric Alperin of The Doheny and Christine D'Abrosca of Seven Grand for completing the challenging course and bringing a little more know-how back to the West Coast.) Our May meeting turned out to be great timing, as it coincided with World Cocktail Week!

We met in the “overflow” bar in the back of Bar Marmont, and its 6-month old newly opened back room. I think I’d define the incredibly cool back room as “homey-hip,” given that it is a former studio apartment, and once inhabited by one of the Monkeys. The pad, which sits right along Sunset Boulevard was featured in the second edition of Rolling Stone Magazine, according to Chateau Marmont General Manager Alain Jeu.

The Sporting Life's founder, Marcos Tello led the festivities by way of welcome and introductions, then turned the floor over to this month’s hosts, Tara Everhart and Joe Brooke who both tend bar in the swanky Hollywood glitterati magnet. Joe also explained his lip-smacking creation, “Brass Flower Cocktail,” which he said is adapted from the Brass Button cocktail.

Joe’s tasty concoction mixed grapefruit juice, gin, St. Germain, grapefruit bitters and topped with champagne. As a regular user of each of those ingredients, I loved his drink - and indulged myself with not one but two before the meeting was over.

This month’s liquor sponsor was St. Germain, and Chad Wiltgen who is the Vice President of the Western U.S at Cooper Spirits. I was an early fan of the liqueur as reflected in this blog post from last Spring, and keep a bottle of the elderflower cordial chilling in my refrigerator at all times, to this day.

Chad addressed the controversial “bike story” propagated by Cooper Spirits when St. Germain first hit the scene. The romantic tale of medieval-looking French bumpkins on bicycles huffing through the hills collecting elderflowers in their caps seemed a big gulp for some to swallow. Robert Cooper took it upon himself to address non-believers and make some clarifications.

Wiltgen explained that, in fact, 8-10 hobbyists do indeed collect elderflowers the traditional way, which Chad likened to those who hunt truffles for pleasure. Otherwise, the small white flowers are harvested by truck during the 3-week period per year when they bloom. They are then macerated and blended with a spirit made from a blend of Gamay, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir groups, and distilled in Dijon.

Though he wouldn’t go into detail, Wiltgen also announced that an exciting new product will be in our glasses within a year. It will be the second antique-style liqueur (I’m guessing) for the company in three years, but as Chad explains, “We’re not looking for volume, we’re looking for quality.” And, when it comes to a killer cocktail, we cocktail enthusiasts know that those are words to live by.

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