So this has been a big week. As many of you know, I was on the Today show with Tamron Hall earlier in the week making mocktails and cocktails, (woot!) but the rest of the week has been great too! I had a blast, but am also glad that everything is finished and buttoned up- lots of moving parts!
Thursday I did a Maker's Mark Mint Julep demo at a Derby preview party at Goorin Brothers hat shop in the West Village. What an ideal partnership- Goorin Bros and Makers Mark teamed up to host journalists and prepare everyone for the Derby- I did a Mint Julep demo, the fine folks from Goorin did a hat styling demo, and a Paddock Analyst came and gave tips for picking a winning horse! Really well organized, and truly a successful event.
Friday I launched a new class at Audrey Claire Cook in Philly called 'Wow-worthy Cocktail Methods for Fun and Flavor.' Since we were executing this as a demo instead of a hands on class, I thought it would be cool to include some flashier methods than normal- so we did a New York Sour (Rye, lemon, simple, egg white, red wine float), a drink I'm calling the 'Thai Pearl' (we made a jalapeño infused vodka in class with muddled ginger and cilantro, pineapple, lime, simple), classic Mint Juleps (but we swizzled them!!) and a smoked Cognac Old Fashioned with angostura and chocolate bitters, and Pedro Ximenez sherry as the sweet component. Yum!
And last but not least, the kind folks from Aquavitae Institute, a bartending school in Center City Philadelphia invited me to present to a group of students in their professional bartending course on Saturday. My friend Ori Geshury, Director of Education asked me to choose any topic that was meaningful to me (love the strategy) , so I did a seminar I'm calling 'The Bartender has 9 Lives: Reinventing your Career in the Beverage Industry.' The seminar was a compilation of the 9 most important lessons I've learned thus far in my career that have enabled me (and continue to enable me) to evolve, and learn, and grow, that I wished someone had told me years ago when I was first starting out.
Thinking back to how green I was when I went to bartending school eons ago, I am curious to know if these thoughts will ultimately resonate with any of the students in their future careers. I know I was in an entirely different frame of mind back then, but I also know that the zeitgeist of the beverage world was wholly different. This was Boston circa 2002, so The B-Side Lounge (the first classic cocktail spot in the city) had only been open for a few years and Green Street wasn't even open yet. Milk and Honey would have opened a couple of years prior in NYC, with Flatiron and Employees Only soon to follow. Thus the cocktail renaissance was just starting out globally, and every bartender I knew still seemed to be about shots and sour mix and Apple Martinis (of which I drank far too many, lol.) If someone came into that context and told me I could develop skills as a bartender that would enable me to reach for and realize my dreams, I'm not sure if I would have believed it.
These days, almost 15 years later, bartending is no longer just something you do while you're waiting for your acting career to take off (though it does offer flexibility for a range of professional circumstances), but it's an opportunity to learn and showcase a craft, to launch a writing career, a spirits brand, a TV show. Crazy and amazing how far we've come.