Well I think that I’m not drunk anymore, so this may be a perfect time for me to write an article on the Boston Cocktail Summit. It is a very rare experience that I can take time off from my busy schedule to travel to events like Tales in New Orleans or The Whiskey Experience in Las Vegas. So for now, until I’m hired as a full time national brand ambassador I’m stuck with whatever is available locally.
Massachusetts is host to three or four large Scotch events, and a few little tiny spirit events that occur mostly in liquor stores. So when word started getting around that Boston was going to host a cocktail summit, I jumped on the opportunity to be as involved as I could be. I’m writing this article in chronological order of the classes that I experienced during this three-day event. If you see a class that I took at the summit and you would like me to write a more in-depth article on that one topic, I’d be happy to do so. Reach out to me on twitter.
11:00am Greasing the Hub — David Wondrich
David is one of the most interesting people that I’ve ever met. You wouldn’t look at him and expect that he was a master bartender. All it usually takes is a couple minutes to hear him speak and you know that you’re sitting in front of a professor and historian of alcohol culture. This is the second time that I’ve taken a class with him, and his in-depth knowledge on the history of cocktail culture in Boston was spectacular. Did you know that the Hawthorne strainer originated in Massachusetts?
2:00pm Discovering Le Cognac -BAR Partners
Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Steve Olson, F. Paul Pacult, Andy Seymour, and David Wondrich
Prior to this class I didn’t really have a huge interest or passion for Cognac. I’m still not convinced that I should put in the time to start working on another certification for this interesting French spirits category. I have a very silly reason why I have a hard time with cognac, I have no problem working with Gaelic names in single malt scotches, but remembering and pronouncing any French name is a very hard thing for me to do. The biggest thing that I took from this class is that if you traditionally drink Remy Martin or Hennessey try Martell, it blew my doors off.
5:00pm Tales from Behind the Stick – Gaz Regan
Oh Gaz, where to start?! Gaz is your quintessential ‘dive’ bartender with more talent than his patrons normally possess. I got a chance to talk to him one-on-one prior to his event, and we were joking about how he never worked in a cocktail bar, but has become a legend of sorts in the cocktail world. You see Gaz is a dive bar superstar. He’s the kind of guy you want to have as your friend. Gaz is the king of dive bartenders because he not only made it cool; he did it effortlessly in his own style. His books have been a great joy to read and his skills make him the true king of dive bartenders.
After waking up and reading my morning news. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to attend many of the events for today’s cocktail summit. I put in a majority of my morning in writing the article Single Malt Scotch with a Playboy Finish
This is the kind of event that I expect from a cocktail summit. Bacardi spent a lot of marketing money on promoting its 150th birthday at this event. This event was made up of girls dressed up in Caribbean attire and an endless supply of cigars and daiquiris. I was overjoyed to be drinking and smoking a nice cigar to cap off my day of endless writing.
If you have never met Hollis you are missing out. As a brand ambassador myself, she is the kind of person I aspire to become. I love Hollis like I love cake, and I’m a big guy with a big appetite. She is a brilliant woman with more understanding of her product then most people twice her age. She has the power and drive to make a very traditional product cool and hip. She also has the best hats! Women, if you want to become fans of whiskey you need to become friends with Hollis.
1:30pm Spirits Tasting in a Blind
This class was by far the best class I’ve ever taken in my life. Steve Olson is a true guru of spirits. His expertise, passion, and knowledge are life-changing to anybody interested in alcohol. I would highly suggest that if you ever get a chance to take a class with him do it. He has the tools to take you from someone who likes spirits to someone who understands spirits on a new level. His classes are hundred percent marketing free, and practical knowledge-based with a hint of passion.
This event had its share of problems. It would be easy to point out each specific problem and toss it on the shoulders of the crew that plan this event, but that’s potentially very nearsighted. Every event has bumps in the beginning, and road blocks to overcome as it continues. Brands are afraid of new events because they are not sure what type of financial turnaround they will see on their investment. I can vouch for the fact that next year will be bigger and brighter, and brands should take notice that the Boston cocktail summit has is much market pull as any other spirits festival in the United States. If you are into cocktails or work in the industry, you should plan to join me there next year. I’m sure the RSVLTS and I will have something fun on the calendar to add to next year’s event.