That was evidenced by the crowd that gathered yesterday when he stopped by Boulder's Bitter Bar for a public cocktail seminar on St-Germain, a seductive elderflower liqueur he represents when he's not shaking or stirring somewhere in Seattle. There were spirits enthusiasts there, to be sure, and a few Happy Noodle House regulars, but they were scattered amongst the Front Range mixologists, who came in droves.
That crew was hoping to glean insight from the man who used his chemistry set to invent the "caviar garnish," which is a surprisingly explosive element to cocktails that pops in the mouth and releases absinthe or Chambord across the tongue. Mark Stoddard, who's currently enjoying a surge of fame after winning the 2010 42 Below Vodka cocktail world cup, even reverently called his bar's guest a "self-made messiah of our industry."
"No white spirits," Jamie said to the attentive crowd, "This is about showing what St-Germain can do in other cocktails with big flavors." He proceeded to lead the group through a demonstration of four different creations, pairing the liqueur with apple brandy, tequila, single malt whiskey, and rye to make bold drinks meant to engage a diverse range of palates.
A leader in the Front Range libations scene, Bitter Bar works hard to elevate the local drink-mixing scene through events that include seminars with celebrity mixologists, classes taught by their own staff, and guest bartending nights. "My hope," says James Lee, beverage director for the Big Red F restaurant group, "is that by doing these things, bartenders around here will be inspired to take their craft to the next level and rise to challenge us."
These aren't necessarily industry-focused events, though. James also holds them with the hope that they'll entice the cocktail-curious to expand their knowledge and horizons and demand a higher level of professionalism and inventiveness when they're imbibing around the city.Both audiences found something to love at Jamie's presentation: the bartenders took copious notes on tricks and recipes while spectators did a little daytime drinking, sipping things they'd likely never order, like the Zim Zala Bim, a punchy sweet and spicy concoction made from Partido Reposado tequila and St-Germain, and the Duboudreau, an after-dinner digestif crafted with Rittenhouse Rye, St-Germain, Dubonnet, and Fernet. And everyone mingled over seared tuna and pork belly wrapped in lettuce, Happy Noodle House accoutrements to an otherwise liquid lunch.
The Bitter Bar is ramping up their line-up of celebrity bartenders as well as offering classes to the public, which cost $35 and include two cocktails, three recipes, and a gift. The next one, on whiskey cocktails, will be held June 19-20.