Randall Layman, a bartender at Vesta Dipping Grill, is just back from New Orleans, where he attended his first Tales of the Cocktail. We'll be printing his dispatches all week (read the first installment here).
Sleeping in again (don't close your curtains if you want to wake up early!), I wake up just in time to grab a cup of coffee before heading over to the Hotel Monteleone to mix drinks at the Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum tasting room. The hotel lobby is packed like a sardine can full of bar professionals. I have a few moments to spare so I sneak into the Tales of the Cocktail shop and register to win a Kold Draft ice machine -- a nice reminder of what a geek I am.
As I set up the tasting room with the always-lovely Charlotte Voisey from Hendricks Gin, where I am and what I am about to do hits me: mix a cocktail I created in the hotel that has hosted everyone I admire in my craft.
It's awesome and humbling.
I'm lucky enough to again work alongside Sean Kenyon, and together we pour drinks for about 200 people over an hour and a half. I'm mixing my Hotel Street Tea, a kind of cocktail called a flip: It uses a whole egg, yolk and all, to create a silky and rich texture.
Five dozen eggs later, my arms feel like pudding. It was a blast!
After a nice afternoon nap and a shrimp po' boy from the café across from the hotel, my wife and I meet up with Kenyon, his wife, Heather, and Danny Valdez (of Cure, an incredible NOLA cocktail bar) at Butcher for a sandwich, meatballs and pancetta mac and cheese. I can't stay away from this place.
After everyone else leaves for a local roller derby match, we jump back to the Quarter for a Sazerac at the Napoleon House. Knowing that much of the history of cocktails was shaped by this town, I expect to encounter touristy vibes from certain bars, especially the historic ones. But when the Napoleon House bartender lightly sighs as I order our Sazeracs, it reminds me what I love about being behind a bar: the hospitality.
It doesn't matter how much money you make, or how many cocktails you've created. Bartenders are hosts, and it's our job to make people feel welcome. We can't forget that. We can't forget to smile.
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SHOW ME HOW
Hotel Street Tea
1.5 oz. Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum 1 oz. Earl Grey-infused Rye Whiskey .75 oz. lemon juice .75 oz agave nectar .5 oz Riga Balzam (Latvian Bitter) 1 whole egg
Shake very well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon wheel. Enjoy.