Coming up next week is the 2010 International Cognac Summit, what has become an annual gathering of international bartenders and sommeliers in Cognac, France, to explore the history and possibilities of the world’s best-loved brandy. Invitees will scrutinize the Sidecar, the Alexander, the Mint Julep, the Sazerac and other drinks. The U.S. group of attendees includes Sasha Petraske (Milk & Honey, Little Branch, White Star, Dutch Kills), Julie Reiner (Flatiron Lounge, Clover Club), Eric Alperin (The Varnish), Jeffrey Morgenthaler (Clyde Common), Todd Appel (Crimson Lounge) and Francesco Lafranconi (Southern Wine and Spirits). I’ll be there to kibitz and chronicle — full report in two weeks.
We’ve heard from drink diva LeNell Smothers, who hightailed it to Mexico last year and has resurfaced with Casa Coctel. What is Casa Coctel? In Smothers’ own words: “We are not a hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, or brothel, although, we like to think we’ve pulled some of our favorite things from all of them to create Casa Cóctel. After working ungodly hours in the drinks business for years, we are finally able to give back to the many friends and family who have blessed our lives. We host special guests and events and help plan vacations where you can relax and soak in the peace of our lovely La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
“Casa Cóctel ain't no mansion or sprawling hacienda. Hell, we don't even have a seaside view, although the Sea of Cortez is four short blocks away. With more than 1,000 drinking vessels, over 1,000 bottles of wine and spirits, a restored antique Faema espresso machine, and our own farm fresh eggs, we can satisfy all your drinking desires. Rates are $50-$100/night depending on season and package chosen, as each stay will be a custom experience depending on the needs of the guest.”
Got the stuff to hang with the world’s best bartenders? Diageo’s World Class 2010 is ready to launch. The annual international competition for the world’s best bartender, which crowned winner Aristotelis Papadopoulos last year, has enlisted judges including Dale DeGroff and Gary Regan from the U.S., Salvatore Calabrese and Peter Dorelli from the UK and Hidetsugu Ueno from Japan. Find out more at the World Class site.
Cocktails conquer the world, this time in India, where cult cafe outlets are adding a wide range of spirited and alcohol-free blended hot and cold coffees, coffee beer and coffee-based rum, whisky, vodka, gin, brandy and liqueurs. Cafe Coffee Day, India's largest cafe chain, is brewing what it calls a High Spirits menu at its research and development center. Cafe Coffee Day is developing coffee-based spirits, and the Barista chain has introduced a range of coffee liqueurs — a blend of espresso coffee with liqueurs and spirits — in its New Delhi outlet.
Brian Van Flandern’s book Vintage Cocktails has been named to the short list for best cocktails book in the Gourmand World Cookbook awards. Awards will be presented Feb. 11 at the Paris Cookbook Fair.