Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Re-post of the Review of the Preview of the Whiskey Thing


This post was accidentally deleted. Hey, things happen when you're at Tales of the Cocktail.


Every good preview deserves an equally good review, so after attending Essential Guide to American Whiskey with LeNell Smothers and Gary Regan, it seems appropriate to reflect back on my original sneak peek of the event, and see how close I came to getting it right. As the three of you who read the thing may recall, it included a list of what to expect and what not to expect…

DO NOT expect: to be entertained by the wit and banter of the presenters as you sample various whiskeys and learn to make cocktails out of them.

This prediction turned out to be absolutely correct. We were certainly entertained by the presenters, but more by their mordacity and persiflage than their wit and banter. And we didn’t sample various whiskeys; we horked’em down. And perhaps we did learn to make a cocktail with them, but by then we had all horked down five whiskeys, so who will actually remember what we learned?

DO expect: lewd and indecent sexual acts performed under at least one of the conference tables.

This turned out to be an incorrect prediction. Oh, there were sexual acts being performed under the tables, but none of them were indecent. In fact, they were quite decent indeed, thank you very much.

DO NOT expect: a guided tasting of three bourbons, one wheat whiskey, and one rye, plus use of another wheat whiskey in self-creating a certain beloved mixed drink.

This also was an incorrect prediction, as it turns out we did have a guided tasting of the above whiskeys. However, the surprising element was that it was actually the audience guiding the presenters, rather than the other way around. Members of the crowd called out descriptors for each one, which were gratefully lapped up by Gary and LeNell. Eventually, we grew suspicious that this whole thing was merely a ruse to get us to offer up our best ideas so the presenters could steal them and use them as their own in future conferences or books. When confronted on it, Gary admitted that he’d actually only had whiskey once, years ago, and that he “frankly couldn’t stand the stuff.”

(Authors’ note: that last part was a lie.)

DO expect: excessive peer pressure, applied by the presenters, to shoot copious quantities of straight rye until certain erogenous areas of the body have their interests piqued, as the presenters leer.

This was more or less correct. The peer pressure was more passive aggressive than I had anticipated. Gary merely suggested shooting all five whiskeys as an alternative approach to the event, then coyly let it lie. Over the course of the seminar one could witness various audience members starting to quiver, then convulse, then suddenly lunge for the glasses in front of them and start guzzling whiskey as their embarrassed friends attempted to restrain them. All the while, Gary was throwing his head back, cackling maniacally.

(Author’s note: again the last part kind of got away from me.)

As for erogenous zones, Gary did ask LeNell if he could lick his whiskey off of her nipples, and after some thought she agreed, but it went no further than that. She later retorted by asking Gary if he would stir her Old Fashioned with his penis. Gary seemed noncommittal about that one.

(Author’s note: this part is true)

DO NOT expect: a spirited and informative discussion on the history of American whiskeys – including bourbon, rye, wheat, and corn – from its earliest days to modern experimental techniques.

OK OK! I can’t keep joking around anymore! Yes, it was a spirited and informative discussion on all things whiskey. It was made to be fully interactive from the start, which allowed many individuals to join the discussion, including Toby Maloney, Stephen Beaumont, and Sammy Ross. It was entertaining, educational, and altogether stimulating, spiced up with the occasional penis joke.

There, I said it. God do I feel dirty.

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