Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tales of the Cocktail, Day One: Faulkner, Warlocks, and the Bionic Woman

"It's a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work. He can't eat for eight hours; he can't drink for eight hours; he can't make love for eight hours. The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work."

-William Faulkner

Clearly, William Faulkner never went to Tales of the Cocktail. And for those of us who have proven him wrong on at least two of these counts (and if you have achieved the rare trifecta then hats off to you, tiger), we will make it a point to sneer condescendingly when ever we pass the Faulkner Suite of the Hotel Monteleone.

Since arriving in New Orleans late last night the Brothers Munat (also known as the Bee Emms), have enjoyed their first experience at the Monteleone's Carousel Bar (where festival-goers achieved the rare feat of finishing off the bar's entire stock of Rye Whiskey), The Old Absinthe House, and...some other place.

At the Old Absinthe House, the water flows like absinthe, the absinthe flows like... absinthe. The beer? That flows like absinthe too, and so does the whiskey. The gin kind of flows like absinthe, but the vodka just flows like vodka.

The bartender at OAH poured us many a glass of Kubler and La Fee, and while doing this seemed to allow his mind to wander from time to time, forgetting that there was still high proof liquor being poured. Fortunately, he had thought ahead enough to use glasses roughly the size of a coffee pot, so there was no spilling.

As he ensured our demise, he chatted amiably with us, telling us how much he enjoys when it's that time again for Tales of the Cocktail, and how we are his favorite customers he gets all year. He then moved down the bar, to the Scandinavian Warlocks named Thoth and Grobbendonk, and told them how much he looks forward to the Sorcerer's Ball, and how they are his favorite customers he gets all year.

(editor's note: The Old Absinthe House is a fine establishment and does not serve Warlocks)

Today saw the beginning of the festival itself. Entering any of the rooms in which a Tales event is happening is somewhat like being born: you travel in relative silence and calm down a corridor, when suddenly an enormous bowl of light, sound, and smell opens before you, overwhelming the senses and leaving you screaming with fear (OK, maybe not quite, but screaming a little inside). However, as things become more focused the central nervous system adapts, and the sweet comfort of a fine elixir seems to say,"it's nice here in this world...why not stay a while?"

We took in the Toast to Tales for a bit, and "heard" Senator Edwin Murray's speech, which according to my notes went something like this: "hrmm-hm, hurra hurra hum, rim rem rom...SAZERAC!"

And the crowd went ballistic. Seriously. They did. Maybe they were better able to hear the part leading up to SAZERAC! than I. But my feeling is that screaming SAZERAC! in a crowded room at Tales is something akin to screaming fire in a crowded theater. We still await ruling by the supreme court as to whether or not screaming SAZERAC! at Tales is constitutionally protected speech.

A bit later I attended the reception for the blog-force, during which time I was reminded of the film "Barton Fink" in which Fink asks a film producer where he can find a writer to work with. The producer's response: "Christ, throw a rock in here and you'll hit one! And do me a favor Fink? Throw it hard."

We were served a selection of cachaca cocktails using Cabana, with it's fearless creator Monty circulating amongst us to chat. There was briefly food available, unfortunately C.Mixeur, as he is wont to do, reached the serving table first, and the rest of us were left to fight over three olives and the tail of a shrimp. Apart from that, it was a very enjoyable chance to meet our peers and something of a shock to me to learn that a few of them actually read this here blog.

This event seamlessly morphed into a Sloe Gin tasting around the corner, featuring one gentlemen who, needing quickly to procure some more lemon juice, squeezed an uncut lemon until it exploded and juice oozed from it. This brought back childhood memories of the opening to "The Bionic Woman" when she crushed a tennis ball in her hand. Suddenly I realized Tales was indeed a place where fiction becomes reality...even really bad fiction.

A few moments later the same gentlemen smacked his cocktail shaker to break the seal, and instead shattered the glass and sprayed himself with Sloe Gin. This illustrated why, in all the years it aired, not once did the Bionic Woman host a cocktail party. The tasting was capped off by a very nice woman appearing out of thin air and offering me a box that I thought was filled with a bottle of Plymouth Sloe Gin, but turned out to be a Plymouth Gin Tip Jar Clocktower. How many times must I be burned by this ploy before I learn my lesson?

By the way, I intend to have Paul Clarke sign the Tip Jar Clocktower and auction it on ebay. Stay tuned.

Time for more living and less writing. Tales waits for no man.


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