March 23, 2012

Don’t be green with envy, join us for cocktails!

FROM THE DESK OF:  Festival Co-Founder, Dominique Love

Off the heels of St. Patrick’s Day, we just can’t shake that cocktail feeling … our minds have been spinning with cocktail recipes, lore and a new-found obsession with mixologists. In fairness, we can’t put our obsession with cocktails squarely on St. Patrick, but recent revelry definitely made its mark.

As the office gals and I are no strangers to cocktails – although we have outgrown our Chartreuse phase and Gin makes one of us a little crazy – we have found ourselves fledglings in the craft and history of the cocktail. It is in our shallowness of our knowledge that we find our obsession. We want to know more. We want to taste. We want to explore. We want to revel in cocktail lore. We want AF&WF to be a stage for the Southern cocktail. And that is exactly what we’re up to.

It started with a cocktail brainstorming session with Atlanta mixologists Blake Morley, Lara Creasy, Navarro Carr and Paul Calvert. The meeting was actually organized by our fabulous AF&WF Advisory Council member, Greg Best from H&F and H&F Bottle Shop, who got pulled away at the last minute. (Yes, we plan to fully haze him for this!).

Like most morning meetings, it started slow but then we became intoxicated by our own words and ideas – our lips got looser, we suddenly felt few boundaries and we started thinking big (Pushing the cocktail reference a little much here, huh?). We compiled a mountain of ideas, landing on a series of classes that include, among others, the History of the Southern Cocktail, an exploration of Mezcal, Rhum Agricole and Pisco, and a Southern Cocktail Hour program. And, to lead these fantastic classes, we’ve recruited a number of mixology masters like Bobby Heugel, Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston, and the famed cocktail writer and historian, David Wondrich. We’re making Dave an honorary Southerner because he knows our cocktail history better than any other. There is a rumor in our office that a few of our mixology friends were so excited by Wondrich’s participation that they wept like little boys. Our weekend plans also include incorporating mixologists into a number of our dinners and events.

In preparation for our Southern Cocktail Hour program (Saturday, May 12 at 4:00), which will showcase the cocktail culture of several Southern cities in an open-house style format; we have been getting to know a variety of mixologists from Texas to DC to gain their insight. On a recent trip to Louisville, KY, we spent time with one of Louisville’s finest mixologists and man-about-town, Jared Schubert.

Filled with quick wit, cutting-edge cocktail knowledge and a rolodex that any publicist would love to get their hands on, Schubert took us on a tour of the city and as he did, he shared a few sacred Southern tidbits that everyone should be privy to. We know these aren’t cocktail tips but we’re saving those for Festival weekend.

  • No self-respecting Southerner will answer the phone before noon or after 6pm. (Not kidding: when we tried to reach Schubert via phone one morning, we were lucky to get a text response that said, “It’s not noon.”)
  • Never bring flowers or a centerpiece to a party. Firstly, you can’t consume the damn things and lastly, a true Southerner will already have them in their extremely well-kept yard.
  • No self-respecting Southerner is ever, ever drunk – they’re just indisposed!
  • The most offensive phrase in the South is “that’s nice.” If you don’t know what it means, its best you don’t ask.
  • In the South, coffee is hot and tea is cold. Get it right!