I took the L train east to Bushwick and walked out into the death throes of whatever grit lingered in that rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Hipster hangouts were encroaching on the Boar’s Head meat factory like a Georgia kudzu. I rounded a corner and passed a specialty wine and spirits shop. I guess change isn’t all bad.
I was in the neighborhood to meet Ted Haigh. Haigh is the author of Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails, which was published in ’03 and came out in a second edition recently enough for it to win Best New Cocktail . . . → Read More: Periodista Tales: Ted Haigh—Birth of a Pseudonym
New York again. I had decided to try my hand at some academic-style research. Maybe Greg Boehm’s project had inspired me. Maybe meeting writers like Dave Wondrich, Jeff Berry, and Wayne Curtis—true scholars of the cocktail—had left a mark. Maybe I was one jigger shy of a full shaker. In any case, I had to acknowledge the possibility that not all my answers were hidden in the minds of heavy drinkers. Some might be in a library.
The floor of the uptown 6 train was slick with mud and snow melt. Next to me, a man . . . → Read More: Periodista Tales: The Joe Baum Papers
The winter months slunk by and I was back in New York. A cold rain fell on the banks of unmelted snow lining the sidewalk along Sixth Avenue. Dogs wore coats and ski-gloved hands fumbled with umbrellas. I’d have said it was perfect Manhattan weather, but I didn’t want to risk the pun.
It had taken me this long to arrange some face time with Greg Boehm. Boehm owns Cocktail Kingdom, a company that imports Japanese and European cocktailing paraphernalia and publishes replicas of vintage cocktail books. Boehm owns most of the originals himself. He has . . . → Read More: Periodista Tales: Greg Boehm—The Collector
I was standing outside McSorley’s Old Ale House in the East Village waiting for David Wondrich. McSorley’s is not a cocktail bar. They serve one drink—ale—and have done since 1854. Manhattan’s East Village has probably the highest concentration of craft cocktail bars in the United States—PDT, Death + Company, all the biggies—but Wondrich wanted to meet at McSorley’s. Not five o’clock yet and it was bedlam in there, so I waited on the curb.
After a few minutes, Wondrich came ambling down the street with a beaten leather man-bag strapped across his chest. Last time I’d . . . → Read More: Periodista Tales: David Wondrich—The Historian
Chapter 1: Tales of the Periodista
Wherein our hero encounters the Periodista for the first time, and his fate is sealed.
Chapter 2: Chez Henri—Point of Origin?
Wherein our hero returns to the scene of the crime, and Paul O’Connell explores the advertising potential of social media.
Chapter 3: Rendezvous—When Jung Met Freud
Wherein our hero first learns of the Jack Rose Society from the unsung hero of the Boston bar scene, Scott Holliday.
Chapter 4: Green Street—The Steward
Wherein our hero fails to . . . → Read More: Periodista Tales: Table of Contents
“Scott didn’t want to hire me. I was this punkass kid from Newbury street with silver hair. I’d been working across the street from a hair salon, and we used to trade drinks for haircuts. There was this guy who worked there—he was insane. He had horns—real horns, implanted into his head. He used to cut my hair, and I let him use me as a hair model for this one show. He died my hair ‘steel gray,’ put in this wax stuff and twirled it up into curls until my head was covered in shiny, silver spikes. . . . → Read More: Periodista Tales: Drink—Taste of Place
It wasn’t with the rum drinks. No, that would have been too easy. It was in a catchall section called “Mezclas Multiples.” The recipes were in alphabetical order. I flipped pages, past the As with their Antilles and their Astoria, the Ds with their Delmonico and Douglas Fairbanks. But it wasn’t in the Ps between Pelayo and Perry. No, that would have been too easy. I flipped to the end. There it was, in the bottom right-hand corner of page 399, after the curiously-spelled Zazerac cocktail. All by itself. Like it didn’t want to be found.
. . . → Read More: Periodista Tales: Lauren Clark—The Critic
I was back in Boston drinking a Periodista at Eastern Standard. A coworker of mine was crowding the next bar seat and drinking a 19th Century. That’s what Jackson Cannon calls the Old Fashioned on his menu. Saves the bartenders the trouble of having the “new” Old Fashioned, “old” Old Fashioned conversation every time. Cannon would never begrudge a guest his muddled cherry, so he renamed the original. Whatever you call it, it’s a lot of whiskey and not many distractions. Not my style. I need the distraction.
The bar was quiet. It was early and . . . → Read More: Periodista Tales: One City’s Homage, One Man’s Quest
Continued from Part 7…
It was my last night in New Orleans. I was sitting at the Carousel bar in the Hotel Monteleone, rotating slowly and nursing an absinthe. I always nurse absinthe. Can’t stand the stuff. But it was my last night in New Orleans, so I’d ordered one.
I’d been at Tales of the Cocktail for three days and I felt like last year’s Mardi Gras beads—sun-cracked and still dangling from that iron railing. I don’t know how people last the full week.
I looked at my absinthe. It looked . . . → Read More: Periodista Tales: New Orleans, Part 8 — King Cocktail
Continued from Part 6…
That night was the Bartender’s Breakfast, a big party for all the bartenders who had gathered in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail. It was invitation only. You couldn’t buy a ticket to this thing. You just had to know.
I hadn’t scrounged a dimestore lead that day and I was sore about it. I needed to make it up to myself. All the key players would be at the Breakfast: Dale DeGroff and Ted Haigh, David Wondrich and Audrey Saunders. It was my last shot to get in . . . → Read More: Periodista Tales: New Orleans, Part 7 — The Bartender’s Breakfast