Friday, July 20, 2007

South America Way

Hallelujah! The internet works on the rooftop Riverview Room, somehow. The room is the location of the "South American Spirits" seminar, presented by Junior Merino and Ed Nesta. So we're in the land of Pisco and Cachaca. Each attendee is equipped with a muddler and a cup of limes.

I rode up in the elevator with an amusing bartender who works at the Swizzle Stick, a cocktail destination here in NoLa, and a popular spot with the Tales of the Cocktail crowd. Apparently, the TOTC mafia put him through a workout the evening before. "All the cocktail guys with nicknames were there last night," he said wearily.

So Pisco is a brandy, dontcha know? We're told of the grapes used to distill Pisco. It's the first I've heard about grapes this week, a reminder that there is such a thing as wine in the drinking world. Anyway, apparently, Chile and Peru like to fight about who invented it, and each country has its own way of making it, using different types of stills and aging processes.

And what's a seminar without drinks? We sampled a Pisco Sour (which includes egg whites, which will have to serve as my breakfast today); Caipiranha (which I've been alternating with Pimm's Cups as my home cocktail for most of this summer), La Rayuela (made with Picso, Damiana Liqueur, Aloe Vera juice, Quince syrup, and lime juice, topped with lime zest, and ridiulously refreshing), and Saude (which, ironically, means "Health" in Portuguese, because it contains an ounce of the prune-juice-like Acai). Saude is a ruby-red drink, a nice bit of color among all the citrus hues.

For the Caipiranha, it was audience participation time. No instructor had to tell me how to do this. We did this to the accompaniment of some percussive Latin music. First mood music of the convention. It made quite a difference. From now on, I'm demanding background music at every seminar.

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