Saturday, April 28, 2012

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Tales of the Cocktail Update. I'm Out; Rupf and Heugel Are In

Missing a Tales of the Cocktail weekend is not something I do lightly. Yet for the first time in years, I'm out. Whether I'm at the podium or in the audience, the annual fĂȘte in New Orleans has been one of my must-do events for almost a decade. If you look at the schedule for this year's sessions, you will find me listed once again as a presenter, this time with Paul Clarke of Imbibe magazine and the Cocktail Chronicles.

Well, grab onto your seats, kids — the lineup just changed. The session on American non-grape brandies is still on, but if you've already bought a ticket with hopes of seeing me in New Orleans, you just got an upgrade; Paul will be joined by not one but two others on the mic.

Bobby Heugel of Anvil
First up is Houston bartender Bobby Heugel, co-owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge. Bobby will be on hand to offer the thirsty crowd brandy-based libations and a bar owner's perspective on using these American fruit spirits. We've mentioned him before for his rum, Averna, buttermilk (yeah, buttermilk), and Chartreuse cocktail, the Vanderbilt Fugitive.

Jorg Rupf and Lance Winters next to an Arnold Holstein
Paul and Bobby will be joined by pioneer California distiller Jorg Rupf. Rupf founded St. George Spirits in Emeryville, California in 1982, twenty-five years before most of today's distilleries even existed. His masterful eaux de vie are exemplars of the craft and have racked up award after award. Twenty years after the founding of the distillery, he and distiller Lance Winters blended American wheat and viognier grapes to create a new vodka they dubbed Hangar One.

You may have heard of it.

Rupf is now officially retired. But some people just can't leave work behind when they call it quits; we are pleased that he still has some skin in the game and will be sharing over three decades of distilling knowledge.

Regrettably, a conflict has arisen that precludes my joining this august triumvirate in New Orleans. A shame. It sounds fantastic.

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