As an observer, it has been a fascinating experience to mix and mingle with bartenders from around the country at various spirits events. While I can comprehend the thinking and planning of chefs and their dishes, drink mixing still remains a bit out of my grasp. Much like traditional cooking, there are a multitude of ingredients – bitter, sweet, spicy – as well as particular techniques to pouring libations…and I’m still trying to get the hang of it.
In an effort to better understand the moving and shaking of a bar master’s post, I arrived to the Portland Cocktail Week activities on Saturday just in time for the super stellar freepouring seminar with Vegas’s sassy shaker, Tobin Ellis. More hands-on than most culinary demonstrations, the seminar offered bartenders the opportunity to toss, turn, flip, and pour along with the session’s host. With a packed house, Ellis offered tips from ergonomically holding a bottle of liquor to how to maneuver bottles between multiple cocktails without making a mess.
My favorite event of the weekend followed closely thereafter, with the presentation of Triple Buck at Davis Street Tavern. Hosted by San Francisco’s Bon Vivants, the event featured a friendly Buck Hunter Pro competition (with Milwaukee’s Mathias Simonis stealing first place) as well as a rather raucous whiskey-mixing competition. Guests were treated to stellar cocktails with a whole host of fine whiskeys to choose from, with the Bon Vivant crew, as well as Miami’s Ezra Pattek, holding it down behind the stick.
Saturday evening ended with possibly the most talked about drink adventure, with Robots Versus Bartenders taking over the patio at the Jupiter Hotel. Sci-fi nerds and cocktailians alike gathered to see what our friends in the robot world could create and how their drinks stood against flesh-and-blood bartenders. With an on-stage match up, the robots surprisingly won the challenge. (Though I think I’ll stick with mixers who can carry on a conversation while they make my drink!) Who knew?
Phew! On to Day 3!
Missed my coverage of Day 1 of the 2011 Portland Cocktail Week extravaganza? Check it out here!
*Photo credit: Jennifer Heigl / Daily Blender