Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tales: Cognac & Blues Lunch @ Arnaud's

A special event at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail was a Cognac & Blues Luncheon at Arnaud’s on Friday. This was a four course lunch with five paired cocktails, each featuring Cognac. The cocktails were designed by leading bartenders such as Dale DeGroff and the food was the classic cuisine of Arnaud’s one of New Orleans’s legendary old school restaurants. To accompany the food and cocktails, a blues band played in the room for the duration of the lunch; some attendees even began to dance.

Cocktail guru and author Tony Abou-Ganim (pictured above) attended the event and was duly toasted as it was his birthday. The service was traditional (women were served first) and each table was anchored by a cocktail industry personality. I sat at the table of Allen Katz, the Director of Mixology and Spirits Education for Southern Wine & Spirits in New York, as he is an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a number of years.

A unique element of the cocktails was that several of them were variations of classic cocktails which are not usually made with Cognac. The Mojito VSOP by Todd Appel was the most surprising and most successful of these twists. The mint and Cognac was very refreshing and lighter than I would have expected.

The menu was:

Welcome Cocktail: Cognac Summit by Brian Van Flandern
[The recipe for this cocktail is at the end of this post]

Ritz Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

Onion and Tomato Salad, Herb de Provence & Fried Brie
Mojito VSOP by Todd Appel

Roasted Chicken with a Summer Bean Cassoulet
Side Car by Ryan Margarian

Crème Brulee
Pimp My Julep by Francesco Lafranconi

Cognac Summit Recipe:
Place lime zest and ginger slices in the glass
Pour in ¾ oz. VSOP Cognac
Lightly press the lime and ginger 2-3 times using a pestle
Half fill the glass with ice
Stir well for 5 seconds using a bar spoon
Pour in ¾ oz. VSOP Cognac
Add 2 oz. of traditional lemonade and a cucumber peel
Stir well for 5 seconds using a bar spoon
Serve immediately!

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