There are invitations, and then there are invitations! When Jim Meehan of New York’s famous PDT bar, asked me if I might consider being involved in an event at Tales of the Cocktail this year, of course it got my attention. When he explained the event and listed the people involved in the project, it became the sort of invitation you simply can’t say no to. A group of bar luminaries coming together to honour the work of a bartending legend, in a unique and compelling way is hard to resist. Make the setting for this event in New Orleans on the Mississippi river, and get four fantastic brands involved and there was no way I could say no!
Colin Asare-Appiah, decided that it was about time someone paid homage to Tom Bullock, the first African American to release a cocktail book, back in 1917. If you don’t recognise the name, there’s more information below about why he remains an important historical figure in the world of bartending. Anyway, while he seldom gets the spotlight, making way instead for the likes of Jerry Thomas, Harry Craddock and Harry Johnson, his book, The Ideal Bartender, has done more to record the history of pre-prohibition cocktails than any other I can think of. So the idea of building an event around this character from our cocktail past was instantly appealing, but the method for doing so needed to be something special.
But first more about the man himself, Mr Tom Bullock…
This week I am feeling pretty lucky. You see Jim Rutledge, the Master Distiller from Four Roses is over in the UK and I have been invited to tag along with him as he does various events and trainings in bars across London, Leeds and Glasgow. He's here in the UK to kick start the new focus that Four Roses has on the UK market, since teaming up with InSpirit. So as we reach the half way point in Jim's stay I thought it only right to share some Jim's teachings and insight with those who've not been able to meet him in person.
I thought I would pick one day during his visit and share my notes from his training sessions as they panned out across the day... I guess I had better start with the bourbon Breakfast. That's right, you heard me, bourbon Breakfast!
Yesterday started with a small group of us meeting Jim for breakfast at Smith's of Smithfield as a chance for a few industry bods to get to know him in a fairly relaxed setting. It was only a matter of time before someone suggested that we 'just quickly run through the range' (while tucking into a full English fry up of epic proportions). I should state for the record that it's not my usual practice to have neat bourbon with my breakfast... but actually it did go really well with the bacon! So Jim kindly obliged by giving us a brief run through of the three products in the Four Roses range, Yellow Label, Small Batch and Single Barrel. He also talked a little about the history of Four Roses and how it has arrived at this point in time: its rejuvination.