You gotta love booze bloggers...
The Cocktail & Spirits Online Writing Group (CSOWG) held their 2011 Drink.Write Conference in Washington D.C. last December, and boy was it a blast.
Hosted by the incorrigible SeanMike Whipkey of Scofflaw’s Den, the conference encompassed a weekend of events designed to bring like-minded writers together for their appreciation of “the sauce” in whatever form that may take.
Among the Drink.Write attendees: Marshall Fawley III, Whipkey’s co-editor at Scofflaw’s Den; Chris Hwalek (a.k.a. DJ Hawaiian Shirt) of Spirited Remix; Matt Browner Hamlin of A Jigger of Blog; Courtney Randall of Cocktail Quest; Stevi Deter of Two at the Most.
The event launched at PS7's in Chinatown, where Mixtress Gina Chersevani and Chef Peter Smith summoned a flock of flavors that sent our taste buds flying.
This culinary duo didn't hold back.
Gina opened our dining adventure with a delectable Prosecco and Aperol mixed drink garnished with a Meyer lemon wheel holding up a fresh sprig of rosemary.
From what I could tell, this tipple served as a nice representation of the Aperol Sprtiz that's gained some popularity in The States these past few years.
One received quite the orchestra of aromas after sticking a nose in the over-sized wine glass.
But the flavors - mildly sweet and dry fizzy wine with a fruity and lightly bitter aperitif - made you fall in love with Gina's drink.
The choice of fare? Among the antipasto: Italian Wedding Soup with house-made sausage, Insalata de Rucola with house-cured Lomo (which, in turn, yielded a stimulating conversation with Chef about the art of curing meats), and Rice Balls nested in a ricotta schmear.
PS7's pasta and entree dishes included: Fettucini ai Funghi, Linguini with White Clams, Potato Gnocchi, Veal Saltimboca with house-cured ham and Chicken Francaise.
As one can see, it didn’t take long for an encampment of plates to occupy our table.
There are many details about the evening which would perfectly demonstrate the magic we experienced that night.
But it was Gina’s colorful tale about visiting family in Italy and her embarrassing attempt (and failure) at milking a goat that made my evening.
After a few shots of Averno Sambuca and B. Lo Nardini Acquavite di Grappa Rue, Gina unveiled her prized bottle of Eau-De-Vie Chartreus.
Bottled in France prior to the Nazi occupation, Gina stood fast and wouldn't open this handsome relic despite our eager pleas.
The circus continued further as the bartender at PS7's, who had finished for the night, unleashed his juggling skills.
He was slinging bottles and stalling them on his arms like they were acrobats in some Russian circus.
DJ Hawaiian Shirt and I logged in some quality time after almost a year of correspondence.
DJ's a George Washington University graduate who left the Foggy Bottom womb just as Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy opened its doors.
He and I anticipated finally getting the opportunity to meet each other in person. DJ was, in fact, the only reason I even knew about Drink.Write.
Eventually, most of the Drink.Write attendees had to hit the road. But SeanMike, Courtney, and myself continued to carry the torch and made our way to The Passenger.
We secured the end of a pleasant evening with a few more cocktails and beers.
Needless to say, the next morning was rough.
As planned, the next evening called for a loosely formatted show n’ tell session in the private dining lounge at Jack Rose.
A small army of imbibers huddled around the medium-sized bar as guests unleashed their possessions.
I counted more than twenty bottles of varying categories perched on the bar which were open to anyone who wanted a taste.
Each bottle’s owner presented his or her reasons for bringing their booze in addition to any nifty facts about the liquid inside.
When everybody had their say, the attendees were let slip to sampled whatever spirit peaked his or her interest.
Among the guests in attendance, The Ministry of Rum’s Edward Hamilton, who I first met two years ago at the 2009 Craft Bartender’s Guild Repeal Day Ball at PS7's.
A year later, Ed, Nic and I picked up where we left off when we returned to the Repeal Day Ball at the Maison Biltmore Mansion in 2010.
He clearly hadn't forgotten us and reignited one of the warmest friendships that we’d established in the craft-cocktail world.
Jake Parrott of Ledroit Brands was also among the other past Repeal Day friends that I encountered again.
Little did I know, we would continue to run into each other in the coming weeks (but that's for another post).
As the main event closed at Jack Rose, the remainder of the evening played itself out again at The Passenger, where a congregation of bloggers and cocktailians landed.
The Drink.Write attendees continued their discussions while swimming in some of the best mixed hooch Washingtonians can buy.
The next morning, SeanMike had secured a Washington D.C. Temperance Tour with Garrett Peck.
(Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the informative expedition this time. I'm hopeful I can take advantage of it at some point in the near future.)
While I spent my afternoon at Susan Soorenko and Carla Hall's media event the Drink.Write attendees primped for the 2012 Repeal Day Ball.
Nic and I had determined months ago that, with our trip to Europe only a couple of weeks away, we would have to skip the ball this year.
But, as I understand it, the ball was a gas.
Sunday brunch took place at Bourbon in Adam’s Morgan. All of the attendees, save Courtney and Matt, were there attacking their brunch and laughing it up like a bunch of kids.
I partly wished I could share in the memories of the ball with the group. Yet, I felt content enjoying rich breakfast food and listening to their stories.
To finish things off, SeanMike brought us back to Jack Rose where Nic and I witnessed our first Speed Rack - a women's bartending competition that raises money to fight breast cancer.
I was hardly prepared for the apparent role reversal built into the format as some of the best craft-bartenders in the business mixed it up while wearing women's clothing.
The sum of these events left me excited to join my brilliant new friends again in future boozy events.
A week later, as Nic and I flew out to Paris, I couldn't help but reflect on the new writers I'd met and how lucky I am to be involved with such interesting folks.
Note: This post has been revised since its original publication
Note: This post has been revised since its original publication