Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Milo Rodriguez and Bombay Sapphire

So I've been a bit overwhelmed with the OBG, GADF and sundry other tasks, AND I'm just getting over a bad cold, so I'm even more behind than I was when I started admitting just how behind that I am on my blogging. Plus, I've had the worst writers block ever. I think it might have just been stress, but this blog, which I started as an exercise to hopefully write as well as Shoshanna Cohen one day, turned into a task so I needed a bit of a break.

Luckily I got one when I got to compete on Labor Day in the Bombay Sapphire/ GQ Magazine most inspired bartender contest. I was first loser, but I got to pour a cocktail for Milo Rodriguez, and friends and family came out in rowdy droves to cheer me on, so the night counts as a success.

Even better, the next day, JP (of 50 Plates) and I attended a private luncheon with Milo and a few of the other bartenders from around town. I have to say, and I've met quite a few, but Milo Rodriguez is the embodiment of what it means to be a brand ambassador. He is knowledgable without being arrogant, friendly, humble and an absolute kick in the pants. He presented a short class on the John Collins, let us play around a bit with the Collins, and then treated us to a nice lunch at Oba (well, I'm sure I owe Jason Moore of Bacardi Brands a thank you for that too).

The next evening, I had the opportunity to take Milo, Jason, and Kyle (also of Bacardi if memory serves me right) out a bit in Portland to show off our local cocktail scene. We met at TearDrop where David Shenaut and Evan the new guy (I'm sorry Evan, I'm blanking here) were holding court with thier usual fabulous assortment of inventive cocktails. Next, we headed over to 50 Plates, where Suzanne and JP were holding down the bar. JP made us all a round of drinks, including a top flight Sazerac and one of his killer mint juleps, Chef Randall came out and said hi and sent some of 50s great desserts out for Milo to try.

Next, it was on to Ten01, where Kelley had (unfortunately) already closed for the night, so off to Clyde we went. Nate Tilden, the owner, was there, and he and Milo seemed to hit it off immediately. Tommy Habetz, one of my favorite people in Portland was at the bar, and Ben Bettinger, soon to be chef at Beaker and Flask (I can't wait) was on his way out, so I got to introduce Milo to some of the better talent in back of the house as well.

I've heard a rumor that Milo is coming back to Portland in October, and I'm definitely excited about the opportunity to make some more cocktails with him, and more importantly to learn from him. Having someone like that in Portland was a personal thrill for me, and while he may have arrived in Portland as a brand ambassador, he left as my friend.

In other news, Ky Belk, of Elway's Steakhouse fame and imho the best bartender in Colorado popped in very briefly to 50 Plates before heading back home. I wish I could have spent some more time with the man, but, as happens, Ky and his better half fell in love with the Oregon coast. At least I got the honor of serving him a cocktail.

I'm taking this weekend off to do a little tourism myself. I'm headed up to Seattle for theatre and perhaps a few cocktails along the way. I'm definitely interested in hitting Union to see Keith Waldbauer, and I'd love to try to squeeze in to Zig Zag to see Murray in action, but this trip is really about pleasure, not cocktails (not that they are mutually exclusive, but this is more of a couples trip than a boozing it up, late nights in Seattle trip, you know?).

Oh, a few other really cool things happening in my life right now. First, this Sunday, I'm lucky enough to be part of the next OBG event which happens to pair chefs with bartenders to create cocktails. I'm lucky enough to be paired with Jenn Lewis of Lincoln, and I'm really really excited to do this with her. Also, on Tuesday, apparently Chef and I are being interviewed for some local tv show. Every time I'm interviewed with a camera in my face I get crazy thoughts that just run through my head constantly. I'm always afraid that I'm going to burst out in song or say something a little off when there is a camera in the room, just so all of you know.


SC said...

Aw, shucks, Lance. You officially just made my month. Yeah, it can be really tough to find inspired things to say about alcohol day in and day out, trust me. Which is why sometimes you've gotta lay off the keyboard and go out to find things to write about, as you ably demonstrate. Sounds like a great couple of days, I'm glad you're back in the swing.

Anonymous said...

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