The Nation Rises
Last night was our first single malt event at Bar Agricole and it went off just as smoothly as we could have hoped. We had thirteen outstanding whiskies to pour, unlimited Faultline whisky cocktails, and all the snacks you could stomach. All of this and we even had the weather on our side. It's been warm this week in the Bay Area, so we camped out on the patio and invited our small group of forty ticket holders into the event.
I put the pour spouts into the bottles, threw on my "Malternative Nation" T-shirt (Thad even made the font just like the old "Alternative Nation" program on MTV from which it was inspired), and got behind the counter; ready to pour some fine Scotch whisky for eager and excited guests.
Eric Johnson was right there with me, pouring glasses of Faultline Blended Scotch, prepping his cocktails. This time around, however (unlike with the rum and brandy events), there were far fewer folks in the house, which made Eric's job much easier. He had time to perfectly craft each individual glass and the drinks were incredible. I went back for seconds and thirds.
Our San Francisco store's Jeff Jones and Dulcinea Gonzalez were there with me, making people happy, talking booze, shooting the shit with all the lovely attendees. There was no bravado from the crowd last night; none of that "how does this whisky compare to the fourth release of Brora?" bullshit. We had a group of people who were there to drink, experience, enjoy, and just let their hair down. I had an absolute blast visiting with everyone (and having the time and space to visit with everyone). It was so easy-going and laid back, with people talking about their favorite whiskies in a light-hearted manner. I really needed this experience to remind me of how fun whisky can be when you eliminate the egos from the equation. And the food we ate! You can see Akeem there in the background shucking oysters. His snacks were exquisite. He made ribs, sausages, and these little fritters that had mushy peas with mint and tumeric inside. I had like seven of those.
What really wowed me, however, were the cocktails. I never imagine blended whisky being something one could mix well into a classic drink, but Eric made these Old Fashioneds with our peated formula, some Small Hand Foods gum syrup, a dash of house-made bitters, and a small amount of maraschino cherry liqueur; all swirled up with a pungent rind of fresh lemon. "We have to post this recipe!" I told him. "People will go crazy for this drink if they can make it at home!" I'll get the recipe for you all later.
The other drink he made was kind of an "Army Navy" variation with peaty Scotch instead of gin. He used orgeat and lemon juice, then shook and strained into a nice little coup. It was also delicious. Almost like a mezcal sour, but with a creaminess from the sweet malted flavor. Next time we might have to do a simple Scotch cocktail event, rather than a full-out tasting. If you want to try these recipes, however, we are allowing Bar Agricole to stock the Faultline Blended Scotch, so you can probably grab either of these cocktails the next time you're there.
C-Diddy was in the house. We taught Charles the Islay way of eating oysters. A little five year old Caol Ila on that half shell, and voila!
I was most happy about the fact that everyone got their money's worth. The tickets were $100 because we had to divide the cost of the event by 40 guests rather than the usual 80; hopefully resulting in a smaller, more intimate group. At the same time, we definitely wanted people to feel satisfied with their experience and squeeze every last nickel out of that entrance fee. K&L super-customer Jeff Green told me, "Hell, I ate five dozen oysters. That's easily $100 right there." People had three hours to take their time, mingle, savor the spirits, and toss down a few cold drinks. No crowds, no lines, no nonsense. God, what fun!
We're really putting together some great events over at Bar Agricole; as long as you're there to eat, drink, and relax, that is. The quality of the booze being poured at our tastings can speak for itself. If you're looking to impress other guests by grilling a master distiller with ridiculous comments about the batch differences between A'bunadh releases, or ask esoteric questions about the history of Pappy bottle barcodes, then these are not the events for you. Personally, I'm over that type of tasting and so are a lot of our customers. From here on out, it's all about party time. I hope you'll join us next time!