I can't tell you how much I enjoy doing Brandyfest each year with Bar Agricole. I get to hang out with three of my best bartending friends—Thad, Eric, and Craig—while watching the dapper and habitually-late Charles Neal mingle his way through the audience; dropping by the table now and again to boss me around with a playful, older brother tone. We've really got a good thing going here, and the crowd keeps getting better and better each time we do it. It's such a laid back bunch. It's a group of people who really just want to hang out, learn a bit about Armagnac and Cognac, chat with their friends, and have some fun. It's so refreshing when you can party it up in San Francisco without the pretense.
We had incredible weather for the event last night. There wasn't even the smallest cloud of fog, the gentle breeze didn't have the slightest chill, and the temperature never felt a degree under 72. I don't think we could have picked a better evening to hang out on the front patio. Under those conditions, it didn't take Bar Agricole long to get the grill out.
The crazy thing about Brandyfest is that it's an open-ended tasting event. Once you're in you can drink and eat as much as you want until 9 PM. You could easily drink $200 worth of cocktails if you put your mind to it, and with Craig and Eric behind the stick all night long, every single one of those drinks would be perfect. Brandy cocktails were flowing like a fountain throughout the evening.
Big blocks of ice, small rocks glasses, simple ingredients, lots of pleasure. After drinking down three ounces of deliciously cold booze, you were then treated to an array of K&L exclusive brandy selections and a number of delicious Darroze Armagnacs to boot. Once again (as I knew it would) the 1998 Ladeveze Plaint de Graisse stole the show. People kept coming back over, and over, and over to try it again. "It's so different from the others," one attendee said. Exactly.
I think what most excites me about Brandyfest, however, is the atmosphere. It's always a reminder that summer is almost over and Fall is about to begin, so it's nice to have one last evening outside to celebrate the season. Aside from the weather, the mood and the attitude of the crowd is always so congenial and progressive that I leave inspired for the future of booze retail; refreshed for the next day ahead. No one once asked me about points, reviews, ratings, blogs, tracking down rare selections, or anything related to the oversaturated internet age of ranking one's connoisseurship for others to admire. These people didn't care about any of that stuff. They didn't care where they stood in the annuls of booze history. They were simply there to drink real booze and have a good time.
They just needed someone to create the space to do it. Folks—we were more than happy to oblige. Thank you for a great evening.