All our LUPEC meeting venues welcome us graciously, but LUPEC ladies who walked in the door of Bastille’s Back Bar for our April meeting may have felt a little extra special. It was a delightful surprise to see three large tables decked out with black tablecloths, cloth napkins, cocktail plates, drink and dinner menus, and (the always important) water glasses. But maybe I should have expected that from a bar with a gigantic Illuminated chandelier as its central decoration.
I was immediately drawn to the two barrel aged cocktails featured on the menu: Barrel Aged Primrose Hill Cocktail (gin, dry vermouth, maraschino, fernet branca) and the Barrel Aged White Point (white dog whiskey, punt e mes, yellow chartreuse, angostura & orange bitters). I have been reading about barrel aged cocktails, even seen a few featured in online cocktail menus, but thus far, hadn’t had the chance to try one. Always a sucker for Punt e Mes and generally preferring whiskey over gin, I selected the White Point. In traditional LUPEC manner, my cocktail was passed around for tasting by the ladies at my end of the table. I am happy to report that even those that aren’t white dog fans agreed it was very tasty, and a few ordered the White Point for themselves.
By the next round of drinks large platters of cured meats, bowls of olives, crostini and mustard arrived to help sustain us through the lively evening.
Throughout the evening I had the delightful opportunity to taste several cocktails from the menu, including: Bankhead Cocktail, Saint-Marc Daiquiri, and Trinidad Buck. However, my favorite was the Pinfire Cocktail—basically a double old fashioned, but with some house coffee bitters and one of Bar Manager, Erik Carlson’s signature hand-chipped ice cubes. It was an appealing presentation, lovely flavor, and a smooth coffee finish that I didn’t expect, but was truly delightful. I was so pleased with this drink that I am determined to make some coffee bitters for my next liquor project.
Some other LUPEC members chose to let our bartenders get creative, so I got to taste some funky rhum agricole-based drinks as well. I will definitely be expanding my rum horizons and the number of rums in my liquor cabinet as a result.
This meeting reminded me why I enjoy LUPEC so much. Sometimes there is a formal educational element or structured tasting. But more often than not, I’m just socializing and learning about cocktails and ingredients from my fellow LUPEC members. Some of my favorite LUPEC things:
- I can taste at least three cocktails before ordering my own.
- Everyone understands eye contact with them may be sketchy until you place your first drink order.
- Having a passion for trying new drinks and owning more than five types of sweet vermouth is not viewed as a “problem”.
- I go to bars I never would have gone to and taste drinks I never would have ordered on my own.
- The more meetings I go to, the more welcome hugs I get from the fabulous ladies I get to know better every month.
Who wouldn’t like that?
A big LUPEC thanks to Bar Manager, Erik Carlson, and all the delightful Bastille staff for the great service, tasty bites, and of course, the delicious cocktails. À votre santé! **
** Cheers! (more literally "to your health")
April's guest blog post is brought to you by Karen Kenyon, a true enthusiast and connoisseur of fine cocktails. Thank you so much Karen for a very well written account of our meetings, I couldn't agree more! And big thanks and kudos to Bastille's bar manager Erik and his team for treating us all so well. And of course for making such fine cocktails. ~Wendy