We are well aware that yesterday's Gold Standard was all about the food, even in the week of the cocktail. However, those of you who overlooked the various adult beverages offered at the event missed a rare and awesome opportunity to drink large quantities of high class, top quality libations from tiny disposable cups. Though the selection was perhaps on the small side, those who did bring booze brought it big, and the drinks they poured lingered in our minds well into the evening, and lingered in our heads somewhat less well into this morning.
The most obvious standout was right near the entrance, where the bartenders of Cole's, newly minted kings of the Old-Fashioned, mixed the bourbon, bitters, orange peel, and cherry in a real glass with a fat block of hand-carved ice. Because the pours were strong and the presentation was so great, and because it takes time to mix quality drinks, the booth was crowded all day and the wait was sometimes quite long. The bartenders, busy as they were, were able to make the downtime totally bearable with their banter and their willingness to answer questions, and watching the ice being shaped with a giant knife provided plenty of entertainment as well.
A quick stop at the A-Frame booth for some kettle corn also yielded a lovely pinkish concoction of rum, falernum, hibiscus, lime, and orange bitters, which they called a Fine Print. It was sweet and easy to drink, but still packed a nice punch. The Moon Mountain booth had shots for sampling, but they were also pouring what they called an Olympus Mons. What this ginger and lemon cocktail had to do with a massive Martian volcano (beyond the obvious Moon Mountain-Mars mountain parallel) we are not really sure, but it was quite tasty nonetheless.
The teetotalers and designated drivers in the crowd also had plenty to sip on, from Jones coffee drinks to an amazing cactus-pineapple agua fresca served out of a plastic jug at the La Casita Mexicana booth. Thankfully for drinkers and drivers alike, there was also a water bottle booth, though it did run out before the end of the event.
All of the drinks were great, but there was one true star. It may not be a traditional cocktail, but Babita Mexicuisine's sangria was a real delight. It was perfectly balanced, with plenty of sweetness, tang, and booze, but managed to remain light enough to be enjoyed comfortably all afternoon long. On each of our many circuits through the large tent, we found ourselves unable to resist the pull of the little paper cups full of finely chopped apples floating in pure ambrosia. It was the first drink we had that afternoon, it was the last drink we had, and it is the one we are most likely to seek out next.