It's That Time Of Year Again!

Early July means it's time for the annual Tales of the Cocktail bacchanal down in New Orleans. It means a whole lotta hooch, fattening and deliriously good food, music until all hours and balmy weather. It also is the greatest gathering of spirit and cocktail professionals and enthusiasts, a chance to shake sweaty hands with and learn from the luminaries of our field, a chance to network and better your business and a chance to make new friends over yet another round of ill-advised drinks.

Crap. I love this.

If you can't make it this year, there is a simple way to keep up with the action; the Tales Blog. Run by Paul Clarke, with contributions from a long list of noted internet cocktail writers (and, um, me too), the Tales Blog promises to dig deeper than just covering the events this year. The bloggers team will no doubt report back with who made-out with who, who got a little too drunk, who got arrested and who managed to be talked out of taking off their clothes on Bourbon Street. Okay maybe not. In any case, make a note, too, of the individual blog sites from the contributers, as they will no doubt be filing reports on their own brilliant websites.

And mom, you might see video, you might see pictures, of your one and only son being weird and wild-eyed in The Big Easy. Don't trust your eyes. One word, mom, one word; Photoshop

The State of the Waldbauer

Well, I'm still here, even if it only seems like I've fallen off the face of the earth. Several developments in my personal and professional career have transpired, so here is what's been happening....

* The biggest thing to happen in my life lately is the sudden dissolution of my marriage to Christine Nylin. This began to unravel shortly after my last post in November and is the leading culprit in my absence from these pages. Simply put, it's the most devastating thing to ever happen in my life. Out of the deepest respect to Christine, I'm not going to go into details. I do want to offer my apologies to my friends, family, co-workers and associates for my distance, absent-mindedness, moods and general absence. The situation is never far from my heart and mind and I've been having issues re-adjusting, to put it mildly. I am flat-out not myself. It's been hard for me to get in the proper head-space to contribute not only to this blog but other places that have been expecting my contributions. Those of you who have been around me have been very kind and understanding and patient with me. This process might be a long one, so I thank you in advance for your continued patience.

* In November, I left Union to become part of the bartending team at Barrio. I want to publicly thank Ethan Stowell for allowing me the freedom to develop my spirit and cocktail acumen and for 3 wonderful years of working with him and his amazing staff. Put bluntly, I'm not where I am today without Ethan allowing me that freedom. Barrio has been a great experience and I've particularly enjoyed working with Casey Robison, an extraordinarily creative bartender and wonderful bar manager. In fact, the entire staff at Barrio, from upper-management on down, have been extraordinary. In particular, the managers (Cameron Williams and Leigha Bone) and our great bar team (Hans Twite, Matt Bailey, Aleko Lilly and Ricardo Hoffman) bent over backwards for me while I was going through overwhelming emotional (and sometimes physical) pain. I owe them a heartfelt public thank you.

* The previous post outlines this, but the Washington State Bartenders Guild has been formed and is, despite its recent silence, doing very well. Our mission and events have been well-covered in the Seattle area via The Stranger and The Seattle Weekly. In addition to our welcome party, we've held events covering absinthe and vermouth. Future events will be, in general, hosted by spirit companies in addition to some of our private events. And while I'm talking about it, I also want to thank my fellow board members and our membership for their patience with me as well. I'll be back soon, everyone. I promise.

* On March 6, 2009, I celebrated my 40th birthday. I traveled down with Rocky Yeh to Portland where I sat at the bars of Lance Mayhew, Kelly Swenson, Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Daniel Shoemaker, alongside blogger luminaries Craig Hermann and Blair Reynolds and one of my oldest friends, Bo Geddes. It was a really, really great way to celebrate me getting old. Being 40 has also kind of messed with my head quite a bit, especially working with such a young staff at Barrio. I never would have thought I'd need to adjust mentally to being 40 because I've never really felt old. Still don't really, but everyone else seems to think I am.

* That same weekend, I was lucky enough to be hired on by Kathy and John Casey to be a Consulting Mixologist for Kathy Casey Food Studios. It's truly an amazing development in my career. It's been an absolute blast working with her and her team, and I'm looking forward to many many years of working there. I can't overstate enough how thrilled I am to be working with and for her. Exciting times lay ahead.

* I'm not the self-proclaimed press whore Jamie Boudreau is, of course, but my name has been popping up in the press, which is always a good thing. I was nominated for a Rising Star Mixologist Award through, losing to Jim Romdall, who throughly deserves the win for his outstanding work at Vessel. I've also been mentioned in articles in the Seattle Times and the Seattle PI (R.I.P) recently. Casey, Cameron and I also were part of a live, internet radio broadcast from Barrio.

I'm sure I'm missing several things. As you can see from the above list, the last several months have been a rollercoaster, and I've had a lot on my plate, and the plate is going to get fuller, which I consider a good and welcome thing. I have toyed with the idea of re-vamping this site as I've never been satisfied with its construction and layout, and I'm a terrible photographer. I am hoping to jump back in to this blog and to re-connect with the blogs that taught me so much. Namely, I've been sketching out an idea for a book and will be publishing the work-in-progress on these pages. Stay tuned for that.

I'm genuinely excited for the future. Professionally, I'm doing very very well, as you can gather from the above. The personal, emotional and physical will catch up, and is already in process.

I look forward to seeing you at Barrio, Tales of the Cocktail or out and about in Seattle.

Ladies and Gentleman, The Washington State Bartenders Guild

Sometime this last summer, immediately after my wedding, I began talking with Seattle bartenders about getting together and forming a collective, a Guild actually, similar to what Oregon had just formed.

Turns out, I wasn't the only one who had been thinking about this. So it was, in late August, several of us gathered at Liberty and began hashing out what a bartenders guild could be.

Months of bickering and EARLY Sunday morning meetings (why we chose Sundays, I'll never know) later, I'm pleased to announce the formation of the Washington State Bartenders Guild.

You can check out our Mission Statement and Obejctives here. Also, you are welcome to attend our innagural event, a Kick-Off Party whose details can be found here. Please RSVP for the party through the Evite page.

Over the last several months, I've had the joy of getting to know several great bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts around town, and I'd like to use this space to thank them for dragging themselves out of bed every Sunday to participate, as well as to announce the provisional officers of the Guild.

Andrew Friedman, our President and owner of the wonderful Liberty on Capital Hill.
Will Rathler, Secretary and bartender at one of my favorite bars in the world, Sun Liquor.
Andrew Bohrer, Secretary and author of caskstrength
Casey Robison, Treasurer and bar manager of the soon-to-be-open cocktail lounge/restaurant Barrio (stay tuned!)
Kevin Langmack, Treasurer, bartender at both Sun Liquor and Spur (!), also writes the most irreverant blog I know.
Zane Harris, bartender at Vessel
Jim Romdall, bar manager at Vessel
Anu Apte, bartender at Vessel
Erik Chapman, bar manager at Sun Liquor
Jamie Boudreau, cocktail whisperer at Tini Biggs
Dave Nelson, bar manager at Spur
Erik Hakkinen, bartender at Zig Zag
Charles Munat, who created our lovely website and produced Left Coast Libations, a collection of cocktail recipes.
Robert Hess (Drinkboy and Small Screen Network)
Paul Clarke (Cocktail Chronicles)
Tara Last-Name-Unknown from Viceroy (apparently going to be re-named Rob Roy)

And yours truly, Veep and bartender at Union.

As long as I am handing out thanks, a special thanks to Daniel Shoemaker and Lance Mayhew of the Oregon Guild for all their advice and encouragement. Hopefully, we can join forces and take over the entire world.

I should also mention, please stay tuned on either Facebook (if you haven't found me there yet, please do) or the WSBG website for our first seminar, a reprise of the absinthe forum staged at last years Tales of the Cocktail, featuring the incomparable Gwdyion Stone and Paul Clarke, date and place to be announced (we're thinking December).

In a World Gone Soft, Someone's Got To Be Hard

Just so we're all clear, the key to the phrase "guilty pleasure" is, well the guilt. As in, "dang, I'm loving this, but really, I shouldn't, because there are people watching, people I know. Oh, I'll wait until they go away...."

I don't have guilt, folks. I loves what I love. Part of the beauty of approaching 40 is that, well, the things that you used to fret about just seem trivial now. At 40, you're getting an appreciation that life is both long and too short, and certain things just don't matter.

Like, ahem, other people's opinions, at least when it relates to me. Meh. Shrug.

So, okay, that's settled; guilt schmuilt. I wear my pleasure on my sleeve! (go ahead, insert your snarky joke here).

But Stevi has a fun topic for this Mixology Monday, so pardon me while I climb off my high horse and join the party.

What am I bringing to this party? Let's open the cooler and take a peek.

Jagermeister and Cheap Beer. Because I know damn well Jeffrey Morgenthaler isn't going to bring enough. Know why? There's never enough of the sheer awesomeness of Jager. Oh, and I brought the makings for the one true Jager cocktail.....

The Red-Headed Slut
1/2 oz. of the Jag
1/2 oz. of cranberry
1/2 oz. of peach liquer (no schnapps.... we're not freakin' savages over here!!! leave the schnapps for that poor sap with the backwards baseball cap slapping high-fives over something moronic, like "dude, like, you know. wooohooooo. Dude, wow, dude."

But Morgenthaler already nailed these beautifully, so we'll move on. At the bottom of the cooler, just so you greedy heathens don't swipe my stock is.....

So, the picture? That's Christine and I on our wedding day, obviously, and what am I holding in my mitt? The good stuff, hombre. And that look on my face? That's me trying to comprehend the sheer enormity of majesty and grandeur that is Mike's Hard Lemonade on a summer day. Know what? Couldn't do it. The human mind cannot fathom spectacles such as these.

Here's the thing. Mike's Hard Lemonade quenches your thirst so thoroughly that you're thirsty again (kind of the same way that Roadhouse is so bad it rounds the corner and achieves greatness). So you knock back another to quench the previous thirst. I can drain a six-pack in about an hour and feel fine. Warmhappyglow kind of fine. But I'll still be thirsty!!! You can't put a price on that kind of genius.....

Oh, need a cocktail? Well, here's the link to their mixology page. Good luck. For me, of course, that'd be blasphemé, but knock yourself out.

And, of course, they're based out of SEATTLE!!! Nobody expected world domination from the Pacific Northwest, but I'm telling, we're amazing out here..... Mike's is further proof.

Fish House Punch

There's a little place just out of town,
Where, if you go to lunch,
They'll make you forget your mother-in-law
With a drink called Fish-House Punch.

So I'm late. The title of this here blog refers to my, speed, my life. And I'm a fairly busy guy, just like Boudreau....

Anyway, feeling stupid that I didn't get my submission in on time for this month's MXMO, and heading over to, I noticed nobody wrote about Fish House Punch!!! Well well well...

Ted Haigh, aka the wonderful Dr. Cocktail, wrote an evocative piece about Fish House Punch in the September/October edition of Imbibe, so maybe that's why nobody tackled it. Who wants to follow up on Ted Haigh? Me? Not really. For the most part, he nailed it, offering history (the recipe originates in 1732, making it older than the nation itself), personal experience (drinking the punch at a ladies house who eliminated everything but the liquor) and a sense of time and tradition (autumnal rhapsody demands a drink "of ancestors and history").

I don't have that much to add. What I can say is that it is enjoying a healthy renaissance, popping up on cocktail menus around the world (1806, and Death & Co to name two), and that it works as a solo cocktail, too.

Fish House Punch
3/4 oz. dark rum
3/4 oz. Cognac
3/4 oz. peach brandy
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

Shake, strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and a single cherry.

I lifted the above recipe from the 2007 edition of the Food & Wine cocktail guide. I've been serving this at Union for over a year now, and the reception has always been favorable. If you'd like to try it as it's meant to be tried, I give you David Wondrich's adaptation from an 1862 recipe by some dude named Jerry Thomas in his recent book Imbibe.

1 pint fresh lemon juice
1 pound Demerara sugar
3 oz. peach brandy
27 oz. cognac
18 oz. rum
3 quarts water

He also gives his own individual serving along with some great backstory at Esquire.

There are some cocktails dredged up and respected simply because of their age and pedigree, and there are some that have withstood the test of time because, well, they're delicious. Fish House Punch falls in the latter category.