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.