Bartending With a Splash of Star Trek

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Photo by John-Morgan/Flickr CC

OK, I'll admit it. I've been to a Star Trek convention. My little brother was a Trekkie, and I took him to a convention featuring Marina Sirits who played Dianna Troy--the empathic ship counselor--on Star Trek: The Next Generation. As we stood in line, my little brother whispered to me that he hoped Marina couldn't really read his mind. It was at that moment that I was certain he would outgrow his fascination with speaking Klingon.

Forward 15 years later, and I find myself attending another conference with overt similarities to a Star Trek convention called Tales of the Cocktail. It's an annual celebration of spirits, bartending and cocktail culture held in New Orleans. This is its seventh year running.

Just like Star Trek conventions, there are attendees bedecked in costume: vests, fedoras, and pocket watches; celebrity bartenders everyone wants to see; and kitschy merchandise.

There are, in fact, many differences between the two, with the main difference being the copious amounts of alcohol at Tales (Klingon "Bloodwine" made from synthenol doesn't count). But just like Star Trek conventions, there are attendees bedecked in costume: vests, fedoras, and pocket watches; celebrity bartenders everyone wants to see; and kitschy merchandise.

This is my second year and despite the geek factor, which I cannot realistically deny my own participation in, Tales is a blast. Last year I dressed in bathrobes at a seminar to discuss hangover remedies with Todd Thrasher, created cocktails for a cocktail pairing dinner, participated in a mock funeral for the Appletini, drank along side bartending (and drinking) greats, toured historic bars and learned a lot about spirits, cocktails and bartending. One week later, my liver was begging for a reprieve.

This year I'm lucky enough to be conducting a dinner at Morton's (who doesn't love a great steak and cocktail) with a little help from their corporate beverage director Tylor Field and my fellow D.C. mixologists--Adam Bernbach and Chantal Tseng. I encourage those in town to sign up; this will be a great dinner.

I'm also lucky enough to moderate a discussion with cocktail historians David Wondrich, Phil Greene, and Fernando Castellon. These guys are some of the greatest repositories of historical knowledge of classic cocktails. In Star Trek geek terms, that's cooler than episode #102, Season 5 of Star Trek: TGN and Episode 44, Season 1 of Star Trek: TOS combined.

Come down and join us. Sign up at the Tales of the Cocktail website.

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Derek Brown is a writer, illustrator, bartender, and co-owner of acclaimed bars The Passenger and Columbia Room in Washington, D.C. He sits on the board of directors for the Museum of the American Cocktail. More

Derek Brown is a writer, illustrator, bartender, and co-owner of acclaimed bars The Passenger and Columbia Room in Washington, D.C. He travels throughout the country and around the world in search of great drinks, and the stories behind them. Derek's methodical approach to cocktails was profiled in the Wall Street Journal's "A Master of Mixological Science" and his martini lauded as the best in America by GQ. He's been in numerous media outlets featuring his approach to better drinking, including CNN, The Rachel Maddow Show and FOX. Derek is a founding member of the D.C. Craft Bartender's Guild and on the board of directors for the Museum of the American Cocktail.
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