I finally made it to a seminar…Latino Libations presented by Tony Abou-Ganim. Always an entertaining presentation, Tony was helped by some fortuitous finds in the audience that almost upstaged the master. Aided by the able talents of Diego Loret de Mola, Tony gave an informative history lesson and current take on Cachaça and Caipirinhas, Pisco and Pisco Sours, Rum and Mojitos. I recognized someone in the audience and stopped to say hi and it turned out to be Stacey Smith, Beverage Director of Pappas Restaurants in Houston whom I shared a great dinner with at the Sante’ Restaurant Symposium last year. Also attending the seminar were Herbie Loebl of Pisco Monte Sierpe, Jean Francois Bonneté of Mystique Brands and Michael Trujillo, New Mexico mixologist for SWS.

Next it was downstairs to the Cocktail hour with about 30 stations serving some incredibly diverse cocktail creations. Frankly though, I didn’t like many of them. It struck me as though everyone erred on the side of “creativity” in a palette of flavors I’m not really in love with… a lot with hot peppers, unique combinations of spices and fruits, interpretations of classics substituting tequila for rum or in one case a Brandy Alexander made with Absinthe that quite frankly, smelled like mildew! We did get to meet Natalie Bovis-Nelson aka The Liquid Muse and enjoyed her creation the Nolita Heat.