Why don’t you come out and see me sometime?

The next couple of weeks are shaping up to be crazy ones, in the best possible way!   Simply put, here’s my event calendar, and I hope to see you (or hear you!) at one of these events. Cheers!

 Thursday, September 30:  Cocktails For Everyone! radio, on VoiceAmerica.com. I’ll be talking about Spice & Ice on this lively radio show about the people “behind the bottle,” with host Catherine Schiff.

Friday, October 1: Martha Stewart Radio (Sirius). I’ll be on the “Morning Living”  show talking about chile pepper-spiked cocktails.

Saturday, October 2:  Chile Pepper Fiesta at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, NY.  Book signing and drink sampling!

Tuesday, October 5:  Drink.Think, a new reading event about all things drink! New York, NY.

I’m giving gifts to celebrate my blog-iversary!

Happy one-year anniversary!  Hard to believe, but as of June 30, the Spice & Ice blog has been spicing up the blogosphere for a full year.

To say thank you for joining me for this fun ride, I’m giving away two Spice & Ice gift baskets!  Just add a comment below, and you’ll be entered into a random drawing for the package, which includes a copy of the book, a bottle of booze, and more. Winners will be announced on June 30. Since liquor is involved, you must be at least 21 to enter.

Please feel free to spread the word (re-tweet, re-post, etc.) – and just think how much fun you could have mixing up spicy libations at your Fourth of July celebration. Good luck!

Feeding cocktails to children is bad, right?

Someday, I’m going to look back on all this and laugh. Right?

I was in Portland, OR last week, promoting Spice & Ice in between general networking and merriment at the IACP conference. I had exactly two promotional opportunities planned:  a cocktail segment on KATU (the local ABC-TV affiliate), and book-signing at the IACP Cookbook Expo. What could possibly go wrong?

Part I:  Morning

The KATU studio, with Robo-Camera. It's like the world's biggest Roomba!

I arrived at KATU bright & early at 8:45 am, all my cocktail gear in hand. (Including all my chopped cucumbers, poblanos, and more, lovingly peeled and cut in my hotel room the evening before, aka “hotel mise-en-place.” Isn’t my life glamorous?) I set up quick-as-a-wink on a bar that would be wheeled out into the studio at the appropriate moment, and waited for my cue.

And then, they brought in the “studio audience.” I’ve never done a cocktail demo in a TV studio before, and certainly never in front of a studio audience. And for a moment, I froze.

They were children on a class trip.

Not exactly an ideal group for a cocktail demo. In fact, it’s a wildly inappropriate audience for a cocktail demo.

But I took a deep breath, and when the time came, I did my thing, doing my best to forget about who was watching, and focusing instead on making 3 Margarita variations. If you’d like to watch, the video is posted here.  Look for the host’s “trick” with the ice cubes. At least that part amused the kids.

Part II:  Afternoon

Repeat to myself:  no feeding cocktails to children, no feeding cocktails to children.  Fat chance!  At the IACP Cookbook expo, alphabetical order dictated seating order. To my left was Cynthia Nims, promoting her fun new book Gametime Gourmet with fun Scrabble tiles and other fun games. And to my right was Jackie Newgent, promoting her Big Green Cookbook  with “hyper-baked” chocolate chip cookies. Games + Cookies = children, like moths to the proverbial flame.

I found myself shooing away said moths reaching for a glass of pretty pink liquid to wash down their cookies. (Kool-Aid?  No, Blood-Orange Jalapeno Margaritas.) I’d say, as kindly as I could, “there’s alcohol in that,” and they’d snatch away their little hands as if I’d said “there’s poison in that.” 

Feeding cocktails to children is bad, right?  Then why does the universe seem to want me to do just that?

See you in Portland?

Later this week, I’ll be headed to Portland, Oregon, for the annual International Association of Culinary Professionals conference.  I’m excited to be attending for a number of reasons:

1. Seeing in person friends I otherwise only get to see on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail…and meeting new people who enjoy talking about the food world in gloriously geeky detail, as I do.

2. For once, I’m not involved in presenting a panel….so this feels a little like a mini-vacation. It will be great to attend seminars and relax and fully immerse in listening to the presenters, rather than hoping feverishly that all my presenters and critical ingredients have arrived on time and in good condition. (there’s a story in there about AWOL ingredients and presenters in less-than-pristine condition, which I’ll save for another day.)

3. But yes, it’s still a business trip, and I’ll be signing copies of Spice & Ice at the IACP Culinary Book Fair.  I’ll be making drinks too, in case you needed extra inducement to stop by and say hello!

4. While I’m in town, I’ll also be on KATU’s Primetime TV show (that’s the ABC affiliate), talking about the book and demonstrating cocktails. And yes….unlike my last TV appearance, they WILL be cocktails, not mocktails!  (insert cheering sound effects here)

5.  Portland itself. This will be my first time there, and I’ve heard amazing things about the city’s vibrant food and beverage culture. I have a long (and growing!) list of bars, coffee houses, distilleries, and restaurants I’m looking forward to trying out.  And if you’ve got a place (or a drink!) to suggest, I’m all ears.

Tad Carducci is making the world’s hottest cocktail!

I thought that might get your attention.  Yes, it’s true:  Tippling Brother Tad Carducci has officially embarked on a mission to create “the world’s hottest cocktail.” He’s still working on it, so he can’t (won’t?) tell me what’s in it yet, nor did he tell an Associated Press reporter working on a story about spicy cocktails, who I pointed in his direction. However, he did tell her that “it will contain six different chiles, from somewhat mild to incendiary,” and that would-be imbibers will need to sign a waiver before drinking.

But most important of all? It will still be balanced, flavorful, and tasty. Coming from a guy who likes to blow-torch chile sugar on top of a drink to spicy creme-brulee perfection, I look forward to the finished libation, which should be out in time for Cinco de Mayo (May 5 to all you gringos).  Are you brave enough to get in line to try the world’s spiciest cocktail?

Spice & Ice virtual cocktail party: still partying on!

What can I say. I thought the Spice & Ice virtual cocktail party was really & truly over. I even wrote a party post-mortem. But no, some partyers are just sooo fabulous, they will only party on their own schedules. Think of this as the exclusive after-after-party, the one that you don’t hear about until 3 days after the event.  But oh, what  a time they had!

Click through to read the full account and and see the photos  – in particular, Selena @ Dizzy Fizz has some gorgeous snaps taken by Lush Life Productions.

Spicy Cucumber Margarita:  “The shakers were rattling all night–my friends, whether cocktail buffs or newbies, couldn’t get enough of the pale green rascals…Any fresh-ingredient bar should be offering this cocktail for this time of year–cool, fresh muddled cucumber paired with a slice of jalapeno, your sweetener of choice, lime juice, and your favorite agave spirit–it’s a simple-yet-invigorating drink that you can have all night.” –The Dizzy Fizz

Blackberry-Poblano Margarita:  “This is a super sipper for warm weather relaxation. I actually like my margaritas nice & limey, so in addition to the ingredients in Kara’s recipe below (excerpted from Spice & Ice), I added about ¼ of fresh lime juice. Delicious!” –Natalie Bovis-Nelsen, The Liquid Muse

Afterparty: how we interact with cocktails

As I’m wrapping up the experiment called the “virtual cocktail party,” I’d also like to pause and 1) profusely thank everyone who took the time to participate and 2) look back at the myriad ways everyone interacted with the drinks – to me, the most interesting part of this event.

It was apparent from the get-go that people incorporate drinks into their lives in different ways. For The Busy Hedonist, his-and-hers drinks were a way to relax with the hubby after a long day, baby safely tucked in bed; for Charmian Christie, it was a bubbly toast for her sister’s engagement; and for Judy Bennett, the party crossed the line from “virtual” to “reality,” as she served up Produce Stand drinks to real-life guests at a party to celebrate the opening of the Portland Spa.

Others took delightfully cocktail-geeky joy in analyzing and deconstructing drinks (tweaking drinks, by the way, was encouraged, “based on your taste, ingredient availability, or simply because you know better”). Just look how Cocktail Hacker and Marleigh Riggins Miller drilled down on every ingredient, or Dr Bamboo’s complete transformation of the Dragonfire into the even more fiery “Drago Amaro.”

Still others showcased the visual aspect of drinks, proving that looks count toward our enjoyment.  Diva on a Diet created a sexy orange-peel garnish for the Fall Spice Cordial, and ended up with an absolutely stunning photo; ditto for Cocktail Hacker’s luscious round of blood orange floated atop a martini glass. And “Foodie Princess” Heather Jones added a salt-and-pepper rim to her Red Dawn glass, a zesty touch that left me thinking, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”

Seasonal ingredients also played a part – For a week, I found myself checking Twitter daily to follow Rachel Kuptz of Girly-Drinks as she chased down the first of the early-Spring fresh rhubarb. Would she be able to get her hands on some or not? In the end she did, and her result was the prettiest rhubarb-pink “girly drink” of them all.

Thank you again to our fabulous bloggers – and if you missed the party, here’s the full set of links:  click, sip, enjoy!

Spice & Ice Virtual Cocktail Party, part 1

Spice & Ice Virtual Cocktail Party, part 2

Spice & Ice Virtual Cocktail Party, part 3

Spice & Ice Virtual Cocktail Party, part 4