Last year's staff favorite was a concoction of Simply Lime, blueberrry vodka and muddled basil invented by erstwhile Bites commenter Delaney, which was still a hit at my last cocktail party. Like by the gallon jugful. But, time progresses and so must our summer palates. What's going to be the hit this year?
Early contenders around my household have been a simple yet tasty mix of Pimm's and ginger ale and several iterations of Campari and citrus juices. Yeah, someone left a half bottle of Campari at the house after the aforementioned cocktail party and I hate to let anything go to waste. Other hot trends seem to involve cucumbers as garnish and/or flavor element. While I know that a cuke is 99 percent water, I've always fished them out of my Pimm's Cups lest they suddenly slip to one side of the tall, narrow glass and flush the contents of my cocktail across my face like a U.S. Corps of Engineers worker having a particularly bad day at Wolf Creek.
I daresay that fruity rum drinks are making their resurgence as part of the nationwide tiki bar craze that threatens to displace nouveau speakeasy taverns as the joint of choice among alcoholophiles. (I'm sure that Max and Ben Goldberg are already on top of this, but wouldn't it be cool if they could jack up the Omni Hut in Smyrna and deposit it in the Gulch?)
As a personal sacrifice to help you discover the latest trends in cocktails and the hot new summer drinks, I'll be attending the Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans in late July. Before you get too jealous, please re-read the last six words of the previous sentence. Despite the anticipated weather conditions, TOtC should prove to be the premiere festival of "cocktails, culture and cuisine." Sponsored by the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society, the five-day event brings together mixologists, bar owners, journalists and chefs to revere and revel in the joys of all things cocktail. Consider it like the Potlikker Festival with more liquor. (I can't speak to the pot part...)
If you'd like to attend, Tales of the Cocktail is not limited to the trade. Fans of all professions are invited to attend seminars, tastings, bartender competitions and the popular spirited dinners. For more information, stab your olive pick here to get all the details.
In the meantime, help me prepare for the trip by sharing your thoughts on the next liquor trends and your idea for the next great summer drink. I'll be trolling the comments for your input.