The schedule for the final day of the Seminar, including Bloody Mary time. Fun to be on the same line-up as Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem and Billy Collins.
In the midst of the marathon of parties for the this year's KWLS Media Director Arlo Haskell reminded me of a tradition where the Seminar's volunteers all have Bloody Marys on the final afternoon of the session. I had no recollection of this from years prior, and I'm still not convinced it wasn't something he just made and somehow manipulated me into helping out--which I respect, if so. And while you can get a damn fine Bloody Mary at the Green Parrot a block away from the San Carlos Institute where the Seminar is held, Arlo pretty much insisted I take care of this last round of the week. After 3 nights of making cocktails for hundreds of guests I was a bit weary and not very inspired to create something amazing--but I had plenty of fixins, to say the least. With Bloody Marys I'm always taking a cue from Alberta Straub's 4-part video series on how to make her elaborate and delicious version, and while I didn't have time to do all the infusing and witchcraft she busts out I did have a lot of elements that she favors, which I knew would be a good foundation. So I threw a bunch of ingredients into a box, including several bottles of leftover citrus-infused Kettel One, and from the Neurogibson the pickled green onions and the pickling juice. In addition I pulled a big piece of ginger, some sliced and lightly pickled serrano peppers, white pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire, good horseradish, and an assortment of bitters, both the indespensible Bitter Truth Travelers Set & Brooklyn Hemispherical Sriracha Bitters. Somehow I managed to get all this balanced on a bike and safely delivered to volunteer HQ.
There I did the best you can do when inspiration fails you--delegate. Mike Cook is a writer & bartender who's been on staff at the Seminar a couple times, and when I showed up with my kit I told him, "you're in charge" and left him to his own mixing devices.
A month or so later I entreated Mike to recall the recipe, below are his notes.
Let's see if I can remember what I did for the Bloodies. I started
with the V8 juice, then added that smashed garlic. Next I added a lot
of horseradish. Three or four tablespoons for the pitcher.
Worchestershire sauce and hot sauce next. There was something else as
well.... ah yes, white pepper. I put probably a table spoon of that
in. I think that was it.
As various weary volunteers wandered through the room I watched them revive almost instantly upon sipping a Volunteer Marys. I encouraged everyone to play with bitters in theirs--Sriracha sort of writes itself, but the Bitter Truth Celery Bitters really made Jolly Benson's Bloody Mary stand out. You get that tradeamark celery salt vegetal bite without that sodium. With all the ingredients left out folks could tinker and adjust their own according to their inclinations. I think we got everyon back on track for that final afternoon.
KWLS Stage Manager (and Embury Little Brother) Ian Rowan with Arlo Haskell.
Lighting Director Julian "Jolly" Benson.
The Seminar couldn't exist without a massive volunteer effort, from the folks who work the door adn clean up the auditorium between sessions, to the social networking and blogging team, to the board members who put time in year round. I couldn't have presented as well-coordinated a cocktail front without some indespensible volunteers, myself, so many thanks to Erin Kelly, Aimee McNally, Che Bastien, Richard Congdon, and board member Nancy Klingener whose kitchen was annexed for the duration with my experimentations and preparations, and who chaffeured Team Embury to events and made sure to get us home in one piece. Eventually.
And finally, as we sat in the volunteers' lounge my fatigued eyes drifted across the titles of the books on the wall--and lit upon one called Bloody Mary, which in our collective punch-drunk state we took as some sort of pleasingly ominous sign or affirmation.