Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Drinky fun at IWSB '09

Booze trade show= board meeting with drunk people

I decided to check out day two of the annual International Wine Spirits and Beer Event at McCormick Place monday. This is a big boozy trade show that's part of the National Restaurant Association show, which in itself is kind of overwhelming and ridiculous.

I covered IWSB for the Reader Food Blog last year when I was a young and green booze journalist, so I was able to score a press pass this year as well. The event seemed somewhat less impressive and scaled back this year, I don't know if that's because I'm jaded and pickier, or because of the economy. I think there was only one beer company in attendance, which makes me sad. I was also sick-ish which meant I was lazy and went for the last hour of IWSB and skipped the somewhat overwhelming NRA show. There was a candy conference in the same building, and these creepy billboards were one of the highlights of my visit:

Is it just me, or is this billboard inexplicably gay?

Since when is getting "jacked up" a good thing?

Tradeshows are weird- the atmosphere is kind of tense because everyone is there to hustle- and I'm less about the business end of things and more interested in being a connoisseur (hence, I am a writer and not a sales person). It was great to see some of my favorite industry folks were there though- Sonya Kassebaum of North Shore Distillery (who make awesome vodka, gin, absinthe and aquavit) was kind enough to share her secret stash of mole with me- a clear spirit infused with chocolate, cinnamon and peppers- their infusions are to die for. I also saw a couple of my favorite bartenders- award winning ex drunk punk mixologist Charles Joly of the Drawing Room and Daniel De Oliveira, (who is a super awesome dude and dead ringer for Jonathan Rhys Meyers), the bartender who mixed drinks for the fantastic Plymouth Gin pairing dinner at Boka, who was helping out at the Domaine De Canton liqueur booth.

Other highlights- chocolate infused cognac served by a French dude who addressed me in French but ignored my feeble responses in same, apple pie liqueur, and Polish raspberry mead. I also tried Veev, which the salesman pitched as being made from "acai, the most nutritious fruit on the planet." when I asked if any of that nutrition made it to the bottle of vodka, he sheepishly admitted it didn't. Why must I be a hater? I just don't see the point of taking something like healthy like acai or quinoa and making it into vodka if it doesn't actually retain any nutritional properties in the bottle. I like that Veev totally sounds like something Oprah would call her vagina, though.

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