World Cocktail Day

May 18, 2011

Friday night, we went to a fundraising event at the Museum of the American Cocktail. Mrs. theskinnyonbenny has been a member of the museum for some time, and I was glad to get a chance to go.

On the way in, I asked what the fundraiser was for.

"The museum itself."

Oh. Fuck Japan, Tuscaloosa, and our neighbors about to be flooded out by diverted Mississippi water. We have American Cocktails to honor.

I've called Mrs. theskinnyonbenny a cocktail nerd many, many times, and I'll use it here, so I don't want to give the impression that I mean it as an insult. Over the years, my opinion of the top-tier bartenders has gone from indifference, to admiration, to full-out fanboy. I don't seek out the famous/creative bartenders in other cities yet, but that would be the last step to becoming a cocktail nerd myself.

To me, the king of the cocktail nerds is Chris McMillian. He works the Bar Uncommon in the Pere Marquette hotel in New Orleans. Mrs. theskinnyonbenny found him when he was at the Ritz Carleton. She was impressed by how he would bring in his own fresh ingredients, and of course, by the quality of the drinks.

Chris and his wife went on to be instrumental in the inception of the cocktail museum. When not pouring drinks for tourists who are usually oblivious to the fact that they're ordering from one of the best bartenders in the world, he travels to speaking engagements and cocktail events around the world.

The party had several tables set up throughout the museum, and each one had selected featured bartenders from around the city. I chatted with a couple of my favorites and started to look around the room for more.

Soon, Chris noticed us, made a beeline across the room to welcome us and to thank us for coming. He started talking about how it was World Cocktail Day and why it was World Cocktail Day (1st definition of the word appears in print). That led him to walk us to the exhibit with the letter where cocktail was defined in a New York newspaper so long ago, which led to a quick private tour of his favorite exhibit pieces in the gallery.

It was very cool.