The Grand Marnier Mixology Summit 2009

16 04 2009

When Grand Marnier invites you to participate in their annual Mixology Summit, you don’t pass it up.  I was fortunate enough to be invited this year and the experience was eye opening to say the least.

Day 1

I arrived in Colorado with some other sleepy eyed bartenders from NYC.  Our flight left at 6 AM so most of us, myself included, hadn’t slept until we boarded the plane.  The flight from Chicago to Vail was stellar.  We each had our own rows and used that time to catch up on rest.  The bus grabbed us at the airport and took us to the Vail Cascade resort.  It’s really an amazing property if you ever get to visit.  After receiving the free swag from GM, I had enough time to wash my face before my “lab”.  The lab is where we made the drinks that earned us the invite to be in attendance.  It’s a lot different making drinks for a captive audience and camera crews than it is in my bar.  Insert shaky hands here!   Then a nice little photo opp with my cocktails before dinner and off I went.  

The folks from AKA: Wine Geek blew us away with bar skills and drinks that kept us going until the wee hours.  The catered event brought us all into the same room for the first time.  Meeting so many talented mixologist and GM reps from across the country really was inspiring.  Translation:  If you take the one thing that you are 100% passionate about and fill a room with 200 people that feel the same way about the same trade, you’ll get a sense of what I was feeling.  Pride comes to mind first and then a slight sense of awe.  A short bus ride back to the resort and a late night Grand Marnier 150 Year with some friends from Vegas and I was done.  Literally!!

Day 2

I had no choice but to opt out of snowboarding due to the marathon day I had before.  I did make it into Vail Village for a walk around before our AKA: Wine Geek seminar.  Steve Olson delivered a compelling lecture about the bar service industry that I can only hope will be on CD one day.  He inspired a lot of people that day.  The drinks we had during the lecture were on point and that did help loosen us up after the events from the night before.  His crew delivered some insane cocktails and methods that, I’m sure, many brought back to their local bars.  If you have never tasted a Grand Marnier gelee or a Navan cream, you’re missing out!  

The gala dinner was absolutely perfect.  A first class four course meal paired with some of the most amazing cocktails I’ve had.  I also got the chance to meet and speak with my friend Chris Bostick from Beverly Hills prior to the meal.  By the way, his blog “Blueprint Cockatil” is brilliant!  He’s in my blogroll and I fully expect you all to check it out.  He’s a pro for sure!!  After the meal, we took a few photos and listened to another compelling speech from Steve and Alessandra (the owner of Grand Marnier), then we proceeded to casino night just next door.  I learned that it’s fun to gamble with Grand Marniers money!  

My car picked me up at 4:45 AM, so I retired a little early.  Upon making my way to the lobby at my call time, I noticed some folks who hadn’t stopped the festivities.  After an obligatory shot of Don Julio 1942 to say farewell, I loaded up with the rest of the early risers and headed back to SC (via NYC).  

It was an amazing experience and Grand Marnier spared no expense in treating us like royalty.  The crowd that attended was top notch and it was a true pleasure to be in the same room with such innovators of our business.  I hope to see them all next year!

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