Two Days, Five bars, 50 Cocktails

Part 1: Final Preparations

It’s been a while since my last posting but that’s only because so much has happened. It’s going to take a few posts to go over everything so hang in there!

About three weeks ago the LCL Drink Recipe Proofing Program (*) went into high-gear. I was making about five new drinks a night which no longer allowed me the leisure to post notes and reflections on what I had tasted. Doing this solo necessitated “sinking” many worthy drinks. Next time I mount such an effort I will create a more formal schedule and ensure plenty of “helpers” are on hand to prevent such tragedies.

(*) – that would be me making everything at least once, including all the special ingredients.

Then in the final days leading up to the 2-day photo shoot at Flora in Oakland CA I returned once again to home-made ingredient making. I had left the foams and more perishable syrups until the end so I wouldn’t need to make them twice. The downside of that strategy meant some of the drinks wouldn’t be proofed until right before they were to be photographed. (Actually, I had cheated a little bit in the previous weeks by making the drinks with foam toppings w/o the foam just to make sure the rest of the recipes made sense.)

Meantime, I need to put together a “shooting list” as requested by our very professional photographer Jenn Farrington. That meant finalizing the 50 cocktails we’d be shooting. In most cases I had already decided which of the two drinks from each bartender was most worthy of photographing. In a few cases I was less sure and consulted with Ted Munat to get his opinion. I also left a few choices open, knowing I’d have to come to the shoot ready to make either of two drinks. (And for those keeping close score, we made and shot both drinks for a couple of the bartenders bringing the actual total of cocktails made during the shoot up to 52.)

In addition to the name of the drink, contributing bartender’s name and internal catalog number, the final shooting list included the kind of glass and garnish needed for each drink. That seemed like a helpful detail to include, especially after Jenn asked if we had sketches (!) of the drinks showing how we’d like them to be setup. (I regretfully informed Jenn that no we didn’t and while it might not look like it, we were really doing this by the seats of our pants. In fact, I wasn’t even sure we had pants.)

Unfortunately, one detail I neglected to include was the color of each drink. That, it turns out, can be a pretty useful detail for the photographer who’s going to shoot the drinks in a number of different “sets” and with varying amounts of natural light – which we had in wonderful abundance at Flora. While I could recall the color of many drinks, there were many which I could not easily visualize (“sorta brownish” being the most common), even by looking at the recipe. Not a tragedy but it would have been nice. Next time for sure and I would probably also sort the list by color rather then by the name of the drink as I did for this shoot. Interesting lesson learned.

I saved the last major task until Saturday afternoon: pulling all the ingredients from the now rather sizable “bar” that my dining room had become over the past few weeks, along with all the sundry tools I would be likely to need but not necessarily find at Flora. Using all of my “magic” lists and spreadsheets, pulling all the ingredients was a pretty straightforward task and I am happy to say that we were missing nothing during the entirety of the two days of shooting. Here’s a couple of pictures showing what it all looked like (excepting the produce and syrups in the refrigerator) before it was packed up and put in my van:



Pretty impressive, eh? All I kept thinking was it would have been a hell of a time for an earthquake!

NEXT: At Flora, Behind the Bar


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