Con Update: MegaCon Day 1

Thankfully the predicted torrential rains turned out to be more of a steady drizzle when we arrived at the convention center this morning. Also thankful for the fact that we were able to back right up the loading ramp and unload the trunk in the overhang there, not getting wet in the process.

Turns out our booth neighbors are Tally girls, too. Both students at FSU, they have a webcomic as well but I neglected to get the url today. Oops! I’ll fix that tomorrow. Actually, it didn’t seem crucial because we didn’t think our hotel had wifi, seriously hampering our evening productivity. This info has been updated and I am typing from the comfort of our comfy hotel bed. (I know, I know, we’re not the post-con party types.)

Traffic today was slow. Partially because of the fact that it was Friday and los of folks were still at work/school, partially because the weather was absolutely icky the entire day. Still, for a slow day I manged to connect with a few folks, made some people laugh, helped some people out and got some folks interested in getting a Character Cocktail* done, which (hopefully!) will pan out tomorrow. It would awesome considering there were absolutely no sales today.

But it’s early days & I remain optimistic.

*What’s a Character Cocktail? It’s a custom-made cocktail recipe (alcoholic or non-) that is based solely on you! With the recipe comes a ready-to-frame piece of art with the recipe and a little drawing. Price is $30 (includes shipping the art) and the process takes about 2-3 weeks, total, to allow for recipe testing and art creation. All you have to do is fill out a fun little questionnaire so I know who I’m creating the drink for and around. Interested? Shoot me an email at randomactscomics[at]gmail[dot]com and we can get the process started!

A Well-Stocked Bar

Cheers! This week I’m at MegaCon in Orlando, Florida, and am away from my home bar. 50 Shots of America will resume next week. Until then, I hope you’ll find the following enlightening–it’s long, but for good reason.

The Basic Spirits

To make a wide variety of drinks, a bar stocked with a bottle each of Gin, Vodka, Rum, Whiskey, Tequila and Brandy. You don’t have to go out and buy all of them at once. If you’re still in the process of building up your stock, choose a particular cocktail to serve at each gathering, and use the opportunity to add another basic to your bar. Scotch isn’t used as much in mixing drinks, but it’s another good one to have on hand.

Once you’ve got the basics covered, you might want to add some variety in your vodkas and rums. Vanilla vodka is exceptionally good in sweet drinks and there are plenty of flavored vodkas on the market–the only problem is picking which ones you think you’ll like! Rums come in white, dark, golden and spiced, each with their own applications. Once you’ve managed to get those basics down, you can also moved into the flavored varieties; coconut and pineapple are especially nice.

Liqueurs

Liquor is only the beginning of a cocktail. A lot of variety can be achieved with just a few liqueurs to add to a vodka or rum base. Used in smaller quantities, these bottles can last a while (as long as you don’t leave the caps off! Alcohol evaporates, after all, and while speed pour tips may look professional they’ll cost you in the long run with the shrinkage of your stock). Triple Sec (an orange liqueur) is one of the first you’re likely to want, though you should consider the more specific Cointreau if your budget allows as the latter is smoother and less overpowering in a cocktail.

Schnapps can be found in many flavors, with peach and butterscotch being two of the more popular–and tasty–options you should lay in as soon as possible. A good chocolate liqueur is nice to have, along with a coffee liqueur and an Irish Cream (not a schnapp–is there a singular for schnapps?–but it goes best here; just buy some!).

Vermouth, a fortified wine (the others are distilled from liquors) is integral to making a classic martini. It comes in both dry and sweet varieties, the former more common these days.

Bitters, also available in several forms, are misnamed. They do not add an unpleasant taste to a drink, instead they smooth out the other flavors. Angostura and Peychaud are two you should look for. It comes in small bottles with an equally small price tag. Since you only use a few drops per drink they will easily last for ages!

Mixers

So we’ve covered hard liquor and liqueurs, the last component to most drinks I make is a good dose of a non-alcoholic mixer. I enjoy the flavors that come from the booze, but I don’t want to be knocked over the head by the fumes or have my mouth burn from an imbalanced drink. Know what I mean?

Of course, since most cocktails are small, opening a 2 liter of soda or half gallon of juice for just a couple of ounces can lead to a lot of waste if you don’t drink those things often (we don’t, most nights we drink water that we keep in the fridge–just refill it when empty and move onto the next cold one, lol) or a very crowded fridge if you like to mix up your drink list frequently.

Instead, look around the juice and soda aisles for the tiny bottles and cans they carry, and keep these on the bar or in the pantry for whenever you need just a bit of something or another. Right now we have 12 oz (or so) bottles of apple, cranberry and orange juice along with 6 oz cans of pineapple, pink grapefruit, mango, peach and tomato juice. Again, the trick to not breaking the bank is to stock up gradually and then, as items are used, pick up replacements.

Sodas are also a popular mixer and we usually keep a 12-pack of caffeine free Coke classic and Sprite. Since I don’t drink soda often, these 12-packs last AGES and are tucked away on the bottom of a bookcase we have near the bar to hold just this sort of thing (along with extra glasses, liqueur overflow and bar books). Ginger Ale, Tonic Water and Club Soda can be found in both liter bottles (fairly handy) or cans and small bottles. An excellent invention for the really non-soda-drinkers among us are those wee 6-packs of the mini cans. Perfect for a single hi-ball or the like.

Garnishes

This is one thing I don’t often do at home. For parties? Yes. But usually I don’t worry about garnishes when I’m testing a recipe or just mixing up something for me. Still, having bottles of martini olives, onions and maraschino cherries in the fridge can come in handy when you want to go all out. Lemons and Limes (both for muddling and garnishing) should be chosen for their blemish-free rinds and even color. A small, green-skinned lime is much better than a big lime with brown spots on it, no?

So, to sum up this slightly epic (in length, if nothing else) post:

  1. Cover your basic spirits
  2. Add variety and specialty items slowly
  3. Buy mixers in small, non-perishable forms