State of the Dood

by Matt Robold on November 19, 2010

Metablogging is not normally something I really go in for. Still, it would be disingenuous if I denied that it was fairly obvious that things had slowed down here after Tales of the Cocktail in July. With that in mind, I figured I’d take the time to explain what’s been going on and where things are going.

The Slowdown

About a week after returning from New Orleans and Tales of the Cocktail I found myself in the hospital with acute pancreatitis. I had had pancreatits once before during the previous October – making this my second bout in less than a year.

While I managed to heal up rather quickly and make it home after a day and a half, my doctor was understandably a little concerned. He ordered a series of tests, a consultation with a specialist and asked me to cease all drinking until the results of the tests were in and we had figured out what was going on.

I had assumed that this would be about a month-long process. In reality it took about three months of talking to doctors, blood tests, CT scans and MRIs to finally determine that we don’t know what caused my pancreas try to dissolve itself. I can tell you that my liver is in perfect condition and that it’s really kind of cool to have copies of expensive images taken of your internal organs.

I did obey my doctor’s orders throughout the three months. I didn’t drink at all. This sort-of slowed down the writing here. It’s hard to review spirits and cocktails when you can’t drink spirits and cocktails. Luckily I had a few friends who stepped in to help me out to keep it from being deader than a doornail here.

The Clubs

In Spring of last year I made a deal with John Coltharp, then head bartender at Caña Rum Bar in Los Angeles, to MC the bar’s Rum Society meetings. Now I spend one night of every month in front of a crowd of rum enthusiasts, leading them through tastings of amazing rums and pretending that I know what I’m talking about. I do all of this while General Manager Allan Katz and his incredible staff make sure that everyone is properly supplied with great liquor and super cocktails. If you’re in the LA area and interested in coming to Rum Society, we meet at Caña at 8pm on the last Tuesday of every month. Membership is $20US per year.

Around the same time as taking the presentational helm of Rum Society, I joined forced with friends Forrest Cokely and Jason Schiffer to form the Bartender’s Cabinet. The Cabinet is our attempt to try and bring better classic cocktail culture to Orange County – which we all call home. The first Monday of every month sees twenty to thirty Orange County bartenders, bar managers and cocktail enthusiasts meeting to discuss and taste spirits and cocktails. Membership is free and we are always looking for more bartenders to join our group.

The Bar

Something about the Rum Society and Bartender’s Cabinet obviously emboldened me in some fashion. I’ve spent my tenure running this blog being very happy telling people that I am not a bartender – that I think I make a decent drink but that I prefer to leave professional cocktailing to the professionals.

As summer started I somehow convinced Jason, owner of 320 Main in Seal Beach, to take a chance and let me barback for a shift or two. Little did I know that Jason’s plan was to follow up those shifts by throwing me in front of the customers as a real, live bartender. Now I spend every Sunday afternoon (and the occasional Sunday night) manning the stick at 320.

It’s been quite the learning experience. I’ve had to memorize a lot of drinks and been forced out of my very rum-centric comfort zone. The most common drink I make is a Moscow Mule in a real copper mug with house-made ginger beer. After that it’s something of a tie between the Corpse Reviver #2 and  – what else? – the Mai Tai.

I’ve really learned a lot and have been receiving some very nice compliments from people who’ve stopped by and let me make them a drink or two. A few weeks ago I even found the Jaunty Angle had made it onto the menu. I should probably also mention that all of our swizzles are made with house-made RumDood Falernum #2. I’m not sure how, but Jason, Rebecca, Erik and Josh have somehow let me really burrow into their world.

The Future

Enough about the past though. Let’s talk about the future.

While the site has been really slow, I’ve started compiling notes for a series of rum reviews that should be out just in time for your Christmas shopping. There are a few cocktails that are awaiting a complimentary photograph, and there are even some videos in the works. The rest of 2010 and the coming 2011 should be a return to all things fun here at


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