Here’s a toast to the unsung heroes of a Conference Cruise. . . those who make it unbelievable
By Maralyn D. Hill and Michelle M. Winner
The two of us have worked on several conferences together for the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association. After one of our conferences we decided to share some special thoughts. We had unloaded four pallets of products for our attendees to experience and test while sailing on the Holland America Line ms Westerdam. We were tired, worn, laughing, almost crying, and looking for a finish line.
The staff of HAL was assisting as they could, and moved the numerous boxes in and out of the staging room. Since most products were new-to-market food and beverage, Walter Schmuckenschlag, the Beverage Manager for the ship, made frequent appearances to check-in and see what we were unearthing.
One of our generous sponsors, Italian Volcano Lemonade, provided enough 100% Organic Old Fashioned Lemonade for each participant, as well as extra for us to serve at professional development breaks. We shared some with the helpful crew and Walter, with his fine eye for spirits, thought this product looked especially promising. He said it would be perfect with a flavored vodka, maybe blueberry —“for research” he said through his smile — Maralyn handed him the fine old-fashioned glass bottle of lemonade.
The following Monday, after one of our conference breaks, Walter came by to say that the Italian Volcano Lemonade might be a great base for fine cocktails. So we bribed him, by saying, “We will give you more if you make us some special drinks and provide the recipe for our readers.” Convincing ourselves that this was a stellar idea, we continued to remind him throughout the week.
Finally, Thursday evening, the ship’s Captain hosted a cocktail party for our IFWTWA group. When we walked into the Crow’s Nest, there was Walter, making lemonade cocktails for the two of us. When the Captain asked why he was behind the bar, we told him. The captain then commented on Walter, former bartender, then chef, now Beverage Manager. “At this moment, Walter is in the role of our most expensive bartender.” With our new friend, the affable Walter, we all shared a laugh and a very good drink!
In any case, here are Walter’s two wonderful summer drink recipes.
Mt. Etna Volcano Martini ( E.V.M.)
The lemonade, made at the foot of the still-smoldering Mt. Etna, is a lovely base for this refreshing libation by Walter Schmuckenschlag.
1.5 oz Vodka
1 oz Poire Williams
.5 oz Triple Sec
Shake and strain into super-fine sugar-rimmed martini glass.
Garnish with cherry.
Organic Volcano Lava (Non Alcoholic)
by Walter Schmuckenschlag, Holland America
1.5 oz Strawberry Mix *
1.5 oz Mango Mix **
3 oz Italian Volcano Lemonade (Organic)
Put ingredients in blender.
Pour into pint or hurricane glass.
Garnish with fresh strawberry.
MDH and MMW Note:
Add a shot of vodka for an alcoholic version.
*Use 4 or 5 frozen strawberries with a ¼ teaspoon simple syrup, if desired.
**Use 4 or 5 frozen mango slices with ¼ teaspoon simple syrup, if desired.
We bet Walter could do wonders with the Italian Volcano Blood Orange Juice. Too bad we did not have him at our beckon call last year.
Where else could two women who kept requesting extra favors and service get such customized attention? We offer up a glass of Italian Volcano Lemonade and salute you, Walter, for your help with our successful conference and our customized drinks. Thanks to Holland America for having Walter on board. We work hard, but the people we meet along the way make it worthwhile.
We’re not sure which ship Walter is on now, but if you every run into him, ask him about the Italian Volcano drinks he made for us. We always toast at the end or during a conference. We work hard to pull them together, appreciate all the help we get along the way and the wonderful people, like Walter, we get to meet.
Maralyn D. Hill, The Epicurean Explorer, is past president of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association and still on the board. Maralyn focuses on food, spas, travel, and wine, while still covering meetings, incentives, and corporate assignments.
Freelance travel writer Michelle M. Winner, The Culinary Traveler, is president of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. Michelle focuses on all aspects of luxury for food, spas and travel.