Around the States in 38 Days

April 23, 2010 mark

The story of La Fée Absinthe Parisienne, NV Absinthe Verte and their owner across the USA, visiting 15 states in just 38 days, throughout January & February 2010

pic of an airplane

George Rowley, pioneer of the absinthe revival and brand owner of the oldest commercially distilled French absinthe since the 1915 ban, embarked on his personal mission to bring another dimention to absinthe, further distilling Artemisia Absinthium and a carefully crafted blend of herbs to create a high quality absinthe available at a price affordable to most people today, the result is NV Absinthe Verte.

Being the proprietor of the multi-award winning La Fée XS Suisse and Francaise, arguably the only Ultra Premium absinthe in the market and the highly awarded La Fée Absinthe Parisienne (winning five gold medals in 24 months across the folio) it was only natural to take the expertise, knowledge and experience gathered since he launched the absinthe category in the European Union back in 1998 and use it to broaden absinthe horizons from a specialised niche category to a mainstream spirit for everyone.

To this end Rowley has spent over 4 years developing the first Premium Mainstream absinthe with NV Absinthe Verte. Likely to become the fastest growing absinthe over the next decade and reinforcing the category, NV is being launched in parts of Europe, Asia Pacific, South America and is being personally presented to distribution partners and State Liquor Control Boards across the USA.

Several years back, Rowley was allowed the rare opportunity to access the Schimmel Library, one of the oldest and largest collections of books, periodicals and other information on herbs ever to be assembled, allowing him once again to work with the best resources available to bring you NV Absinthe Verte. At less than half the price of most absinthe, NV is distilled with a full compliment of wormwood, anise and fennel and is produced in Paris alongside La Fée Absinthe Parisienne. At 76° proof NV is ready to go straight from the bottle, louching on the rocks with no spoon or sugar needed, or with your favourite mixer, energy drink or in the NV Mojito. See www.nvabsinthe.com

A bottle of la Fée Parisienne & NV absinthe verte

Landscape image in USA

Views on the road to Oklahoma City

I spent the day visiting liquor stores with our host, Glazer’s of Oklahoma, before departing the following day for Oklahoma City, passing small oil derricks which gently nodded in the distance. Once I had reached my destination I was able to provide a full training session to the Glazers sales team on our classic Parisienne and the all new NV Absinthe Verte. Oklahoma was kicked off and the first order arrived a day later while I was at Dallas airport!

OKLAHOMA…OPENED!

Snowstorm in Iowa

fter the snowstorm, Iowa

Once back at Tulsa I grabbed my next flight to Des Moines, Iowa via Tennessee. Going north it naturally got even colder (around -8c), and the snow ever deeper. I saw lots of abandoned trucks and cars as the state had officially banned their recovery as it was deemed too dangerous for other traffic. Once again we were the guests of Glazer’s and had a meeting with the State Control Board the very next day. It amazed me that even in these states where there are some “absinthes”, the local knowledge on the category remained very sparse. This was reflected in most meetings, when a 30 minute presentation often became 1hr ½ to 2 hrs long, as I advised and informed on the history of absinthe and the revival with La Fée and now NV, and the category’s future and how we are leading internationally and shaping absinthe’s Renaissance for the next decade.

IOWA…OPENED! 

On airplane departing snowbound Iowa

Departing from Iowa

I was fortunately able to stay in contact with both the office and family each morning through the genius of Skype an absolute godsend my children enjoying the magic button, turning me into an American Football player, Cowboy, or even a Witch!  Even raising a laugh or two in the office, though I’m not sure the office appreciates the daily link as much as I do (the boss is away, until he Skypes you!) I was also lucky enough to have a hotel opposite Iowa’s largest shopping mall, where I introduced myself to Champp’s, the all American sports bar with great simple food and beer, perfect. As we weren’t yet listed in the State to sell, the evening was mine and I took the opportunity to see Avatar Wow, that’s one to see with a few glasses of Parisienne when it gets released for home cinema, a must see as if anyone didn’t know by now.

State Liquor Store in New Hampshire

One of many State Liquor stores in New Hampshire

My next flight took me from Des Moines to Chicago and then on to Manchester, New Hampshire- for another Liquor Control Board meeting. Whilst I was in New Hampshire we got confirmation from Glazer’s that NV was a go for the State of Iowa. Once in New Hampshire I met up with Perfecta Wine & Spirits. The meeting once again went well, although there was little knowledge on the category of absinthe, let alone the TTB rules of selling Absinthe in the USA!

La Fée at Piccadilly Circus

The La Fée Bus in London

I hired a 4×4 due to the weather and got presented with a monster Buick seven seater off-roader, I’m a big car fan, owning some classics, A Lotus Esprit ES Turbo, MGB GT, Triumph Herald Convertible, Austin Box and even a Routemaster Bus. It is amazing the fuel price difference in the USA, approx $3 per gallon versus around $7 in the UK, no wonder most vehicles are V8! Though you can see the change as more fuel efficient vehicles appear, it seems to be mainly led by Nissan and Toyota (though the latter has had a bit of an image battering from the emergency product recall due to reported “sticky accelerators”). I myself own a twin cab Nissan Navara Outlaw truck, which is a 2.5 turbo diesel. The US equivalent seems to be the Nissan Trojan which has a big petrol V8, a good all rounder! I drove from New Hampshire to Boston and grabbed the evening flight home to London on Thursday morning.

State Liquor store in New Hampshire

Yet another massive State Liquor store

NEW HAMPSHIRE…OPENED!

Trip one complete. Once home and acclimatised I managed one and a half days back to see the family and grab some time in the office  – The team had done a great job and we were geared up for trip 2.

Trip Two: Michigan, Nebraska & Texas (Dates:  17th Jan to 22nd Jan 2010)

I headed off from Heathrow at 6.30am bound for Detroit, Michigan via Chicago, Illinois. This time we were the guests of Great Lakes Wine & Spirits. Weather had eased up and travel was a little easier. This one looks interesting and we will know shortly the outcome of this trip. Hopefully La Fée and NV will be arriving in this State shortly. From here I took a flight to Omaha, Nebraska to visit Republic National and met the main team, we tasted, chatted and looked closely at the opportunities in this State that is mainly dominated by cows and corn (one feeding the other). Only 1.7 million Americans living in this vast area.

Ande Abro of Super Fine Wine & Liquor, Canton, Michigan

With Ande Abro of Super Fine Wine & Liquor, Canton, Michigan

I grabbed a flight south to Dallas, Texas to visit the magnificent Corporate HQ of Glazer’s Family of Companies, after the usual intro, background and tasting we were able to confirm both La Fée and NV are to list across the four main hubs for Texas. This was great as I spent the last 12 months, on and off, talking with them and even discussing the design merits of the new NV prior to filing the product with COLA. I have a lot of respect for this company as they were true to their word following a chance meeting in New York in early 2008 with one of their senior executives. I was advised that they would watch the absinthe category settle in and when they could see a clearer position, would only then move forward with a strong proposition once the dust and excitement had settled, as we say in England effectively allowing them to “separate the wheat from the chaff”. I’m happy to see we are now part of that partnership going forward, allowing customers across this State to access to our highly awarded core folio of absinthe.

 Christopher Wynn of The Dallas News in the Library Bar, Warwick Melrose Hotel

Me with Christopher Wynn of The Dallas News in the Library Bar, Warwick Melrose Hotel, after an interview

TEXAS…OPENED!

With an added spring in my step I headed home for London, this time landing Friday only to say hi to the family and present my children each with another soft cuddly toy before heading out again that Sunday for Ohio.

Trip Three: Ohio, Missouri, Virginia & Florida (Date: 24th Jan to 29th Jan 2010)

This one was quite manic, with no room for error as I had four States to cover with meetings in each at the rate of one per day. This time I was with British Airways (a bit risky as the possibility of striking seems constantly on the cards at present). Talk about bumping into people you don’t expect to see, next to me in London, Heathrow was a legal acquaintance James, jetting off to New York on business. Last time I saw him he hosted a La Fée night in the city of London just before Christmas for his staff and guests in their swanky corporate HQ; with stunning views over the city. It was the night my office, en masse, took the La Fée Routemaster for transport  (Don’t drink and drive, take the Bus!) with the added bonus of the onboard lounge and bar on the upper deck, the cocktails kept going all night door to door. Thanks James, great night!

Upstairs of La Fée bus

The upper deck of our La Fée Bus

My first stop was Columbus, Ohio. I arrived at the Hilton just in time to catch the last quarter of the New Orleans Saints Vs Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl Semi Final having seen clips of the game whilst passing through several airports getting to Columbus, Ohio. My introduction to American Football was way back in the 80’s when I was an International Non-Marine Insurance Broker for Lloyd’s of London and I worked the claim of Joe Theismann, then the quarterback of the Washington Redskins. Some people insure their hands, such as Liberace; Marilyn Monroe insured her legs. Joe was sensible in this way too. I was the broker that raced around Lloyd’s of London with his X-Rays of the famous break and the footage of that notorious last game, seeing 60 underwriters in around two days to collect the millions of dollars he was insured for following that spectacular injury which finished his playing career, leading to him becoming one of the top commentators on the sport today. Joe, I hope you were happy with the cheque.

Joe Theismann after his career ending injury, 18th November 1985

Joe Theismann after his career ending injury, 18th November 1985

Back to Ohio. The meeting went well with the liquor board, chaperoned by Glazer’s, and I’m pleased to confirm NV Absinthe Verte is arriving in Ohio, Watch out all you university students, at around $21.99 and with a full compliment of distilled wormwood and anise, just make sure you’re over 21!

The Pernod Distillery, Pontarlier in it's 1905 heyday

The Pernod Distillery, Pontarlier in it’s 1905 heyday

Snow started falling as I flew back to Chicago to connect on to St Louis, Missouri. I sat next to a practicing Mormon working for a producer of baby milk formula, we discussed marketing and our respective products. Interestingly enough, the old Pernod Absinthe distillery in Pontarlier, I’m led to believe is now owned by Nestlé; who are rather ironically now producing products on site such as banana and strawberry milkshakes primarily for export to the UK market.

OHIO…OPENED!

I arrived at the Glazer’s State operation for Missouri, another smart, purpose built operations warehouse and office. This was another great meeting, with more tastings turned out to rank in their top 5 of any Brand presentations ever thanks for the compliment.  Apart from the listing of NV Absinthe Verte, we all got chatting about training and their new video conference room this site has. This sparked a new La Fée project, and I have now authorized the construction of a purpose built bar at our Hertfordshire HQ to look into video training of the category from the UK across to global markets and our distribution partners. Designs will be worked on over the coming months and are currently being commissioned to provide us the worlds first online real-time training bar dedicated to absinthe. Once active we should be able to provide training on the category in our emerging Asia Pacific markets as well as in the Americas. We will update as we push this project forward.

MISSOURI…OPENED!

Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" spy plane at the Virginia Aviation Museum

As I drove past a Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” spy plane at the Virginia Aviation Museum

From here I grabbed an earlier flight to Richmond, Virginia as the guest of Sparrow & Associates to present to the Virginia Liquor Control Board. This was a different set-up, on walking into a medium sized room I was met with 7 people, 3 from Sparrow and more importantly at that moment, 4 from the Virginia Liquor Board. I was informed that I had 15 minutes to do my pitch. How do you even touch on a subject so deep, contentious and desperately needing education in 15 minutes? The PowerPoint presentation was out of the window, by the time I would have got that fired up and put into action I would have lost half my time. Instead I cut straight to the chase and presented La Fée and our role in the absinthe category as best I could, fortunately they couldn’t contain their interest and fascination and the meeting ran well over the allocated time, although I left having to wait a further 30 days to hear the verdict (which came as a resounding yes!) The threat of heavy snowfall was back, so I beat a hasty retreat south to Florida.

VIRGINIA…OPENED!

I flew to Tampa, Florida via Atlanta, Georgia. Wow, no wonder it’s called the Sunshine State! On arrival I headed straight for the car hire, what better way to kill a few hours than to hire a drop head Mustang and take in the sights? No go this time, by the time I realised the hotel was just around the corner and the mornings meeting just as close, on top of the $170 rental, they add basics such as fully comprehensive collision cover, at $108 it didn’t seem like such a good deal after all, and I’m not one to waste money, especially mine! I grabbed a Yellow Cab, after one U-turn and a few other manoeuvres that you perhaps shouldn’t try when driving, we found the hotel.

That night I headed out as usual to find a liquor store and a few bars to establish what, if anything was going on in the local market with absinthe. I ended up having dinner in Boston’s (classic sports bar) where I met Sandy Queen, the owner (great guy and an excellent service). Having already picked up part of Obama’s speech to congress live, a few of us persuaded Sandy to indulge our interest in the state of the USA and some screens and sound were handed over to that event. Sandy loved NV and was up for giving it a go. From here I headed to the Green Iguana (bar & grill/club) and got the same positive feedback for the NV Max (NV and Red Bull) or the Green Eyed Monster (NV mixed with Monster Energy Drink). The next day I headed for my meeting, I got a good reception and understanding for what I was doing with the absinthe category in giving depth and more access to people, we will wait to see how this one pans out.

President Obama in Tampa, Florida

President Obama in Tampa, Florida

Trip Four: North Carolina, Maine & Connecticut (Date 2nd Feb to 6th Feb 2010)

Trip four sees me heading to Raleigh, North Carolina to meet the control board with our partners Sparrow & Associates. This kicked off with what ended up being one of those journeys everyone wants to forget ASAP. The Delta flight from London, UK to Washington went like clockwork, but on arrival I found my local flight down to Raleigh was cancelled, followed by a 5 hour delay to the last flight out, with heavy snow still falling. We finally boarded only to find ourselves sitting on the tarmac for two hours whilst the airport worked out how to de-ice five planes (including ours), the pilot handled us all very well. In reality it felt like the airport either ran out of de-icer or the operating crew were on a midnight shift change. I finally arrived to discover that mine and a third of the passengers hold baggage never made it as we’d arrived so late (2am local time) and also my car hire was shut. Anyway, after getting a taxi to my hotel, I managed three hours sleep, a freshen up (same travel clothes) and collected my car. With the help of Googlemaps I found myself at the control board being plied with coffee by the kind receptionist and a PA. Having spent the last 24 hours getting there, I had my 15 minutes of time to pitch not just La Fée Parisienne and NV, but a better understanding of the category to the Liquor Control Board (four members in total). Apparently it went well, I got 30 minutes, which is apparently not bad for an overrun!  Following a quick goodbye to our state partners I headed for the airport to grab a flight north on US Airlines (luckily recovering my main hold bag that had arrived on the 10am first flight from Washington) to Portland, Maine via Philadelphia.

La Fée Absinthe Parisienne in London, Heathrow Terminal 3

La Fée Absinthe Parisienne in London, Heathrow Terminal 3

NORTH CAROLINA…OPENED!

I met Chuck on the flight to Portland, Maine; he is an airline pilot for Trans Air and was returning home to Portland. It turned out he was concerned about his future in the industry of air travel, as after 20 years in the business it was not turning out quite as he had hoped (more like bus runs and less glamour). Interestingly enough he was taking advantage of the subprime economic climate to boost his pension by investing in local property in his area. We discovered that as a UK tax payer, me and my fellow countrymen were effectively part funding this possibility because as he explained, he was buying these houses from HBOS (a UK world bank recently bailed out by the UK tax payers). He advised me that HBOS was dumping subprime property repossessions and seemed to have no idea of the value of what they were selling, so he just put in silly offers which to date they have just taken. Good for you Chuck, so the question is – does HBOS knows what it’s doing? Though it would not seem to be the best value for the UK tax payer, but they probably need the cash to top up the bonus and new tax fund and they can write down a fraction of their subprime exposure to boot!

RSVP Liquor store in Portland, Maine

RSVP Liquor store in Portland, Maine

Once in Portland, Maine I rented another 4×4, a Jeep Cherokee. I had been kindly rescheduled by US Airlines and I arrived early enabling a visit to RSVP, a liquor store and that evening having a light dinner on the wharf at J’s Oyster Bar, a great “real local” restaurant. This was followed by a stroll around several bars chatting to bartenders. I like the vibe this city gives off; being one of the last sizeable coastal cities before you hit Canada on the East coast. I got rather lost trying to return to the hotel and also had an interesting moment/reality check due to the US road traffic system having a critical difference between their road traffic lights and ours in the UK. I pulled up and stopped at a set of red lights (circa 11pm), some primal instinct screamed that something was not right. Yep, I was sitting in the middle of the junction! Not wanting to be sideswiped I hit the gas and pulled away. Fortunately there was no other traffic in sight! I must point out that in the UK our lights are directly on the stop line, not across the junction on the other side! God knows what you do when heavy snow covers the white line you’re supposed to stop at? Anyway lesson learnt, won’t be doing that again in a hurry.

A warehouse crammed with Red Bull

A warehouse crammed with Red Bull, ready to make many a NV Max!

The next day I arrived at Portland Beverages, with whom we are partnering with for Maine, I met the bosses; that would be Rich and Seth, and oh yes, Rich’s loveable, drooling Newfoundland dog that liked to nudge and introduce itself  to my Gucci suit. These guys are great, we had a 2 hour sales team meeting and for the first time I had one of their team stand up and politely ask me to stop as he needed a restroom break and didn’t want to miss any of the presentation. These guys were really eager and I’m looking forward to working with them as they are also the state’s distributor for Red Bull, an ingredient for a key serve with NV Absinthe Verte for the NV Max.

NV Max cocktail

Following a brief tour and a few “house calls” with Rich and then dinner at a fine establishment we headed our respective ways, Rich going south to Miami for the Super Bowl game that coming Sunday between the Saints and the Colts. I however was up early (6am) driving down to Connecticut for a 10am meeting with Ace Distributors for a sales team folio and category training session. Luckily I had also rented a sat nav and I gunned it down through New Hampshire (déjà vu, had only been here the other week) past their state monopoly mega liquor stores which are strategically placed to pick up passing trade along the main tourist routes.

MAINE…OPENED!

My office in London started to get serious reports of snowstorms due to be hitting the east coast and central USA, knocking out my return flight to London later that day from Washington, up to 24″ snowfall expected! Luckily my team was on it with our travel agent rerouting me from Hartford, Connecticut to Chicago transfering to a flight back to London, same day.

ACE Distributing USA

The guys at Ace were excellent, I rolled up at just after 10am and the sales team were already munching Dunkin Donuts and sipping coffee. Straight in with the introductions and tutorial crash course on absinthe and how I resurrected it back in 1998. The big step this time is taking our international position (having grown La Fée Absinthe Parisienne over the last 10 years) from a niche premium spirit into mainstream spirits, which I’m now opening up with NV Absinthe Verte across the USA, and selected markets in the Caribbean, European Union and Asia Pacific.

CONNECTICUT…OPENED!

My flight was scheduled for a 2pm departure to Chicago, so after a great tutorial with Ace I bailed out just in time and headed for the airport to catch my flight home to see the family for a day only to be needed back in New Jersey for a meeting the coming Monday. At least my air miles account is accelerating almost as fast as La Fée only problem being them spread across British Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, United and American Airlines.

My flight from Hartford to Chicago was uneventful, apart from the massive snow storm rolling in . Everything looked good as the flight was departing on schedule, I took my seat on the return flight to London going for the extra 5″ of leg room offered in United Airlines premium economy. I settled in for a sleepless night by the window (with luck no one would be in the space next to me) as the plane filled up, to my horror a rather large gentleman came sideways down the aisle only to stop next to me and glance at the empty seat. After exchanging pleasantries he enveloped the seat, the armrest literally groaned as it was forced upward and toward me with body spilling over and under into “my” paid space, forcing me towards the window, trapping me for the next 8 horrifying hours. How long could I last on this full flight prior to hitting the panic button as Claustrophobia sets in and all hell breaks loose as my good manners are peeled away!

Fortunately I was rescued by none other than a former (retired 6 days earlier) US Marine, as she approached she hovered over his seat saying “excuse me, I think you’re in my seat sir”. Hurrah! Please, please be true!

He put up a brief resistance only for it to be confirmed that he was wrongly located. My relief flooded in as he extracted himself, with the seat making an almost popping sound, only to unintentionally transfer his inflicted misery upon the poor gentleman across the aisle, with the now no longer empty seat also overflowed well beyond capacity.

The Marine having just served 6 years (3 in ordinance loading armaments onto Planes and Helicopters and 3 in embassy guard duties, I believe Bali and then in a country north of Afghanistan) was off to Greece to start a new adventure. Thanks again for the rescue and good luck with the new career, if La Fée ever need a smart, fit, former US Marine we know who to look for!

Upon arriving early Saturday morning, I was once again one of the few standing next to the empty rotating carousel with no main hold luggage. It had missed the connection and would be couriered the next day (thanks) but I was due to fly United again that Sunday to New Jersey via Washington. I’m almost wondering if I should bother with a bag next trip at all!

Trip Five: New Jersey & Wyoming (7th Feb to 12th Feb 2010)

Only two states this time, being New Jersey and it’s total opposite, Wyoming. I was nervous over the weekend, fearing the stage two snowstorm expected on the east coast would either cancel my flight or worse, leave me stranded in Washington airport. My team after some research gave me the all clear on my flights, though I was still sceptical.

At Heathrow I literally bumped into an old employee of mine who I had introduced to the world of absinthe commerce, he was heading for Moscow still dabbling in absinthe and other spirit matters. We had a coffee and discussed absinthe’s future and its players and not for the first time we headed our separate directions.

Saints Vs Colts Super Bowl final

Saints Vs Colts Super Bowl final

The only downside with using the same airline so frequently is the film selection gets a bit samey. I love the US show 30 Rock, but even I can only take so many repeats in so many weeks. Washington was the nightmare I expected, my flight to Newark, New Jersey was cancelled and the only flight left that day was already full. I raced to the United Airlines information desk only to find 100 people in front with similar problems, not being an avid fan of queuing, my advice is to hit the phone bank they have (I don’t know why more people don’t use them) and it only took five minutes to establish that I was stuck until the next “possible” flight at 12 noon the next day. Not much good when your meeting’s at 1pm that day. I was determined not to be stuck at the airport all night, especially as I had a nice bed waiting at the Hilton Newark, and to top it all I was hoping to catch the last quarter of the Saints Vs Colts Super Bowl final that I kept seeing glimpses of as I passed various airport sports bars. Plan A, off the top of my head, was to hire a 4×4 and drive, not such a good idea unless the main roads were running. A four hour journey could become a whiteout and I could get stranded to boot. I ducked into the swish United Airlines Executive Lounge (I was only flying economy plus) and the lady was very helpful as all of the legitimate guests whisked past me to a protected haven of luxury in an airport of calm chaos, I suggest another airport to cut down my driving distance and luckily there was a flight to LaGuardia, New York, she squeezed me onto a plane leaving an hour later. I left her in hysterics as she phoned down to her colleague a floor below who was printing the new ticket, as she tried to describe what I looked like, I assisted her by lifting up my jumper to reveal La Fée’s solitaire all seeing eye!

I was about to board (abandoning my hold luggage again) when I got a text from an acquaintance near NY who had received our Friday La Fée newsletter about the pending Sunday Super Bowl game and what they were planning to be drinking through the match. Our suggestion was the Grand Sazerac with La Fée Parisienne, Grand Marnier and Bulleit Bourbon (a Simon Difford creation) all right for some. Upon landing in NY I took a taxi to Newark, what is it with Yellow Cabs who have no idea where they’re going? I even gave him a map and he had to place both of our lives at risk as he just stopped to gauge directions in a bridge section slipway with juggernauts flying by on the left and right. After I expressed my concerns he shrugged and informed me how that was what the area was for! The issue was that we had to cross the state line into New Jersey and after chatting with a least two more cabbies and me pointing out the big red neon sign saying “HILTON”, he still went the wrong way, he smiled nicely, and at least had the decency to turn off the meter.

I arrive in time for the last quarter with the Saints down. Wow, what a finish, the Colts accidentally calling time out and the snatch try by the Saints. The Hilton bar was rammed and New Orleans went crazy. The last time I was in New Orleans, I was visiting The Old Absinthe House, cutting their 200th anniversary cake with Jober’t Salem, the owner; while drinking La Fée Parisienne!

200th Anniversary cutting cake of Old Absinthe House New Orleans

Cutting the Old Absinthe House 200th anniversary cake with it’s owner, Jober’t in New Orleans

A good nights sleep and all back on track. I Skyped the office and family in the morning and got ready for my 2pm pitch for New Jersey distribution, what could go wrong? Their office was only 30 minutes away… Firstly the Yellow Cab arrived 15 minutes late, the driver put the address in his sat nav and we were away at speed. He chopped a NJ lady near some lights and she sure knew how to show her appreciation of my driver. It’s the first time I’ve seen “the finger” fly up with a torrent of abuse from what one would assume is normally a mild mannered lady (or not, in this instance) in her big sedan. We burnt off at the lights with both of us laughing, it got better once we found the freeway going west and all felt fine until my own map suggested the sat nav was overshooting the target and the right turn. In short, he managed to add another 30 minutes “accidentally” as his sat nav was shot to pieces. I ended up phoning my office in London who with the help of Google maps and a few points out of the cab window from me managed to get me to the meeting, only one hour late!

Yellow Cabs, do your knowledge like our London Black Cabs! I missed out the fact that this cab also stopped at a whim in crazy, dangerous places.

The meeting went well and we will follow this one up later. As a franchise state it’s important we partner with the right distributor, as once signed up for 6 months you’re as good as married for life unless they kick you out.

Nation Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Driving through the Nation Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The next day (same travel clothes from London) to my relief I finally catch my hold bag aimlessly rotating on a carousel at Newark airport in time to freshen up prior to departure. Onward to Wyoming, less than 550,000 people state total. I arrive via Chicago, 2.5 hours airtime and I get picked up by Milt from Wild West Wines & Spirits who has just driven 300 miles to meet me in his Lincoln Navigator; an absolute beast of a car. I had landed in Jackson Hole Airport, located in a valley encased by vast mountains, headed for the town of Jackson, with a population of less than 10,000 (5,000 “permanent”). It turns out this gem of a “wild west cowboy” town is a Mecca for snowboarding and skiing, it is also a route into Yellowstone National Park.

George Rowley in Bistro, Wyoming

Me in Bistro, Wyoming, ready to present to local bars and liquor stores

We visited a few accounts and scoped the place out, as fine shards of snow fell across the mountain range, what a stunning place! The town even has a vague link with the village I live in and work from back in the UK. I was told that Jackson was a fur trading outpost with the Indians and that trappers would come down from Canada to shelter out the harsh winters here. Some shelter, the temperature at night was between -3 and -10 while I was there! Most of this trade was controlled by the UK Hudson Bay Company of whom one of their directors built the magnificent country pile called Bayfordbury Park and owned the village of Bayford, where we are based.
We ate at the bistro and were joined by a man (lets just call him Mr X), it turns out he was formerly with the CIA and even served on Airforce One during JFK’s administration. Clearly this town and surrounding villages have many a interesting person.

WYOMING…OPENED!

That evening I ended up in Koshu and Ignite, both being must visit venues. I also met the CEO of www.yogatoday.com, clearly a company to look out for, they film the lessons high up in the mountains near Jackson, the setting alone will have you relaxed before you even start the Yoga!

I finally returned to London having visited 15 states to date, if you follow the links below you can see how La Fée and NV are rolling out across the USA with many more states to follow this year as I continue this quest to provide US citizens the freedom to choose the worlds most iconic award winning absinthe as sold around the globe, as backed by the French Absinthe Museum.

I’m looking to take absinthe from a niche category, to everyone!