It’s so hard to fit all of the excitement, events, booze, and news of Tales of the Cocktail into a few measly posts, but if I didn’t consolidate and summarize this all, I’d be writing about Tales year-round. And trust me, we don’t need that—they’ve already got a fine blog of their own: Tales blog.
So here’s the remainder of what I have to share with those of you who’ve taken an interest in my Tales travels—then, it’s a wrap!
Saturday was my last full day in New Orleans (I left Sunday morning at an ungodly hour) & I went out with a bang! The day started out with breakfast at Brennan’s—an amazing treat I’ve been looking forward to since…well, since last year when I had breakfast at Brennan’s. Amazing! Strawberries & cream, Eggs Portuguese, & their famous Bananas Foster. I probably didn’t have to eat another bite the whole day…but I sure did.
Later in the day I sat in on one of the funniest Tales sessions I’ve been to—The Three Amigos, with a panel that consisted of Wayne Collins, Jason Crowley, and Simon Ford (he was everywhere at Tales!). I heard fantastic things about their session last year and these boys didn’t disappoint.
Again, it was a case of excellent accents matched with interesting content. They covered who they consider to be the three most important bartenders of the 19th century—Jerry Thomas, Harry Johnson, and The Only William-William Schmidt, paying particular attention to the bartenders’ varying personalities, service styles, cocktails, and mustaches. Best of all, this session had some of my favorite freebies of the week. Two reprints from Mud Puddle Books & a new bar spoon. Nice!
The Spirit Awards, sponsored by Pernod Ricard, were later that evening at Harrah’s Casino—and it was a great way to end a week of worshipping cocktails. I was lucky enough to be seated at a great table this year (with Robert Hess and Dave Wondrich to name-drop a few) and thus got a wonderful view of the many deserved winners. Here’s the list of 2009 Tales of the Cocktail Spirit Award winners:
World’s Best Drinks Selection: Merchant Hotel, Belfast
Best American Cocktail Bar: Pegu Club, NYC
World’s Best Cocktail Bar: PDT, NYC
World’s Best New Cocktail Bar: Clover Club, Brooklyn
World’s Best Hotel Bar: Merchant Hotel, Belfast
American Bartender of the Year: Jim Meehan, PDT
International Bartender of the Year: Tony Conigliaro
Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: The Essential Cocktail by Dale DeGroff
Best Cocktail Writing: Dave Wondrich
Best New Product: Bols Genever
World’s Best Cocktail Menu: Merchant Hotel, Belfast
Best American Brand Ambassador: Simon Ford, Plymouth Gin & Pernod Ricard
Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Dorelli
Congratulations to all the winners!
Most celebrated afterward, at the Plymouth-sponsored Bartender’s Breakfast. The event, held at the remarkable LaTrobe’s on Royal, was packed with a line out the door! There were at least a dozen bars throughout the venue serving up quality cocktails to sleep-deprived cocktailians determined to stay up until their 7 AM flight. Again, it was a great party and a wonderful way to give one last toast to Tales. I had a fantastic time this year and I’m sure next year will bring more surprises, sessions, parties, friends and of course, cocktails. Cheers!