Tales of the Cocktail has come and passed for its eighth year (and my first) and I’ve finally interpreted my glazed over notes to share some more insights of what I learned during my five-day stint in New Orleans. As a Tales newbie heading into this trip, I came back with quite a few thoughts (not sure I can call them words of wisdom!) that I don’t think any one individual’s personal advice could have prepared me for:
- Nobody will look at you funny for spiking your coffee at 8:30 in the morning. The Kahlúa Coffee Bar was a dream come true for the non-bartender like me who is used to being up with the sun on a daily basis. Iced coffees were among the barista’s specialties, along with Rick Stutz’s tequila-spiked Black Paloma cocktail.
- Multiple Bloody Marys do equate to a well-balanced lunch. Nothing says getting your full day’s serving of vegetables like with a Bloody Mary. And boy, did these cocktails fit the bill at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone! Making your brunch-time booze even more delectable was the opportunity to see Pernod Ricard ambassadors Simon Ford and Chris Pattino dressed as a tomato and celery stalk, respectively. Darcy O’Neil over at Art of Drink also introduced me to a fascinating new spin on this classic cocktail – The Bloody Caesar. Setting this drink apart from its kin is the use of clamato juice with your booze, which kicks up the Umami factor in your beverage.
- Breakfast at Brennan’s is a meal of epic proportions. Delicious, yes. But believe me when I say I didn’t eat again until 8 pm!
- The pit stop at Café du Monde is definitely worth the wait. With that said, do I think “OMG BEINEIGTS ARE THE BEST FOOD EVAHHH!!!”? No, thanks. I usually like to curb my fried dough eating habits at once a year – at the state fair.
- Beefeater really knows how to ring in a party. I heard last year’s Welcome Reception was great. But this year’s shindig at the Contemporary Arts Center went above my expectations! With a Tim Burton inspired, Alice in Wonderland-on-LSD feel going on, we ushered in the start of Tales with classic Beefeater Gin & Tonics, along with a slew of creative cocktails served by some of the biggest names in the biz: Beefeater Global Brand Ambassador Dan Warner, Audrey Saunders, Roberts Hess, and Kenta Goto of Pegu Club were among the masses slinging drinks.
- Serving Chartreuse Swizzles out of flower vases is only appropriate beginning at 2 am. Just ask the guys and gals of the Mixo House.
- Hit up Napoleon’s House for a Pimm’s Cup. Don’t ask questions. Just do it.
- No matter how much you plan ahead, plans change. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from Tales is to not overbook your schedule. Allot extra time in your day for traversing through the Monteleone lobby & Carousel Bar – it’s a time warp! And expect the unexpected, life is more fun that way.