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Tales of the Cocktail 2010

At the Beefeater Welcome Reception. You bet I brought the hat home with me!

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.

    Enjoying a muffaletta lunch and a Pimm's Cup at The Napoleon 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.  

Cheers!
SJ

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Friday on the Fly

CIMG3633First of all, apologies for the break in writing here. I know I’ve got plenty more to cover as far as Tales of the Cocktail is concerned, but things have been a little crazy. It’s been non-stop for 11 days straight now, and for at least two weeks I haven’t gone grocery shopping, done any laundry, or even washed any dishes. My life is in temporary disarray, but have no fear—I’m back and ready to spill more Tales details!

The Cocktails that Made Gin Famous

Let me tell you what I love about working with gin brands—the accents. I’m just a sucker for a British accent. It’s smart, it’s sexy, it’s hilarious & charming! No one ever says that about “American accents.” Anyway, the accents were a huge plus in The Cocktails that Made Gin Famous session, but the content was also key. The panel featured Tal Nadori of Genever, Angus Winchester of Tanqueray, Dan Warner of Beefeater, and Simon Ford of Plymouth.

One after another, they presented the history and progression of the gin category (starting with Tal and Genever, of course) and the cocktails that made the spirit shine along the way. My personal favorite was the White Lady, presented by Dan. He mentioned there’s a “perfect” version of the cocktail that subs Peach Brandy in for Cointreau. Sounds delish!

On the Fly Competition

What a great idea for a competition! The brainchild of Jeffrey Morgenthaler,  this event pulled together great mixologists and spirits writers from across the country and challenged them to make the best cocktail they could using the ingredients from their Swag Bag! CIMG3643Ingredients included everything from Tea Forte to BBQ sauce, and the only other catch was that they had to use ½ oz. of either Grand Marnier or Navan. They had thirty minutes to do their work, which left some of the audience wishing Alton Brown was there to give us the play-by-play and show different camera angles of the bartenders in action.

I need more details on the winning cocktail, but I can say it was crafted by Giuseppe Gonzales of New York City. Other participants included:

Todd Thrasher-Washington, DC

Eric Alperin-Los Angeles (see Mohawk above)

Dave Wondrich-NYC

Neyah White-San Fran

Misty Kalkofen-Boston

Paul Clarke-Seattle

Ricky Gomez-New Orleans

CIMG3645 Caipirinha Competition

After the On The Fly competition, Steve & I headed over the Leblon Caipirinha Competition, which was really more of a party than a competition. The venue featured approx. 25 booths with USBG bartenders fixing up their “Caipirinha” submissions. I never got a clear read on who the winner was, but I think it might have me—because I love Cachaça & every cocktail I tried was fabulous.

One favorite of the night was Chris Stanley’s Ipanema Beachcomber. You’ll have to go bug him on his blog for the details, but I know it had Leblon, Herbsaint, Cinnamon Syrup, Angostura bitters, pineapple, and grapefruit. Yum!

We finished up the night with a Pimm’s Cup and a Sazerac at Napoleon House, a famous and historical watering hole that eluded us half a dozen times last year at Tales. Success!

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