Tag Archives: Tales of the Cocktail

TOTC: Juniperlooza!!!

The view walking in!

Sorry for the delay, but I would be remiss not to share with you the last, but certainly not least, event that we attended while down in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail. After countless tastings and events from Wednesday afternoon through Saturday, I began to feel the exhaustion kicking in, and I questioned whether or not I would be able to make it to the Juniperlooza party Saturday night, sponsored by the Pernod Ricard Gin Portfolio. Luckily, I had my Tales Veteran counterpart, Stephanie, with me, giving me pep talks that yes, I could make it, and no, this was not a party I wanted to miss!

Juniperlooza Guide description of Live Talent

As we pulled up to the venue I saw food and drink trucks lining the perimeter of an outdoor patio, and I could hear the live music blasting from inside the venue (do we have any fans of Aloe Blacc out there, I can tell you he was AMAZING)! As I walked around I expected the same 3 or 4 cocktails to be served at each of the drink carts, but I was extremely wrong! There were 25 different cocktails, each made with one of the gins in the Pernod portfolio (Beefeater, Beefeater 24, and Plymouth) mixed up fresh, on site by 42 incredible bartenders (get ready for some name dropping folks) such as Jim Meehan, Tony Abou-Ganim, Lynnette Marrero, Erick Castro, Jason Littrell, Kenta Goto and many more!

I tried my best to sample each of the drinks, (keyword being sample), but have to report that I did not make it through all 25. I can tell you that some of my favorites included the Clover Shrub, created by Jim Meehan, the French 75 ‘Tony Style’, created by Tony Abou-Ganim, and of course, a classic Tom Collins.

Delicious Pernod Gins served at Juniperlooza

Tom Collins

  • 2 Parts Plymouth Gin
  • .75 Part Fresh Lemon Juice
  • .75 Part Simple Syrup
  • Cub Soda

Shake all ingredients with ice, except club soda. Pour over fresh ice into a highball glass. Top witih club soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

This was such an all around memorable event, from the performances, to the atmosphere of the venue, to the amazing cocktails themselves, and I cannot wait for next year 🙂  -KJ

Mr. Aloe Blacc performing live!

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TOTC: Cocktail Culture’s B-day Bash!

Cocktail Culture celebrating b-days with Hiram Walker Whipped

While in New Orleans, Steph and I thought it the perfect time to celebrate our birthdays that just so happened to book end Tales of the Cocktail this year (My birthday is July 22 and Steph’s birthday,  just one week later,  is July 29). As we sat and planned what we thought would be the most appropriate way to celebrate such an exciting occasion, we both knew that cocktails had to be involved (big surprise there). Being big advocates of birthday desserts, we decided to whip up some cocktails using Hiram Walker’s newest liqueur, Hiram Walker Whipped (did everyone catch my pun?).

Cocktail Culture with Greg of A History of Drinking, toasting with CosmoWHIPolitans and Whippsicles

We met up at Le Booze at the Royal Sonesta Hotel (wearing homemade neon b-day shirts) on the Friday night during  Tales, and sampled two of the delicious recipes that are featured on the Whipped bottle and the bottle’s necker. We indulged in CosmoWHIPolitans and Whippsicles (the Whippsicle tasted just like an orange creamsicle!) in the company of some of our good friends in the cocktail community, including Greg of A History of Drinking and Kara of Tipple Sheet (Sorry we missed each other, Drink of the Week!)

Recipe featured on the bottle necker, yum!

Hiram Walker Whipped provided a great way to create a fun new take on a classic cocktail as well as the perfect ingredient for creating new sweet and boozy creations. We both had such a great time celebrating and we appreciate everyone who was able to join us for a Hiram Walker Whipped birthday drink 🙂

Our awesome birthday shirts!


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TOTC: ABSOLUT Welcome Reception!

Wednesday afternoon was my first day in New Orleans for Tales of The Cocktail, and my trip began with an incredible welcome reception sponsored by Absolut Vodka, held at the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center. Walking into my first official Tales event, I was extremely excited after hearing Stephanie share stories of parties from Tales past, but I was unsure what to expect. I can tell you that even though I have a large imagination, never did I think I would be walking into a room where it was snowing.

Hard at work with the nitro

Guests stepped out of the heat and humidity of New Orleans in July and into a Swedish winter wonderland where the cocktail selections seemed endless. There were various wooden sheds constructed throughout the event where guests could grab a variety of delicious cocktails, as well as take a break from the snow (some sort of foam water concoction I was told).  One of the highly visited rooms at the event had an ‘Absolut Future’ theme and was using liquid nitrogen to serve up Skane Julep Shots.  And, because all great parties need great music, there was a DJ on stage playing some party classics (don’t worry, “Play That Funky Music” was included!)

Skane Julep Shot

  • ABSOLUT Vodka
  • Nitro muddled w/ caraway & mint
  • Simple Syrup

Another great drink we tried out at this event was a Lemongrass Collins

  • Lemongrass infused ABSOLUT Vodka
  • Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Simple Syrup
  • Club Soda

While nothing can truly capture the atmosphere of the event, below are some photos in case you weren’t able to join us in New Orleans (or if you were there and you need a refresher since your entire week seemed to blur together 😉 )

A glimpse of the snow and one of the rooms when first entering the event

Stephanie enjoying a cocktail

DJ on stage

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Sandeman Porto Rocks Tales of the Cocktail

Ladies of Nova with The Don

Last week’s annual Tales of the Cocktail event was, once again, a great success! Brands old and new had the opportunity to connect with top spirits connoisseurs and consumers throughout this five-day alcohol-fueled extravaganza and among those brands was the prestigious Sandeman, one of the world’s top producers of port.

Sandeman made sure their presence was known, which is essential in such an increasingly over-crowded market, hosting a series of tastings virtually, intimately with attendees, and in dinner form… George Sandeman and “The Don,” the world’s first iconic wine logo, were also there to add a touch more fun and credibility to all of the happenings.

Festivities kicked off Wednesday night with an interactive tasting through Snooth.com that was led by Gregory dal Piaz, Editor in Chief at Snooth, and George Sandeman and was broadcast live via video and across Twitter. The tasting included an impressive range of wines including:

Sandeman 10 Year Old Tawny Porto NV
Sandeman 20 Year Old Tawny Porto NV
Sandeman Founder’s Reserve Porto NV
Sandeman Vau Vintage Porto 2000

The tasting also showcased a number of cocktail recipes that followers of the chat were encouraged to try at home and attendees to the tasting in New Orleans had a chance to taste. The event was very well received- check out the full recap on Snooth.com which includes video clips as well.

A particular highlight of the weekend was the Sandeman Spirited Dinner at Arnaud’s. At the welcome reception, guests were lead upstairs where they were handed a Sandeman Sparkler which they took with them as they walked a mini red carpet to a photographer who was taking photos of guests with “the Don” while  George made the rounds introducing himself to guests and mini appetizers were also being offered.

Guests were then seated for dinner and were presented the “Sandeman Sporting Chance” the winning cocktail of the recent Tales of the Cocktail 2012 Porto Cocktail Competition created by Colin Bollini, of The Rail in Bloomingtin, IN which paired with Amuse Bouche. George Sandeman welcomed guests, Bollini spoke about his cocktail.

Sporting Chance

          • 1 oz Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto
          • 3/4 oz El Dorado 12 Year Old Demerara Rum
          • 1/2 oz Hardy VS Cognac
          • 1/4 oz Rich Demerara Syrup (2:1)
          • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
          • 1 dash Angostura bitters
          • Mint leaves

Lightly muddle five or six mint leaves with demerara syrup in the bottom of a julep cup. Add the port, rum, cognac, syrup and bitters. Stir briefly to combine. Fill julep cup with crushed ice. Stir to chill until cup frosts. Form mound of crushed ice on top; pour cocktail.

As the dinner progressed they were offered delectable bites paired with signature Sandeman wines and cocktails such as The Sandeman Tawny Port Cobbler with a choice between Shrimp Arnaud, Crabmeat Monaco or Chicken & Andouille Gumbo;  The Sandeman 75- made by legendary New Orleans bartender Chris Hannah was a spin on the classic French 75 with a Watercress Salad;  The Sandeman Bourbon Port Punch with the main course of  Gulf Fish Marguery, Chicken Victoria or Veal Porterhouse Meuniere; and for dessert, Sandeman Port with Baked Alaska or Caramel Custard.

Also during Tales, Sandeman hosted a special “Aromatized and Fortified Wines” Tasting which was a special tasting of a wide range of brands and products including Port, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala and Vermouth. Note: Sandeman produces wines from each of these categories, though they are lesser-known in the US.

Overall, Sandeman was a great success at the Tales of the Cocktail event this year and surely left an impact on attendees. For more information on Sandeman and specialty cocktail recipes please visit their Facebook page or website.



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Toast to Surviving TOTC

I am proud to say that Stephanie and I made it back to the office this morning (on time!) after surviving 4 long, but amazing days in New Orleans at Tales of the Cocktail. It was such a great experience and I can’t wait to share with you everything we did, but in order to provide you with a properly thought out post I’m going to need some serious sleep first. Check back soon to hear about all of the events we went to, but in the meantime I’ll be toasting to surviving my first TOTC (and then I’ll be taking a break from cocktails for a few days…maybe)!

Kir Royale

Serve in a champagne flute. Garnish with lemon twist if desired.



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An Interview With Porto Cocktail Competition Winner Colin Bolini

It wouldn’t be the first mention of this topic on our blog, but it bears repeating. Port tends to be an overlooked or misunderstood ingredient when it comes to developing cocktails. But when you find a drink recipe (or, better yet, develop one yourself!) that calls for port, the result is a drink with a great depth of flavor that tastes simply – well – delicious.

Presented by Tales of the Cocktail and Saveur Magazine, Sandeman hosted a contest back in the spring that challenged bartenders to develop unique recipes using the brand’s Founders Reserve Porto for a chance to win a trip to Tales of the Cocktail, taking place in New Orleans later this month. Judges for the 2012 Porto Cocktail Competition included:

  • David Wondrich – Cocktail Historian
  • Jonathan Pogash – Beverage Consultant
  • Helen Rosner – Saveur Spirits Editor

Together, the group of esteemed industry professionals declared Colin Bolini, of The Rail in Bloomington, IN, the winner for his original recipe, “Sporting Chance”. I had the chance to connect with Colin online and ask him a few questions about bartending, his unique Sandeman recipe and discover just exactly what he’s looking forward to on his complimentary trip to Tales:

StephanieJerzy: How long have you been bartending and what got you most interested in this line of work?
ColinBolini: I’m a 10 year restaurant veteran who has worked every position from busyboy to GM at a variety of establishments. I was drawn to bartending because I’ve always romanticized the position and felt that its roots in being a well respected profession could be re-conjured, and I love the spontaneous nature of the craft.

SJ: How do you prep for a bar shift? Have any rituals or best practices to get “in the zone”?

Colin Bolini in his element at The Rail

CB: When I’m setting up the bar, I like to get there early, turn up the music (something with tempo!) and move quickly to ensure I can enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee prior to open. For whatever reason, I’ve been listening to a lot of the Rolling Stones album “Sticky Fingers” at set up. Another good way to get in the zone is to fool around and make an off-the-wall cocktail right at open and share it with whomever dares, it stimulates the mind!

SJ: What was the inspiration for your winning Sandeman recipe? How did those flavors come together?
CB: I have enjoyed utilizing Sandeman port in cocktails as a way to work in subtle sweetness and depth of flavor. My cocktail, “Sporting Chance,” was inspired by the depth of flavor inherent in the port, and also the brutally hot weather I knew to expect at the end of July in New Orleans! By bolstering the port with a little dark rum and cognac, lightening with muddled mint, and then bringing up the complexity with two kinds of bitters, I felt like the perfect balance was struck without disguising the port base. Served as a julep because of my fascination with the presentation style, I hope that “Sporting Chance” proves that port need not be reserved for cold winter nights only.

SJ: You’ll be at Tales of the Cocktail in July with Sandeman — Have you been before? What are you most looking forward to in New Orleans?
CB: I am attending my first TOTC, and I’m very excited! Apart from the networking opportunities and amazing New Orleans cuisine, I am most excited to learn from the industry’s best and brightest and advance my skills and knowledge surrounding my craft.

SJ: What other spirits do you most frequently like to use behind the bar?
CB: When I’m not mixing up new Sandeman cocktails, you can most often find me with a bottle of rye whiskey or mezcal, tinkering away!

You’ll be able to catch Colin mixing up his Sporting Chance recipe at a collection of Sandeman-sponsored events at this upcoming Tales of the Cocktail, including the Sandeman “Lost Art of Port” Spirited Dinner at Arnaud’s and  the Cocktail Apprentice Lunch at Tales of the Cocktail.

If you won’t be able to join us in New Orleans (or visit Colin behind the bar at The Rail), here’s the recipe so you can mix up a Sporting Chance for yourself:

Sporting Chance

  • 1 oz Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto
  • 3/4 oz El Dorado 12 Year Old Demerara Rum
  • 1/2 oz Hardy VS Cognac
  • 1/4 oz Rich Demerara Syrup (2:1)
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Mint leaves

Lightly muddle five or six mint leaves with demerara syrup in the bottom of a julep cup. Add the port, rum, cognac, syrup and bitters. Stir briefly to combine. Fill julep cup with crushed ice. Stir to chill until cup frosts. Form mound of crushed ice on top; pour cocktail.

Thanks Colin for answering our questions and we all look forward to seeing you in New Orleans in just a few short weeks!


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Cocktail Culture at Tales of the Cocktail 2012!

With only two weeks until Tales, Cocktail Culture has finalized all travel arrangements and is officially going to TOTC! While Stephanie is a seasoned vet, this will be my first year attending and I couldn’t be more excited!

For the next two weeks I have made it my duty to prepare myself for the upcoming events as best as I can, and I’m going to start by brushing up on my morning booze consumption (haven’t done this since college) in order to ensure that I can handle my cocktails first thing in the morning, and still make it to all the exciting events that go all night long!

As a coffee lover, coffee cocktails sound like the perfect way to ease into my morning cocktail conditioning, and I am definitely looking forward to attending Kahlua’s ‘Coffee Cupping Education for Bartenders’ event on  Thursday July 26 at Tales!

Hazelnut Coffee

Combine ingredients and serve in a coffee mug.

The recipe calls for hot coffee, but if you’re like me summertime means iced coffee and I’ll be drinking this one on the rocks!

Enjoy and I hope to see you at the Kahlua event 🙂



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Drinks Best Served in a Hurricane Glass

Citrus Peach Fuzz Cocktail from Hiram Walker

Preparing for Tales of the Cocktail makes a lot of traditional New Orleans drinks come to mind: Sazerac, Vieux Carre, and Pimm’s Cup (OK, well that’s if you’re a fan of the Napoleon House in NOLA, like I am!) are among the many that come to mind first.

Yet there is no drink that better embodies the spirit of Bourbon Street than the Hurricane. The rum-filled concoction served in the glass of the same name comes from the famous Pat O’Briens bar.

But this bears the question: What other types of drinks can be served in a Hurricane glass?

Here are a few suggestions served up from the Hiram Walker recipe database, but I would welcome more of your insightful cocktail recipes as well!

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Cocktail

  • ¼ part Hiram Walker® Blue Curacao
  • 1 part ABSOLUT® Vodka
  • 1 part Pineapple Juice

Blend with ice until smooth and serve in a hurricane glass.

Citrus Peach Fuzz

  • 1 part ABSOLUT Citron® Vodka
  • 1 part Hiram Walker® Peach Schnapps
  • 1 part Cream
  • Fresh Peach slices

Pour all ingredients into blender; cover with crushed ice and blend until smooth. Pour into a Hurricane glass and garnish with a fresh peach slice.


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Pernod Ricard Events at Tales of the Cocktail

We’re just one day away from one of the biggest cocktail gatherings of the year. If you’re headed down to NOLA, keep this list of events handy so you can participate in some of the great drinking opportunities throughout the week presented by Pernod Ricard USA.

Pernod Ricard also will play host to two opening and closing parties that flank a plethora of other events at Tales of the Cocktail for 2011 – the Beefeater Welcome Reception on Wednesday and the Plymouth Bartender’s Breakfast on Saturday evening into early Sunday morning.

Here’s the rest of the handy list:

  • Absolut San Francisco Tasting Room
    2:30 PM to 4 PM, Wednesday
    The Iberville and Bienville Rooms, Hotel Monteleone
  • Absolut Bloody Mary Bar
    9 – 10:30 AM, Thursday & Friday
    Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar
  • Kahlua Coffee Bar
    8:30 – 10:30 AM, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat
    Hotel Monteleone Mezzanine
  • Irish Distillers Tasting Room
    2:30 PM to 4 PM, Thursday
    The Iberville and Bienville Rooms, Hotel Monteleone
  • Pernod Absinthe Green Hour
    3:30 PM to 5:30 PM, Thursday & Saturday
    Hotel Monteleone Mezzanine
  • Negroni with a Twist Party
    4:30 PM to 6 PM, Thursday
    Acadia Suite, The Royal Sonesta Hotel
  • Ricard Petanque
    5:30 PM to 7:30 PM, Friday
    300 Block of Royal Street
  • The Spirited Award Ceremony sponsored by Pernod Ricard USA
    8:30 PM to 11:30 PM, Saturday
    Mahalia Jackson Theatre

A visit to Tales of the Cocktail on the web here or a download of the mobile application is the perfect way to keep a running tab (pun intended!) of all the week’s happenings.

I look forward to seeing many familiar and new faces in NOLA this week. Definitely feel free to shoot me an email so we can try to cross paths, or follow my action via Twitter at @stephaniejerzy.

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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.  



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