Tales of the Cocktail:New Orleans, Louisiana
There is a secret language in New Orleans. This language is only known by a select few, but never spoken or discussed. Is there a dictionary for this tongue? No. But once a year, as if by osmosis, the language is shouted for all to hear. What are they saying?
The Tales of the Cocktail is that unspoken language. How do you know when it is spoken? In New Orleans, where it is said the modern cocktail was invented, if you listen it will become crystal-clear what they are speaking. Tales is a trade show, a competition, and a liquid-driven history lesson.
Stephanie Carter of the Museum of Southern Food and Beverage said it very clearly, “the cocktail is as much a part of the thread of New Orleans as it is all over the world. The cocktail is the history of this place which is ‘underwater’ and very much alive with possibilities.”
At the Tales of the Cocktail, history is being made each time a new liquor hits the market or a classic hotel bar cocktail is reinvented. Sure, there are all the usual suspects mixing the drinks. The major brands are all here too- vying for attention, advertising their products by employing the greatest bartenders in the world.
Those bartenders’ names are all known to those who make their living behind the bar: Natalie Bovis, who created a non-alcoholic drink called the Fre-Thyme – 2 oz Blood orange juice, 3/4 oz fresh Thyme syrup, 3 oz. club soda; David Wondrich, Dave Broom, Whisky Magazine *Scotland*, Ron Cooper founder of Del Maguey (Mezcal)
This is not a casual career. Bartenders are like demi-Gods. They have rock star status and they are paid like the heads of major corporations. This is the business called hospitality and to be hospitable requires great talent.
You have to start pretty early in the morning to prepare for an event such as the Tales. This takes practice to learn how to drink smartly before noon. It’s been said that the sun should be warm over your toes before you have a cocktail, but here in New Orleans the cocktail shakers never stop making their sing-song sound of ice against metal, crunch crunch crunch. The frost of the cold forming on the sides of the shaker. The aroma of the liquor. The snap of the first pour into the correct glass. The right cherries (never those things dyed bright red, artisan is the word and the mantra) it’s all about craft, passion and soul. All types are plying their talents- but how do they know each other? What is the identifying features?
At the William Grant event over at the WW2 museum the clock stopped in 1945. The ceiling bristling with aircraft from the former “Rosie the Riveter” era. There are all sorts of cocktails being imbibed. Find yourself at Jackson Square, named for Andrew Jackson- in between having your Tarot cards read- there are more cocktails. The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone is a favorite spot- it’s like a circus without animals- the bar moves around the room like a merry go round. Is the floor moving? No, it is all in your head. Nothing changes around here- the flavors true- the drinks strong- how many have you had?
Tasting seminars rule the roost. This is where the new products hit the market. Hanna Lee is elegant standing as the sentinel to the throngs of smiling, thirsty faces trying the newest products from the classic brand Marie Brizard, which did I like? The tea showed beautifully. This is not just about cordials but Gin, Vodka, Bourbon, all the best flavors that the world has to offer. Over at the Bombay Club, Janet Mick is showing her best in Southern hospitality for Purity Vodka- the country ham, grits and deviled eggs show beautifully against the background of Jazz. Is that Ed Hamilton over there? The Ministry of Rum is represented giving a liquid history of the jewels of the Caribbean. Are you listening to what the rums have to say?
New Orleans is everything and nothing during the Tales of the Cocktail. If you haven’t yet made your reservations for next year- it’s not too late. Tell them that you read about it here-make your trip count and just go.
My advice is to start drinking heavily right now… You’ll need to get your body in shape and this isn’t a 10K race, it’s century marathon of drinking.
Ann Tuennerman, the founder of the Tales of the Cocktail is crystal clear when she says that her favorite drink is the Sazerac. It’s a history lesson in a glass connecting each sip to the past, firmly in the present and moving towards the future of this eclectic gathering of like minded individuals, all here for the same reason. And the language they’re speaking is the language of passion. It’s all about hospitality.
Laissez les bons temps rouler, and come back next year. Don’t believe it? See for yourself and have a cocktail or ten, starting at 7:30 in the morning. Cheers!
At the Carousel Bar the seats go round and round. Is the floor moving or is it the bar?
Who knows. Just go. Next year is the tenth anniversary of the Tales. If it’s anything like this year, start drinking now.
The World’s Largest Negroni Cocktail
On Thursday, July 21, close to 400 cocktail enthusiasts gathered today to witness and taste the “World’s Largest Negroni,” a massive 30-gallon cocktail made of equal parts Campari, Italy’s legendary red spirit, Beefeater 24 Gin and Martini Rosso Vermouth. The festive libation was made on site to celebrate the “Year of the Negroni” and was presented in a handcrafted ice vessel. The high-spirited event, a highlight of the Tales of the Cocktail festival, was orchestrated by Master Mixologist Francesco Lafranconi and held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter. In addition, noted Italian bartenders from around the globe flew in to make their own highly distinctive Negroni variations at the event using fresh juices, rare Italian liqueurs and Prosecco sparkling wine. In homage to the Negroni cocktail’s creator, Count Camillo Negroni, the bartenders dressed up to resemble him and donned aristocratic handlebar moustaches.
New Marie Brizard French Liqueurs Debut
Marie Brizard launched its new “Essence” line of liqueurs at a special tasting room at Tales of the Cocktail on July 22 that was attended by hundreds of cocktail enthusiasts. Considered the company’s most audacious product innovation in its 250+ year history, these elixirs bring nature to the taste buds with astonishing clarity with bold aromatic profiles like Cinnamon, Spicy Mix, Tea, Jasmine, Rosemary and Violet. Émile Chaillot (Ugo & Spirits Bar Consulting, Paris) whipped up the first cocktails that showcased their dramatic flavor potential. To provide a historical perspective, Jonathan Pogash (The World Bar, New York) stirred up classic libations that showcased Marie Brizard liqueurs that have been a part of cocktail culture since its early days. Darryl Robinson (Cooking Channel’s “Drink Up” host) masterminded contemporary quaffs that demonstrated why Marie Brizard is the bartender’s choice liqueur at top bars worldwide. Finally, Rob Montgomery (Miller Tavern, Toronto) headed up a D-I-Y bar with a cornucopia of fresh ingredients for guests to choose from for their own bespoke cocktails that included the Marie Brizard liqueurs that were featured. The event was held at the Iberville Room at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans.
Campari Negroni Pre-Awards Toast
The lobby of the storied Hotel Monteleone was transformed into a celebration of the nominees of the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award at the Campari Negroni Pre-Awards Toast on Saturday, July 23. Hundreds of cocktail aficionados lined up for expertly crafted Classic Negronis, a bartender favorite, authentically made with Campari, gin and sweet vermouth by Chad Solomon and Christy Pope of Cuffs & Buttons Cocktail Catering. The nominees, who hail from around the globe and represent the best of the best of the bartending community, were joined by their colleagues, fans and members of the media. They included Dushan Zaric (Employees Only, New York City), Dre Masso (London, England), Tom Chadwick (Dram, New York City), Jacques Bezuidenhout (Partida Tequila), as well as writers Darcy O’Neil (London, Ontario), Toby Cecchini (New York City) and Naren Young (New York City). Master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim hoisted a glass and toasted the nominees before they headed off to the much-anticipated awards ceremony.
Warren Bobrow is a mixologist, chef, and writer known as the Cocktail Whisperer. In 2010, Bobrow founded “Wild Table” for Wild River Review and serves as the master mixologist for several brands of liquor, including the Busted Barrel rum produced by New Jersey’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition.
Bobrow has published three books on mixology and written articles for Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and other periodicals. He writes the “On Whiskey” column for Okra Magazine at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and has written restaurant reviews for New Jersey Monthly.
His first book Apothecary Cocktails, was published in September 2013; and immediately went into a second printing. In 2014, he published Whiskey Cocktails. He was born and raised in Morristown, NJ, on a Biodynamic farm.
Warren Bobrow in this Edition
COCKTAIL WHISPERER, Editor
Apothecary Cocktails: Mexican Sleep Cure
Billy Reid: Bourbon, Branch and a Splash of Southern Lore
Blue Hill/Stone Barns: Time Exists in Harmony with Nature
The Cocktail Whisperer asks Anthony Bourdain Four Questions about Scotch
The Five Questions: Andrew Bell, American Sommelier
The Five Questions Catherine Reynolds
The Five Questions: Lincoln Henderson (Master Distiller)
The Five Questions: Natalie West (Foppiano Wines)
The Five Questions: Randall Grahm
The Five Questions: Sustainable Sushi
A Glass of Bourbon, Branch, and History
Midnight in the Bronx: Visit to Hunt’s Point Wholesale Fish Exchange
A Modern Day Absinthe Alchemist
A Summer Cocktail Party for Artie Shaw
Tales of the Cocktail: New Orleans, Louisiana