Tales of the Cocktail is a festival to bring those passionate about cocktails together for seminars, tastings, networking and celebration. Distillers, bartenders, brand ambassadors and cocktails geeks come from all over the world for this industry event. .
Yours truly will be live-blogging the convention this year. Here we go.
Bartender's Breakfast was an incredible event. It's always the big send-off following the Spirited Awards.
The "breakfast" was gin-based this year, with several brands and companies representing and manning booths. Upon entering the venue, the booth directly across was amazing: Cure, Bellocq, and Cane & Table. Even more amazing was the fact that the Cure Co boys: Neal Bodenheimer, Kirk Estopinal, and Nick Detrich were personally manning the stand. Their "Promises, Promises" drink was great, but just seeing the three of them reunited behind a bar really moved me. (For perspective, the last time I saw them bartending all together, aside from the first year Cure was open, was last year at Cure's five-year anniversary party.)
As far as actual breakfast, sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches were served. The most memorable part of the night, which even the drunkest guest would remember, was when the power outage happened. The music stopped and the lights dimmed. It didn't kill the party, but it did affect the entire Bywater-Marigny neighborhood.
Today was Pig & Punch, a fundraiser hosted by Imbibe Magazine and The Bon Vivants benefitting New Orleans KIPP Schools. It's exactly as it sounds: Several roasted pigs and several bag-lined trash cans of various, fancy punches. Among the food vendors were Cochon and Alon Shaya. Cochon served up a great bone-in pork chop sandwich. Alon and his sous chef, Phillip Mariano, prepared smoked muffulettas. Incredible. My favorite moment of the event was when Alon served one to Stephen Stryjewski, executive chef of Cochon, and said "Don't put it on your menu."
The fellowship and good vibes, along with a local band playing, made the event a success as usual. Lots of cool non-pig, non-punch things were around also: A photo booth from Mandarine Napoleon, alcoholic Luxardo ice creams, and a horseshow throwing contest. A few of us retreated to my friend Jake Parrott's place, where we sampled some of his delicious Haus Alpenz fare. Among his guests was Arik Torren, who runs Fidencio Mezcal. There's nothing quite like tasting a liquor with the person who makes it.
After all that, I severely needed some caffeine. The lovely Rhiannon Enlil was around, and her presence reminded me that Jameson was hosting an all-day event at her bar, The Erin Rose. The Rose's signature frozen Irish coffees were ready and available for certain Tales guests, and I was lucky to get one.
After that, I headed directly to the Freret Street Block Party. I spent most of my time at the amaro event at Cure, where Ryan Gannon mixed up an incredible drink for me, and at Company Burger, where CoBu2's future bar manager Evan Wolf was serving up some great Suze drinks.
I got to speak with Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales, and she seemed thrilled with the event as a whole. "This year we really put our city’s incredible hospitality industry on display," she said, noting the Spirited Dinners, Dynamic Duos and Restaurant Week."
Attendees, including myself, responded and spent the week enjoying that defining part of New Orleans. Ann of course is a big fan of "our legendary bars and restaurants." She continued to say "I’m just so happy we can do our part to help our friends and neighbors during what’s typically a slow time of year.”
I'm exhausted. But, like every year, Tales of the Cocktail did not disappoint. Wonderful event and wonderful week.
See you next year, Tales.
Andrew Marin writes about cocktails and food for Where Y’at Magazine, and his liver just ran the Tales gauntlet again this year. Follow him @ndrewmarin on Twitter and Instagram and add andrewmarin on Snapchat for live updates.