Tales of the Cocktail 2017 - Halfway Through
Tales of the Cocktail is in full swing this week, and, as always, the sponsor brands’ signature parties and hospitality suites have been incomparable.
I started my “tour” on Tuesday night with The Spare Room’s Ode to the Bowl, sponsored by Diageo. Bowling teams made up of bartenders from different American cities (and a team each from France and Canada) competed, with shots poured for every strike. New Orleans was represented by a team calling themselves “The Bowlers That Care Forgot.” Diageo brought along several punches featuring Johnny Walker and Ketel One. Bulleit and Guinness teamed up for a “boilermaker” bar specializng in, of course, shots and beers.
Wednesday night was Altos Tequila’s LuchaSlam party. Altos is Pernod Ricard’s tequila brand, and they went with a Mexican wrestling theme this year. They had a wrestling ring with live matches, bartenders serving in full wrestling gear, wrestling in cages, and a 180-degree (Matrix-style) photobooth. My personal favorite of the night was the “Time Travel Agent” cocktail made with salted grapefruit and rosemary.
Later that evening and into Thursday morning, William Grant & Sons took over Crescent Park for their “Love Supreme” party. Monkey Shoulder brought out their version of “butter beer,” i.e. their Scotch with Kamm & Sons, thyme, butterscotch, citrus, bitters, and of course, beer. Hendricks built a rose garden and brought out their drink truck with a cyclist pedaling on top because, why not? Hudson Manhattan Rye gave out “I [heart] ____” customizable white tees in the style of the iconic NY shirts. And the “Love has no labels” bar served up Glenfiddich and Balvenie in various drinks or neat pours. Per tradition, WG&S had their usual tattoo artists there giving away free tattoos. What could possibly go wrong?
I spent yesterday roaming the French Quarter and enjoying the hospitality of Absolut, Southern Glazer, and Mezcal El Silencio.
I’m going to change to present tense for this part as these locations are still ongoing for a few days:
Absolut is hosting their usual “House of Elyx,” highlighting the vodka they make in copper stills. The House of Elyx always features barware and glassware (mugs, unicorns, elves, and signature pineapples) made entirely of copper. If you’ve never drunk out of copper, it keeps things very cold and is also very heavy. Because it’s Absolut, they also have a complimentary beauty parlor on site for anyone worse for wear from the night before. And they serve food including Swedish meatballs. Heritage.
Southern Glazer has brought along their portfolio of liquors and is pouring a (very welcome) frozen rose punch. They also have an espresso bar because some of us are only running on alcohol, adrenaline, and caffeine at this point.
Mezcal El Silencio is changing up their usual massage suite and has gone with a heaven/hell theme this year. They’ve taken a French Quarter courtyard and draped it in white fabrics with white bunnies (live ones) and women dressed in flowing white dresses. Their “joven” bottles (clear) are highlighted downstairs. Upstairs, their “espadin” are front and center. You’re blessed before being let into the “hell” room where red lighting and fire motifs are everywhere. To emphasize the duality, there are chess and checker boards everywhere. Also, black bunnies. The “hellburnt” mezcal negroni went down really well for me. Also, more free tattoos.
Last night I had a fantastic Spirited Dinner at Maypop with Bombay Sapphire. Bombay Sapphire brought the twelve finalists for their GQ “Most Imaginative Bartender” competition to Tales. Their vision is to have a cocktail competition fueled by imagination with no restraint for the kind of ingredients, techniques, or presentation used. The dinner food was incredible and Bombay provided a bunch of classic drinks and some imaginative ones too. The French 75 frozen with liquid nitrogen was a great experience. One drink involved nori seaweed and was more savory than expected but quite refreshing.
A Bombay dinner was the perfect segue into Bacard’s portfolio party. “Neon Tide” transformed the Sugar Mill into a lush, beachside jungle. The event included a graffiti wall, Zacapa served out of fresh pineapples and fresh coconuts, a man in stilts dressed as a flamingo, vapes flavored with Scotch smoke, and of course, a lot of Bacardi and all their brands (Grey Goose, Dewar’s, Cazadores, etc).
I hit two after-parties last night. The Bitter Truth had a great meet-and-greet with cocktails highlighting their bitters, and Monkey Shoulder had an out-of-this-world themed neon party on Bourbon Street’s largest balcony.
More to come. Stay tuned. And if we run into each other this week, let’s have a shot.