This is the first in a series of reports from Tales of the Cocktail 2009.
I arrived in New Orleans on Tuesday, the day before Tales of the Cocktail would be in full swing. Still, there were a few events scheduled for the evening. First off, the bloggers reception held at M.S. Rau Antiques on Royal Street. There, I was fortunate enough to meet many of my fellow cocktail bloggers and see some really amazing antiques, including this very rare airplane cocktail shaker from the 1930s.
Next it was off to the Benedictine Party at historic Latrobe’s on Royal. It was kinda creepy, with dudes dressed as monks and steamy cocktails. Actually, it was kinda fun. To keep up with the frenzy, a group of us took off uptown to the Maple Leaf Bar uptown where we enjoyed cold Abita beer and the Rebirth Brass Band.
The next day Tales of the Cocktail kicked off in earnest, with sessions & tastings starting at 10:30 am. I slipped into 2009 Big Trends in Cocktail Service, a panel of best-of-class industry professionals discussed the 4 P’s of Cocktail Service. Yes, there were drinks. Next, I hit a few tastings and the checked out the Cocktail Fresh Market, which was a room full of bartenders making wonderful cocktails using organic and sustainable spirits and ingredients. After that, it was on to Royal Street for the official kickoff in front of the Hotel Monteleone, complete with Creole Juleps for all.
My next session was hosted by two cocktail legends, Dale de Groff and Tony Abu Gamin. Titled “Stop Talking: Go Fresh,” the pair shared their insight into having a 100% fresh beverage program. Believe me, if you ever get the chance to have a cocktail created by these guys, you’ll listen to what they have to say!
Being a big fan (and minor collector) of barware, I headed to the Museum of the American Cocktail for a session on vintage barware. A rollicking session hosted by the colorful trio of collectors Sephen Visakay, Jimbo Walker and Mark Bigler. Were we treated to a trip to the museum, cocktails, and a fun discussion of vintage barware. Then they surprised everyone with a raffle of some of the pieces (actually most) of the pieces on hand for the talk. Your truly came home with a Forman Brothers shaker from the 1930s. The Forman’s would latter become proprietors of Peter Luger’s across the street from their Brooklyn factory. I was more than pleased.
After a quick pit stop at the Hotel, I rushed off to the opening reception at the just reopened Roosevelt Hotel. They spent $135 MM on renovating this grand New Orleans landmark and it showed. Sponsored by Beefeater, it had a bit of a British touch. Beefeaters lined the halls of the hotel and gin cocktails were plentiful. Being New Orleans the night was just getting started, with some new friends I headed off to Bar Tonique for a party with the folks from DonQ and their amazing mixologists. From there we descended into the French Quarter for Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s (not recommended – hurt head), burgers at Yo Mamma and Karaoke at the Cat’s Meow.
Yes, that was just the first day!