Tales of the Cocktail: Day 4 & 5

The last two days at Tales of the Cocktail were packed with tasting rooms and (more) big parties!

We spent a lot of time talking to great bartenders, writers, liquor makers and people just out for a good time. We’ll be sharing what we learned from our seminars and some fantastic recipes soon. So sad to be leaving New Orleans, but here are just a few highlights from the last two days in one of the world’s best cities.

The folks at Hendrick’s Gin always have a creative approach to sharing their products. The enchanted forest in their tasting room included a wishing well filled with a delightful punch concoction.

Koerner and Sosa shared all sorts of scientific takes on cocktails, including some that popped in your mouth like Pop Rocks or tasted like a crunchy marshmallow. This woman is making a margarita … although it’s in sorbet form, thanks to a little liquid nitrogen (so don’t touch!). Here’s the finished product:

They handed out the recipe to their awesome creations, so I’ll have to make this at home and see if I can replicate this tasty treat. (Really it was fantastic!)

It’s not all parties and tastings … there’s a lot of learning going on. OK, so even the “learning” is fun. Tony Abou-Ganim and Kathy Casey led a great, hands-on seminar about using infused water in cocktails. It’s a low-calorie and hand-crafted alternative to all the sugary and heavy drinks out there. I’ll definitely be sharing more about this on Drink of the Week, once I’ve been able to play with my own infusions.

Of course, cocktails weren’t all we consumed! Cochon is one of New Orleans’ finest restaurants, so I had to stop by there for braised pork cheeks over spoon bread. That place is amazing.

For more casual fare, there’s Mother’s. Seriously, the fried oyster platter with grits and turnip greens was crazy.

Both these places are a wee bit of a walk or a short cab ride from the French Quarter but definitely worth the little extra effort.

 

The Bartenders’ Breakfast (which is held late at night to pay homage to the bartending schedule) was jam-packed! There was a line around the block, so we headed to a place called Chuck’s that is open “damn near 24 hours.” It’s home of the “Chuck Shot,” which, from what I can tell, is a four-ounce pour of whatever liquor you ask for. We hung out with some locals and some other Tales folks who had been waiting outside and then made our way over to the more club-like atmosphere of the breakfast for French toast and cocktails.

The final day there was a closing brunch with Mr. & Mrs. Cocktail (the event’s founders and organizers), then some last-minute book shopping and … a SWAMP TOUR. I was actually this close to a gator. We fed them marshmallows (True Blood wasn’t lying about that one). I saw three full-size alligator and one baby. They didn’t seem that threatening as they chomped on marshmallows, but I still kept my hands far away from their mouths!

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