I was taking my second shower of the day—a summer requisite in New Orleans—and getting ready to head back into the fracas that is Tales of the Cocktail (America’s preeminent gathering of the spirits and bar industry) when an interesting Facebook invite arrived. “A Tale of Our Own,” created by William Grant & Sons portfolio marketing manager Jessica Albano, was made to unite and honor the bartenders who stay behind to keep the Las Vegas fires burning. “There may not be epic beignets, po-boy sandwiches or professional seminars, but dammit, we’re gonna have a good time!” the description read.

With much of his fellow Herbs & Rye team in New Orleans, barman Kinson Lau was first to jump on board, as did Liquid Vessel events’ Rob Amato. Together with Albano, the trio pulled off an epic (and, admittedly, last-minute) 12-hour crawl on July 21, featuring products from the William Grant & Sons portfolio as well as that of Infinium Spirits.

It was 3:30 p.m. when #HOOTLV2016, as it came to be tagged (Lau: “It’ll be a hoot and a half!”), kicked off Downtown with Ancho Reyes-spiked cold brew by Isaiah Thornton at Vanguard. Davey Francis served Hendrick’s gimlets at Downtown Cocktail Room. Vedo Pitnjakovic (pictured) ladled Hendrick’s punch from watermelons at Oak & Ivy. And the group swelled for beer and Chow fried chicken at Atomic Liquors, courtesy of Jeffrey Grindley and Bryant Jane. At 7 p.m., the party moved to Velveteen Rabbit for cocktails by C.J. Shaw and Andrew Smith.

Following a scavenger hunt, the crawl resumed with Monkey Shoulder highballs by Jessica Lee Westergom and Anthony Jamison at the Sand Dollar Lounge. OWL welcomed Lau and Amato behind the bar to dole out frozen, blended Tullamore Dew Irish coffees. At 1:30 a.m., the party finally slid into home—Herbs & Rye, where Kinson offered “bartender’s choice” cocktails. Keeping the crew on target, a “HOOTMap” laid out the itinerary, with Fernet-Branca served at each stop to keep the buzz going.

Albano is already planning to add an educational element next year. “These are the people holding down our city while you guys are over there at Tales. The point is for the people here to have their own fun and their own call to action.”

This is Albano’s second on-the-fly event this summer. On July 16, she organized We Are Love, a benefit for the families of the Orlando nightclub shooting, with Ryan Pardey at the Bunkhouse. Sponsored by William Grant & Sons, Brown-Forman and Lagunitas Brewing Co., the live-music event and vigil raised $1,400 for Equality Florida.

I simply cannot wait to see what this creative lady thinks up next.

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