The hazy, sultry heat of New Orleans in July fogged up my camera lens

The hazy, sultry heat of New Orleans in July fogged up my camera lens

Another Year, Another Tales:
2013 TALES of the COCKTAIL in New Orleans

Article & Photos by Virginia Miller

Absolut Magic:

Absolut Magic in the air set to Annie Bea’s sultry vocals Miss Beahave’s Copper Club, an intimate lounge at the Absolut party

Another year, another Tales. Tales of the Cocktail was another mad frenzy of a week in oppressive heat (though not as bad as in past years), drinking while getting educated on drink with thousands of people around New Orleans. Any reason to return to my beloved New Orleans (which I’ve written about extensively) is a worthy one.

Best moments this year included time spent in local’s homes, eating home-cooked food (which in New Orleans is real treat, let me tell you) and talking long hours over good drink. Tales remains the single best event in which to connect with key folk of the cocktail/spirits world all in one place and to sample new spirits and products.

While the Tales parties have gotten too big (in some cases, too big to even get into – lines were so long I skipped more than one major event I had a ticket to), some spirits brands ensure the time is worthwhile with countless smaller, more manageable events around the the city. In one case, I was driven to a historic house for Cognac and cigars (cheers, D’usse!), another time I walked to a beer garden with absinthe root beer floats, and, yes, beer (thanks, Becherovka/Pernod!)

Tales Miss Beehave's 4- Virginia Miller

Transported to another time in the orange-haze of Miss Beahave’s Copper Club

Tales Miss Beehave's - Virginia Miller

Grand piano & sultry jazz tunes at Miss Beahave’s Copper Club

Tales Miss Beehave's 3- Virginia Miller

At Miss Beehave’s sipping Absolut Elyx Blush: Fino sherry, Lillet Rose, orange bitters

While there are too many key moments to list, the week’s highlights are best hinted at via photos, the most magical moments being in the intimate jazz room set to the transporting, sultry vocals of London’s Annie Bea at the Absolut party, the one major party that exceeded expectations, with bartenders from around the globe serving drinks (Dale DeGroff, Toby Cecchini, Audrey Saunders, Nick Strangeway, Chris McMillian, etc.) in 16 wildly different themed rooms inside legendary Nola restaurant, Arnaud’s.

Tales Spirited Awards dinner

Tales Spirited Awards dinner

Note the list of Tales Spirited Awards winners below, a Gatsby-themed gala I attended Saturday during Tales. The awards remain New York and London-centric year after year, with the occasional nod to the rest of the cocktail world but not always a pulse on what’s currently “best” around the globe. Still, it’s a pleasure to see hard-working bars, bartenders and industry folk nominated and win, even if many are not included who should be.

Stay tuned for more on New Orleans‘ restaurants and cocktail bars in upcoming newsletters, and also in this newsletter for spirits newcomer standouts during this year’s Tales.

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David Wondrich gives a drink history lesson in the back garden of Dead Rabbit pop-up

Tales Dead Rabbit Pop-up - Virginia Miller

Dead Rabbit pop-up bar (complete with piano as in NY’s Dead Rabbit) at Nola’s brand new Cane & Table bar

Absolut Elyx dinner with skagen (North sea prawns, dill, lemon mayo), Kraftor (Swedish crayfish in a broth of beer, salt, dill, flowers), herring, gravad lax

Idyllic Absolut Elyx dinner housed in atmospheric Bevelo Gas & Electric Lights space with rounds of skagen (North sea prawns, dill, lemon mayo on toasts), Kraftor (Swedish crayfish in a broth of beer, salt, dill, flowers), herring, gravlax, generous pours of Absolut Elyx, dessert cocktails from Naren Young

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Dave Arnold (NY’s Booker & Dax) serves molecular Absolut Elyx shots at Absolut party

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Creepy, clincal fun in the”My Blue Heaven” room (with Dave Arnold) at Absolut party

D'usse Cognac, cocktails, bites and Cognac-soaked cigars at the historic Edgar Degas house - back patio set up for cigar smoking

D’usse Cognac, cocktails, bites and Cognac-soaked cigars inside and in the back yard (pictured) of the historic Edgar Degas house

2013 TALES SPIRITED AWARD WINNERS

Nick Strangeway's

One-on-one tasting appointments with Nick Strangeway (London) in his “office”, 16 Winchester Walk, at Absolut party

Best Cocktail Writing PublicationDifford’s Guide (London)

Best New Cocktail/Bartending BookDrink by Tony Conigliaro

Best American Brand Ambassador – Todd Richman (Sidney Frank)

Best International Brand Ambassador – Jacob Briars (Bacardi)

Best American Bartender – Charles Joly, The Aviary (Chicago)

World’s Best Cocktail Menu – The Dead Rabbit (New York)

Best Cocktail Writing – AuthorGary Regan

Best Bar Mentor – Julie Reiner, The Clover Club (Brooklyn)

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award – Salvatore Calabrese

Pernod Ricard event at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum was a relaxing afternoon respite, using the vintage soda fountain-like atmosphere to serve up Pernod ice cream floats, test tube cocktails, boozy candy and other treats. Ivy Mix with Pernod Absinthe ice cream floats at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

Pernod Absinthe/Abita root beer/ice cream floats at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

Best American Cocktail Bar – The Clover Club (Brooklyn)

World’s Best Drinks Selection – Canon Whiskey & Bitters Emporium (Seattle)

World’s Best Hotel Bar – The NoMad Hotel (New York)

World’s Best Cocktail Bar – Drink (Boston)

Best Restaurant Bar – Saxon + Parole (New York)

Best High Volume Cocktail Bar – Clover Club (Brooklyn)

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar – The Dead Rabbit (New York)

Best New ProductFords Gin

International Bartender of the Year – Jack McGarry, The Dead Rabbit (Brooklyn)

Joyous brass bands, whole roasted pigs and fund-raising for the local community schools in Washington Square Park at Pig 'n Punch, thrown annually by SF's The Bon Vivants

Joyous brass band, whole roasted pigs and fund-raising for the local community schools in Washington Square Park at Pig ‘n Punch, thrown annually by SF’s The Bon Vivants

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