Last week scores of bartenders, cocktail geeks and booze hounds ventured to New Orleans for the 12th annual Tales of the Cocktail, better know as adult Spring Break or the Olympics of the cocktail world, depending on how you choose to look at it.
The week long boozefest, which was a blur most nights, was overflowing with seminars, parties and tastings all over town. In between all the hustle and bustle of meeting new people, interviews, talking to my favourite bartenders and just having a damn good time, here’s what I learned from my Tales adventure:
Beefeater teamed up with Small Hand Foods to create The Yeoman Tonic Syrup, a customized tonic created for their London Dry Gin. The Yeoman Tonic Syrup uses a recipe from the late 1800’s and will be coming out stateside so that you can whip up a proper London G&T.
Meehan Bar Cart
While learning how bar carts are so in like Flynn in bars these days at the Art of the Drinks Trolley seminar, bartender extraordinaire Jim Meehen, spilled the beans that he is designing bar carts for home bars and they will be out by the end of the year. Yay! Better start adding it to your wish-list because you know you need this cart to go with your Meehan roll bag and apron…
The Big Reveal
There were a few major unveilings of new products this year. Angostura had a special media tasting of its newest spirit, Amaro Di Angostura. Then there was the limited-edition Grey Goose VX which went down well. Plantation Rum launched Plantation Pineapple Rum Stiggin’s Fancy, a rum made by Cognac Ferrand proprietor Alexandre Gabriel in collaboration with cocktail historian David Wondrich. Unfortunately it will only be available exclusively in New Orleans for the time being but hopefully, will be rolled out soon.
A Fake Hand Grenade will land you in court
During the Hurricanes, Hand Grenades, Shark Attacks seminar, it was revealed that the popular Bourbon Street drink from Tropical Isle, The Hand Grenade, is trademarked by Earl Bernhardt who created the melon-flavoured drink. If you’re caught making an imitation, he will sue you. Not only that, Bernhardt even offers a $250 reward for people to snitch on anyone they come across trying to market a fake Hand Grenade, proof that he’s so not playing around.
Bring it back to the old school
Whilst having a lovely chat with Jason Kosmos of the 86 Co., I found out that Caña Brava is the bartender’s reincarnation of the historical Carta Blanca style of rum made in collaboration with world-famous Master Distiller and former Cuban Minister of Rum, Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ J. Fernandez. This is why you can now have a proper Daiquiri Classico that are mighty tasty if I do say so myself. And I do say so.
Torrential rain and street flooding will not stop a party
A little rain didn’t deter people from venturing to the 5th Pig and Punch. With umbrella in hands and plastic ponchos on bodies, folks weathered the storm, street flooding and those damn deep puddles to get to this party with a cause. After all, there was loads of pig to eat and plenty of punch to drink. And seeing how bartenders know how to have a good time, a few brave souls even tried to slip and slide into a rain made lake. Fun times all around…
For the winners of the Spirited Awards, see here
Pack your bags as the next international destination for the Tales of the Cocktail on Tour is Mexico City.