Tales Of The Cocktail ’09 Flashback
On the eve of my trip to New Orleans and in honor of the amazing time I had at last years Tales of the Cocktail in wonderful New Orleans, Louisiana, I want to do a broken little recap of some of the madness. This is a post I started when I got back from Tales last year and never really go back to it. The ending literally got a little fuzzy so I didn’t know how to wrap it up. Sorry for the abrupt ending but that’s when the updates stopped and the real partying began. Probably best that way. :)
When asked what Tales is all about, I liken it to Jazzfest for bartenders, industry professional, and enthusiasts. It’s five days of seminars, tastings, parties, networking and all around marathon style drinking. For a detailed look at some of the goings on you can check out the Tales of the Cocktail website.
Last year as Tales of the Cocktail approached, I debated with myself whether or not I was going to try to do some live blogging with my iPhone and a nifty little WordPress app. It sounded great in theory but when it came time to the actual hustle and bustle of trying to be at four places at one time, the live blogging was thrown by the wayside. So I turned to Twitter. Obviously everyone is familiar with Twitter at this point and it was a great way for me to make an attempt at telling the story of my Tales experience as it was all going down. So with this post I want to try to do something different and use my “tweets” as a timeline. Not only to try to tell the story of what went down in my world, but to also help remind me what the hell went down by possibly filling in some blanks. So here is to the best of my ability my “tweet up” of Tales of the Cocktail ’09.
Wednesday July 8th:
That’s right, I took a freakin redeye from LA to NOLA to kick things off. My first seminar was The Bittersweet Truth of Opening a Bar at 10:30 Wednesday morning. The only way to get there on time was you guessed it. A redeye. Otherwise the only other option was to arrive around 5 o’clock pm and that really wasn’t an option.
That’s pretty much all that needed to be said albeit 6:37am. Hey, redeyes can be tough on your mental state.
By this point I’m feeling great. I’m in NOLA. I’ve dropped my bag off at the Bienville House where I’m staying, and I’ve made it just in time for my seminar at The Monteleone. Couldn’t miss this one because the guy I work for at The Varnish (Eric Alperin) is on the panel. Not to mention Cedd Moses, Ricky Kline, and H. Joseph Ehrmann as moderator. More on the seminars later.
After the seminar, massive hunger was starting to set in. After meeting up with a few LA folk outside of the Monteleone we made a pilgrimage over to Coop’s Place for lunch. Sure enough after walking in I recognize a rag-tag bunch of familiar faces. The Jambalaya Supreme was so good I wept, er, maybe it was the spice. The first and last meal I had in NOLA that weekend was at Coop’s. Love those guys.
After lunch I was finally able to check in to my hotel and then made a b-line back to the Monteleone and promptly parked my ass at the Carousel bar and ordered a Sazerac. Good times.
Not sure what I really meant by this as the work I was putting into my buzz started paying dividends. The Hendricks party was an absolute assault on the senses. Part steampunk revue, part Rocky Horror Picture Show, the G & T’s were flowing like water.
This is no joke. After we left the Hendricks party we had a tip that there was some serious partying going down at the Bourbon Cowboy on Bourbon St. A few of us got there and immediately wondered whether or not that tip we got was a load of crap. That was until I ran into none other than Dale DeGroff. This place was not exactly cocktail friendly, but hey, sometimes we all need a cold beer and a shot from a test tube right? Dale and I said hello and then watched together in wonder as women were continuously thrown from the mechanical bull in the corner of the bar. Needless to say more and more of the countries cocktail elite descended on this place for some good ‘ol fashion partying NOLA style.
Thursday July 9th:
Boy did I ever need that bloody. The pain was real. When I said Epic, I really meant EPIC. See, here’s where the first major gap comes into play and to be perfectly honest I’m having a hard time remembering where we ended up after the Bourbon Cowboy. Rumor has it we fled the quarter to a place off Tchoupitoulas St. I was also reminded the next day that Don Lee and Daniel Eun stopped me and proceeded to pour both tequila and green Chartreuse down my throat “luge” style. Pshhhht please, and I wonder why I have a hard time recalling details after that. I do know that I made an Irish exit later that night and said goodnight to nobody. Sometimes its good to just vanish.
Lucky for me, right above my room at the Bienville House we had a sponsored suite that the LA contingency dubbed “The Recovery Room.” Thanks to Mr Aiden Demarest, bar manager at The Edison in downtown LA, this suite was stocked to the freakin hilt with all things recovery related. We had a bowl of aspirin on the coffee table, stacked cases of water and Gatorade, and the best part, more booze than we knew what to do with. A big shout out to Eric Tecosky and his incredible bloody mary mix. In lieu of vodka we opted for tequila bloodys and they were spectacular. For those not aware of the medicinal powers of Fernet, trust me, it’s a lifesaver.
Quote of the day, “I’ve had enough water to choke a camel, but enough booze to kill a horse.”
Yes those words came out of my mouth. I still stand by them.
Alright, here’s another important gap that needs to be filled. Like many others, when the buzz sets in and the good times are happening, I tend to just let them happen and get lazy with the updates. What can I say, there’s a whole lot going on. I do take photos though and here are some of them to help fill the gaps. First a peek into L’heure Verte/The Green Hour. The offerings by Tempus Fugit Spirits in my opinion were by far the most superior in the room.
Next up was the Cocktail “Carnival” Happy Hour at The Presbytere. Click the link here to the left for a good video. This was an incredible collection of the countries best bartenders shaking and stirring cocktails for a mass of thirsty festival goers. I particularly love my brothers from LA showing some serious colors.
Definitely a highlight of the week was being in attendance for an impromptu party on the steps of the courthouse. What a sight to behold. Alas it was short-lived as expected. The powers that be would only let those shenanigans go on for a short bit. Still you gotta have some respect for those that brought that party to fruition. St Germain and Del Maguey were for that short moment in time a match made in clandestine heaven.
Alright, more gaps to fill.
After we were essentially shooed off the steps of the courthouse we made our way over to Cure, one of New Orleans newest refuges for incredible cocktails. Chuck Taggart offered up an untouchable rundown of exactly what to expect on a trip to Cure. Check it out here. While at Cure my fellow Varnish bartenders and I had the chance to hang with our NYC bartending family from Milk and Honey, Little Branch, and Dutch Kills. It felt great to bridge the gap and get to know some of these great people and talented bartenders over some wonderful cocktails. It was a true defining moment of the whole Tales of the Cocktail experience.
Believe it or not we actually left Cure and ended up heading down to Frenchman St. for more partying at d.b.a. The mission was to ultimately hear some live music but we had missed it. Details from this excursion are extremely fuzzy. Lasting memories from d.b.a. include some kind of rum shots, maybe Zacapa, and ice-cold Sammy Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, all while being as rowdy as possible right by the front door. What a scene. Another Irish exit.
Friday July 10th
This was by far my worst morning. I just could not get it together. I made my way back to the recovery room to reconvene with friends and try to piece together the night before. In the attempt of recovery I went the hair of the dog route again and actually might have done more damage than good. It prompted a heavy-duty schvits that just wouldn’t quit. Feeling somewhat like Hunter S. Thompson, I kept telling myself what the doctor told him, “the moment you stop sweating is the moment you start to worry.” It took everything within my power to not embarrass myself that morning. Much like a meditating monk, I displayed great focus.
Still feeling absolutely haggard, I made my way to the Monteleone for a 12:30 seminar entitled Using Blogs and Online Tools to Promote Your Bar, Brand, or Career. This seminar was right up my alley as I have just recently entered the foray of cocktail blogging. It was great to hear moderator Paul Clarke of The Cocktail Chronicles speak about how far cocktail blogging has come in the past few years. It was also refreshing to hear him address vehement spirit promoters by boldly telling them, “do not fuck with us.” Evidently there has been a rash of spamming by said spirits promoters with no regard to the fact that there is a very well-connected community of online spirits writers. Bobby Heugel of Drink Dogma and owner of Anvil Bar and Refuge in Houston, TX was on hand as a panelist and gave great insight as to the importance of creating and being a part of the online cocktail community. I really appreciated hearing similar sentiments concerning the ability to learn and share ideas by bridging the gap by way of the internet. Afterwards, it was truly an honor and a testament to how nice these guys are by being able to walk up and introduce myself and let them know that they were a big reason I decided to start a blog in the first place. I still wasn’t feeling so hot, but hopefully I was able to mask it pretty well.
About the only thing that would’ve saved me at this point was some down and dirty Cajun cooking and Felix’s was the answer. What a lifesaver, aside from the sweet tea with a shot of rum in it. What the hell was I thinking?
Now that I was feeling human again, I made my way back to the Monteleone for the seminar, The Fine Art of Tending Bar, with Stanislav Vadrna.
And that’s kinda where it left off. After the seminar I was all about doing instead of writing. I’m pretty sure I continued to have an amazing time and there are probably some pictures somewhere to prove it, but hey, maybe it’s for the best.
Here in a few hours I will depart LAX en route to NOLA and do it all over again. I can’t wait to see some of the incredible people I partied with last year. Maybe they can help me remember just what the hell happened.