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Jan 7, 201012:00 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans


This year, make resolutions that will be fun to keep.

We humans certainly can get excited about time and distance benchmarks. We eagerly look forward to the car’s odometer hitting a bunch of zeros, though now that the darn thing is digital, that has taken some of the fun out of watching the rolling of the nines into a line of zeros. (And yes, I am showing my age here.)

We like graduation ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, birthday parties and anniversaries of all types noting special days passed. We look at our watches or cell phones for no real reason except just to know the time. OK, there’s that whole “twittering” thing, but that adds nothing to my diatribe about time.

And then there’s the faux-madness associated with the passing of the old year and the beginning of the new one. We gather the tribe, make silly noises while wearing silly cardboard hats, hug, kiss and then go to bed way too late –– usually after being overserved with both beverages and food. It’s fun. It’s recurring. It’s something we do.

Something else we do at this time of year is making Resolutions To Be Better, or RTBB, which usually we break. The time between the making of the RTBB and the time we break the promises to ourselves and others is inversely proportional to the tenor of the RTBB and how far away the desired outcome is from our real nature. The further away from our personal nature the RTBB is, the quicker they will be broken. 

What we end up with is a good intention, a wish and a prayer –– and then back to our same old selves. Often all of that can occur in the same day. There are folks who practice the lively art of self-deception, ultimately dropping the charade and continuing on with their set-in-stone personal agendas.

What I would like to suggest is a few resolutions that can be kept because they involve liquid adult refreshment, something near and dear to just about every New Orleanians' lifestyle –– and they will be fun to achieve. 

Learn More About What You Like and Why.
Your comeback here, taking the easy way, is: “That’s why I read this column every week. And if I have not learned more, it’s your fault.”

Fair enough. But (and please don’t tell anyone at MyNewOrleans.com) the seat of knowledge about spirits and wine does not fully reside here.

The attitude you should adopt is that the more you know, the better consumer you are and the more enjoyment you will experience. Besides, learning about beverages is not the worst assignment you could receive.

It’s a big world out there, with plenty of choices, some of them absolutely confounding and confusing.

By knowing more about those choices and playing that knowledge against what you like, you will have a better time. That’s the guarantee.

If you like California pinot noir, take a few moments to work through the confusing, even confounding, array of Burgundy wines made with the same grape. If you like a particular brand of tequila, find out why, and then check out some other labels.

Your curiosity can take you to new destinations. Maybe you don’t understand Armagnac. Well, here’s your chance.

There are books galore about all topics, and then you have the vast resources of the Internet at your fingertips. Use the opportunities to expand your understanding of a subject or two. It’s fun and rewarding.

Attend More Events Built Around Food, Wine and Spirits.
A great way to begin your journey on the first resolution (see above) is to get out of the house and into a restaurant, a tasting room or a festival.

We are fortunate to live in an area that provides limitless opportunities to try new things and meet new people. Just about every night in our community there are dining opportunities built around particular wines and/or spirits. Accompanying these affairs are short lectures that explain what you having, how it was made and why it all tastes so good.

We have at least two major festivals here devoted to beverages, the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience in May and Tales of the Cocktail in July, with a whole raft of other not-so-large festivals, such as the upcoming French Quarter Wine Festival in spring and the Tales of the Toddy evening in December.

We are home base for the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and the Museum of the American Cocktail, both in the Riverwalk and both offering frequent lectures and presentations on a wide variety of topics, liquid- and food-wise. Then there’s the Absinthe Museum on Royal Street. Did you know about all these venues?

Resolve to Drink Better.
Maybe you are already munching at the top of the food chain, but here is a different thought: By drinking and eating better, you can have more by doing less.

Let’s face it: With the passage of time, you are every day limited by how many more opportunities you will have in your life to really enjoy whatever it is you enjoy. You will only have so many more meals, so many more gatherings with friends, so many more chances to sip something really special

Why waste any of those chances? I know it is a bit of a downer of a thought, unless you approach it from this viewpoint: I’m not going to just drink. I’m going to drink well.

You can be the best judge of your own good taste, but don’t waste a moment on something that is not adding to the whole of your life.

Drink better. Eat better. Live better.

Most articles you read put forth some pesky New Year’s resolutions about cheery attitudes and achieving less girth, and there’s nothing wrong with those if that is what needs to be done.

As for me, I like the idea of sharing more good times and good beverages with friends. That’s the sort of resolution I am likely to keep longer and with a smile on my face.

Happy New Year!


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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans


In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.


Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.


Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.


Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.


They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.


Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.


Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.


Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.


It’s a good gig. 




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