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Jun 15, 200912:00 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Makes Sense

Tales of the Cocktail and other fun

Tales of the Cocktail

Let’s just assume that we live in a town where good food, good drinks and good times are important. Just assuming, you understand.

Then let’s assume that somehow we are able to combine those essential life-elements into events that celebrate….well, life.

How cool would that be? Sounds like the absolute definition of the term festival.

And voila, here we are in a region that celebrates with kickin’ festivals every season of the year, all styles of music, our shared heritages, certainly cuisine, spots on the map, fish, agricultural products, even petroleum, and still there are other aspects of our lives that require us to get together and celebrate.

Take, as a for-instance, the recently completed New Orleans Wine and Food Experience. Huge success, and congratulations to the organizers. Seminars, tastings, demonstrations, even mini Mardi Gras-style parades, all added up to a great weekend. Winemakers and wine lovers from around the world were here, and they loved it. Everyone who attended loved it. Lots of love, alongside a lot of wine and food.

Coming up is another festival, and this one braves our mid-July weather patterns, cooling everyone off with libations and spirits (the liquid kind) with an ambitious line-up of industry stars and more seminars than anyone could reasonably squeeze into a weekend. Then again, when did south Louisiana become reasonable? 

Tales of the Cocktail, annual edition number seven, begins July 8 and runs at full steam, an apt descriptor for the meteorological conditions, through July 12. Every year of this event the dramatic growth has propelled the organizers to offer more, bring in more talent, and provide more value to attendees. 

There is no way to describe the breadth of the event so for full effect direct your browser to www.talesofthecocktail.com. The next difficult decision you will have is determining what you want to enjoy from the plethora of seminars, tasting opportunities, and all manner of imbibing opportunities that are ready to be unleashed onto the streets of the Vieux Carre and beyond.

The good folks at the N.O. Tourist Commission should be very happy because we are seeing more visitors head this way at a usually difficult time of year. Already the Monteleone Hotel and the Bienville House Hotel are sold out. Other hotels, including our beloved Roosevelt, which will just have opened, are offering great deals on rooms. Let me strongly encourage you to take advantage of such offers because after a day and night of this festival’s happenings you will not be in any shape to steer your own vehicle, nor anyone else’s.

First of all, and this is what the Web site can’t tell you, there will be cocktail and hospitality professionals galore. Here is your chance to rub elbows with the leaders of this industry, asking them all manner of questions and sampling what they are doing, in a cutting-edge sort of way.

Ever thought about pairing cocktails with food? No? A lot of these people have, and they will be staging dinners and serving cuisine in the seminars that will either confirm you have been missing something, or cause you to reach another conclusion.

Want to walk around the Quarter with a personal guide, sampling cocktails and hearing of legend and history? Lucky you, that’s on the program.

Want to test your palate? Learn about the latest bar-toys? Discover the secrets of making really tasty drinks? Re-visit your knowledge of chemistry and see why alcohol works the way it does? Tons more for you to do.

The entire affair is actually based on the resurgence of the cocktail-culture, made necessary because fresh ingredients and hand-preparation are the order of the day. You will be hard-pressed at any Tales event to find a drinks machine or pre-prepared mixes. In fact, if anyone shows up with anything but fresh ingredients and hand-tools my guess is that we will again see public hangings in Place d’Armes.

The entire point here is we have another opportunity to enjoy what this town does best: pass a good time.

After all, if you live in, or are visiting a place that “knows” food, wine, spirits, music, and all manner of enjoyable activities that are important to quality of life issues, why not participate every chance you get?

Makes sense.

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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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