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May 17, 201710:07 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Subtle, but Still Influential

Lisa Christine Tam, Getty Images, 2010

I know it has happened to you: you are sitting and mindlessly watching TV, then something familiar pops into your eyes or ears and rests on your brain. There are images or a song in a program or featured on a commercial, and they are from New Orleans.

Our area is not credited. In fact, the whole scene is so innocuous that most people watching around the world are not even aware of the region of origin. But we are. We know the Dixie Cups or the Meters or Professor Longhair from the first few notes of the background music. We know how the roads through the swamps look. We know the color of our sky and the architecture of our neighborhoods.

We perk up when something that familiar comes across our eyes and our ears. To most of the audience, either nationally or internationally, these are merely pleasant scenes and sounds that work well with the sales message, which overrides in the foreground. And when we see something like that, or hear familiar musical notes, we are proud on a very personal level. This is good for our souls.

The most recent example is a new Coca-Cola commercial, titled “Burger,” and featuring Aarón Sánchez of Johnny Sanchez, that ends with Professor Longhair’s opening introduction to “Go to the Mardi Gras.” And when you hear it, keep in mind that you know the music, but everyone else around the world who will hear it won’t know its origins. All they will know that the Coke commercial ended with something pleasant, peppy and memorable.

But it will be ingrained into their memory.

And that’s the point. New Orleans and her influences on America’s culture doesn’t have to hit the audience over the head like a ball-peen hammer. What we have, and enjoy every day, works at another level. Our art, musicality, culinary, history, and architecture, all of which add up to our lifestyle, are ambassadors of ourselves.

There is no reason not to believe in the New Orleans message. It’s universal and it’s fun. We spend an inordinate amount of time and effort to make our guests feel welcome, even long before they arrive. Sums of money are invested to assure that the steady stream of visitors themselves become ambassadors for the New Orleans brand.  

You know something: we are doing a pretty good job. We the people are committed to our way of life and our culture. We eat it. We hear it. We sing about it. We paint it. We dance in the streets to celebrate it. We talk almost incessantly about it. It’s because we care, and we are in love.

When some “outsider” comes along and carries the sounds and sights of our area back to their home, we just need to smile knowingly and realize that they have seen what we sometimes take for granted. There is nothing so terrific as a stranger walking the street in our town with a big smile, a set of cheap beads around their neck, and a go-cup.

They think that when they leave after a few days of more public pleasure than they have ever experienced, that we go back to a “normal” existence. They are right. They are only wrong about what we consider normal.




Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine. Be sure to watch "Appetite for Life," hosted by Tim every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m., on WLAE-TV, Channel 32 in New Orleans. Previously broadcast episodes are available for viewing at http://www.wlae.com/appetite-for-life/


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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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