All this week around the Hotel Monteleone and the Royal Sonesta Hotel, New Orleans will once again claim her rightful place in the wonderful world of cocktails. The atmosphere will be electric with notables, both universally acknowledged and local folk heroes, from the cocktail world sharing their joie de vivre and their dedication to what is truly a craft, assuring that us common folk receive great and creative values every time we order an adult beverage.
As usual in our town, whenever there is a gathering of people for the purpose of achievement of a common goal, we locals want to add to the happiness of the occasion and this time the goal is education about adult beverages. The purpose fits the setting. And the locals are more than happy to join in celebrating this laudable cause. You, of course, knew that.
Even better news at this point, Tales of the Cocktail is ours, purely home-grown. And this extravaganza has become an important centerpiece in the world of mixed drinks, with these crazy and creative captains of cocktails attending lectures, participating in tastings, swapping techniques and recipes, then returning to their respective home markets to devise new concoctions before announcing, "Oh yeah, I learned this while I was in New Orleans."
You can't buy better advertising than that for our town.
Also drawn to Tales without resistance, like a leaf in a whirlpool, is the international community of adult beverage sales people wanting to be near their biggest asset, the end-users of what they are selling. It’s the merry dance of the focused business world set in a masquerade of Crescent City fun. Interesting to watch like a fly on a bar glass.
Here is a sampling of the new products and ideas. Some are not so new but not moving onto the mainstream fast enough. These are items likely to be seen on a bar menu in the very near future, or, at best, these will become legendary industry stories told repeatedly wherever cocktailians gather. When you hear or see these items, you will know where it all began:
- Wild Hibiscus Flower Extract and Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, along with Butterfly Pea Flowers. “Just add a few drops to your Champagne and watch the color change.”
- Ford’s Gin and Trash Tiki “The Anti-Waste Tour,” offering drinks and cocktails made from unused, unsold ingredients and soon-to-be-discarded items approaching their “sell-by” date.
- A special appearance by the Slow and Low Whiskey Company at the Downtown Tattoo Company in the Marigny.
- Tianguis de Bebidas Mexicanas function with the invitation sent out to a Millennial crowd that is likely not so far removed from High School so their knowledge of Spanish has not yet disintegrated into a state of not understanding the invitation phrase.
- Cocktails in Seven Countries (not really, I checked. It all takes place at the Hotel Monteleone.) just to be certain you have a healthy influx of previously unknown, unsung spirits before you are tested for geography skills.
- A very thinly veiled 5-minute meet-and-move-on hiring interview for a 5-restaurant chain in Houston that wants to meet a bunch of folks it would appear with the intention of expansion, using a strawberry Pimm’s Cup as a come-on.
- That Boutique-y Whiskey Company has released their 100th line since their founding in 2012, the Supersplendiferousness Speyburn Single Malt Scotch Whiskey.
- Samplings of Industry Juice, self-proclaimed first, true and real alternative to squeezing citrus juice on-premise with a full-line of cold-pressed lemon, lime, pineapple, orange and grapefruit juices. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome takes a hit.
This is just a short-list of the types of activities going on all week at Tales of the Cocktail. Know that the line-up above does not include the events sponsored by major companies such as Absolut, Tullamore D.E.W., The Balvanie, Alios Tequila, Hendrick’s Gin, Copper & Kings Brandy, Milagro Tequila, Bacardi Rums, El Silencio Mezcal and many other brands who have rented party facilities, all the accessories, staff, and musicians to assure their voice, their statement is the one that sticks.
All quite crazy and insane. Along those lines, welcome, friends of cocktails, to a city that can keep up with you. Keep in mind that when you leave, New Orleans will still be going the distance.
Read Happy Hour here on www.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/