As I scanned last Sunday’s news headlines at breakfast, I came across this Washington Post headline: “All Eyes on the Big Easy.” I assumed the article was an ode to New Orleans or perhaps a preview of all the great events coming our way later this summer. Not even close. Turns out the article was a regurgitated version of the Danzinger Bridge fallout — which is hardly the aubade I wanted to read.

I’m tempted here to follow suit and throw in my subversive take on Danzinger and the like — NOPD, BP and any other acronymic problem — but now is just not the time to do that. Not when Tales of the Cocktail is slated to take the city by Sazerac for five days this week. And then there’s the Fourth Annual Worn Again fashion show at Howlin’ Wolf this Saturday, where innovative fashion designers will compete for top billing. I have an undeniable fondness for these two events. 

Last year I attended a Tales of the Cocktail luncheon at Antoine’s in which four creative cocktails were served alongside each course and exalted by famed mixologists.  Afterward, my colleague and I sashayed to the Hotel Monteleone to catch a glimpse of Danny DeVito, who was supposedly buying drinks for gawkers at the Carousel Bar. We didn’t find Danny, but we discovered that Tales of the Cocktail (#totc on Twitter) had taken over the entire hotel.

With the assumption that any “event” hosted at the posh Hotel Monteleone required a paid ticket, we wandered the lower-level halls of the hotel looking for lagniappe. But to our delight, around every corner liquor sponsors offered free tastings. Score!

That was the occasion on which I tasted scotch for the very first time — as well as Canadian whiskey; lavender-infused organic vodka; a Pimm’s cup; and, much to my distaste, the official drink of New Orleans, the Sazerac.  Unfortunately, that’s all I remember. Everything got fuzzy after the fifth tasting or so.

After last year’s experience I vowed to be better prepared for the next TOTC. Sure enough, it’s that time again. But this time around I’ll do a little less tasting and pay more attention to the actual tales of the cocktail, as told by the 100-plus experts on hand. I’ve already signed up for a few seminars and look forward to learning more about the cocktail’s history, particularly in New Orleans.

You simply must attend TOTC. It might seem like a high-class open bar to the undiscerning eye, but when fully appreciated, you’ll find a five-day festival full of free tastings, seminars led by industry experts, seminars led by mixologists, cocktail luncheons, cocktail dinners, official bartending tests and much more.

If you’re around and plan to play at TOTC, be sure to end Saturday night at the Worn Again fashion show. The show is an amazing display of recycled arts on the runway. Back in May, dozens of designers had to select randomly a hodgepodge bag of mismatched colors and fabrics and create an original design. This Saturday, the designers who made it to the final round will compete and showcase their haute work. Proceeds from the show will benefit Press Street, a local nonprofit that promotes art and literature in the community through events, publications and arts education.

For full disclosure, I am participating in the show. But more important, dozens of incredibly talented and creative artists, designers and collaborators will bring the house down. Not to mention, America’s Next Top Designer just might get discovered this Saturday.

That’s just what this city needs, too: another superstar to keep “all eyes on the Big Easy.”


More information on Worn Again nola4:

SATURDAY, JULY 24 at Howlin’ Wolf

PATRON PARTY: 7:30–8:30p $50

Advance preview of the Top 10 WORN AGAIN designs/Silent Auction/hors d’oeuvres/DJ Kristen/VIP lounge/fashion show 

FASHION SHOW: 9:30-10:30p $15

Fashion show with DJ Brice Nice and awards ceremony

RECYCLED DANCE OFF: 11:00p (included in ticket)

Club Coordination
Faust and Prozac’s Haus of Vigilante Burlesque 
Emcee and Judge: DJ Voice
Special Performance: 
Gris Gris Strut perform to “Pickle” and “Ooh Ah Ah” by Jean-Eric