And so now, your humble author puts his brain on Automatic Drive, not placing too much pressure on an organ spent to excess from Tales of the Cocktail, which concluded this past Sunday and not a moment too soon.

Let’s take a look at some stories that are of interest or will have market impact, and then at the end, we will glide in for a soft landing with a simple recipe for a cooling treat. Timely.


Protect the Tequila

Many wine and spirits names are protected on the international market from encroachment by other similar products. Such products as Champagne, Bourbon, Sherry, Cognac and the like are considered specific styles made in specified ways in particular places. To be considered one of these protected beverages, the manufacturer has to adhere to a set group of regulations, which in many instances are, in fact, laws.

Tequila has long sought such status and the Consejo Regulador dei Tequila AC and just in time for National Tequila Day, July 24, the industry trade group was awarded a Certification Mark by the United States.

The certification indicates recognition of a product made with certain, defined practices (using the blue agave plant, also known as the agave azul or the agave tequilana), cultivated in the Jalisco region of Mexico, and the heart of the plant, the pina, is heated, fermented and distilled, upon affirmation that the process takes place in Jalisco, the Tequila designation is bestowed.                                                                                

To achieve the certification approval, the Tequila industry had to show it adheres to a strict set of standards. There was opposition. Some manufacturers of “tequila” made outside the defined district argued that the name had entered the common vocabulary and that many manufacturers of “tequila” in the U.S. would be hurt by limiting the term.

While Tequila is now a protected product name, the battle is not over. The opposition has filed suit to stop the process or at least stall the use of the term. Stay tuned.


Mexico, Part 2

Police and brewery construction protestors have clashed over plans for a new brewery in the Baja region of western Mexico. Farmers and other residents of the area fear that the brewery will alter the water table and introduce more pollutants into rivers and bays.

As of now, the police have the upper hand, have cleared paths for containers of construction materials and the plant is proceeding. But many folks are camped out at the site and it’s a tense situation. Complicating matters is that all the beer brewed on-site will be sold in the US.   



In a wholly ironic twist of the obvious, vodka is being accused of not being transparent. The very definition of vodka is an odorless, colorless, tasteless spirit but it seems that many consumers want to know what exactly is in the bottle.

Some outlandish marketing claims are coming back to haunt the spirit. Those claims, like being poured over a woman’s breast before bottling, a product that “naturally increases sexual desire,” and providing anti-aging properties have all been used in advertising messages, mostly in Europe.

In truth, according to some vodka experts and observers, those points have little or nothing to do with vodka and its legal status. Certain quality vodka manufacturers, such as Purity from Sweden and Vestal of Poland, want those and other claims to be affirmed and boldly stated on every bottle. The claims cannot be proven so the hope is that the bad characters will be exposed and leave the industry or straighten up.

In other words, many in the vodka world want more transparency when it comes to claims about the product and its manufacture. But with some of the industry leaders being offenders, there is little chance that vodka, like other spirits and wines, will be releasing the background about secret processes or being able to prove the statements.

The demand for transparency has arrived in Baton Rouge, Washington, D.C. and in large cities all over Europe. It’s not likely to happen in any of those places.

And now the promised sweet treat:


Moscow Mule Ice Pops

Courtesy of the Kitchens at Tasting Table

Thanks to Jake Cohen, Editor


Yield: Fifteen 2-ounce ice pops

Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus 4 hours freezing time


  • 3 cups (two 12-ounce cans) ginger beer
  • ½ cup vodka
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2½-ounce ice pop molds and sticks
  • Lime wheels, for garnish


1. In a small pitcher, combine the ginger beer, vodka, lime juice and lime zest. Stir to combine.

2. Divide between the ice pop molds, pouring 2 ounces into each mold. Place a lime wheel in each pop, followed by the mold top and a stick. Freeze until solid, 4 hours. Then remove and serve.




Read Happy Hour here on 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 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