During the recent Tales of the Cocktail, which was terrific in case you missed it, there was some discussion about the “Renaissance of the American Cocktail.”

Whether there has been a renaissance or not is beyond discussion. A new wave of mixologists has brought about nothing short of a revolution to the entire scene. The advent of fresh ingredients, including juices, new flavors of bitters, and even new spirits, such as St. Germain, has broadly pushed the horizons for absolutely incredible cocktails.

There does not seem to be a limit to the creativity of what can now be considered a cocktail. If you are still in a Gin & Tonic or Scotch on the Rocks rut, wake up and challenge the bartender before you blithely go where you have already gone.

Part of the aforementioned discussion centered on cocktail centers. New York, of course. San Francisco. Chicago, a bit of Las Vegas, and even Miami, Seattle and Washington, D.C. all figured into the equation.

And what about us, here in little ole New Orleans?

Surprisingly, we too are recognized on the cocktail radar screen as a community full of young, energetic, creative bar keepers who want to move the dial, sometimes to the point of twisting it off.

Interesting bars in New Orleans include old stalwarts, like French 75 in Arnaud’s and the newly reopened Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel (feels good saying that again). Then we have the reasonably new, a little traditional, bars like Bar Uncommon (with the incomparable Chris McMillian) and Swizzle Stick (with the equally incomparable Lu Brow).

Then we have a whole boatload of new, cutting edge places, like Cure, Loa and Iris.

Yes, my friends, New Orleans is truly a player in whatever cocktail movement you subscribe to. And the installation into our community of the Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC), within the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, at the Riverwalk, and the annual staging of Tales of the Cocktail, squarely places us at the center of the mixology universe.

Every month, MOTAC presents a cocktail seminar/demonstration, hosted by Chris McMillian, and featuring great bartenders from around the world. Earlier this month, Chris decided that it was time to feature our own local experts, and the results were stunning.

These young people, all practicing their craft in our community every day, just hit the ball out of the park. Every drink a home run. Let me show you who did what:

Cherry Blossom Brocade
Chris Hannah
French 75 Bar in Arnaud’s

1 ½ oz. Bol’s Genever
1 oz. ruby red grapefruit juice
½ oz Cherry Heering
¼ oz. Pernod Absinthe

Combine ingredients in mixing glass, fill with ice, shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with stemmed cherry.

Cherry Blossom Brocade in English
Chris Patino
Brand Ambassador, Pernod-Ricard Spirits

1 ½ oz. Wondrich’s Hollands Gin Substitute
(add 8 parts Jameson Irish Whiskey to 10 parts Plymouth Gin, top with dash of rich simple syrup)
¾ oz ruby red grapefruit juice
¾ oz Cherry Herring
¾ oz. Pernod Absinthe

Combine ingredients in mixing glass, fill with ice, shake, strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Ginger Baker Fizz
Rhiannon Enlil

2 oz. Plymouth Gin
¾ oz. Bols crème de cocoa
½ oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur
¾ oz. lemon juice
¾ oz cream
Egg white
Ginger beer

Combine ingredients in mixing glass, add ice, shake, strain into tall glass. Fill to top with Ginger Beer.

The  Window Box
Kimberly Patton-Bragg
1 ½ oz Hendrick’s Gin
1 oz Lillet blanc
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz. rich simple syrup
Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Muddle parsley with simple syrup and lemon juice. Add spirits and ice into shaker. Shake vigorously, then strain into chilled cocktail glass. Spank parsley sprig as garnish.

Crescent City Connection
Maksym Pazuniak

1 ½ oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
½ oz (r ī)1 by Jim Beam
1 oz. lime juice
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. Cointreau
¼ oz. Pernod
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters
Orange twist, for garnish

Combine ingredients in mixing glass, fill with ice, shake, strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Especiaria de Piña
Ricky Gomez
Contract Bartender

2 oz. Sagitiba cachaça
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. caramelized pineapple puree by Perfect Puree
¼ oz. St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
2 – 3 leaves, sweet basil

Muddle basil in shake with lime juice. Add remaining ingredients, with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain over a “rocks” glass with ice.

Clueless in New Orleans
Danny Valdez
Contract Bartender

2 oz. Maker’s Mark
1 oz. apple juice
¼ oz. Apricot Puree by Perfect Puree
Egg white

Combine ingredients in mixing glass, fill with ice, shake, strain into ice-filled rocks glass.