Another year, another Tales. Tales of the Cocktail was another mad frenzy of a week in oppressive heat (though not as bad as in past years), drinking while getting educated on drink with thousands of people around New Orleans. Any reason to return to my beloved New Orleans (which I’ve written about extensively) is a worthy one.
Best moments this year included time spent in local’s homes, eating home-cooked food (which in New Orleans is real treat, let me tell you) and talking long hours over good drink. Tales remains the single best event in which to connect with key folk of the cocktail/spirits world all in one place and to sample new spirits and products.
While the Tales parties have gotten too big (in some cases, too big to even get into – lines were so long I skipped more than one major event I had a ticket to), some spirits brands ensure the time is worthwhile with countless smaller, more manageable events around the the city. In one case, I was driven to a historic house for Cognac and cigars (cheers, D’usse!), another time I walked to a beer garden with absinthe root beer floats, and, yes, beer (thanks, Becherovka/Pernod!)
While there are too many key moments to list, the week’s highlights are best hinted at via photos, the most magical moments being in the intimate jazz room set to the transporting, sultry vocals of London’s Annie Bea at the Absolut party, the one major party that exceeded expectations, with bartenders from around the globe serving drinks (Dale DeGroff, Toby Cecchini, Audrey Saunders, Nick Strangeway, Chris McMillian, etc.) in 16 wildly different themed rooms inside legendary Nola restaurant, Arnaud’s.
Note the list of Tales Spirited Awards winners below, a Gatsby-themed gala I attended Saturday during Tales. The awards remain New York and London-centric year after year, with the occasional nod to the rest of the cocktail world but not always a pulse on what’s currently “best” around the globe. Still, it’s a pleasure to see hard-working bars, bartenders and industry folk nominated and win, even if many are not included who should be.
Stay tuned for more on New Orleans‘ restaurants and cocktail bars in upcoming newsletters, and also in this newsletter for spirits newcomer standouts during this year’s Tales.
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2013 TALES SPIRITED AWARD WINNERS
Best Cocktail Writing Publication Diffords Guide (London)
Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book Drink by Tony Conigliaro
Best American Brand Ambassador Todd Richman (Sidney Frank)
Best International Brand Ambassador Jacob Briars (Bacardi)
Best American Bartender Charles Joly, The Aviary (Chicago)
Worlds Best Cocktail Menu The Dead Rabbit (New York)
Best Cocktail Writing – Author Gary Regan
Best Bar Mentor Julie Reiner, The Clover Club (Brooklyn)
Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award Salvatore Calabrese
Best American Cocktail Bar The Clover Club (Brooklyn)
Worlds Best Drinks Selection Canon Whiskey & Bitters Emporium (Seattle)
Worlds Best Hotel Bar The NoMad Hotel (New York)
Worlds Best Cocktail Bar Drink (Boston)
Best Restaurant Bar Saxon + Parole (New York)
Best High Volume Cocktail Bar Clover Club (Brooklyn)
Worlds Best New Cocktail Bar The Dead Rabbit (New York)
Best New Product Fords Gin
International Bartender of the Year Jack McGarry, The Dead Rabbit (Brooklyn)