After the first two days of parties, seminars, tasting rooms, Spirited Dinners, and happy hours, the Jim Beam Battle of the Bloodys breakfast on Friday morning was much appreciated. Attendees were able to enjoy a breakfast buffet and four Bloody Mary variations that incorporated vodka, tequila, white whiskey, and Jim Beam's Devil's Cut. Also available were many different salts, herbs, and spices to rim the cups and a salad bar's worth of garnishes.
The hair of the dog well achieved, it was time to carry on with full-out (and rain-soaked) Talesing.
Tasting rooms covered such topics as "Disco Inferno - Saloon on the Move," which featured dancing bartenders and classic 70s style cocktails; "Celebrate Brazil's World Cup with World Cup Cachaça Cocktails" for the sportier types; and the New Orleans-centric "Roman Candy Rum" which uses the same molasses used for the traditional candy sold in the iconic red and white Roman Candy Wagon, clattering around historic places like the Audubon Zoo and St. Charles Avenue since 1915.
For lunch, the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC), held its annual event to newest inductees into the Dame Hall of Fame® while enjoying cocktails and steak at Ruth's Chris Steak House. The Olmeca Altos Tequila Garden at the W Hotel was unfortunately less garden-like and more valet parking carport-like due to the weather, but served up an amazing spicy Paloma and Donkey Punch.
There were several Dynamic Duos to choose from on Friday as well, like the one pictured above at Broussards which featured Paul Gusting and David Wondrich. Over at Kingfish in the afternoon, the bar was heaving with cocktail fanboys and girls that wanted in on the rare opportunity to be served by legendary bartenders Dale Degroff and Chris McMillian for the Dynamic Duos series. After that, the crowds headed to Cane & Table to witness Jeff "Beach Bum" Berry and Nick Detrich serve rum drinks. The line snaked down the block mingling with the line to get into Coops, reported Detrich.
Angostura held a slightly soggy pool party with revelers determined to have fun, and as the evening progressed and the rain tapered off, the party moved to the Jazz Parlour at Maison Bourbon, where Wild Turkey held an event to celebrate "60 Years Strong: the Industry's Toast to Jimmy Russell." Wild Turkey cocktails and 80s music abounded along with a turkey feather-adorned throne perfect for photo ops.
Diageo showcased its portfolio of liquors at its House Party at the Contemporary Arts Center, which was set up to evoke different rooms of a house, each of which represented by a different cocktail, like Gin & Juice, tequila sunrise, tequila shandys served out of an Airstream trailer, boozy popsicles and iced Irish coffees. The local high-energy 70s and 80s cover band the Chee Weez provided entertainment.
Later that same night, Bar Fight Club at Republic pitted six teams against each other to come up with winning cocktails with booze from the 86 Company's portfolio. San Francisco's Trick Bar took the win in the throwdown.
Limping into Saturday, the last full day of events, attendees could discover b'Lure, the newest product from Wild Hibiscus Flower Co.; how to fix the perfect Old-Fashioned; and partake in a Prohibition Style Royal High Tea at the Windsor Court with The King's Ginger Liqueur.
Ruth's Chris and Bulleit Bourbon brought their own version of the Old Fashioned to their annual luncheon, which also featured the maker of Filthy Foods, maker of premium drink garnishes, who provided the Old Fashioned's traditional cherry. Beef filet sliders and lobster mac & cheese rounded out the super luxe experience.
After lunch, Plantation Rum brought in cocktail historian David Wondrich, owner and master blender Alexandre Gabriel, and Jeff "Beach Bum" Berry to showcase the comeback of the pineapple rum style. Local bartender Kimberly Patton Bragg and Denver's Sean Kenyon ran a High West Dynamic Duos at Three Muses on Frenchmen Street, where Bragg works. And the Perfect Puree hosted a pool party at the Hotel Monteleone featuring Cane & Table's Nick Detrich and Kirk Estopinal.
Imbibe Magazine also hosted their annual Happy Hour at Arneaud's French 75 where Chris Hannah and his staff mixed and served up a variant of the French 75 cocktail as well as a refreshing gin and Pimms cocktail on the rocks. It was a crowded event, but the drinks were flowing.
The evening and weekend was capped by the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards Ceremony, which was like cocktail prom. Everyone got gussied up in black and white to go to the Sheraton Hotel to hear which American and international bartenders, bars, authors, and distillers won their categories. Notably, New Orleans resident and owner of the soon-to-open Latitude 29 tiki bar Jeff "Beach Bum" Berry won for Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: Beachbum Berry's Potions of the Caribbean, Sean Kenyon won American Bartender of the Year, and NYC's Dead Rabbit Bar won Best American Cocktail Bar as well as World's Best Drinks Selection. (full list of winners can be found here.)
The post-award ceremony party, held at the Audubon Aquarium, was the Bartender's Breakfast which technically was the first meal and drink of the day, since it ran through to 2am. Drinking and listening to the DJ among the fishes provided a fitting ending to a crazy Tales.
Oh, wait, did I say ending? Oh hell naw. Sunday, though free of seminars and tasting rooms, still had Mr. and Mrs. Cocktail's Spirited Sunday Brunch, as well as the 5th annual Pigs and Punch fundraiser in the Marigny's Washington Square Park, featuring pork, boozy punch, and lots of rain and puddles. Followed by the traditional Milagro End of Tales Pool Party on the rooftop of the Hotel Monteleone. Splish splash.
And with that, take a breath, or a shot, or a body cleanse and steel yourself for next year's Tales, because it will be here before you know it, and your liver needs to be ready.
[All photos: Brasted]