Imbibing for 72 Hours at Tales of the Cocktail 2017
In addition to being the word's largest cocktail festival, Tales of the Cocktail is a cocktail renaissance that attracts more than 20,000 bartenders, mixologists, liquor brands, and enthusiasts from over 40 countries around the world.
Celebrating 15 years of elevating the cocktail industry, giving back to the community of New Orleans, cultivating up and coming bartenders, and so much more, Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) has become an event we attend and cover yearly and this year was no different. And as in prior years, it is one festival that is certainly hard to beat and one that should definitely not be missed.
As soon as we arrived in New Orleans, we hit the ground running since TOTC had started earlier in the week and we had some catching up to do. So we dropped our bags and freshened up right before we grabbed a quick bite at Willa Jean, which was right around the block from our first event.
We figured the best way to jump into the action was to become a part of the action. That took us to Maypop which was hosting the Bombay Sapphire 1st Most Imaginative Bartender Media Mixer. It paired the 12 Most Imaginative Bartender Finalists with a journalist to compete in a secret ingredient cocktail competition; think the Food Network’s Chopped format meets a bartender competition. And if you haven’t figured it out yet Urban Swank was one of the twelve competitors! We were paired with Timo Salimaki of Calgary, Canada (The Living Room Restaurant) and Swanky Girl represented for Urban Swank. Each team had to select a mystery ingredient box and had six minutes to create a cocktail with help from their bartending coach. This was not a shabby “let’s just put something together” event! Bombay pulled out all the stops, and it was top notch.
We did not win, but we had a great time and enjoyed working with Timo and being a part of the event. After the competition, we sipped on delicious cocktails featuring Bombay Sapphire as we waited to be seated for our spirited dinner. The drinks were so FAB that it rekindled our love for all things gin! Once dinner was served we experienced six-courses of true excellence. Not only were the dish and drink pairings spot on, but the food was stellar! We can easily add this to one of our top dining experiences of 2017.
Next up was the Bacardi Portfolio Party and this year’s theme was Neon Tide. Beach attire was optional for this tropical destination themed party filled with unique and immersive cocktail and brand experiences. We island hopped and danced our way through the party while sipping on cocktails.
Still making up for lost time we made one last stop at the Monkey Shoulder After Dark Party! We took a trip back to the 90’s music era on this night. After several more cocktails, some face painting, and a little more booty shaking it was time to officially consider Thursday a wrap!
If Thursday was any indicator of how crazy day two would be, we knew we would have to start off in the right way; and brunch would be the answer. We returned to Maypop for the Tequila Over Easy Brunch hosted by Casa Noble, and this proved to be the perfect start. Signature cocktails, New Orleans dishes, and a live jazz band set the tone for an amazing morning. After several tequila-based drinks, we were ready to continue on to our next destination. We missed a stop at House of Elyx (hosted by Absolute Elyx) last year and were set on not making the same mistake. The historic landmark, Latrobe’s on Royal was transformed into a vodka lovers paradise that began as soon as you stepped foot into the place. While award-wining bartenders whipped up massive drinks in copper “mugs” that were almost too heavy to hold, others created “liquid brunch-inspired” offerings. They even had a beauty salon that would hook you up with a quick up-do, literally.
Now that we had sampled both tequila and vodka, it was time for some cognac. The Hennessy Experience, hosted by Hennessy of course, was more like a journey. It would take us through the entire cognac creation process from the grape all the way to full blown cognac greatness. The highlight of the event was a private tasting with Olivier Paultes, Hennessy’s Director of Distillation and a member of their prestigious tasting committee. Enjoying the rare Eaux de Vie was an added bonus.
Next up was one of our favorite events, Indie Spirits That Rock. Presented by Distilled Events this tasting room was packed to the brim with small batch spirits, distillers, importers and entrepreneurs from all around the world. Where last year focused on gin, we noticed a shift in this year’s event that highlighted a variety of rum and liqueurs. After we had reached our limit, it was time to balance it out with some tasty cuisine. So, we jumped in an Uber to fill our bellies with a few appetizers and entrees from Borgne.
We ended the night at The Dogg House with Snoop Dogg himself rocking the mic. Diageo always gives the best parties! They had many of their popular brands represented including Tanqueray, Don Julio, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Bulleit, just to name a few.
The Chef’s Garden Comes to The Bar by William Grant & Sons showcased delicious cocktails next to the very garden ingredients and herbs that inspired them. This was the perfect event to start the day as breakfast nibbles were offered as well. Immediately following, we made a quick stop at the Carousel Bar for a Bourbon Milk Punch and a Sidecar; then it was off to enjoy tequila for the rest of our afternoon.
We spent most of our Saturday onboard the Patron Tequila Express. Although the train didn’t leave the station, the party continued as if it were in motion. We sipped award winning margaritas, enjoyed light bites, and made new friends. After hours had passed and we were full of booze and food, we exited the train ready for the next TOTC adventure. A quick rest was followed by an early feast at N7, Travel & Leisure #10 Best New Restaurant in America 2016. Little did we know that after enjoying a great dinner, our bodies would give in to a peaceful night of well-needed sleep after three days of eating, drinking, and even more drinking!
That’s it for TOTC 2017. We hope you enjoyed the journey with us. Until next year enjoy sipping on our cocktail creation from the Bombay Sapphire Competition, introducing Killa Passion…
“KILLA PASSION” Created by Felice Sloan and Calgary MIB Finalist Timo Salimaki
2 oz of Bombay Sapphire Gin
¾ oz of St Germain
½ oz of Simple Syrup
½ oz of Lime Juice
Muddle tarragon and passionfruit, lime juice, and simple syrup
Add Bombay Sapphire and St Germain
Shake and double strain into a Collins glass with ice
Top with ginger beer
Garnish with flowers