As I sit down to write this, I am still recovering from the tastings, cocktails and more tastings that accompanied this year’s Tales of the Cocktail. The whirlwind that was last week, included several days of seminars, dinners, parties, [did I mention] tastings and, of course, sazeracs. The event attracts noted bartenders from around the country that shake and stir flavorsome concoctions for appreciative guest, me being one of them.
Here are some of the highlights from this year’s event.
William Grant & Sons Portfolio Party
The much anticipated William Grant & Sons Portfolio party celebrating “Cocktails in Film” had WGS Brand Ambassadors behind the many bars and serving up some delicious drinks. The William Grant & Sons team hosted an extraordinary evening of celebration as two crafts became one, two arts born of raw production gave way to elegant performances. Music was provided by the David Higgins Band who hung from the rafters on an elevated platform.
USBG and Bombay Sapphire EAST “Most Imaginative Bartender ALL-STAR Competition
Six of the nation’s top bartenders from the, now global, “Most Imaginative Bartender Competition” – presented annually by Bombay Sapphire and GQ magazine – descended the House of Blues to demonstrate their imaginative cocktail skills, each creating an enthralling elixir showcasing the new BOMBAY SAPPHIRE East Gin. After a challenging head-to-head competition, Miami’s mixology maven (and the competition’s FIRST EVER female winner) Cricket Nelson took home the GOLD MEDAL with her “Sapphire East Love Game” cocktail – a creative concoction including Earl Grey tea, rosebud syrup and fresh Thai basil
Juleps & Southern Porch Party
Friday, July 19, alongside partners from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Tom Bulleit announced the Bulleit Mint Julep will be the newest addition to Ruth’s national cocktail menu. Founder, Tom Bulleit and brand ambassador, Hollis Bulleit provided insight into the long history of the brand and their new partnership with Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
Absolut Welcome Reception
The Absolute welcome reception was truly a mad affair that highlighted the very essence of cocktail culture. Passion for the craft of mixology is their raison d’être and each room you entered through the maze was even more enticing than the last. The surreal experience complete with monkey, midgets and masque was a sight to be seen while carefully crafted cocktails seduced your taste buds.
GREY GOOSE Vodka’s French Marché
On Tuesday, July 16, Grey Goose Vodka transported attendees to a classic French market, where bartenders crafted a classic or truly exotic Pressé. There were an abundance of fresh tastes taking part in extraordinary cocktailing techniques. Each room provided even more to tastes inspired by Grey Goose’s French roots.
US Semi-Finals Peter F. Heering Sling Awards
On July 19th at Tales of the Cocktail at Latrobe's on Royal, the US Semi-Finals Peter F. Heering Sling Awards were hosted by the Imbiber himself, Dan Dunn. The non- sequestered jury made up of spirits, bar and media experts selected the Top 5 Global Finalist for the 2013 Peter F. Heering Sling Award who will now go on to compete for the overall 2013 Peter F. Heering Sling Award at the BCB Bar Convent in Berlin, October 8th – 9th, 2013. These global bar stars were challenged to create their own interpretation of the classic cocktail The Singapore Sling.
Hennessy - Never Stop Never Settle. The Return of Cognac Cocktails
On Thursday, July 18th the exclusive event took place at Generations, where attendees explored the history of cognac cocktails from the late 1800′s through to modern day. The event was a journey through Hennessy’s flavor and aroma profile while passed hors d'oeuvres were served and a tradition New Orleans brass band played.
Me and Julio Down in NOLA
In authentic NOLA style Don Julio Tequila hosted a street fair event where attendees enjoyed traditional Cajun fare from acclaimed local culinary establishments, specialty Don Julio drinks and music from the Kinfolk Brass Band. The event showcased tequila at its finest along with its mixing abilities. Don Julio Master Distiller Enrique de Colsa was also in attendance to sipping on Don Julio 70.
Annual Spirited Awards
At the annual Spirited Awards took place on Saturday, July 20, where Charles Joly of the Aviary in Chicago took American Bartender of the Year, Best American Cocktail Bar went to Clover Club in Brooklyn, and a lifetime achievement award went to London's Salvatore Calabrese (for a full list of winners, head over to the Times-Pic).
Mandarine Napoleon Imperial Battle of the Sexes
It's official—girls are better than boys, and it only took a cocktail challenge to prove it. At this truly unique event, male and female bartenders were paired against each other to create their very own signature Mandarine Napoleon cocktail. In the end, the women were victorious and hailed as the conquerors. Representing the triumphant women were: Shel Bourdon from The Dead Rabbit in New York, Lynnette Marrero, president and founder of LUPEC NYC, Naomi Schimek, beverage director at The Spare Room in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and Yael Vengroff, bar manager at Harvard & Stone in Hollywood, CA.