Top Talent Recognized at Tales of the Cocktail

With more than 16,000 attendees on site and 12,000 pounds of Kold Draft Ice, 14,000 lemons and 100,000 5-ounce official event cups used, Tales of the Cocktail came to a close in New Orleans on July 12 after a five-day celebration of the history and artistry of drink making.

Throughout the event, bartenders and mixologists were honored for their abilities and dedication to their craft in competitions and award shows, including the Barmade Bitters Challenge, the Grand Marnier and Navan “On the Fly” Competition and the Spirit Awards.

Barmade Bitters winners: Marshall Atlier, John Hogan, Tobin Ellis and Adam Seger

The Barmade Bitters Challenge recognized the three top aromatic bitters developed by a bartender. The winning bitters will be released by January as the first certified organic collection and will include: Marshall Atlier’s Baked Big Apple Bitters, which won the fruit category; Adam Seger’s Swedish Bitters, which claimed the top honor for herbs; and Tobin Ellis and John Hogan’s English Lavender & Spice Bitters, the number one pick for spice bitters.

At the “On the Fly” competition, eight bartenders were tested on their creativity with limited options. Using only the ingredients found in Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s bag of tricks — items like lollipops, hot sauce and pralines — contestants had to create the most original cocktail. Giuseppe Gonzales from New York won with his On the Fly Colada (see the recipe on p. 10). The other contestants were Eric Alperin of Los Angeles, Paul Clarke of Seattle, Ricky Gomez of New Orleans, Misty Kalkofen of Boston, Todd Thrasher of Washington, Neyah White of San Francisco and David Wondrich of New York.

Finally, the Spirit Awards recognize the individuals and establishments dedicated to advancing the craft of the cocktail. Pernod Ricard and Beverage Media Group sponsored the awards show. The 2009 Tales of the Cocktail Spirit Awards winners are:

  1. World’s Best Drinks Selection: Merchant Hotel, Belfast, Ireland
  2. Best American Cocktail Bar: Pegu Club, New York City
  3. World’s Best New Cocktail Bar: Clover Club, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  4. World’s Best Hotel Bar: Merchant Hotel, Belfast, Ireland
  5. American Bartender of the Year: James Meehan, PDT New York City
  6. International Bartender of the Year: Tony Conigliaro
  7. Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: The Essential Cocktail by Dale DeGroff
  8. Best Cocktail Writing: Dave Wondrich
  9. Best New Product: Bols Genever
  10. World’s Best Cocktail Menu: Merchant Hotel, Belfast, Ireland
  11. Best American Brand Ambassador: Simon Ford, Plymouth Gin and Pernod Ricard
  12. Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Dorelli


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