Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans’

EAT HERE NOW – THE NEW NEW ORLEANS

Friday, August 14th, 2015

The New New Orleans
By Abigail Gullo

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

Welcome back to reality, my boozy companions. Now that it’s time to begin thinking about Tales of the Cocktail 2016 (you know you’re already contemplating that seminar you want to submit) and joining 25,000 of my closest friends who come to New Orleans to celebrate my birthday every year I figured I’d highlight some of the newest places you may have explored a few weeks back or bring them to your attention so you don’t miss out next July!

Here is your yearly roundup of places to check out while you are here in the Crescent City.

First though, let us not bury the lede…I am in a new place! I’m settling in nicely to life on the other side of Canal; my barspoons and I have have taken up residency at Compere Lapin in the Warehouse District (Compere Lapin 535 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130
504 599 2119 www.comperelapin.com). Compere Lapin is the title of a West African folk tale that became Briar Rabbit; like the rabbit (more on that later) the restaurant’s menu is a food journey to New Orleans that begins from the Caribbean, where our chef is from. Chef Nina Compton was a finalist on Top Chef New Orleans and won fan favorite.

Photo by Sara Essex Bradley

Photo by Sara Essex Bradley

Originally from St Lucia, with a stop in the kitchen of Miami’s Scarpetta, Chef brings all the French Creole influences of her island mixed with exquisite Italian technique and of course local Louisiana flavor. Crispy pig ears, conch croquettes and curried goat with plantain gnocchi have been stand out dishes; but it is all so very delicious.

Of course it couldn’t be New Orleans without a world class cocktail program…and we have literally World Class bartender Ricky Gomez running the good ship Lapin. Ricky is native Nola and was on the opening staff at Cure before heading to Portland and becoming America’s first Diageo World Class Bartender. The bar program is exciting and inventive; there’s carbonated coconut water on tap for the Jerez Highball with sherry and absinthe, Martini inspired sippers like the Noontide with celery and pear brandy, and a King-worthy TCB Sour. All the cocktails pair so well with our fresh raw bar, crudo and the dishes coming from our extremely talented kitchen. And our pastry chef does our breakfast goodies too, so stop my Old No. 77 hotel for a key lime pie donut or blueberry hand-pie with some of the best coffee in New Orleans from Tout La, our lobby coffee shop. It is just the jump start you need to get going to those morning seminars!

Working in a new neighborhood means exploring more neighbors! We are home to the classic Swizzle Stick bar at Cafe Adalaide, Cochon and Butcher (best Muffaletta in town!) and of course, Mother’s and the World’s Best Baked Ham is right across the street.

Cochon by Chris Granger

But we have some new comers too. Mexican is hot right now and the John Besh and Aaron Sanchez collaboration Johnny Sanchez has all your agave needs along with tacos galore! Besh restaurants are famous for their happy hour programs and Johnny Sanchez is no exceptions with great deals of tacos and pitchers of margaritas. Save room for dessert as pastry chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White are some of the best in the business.

As a matter of fact, just after you left town they opened a new pastry shop called Willa Jean in the Warehouse Districts’s new sub-neighborhood, The Paramount. Wood fired pizza, a Company Burger with boozy milkshakes and the Rouses are all located here so when you pick up supplies at our local super market chain, you can fuel your day with the best food Nola has to offer.

Speaking of one stop shopping, back in the new Marigny or St Roch neighborhood, we have a Nola foot court to end all food courts. The St Roch Market opened this year to great fanfare and some controversy this year. This traditionally poor neighborhood was a food desert for some time post-Katrina. Now with the rapid gentrification of this neighborhood, the St Roch Market became a beacon, and a bit of a target. Putting politics and gentrification theory aside, get to St Roch and go hungry (2381 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117 (504) 609-3813 www.strochmarket.com).

Photo courtesy New Orleans CVB

Photo courtesy New Orleans CVB

Inside the breezy bright turn-of-the-20th century warehouse are local vendors offering coffee, fresh juice, oysters, Creole, Korean and African cuisine. Go to the Mayhew Bar for a cocktail, and get a dozen bivalves from the Curious Oyster stand next door then pick up some local made products like Cocktail & Son’s Syrups from Max Messier (www.cocktailandsons.com) and Tonic and Bitters from El Guapo’s Scot Maddox (www.elguapobitters.com), both bartenders turned entrepreneurs!

If you are keeping in the French Quarter, we have some great new spots that have opened up in the last year. Salon by Sucre is an upstairs lounge with Storyville inspired cocktails and full tea menu. Downstairs at Sucre is a candyland of color and taste for a quick pick me up of gelato and coffee…and maybe some signature macaroons thrown in a box too (622 Conti, www.shopsucre.com/store-locations/).

Next door to Sucre, we finally have our famous Vietnamese cuisine in the Quarter with the 9 Roses Cafe. An extension of the famous West Bank spot, come here for restorative Pho, and bright Bun and summer rolls with local pork and shrimp (620 Conti www.ninerosesrestaurant.com).

Chef Alex Harrell left Sylvain to open Angeline in the old Stella space on Chartres street. And homage to his mother, Angeline has the comfort food you crave after a long day of tasting and drinking, all in a refined setting with perfect technique.

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Photo courtesy of Angeline

The bar program is sherry and mezcal heavy, so it’s a cocktail nerd’s delight! This is a great place to stop for dinner before making your way to dance and jive on Frenchmen street (1032 Chartres St. www.angelinenola.com)!

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Good coffee is a must and why not do some vintage barware shopping while you are at it? Arrow Cafe on North Rampart street is also a bike repair and vintage shop (628 N Rampart St.). Jane pulls the best espressos in the Quarter, hands down. And she pairs shots of espresso with lime cordial, tonic syrup and good Topo Chico for refreshing pick me ups that fuel my trips to the gym and work. You can rent a bike next door, and pick up some cool Bike Nola t-shirts from Dashing Nola and some vintage martini pitchers from Nola Drift. (Full disclosure, my dog Ronnie Magic is the mayor here and these ladies have been kind enough to do doggie day care while I run errands in this hot Nola sun.) The sense of community here in Nola is what makes it so very special. And I am so lucky to have this community in my life looking after me and my little dog too.

Marin Tockman (right) with her friend Julia and her new Public Bike at arrow cafe

On the next block, at 700 Rampart st, is a new bar called the Black Penny. They have an extensive selection of beers and some great spirits. The bar wraps between two spaces and the white leather banquets make this a cool place to sip on some suds right across from Louis Armstrong park and the legendary Congo Square.

And or course there is the long awaited Latitude 29 from Beachbum Berry. Believe the hype (and order the Tiki room service if you can). I pretty much have my own stool at the bar here and worked my way through the extensive tiki drink and food menu within a month of their opening. Luckily, the talented rooster of bartenders create their own drinks for Happy Hour, so I have always have something new to try (321 N. Peters Street www.latitude29nola.com)!

Next time you’re in town please come and visit me at the Rabbit (open a week and we already have a term of endearment for our Compere Lapin) and I will toast to good friends and good cocktails here in the city of New Orleans!

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

WIND OF CHANGE

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Time marches on and sweeps liquor industry events along
By Francine Cohen

Photo by Charlotte Otto-Bruc

Photo by Charlotte Otto-Bruc

Earlier than normal today I was up, and so ready to take my morning walk. Though my timing this morning wasn’t the only change I experienced, it definitely was a harbinger of what was to come and a reflection of what was behind us. Rummaging through my middle drawer, in search of a tank top to throw under my limited edition Louis649 (RIP) hoodie, I came across three branded tank tops; two from past Pig & Punch (http://www.bonvivants.com/pig-n-punch/) events and one from Perfect Puree (www.perfectpuree.com/). All three got tucked back into the drawer for various reasons; Pig & Punch because I generally don’t like to wear branded merchandise – whatever the cause – though I bought them to support something I believe in (plus, let’s be honest, a men’s XL is probably not the most flattering cut on me); and the Perfect Puree one went back in too because though it fits nicely it says “Perfect to Play With” on it and my experience having worn that out in public before is that it results in uncalled for funny looks, comments and knowing smiles from strangers. So best to leave that, and the Pig & Punch ones, aside and just remember to pack them for yoga class at Tales (talesofthecocktail.com/).

Wait, what?! Did I just say “yoga class at Tales?” When did this become a thing? And how? And why? What happened to it being just about learning about spirits, drinking spirits, talking about spirits and doing that all over again all week long?

Well, the answer to the first part of that question is easy; it became a thing three years ago when Perfect Puree hosted pool-side yoga sessions led by Kitty Amman (www.shakestir.com/kirstenamann). And it became an even bigger thing last year when Dushan Zaric and Natalie Bovis and Patricia Richards banded together to create the healthy mind & body sessions that included yoga and meditation. It became an even bigger thing when Novo Fogo (www.novofogo.com/) did their take on exercise at Tales and sponsored a run and when Bols (www.bols.com/splash.php?u=/) sponsored a bike ride years back.

But this wasn’t the only thing we’ve seen changing at Tales. Nor in the industry itself. First it was the shock of stalwart attendees finding that they couldn’t be there one year, and then the next and then the next because they had other business elsewhere keeping them busy. And now more than ever bartenders and brand reps are focused on their health, wealth, and well being. Years ago at Tales you’d see a group of cocktail professionals go from late, late, late night carousing in New Orleans and operating on little to no sleep to attending seminars and crisscrossing the city en masse; like one giant school of fish. Back then it was easy to make plans with friends and colleagues from other cities because you all had to be in pretty much the same place at the same time.

Photo by Jeff Anding

Photo by Jeff Anding

As Tales has expanded more and more of these bartenders who were sitting in the seminars are now leading them. And the marketing and PR professionals who work with them are finding more and more opportunities for their clients to sponsor these seminars, events and local dining and drinking experiences so they too are running off in disparate directions. Scheduling a catch up has, in many cases, been reduced to promises of a fly-by hug in the doorway of SoBou (www.sobounola.com/), scheduling a 2 AM beer at The Chart Room or a 4:30 AM sing-along at Alibi (www.alibineworleans.com/). Knowing full well that the best laid plans of mice and men…

This is a far cry from six or so years ago when Lesley Townsend and I were first introduced in the lobby of the Monteleone (hotelmonteleone.com/) as she landed at her first Tales of the Cocktail, ready to explore what Ann Tuennerman had created and figure out how to adapt that to what would eventually become the beloved Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com/). But, now that the MCC is, in the words of Gothamist, “…effectively dead…” and Tales marches on, it will be most interesting to be part of it all in year 12 and see what happens next.

Change keeps a-coming.

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

EAT HERE NOW – NEW ORLEANS 2014

Friday, July 4th, 2014

A Local’s Guide to Where to Eat in New Orleans 2014
By Abigail Gullo

New Orleans narrow alley slightly larger

Welcome back, my Tales brothers and sisters! Did you survive last year? Good. How will you survive this year? By filling up on some of that good New Orleans cuisine. And guess what? Most of these places have very fine cocktails as well so you don’t have to stop the Tales of the Cocktail party!

I don’t know if you have heard, but New Orleans is the food capital of the world; and has been for some time, if you ask anyone from here. They’ll tell you that this is the last holdout of truly unique regional American cuisine. They’ll tell you there is nothing more American the melting pot of culture that you have in Cajun and Creole cuisine. And there isn’t. What there is is a host of places that have opened up since I gave you some solid advice last year. And there are new old places I have discovered and fell in love with here in my third year as a Nola resident. So here is a rundown of some of my favorites:

People asked me if I missed the Chinese food of NYC when I moved down here. How could I when there is such amazing Vietnamese food available here?! It’s no wonder since New Orleans and the surrounding areas have the highest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam. Since the 1970’s they have merged their culture into the continuing flux of cuisine here in NOLA and most of the best places can be found on the West Bank across the river, including the mind-bending Hong Kong Market (www.hongkongmarketnola.com). If you have a friend with a car, get them to take you here – it is a warehouse full of groceries, snacks and drinks that you would have trouble finding outside of Asia otherwise. I get my supply of Lady Slimming Beauty Tea here too. Yup. It’s all there in the name, folks. The market also has a noodle house, a sandwich shop and bubble tea so you can shop and fill your belly with a tasty Banh Mi or “Vietnamese Po Boy.”

You don’t have to wander far to get a taste of the authentic Vietnamese food New Orleans has to offer. Crasian is a new place that opened on Canal Street just a short walk away from the Hotel Monteleone (www.hotelmonteleone.com). It has some of the biggest Garden Rolls I have ever seen! They also have a nice selection of frozen bubble tea that will be perfect on a hot day. Remember, pouring some sample booze from Tales into your bubble tea to go is perfectly legal here in New Orleans. Personally I am looking forward to trying the Jasmine Green tea with some Tanqueray Old Tom Gin. Or any one with Mezcal… Seriously….any one.

Speaking of boozy Bubble Teas, Mopho (www.mophonola.com) up by City Park does a handsome business in modern Vietnamese food with a Nola twist and even has some booze filled Bubble teas on the menu. The Guns and Roses, with strawberry and Mezcal is my favorite, but there is nothing like a good Piña Colada and the Beachbum, served with either Flor de Cana or a spiced rum, is amazing. Also, the chicken wings there will change your life.

You should rent some bikes and do a chicken wing tour. Bike up my favorite street, Esplanade Ave until you hit City Park. Get some wings and cool drinks at Mopho and then bike down Orleans to Willie Mae’s Scotch House (www.zagat.com/r/willie-maes-scotch-house-new-orleans) for the world’s greatest fried chicken. Seriously. They hold the title, and for good reason; the chicken is

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EAT HERE NOW – NEW ORLEANS 2013

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?
By Abigail Gullo

Tales Walk 2013 Iron Man on N. Peters statue

“Baby please don’t go. Baby please don’t go. Baby please don’t go down to New Orleans, you know I love you so baby please don’t go.” – Big Joe Williams….and Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and Van Morrison and AC/DC and Aerosmith…..

I know you all long for New Orleans as you plan your annual summer trip down here and well after you leave. This city has a magical pull that brought many into its orbit. And you truly miss that good feeling when you are gone. But, this isn’t all I’m talking about; I am talking about missing New Orleans, the real New Orleans. While you are here you don’t want to miss the real New Orleans and the things that make it great.

I fell in love with this city during Tales of the Cocktails. Every year I came earlier and stayed longer. My boss and mentor, St John Frizell at Fort Defiance in Red Hook, Brooklyn went to college here and lived here until 1999. He said that New Orleans had a special magic and a real appreciation for hospitality and service. St John encouraged me when he said he saw that special light in me too and knew I would do well here. When an opportunity came up to work with the Brennan family, who has been running the best restaurants in New Orleans for over 100 years, I thought the signs were all pointing me leaving New York for New Orleans.

Tales 2013 Jackson Square with card reader
Brennan
So finally last year I just could not live without New Orleans any longer and I left the Big Apple for the Big Easy. There is lesson number one. There are many things not easy about living here. There is heat, hurricanes, violence, crumbling infrastructure and judging from the caterpillar sting I have on my

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LADIES WHO LUNCH

Monday, July 8th, 2013

1st Annual Dame Hall of Fame Luncheon is on July 18th
By Francine Cohen

TOTC 2012 Dame Hall of Fame luncheon table set

Follow the hats on July 18th and you’ll notice that the ladies are at it again – celebrating their past accomplishments and looking towards an even brighter future that will be revealed at this year’s Dame Hall of Fame luncheon at Tales of the Cocktail 2013 (www.talesofthecocktail.com). This the day for some serious celebrating of the strides women have made in the spirits industry, and all are welcome at this celebratory luncheon held at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel (www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/neworleansroyalorleans).

Returning sponsor Hollis Bulleit, World Ambassador for Bulleit Bourbon & Rye, explains why she and her brand are coming back for the sophomore year of this event that is co-sponsored by LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), “The Dame Hall of Fame means to me that I get to celebrate with my peers the breaking of another glass ceiling. It is a place for me to be proud of my accomplishments and taking the risk to add a feminine perspective and queer perspective in an industry that up until quite recently had a lot of rules on the right way to enjoy brown spirits.”

Having women lead the way on the right way to enjoy brown spirits, and spirits of every hue, is a far cry from the days when when women weren’t even allowed in bars. Now they’re shaking up the entire industry as mixologists, bar owners, ambassadors and more. It wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing dialogue and mentorship that LUPEC engenders throughout the year and, since LUPEC events are not simply brand commercials, that is why organizers decided to add an engaging educational component to this year’s luncheon via a Q&A session that will foster spirited conversation. LUPEC NYC President Lynnette Marrero notes, “It is important for LUPEC events at Tales of the Cocktail to be a chance for brands to interact with our members and to share their unique brand stories with our fan base.”

TOTC 2012 Dame Hall of Fame Lillet ladies talking

The luncheon’s supporting brands

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THE BEST DRINK I HAD ALL YEAR

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

What You Missed in 2012, What You Can Hope You’ll Find Something As Good As in 2013
By Jason Rowan

Best Drink image of bar by Jason Rowan

As we are deep in the middle of rooftop lounges and large scale cocktail party season with The Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com) and Googa Mooga (www.brooklyngoogamooga.com) behind us and Tales of the Cocktail (wwww.talesofthecocktail.com) dancing immediately ahead on the calendar, it makes sense to sit back and really consider the cocktail.

Plenty of people will proclaim this (insert name here) cocktail they sipped during the MCC Gala or on the lawn of Brooklyn’s park or at (insert bar/rooftop lounge name here) or while wandering the tasting rooms at the Hotel Monteleone the “BEST COCKTAIL EVER!” but can it really be?

What makes a great cocktail? Is it just ingredients? Or, as restaurateurs and chefs have discovered with all the attention they pay to atmosphere and staffing, does it have more to do than with just what’s in the glass? There are definitely standout drinks to be found, but you may find that your reasons for finding them are what makes them the “best.”

Here we take a look back to 2012 to see what impressed. Only time will tell how 2013 stacks up.

Virginia Miller, SF Bay Guardian, The Perfect Spot

There’s the best drink and then there’s the best moment with a drink…

Aviary chocolate cocktail photo courtesy of Virginia Miller

Aviary chocolate cocktail photo courtesy of Virginia Miller

The best drink itself is a toss-up between the entire line-up at The Aviary in Chicago soon after Charles Joly became bar manager (oh, for the “dessert” cocktail, Cold Dark Chocolate, served in an angled glass, one side fitted with menthol ice, the other with Bernheim Original Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey and oleo sacchrum, topped with warm marcona almond foam, awakening the mouth alternately with warm and cool notes as the mint subtly dissolves into chocolate-citrus – www.theaviary.com) or in San Francisco, AQ’s unforgettable summer drink, the Maeklong Market Cocktail, with a base of peanut-infused mekhong, a sugar cane/molasses/rice-based Thai spirit, creamy with coconut milk, lime and kaffir lime leaves – nutty, creamy, savory, refreshing (www.aq-sf.com).

Maeklong Market photo by Virginia Miller

Maeklong Market photo by Virginia Miller

The best moment with a drink? My husband and I were in Maui for the first time this November, having slipped mini-bottles of St. George’s fantastic gins (Terroir, Botanivore, Dry Rye – www.stgeorgespirits.com) in our carry-on. We had an unbelievable corner deck over the ocean at Napili Kai Resort tucked in Napili Bay (www.napilikai.com). Each morning there were rainbows (from end-to-end) with the islands of Lanai and Molokai before us. At sunset, we made ourselves simple gin and tonics with St. George gin, cheap Schweppes tonic, and lime. Bathed in golden, rosy sunsets, our humble G&Ts were perfection, both of us relaxed and free from all care, even for those fleeting moments, blissfully lost in beauty.

Jacob Briars
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was another superb year for cocktails, with the creativity of the industry seeming to know no limits. Happily we are seeing a few less high-octane rye and amaro drinks and a lot more interesting service methods, and generally a better sense of humor too. Every drink I had at London’s Artesian www.artesian-bar.co.uk/artesian.html, Portland’s Clyde Common (www.clydecommon.com) and Melbourne’s Black Pearl showed why they are held in such high regard. But for me there were three standout drinks of 2012.

‘Six Cylinder Cocktail’ at The Last Word Saloon, Edinburgh

The Last Word is the new-ish project from the talented team behind Auld Reekie favorite Bramble www.bramblebar.co.uk. The vibe is less saloon than cozy house, but the drinks are superb. At Bramble Jason Scott, Mike Aikman and team had led the charge for barrel-aged and bottled cocktails, and at Last Word they have taken it one step further, with the ‘Six Cylinder Cocktail’ which is ‘married in steel’. It’s an ironic nod to both the aging craze and the resurrection of forgotten classics. The original ‘Six Cylinder’ is found in Harry MacElhone’s ‘ABC’ and was probably invented to commemorate a racing car in the late Twenties. I’m sure nearly every bartender has skimmed over the recipe, which looks very odd indeed, with 6 ingredients of equal parts, more like a gimmick than a classic. The Last Word team took both the drink and the name at face value, with equal measures of Bombay Sapphire (www.bombaysapphire.com), Campari (www.campari.com), Martini sweet and dry vermouths, Cherry Heering (www.cherryheering.com) and Dubonnet (www.doyoudobonnet.com). Then it’s aged in steel vats for 4 months, and decanted into small 100ml containers that are labeled like something you’d find in a garage workshop, and served on a bed of crushed ice. A strangely pleasant metallic taste is the initial sensation, and no one ingredient dominates. Unlike barrel aging, which tends to smooth a drink by adding vanilla and other woody notes, this Six Cylinder is perfectly blended and integrated yet it’s all a harmonious whole. Married in steel, indeed. I look forward to ‘steel aging cocktail programs’ popping up all over America soon…

‘Bumblebee’ at Public, New York City

Antipodean-inspired restaurant Public has always been one of my favorite spots, and since Naren Young took over the ‘cocktail program’ the drinks have been a superb blend of the food friendly and the forward thinking. My favorite cocktail at Public this year was as much for its lineage as its flavor, though it was also incredibly delicious (www.public-nyc.com). Naren’s ‘Bumblebee’ was a snappy blend of Bacardi 8, lime juice, egg white (free range of course) and 5-spice-infused honey syrup. I was wowed and ordered another before I’d made much of dent in my first ‘Bumblebee’ as it was that delicious. I later discovered through the all knowing power of Facebook that Naren had ‘lifted’ the drink, with a few tweaks, from Clyde Common’s Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who in turn had purloined it from Erik Adkins at the Slanted Door where it was thought to be a San Francisco classic, and a San Francisco original too, according to a few SF ‘tenders who thought Naren and/or Jeff had taken credit for the drink. Well, I was later recently reading Charles H Baker’s ‘South American Gentleman’s Companion’ and once of the first drinks in there is a ‘Bumble-Bee’ from a bar in Georgetown, Guyana. Picasso once said ‘Great artists steal’ and that’s certainly true in the cocktail world, and we’re much better off for it!

‘Penicillin’ by Sam Ross, closing night of Milk and Honey

Finally not really a drink from 2012, but perhaps my most memorable cocktail experience was having Sam Ross make me a Penicillin on the last day that Milk and Honey was open for business. There is no bar that has had a bigger impact on the global cocktail industry in the last decade, few bartenders who have worked as hard at their craft as Sammy, and few drinks that deserve the title modern classic as much as the Penicillin. I know Milk and Honey is only moving house (www.mlkhny.com), and luckily I can get a Penicillin in good bars from New York to New Zealand. Having a Penicillin here made by a favorite bartender in a favorite bar surrounded by friends bidding Milk and Honey a fond farewell was a very special moment indeed, and appropriately it was my last (and thus, most memorable) cocktail of 2012.

Jonny Almario, 1885 Britomart, Auckland

Photo courtesy of Collecting Melbourne

Photo courtesy of Collecting Melbourne

THE STAGGERAC


The year of 2012 for me was stripping back to basics, trying as many classics as possible and reshaping my perspective. I have an undying love for Sazeracs and this year my drink of 2012 would have to be the George T. Stagg Sazerac (or Staggerac) I had at The Everleigh (www.theeverleigh.com) for a knock-off after a shift at Bar Americano. I’m still not sure why to this day I still consider over-proof or booze-heavy cocktails as knock-offs but I’ll leave that for another story.

I believe the first time I had heard about Staggeracs was reading the 28 Sazeracs in 28 Days that was posted over the month of February in 2010 on Savoy Stomp. I was intrigued to try it but with the hefty price tag in Australia I had to find a good excuse to try one.

Mid to late last year I found the excuse, I had just been accepted into a dance program (which has brought me back to New Zealand this year) and one night after work I convinced my workmate Matt to join me for a quick knock-off. We sat at the bar and ordered from proprietor and friend Michael Madrusan. The first sip was definitely a “holy s**t” moment, the experience of tasting something so well-crafted, so deliciously complex and let me tell you they pack a punch (made the mistake of not eating dinner after my shift). I usually have the tendency to either eat or drink something quite fast as soon as it I deem it delicious, at the dismay of my parents and friends but this drink was one of the few I actually sat there and took my time. However the high alcohol content probably added to that fact.

The combination of being in my favorite bar, in the company of friends and having well-crafted cocktails definitely made this occasion and drink my pick of 2012.

Liam Donegan – Master Distiller, Jameson

Photo courtesy of Irish Whiskey Blog

Photo courtesy of Irish Whiskey Blog

I wasn’t a virgin going to NOLA in July. 2012 was my second successive visit to Tales, but somehow again I managed to completely underestimate the impact that this special place, combined with some of the world’s best spirit minds, would have on me.

Thursday was a busy day; myself and Ger (a good friend and our Jameson Master Cooper) held a fun whiskey making session in One Eyed Jacks, followed by a Spirited Dinner at Sylvain – both very cool venues and both very relaxed sessions (www.sylvainnola.com www.oneeyedjacks.net). At One Eyed Jacks we talked through the triple distillation process with nothing more than a blackboard, a barrel and a few glasses of Jameson. Later on at Sylvain we enjoyed a great dinner, tasted different Whiskey expressions from the Jameson family matched with some of the States’ best craft beers. Combine that with good company (from Boston and NYC) over dinner and it was shaping up to be a very good day.

We finished the night in a bar called Alibi where the party continued and most of the bar got stuck into Jameson shots and various cocktails. I was probably tired, coupled with feeling a bit overwhelmed with the city, and I found myself sitting at the end of the bar alone for a while. I ordered a Jameson Black Barrel on the rocks. It was poured in one of those American oversized shot glasses (we don’t see those at home) with plenty of ice and I sat back, looked on and savoured my favourite whiskey. The day, the dinner, the bar, the glass, the commotion and the Whiskey made it, for me, the most memorable drink in 2012 without a doubt (www.jamesonwhiskey.com).

Jason Rowan

MELLO OCHO, NEW ORLEANS

Not all gatherings at Tales are in the service of promoting a brand, or a competition between bartenders or brand ambassadors. Scott Baird and Josh Harris, the well-liked enfants terrible of the San Francisco cocktail scene, are the men behind the Bon Vivants cocktail consulting team and the recently opened Trick Dog (www.trickdogbar.com) and “pop up bar” The Rio Grande, Comal in Berkeley. For the past 3 years they’d organized a Volunteer Day on the Tuesday before Tales gets under way, inviting attendees to join them in working on local schools affected by Hurricane Katrina. This year some 85 plus bartenders, brand ambassadors and journalists took a couple yellow school buses to East New Orleans and spent a day repainting classrooms at Ruby H. Lee High School. After a full day of painting fueled by coffee, altruism and Pandora emanating from propped up iPhones (I think Black Keys were the album radio of choice) and finishing the entire second floor of the school (31 rooms!) many volunteers retired to the Bon Vivants’ rented digs near the French Quarter, where they’d taken the second floor of a house and stocked it to the brim for all their events of the week. The long entrance hallway was lined with boxes of spirits, mixers and tools, and spread across a table were dozen of mini bottles of Tequila Ocho, a brand the B.V.s were working with for Tales (www.ochotequila.com). The volunteers set down on the deck overlooking the street, where they drank beers from cans and a serious game of dominoes was quickly underway. In the kitchen I spotted a traditional Volunteer Day cocktail being made, ice (paramount), Tequila Ocho, Mello Yello, the juice of half a lime and some sea salt tossed on top, then the whole thing is stirred with a knife (a key part of the tradition). Ruby Wilson was making one for herself and was kind enough to fix one up me in the proper manner, knife-stirring included. The original had been made based on what was found in the fridge on an equally sweltering day years earlier, after the first Volunteer Day, and being part of this ad hoc tradition was immensely gratifying. Salty, citrus, balls-out boozy and hella refreshing & rewarding, the drink was effortlessly perfect after the long, hot day of good work. A reminder that context, one’s company, the moment and the story are as important to what makes a drink come to life as a thousand baroque twists and turns behind the bar. And that being of service is, in fact, the bartender’s chief mandate.

Photo by Jason Rowan

Photo by Jason Rowan

ROCKS STARS: PROFILES IN CUBAGE – ANN TUENNERMAN

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

By David Ransom

There’s one thing that Ann Tuennerman, aka Mrs. Cocktail, says she doesn’t do that simply makes no sense to me. Then again, her publicist roots run deep, so maybe that’s just the spin on the story that she wants us to believe… More on what it is, later.

On paper, Ann is probably the unlikeliest choice for a Rocks Star to grace this column since its inception a few years ago, as she has never actually worked in a bar, and her restaurant experience is limited to working at Wendy’s while in high school and college. Yet, at the same time, she is probably one of the most deserving recipients of that moniker, as it is she who has created and developed the most influential cocktail and bartending conference in the world, Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com), which is held each July in New Orleans, and will mark its tenth anniversary this year.

Although she was born in Louisville, Kentucky, Ann does not remember a life other than the one she’s lived in New Orleans, as she arrived in the Crescent City at the age of three months, and considers that city her true home. It is in New Orleans, that Ann grew up, went to high school and college for a marketing degree, and then started out on her professional career; first in public relations working for local legend Malcolm Ehrhardt (whose Ehrhardt Group actually donated office space to Ann to help get Tales up and running in its early years), and then working in communications for various radio and TV stations in the area, including WEZB and the WB Network.

She did leave New Orleans once, for three months, to live in New York, but that was not by choice. That was due to the arrival in town of a very angry woman named Katrina, and as soon as it was possible for her to return, Ann did just that. “New Orleans may not be in my DNA, but it’s definitely in my blood,” she says. “I can’t even think of living anywhere else.” Good for us, she wasn’t smitten by New York, as Tales of the Cocktail had only been up and running for three years when Katrina hit, and it could easily have become yet another of the tragic losses endured in the wake of that awful storm by the city that invented the cocktail.

Ann’s commitment to the New Orleans, and more importantly its historically significant thread in the fabric of the world’s culinary heritage, is what keeps her constantly striving to find ways to show off the city she loves. Along with Tales of the Cocktail, she’s also started the city’s first

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SUPER SIPS

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Memorable cocktails that rise to the top of the list
Stories curated by and photos by Jason Rowan (except where noted)

Photo by Virginia Miller

Most publications are busy prognosticating; focused on the year ahead, projecting trends and anticipating the future. But at INSIDE F&B we decided to take a moment before rushing pell-mell into 2012 and invite you to join us in relieving some stress that always comes with looking ahead. Instead, stop and smell the proverbial roses as we take a look back at some of the spirit industry’s best drinks tasted around the world.

Simon McGoram, Drinks Editor, Australian Bartender Magazine (boozebraggart.blogspot.com/)

The best drink I had all year had to come from one of the more unlikely places in Australia – Katoomba in the Blue Mountians in NSW. Once upon a time it was known as Sydney’s playground – especially during the roaring twenties with Gatsby-like characters parading around in finery. Now the place attracts only a few weekend tourists with its beautiful art deco cafes and hotels remaining for the large part empty and falling into disrepair.

I was up there with my partner for a Valentine’s Day getaway – with February being the middle of summer down under we were expecting swelter. Instead a cool mist hung eerily over the whole town as we walked up the steps of the Carrington Hotel for a pre-prandial tipple. The hotel by the way looks like something out of The Shinning and sure enough during the middle of the week the place was empty and spooky.

We were sat next to a roaring fire in an anteroom next to the grand 1930s ballroom. I was expecting that they might manage a decent G&T but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cocktail offering. I ordered an Old Cuban – an Audrey Saunders masterpiece that had somehow found its way to this country town. My partner had a Bramble – a Dick Bradsell modern classic from London. The drinks were good. Not exceptional. bBut it was the more the fact that in rural Australia I could order drinks created by the best bartenders of London and New York whilst being transported to almost untouched art deco setting. I thought truly cocktail culture has come of age and perhaps one of America’s greatest inventions can be enjoyed at all ends of the earth.

Stephen Myers, Illegal Mezcal
(www.ilegalmezcal.com)

Drinking a Negroni at an outdoor cafe with a beautiful girl and a great friend on the Sardinian coast as the sun set over a Phoenician ruin and a lighthouse. Rather than the 1:1:1 ratio of the drink on its own it was all the elements of the time, place, people and the great drink itself that made it my best drink for 2011.

Philip Gandevia, cocktail bartender, Eau De Vie, Sydney
(eaudevie.com.au/)

We were having a meeting at Eau De Vie, going over our recipes and making sure that our techniques were uniform. We mentioned a Bijou (equal parts gin, Dolin and Chartreuse, orange twist and discard) and I made a casual statement that of course it was always stirred. One of our team, Taka Shino, demurred, saying that he always shakes his. Not only was this interesting in terms of discovering an inconsistency but it was also something I’d never entertained for this cocktail. “Well, let’s try them,” I said and we made side-by side identical Bijous, mine stirred and his shaken. When we tasted them I was fairly shocked to discover that I preferred the shaken. It was an excellent reminder that the junior bartender can show the senior bartender something

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