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Empty Chairs

Tales of the Cocktail is over. But there are a few more things I wanted to mention.

I really liked the way Tales handled media this year. The application process was more rigorous, but once approved, I was guaranteed access to five seminars. That worked very well for me, and was a big improvement over last year’s procedure.

I tried to write with some depth about each seminar I attended. That was a challenge, but my aim was to provide a unique form of coverage. I want to get invited back next year after all. I figure what I lack in numbers (readership) I can perhaps compensate in quality. I’m already thinking about how I could do this better next year. It might behoove me to interview presenters, either in advance or at the event.

Just for the record, here are all my write-ups from this year’s Tales:

Being media also got me some good meals. The breakfasts were spectacular. The breakfast cocktails were spectacular.

Moonshine Breakfast

The Monteleone was spectacular. I especially liked the ceiling in the Queen Anne Ballroom.

Ceiling Detail

I didn’t stay for any of the evening soire├ęs, but I did hit up a few tasting rooms and other events between seminars. One such event was a mix-off sponsored by Cointreau with food by John Besh. I couldn’t miss that. The room was jammed, but somehow I managed to sample a libation from each of the competing bartenders.

Danielle Marchant

It gave me pause to think about the multiple facets that go into the art of mixing a drink. If I had to vote, would I simply pick the cocktail most pleasing to my palette, with all its peculiarities? Or the one that seemed most inventive and innovative? And what about the personal rapport established by the bartender? Surely that counts for plenty. In the end, I didn’t have an opportunity to vote. But Danielle Marchant was the winner, and she was clearly ahead of the competition in that last category.

I rode my bike each day. When I met people from other far-flung places and they asked me whence I came, I’d say, “From New Orleans. I rode my bike here this morning.”


From last year I know there’s a bike rack in the alley behind the hotel, so that’s where I parked.

And that’s how I got to see the barrels of citrus waste waiting for pickup.

Citrus for Compost

I’d read in the paper that these were being taken to Hollygrove Market & Farm for composting. Seems like a great idea. Now if they could figure a way to recycle (or better yet re-use) all those tiny little cocktail cups, we’d have a markedly greener event.

Mid-way through the conference, Chris Hubbard and Leigh Bryant interviewed me for a bicycle documentary. I couldn’t tear myself away from Tales, so they came to meet me at the Monteleone. We shot the interview in the Cathedral Room.

Chris and Leigh

That really doesn’t have anything to do with Tales, but it was cool nonetheless.

I guess that’s about it. Except I should mention that I took home a bunch of swag.


Of all this stuff, my most prized score was a bottle of Gran Classico Bitter. I tasted some after the session on amari, and it was fantastic. (It’s not currently available in New Orleans, but should be soon.) I still haven’t cracked open the small bottle I brought home with me, but I’m very much looking forward to it.

Alas, it will have to wait. I’ve just embarked on a massive sobriety binge.

Published inFood & DrinxPix


  1. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    Hell, I could see you developing this into a television doc series,
    ala Rick Bayless does Mexico, or Food Network type-production.
    You could get some of these sponsors to cover costs and motivate you
    into da Beeg Time….
    By Da Way….
    They might have a separate composting area for only lemons, because,
    my home-garden-compost info tells me citrus is naturally antiseptic,
    and will retard the decay process wanted in a compost pile.
    So, it’d be neat to know what dey doo wid dem lemmon.

  2. Oh thank you! now i know where to park a bike! i was thinking of biking this year since i lived in the marigny (no i`m not from Nola i`m from sweden;-) but somehow that never happened and i didn`t know where to park anyway… Next year i`ll bike unless i live on n Rampart again.


  3. […] goings-on. Check back in July. In the meantime, you can satisfy your thirst for cocktail lore my roundup of last year’s […]

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