Tales of the Cocktail isn’t all about seminars. There are also plenty of tasting rooms and other events. But perhaps best of all, you get to meet new people who aren’t a part of any formal program.

Barker & Mills

Ryan Barker was promoting his handmade cocktail garnishes. These bourbon-vanilla cocktail cherries were sublime. They should be commercially available soon. More info on his website.


As a rule, I don’t linger at Tales of the Cocktail past 5PM or so. I’m a local, and I like to be home for dinner. I’d love to hang late one of these years for a “Spirited Dinner,” where cocktails are pared with gourmet food, but those things are expensive, and I’m on a tight budget. Actually, this year I was invited to two dinners gratis, as a blogger covering the event, but the first invitation was a mistake, subsequently retracted. The second dinner featured a lot of shrimp and crab, so I had to decline. Crustaceans don’t agree with me. But I digress.

The other evening events at Tales are parties. I love a good party, but after a full day of drinking seminars, I’m usually pretty wiped out. Nevertheless, this year, I thought I’d check one out just for laughs. I managed to get a ticket to the Diageo Happy Hour, with the theme “Cocktails from Around the World.” I didn’t really know what to expect. It was at the Cabildo, and upon arrival I was handed a pamphlet listing the 40 mixologists who were on hand serving up 40 cocktails. That’s right, 40 different cocktails. Then I was handed a “passport” booklet which listed each cocktail recipe with a blank place to be stamped at each station. “Around the World,” get it?

Stairwell

I went up to the third floor and worked my way down. No, I didn’t drink 40 cocktails. But I had a few. I was amused at the little signs everywhere that said, “Please drink responsibly.” But now that I think about it, I have to say this: You’d be hard-pressed to find more responsible drinkers than those who attend Tales of the Cocktail. These people can handle their liquor. This is my third year; I’ve never had a hangover. (Oh, I’ve had hangovers on my own, but never associated with Tales.) I’ve never run into anyone who seemed obviously inebriated. Given the number of people in attendance, and the number of drinks being served, I’m sure there is some overindulgence, but I’ve never seen it. Just thought that was a point worth making. But I’m digressing again.

Of all the drinks I did sample, it would be hard to pick a favorite. But if pressed, I think I’d have to go with Bernardino’s Bulleit by Misty Kalkofen of Drink (Boston).

Misty Kalkofen

Little did she know she was back-to-back with Shawn Soole who was also using Fernet Branca. Bartenders after my own heart. Misty, if you ever see this, I just wanted to say: Your cocktail rocked my world. Also, nice tattoo.


With any luck you’ll see some follow-up interviews with some of the above-mentioned folks in this space in the future.

More to come.

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