The Best Drinks I Tasted at This Year’s Tales of the Cocktail
There were plenty of libations to be had at New Orleans’ annual Tales of the Cocktail convention, but a few are definitely worth recreating at home.
One of the first drinks I imbibed after arriving at Tales was the Cognac Julep at the Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac luncheon. I would learn in a seminar later that day that cognac was the classic base for the mint julep, and after tasting this drink it’s easy to understand why. Without the bite of whiskey, the Cognac Julep is smooth and goes down easy.
Hot Rum Punch
Printed in Philip Green’s book “To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion” and presented for tasting during the “Midnight in Paris: Cocktails of the Lost Generation” seminar, this drink combines the recently launched Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum (a treat to sip on its own) with cognac, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon. A must for the cooler months and holiday parties ahead.
The Charleston Cocktail
Based on the history of America’s new “it” city, The Charleston blends gin with Rainwater Madeira, mint-infused sugar syrup, raw sugar, lemonade and unsweet iced tea. With the same refreshing qualities of a Pimm’s Cup, this drink could easily be sipped all day and you’d never know what hit you. Presented during the “Lowcountry Cocktails” seminar, this one was served up with a bit of history on Charleston’s love affair with Madeira. Once the signature beverage of the city due to its easy arrival by port, Madeira is making a comeback and can be found in new cocktail bars all over town.
Maid in Cuba
Created by bartender Tom Walker at the American Bar at The Savoy Hotel in London, this cocktail is described as a cross between a mojito and a daiquiri. Served on the rocks during the “The Savoy’s Green Fairy Secrets Revealed” seminar, it combines rum, lime juice, simple syrup and soda for a simple concoction that gains complexity from an absinthe rinse in the glass and garnishes of mint and cucumber. The Maid in Cuba is now served all over the world, and Walker even has a blog dedicated to the drink.
Absinthe Root Beer Float
If you think you don’t like absinthe, then you’ve never had a root beer float made with Pernod. One of the quirkiest events during Tales was an absinthe tasting party at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum on Chartres Street. Among old medicine bottles, tools that look like they belong in a horror movie and bits of pharmacy history, bartenders in white coats served up a variety of drinks with absinthe as their stars. Most delicious was the float made with Pernod, Abita Root Beer and vanilla ice cream.
Sparkling Pear Julep
Bulleit Bourbon and Ruth Chris sure know how to throw a party, and their Juleps & Southern Lunch during Tales not only served up mint juleps but a spread of food that included crabtinis, ahi tuna and a tower of lemon bars. While the original mint julep served was made to perfection, the Sparkling Pear Julep with Absolut Citron Vodka, Hangar One Spiced Pear Vodka, muddled mint leaves and Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine was something to write home about. Thankfully, Ruth Chris has added it to their cocktail menu so you can have one at the bar anytime you want.
Bayou Mai Tai
South Louisiana distiller Bayou Rum officially launched during Tales this year, and their kickoff party had no shortage of rum cocktails. Their Mai Tai is an interesting blend of spiced rum, Campai, triple sec, lime juice, orgeat syrup and Tiki Bitters. Not too sweet but not too tart either, this drink really showcases what Bayou Rum is doing, not to mention New Orleans company Bittermen’s whose variety of flavors of bitters can take any drink to the next level.
Absolut Green Bloody Mary
Bloody Mary bars and carts abounded during Tales, but it was Absolut Vodka’s Bloody Bar serving up both red and green varieties on the mezzanine level of the Hotel Monteleone that got the morning off to a good start. We’ve all had a Bloody Mary made with tomato juice, so I had to try the green. Tomatillo, celery, bell pepper, cucumber, fennel and lime juice blend with cilantro, green peppercorns, horseradish and Tabasco to make this refreshing drink. Pickled okra, pepperoncini, cornichon and pickled beans as garnishes only make it better.
Get all the recipes here.