Friday, July 28, 2017

:: best of tales and nola 2017 ::

On Monday, I got back from my 6th Tales of the Cocktail conference since my first in 2009. I was not intending to go to Tales this year in order to free up my days off to visit another city and event, but I was invited in late February to fill in for a seminar speaker. After a few days of discussing how I fit into the talk, I quickly agreed and requested the time off. Several people asked before and during if I was supporting or selling my new book, Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told; the answer was no, but feel free to support it now on Amazon or via the links in the upper right of the blog page. Just as every year is a bit different where I ended up spending my time, I did wind up in the Bywater for food, drink, and entertainment several times (as opposed to only once for a night event last year). The koi in the Tales symbol that I crafted were part of the art that is spread throughout this region, so I co-opted them for the 2017 Tales posts here. Without further ado, here are some of my best moments of the week:

Giving a seminar at Tales! While I have given talks at Portland Cocktail Week, Barbara Lynch's Stir classes, and the BCA drink series, I have never given a talk to this many people before. The worst part was the night before when I was so concerned about waking up for my 10:30am time slot on Saturday morning that I set three alarms; if I missed my flight home, there would be another flight, but if I missed the talk, that was it (I originally wrote this up as "The biggest overkill at Tales"). In the end, I didn't need any of the alarms since I slept poorly and woke up early on my own. So I got breakfast, took a walk, and got into a good mindset. I figured that my time slot would be 10-15 minutes at the end to tie Loyal Nine's bar program into Colonial cocktails of the past. However, the other speakers ended sooner leaving me with a bit of time to fill, so I ran with it and told some humorous stories along the way. I'll post my notes on it in a few days.
Best talk at Tales: Making Money while Breathing Fire by Zach Patterson, JJ Goodman, Adrian Biggs, and John Lermayer. Not flaming liquids but how to provide hospitality as well as service. Between beginning with punk rock tunes, one of the presenters drinking too much product from the energy drink sponsor, a Piña Colada toast while everyone stood and sang the Escape (The Piña Colada Song), and John Lermayer nailing complicated concepts succinctly, this was truly high energy and entertaining. I'm definitely writing up this one too.
Great talk trend: Female presenters! Yes, my talk like many was guilty of being all male; in fact 7 of my 11 (including mine) were all male. Four were not and were all 50-100% female presented/moderated: Eight Flavors, the Floor Staff, From Dunder to Wonder, and When Good Beer Goes Bad.
Best science-y talk: From Dunder to Wonder with a MIT Media Lab professor who did gas chromatography-mass spec analysis on rums and the panel utilized the room to rate the rums for funkiness; such data could get at which molecules and where in the process funk (or flavors and aromas perceived as funky) comes from.
Great bonding moment: Jews & Booze. Besides a great history, it was good to reconnect with my people even if I am not religious or practicing in anyway. Sipping on I.M. Harper Bourbon that was created by I.M. Bernheim back in the day was not bad either.
Favorite night event: Los Altos Tequila's LuchaSlam with Mexican-style wresting, Tequila Cazadores' Bartending Boxing with 4 representatives each from Houston and Los Angeles duking it out after 3 months of training, and Jägermeister's Deutsch After Dark with Mix Master Mike, Grandmaster Flash, and Kurtis Blow. All 3 of these had something to watch and were more than "here's a pretty room, some booze, and we're definitely going to blare music at you as you figure out what to do with no structure."
Favorite night time hang: Two years ago it was the Avenue Pub, and last year it was Barrel Proof; while I did make it over to the latter once, I spent a lot more time at the Black Penny. One part for its location being closer to the Monteleone where I was staying and one part because it had a low-key low-music volume industry bar hangout.
Favorite tasting room: On the small scale, it might have been Pisco with Brother Cleve DJing and bartenders like Jackson Cannon making drinks. On the large scale, the Meet the Distillers happy hour was great too with a variety of spirits and a few beers and wines. From big guns like Beefeater down to a small microbrewery that opened called Parleaux. The latter was so cool that I stopped by on Sunday to enjoy more of their beers.
Favorite new restaurant: Sneaky Pickle out in the Bywater which is a vegan place that will add meat (they prepare the meat ones in a different part of the kitchen) and makes a lot of their own ingredients. For breakfast, it remained Surrey's. And this year there was a Subway Sandwich Support Group that formed led by Camper English (I only ate there twice this year when in a hurry but it was better than not eating lunch at all).
Boston! Boston had a good showing in attendance as well as awards. Hawthorne and Misty Kalkofen got the prize at the Spirited Awards for hotel bar and brand ambassador, and Kitty Amann got inducted into the Dame Hall of Fame. There were also bartenders from Deep Ellum, Lone Star, Brass Precinct, Backbar, Brick & Mortar, Spoke, the Rising, Baldwin Bar, Russell House Tavern, Yvonne's, Area Four and A4cade, Automatic, and Cultivar. A lot of Boston was also volunteering!
Favorite spontaneous moments: As pictured above, bumping into the Backbar & friends posse on Tuesday and getting invited along to hit the highs and lows of drinking in the French Quarter ranging from the the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel to the wonders of Bourbon Cowboy with Cane & Table (above) and dinner and Tiki drinks at Latitude 29 in between. My contribution was a round of beers at the Black Penny. Also, when I mis-remembered the date for the Bartender Boxing event, I was coming back to the Quarter and bumped into Tad Carducci in front of Compere Lapin who invited me to join their Diplomatico Rum bus bar crawl. I agreed and was whisked away to The Cure where I had wanted to go anyways (it's 3+ miles out).
Weird but awesome marketing: Two different times I got back to my room at the Monteleone and there was swag left there. Everything from Red Bull to Genever, Q Sodas to tickets for a free Martinez or bourbon drink at the Carousel bar. Not sure if housekeeping was involved or whether they had access. It was good-strange like clowns making balloon art of your favorite animals.
Favorite hangout moment: I was invited to Jake P's Sunday Salon which was in part to help him get rid of the booze and wine he brought along for the week. So many waves of interesting people came through during and after Pig & Punch.
Best way to round out Tales: My 2015 Cynar cabin counselor for Camp Runamok, Steve Yamada, organized a karaoke night at Kajun's Pub out in the Bywater. It started with the two of us and Steve's brother, and with some Facebook messaging, it grew to us taking over about half the bar.

1 comment:

Warren Bobrow said...

An honor to teach with you