The Tales Balancing Act in New Orleans

I was quickly thrown into the fire on my first day of Tales of the Cocktail and I was determined to act like less of a (Tales) virgin on day two. It's all about balancing the fun with the rest, or so I'd been told.

I started with a healthy breakfast in the Reincarnation Room at the Hotel Monteleone, also known as the place many journalists went between all night partying and all day drinking.  I happen to like my sleep too much for that. With about six hours under my belt, I was the most rested in the room as I had yogurt, fruit, a muffin and a few cups of coffee and water (alternating the two works best) to get ready for the day.

The Hotel Monteleone was filled with tasting rooms and I wandered through them for awhile. Lilett had a popular one, with a nice spread of fruit and cheese that included a delicious baked brie in crust. They also had some interesting cocktails to taste.

Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao also had a tasting room where they were promoting Curacao Orange in cocktails. They weren’t bad, but couldn’t compete with the Marie Brizard room where the Chocolate Royal Liqueur Crepe had people getting back online for seconds.

I headed down to the Royal Sonesta Hotel for a seminar called “Drinking the Panama Canal.” I thought it would be about the wine and spirits of the area, but it turned out to be mostly a history lesson on the actual Panama Canal. Fortunately, I had sat in the back so I was able to sneak out for something a bit more lively.

Since it was my first trip to New Orleans, I decided a little exploring was in order. I walked up and down Bourbon Street for awhile taking in one of the most unusual cities I'd ever seen. I could certainly understand how this was the place to have an event all about cocktails!

The Make A Splash Belvedere Pool Party was on the rooftop of the Omni Hotel. I stayed long enough to have a Belvedere Lemon Tea and tonic and mingle a bit with the large crowd. It was very humid and it was more an “around the pool” than “in the pool” party.  I decided the time I had until my next obligation would be best spent napping so I went back to my room at the Hotel Monteleone.

My catnap lasted a few hours more than I expected and I grabbed a quick slice of pizza before heading onto the Brugal Extra Dry Bus at 10:30 pm. This party bus went out every hour each night during Tales, taking revelers to some of the local hotspots while introducing them to Brugal Rum cocktails.

I sampled Brugal straight first and found it to be very smooth and not at all sweet like rum. Too me it was more like gin (without the juniper) or vodka, something neutral that would make a great cocktail.

I loved the bus as much as the spirit and hung out with Liza, a fellow writer from Boston who writes for Whiskey Advocate.  We got to sign the barrel tops on the bus and really enjoyed the Dehumidifier, a Mojito-like concoction. We also got to meet Brugal’s Master Distiller Gustav Ortega.

I only got off at one stop, Cure, a bar known for its cocktails. I have to admit I wasn’t overly impressed with Cure. It was an average looking cocktail lounge with some interesting drinks. I did enjoy my Blue Note (blueberry and cucumber shrub, sparkling wine and mint), but I expected more on the menu. It wasn’t until I got back on the bus that I was told the great part about Cure was what wasn’t on the menu. It seems that they make their own bitters and mixers, and the bartenders pride themselves on creating a drink on the spot after you tell them a bit about what you want.

By the time I got back to the hotel it was 2:00 am. I was glad I didn’t have an early wake-up call, but I knew I did have another big day ahead of me so I took full advantage of the chance to sleep.  


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