Cocktail Culture Met DJ Culture at This Year's "Tales"

During the recent Tales of the Cocktail, The New York Times’ Robert Simonson presented a seminar titled “The Cocktail Revolution in 50 Images,” which inadvertently hinted at how the conference/festival/schmooze fest itself has changed. The 50 pictures were largely portraits of people connected to milestones in the cocktail renaissance starting in 1977.

Beer and Music at Tales of the Cocktail

Tales of the Cocktails can be a nearly week-long succession of well-made little drinks. Mine was shortened by travel this year, but I did have a number of tasty, tiny cocktails and only one Tales fail—a muffin made from the component parts of rye whiskey that was unpleasant once I broke through the molasses drizzle on top that solidified to the consistency of girders. A close second was the mixologist who decided the best way to mask Crown Royal's Crown Royalness was to add maple syrup. 

Merry Christmas Semi-Live from St. Roch Market

Saturday afternoon, I DJ'ed an afternoon of Christmas music at St. Roch Market as part of Tales of the Cocktail's holiday pop-up store. After I played "What You Want for Christmas" by Quad City DJs, The 69 Boyz and K-Nock, one woman came up to tell me she'd forgotten about that song, and another wanted to know where she could get the playlist because she liked it too.

Sales of the Cocktail

In previous years at Tales of the Cocktail, I’ve heard stories of rogues worthy of Elmore Leonard. I’ve heard from someone who managed water and ice for a pop-up bar at Burning Man. This year, I listened to the argument that non-alcoholic is the new vegetarian, and that “the future of our business lies in non-alcoholic” (due in no small part to the high profit margin on NA drinks).

Tales Discusses Cocktails' Pasts and Future

When I drank a Vesper Thursday, it occurred to me that I’d never been served more deliberately mediocre drinks than I was at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail. Largely, it was the luck of my panel choices. I knew what I’d get when I attended a talk on Bourbon Street cocktails, but the Vesper—gin, vodka, Lillet, and lemon peel—was an unexpected byproduct of Phil Greene and Simon Ford's discussion of the drinking of Ian Fleming and his greatest creation, James Bond.

Shark Attacks and Signature Cups Come to Cocktails

Tales of the Cocktail celebrates the mixed drink at its finest, so how did a panel on Hurricanes, Hand Grenades and Shark Attacks make the cut? When the annual celebration of cocktail culture begins Wednesday, one of its opening panels will deal with the redneck cousins of the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz—drinks that are distinctly New Orleans, but associated with co-ed wild nights on Bourbon Street that end with karaoke versions of “Fireworks” more than literary confabs in salons that produce “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

The Rum Diary

[If we were sitting in The Kingpin after Thursday at Tales of the Cocktail, well, I'd be ahead of you. I'd have spent the day drinking little, taster-sized cocktails, but eventually drinks add up. Thursday actually required a spacer coffee. Over a normalizing beer, here's the story I'd tell.]

First Drink: An Absolut Bloody Mary, a little thin by New Orleans' standards and I missed the pickled green beans and okra as garnishes, but there's a lot to be said for freshly grated horseradish.