A merica’s most lauded drinks industry event, Tales of the Cocktail kicked off July 25th to 29th and spread across the city of New Orleans. It featured hundreds of parties, seminars, networking moments and philanthropic aims.
After a two-year hiatus (thanks a lot, Covid!), the action was back, and bartenders around town are still offering new, creative creations for guests.
From barrel-aged cocktails at a rooftop restaurant to a Creole cottage serving up a classic twist, this is a fine time to go out in New Orleans to experience the best bar talent in town.
This is the 20thanniversary of Tales of the Cocktail, as well.
Let’s raise a glass to 20 more.
Empress Gin is a fantastic addition to your home bar. Bearing a bright purple hue that comes from the addition of the Southeast Asian botanical, Butterfly Pea Flower, it’s also crafted from a signature black tea blend—and unlike any gin you’ve had before.
It’s fitting for a French 75 update at Justine too—a French brassiere with a passion for approachable–haute dishes, a dash of neon and street art in design and plenty of people watching from the stunning front room.
With no end date in site, this fantastic sip by Ariel Speck will remain far longer than Tales.
Recipe: Justine 75
225 Chartres Street
- Chemin à la Mer
Barrel aging a cocktail simply means that it was mixed and placed in a small barrel, to pull notes from the wood. The science is to mellow a drink in the same way whiskey is mellowed and deepened in a barrel.
“For Tales of the Cocktail this year, we’re unveiling two barrel-aged cocktails,” offers James O’Donnell, Head Bartender of Chemin à la Mer, the ultra-stunning rooftop restaurant by Chef Donald Link at the top of The Four Seasons New Orleans.
“One is a coffee-laced whiskey drink, with vermouth and amaro that is perfect as a nightcap. The second is the Presidential Piña. We infused a local Agricole-style rum, Cheramie, with pineapple and added in some elegant and herbaceous Blanc vermouth, as well as some molé bitters, to add some warm spice notes.”
If you love a Boulevardier, the first drink is essentially a coffee-imbued version, with deep, rich notes. The second drink will appeal to Tiki fans with grassy, tropical and citrus fruit notes, balanced by the sharper additions of molé and vermouth.
Both have been aging for months and are debuting on Chemin à la Mer’s bar menu, as long as supplies last.
Chemin à la Mer
2 Canal Street
Four Seasons Hotel
- Jewel of the South
“For Tales of the Cocktail’s 20th Emerald Anniversary we’re making an Emerald Daisy,” offers Chris Hannah, whose name is no stranger to the spotlight. One of the city’s luminaries in food and beverage, his spot, Jewel of the South, is aptly named.
A petite Creole Cottage features a main floor barroom with blue accents, an intimate row of barstools, exposed brick, custom wallpaper, chandeliers and banquette seating for larger parties. On a mild, sunny day, you can’t find a nicer courtyard.
To ring in this big anniversary year, Hannah played with the original Daisy—a drink that first made print in the late 1800s. Its name was not a reference to a flower, but to the slang term at the time for ‘something extraordinary.’ The original is often served in a Julep cup and features gin, grenadine, lemon, soda water and berries.
“We took the basic Daisy recipe formula and made it something to celebrate,” says Hannah. “We split the gin base with Cap Corse Blanc Aperitivo wine. So, it’s Gravier Gin and Cap Corse Blanc shaken with lime juice and a celery, thyme and green-apple verdita cordial with Genepey. It’s served up, in a cocktail glass, garnished with a thyme sprig.”
It would be tough to craft his Emerald cordial at home, but we’ve got a great swap for that one and the rest is easily purchased.
1 ounce Gravier Gin
1 ounce Cap Corse Blanc Aperitivo wine
3/4 ounce fresh lime juic
3/4 ounce Emerald Cordial*
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake hard. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish.
*To emulate the Emerald cordial, you can use a pineapple simple syrup with a little thyme sprig and cilantro thrown in the saucepan.
Jewel of the South
1026 Saint Louis St.
Jenny is a fan of Mexican Firing Squads in summer, Sazeracs in winter and extra pickles on everything, any time of year.