So it´s over as fast as it rolled…it`s amazing how time flies when you have a lot to do, see, write and drink!

The biggest “problem” is to choose the seminars and tastings, you cannot possibly do it all but the good thing is that there´s more than enough for everyone. You also must count on missing a few things that you intended to do because unexpected things happens and plans are changed etc etc

But i know one thing for sure – next year gonna be even busier since it´s the Tales 10 year anniversary and i`m afraid it gonna be total madness..which of course i hope to be able to attend.

I hope Tales seminars never will be moved out of Monteleone because that hotel with it´s distictive atmosphere and sense of place and history is unmatched.  But of course since Tales grows it needs more space, but it worked out good this year i think, it´s not a problem to walk between Monteleone and Sonesta since the two are so close.

To close up my posts on Totc 2011  here`s a little parade of pictures.

Mini muffalotta and something tasty in the wrap.

New Orleans and absinthe belongs together…

And so does cocktails, here`s one from the 10 Cane rum tasting.

One of the bar towels to support the oyster business after BP´s disaster.

Credit to Tony Harion for this wonderful picture of one of the cool lamps at the French 75.

It’s a Rematch!!!!! Beeyatch!!!! at a full-packed Cure as the very last event for this Tales. At that moment the Cure must have been THE most packed bar in the US. John Lermayer won the battle!

Pouring pouring..

Yet another tasting…


Pétanque outside of Monteleone.

And another tasting…

Music is everywhere in the city of jazz.

Beautiful Chartres st.

Zatarain´s charming wallpainting on Camp st.

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2011 – part 4 – Before Man the Plant


Ron Cooper showing us a picture of a bowl of pulque.

And now comes the last part of my recap of the Tales this year and my last session to write about was all about agave – tequila and mezcal.

The session was moderated by Steve Olson and the panelists were  Paciano Cruz Nolasco, David Grapshi, David Suro-Pinera, Iván Saldaña, Misty Kalkofen, Phil Ward, Ron Cooper, Tomas Estes

This 3 hour long seminar was preceeded by a Del Maguey tasting which i also attended. There i did meet both Ron Cooper and also the maker of my favorite Del Maguey mezcals – the San Luis del Rio and the Crema, which contains San Luis del Rio.

it was an interesting tasting and some very fresh cocktails, my favorite was made with fresh muddled pineapple.

A pineapple and one of those wooden mallets i hope to find some day.

Mezcal cocktail extravaganza!

Roasted agave to chew on – it´s tasty.

In a 3 hour long session there´s a lot being said and there´s no way i can recap it all or even half of it. But we got to kearn a lot about agave spirits.

For example that withn the genus agave there´s 150- 300 different species and they are not related to the cactus but to plants like onions, palm trees, garlic, pineapples, aspargus and artichokes who belongs to the lilies.

By definition the agave is the biological reaction of adaption to stress..and has adopted all the ways and requirements needed to ensure it survive in harsh conditions.

Terroir – which is a french term to describe the natural conditions that affect the growing organism – can affect size, maturity, sugar maturation and even shape.  Terroir is soil, climate, year round temperatures, day and night humidity, wind, air quality and sun exposure.

And after terroir we have the final touch – the hand of the maker. Agave is a fascinating plant and so ancient…

In the state of Jalisco where 95% of all agaves are grown and tequila made, there are two regions producing two differerent taste profiles of tequila. First the tequila valley where the tequila is described as masculine (wine-term) earthy and herbacious while in the second – Los Altos the Jalisco (the highlands) the tequila is said to be feminine, round and fruity.

These are no exact descriptions, it´s only generality and does not apply to all tequilas in these two regions to fit into the descriptions. But terroir is becoming more and more important.

The word mezcal comes from the pre-hispanic nahuatl language. Metl meant “maguey” and mezcalmetl meant “roast maguey” The common used word for agave today in Oaxaca and most of Mexico is maguey. But when you point at the plant in the tequila region people say “mezcal”

I`m not going into how tequila and mezcal is made, i´ve posted about that before and there´s tons of info on the net, let´s just say it´s handcrafted spirits that goes deep back in it`s  history and the lives of the makers and that has lots of flavor!

Y`all just have to come down to the Tales next year and see the sessions for yourselves and taste some great spirits and cocktails. Next year is the 10th anniversary as well so expect a lot of activity…

Tastings tastings…

A mezcal clay cup – they are called copitas, it tastes better in them.

Ready to imbibe…

Thirsty? come to Tales 10 year anniversary next year!

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2011 – part 3 – Mai Tai – A Paternity Test & Vanilla Vanilla baby!


This seminar was led by Jeff Beachbum Berry, Ian Burell and Steve Remsberg – a trio guaranteed to both enlighten and amuse.

Since the Mai Taii is my favorite cocktail this also was a must seminar. The contoversy of the who made the Mai Tai has been going on for so long but after this seminar the whole thing is a bit clearer at least to me.

I have always been of the opinion that the Mai Tai is Vic´s but how it became his has been a bit blurry, was it a copy of the QB Cooler or not? well now i know – it was a drink in it´s own right inspired by the QB Cooler which by the way we also were served during this seminar. I will never cease to be amazed at how alike they taste – the Mai Tai and the QB Cooler despite the different ingredients.

The seminar took us through the history of the great Tiki bars and then the Mai Tai controversy which now is pretty much cleared up. It`s amazing how a topic can keep being discussed year after year after year and still manage to fascinate people all over the world, that says something about the power of the Mai Tai..

Despite it´s appeal, the Mai Tai wasn´t an immediate success like the Zombie was which also is the very first Tiki drink. It wasn´t until in the year 1954 with the Matson Line that the Mai Tai became famous and the Mai Tai did for Vic what the Zombie did for Don.

So Trader Vic´s Mai Tai is a drink in it´s own right folks! and is one of these drinks that has a perfect balance and flavor.

The 1937 QB Cooler

Remsberg`s oh do cool portable blender.

Ian did bring along a big antique style shaker which he used to ROCK and SWING the drink instead of shaking it…i told ya these guys are amusing!

We also tasted the Florida daiquiri #2 which is very alike the Mai Tai, only a few ingredients differ.

It was a very interesting and also amusing session with a solid trio in the tiki drink and rum world.


This seminar was another not to miss session since i love vanilla and find the vanilla to be one of the most interesting plants and spice on earth.

The session was held by Philip Duff and he took us through how vanilla is made, it´s history and chemical components – this orchid is iamazing. Since i´ve been growing orchids for over a decade and have vanilla as my favorite spice i`m very familiar with it but there´s always something more to learn when it comes to this exotic spice.

Is there any more exotic and sweet smelling mellow spice on this planet? i don´t think so and Philip did a great job presenting it with both knowledge and humour. Of course we were served some  good cocktails as well as tasting samples of vanilla extract, Cariel vanilla vodka, Licor 43 and Stoli Vanil who were the sponsors of this seminar.

One of the cocktails had fresh passionfruit in it and a half shell for garnish and i have never tasted such yummy, fresh and s´crsip passionfruits before, those we get in sweden does not have that same great flavor, these were amazing!

Those who knows me and/or read my blog knows that i use a lot of vanilla in my cocktails and to make syrup and extract. Vanilla is so versatile and my favorite is the Tahitian bean which is fatter, thicker and more floral.

Beautiful, intriguing, sweet smelling, expensive, sexy and irresistible – that is vanilla…and in combo with passionfruit as in this cocktail we got it´s a killer! maybe it´s time to try to dream up a vanilla and passionfruit cocktail?


TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2011 – part 2 – Swizzling Around the World

Mahalo Nui Loa Cocktail

It`s inevitable to miss a whole bunch of both seminars and other events during Tales since there´s so much going on at the same time but the good thing is that there´s more than enough for everyone.

My next seminar after the Six Rums and the iconic Negroni was Stanislav Vadrnas Swizzling Around the World here and Now seminar.

Bois lele swizzle stick from Martinique

Wooden swizzle sticks from Guyana and 5070 Swizzle

Starting with a bit of an odd;-.) discussion to explain the meaning of the italian term Sprezzatura which the way i understand it is about doing things naturally and with grace in such a way that it`s done with a certain nonchalance. (With a lot of training behind of course)

Then the audience had to stand up. Be prepared for a certain element of surprise when you attend seminars by Stan  Now some of us had to switch seats with others on the other side of the room And then when you think that this was done, we had to stand up again and now switch seat to sit beside our closest neighbour who we didn´t already know.

So we were getting to know each other better! and come closer so we could later on perform the swizzling of the 151 swizzle all at the same time with aloha – you can´t get aloha unless there´s some unity….

The meaning of the word aloha, or Alo-HA means breath of life, unconditional love, outpouring and receiving of spirits,  kindness, hospitality and spirituality.

And exchange breath of life we also did…we turned to our closest unknown neighbour, put our hands on each others shoulders , forehead to forehead and look into the eyes and say “Aloha” and exchange breath..

And then the swizzle seminar begun…

With the history of the swizzle and the swizzle sticks used – for example the wooden stick from Martinique – bois lele. We also got a wooden swizzle stick, very similar to the bois lele but from Guyana – what a nice treasure!

To my great surprise i learnt that the Slovakians made a swizzle stick called Habarka which was made of the Christmas tree! it looked like a thicker and more clumsy version of the bois lele. These swizzle sticks has been used all over the world in various fashions to swizzle up soups and etc in cooking.

It was in the Caribbean that the way of making mixed alcoholic drinks with a swizzle stick was invented.

We also learnt that the mythical Trinidad green swizzle from cirka 1925 most likely was made of something called carypton which is said to have given the drink it´s green color and then rum, lime and sugar. Carypton was a product made by Angostura before Prohibition and seems to be a very high alcoholic falernum type of thing.

The first of the drinks we were served was Martin Cate´s 2070 swizzle which is one of those drinks typically Martin to come up with…he is a drink genius.

Then followed a drink called Ushua ia – 15ml citrus 81:1 lemon/lime) 15 ml ginger liqueur, 1o ml vanuilla syrup, 5 ml simple syrup, 2 dash chocolate bitters and 45 ml genever gin – this is what my hard to read notes says.

Third drink – Mahalo Nui Loa – 15 ml lime, 2 dash chocolate bitters, 30 ml pineapple juice, 30 ml Rhum JM. (Which JM my notes doesn´t say…)

151 people swizzling the 151 swizzle…buzzz…

My 151 swizzle!

And then the finale – as it was written – 151 bartenders to swizzle the 151 swizzle with Lemon Hart 151 with Aloha Here and Now” – and so we got to work, that`s why we got those cool wooden swizzle sticks from Guyana.

The room swizzled and then we imbibed…a little bit more enlightened than before about the history of the swizzles, the sticks, the technique, the drinks, the aloha, sprezzatura and the here and now.

And who wouldn´t enjoy a 151 swizzle with Lemon Hart 151 on a thursday afternoon?

This was part two from the Tales of the Cocktail 2011, part three soon to come.

Stanislav Vadrna

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2011 – part 1 – Toast, Rum and Negroni

Saintsations and Young Pinstripe Brassband to kick off the Taless 2011 toast.

Brassbands…some of the best music you can hear.

The yearly toast to kick off Tales started with music and dance by the Young Pinstripe Brassband and the Saintsations! and as a huge Saints fan i was very happy to see them! And then followed the toast to Tales to honor the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society and the Sazerac Seal of Approval winners.

The 2011 Sazerac Seal of Approval recipients are Sylvain, Napoleon House, Tujague’s, Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, Dominique’s and Loa in the International House hotel.

This was followed by the the world´s largest Genever slurp toast -  the Bols Genever Kopstootje (pronounced kop-stow-tjuh) represents the original Dutch ritual of a beer paired with a Bols Genever shot.

So the street was set with long tables with shots, a Bols t-shirt and a cold beer and everybody who did get a space did the slurp together. Those who didn´t get a space (me for example) since the street was completely packed did get the beer and  t-shirt.

The calm before the storm..

People wanna do the Kopstootje slurp!

And slurp!

So with this Tales was on!

The first seminar i went to was not surprisingly a seminar about rum. “6 Rums You Will Probably Never taste Again” led by Ed Hamilton from Ministry of Rum.


Six very special rums is what we got to hear about and taste and these six were rums from Prichard`s Рbarrel aged (Tennessee), Botran Reserva and Solera 1893 (Guatemala) Flor de Cana (Nicaragua) Abuelo Centuria (Panama) Santa Teresa Bodega Privada selection (Venezuela) Neisson R̩serve Sp̩cial (Martinique)

Ed showed us pictures from the distilleries and told the story about these rums. These were all very good rums, i specifically liked Abuelo Centuria and Neisson Réserve Spécial.

Taste is personal…but here´s a little about how i found these six rums:

Prichard`s – barrel aged – fruity, a bit oaky and vanilla.

Botran Reserva and Solera 1893 – sweet, a little oak,  fruity and caramel

Flor de Cana, from a barrel sample that was put aside for Ed – lots of depth,  this was unfiltered rum right out of the barrel. Woody, oak, much complexity and long finish. each sip was full of flavor.

Abuelo Centuria – The only one of these six that has been commercially bottled and fetch a price of USD 136. It´s a blend of rums, where the oldest rumis over 130 years old.

Very tasty and fullbodied, sweet, round, sugarcane, excellent rum.

Santa Teresa – As part of their Bodega Privada selection, the Santa Teresa sells a blend of aged rums to those who want their own rum which is stored in casks at the Santa Teresa warehouse until it is bottled for the owner.

This sample belons to an anonymous friend in the industry. The oldest rum in the blend is 12 years. A quite light rum with flavors of vanilla and oak.

Neisson (1993) – 18 yo, a bit higher proof. Rhum agricole made from sugarcane juice. Excellent, dry, rich and aromatic, very flavorful – superb.

That was a rum filled and interesting seminar with some good rum samples to enjoy!

Next seminar was all about the Negroni.


I went to this session because i`m a lover of the Negroni and of Campasri and so this was a must. We got the history of the Negroni told with some very interesting photos to see from the old days in italy.

This seminar was moderated by Paul Clarke and the panelists were Jacques Bezuidenhout, and Livio Lauro

The Negroni – both a perfect and icoic cocktail, fresh and vibrant with a deep and true history which you`ll soon be able to read in a new book that is coming out.

The book is written by Kuca Picchi and is called “The true Story of the Negroni Cocktail” and if you´re interested you can send an e-mail to – [email protected] for further info and to reserve a copy.

The Negroni originates from the italian coffeeshops and the aperitivo is a way to keep italians from going home…and the ritual started in Turin, Florens and Florens or Firenze is the capital of the Negroni.

We tasted 3 different Negronis, one classic, a Negroni Swizzle and one carbonated. What vermouth adds to a cocktail is both sweetness and acidity and bitters adds some spice and fun! The appeal of the Negroni is that it uses bitters, speaks of it`s place (Italy) and is a very special cocktail!

There was actually much more Negroni to come during this Tales…

There was also the Negroni with a Twist Party with the World’s largest Negroni cocktail ever made at the Sonesta and a more packed room than that one i have never seen before, i tweeted “How much people can they possibly fit into a room”??????

It was almost impossible to move…much less balancing two cocktails and a plate of food….seems like most everybody wanted a taste of the world´s biggest Negroni…which was served from a huge ice block. Well, huge crowds is very much a part of the Tales…

The recipe included Campari, Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin and M&R Sweet Vermouth. Also other twists of the Negroni was served made with talian brands such as Luxardo, Aperol and Mionetto Prosecco.



To go with the Negroni cocktails was served crispy grissini sticks, strawberries with balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese and some very fat yummy green olives.

The third Negroni event was a Negroni toast hosted by Campari to celebrate the nominees of this year’s Annual Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award and Negroni´s was served in the Monteleone lobby.

This was all  for now – part two from Tales is soon to be posted. I apologize for being late with my posts but i just came back to Sweden after almost a month in New Orleans.

Next up are the sessions about the Mai Tai, the 151 Swizzling around the World, Vanilla and Agave spirits followed by part 2 about some good Nola food.


It´s soon time for Tales of the Cocktail again! so let´s see what gonna happen this year. I hope i will be able to keep up with all that´s going on during Tales which is a LOT and at the same time enjoy everything New Orleans has to offer which also is A LOT!

If anyone wanna check out some good Tales survival tips for first-timers – go read here and all the pre-Tales posts presenting the top of the iceberg of what`s going to happen you can read at the Tales blog.

I can really recommend anyone who likes cocktails to visit the Tales of the Cocktail! it´s like a Mardi Gras for booze nerds…but also it´s so much more than that – it´s also New Orleans! a city like no other… with a rich and deep and resilient culture…that celebrates life and the moment. Music, food, colors and textures.

I`m leaving now, i might post something about New Orleans before the Tales, in any case i`m planning to participate in the next week`s MxMo but apart from that – see you at the Tales!

Let´s get dat pawty stawted..