TALES OF THE COCKTAIL AND NEW ORLEANS 2011

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..

GOODBYE TALES FOR NOW AND THANK YOU NOLA FOR BEING SO AWESOME!

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Cheers to you Nola!

This really went away waaaay to fast! – already over?? but we just started didn`t we? Well that`s what happens when you have a good time! and in Nola its easy to let the good times roll..or laissez le bon temps rouler!

Tales of the Cocktail is over for now…I dunno how but it seems like this years Tales went faster than last year…

After missing Nola for too long – i could have kissed the ground when i landed..I have met both old and new friends, both from the city and from the whole world,  had many nice long walks, seen the oh so beautiful roseate spoonbill – aka “Evangeline Rose” and gators, (eaten them too – well not the spoonbill…) Been to the Museum of the American cocktail and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

Had freshly made juice from Louisiana watermelons fresh from the wayside stand, been to interesting seminars and many tastings, eaten the most fantastic food in the world (the charbroiled oysters are to die for and Jacque-Imos food too) seen breathtaking architecture and gardens, danced to great music and more.

Seen the most fantastic cypresses covered with spanish moss, had many good laughs, made new friends, eaten freshly boiled shrimps, and spicy crawfish..

Had many fantastic cocktails, been almost lost in Monteleones corridors which – really – is a part of Tales, investigated the 2nd floor of Muriel`s, tasted vintage rums, had muffaletta and gator on a stick, had 400 year glacier ice balls in my glass, waved my napkin in a second line, walked on the levee watching the river roll by, had fun in the mixohouse and no less – eaten Rick`s saschimi! had Trader Tiki`s tiki cocktails! Rumdoods Ti-Punch! Darcy`s phosphate cocktails! Cocktailnerd`s chartreuse swizzle! Jeffrey`s mesmerizing witchdoctor! and Meade`s awesome Mai Tai and Zaserac!

Been to Lauren Fleurtygirl`s new shop on opening day, eaten snoballs and onion rings, imbibed many many abitas..and much much more and i just LOVED that warm humid air…which tells you that you are in Louisiana..

And i know that everyone who were there have had as wonderful time as i did! Combine a place like Nola with an event like the Tales..= WIN

There you see! Nola is the most wonderful city in the world and Tales of the Cocktail the perfect event, i really recommend a trip down there..Its a place with its own culture, its own music, its own food, its own architecture – its a place like no other – believe me.

And the people in this city get out of their way to make you feel welcome! But Nola isn`t for everyone, its not a city for lukewarm people, you either love it or you just don´t get it.

One of the blogosphere`s awesome bloggers – Jesse Card over at St Croix Libation Society couldn`t have described the people of Nola better than this:

“As New Orleans tries to lick those wounds still evident from Katrina, there is an overwhelming sense of being among the people of the city. Sure, they’ve been beaten down and forgotten by the rest of the country, but there is no crisis of identity.

These people know who they are and are damn sure proud of it.”

The time at Tales and in Nola has all been AWESOME and i thank Nola and her wonderful people and all the good cocktail folks for that. Leaving Nola is always a terrible thing..and i even miss those cracked streets.

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Nice in the heat…right outside our house in the corner Elysian/Burgundy or in front of  Maple Leaf.

For next years new Tales-to-be attendants and bloggers here`s some of the things that blogging the Tales of the Cocktail has taught me:


You can plan your sessions and need to do it! But be prepared for spontaneous changes and other unplanned happenings so leave room for that. (like getting drunk at bar Tonique)


Make sure to eat and drink ( which ain´t any problem in Nola..), always carry a bottle of water or two with you.


Take notes during the sessions, lots of them and lots of pictures.


Don`t stay in the French quarter – make sure you see more of the city.


Don´t drink everything that is handed to you just because its free, and always pace.


If you see a row of bloggers in the front row of a session passing bottles between them – pay no attention.


Find out early which one of the elevators on Monteleone that takes you to the top.


Don`t miss the tasting rooms.


If you`re a woman, bring a fan in your purse. If you`re a man, dunno…bring a fan?


Sleep is overrated during Tales, take a few days extra off instead when you come back home – you sure gonna need it.


If you see something and feel that you should buy it – buy it – but please – buy local.


Do not miss the music venues.


Bring enough business cards, you`ll meet a lot of interesting people.


If you happen to buy any beautiful Nola Fleur de Lis sculptures to take home, do not EVER place them in your hand luggage – especially not if you`re gonna go through Amsterdam security…i almost lost my connecetion because they thought the sculptures had “a weird shape” (!) and they did X-ray my entire content 4 times..i was the last person to board my flight..jeez..


That`s all folks!

Hopefully see yall again next year! until then i`m gonna add a new habit to my life – green magic chartreuse swizzles…spiked with strong rum.

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See the musical shape of the shutter dogs? check out a violin for example and you`ll see the same shape. In the city of jazz even the shutter dogs are musical..

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One of the things i loved the most – sitting on our porch with cocktail in hand in the sunset in the warm humid air listening to the orchestra of cikadas.

NEW ORLEANS – Music, Food, Cocktails and Architecture

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Music playing on Frenchmen st.

So much to to in New Orleans, so little time to blog…and i think i`m not the only one who found it difficult to find time to write. Its the people, the sessions, the parties, the music, the food, the sights..but now i`m back home so i`ll try to recap what i didn´t write for a while. First i wanna say – i do recommend that you go to New Orleans and the Tales next year if possible. And before i start to write about the Tales sessions i went to i have a little bit more to say about the city of New Orleans.

There´s so much to see and do there that its incredible and there´s an atmosphere in the city that is truly unique, the feel in the air… All i need to do to get loads of inspiration is actually to just take a stroll around the neighbourhood and look at the fantastic architecture (the Marigny this time)

LET THE MUSIC PLAY!

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Shamarr Allen – Paul Sanchez – just awesome!

When you are here whether you like it or not (and how could you NOT?) you`ll be surrounded by music and that this city is the birthplace of jazz  is something you sure`ll be reminded of wherever you go because there`s music in almost every street corner.

There`s many music venues to go to if you wanna hear good music (I have seen John Boutté, Paul Sanchez, Shamarr Allen, Rebirth brassband, Kermit Ruffins, Glen David Andrews, Cowboymouth, Panorama jazzband and more) and it has all been very very good. Its like the food – its outstanding – and part of the vibrant soul of this city which is so incredibly ALIVE.

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Rebirth Brassband a New Orlean institution

If you wanna hear some great music while you`re here you should definetily head over to Frenchmen and all the music venues that lines the street – among them the one i like the most  – which is d.b.a You find d.b.a on 618 Frenchmen st. They have a very good beer selection as well.

Another place worth visiting is the Maple Leaf bar where Rebith plays on tuesdays. Also next door you have the Jacques-Imos cafe where you REALLY will find good Nola food, i can´t enough recommend this place. You find Maple Leaf and Jacques-Imos on 8316  and 8324 Oak Street in the Carrollton neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans.

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John Boutte voice like honey

One of my  favorite singers – John Boutté is a man with a BIG voice…not to be missed!  – that man  could sing me to sleep with some of his songs and he gets everybody to dance when he sings the Tremè song which also is the intro song to the HBO TV series Treme which is the best TV show ever made about New Orleans.

Do yourself  a favor folks and go out and hear the music whenever you visit Nola. There`s much much more than what i have written about here. Sadly Chuck (Gumbopages) wasn`t here this time and we really missed him, but he wrote a music guide – here`s a link.

FOOD, FOOD, FOOD…we live to eat

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Charbroiled gulf oysters at Acme

Fried crab claws, redfish, trout, catfish, shrimp, alligator and roast beef poboys, seafood gumbo, jambalaya, fried sweet potato, charbroiled oysters, gator on a stick, hush puppies, muffalettas, seafood platter, softshell crab, shrimp and alligator cheesecake, andouille, boudin, corn, red beans and rice, Louisiana watermelons, snoballs, beignets and chickory coffee..just a few of the wondrous things i had to eat – the food in Nola is the best i´ve had anywhere – i said that before and i say it again.

There so many restaurants – apart from Jacques-Imos and Coop`s that i already have mentioned – and i can`t talk about them all – there`s LOTS  of good eating places..but here`s two others i went to and which i can recommend –  Antoines and Acme. These are located in the french quarter. We wanted to also go and have Drago`s charbroiled oysters but they were out due to the oil-disaster so we went to see if there was any luck at Acme and we were lucky…

At Acme we actually got charbroiled gulf oysters..my favorite dish of all dishes you can have in this world. I consider myself lucky as most oysters are gone due to BP`s oil disaster. Another little delicacy i had was fried crab claws..OMG! and to wash this down nothing is better than a cold Abita beer.

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Crabclaws

At Antoines we went on a dinner sponsored by Bulleit Bourbon (Tom Bulleit) where we were treated to a first class dinner and cocktail experience including an impeccable combination of an awesome cake and cafe brulot finished with a history tour of the restaurant which is a fantastic place to see.

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Tom Bulleit, his daughter Hollie and the bartenders.

But don´t forget the streetfood, there`s a lot of tasty things to try that also aren´t expensive. Gator on a stick for example. Gator on a stick is simply a spicy sausage made with alligator meat wrapped in foil and thread on a wooden stick.

We also were very lucky to live right beside Gene’s Po’boys – and believe me, their Hot Sausage Poboy is VERY GOOD. You find Gene`s on the corner of  St. Claude and Elysian Fields.

And if its in season – try boiled crawfish. In july the season is almost over but we found some and even though small they were tasty. And since i come from a crawfish eating country i had to have them. I must say that i prefer the Louisiana way to cook and spice up the crawfish.

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COCKTAILS AND SPIRITS

During the Tales chances are that you`ll even have cocktails for breakfast or brunch. In the media room i had a brunch containing a plate with sausages, red beans, scrambled eggs, vanilla cake and whipped cream – all on the same plate washed down with 2 gin cocktails, fresh pressed orange juice and coffee..not a bad start of the day if you ask me.

Its very nice to have that room  to get away from the crowd, go and relax, eat, drink and work (they have free wifi)  and finally i learnt which one of the elevators to use to go all the way up…had forgotten that since last year and its very easy to be trapped in Monteleone`s labyrinth of corridors.

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I`ve had great cocktails here both in Nola bars, in the Mixoloseum house, at Tales sessions and in private home bars. My first drink at all in Nola this time was a refreshing Abita strawberry or Strawbita Beer in a friends kitchen – ice cold..very refreshing after a long trip and especially if you have to spend the night in Atlanta airport.  Next place to have a drink was the good Olde Absinthe House where i had a very good Sazerac and after that i had a nice Martinez at the Bombay Club.

I really like Abita beer and we bought bunches of them, i will really miss them when those i brought home are finished. Their Amber, Purple Haze and Strawberry are my favorites. I would recommend anyone who comes to Nola to try every Abita there is and then bring home a few of the favorites.

We also went to the Cure and i had a few cocktails with Smith & Cross rum which is a very good Jamaican rum, my new (old) favorite. The Cure is located at 4905 Freret Street. Well worth a visit.

There`s also another bar i would like to recommend, not only because a friend works there but because its really a little pearl. Bar Tonique is located at 820 N Rampart street just a few doors away from our old Mixohouse right across the Armstrong Park.

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Their Witchdoctor is a very tasty and potent cocktail – (invented by Jeffrey and Nathan actually) – its Smith & Cross, Batavia arrak, basil syrup, lime juice and soda Try it the next time!

I went there on the hot lazy sunday afternoon and my witchdoctor must have been very strong…and in a potent mood i later stumbled into the mezcal tasting at Monteleone starting with the Ilegal mezcal`s (very good mezcal) ending up with all the wonderful Del Magueys. They have released a new one called Vida, made for mixing. Will review it later.

After that we had a last round in the Carousel bar before heading out to stay by friends outside of the city with go cups in our hands – one of the best inventions ever! That was the last of Tales for me this time..

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Witchdoctor

There´s a lot of bars in Nola and i haven´t yet visited them all – there´s simply not enough time and besides – there must be some left for my next visit right? I have quite a few more to go to.

Three of the best cocktails i had in Nola was made by a friend and blogger, Meade Kincke living in Nola. He made the best Sazerac i ever had with Thomas H Handy rye (don`t remember which bottling it was) and then an outstanding Mai Tai with a 60s vintage Lemon Hart 151. And then cold tasty Herbsaint.

Oh all these great cocktails..and rums! been trying out both the new Black Tot rum at the Full Sail session and i was lucky enough to get to try out a range of very old vintage rums, among them a pre WW2 , pre Castro Cuban at a private tasting. Actually anything can happen at the Tales! just get yourself over next time and magic will follow..

And that`s the point – come down to New Orleans and the Tales and anything can happen!

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LH151 Mai Tai

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Sazerac

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Herbsaint

ARCHITECTURE

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I would recommend anyone to take some time off from Tales and go and look at the architecture here. The houses are totally awesome and there`s so many different styles – from the charming little shotguns  and creole townhouses to the garden district mansions and more. Many of these old houses also has a very interesting history.

Take the St Charles streetcar through the beautiful garden district, walk around in the quarter, the Marigny and Bywater or move beyond if you have the time- uptown is also very nice. I never get bored of looking at these houses, they`re amazing – there´s so much character and creativity.

The wrought or cast iron balconies – galleries really, are not French but Spanish. I think they are lovely and the reason why the French quarter is so beautiful.

My favorite house type though is the charming little shotguns with all the various and colorful painted details. These houses are SO Nola. Originally i believe the basic style of shotgun type of houses actually came from west Africa or so i´ve read somewhere.

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Lovely balconies on Royal st.

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Small shotgun

Next post – Tales sessions, tastings and dinners. Thanks to Tony for some of the pictures.

IN THE CITY OF JAZZ

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Its nice to be here in the Crescent city a week before Tales kicks off and all the cocktail folks from around the world fly in, it gives me time to meet my friends here and to just go around and absorb this wonderful place – so full of beautiful and interesting things to see, great music, fantastic food and so much creativity! This city got SOUL!

Time flies here, its only gone 4 days and i`ve been all over the city and met my good friends, seen Paul Sanchez, Kermit Ruffins and John Bouttè. I`ve had boiled crawfish, gator and shrimp cheesecake, fried softshell crab, fried oysters, red beans, white beans, boiled gulf shrimp, blackened redfish, shrimp roll, heirloom tomatos, figs, corn and gator on a stick, and oh yeah…BEIGNETS..,Abita beers, Dixie, Sazeracs and much much more.

This is the city of food, drink and music but also of soul and creativity.

TWISTED STEEL

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I have a friend  and his name is John and he twist steel into the most wonderful fleur-de-lis and hurricane sculptures and pendants. (I wear mine all the time) you can see his work here.

Now there`s a shop on Decatur st just opposite the Central Grocery (where you get the best muffalettas) called Crabnet and today we went in there to take a look at John`s big sculptures which i yet had to see.

These pieces are part of the Hurricane Katrina collection. After the Mississippi area was badly devastated by Katrina and he started to make these sculptures for the vicitms of the storm and the proceeds were donated to the Slidell Alumni Hurricane Relief Fund.

And to put things straight – Katrina was a natural disaster that devastated the Mississippi area but it wasn`t Katrina that caused the levee failure which caused 80% of New Orleans to be flooded. The levee failure was caused by the Army Corps of Engineers – who were found responsable for New Orleans flooding by a federal judge in 2008. Still 5 years later there hasn`t yet been any investigation done. So you know.

The Crabnet is at 925 Decatur Street in the Quarter, if you pass by, go in there and take a look at these wonderful pieces of twisted steel, hammered by hand. If you can´t go there, you can always get them from the website.

FLEURTYGIRL – SHIRTS WITH YATITUDE

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Tony took this awesome picture!

Another amazingly creative person here is Lauren, aka Fleurtygirl. She makes the most awesome Nola style T-shirts and these are really shirts with yatitude!

Among them is the Sazerac Tee made for the Tales. Recently due to the oil disaster (i refuse to call it “spill”) she made a “Rescue me” Tee in a collaborative effort with Audubon Institute’s Louisiana Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Rescue Program (LMMSTRP) and 100% of the net proceeds goes straight to LMMSTRP.

It was so wonderful to see pics of the turtles that were saved due to the funding from this turtle shirt and know you were a part of it.

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The famous Who Dat shirt –  a victim of many of the “disputed phrase” controversy that isn´t yet solved. I say Who Dat belongs to the people!

I got my turtle shirt earlier this spring and its the most soft and wonderful tee i´ve had (along with Fleurtygirls “I BeXLIeVed” ( I believed) Saints superbowl win tee..and i added the Treme and Sazerac Tees to my collection. The Sazerac shirt she made for the Tales of the Cocktail and can also be found in the Tales gift shop in Monteleone. The Treme Tee is made to help the rebuilding of a flood devastated home in Treme.

I was lucky enough to happen to be there when she opened her 2nd shop on 3029 Magazine st (the other shop is on 8611 Oak st). If you are around go and check it out, or visit her website.

These shirts are addictive!

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NOLA FOOD..

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Wonderful shrimps at Jacques-Imos

There`s a resataurant i want to recommend – Jacques-Imos. Its located uptown on 8324 Oak Street and only 3 doors away is the Maple Leaf bar where the Rebirth brass band plays on tuesdays. The food at Jacques-Imos is probably the best i`ve had here so far. The menu is very ecclectic with everything from an outstanding gator and shrimp  cheesecake appetizer to venison and a fantastic redfish. Their grilled shrimp is out of this world. The restaurant has tons of charm and character.

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DRINKS..

One of the best bars (and there`s many) here is the Cure which is located on 4905 Freret Street The cocktails are outstanding. One of the very nice cocktails we had was the Start and Finish containing Lillet blanc, absinthe, pernod, vermouth, averna, orange bitters and orange peel.

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Who dat – two dat!

ARRIVING IN NEW ORLEANS

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Finally here!

I arrived on the midnight of july 4th and saw some fireworks on my way into the city, so it has been a kick start to the DrinkWrite 2009 and the Tales. Flying in over New Orleans in a beautiful sunset was quite awesome.

Next morning we went to The Museum of the American Cocktail (which i strongly recommend) before hitting the Mixoloseum house on N Rampart which is going to be my home this following week and where some of us CSOWG members are staying. Meeting up with all my fellow cocktail bloggers was amazing and we kicked off with a Sunday Drink Night – a live version of the usual TDN – right at our Mixoloseum bar.

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If you look into the mirror you`ll see three cocktailnerds photographing Stan and the bar.

But don’t think we are lazy here, next morning up at 8 am and the first sessions of the DrinkWrite 2009 held in the French Annex within a comfortable 5 min walk on the other side of Rampart street. The first one was called Community Building as a Cocktail blogger with panelists Jay Hepburn (Oh Gosh!) SeanMike Whipkey (Scofflaws den) Paul Clarke (Cocktail Chronicles) and Camper English (Alcademics)

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One of the topics was why we are blogging – from hobby to a higher level. Anyone can start a cocktail blog which isn´t the same as being an expert on the topic but you`re on the way if you are willing to work hard.

Further topics was how to build the value of your writing/blog in the community among others and to support your local bartender which is one of the best things you can do and to respect their time and their way to do their work. Then we discussed how a blogger can get info about a brand and how to use your blog to bring value to the topic/brand/bar etc..

Other things adviced by Camper for us cocktail bloggers is to consider the importance of using original photos and material as well as not being too wordy, do original experiments and show helpful hints. All good advices.

There were in all four sessions which lasted t 2-2.5 hours heavily focused on practical application of skills and an intimate educational experience for the attendees. The sessions focused on skills and techniques that can be used to improve online writing, self-publishing, and blogging.

The session was very educational and the ambiance and cocktails wonderful. After the seeions were over we all left the house for a while to have lunch. We drove through the quarter to Iris restaurant ay Bienville House hotel which was a very beautiful location for an awesome lunch with fantastic food sponsored by Aperol and and we had some really great and inventive cocktails made by Alan Walter.

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One of the nicest cocktails i ever had containing aperol, cucumber, clementine, brandy, limoncello, pineapple beer aka tepache, and house made strawberry-oak bitters made with oak chips from Old New Orleans Rum distillery and local strawberries.

The next session was led by Darcy O’ Neill (Art of Drink) , Paul Clarke, Matthew Rowley (Rowley’s Whiskey Forge) and Chuck Taggart (Gumbopages) adressing how to improve a cocktail blog’s reach, readability and appeal to a broader audience.

The session lasted for about 2 hrs as well and was just as educational as the first.

The posts here will be fairly short and hopefully frequently updated (i’ll do my best) and probably updated later as well – i’m soon off to the CSOWG member dinner at La Rambla restaurant. Tomorrow i’ll do a cocktail garnish session with Rick Stutz (Kaiserpenguin) and Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove)

See you tomorrow.

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