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Tales of Tales (Photos)

By Dr. Bill Copen

By Thursday (7.16), the glasses at Tales of the Cocktail 2015 were most definitely half-full. Experts like Dave Wondrich and Charlotte Voisey taught and judged. Brand ambassadors squared off. And the setting being New Orleans, of course a brass band played. Click on through to read about all the action and check out some photos.


One Thursday morning seminar delved deeply into the details of cocktail history, exploding some widely held misconceptions about the origins of three classic drinks. Speakers included St. John Frizell, author, bartender, and owner of Fort Defiance in New York, The New York Times’ Robert Simonson, and David Wondrich, a leading cocktail historian and writer.

Another Thursday seminar, called “MMA: Multiple malt ambassadors face off,” was somewhat less scholarly in tone. Any superficial resemblance to The Last Supper notwithstanding, the seven unruly Scotsmen assembled in this photo are actually a panel of six Scotch whisky brand ambassadors, along with the seminar’s moderator, whisky authority Dave Broom (third from the right). Each brand ambassador was allotted five minutes to lead seminar participants through a blind tasting of one of his products. Most dedicated a substantial portion of that time to heaping colorful traditional Scottish insults upon their competitors, regaling the awestruck crowd and proving once again that, at Tales of the Cocktail, education comes in many forms. At the end of the seminar, audience members voted for their favorite whiskies with rounds of applause.

The winning brand ambassador was awarded a prestigious championship belt, whereas the others received handsome t-shirts as consolation prizes.

The stakes were higher at another competition that took place on Thursday afternoon at the House of Blues, where the U.S. national finals of House of Angostura’s Global Cocktail Challenge were held. The winners of Angostura’s three U.S. regional competitions took turns on stage, each making two original cocktails that incorporated Angostura’s products. Here, judges Charlotte Voisey and Paul Clarke compare their notes on one competitor’s creation.

The day’s winner was Elizabeth Mickiewicz, of Chicago’s drumBAR, here shown putting the finishing touches on her award-winning drink. As Angostura’s U.S. champion, Mickiewicz will now go on to compete against other national champions for a chance at a ten thousand dollar prize and a job with Angostura.

Tiki in Tremé? Totally, if Tales is in town! Each year, on the Thursday night of Tales week, participating restaurants across New Orleans offer “spirited dinners,” in which each course of a tasting menu is paired with a specially created cocktail that incorporates the products of one sponsor. This year, famed fried chicken haven Willie Mae’s Scotch House hosted Old New Orleans Rum’s spirited dinner. Arriving guests were treated to a frozen, blended welcoming cocktail (fittingly called “99 in the shade”), and the sounds of a live brass band.


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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

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