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AwaySpIrIted to dine

Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Dinner® Series combines Cocktails and Cuisine in perfect harmony.

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n New Orleans cuisine and cocktails aren’t just something we do on a night out. The city that created the Sazerac and has influenced the world with its rich cooking traditions, has come to be defined, in part, by what we put on our plates and in our glasses. At Tales of the Cocktail®, these two civic past times come together for the Tales of the Cocktail® Spirited Dinner® Series.

Arnaud’s Spirited Dinner

“The Spirited Dinner® Series is a direct link to the heart and soul of New Orleans: it's chefs and restauranteurs, whose food and hospitality have made the city one of the worlds most beloved tourist destinations,” said Jim Meehan, managing partner at PDT in New York and 2009 Spirited Award® Winner for American Bartender of the Year. Photo by JENNIFER MItChELL

The Spirited Dinner® have been a part of Tales of the Cocktail® since its inaugural year, but unlike those before it, the 2011 Spirited Dinner® Series will each have their own special theme playing out with every course and cocktail. For example, at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, diners will explore the origins and modern takes on whisky punches prepared by mixologists Bridget Albert and Jeffrey Morgenthaler with Executive Chef Darin Nesbit. Renowned New Orleans restaurateur Dickie Brennan has been a long time supporter of Tales of the Cocktail®, hosting several Spirited Dinners and Tales events throughout the years, including two dinners this year at Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse and Napoleon House. Brennan’s constant support of Tales of Cocktail has made him a 2011 Tales of the Cocktail® Ambassador along with his business partner Steve Pettus. “During Tales of the Cocktail®, drinks become culinary creations meant to be sipped and savored. The Spirited Dinner® Series take this to the next

Mix and Muddle away with gifts from Tales of the Cocktail Shop Photo by bRIaN huFF

To learn more about each themed dinner including detailed menus, visit TalesoftheCocktail.com. If you are interested in attending any of the dinners listed, contact the restaurant directly to make your reservation. Seating is limited so make your reservations early.

2011 TAleS of The CoCkTAil® SpiriTeD Dinner® SerieS A MAno

A Spirited Dinner® with the Tippling Brothers Featured Mixologists Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay with Chef Joshua Smith $85 504-208-9280

AMeriCAn SeCTor

American Spirit Featured Mixologist Rocky Yeh with Chef Todd Pulsinelli $75 504-528-1940

BourBon houSe

Whiskey Punches Featuring Mixologists Bridget Albert and Jeffrey Morgenthaler with Chef Darin Nesbit $95 504- 274-1829

eiffel SoCieTy

White Dinner Featured Mixologists Dushan Zaric, Jason Kosmas, and Jeremy JF Thompson with Chef Jim Bremer $80 504-525-2951

feAST new orleAnS A European Feast Featured Mixologist Jackson Cannon with Chefs James Silk and Richard Knight $80 504-304-6318

Gw finS Left Coast vs. East Coast Libations Featured Mixologists Anu Apte, Jackie Patterson, Jon Santer, Richie Boccato, Jason Littrell, Dave Shenaut, Marcos Tello, John Lermayer, Keith Waldbauer and Don Lee with Chef Tenney Flynn $120 504-581-3467

iriS The Magic of Sidney Frank Featured Mixologists Todd Richman, Spencer Warren and Mark Stoddard with Chef Ian Schnoebelen $100 504-299-3944

MilA Gin and Juice Featured Mixologist: Alex Ott Chefs: Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing $100 504- 412-2580

The Grill rooM Exploring Whisky in Cocktails Featured Mixologists Hal Wolin and Jonathan Pogash with Chef Drew Dzejak $110 504-522-1994 To make your reservations, please call the restaurant. Limited seating available, so make your reservations today!

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL > bestofneworleans.com > JUlY 19 > 2011

On the night of Thursday, July 21st, 25 local restaurants will host Spirited Dinners where the world’s greatest mixologists will combine their skills with the city’s best chefs, creating oneof-a-kind cocktail and cuisine pairings. Each multi-course meal is prepared specifically for this event with a special pairing of unique cocktails to bring out the flavors of each course.

level,” said Brennan. “Our chefs love working with the nation's cocktail masters to create a truly memorable dining experience.”

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shaking up the night Tales of the Cocktail’s nightly events keep the drinks flowing well past midnight.

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ith seminar topics like H2O Cocktials, Mysteries of Wood Maturation and Timber! In History & Sensory Analysis, you could easily confuse Tales of the Cocktail® for some sort of technical, scientific cocktail geek fest. While it may be a little bit of that, it’s just as much a revelrous celebration of the cocktail arts. And when better to celebrate cocktails than dur-

ing the late night hours that they’re most regularly consumed.

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL > bestofneworleans.com > JUlY 19 > 2011

The action-packed Tales of the Cocktail® 2011 schedule features a number of nightly events that can be enjoyed equally by cocktail aficionados, amateur enthusiasts and locals just looking for a good time. Whether you want to take in some music, enjoy some New Orleans fare or watch bartenders duke it out with their cocktail shakers, there’s an event that can keep you going late into the night. As with every other event at Tales, each nightly event includes cocktails made by the world’s best mixologists.

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“We want people to squeeze every last ounce out of Tales of the Cocktail®. That’s why we have events lasting late into the evening,” said Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail®. “If people head home from Tales well rested, we’ve done something terribly wrong.”

Hit the high notes at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz playhouse Photo by JENNIFER MItChELL

Below are just a few of the events that will keep the glasses full all night long. For a full list of all Tales of the Cocktail® events, visit www.TalesoftheCocktail.com.

Tales afTer Dark Wednesday, July 20th – Saturday, July 24th 12:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon Street No festival in New Orleans is complete without some of the music that has made the city famous Tales of the Cocktail® is no different. But unlike other festivals, the drinks get as much attention as the musicians. Each night of Tales After Dark features a different musical theme with cocktails specially created by world-renowned mixologists to accent the notes coming from the stage. For the second consecutive year, Tales of the Cocktail® is working directly with Grammy award winning trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and spirits partners to select a theme for each evening, find musical acts and then create cocktails that reflect and accent the night’s festivities. “In New Orleans and all around the world, cocktails and music go hand in hand,” said Mayfield. “For Tales After Dark, we have paired incredible New Orleans jazz, Cuban mambo and the street sounds of our brass bands with cocktails from around the world.” This is a complimentary event but guests are encouraged to arrive early as space at these shows is limited.

Tales afTer Dark scheDule WeDnesDay nighT, 12:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. B&B Liqueur will transport guests to the underground social scene of 1930s American jazz era, featuring classic New Orleans jazz. ThursDay nighT, 12:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. Jamaican funk meets jazz in true NOLA style with the Brass-A-Holics. Come shake off the pretense with some Caribbean-inspired cocktails from Tia Maria.

friDay nighT, 12:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.

Masters of mixology will conduct a journey of sight, sound, smell and taste like none other, introducing you to the mystical chemistry of BENEDICTINE herbal liqueur.

saTurDay nighT, 12:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. Take yourself back to early 1900s Havana with Cuban rhythms and hand-shaken Bacardi daiquiris. usBg BacarDi Piña colaDa comPeTiTion Friday July 22nd 7:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. The Foundry, 333 Saint Joseph Street

The Piña Colada has long been the flavor of any island vacation. Traced back to the early 20th Century from a hotel bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico, it has spread beyond the Caribbean to bars across the world. But with time, this ubiquitous drink has lost a little bit of its luster, so the United State Bartenders Guild decided to take it on for its annual cocktail competition. This official USBG event brings together some of the world’s best mixologists to reimagine what this legendary island drink can be while staying true to the cocktail’s core ingredients—rum, pineapple and coconut. Event attendees will have the unique opportunity of sampling all the imaginative takes on the Piña Colada as judges have the tough job of selecting which bartender should take home the title. Tickets to the USBG BACARDI Piña Colada Competition are $50 plus fees and can be purchased online at www.TalesoftheCocktail.com.

2011 Bar room BraWl presenTeD by MoëT Hennessey Friday July 22nd 10:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. Generations Hall, 310 Andrew Higgins Dr. If the Piña Colada event doesn’t quench your thirst for competition, immediately following is the Bar Room Brawl. This cocktail battle, sponsored by Moët Hennessy USA brings together bartending teams from around the world to compete for the best original cocktail made using Grand Marnier, Hennessy, Belvedere Vodka and/or 10 Cane Rum. The event will take on a boxing feel as teams slug it out using only their mixology talents and bartending tools, for the right to be crowned Bar Room Brawl Cha.m.pions by expert judges. Event guests will be the first to sample all these new creations and even vote for the people’s champion of the event. Tickets to the 2011 Bar Room Brawl are $50 plus fees and can be purchased online at www.TalesoftheCocktail.com.

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ThEarespiriTs yours

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veryone comes to Tales of the Cocktail® looking for unbelievable, one-of-a-kind, you-won’t-believethis cocktails. Unfortunately, they can’t take these wild concoctions home with them. That’s why Tales of the Cocktail® offers several markets with a wide range of cocktail merchandise the festival-goers can take home. In between all the seminars, events dinners, tastings and more, Tales guests can browse the different marketplaces for bar tools, cocktail t-shirts, books, posters and much more. “Tales of the Cocktail® is a celebration of all things alcohol. Naturally that includes all the best cocktail products on the market,” said Michelle Dunnick, Event Manager for Tales of the Cocktail®. “These markets are the perfect opportunity to take home the bar products you need to start shaking up cocktails like the ones you try at Tales.”

ShotS of InSpIratIon 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Hotel Montelone Lobby, 214 Royal Street For a full schedule, visit www.TalesoftheCocktail.com At Tales of the Cocktail®, experts will be sharing their knowledge of all things cocktail at more than forty seminars held throughout the Hotel Monteleone. While all these are going, the greatest authors of cocktail literature will be disht.a. Breaux left and Chris ing out their own hannah toast the evening at arnaud’s Spirited dinner cocktail knowhow for all to enPhoto by JENNIFER MItChELL joy in the hotel

lobby at Shots of Inspiration, Tales of the Cocktail’s official on-site bookstore. Run by the locally-owned New Orleans bookstore Octavia Books, this series of book signings gives unprecedented access to mixologists, bartenders, master distillers and New Orleans chefs, allowing you to take home special signed copies of their works you can’t get anywhere else. “It's thrilling to be able to be part of bringing together some of the most cutting edge books on spirits, the greatest mixologists, and the folks who deeply appreciate both,” said Tom Lowenburg, owner of Octavia Books. In addition to supporting local New Orleans business, 10% of all sales at Shots of Inspiration will go to the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society.

taleS of the CoCktaIl® Shop Registration and Merchandise Area at the Hotel Monteleone Tuesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. While picking up your tickets to all the spirited events you’re slated to attend, take some time to browse the a number of commemorative products like Tales of the Cocktail® apparel, cocktail shakers, glassware, the Official 2011 Tales of the Cocktail® poster and much more at the Tales of the Cocktail® Shop. Featured at the Tales shop will be the Cocktail Collection of t-shirts. This line of cocktail-themed attire, created by Tales of the Cocktail® in partnership with renowned New Orleans apparel shop Fleurty Girl, features three of New Orleans’ most legendary cocktails—The Sazerac, The Vieux Carré and The Ramos Gin Fizz. “The drink a person orders from the bar says a lot about them, and so does the shirt they wear,” said Lauren Thom, owner of Fleurty Girl. “With our Tales of the Cocktail® t-shirt collection, you can have your drink and wear it, too.” Many of the items sold at the on-site Tales of the Cocktail® shop will also be available for purchase online at www.TalesoftheCocktail.com.

CoCktaIl kIngdom pop Up Store Registration and Merchandise Area at the Hotel Monteleone Wednesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Cocktail Kingdom is one of the world’s largest online retailers of premium barware, artisan bitters and cocktail books with patrons ranging from erin keller models a Cocktail the cocktail Collection t-Shirt professional Photo by bRIAN hUFF to the amateur enthusiast. But at Tales of the Cocktail®, Cocktail Kingdom is taking their business offline with their pop up store in the Hotel Monteleone Lobby. Throughout t he festival you can stop by and browse Cocktail Kingdom’s diverse offerings to find the right piece to complete your own bar. But it’s more than just a display of Cocktail Kingdom’s premier barware, books, bitters and more. This pop up store doubles as an interactive demo area where you’ll be able to take bar tools for a spin as you test your stirring speed and shaking accuracy and test your knowledge of bitters at the blind bitters tasting. Stay Cool with a Bacardi pina Colada

let’S make a deal CoCktaIl Bazaar Queen Anne Ballroom, Hotel Monteleone 214 Royal Street Sunday, July 24th 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Unlike at a bar where the price of a drink is usually non-negotiable, the Let’s Make a Deal Cocktail Bazaar allows you to speak with vendors for highend cocktail merchandise. Just like any other bazaar, vendors will be looking to cut deals on all the top shelf bitters, mixers and bar tools on display. Take the bar tools for a spin in our demo area or just savor the food and music as you browse and bargain during these spirited final hours of Tales of the Cocktail®.

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL > bestofneworleans.com > JUlY 19 > 2011

Below are the Tales of the Cocktail® marketplaces where you can pick up cocktail merchandise through the five-day festival. For a full list of the week’s events, visit www.TalesoftheCocktail.com.

Tales of the Cocktail’s marketplaces give you unprecedented access to unique and hard-to-find cocktail merchandise.

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A LocAL’s Guide to

All the drink makin’, soul shakin’ good times of Tales of the Cocktail® 2011 are finally here. But this spirited festival won’t be complete without the New Orleanians that add to the cocktail traditions of our city on a nightly basis. Use this guide to get a small taste of the intoxicating events that are in store this week. We hope you’ll join us for five days of the best cocktails ever made, right here in New Orleans. For more information or to get your tickets to the spirited festivities visit www.TalesoftheCocktail.com.

July 20-24, 2011 inG thinGs up Where We’LL be shAk spots for cool cocktails. Use this map to find all the hot

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL > bestofneworleans.com > JUlY 19 > 2011

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TropicaLia

TROPICAL DRINKS ARE A HOT TOPIC AT TALES OF THE COCKTAIL

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL > bestofneworleans.com > JUlY 19 > 2011

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ong before tropical cocktails devolved into today’s girly drinks and alcopops, they were the first choice of sophisticated boozers around the world. Ernest Hemingway was known to enjoy daiquiris, but his looked and tasted nothing like the machine-churned Slurpee-style mixes popular today. Now, more than a century after exotic drinks from tropical locales first became popular, a craft cocktail renaissance shows that even connoisseurs have a sweet spot. “People are rediscovering the complexity of these drinks — a really finely calibrated balance between strong and light, fruity and dry,” says Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, author of five books on vintage tiki drinks. “A wellmade tiki punch is like a novel, or a symphony.” Mixologists are resurrecting original recipes, dispensing with umbrella-topped nonsense and cultivating fresh —

and refreshing — new versions. Tropical drinks will be a hot topic at Tales of the Cocktail, where there is much to learn about the daiquiri, the Mai Tai and the pina colada. Not that icy concoctions — even in neon colors — don’t have appeal in New Orleans’ sweltering summer heat, but daiquiris once were downright classy. The first daiquiri was created on June 20, 1898, by American mining engineer Jennings Cox in the mining town of Daiquiri, Cuba. All he used was rum, lime juice and sugar, shaken with crushed ice. “It was a very hot day, so he wanted something refreshing, light and crisp,” says David Cid, a brand ambassador for Bacardi, which will host a daiquiri tasting room at Tales of the Cocktail. “It was named almost a year later at Hotel Venus in Santiago, Cuba, in honor of the mining town.” A decade later, the USS

Chris Hannah of Arnaud’s French 75 created a New Orleans-inspired pina colada to present at Tales of the Cocktail. Photo by Cheryl Gerber

By EMILy JENSEN Minnesota arrived in what is now known as Guantanamo Bay, where Admiral Lucius Johnson had his first daiquiri. He loved the drink and brought the recipe back to the United States, where it rose to fame as a beverage that “signified social status,” Cid says. Later, a daiquiri bar exclusively for military personnel opened in Washington, D.C. Between 1898 and 1900, the daiquiri was altered to include natural grenadine and less sugar. Cid says Hemingway preferred his sweetened only with grenadine and grapefruit juice, no sugar at all — a version known as the Papa Doble. It wasn’t until the rise of the pina colada in the 1960s and ’70s that the term daiquiri began to stray from its roots, and it become a generic reference to frozen drinks of almost any flavor. The classic tiki drink, the Mai Tai, suffered less confusion but has many recipes. In the 1950s, New Orleans native Don the Beachcomber, born Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt,

different drink a decade later, and he unknowingly gave it the same name after serving it to a Tahitian couple who dubbed it “mai tai” (meaning “the best”). In the esoteric world of tiki lore, the battle for the true Mai Tai has raged ever since. In its early days, the Mai Tai was the quintessential exotic drink, combining Caribbean rum with multiple juices and syrups. “It was Hawaii in a glass, kind of a liquid vacation,” Berry says. “Whoever could claim they had invented the Mai Tai would get a lot more business and publicity.” Today, the most common version is closer to Trader Vic’s recipe, Berry says, and it also is the one he prefers. He’ll discuss both versions and the Mai Tai rivalry at a seminar at Tales of the Cocktail. Around the same time Trader Vic invented his version of the Mai Tai, the pina colada was born in Puerto Rico. Tales of its creation vary, but bartender Chris Hannah at Arnaud’s French 75 offers this account: “Ramon Marrero created it at the Beachcomber Bar inside the Caribe Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1954.” The original recipe called for an ounce and a half of light rum, three ounces of cream of coconut and six ounces of pineapple juice blended with ice, he says. At Tales, Hannah represents New Orleans in the Bacardi-

sponsored pina colada competition. His version adds Cool Brew coffee concentrate and condensed milk and incorporates a few other variations to add New Orleans flavor. The pina colada is not essentially a tiki drink because of how few ingredients it uses, Berry says (true tikis have as many as 14), but Hannah’s rendition will “tiki-fy the pina colada” by pushing it to nine ingredients. If you like pina coladas, you can probably thank Rupert Holmes, creator of the late ’70s pop hit “Escape (The Pina Colada Song).” The tune about an unconventional rekindling of love helped popularize the cocktail. The corny hit also may have brought about the onset of the tropical drink dark ages, Berry says, referring to the period from the 1980s through roughly 2005 when tropical drinks spiraled into sugary abomination. Hannah seeks to bring out the culinary best in this creamy beverage, but he doesn’t hesitate to give Holmes a nod for the part he played. “If one takes the time to listen to the entire song, one will find Rupert’s melody as deliciously refreshing as a properly blended pina colada,” Hannah opines. “When it comes to enjoying the pina colada, we should thank both Ramon Marrero and Rupert Holmes.”

SeminarS aT

Tales of the Cocktail WWW.TalesofThecockTail.coM

Who's Your DaDDY? Mai Tai PaTerniTY TesT WiTh Jeff BerrY 1 p.M. FrIday roYal sonesTa, GraNd BaLLrooM, 300 BourBoN St.

and rival tiki mixologist Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron waged their own cold drink war over bragging rights to the original Mai Tai. As a teenager, Don left New Orleans for a tropical adventure on his bootlegging grandfather’s yacht. He collected knowledge about tiki drinks and cuisine along the way and eventually landed in California. It was there that he claims he created the Mai Tai in 1933. Trader Vic crafted an entirely

usBG BacarDi Pina colaDa cockTail coMPeTiTion 7:30 p.M.-10 p.M. FrIday The founDrY, 333 St. JoSEph St. tIckEtS $50

Tales afTer Dark: BacarDi riTMo cuBa MIdNIGht-2 a.M. SuNday (Saturday NIGht) irvin MaYfielD's Jazz PlaYhouse, royaL SoNESta, 300 BourBoN St.


drinking in history By iAn mcnuLTy

From communal punch bowls to vinegar cocktails, the potables oF the past get a new look.

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL > bestofneworleans.com > JUlY 19 > 2011

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he rise of the craft cocktail is sometimes lauded as a return to artisanal practices, as bartenders working this niche embrace small batch spirits, fresh ingredients, home-made mixers and hands-on techniques that were the rule before modern brands and premade mixes. But just how far back does this return stretch? Some posit the start of the age of the cocktail around 1862, the year American bartender Jerry Thomas published his Bar-Tenders Guide, the first book to codify cocktail recipes. Increasingly, however, craft cocktail enthusiasts are reaching back even farther into cocktail history. “I’d bought into that notion that you can’t talk about a cocktail culture before the Civil War,” says Wayne Curtis, a New Orleans-based drinks writer and contributing editor for The Atlantic. “But really there was a whole world of mixed drinks people were making before that time.” Curtis got on this early American drinks trail while researching his 2007 book And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails. References to

creative, cocktail-esque concoctions from Colonial-era America cropped up throughout his source materials. He also gives credit to David Wondrich, author of the drinks books Imbibe! and Punch, with pulling some of these archaic recipes and their lore out of the archives. Curtis discusses such early cocktails and prepares a few at a seminar called “Beyond Punch: Colonial American Drinks” at Tales of the Cocktail. These drinks, usually based on rum, represent a rich, if sometimes obscure, realm of tastes. There’s syllabub, made with warm milk, rum and spices. Spruce beer and rum was a sailor’s specialty called a calibogus. Add egg and sugar to that and you had an egg calli, or you could heat the mixture for a king’s calli. “These are bigger, rougher, rounder tastes they were dealing with back then,” Curtis says. “I’ve come to think of it as the proto-locavore movement because people were using what they found in their backyards and whatever was at hand and doing something very creative with them for their drinks.”

Beyond Punch:

Colonial American Drinks 10 A.m.-11:30 A.m. ThursdAy

Hotel Monteleone 214 royAL sT.

WWW.TALesofThecockTAiL.com

At Loa, Alan Walter mixes punches in various sizes for revelers to share. Photo by Cheryl Gerber

In 1749, the Swedish clergyman Israel Acrelius took note of some 45 different such drinks being quaffed at taverns during his tour of the American colonies. Curtis says that while some taverns may have served such beverages as large communal punches, the widely-recognized forerunner to the modern cocktail, at other establishments patrons could order up a single serving, not unlike today’s conventional bar service. Local authorities set standard prices that tavern keepers could charge for drinks, Curtis says, so one way they found to compete for a clientele was to get more inventive with their drink offerings. “Many taverns catered to travelers coming in individually or in pairs. They could order these drinks, and the tavern keeper would make them up,” he says. “At the higher end places they’d serve them in a glass, a step down it might be a pewter mug and at the rougher, bottom rung places it was typically a basic earthenware cup.” Another example from this ilk is a drink called the stone fence, made by mixing dark rum, hard cider, allspice and nutmeg, plus a dose of white

vinegar. While this last ingredient might sound puckerinducing to today’s tipplers, Curtis says vinegar was commonly used as a souring agent. “It basically served the same role as lemon and lime when those weren’t available because of the seasons or transportation,” he says. “Vinegar never goes off and has much the same effect as citric acid in a cocktail.” Curtis concedes the public appetite for vinegar drinks may be limited to what he calls “cocktail re-enactors,” or those hobbyists bent on replicating drinks of the past down to the last authentic detail. But the resurgence of interest in rum punches shows how some very old drinking conventions can make a comeback. Mixed with juices and served in large, communal bowls, they were the centerpieces for drink-ups in colonial taverns, fine homes and sailing ships wherever rum was found. Today, modern renditions are increasingly turning up at bars in sync with the craft cocktail sensibility. There’s always a punch available at Cure (4905 Freret St., 302-2357; www.curenola.com), which owner Neal Bodenheimer says his bartenders devise each day from whatever particu-

lar combinations strike their fancy. At Loa (221 Camp St., 553-9550), the bar inside the International House Hotel, bartender Alan Walter serves a punch built for two he calls the Grand Isle. It’s served in a larger pitcher with a matching pair of cups, and Walter says the very medium helps cultivate a happy mood around the room. “When people share a drink like this, as a bartender you just can’t set them up any better for the spirit of partaking,” he says. Curtis agrees, and he says that’s part of the value of mining the past for ideas for today’s bars, even if some recipes require a few updates for the modern palate. “A lot of these old recipes and traditions came out of necessity. People at the time used what they could get. Now, since we have so many options, it’s about that hunt for something different,” he says. “The thing with punch is that it’s convivial. You sit around a punch bowl and drink it together. It does facilitate the social process and that’s probably why it was so popular through two centuries. There’s something essential to these things that endures. I think people are starting to discover that again, and I think that’s great.”


STILLLife A WAVE OF CRAFT DISTILLERS HIT THE LIQUOR MARKET ONE SMALL BATCH AT A TIME. BY WILL COVIELLO

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leveraged its own experience and position as a microbrewer and navigated Michigan’s laws. All states have different laws governing production and distribution, and that is one of the reasons craft distillers have taken different approaches. A host of young craft distilleries, all launched in the last decade, are sending representatives and samples to Tales of the Cocktail, looking to introduce and promote their products to spirits writers, bartenders and fellow industry people. The liquor industry is dominated by major brands that do business in the hundreds of thousands of cases. The growth of premium spirits has helped open the door to boutique products, but the craft distillers are only taking a small bite out of the market. When it started distilling its array of spirits, New Holland produced them all with the same 60-gallon pot still. It has been able to experiment and produce everything from vermouth to flavored liqueurs for its brewpub’s bar. This week, the distillery is installing a refurbished 800-gallon still, which will enable faster growth. Existing state and federal liquor laws require distillers to pursue distribution in each state individually. A distillery only does that as it adds the capacity to supply the new market. San Francisco’s No. 209 Distillery (www.209gin.com) is taking a different approach. The distillery was launched by Leslie Rudd, who has been a winemaker at Rudd Oakville Estate since 1996. But he is a transplant to California. Rudd grew up in Kansas, where his family built the large liquor distribution company Standard Beverage Corp., so he has plenty of industry knowledge. He thought the vodka craze would cool off and chose to launch a gin, says CEO Nicole Nicolette. The name 209 comes from a discovery on property the winemaker bought in Napa Valley. The federal government’s 209th distilling license had been issued to a distiller who used a barn

the first application for a new distilling license in Pennsylvania since before Prohibition, Auwerda says. The state had to revisit its application process in order to issue the license. Starting with a non-aged spirit is the quickest route to getting a product on shelves, and Cassell also believed the vodka market was crowded — with new vodkas being released almost weekly. They thought gin was a ripe category because it hadn’t seen a lot of change in 20 years and there wasn’t a premium American made gin on the market, Auwerda says. After experimenting with 27 different recipes, they released Bluecoat Gin in 2006. “We said, ‘Let’s win the gin war,’” Auwerda says, referencing the way they have branded the product with a little Revolutionary War history and spirit. The brand did well regionally, and fans started to ask for a premium vodka, Auwerda says. They responded with Penn Vodka 1681 (referencing the year William Penn was granted the land that become Pennsylvania). It’s made from organic rye, and it’s only available in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia jumped into the absinthe category with Vieux Carre, and its most recent release is XXX Shine White Whiskey, a triple-distilled spirit made from three types of corn. It’s like some moonshine in that it’s an un-aged corn liquor, but it’s a tripledistilled craft whiskey that sells for $25 a bottle. “We’re threading the needle on that,” Auwerda says. Philadelphia Distilling expects to produce almost 13,000 cases of all its spirits combined this year. It has the breathing room to develop an aged rye whiskey. Auwerda envisions releasing new spirits every other year at the most. “We got into white whiskey because we thought it would be a good category for the long term,” he says. “We’re not trying to do the spirit du jour.”

New Holland Brewing Company’s artisan spirit Hopquila is a wheat-based liquor that tastes like tequila.

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL > bestofneworleans.com > JUlY 19 > 2011

he microbrewing trend of the last two decades has spawned a generation of craft distillers. Across the country, craft distilleries have cropped up, taking advantage of brewing skills gained from experimenting with beer and negotiating the arcane laws leftover from Prohibition. The growth of New Holland Brewing Company and Artisan Spirits in Michigan shows one of the more logical progressions. “With beer, you can turn grain into profit in a matter of weeks. With spirits, it’s different,” says Rich Blair, the company’s spirits ambassador. “We went through the process with craft beer. But turning a profit with aged spirits is a slow go. We’re lucky we could rely on the brewery.” New Holland (www.newhollandbrew. com) started as a brewpub offering an array of craft beers. Eventually it built a second facility just to brew beer, which it now distributes throughout the Midwest and some other states (13 total). Company president Brett VanderKamp is a self-described “rum nerd” and he wanted to move the company into distilling. At first, in compliance with Michigan laws, it was able to distill fruit brandies, which it flavored for use in the pub, but there was a great leap into distilling. The brewpub essentially had to choose between buying all its spirits from a distributor or making all its own. It jumped into distilling in 2008 with a large portfolio of liquors, including whiskey, rum, gin, vodka and a spirit called Hopquila (technically an unaged whiskey made from hops, but with a flavor profile very similar to tequila). Like other craft distillers, New Holland is shooting for distinct and original flavor profiles in its spirits and reaching out to the cocktail movement as a natural market. “The most common response I get to Hopquila is, ‘This is great, but what do I do with it?’” he says. Margaritas are an obvious choice, and Blair develops cocktail recipes to share with bartenders. The course New Holland followed

on the property to make liquor in the 1880s — likely a brandy, Nicolette says. Rudd adopted the name but built his distillery in San Francisco. In 2005, it released No. 209 Gin, an artisanal spirit that’s lighter on juniper and more citrusy than the traditional London dry gin style. It’s hand-stilled five times in a 1,000-gallon custom-built still, and the brand is growing rapidly. It’s available in about 35 states, and Louisiana is expected to be added by the end of the year. “We’re trying to trailblaze with our flagship gin,” Nicolette says. The distillery did, however, release a Kosher gin in 2010, one of only two Kosher-approved spirits available in the United States. Philadelphia Distilling has taken a middle path, also releasing a boutique gin, Bluecoat Gin, which is available in New Orleans, and later adding a few more products. Founding partner Andrew Auwerda came out of semi-retirement to get into the craft distilling business. He had built up and sold a cosmetics company and was not working when an in-law, Robert Cassell, approached him about starting a distillery. Cassell had accumulated experience at a microbrewery and saw the development of craft distilling as an opportunity. Along with another partner, they founded Philadelphia Distilling (www. philadelphiadistilling.com) and filed

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Tales of the Cocktail Guide 2011  

Spirited Cocktails, Music & Dining

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