Tales Recap II
Let’s Keep This Party Rollin…
Picking up where we left off… Thursday afternoon we spent some time hanging at the Octavia Bookstore in the Monteleone lobby browsing books and picking up a few to add to our collection. Then we caught up with Chef Chris Lusk cooking up some food and fun in the Carousel Bar on the Chef and The Fat Man radio show. More pictures and Tales…
Thursday night was the evening dedicated to the Spirited Dinners. Great restaurants around the city host dinners with special menus and cocktail pairings. We were at Café Adelaide (naturally) hosted by the Cocktail Chicks Ti Martin and Lally Brennan.
We were entertained with great jazz by The Joe Simon trio.
We enjoyed great food created by Chef Chris Lusk and had a superfecta of celebrity cocktail mixologists – Audrey Saunders, Lu Brow, Robert Hess and Kenta Goto. Click HERE to see the menu from that night. The pairings were amazing!
Also, in the gossip department, Audrey Saunders and Robert Hess came clean about their relationship. Adorable! And that their romance finally sparked one night long-ish ago at the Swizzle Stick Bar. Turns our Lu Brow is not only a talented mixologist but a talented matchmaker, as well.
Our friends from California, Kerry, Lance, Sue and Alex were also a part of this great evening.
We also met some new friends from our old stomping grounds, as well. Seated at our table were Joe and Anna Keeper proprietors of Bar Keeper in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles.
We knew their store from friends who had purchased a beautiful absinthe fountain from them. Yet another example of 6 degrees of the cocktail community. The evening ended in traditional New Orleans style, with the a second line through the kitchen and out the back door into the Piazza. Champagne flowed and we all took off our shoes and waded into the fountain to keep it all cool. Another perfect night In The Land of Cocktails…
Friday: seminars and tastings. But the highlight of the day for Nancylee was the Cognac and Blues Spirited luncheon at Arnaud’s. Styled like the spirited dinners, food with cocktail pairings, with cognac as the main spirit. Each cocktail was crafted by an amazing mixologist: Brian Van Flandern, Dale DeGroff, Todd Appel, Ryan Margarin and Francesco Lafranconi.
They introduced their cocktail, talked about their inspiration, some actually prepared them for us. All the while, a fantastic band played, Ernie Vincent Blues & Funk band. Check them out HERE. Nancylee talked to the host of the event Tony Abou-Ganim and got him to sign his book “The Modern Mixologist.”
It was also Tony’s birthday and there was a lot of joking and celebrating throughout the event. She got to see Chris McMillian and wife Laura and talk about the drinks poured that day and the original Sidecar. She caught up with some of the people she had met during Tales, Wendy Miller of LUPEC Seattle.
…connected with some of her Twitter pals…
Aaron Tell AKA @SavoryHunter. And made some new friends at her table…
Gary Crunkleton (center) of The Crunkleton in Chapel Hill, NC.
But the crowning moment of the event was Nancylee’s moment with Dale DeGroff, who’s table she was seated at. “I brought our copy of Dale’s ‘Essential Cocktail’ book to the luncheon. Now this is a book we use in our bar. Really use it. Paige has tagged pages and recipes with color coded tabs, there are cocktail napkins stuffed inside, etc. When I took the book to Dale to sign, he smiled and started thumbing through the book, seeing what we were making. After he signed our book, I asked him for a photo. While we were posing for our photo, the band kicked into a great song that we couldn’t resist. We started swaying to the music and then dancing. Yep, for a brief moment I was dancing with King Cocktail. It reminded me of another great man, class act, a crooner and a dancer… my father. Hard to top that.”
After the luncheon, Nancylee and Aaron ended up at Swizzle where Lu poured them a Whoa Nellie. The talk was about home town Los Angeles, dream jobs, and how the internet has influenced what we do and drink…
Saturday we were back at the Monteleone for friend and “Mad Men” Bryan Batt’s book signing.
“She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Mother” Bryan is always a class act, and he and his family have a long history in the cocktail culture in New Orleans. Here’s Bryan’s segment and also brother Jay’s. PS, we still love “Mad Men” but it’s just not as interesting without Salvatore Romano.
Then upstairs for the Heaven Hill tasting. We met Robert Hutchins, their American Whiskey Brand Ambassador, at the Swizzle a few days before – tasting the Dubonnet cocktails (one of the labels he represents) being served at the Spirited Dinner.
He invited us to his whiskey and bourbon tasting – and we are so glad we went. What a class event they hosted.
Each table was set up with a bread pairing — the grain of the bread coming from the grain from which the spirit was made, i.e the Corn liquor had a bowl of cornbread nearby. This was so you could actually taste the particular grain that went into the spirit. Aside from the bread tables they were pouring Elijah Craig 12 YEAR, Elijah Craig 18 YEAR Single Barrel, Rittenhouse 25 YEAR Single Barrel
Mr. Parker Beam himself was pouring Parker’s 27 YEAR Bourbon.
Now we are whiskey and bourbon drinkers. Someday, the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky – during racing season at Churchill or Keenland would be perfect!
So we loved and appreciated what we tasted. And meeting their master distiller, and descendant of the Jim Beam family, Parker Beam. We got a laugh out of Parker when Nancylee said that she was “raised” on Jim Beam. Her dad’s favorite spirit. And when she told him that she named the first horse she bought Jim Beam, we got poured a taste of his 27 year.
They had awesome swag, too! See, it’s a flask AND a cigar holder. So we left in a warm bourbon glow, swag in tow, looking forward to more events and cocktails with the Heaven Hill group.
Happy Hour cocktails at Cure with our CA friends. We all tried something different from their diverse cocktail menu — no time for eats — and passed each cocktail around the table. Kind of an informal cocktail tasting of our own.
We talked about their great day in NOLA, some Tales tastings and seminars, hat shopping at Meyer the Hatter “The South’s Largest Hat Store”
the boys got barbershop shaves, the girls shopped. We parted company as they left for dinner at Upperline (which they reported later that they loved) and we came home to regroup (and walk the dogs…)
Sunday we met our friends from CA who were brunching at Commander’s Palace…
Which if you haven’t been, will set the standard for Sunday brunch. We took a break from Tales and the French Quarter and walked the Garden District – BTW there’s a couple of really great iPhone apps for walking tours of the Garden District, French Quarter and paranormal New Orleans. They will cost you, but buying all three is still less than one ticket for a traditional walking tour. Worth it and you become the expert.
But in July and August we suggest the air-conditioned tour from the comfort of your car.
Sweltering in the heat we actually walked to Simon’s Store and Gallery (at Magazine and Jackson) which is a feast for the eyes.
We caught the artist in his shop/studio and had a great time meeting him and talking about his work. And also buying a couple of things…
We ended up at Parasol’s Bar (dangerously close to our house) for beers and hanging with the locals.
Sunday’s is a great day for Parasol’s. But whenever you get there, save room for their famous Roast Beef Po’boy. We like them “dressed” with a side of gravy for dipping your french fries. Here’s the recipe from Nola Cuisine.com. Go-cups in hand (because we can) and cashing out of the video poker machines (gambling in the bars… awesome) we wrapped up our afternoon walking back to our place looking at the beautiful architecture and imagining getting houses all near each other, a place to run to In The Land of Cocktails…
- Nancylee Myatt & Paige Bernhardt