It seems like we spend half the year getting ready for Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and the other half reminiscing about it. And last Sunday, after days of seminars, tastings and parties, the spirited event wrapped up for 2011. Now that we’ve unpacked and gotten some sleep, we’ve begun to process all that we saw. Here are a few of the most interesting things that we spotted.
Over the last decade, boutique spirits have been gaining popularity with drinkers and bartenders, and at Tales they’re also playing a bigger role. For example, the Meet the Craft Distillers tasting, featuring nearly 30 brands from around the world, was sold out. In addition, more exotic things, like the Czech liqueur Becherovka, the Polish Zu Bison Grass Vodka and the Dutch Bols Genever, had a larger presence.
And no matter where you went, you were handed a glass of delicious punch. There were huge bowls of it at Beefeater Gin’s Welcome Masquerade Ball that kicked off the event, at the Cocktails Around the World: Diageo Happy Hour and also at Plymouth Gin’s closing-night bash, the Bartender’s Breakfast.
Fittingly, acclaimed writer and Liquor.com advisor David Wondrich’s Punch was named the best new cocktail book. But he wasn’t our only advisory board member to be honored. Talented mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout won the award for best American brand ambassador for his work with Partida Tequila. And the biggest winner of the night was arguably Dushan Zaric: The New York establishment Employees Only, which he co-founded with Jason Kosmas, took home the titles of world’s best drinks selection and world’s best cocktail bar.