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Nominated for Tales of the Cocktail 2008 Spirit Award for Best Cocktail Writing

Tales of the Cocktail Celebrates 5th Anniversary PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debra C. Argen   

Tales of the Cocktail 2007Tales of the Cocktail celebrated its 5th anniversary from July 18 - 22, 2007 in New Orleans, and the "tales" have never been better!


Mr. Cocktail and Ann RogersAnn C. Rogers
, Founder of
Tales of the Cocktail, really outdid herself for this milestone event, bringing in top mixologists, television celebrities, chefs, and cocktail and culinary authors, to host over 50 events over a 5-day period. Having participated in the past four "Tales," each year the event keeps getting larger and better attracting cocktail and culinary enthusiasts from around the world.

Ed Hamilton and Edward Nesta at Rum JudgingEdward F. Nesta and I had barely landed in New Orleans, before we were off to our first event at Arnaud's to assist Ed Hamilton, Ambassador of Rum of the Ministry of Rum, as Rum Judges for the 2007 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition. We enthusiastically lent our senses for the next 2 days along with other judges, judging 59 high quality rums from around the world. Hey, I know, it sounds like a dream job, but someone has to do it! (Read Rum Judging - The Ultimate Dream Job)

813 Rue Bienville
New Orleans, Louisiana 70112
Telephone:      +1-504-523-5433
Toll Free:        +1-800-230-8895

Ann C. Rogers and Jessica Mogardo Pastry ChefPalates suitably rested, next on the agenda was the Tales of the Cocktail Opening Night Reception by Todd English's Riche Restaurant at Harrah's New Orleans Hotel. It was an evening to remember with Ann Rogers thanking the people who have helped to support the Tales of the Cocktail from the very beginning, saying "It's not always easy living in the Big Easy," and honoring Louis "Lou" Anthony Giglio, Jr., an integral part of the Tales of the Cocktail, who passed away in October 2006.

Tony Abu-Ganim, Chef Duke Locicero, Kelly LociceroA few of the many notables on hand for this special celebration included Master Mixologists, Chefs, Authors, Television and Radio Personalities, and personalities in general, they know who they are: Tony Abu-Ganim; Dale "King Cocktail" DeGroff, wife, Jill DeGroff, and son, Leo DeGroff; Audrey "Libation Goddess" Saunders; Robert "Drink Boy" Hess; Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh and his wife "Nurse Cocktail;" Jared Brown; David Wondrich and his wife; Chef Duke LoCicero and his wife, Kelly; Chef and The Fatman team: Chef Fred Genovese and his wife, Linda, and Kevin Jenkins and his wife, Karen; Al and Laurie Lucero; Joe Fee of Fee Brothers Joe Fee of Fee Brothers; Jennifer English; Joe Gendusa; Andrea Thornton; Marvin Allen; Bonnie Warren; Lucy Brennan; Simon Difford; Cheryl Charming; Kevin Brauch; Ramona Ponce and her husband, Eric Mueller; Chris McMillan and his wife, Laura; Lorin "The Food Goddess" Gaudin; Ricky and Rachel Douglas; Paul " Mr. Cocktail" Tuennerman; Ryan Magarian; Ted Breaux; Junior "The Liquid Chef" Merino; Diego Loret; and of course, Edward F. Nesta and Debra C. Argen "The Traveling Spirits;" were in the midst of the celebrations! Sorry if I missed a few names, but with a cast of thousands, it was hard to remember all the people, especially with Moët & Chandon White Star champagne flowing!

Friends of Tales of the Cocktail
Welcome Reception Partiers

228 Poydras Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Telephone:      +1-504-533-6117

G.W. Fins Bartender Stacy Smith's winning Starfish Cooler, the cocktail of the Tales of the Cocktail 2007 also helped add to overall excitement of the evening.

Starfish Cooler

1 ounce Moët & Chandon White Star
1 ounce Limoncello
1 ounce PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 ounce unsweetened ice tea 
½ ounce simple syrup

Muddled orange slice and mint leaf in a Collins glass. Combine all ingredients.

Michael Brewer and Lu Brow of Cafe Adelaide Returning to the Hotel Monteleone, we continued the celebration in the Carousel Bar, before retiring for the evening. The next morning, we indulged in a delectable breakfast at Café Adelaide, where Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan welcome guests with Bar Chef Lu Brow's eye-opener of Brandied Rum Milk Punch, remember its not called Tales of the Cocktail for nothing! We continued with Chef Danny Trace's Louisiana Blue Crab Scrambled Eggs des Allemands blue crab, herb roasted oyster mushrooms, melted leeks, buttered brioche toast, and brie fondue, followed by Bananas Foster Shortcake with vanilla cream and Captain Morgan's Private Reserve Rum sauce; and Café Pierre, a classic Commander's Palace creation made with brandy, Kahlua, Galliano and other delicious ingredients. 

Chef Fred Genovese Blowing Bubbles at Cafe AdelaideCafé Adelaide thought that it would be fun to have miniature champagne bubbles as party favors on the tables, and Chef Fred Genovese had our table laughing as he attempted to blow bubbles, which prompted Kevin Jenkins and the rest of our table to join in.

Café Adelaide & the Swizzle Stick Bar
Located in the Loews New Orleans Hotel
300 Poydras Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Telephone:      +1-504-595-3305

Spirited Women SeminarWe rushed from Café Adelaide back to the Hotel Monteleone just in time to attend two of the seminars, Spirited Women Past and Present with Charlotte Voissey and LeNell Smothers, and Sake to Me! with Lorin Gaudin, Beau Timken, Lucy Brennan, Dina Cheney, and Dewey Weddington. (Read Spirited Women and Sake article)


Sake Seminar Panel
Sake Seminar - Lorin, Beau, Lucy, Dina, Dewey

Heads swimming with our newly acquired knowledge on Spirited Women and Sake, we headed back to Arnaud's for the morning session working as Rum Judges from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm for the 2007 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition.

TOC Friends at Cocktail HourWe returned to Arnaud's for the final afternoon Rum Judging session from 3:00 pm until 5:00 pm, and then it was time to attend Cocktail Hour, the Tales of the Cocktail ultimate cocktail party, from 5:00 pm until 7:30 pm. Guests had the opportunity to sample cocktails from a host of cocktail celebrities including Jeff  "Beach Bum" Berry; Tony Abu-Ganim; Beau Timken and Dewey Weddington; Ramona Ponce and James Waller; Marvin Allen; Dale DeGroff; Jared Brown; Gary Regan; Audrey Saunders; David Wondrich; Ted Breaux at Cocktail HourTed Breaux; Jenny Adams, and Kerry McCaffety. With cocktail names like the Mint Jolie, Ginger Rogers, Brandied Rum Punch, Tomi Collins, Guava Cosmo, Jabberwocky Fizz, Nick and Nora Cocktail, Jasmine, The Thornbush, The Straddling Thorsten, Tombstone Cocktail, Walker Sour, French Absinthe Cocktail, G Sling, Priscilla Gin Fizz, Bulleit to the Heart, La Patrina Margarita, Creole Bloody Mary, Trilby, and many more, the hardest part of the evening was deciding which cocktails to try!

Gary Regan at Cocktail Hour Food Goddess Lorin Gaudin at Cocktail Hour Jerry Berry the Beach Bum at Cocktail Hour
Gary Regan                   Lorin Gaudin                Jeff Berry

Sake Guys at Cocktail HourGuests also had the opportunity sample culinary creations from New Orleans restaurants including The Captain Morgan Spiced Rum BBQ Pork from Chef/Owner Duke LoCicero of Café Giovanni; Cured Atlantic Salmon with Dill and Ciroc Vodka from Chef/Owner Raymond Toups of Anatole; Momokawa Sake Poached Oyster with Louisiana Shitake Mushrooms from Chef Kristen Essig of Nola Bean; Jumbo Rum & Lime Glazed Shrimp with Summer Melon Salad from Chef Jack Martinez of  Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, and Banana Foster from Executive Chef Lazone Randolph of Brennan's.

Coming Together at Cocktail Hour 

Marvin Allen and Jennifer English at Cocktail Hour Laura McMillan and Dale Degroff at Cocktail Hour

Jared Brown and Edward F. Nesta at Cocktail Hour

The evening progressed to Spirited Dinners with Mixologists and Chefs teaming up to create cocktail and food pairing dinners. With so many wonderful restaurants hosting Spirited Dinners to select from, Edward and I had a hard time selecting, and decided to each dine at a different restaurant to maximize our tasting opportunities. He had dinner at G.W. Fins, and I had dinner at Commander's Palace, which reopened in October 2006.

The Menu from G.W. Fins July 19, 2007 Cocktail Spirited Dinner featuring Executive Chef Michael B. Nelson and Bar Chef Eben Klemm

Chef Michael B. Nelson of G. W. FIn

Welcome Cocktail
Orleans "75"

Creole Tomato Stuffed with Shrimp Salad
Paired with Scandinavian Sunburn made with Plymouth Gin, Aalborg, Tomato Water, and Spiced Salt

Crispy Fried Soft Shell Crab
Creamy meuniere butter, toasted pecans
Paired with Tristam Shandy made with Heineken, Maple Syrup, Grapefruit Juice, and Absolut Ruby Red "Ice"

American Red Fish of G.W. Fins

American Red Snapper
Braised with Chanterelles, bok choy, tasso, and crayfish
Paired with The Reconsideration made with Cruzan Estate Diamond, White Wine, Mint, and Lime

Bourbon Pecan Pie
With fresh peach ice cream
Paired with Reverse Cappuccino made with Absolut Vanilla, Maker's Mark, and White Chocolate Shavings

G.W. Fins
808 Bienville Street, between Bourbon and Dauphine Streets
New Orleans, Louisiana 70112
Telephone:      +1-504-581-FINS (3467)
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Debra C. Argen and Kevin BrauchI had dinner at Commander's Palace where a few of my dinner companions for the evening included Ann C. Rogers and Paul Tuennerman, Ana Jovancicevic of the Distilled Spirits Council, Author Jenny Adams, Radio Talk Show Host Jennifer English, and Television Personality Kevin Brauch "The Thirsty Traveler" of Fine Living Network.


The Menu from Commander's Palace July 19, 2007 Cocktail Spirited Dinner featuring Executive Chef Tory McPhail and Guest Mixologists Dale DeGroff and Audrey Saunders  

Chef Tory McPhail 

First Course
Cachaça Seafood Escabèche
Grilled octopus, mussels, clams, shrimp and blue crab with liquid parsley, lemon, bay leaf infused olive oil, and heirloom tomato salt
Paired with Cucumber Mint Creole

Rum Butter Poached Lobster at Commanders Palace

Second Course
Rum Butter Poached Lobster
Caribbean curry, ginger, okra, taro, sweet potato and house distilled roasted coconut liqueur Paired with Ginger and Coconut Water Caipiroska

Tequila Flambéed Shrimp "Piñata"
Grilled cactus, avocado, cilantro, hot chilies, and lime in an edible coriander piñata
Paired with Green Goddess

Bourbon and Sugarcane Smoked Duck
Smoked over smoldering whiskey barrels with local figs, sweet potato pone, barbecued onions, vanilla bourbon syrup, and foie gras ganache
Paired with Blood & Sand

Champagne and Strawberries
Champagne and Zinfindel braised strawberries with caramel genoise, housemade vanilla ice cream, and candied lavender sabayon
Paired with NOLA Fizz

Commander's Palace
1403 Washington Avenue
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Telephone:      +1-504-899-8221  

Brennan's Southern Baked AppleThe next morning we fortified ourselves for another day of Tales of the Cocktail having breakfast at Brennan's where we began our morning with Brennan's Mimosas paired with Executive Chef Lazone Randolph's Southern Baked Apple with Double Cream, Egg Hussarde/Egg Sardou - one poached egg atop a Halland rusk, Canadian bacon and Marchand de Vin sauce, topped with Hollandaise sauce, and one poached egg on an artichoke bottom nestled in a bed of creamed spinach and topped with Hollandaise sauce. Brennan's famous Bananas Foster completed our "light" breakfast!

Brennan's Restaurant
417 Royal Street
New Orleans, Louisiana
Telephone:      +1-504-525-9713  

It was now time for Junior "The Liquid Chef" Merino, and Edward F. Nesta and I to prepare for our seminar on South American Spirits on Pisco and Cachaça by pre-batching our cocktails, which required us to hand juice over 70 limes!

Junior Merino, Debra C. Argen, Edward F. Nesta Prepping Ingredients for Seminar
Junior, Debra, and Edward Prepping for Seminar

Shaking the Caipirinha South America is red-hot and our seminar on Pisco and Cachaça had the attendees dancing in their chairs while learning the history, and how to make the classic cocktails, Pisco Sour and Caipirinha. (Read about South American Spirits article).

We attended several of the Tasting Room sessions throughout the Tales of the Cocktail where sponsors met with interested individuals to speak about their products, and as the name implied, there was of course, tasting going on in the form of cocktails.

Jackson SquareSince a trip to New Orleans must include a stop to Aunt Sally's for our praline fix we took a stroll through the streets of the French Quarter to purchase pralines, Café du Monde Chicory Coffee and Beignets mix, hot sauces, and a few other goodies as well. The French Quarter looked wonderful as we passed Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral, the horse carriages filled with visitors, Café du Monde bustling with customers, and the sound of jazz music from the band playing outside the French Market.

We returned to the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone in time to catch The Chef and the Fatman radio show (Channel 1160 AM out of Atlanta), which had the bar roaring with laughter.

Hotel Monteleone
214 Royal Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Telephone:      +1-504-523-3341
Toll Free:        +1-800-535-9595  

Royal PharmacyMaking our way down Royal Street we stopped at the old Royal Pharmacy and sat at the old-time soda fountain sipping a soda feeling like we had stepped back into time while music from the 1950s played in the background.

Royal Pharmacy
1101 Royal Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
Telephone:      +1-504-523-5401

Book Signing - dinkology EATS - Ramona Ponce, Guest, James WallerWe stopped by for an evening of "Books & Bubbly" hosted by Nadine Blake at her adorable interior decoration & lifestyle shop with a book signing by authors James Waller and Ramona Ponce, serving champagne and recipes from their book, drinkology EATS.  

Nadine Blake
1036 Rue Royal
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
Telephone:      +1-504-529-4913

Regina, Jim Walker, Edward F. Nesta at Sippin' on 7Once again, the Hotel Monteleone hosted another cocktail party with the theme James Bond movies for Sippin' on 7, where we caught up with Mike Young, who was the Second Place Winner in the Luxury Experience Magazine Contest. Mike and his charming wife Nancy attend the Tales of the Cocktail every year, and this year brought their family and friends with them to experience this fun event. We also caught up with another Luxury Experience Magazine reader, Jim Walker, who also is an annual supporter of the Tales of the Cocktail.

Edward F. Nesta and LEM TOC Contest Winner Mike and Nancy Young at Sippin' at 7
Luxury Experience TOC Contest Winners Mike and Nancy Young

The next day, we went with Ed Hamilton to visit Old New Orleans Rum where Ben Gresh and Mike "Elvis" Karnowski gave us an informative tour of the distillery on making Louisiana rum, followed by rum tasting of course! Owned by New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos, Old New Orleans Rum been making rum since 1995, and three of their rums took Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals at the 2007 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition.

Old New Orleans Rum
2815 Frenchman Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70122
Telephone:      +1-504-945-9400

Another seminar that we attended was Wine Based Cocktails hosted by the affable authors James Waller and Ramona Ponce, who took attendees through the history of wine based drinks, and then discussed ideas for hot and cold wine based drinks, which also included tasting.

James Waller and Ramona Ponce - Wine Based Cocktails Seminar
James Waller and Ramona Ponce

Continuing the party, we moved on to the Stirrings Things Up Block Party on Fulton Street, before heading to Jean Lafitte's Original Old Absinthe House where Ben Jones of Rhum Clement hosted a "Save the Daiquiri" event in honor of Hemingway's birthday, where we joined Ben Jones, Tad Carducci, Gary Regan, and many others to drink for "Papa."

Jean Lafitte's Original Old Absinthe House
240 Bourbon Street
New Orleans, Louisiana
Telephone:      +1-504-523-3181

We finished the evening chatting with radio talk show host, Jennifer English, and her guest, Daniel Watson, a rum producer from Texas, as she taped her radio show in the Carousel Bar.

The next morning, we said "farewell" to New Orleans with a final stop at Café du Monde for hot beignets and cups of chicory coffee to hold us over until we return next year. See you  at the 2008 Tales of the Cocktail!

Read other on the Tales of the Cocktail in the Liquor Cabinet, Restaurants, and Chefs' Recipes sections.

For information on the 2008 Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, please visit: For information on New Orleans, please visit: New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. at:

© August 2007. Luxury Experience. All rights reserved.

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