How I Survived 7 Days at a Liquor Conference in New Orleans, Pt. II

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Thanks for following along on my journey of survival through the wild. So far, there have been private jets, tiki drinks around every sweltering corner, music remixing sessions, vaporized scotch cocktails, Negroni fountains…I could go on (and I will). Miraculously, I’m both surviving and thriving at the halfway point, so let’s continue on the self-inflicted pilgrimage of insanity that is Tales of the Cocktail 2017.

DAY 4

Rise and shine…time for a casual brunch with Alain Ducasse celebrating his brand new release with Grey Goose. The location, Calcasieu, is stunning and proves a perfect setting for epic cocktail shots before diving into some much-needed nourishment. Which, to be quite honest, I barely touched because Alain Ducasse and I are breathing the same air and I don’t want to interrupt. But also I have a lunch shortly.

Lunchtime! I stroll on over to Compère Lapin inside the Old No. 77 Hotel, one of my favorite spots in NOLA, for lunch with the good people of Diplomático Rum. I savor some curried goat alongside the bartender’s take on a Mary Pickford, which is too delicious not to finish so I allow myself one exception to the two-sip rule. Worth it.

Typically it’s out of the question to venture outside of the centralized hubbub of Tales, but in the spirit of making exceptions today, I find myself calling an Uber bound for The Pontchartrain, which is all the way out in the Garden District but is literally SO BEAUTIFUL that I can’t not go. Martell is having a cocktail party at the rooftop bar, Hot Tin. Maybe I’ll just stay here…forever.

Perfect way to beat the #NOLA heat (🍹) Cc: @taradonnephoto #FollowYourNOLA

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Well, this has been a sweet respite, but now time to head back to reality/my own hotel to get ready for an actual boxing match. No, I myself will not be boxing per se, however I’m very much looking forward to a front seat view of the action with a Cazadores cocktail in hand. Plus, it’s for a good cause — Bartender Boxing has been promoting physical health for the bartending community all leading up to this moment and I’m here for it. The jefe of all things Cazadores, Manny Hinojosa, is my new best friend.

Snoop Dogg is supposedly performing nearby, however I’m listening to my body and it’s telling me that I’m tired and hungry, so I’m quite comfortable with my decision to not wait on a massive line for two hours and instead settle into a barstool dinner at a nearby restaurant alone. Goodnight, world.

DAY 5

Good thing I went to bed at a reasonable hour last night, because I’ve got a bright-and-early meeting with the lovely people of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau at Willa Jean! I resurrect myself with some coffee and a few bites of Greek yogurt while chatting away. Next up: a second breakfast accompanied by one of the industry’s most badass women with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of sipping vodka neat: Aisha Sharpe of VDKA6100. We hang at Café Amelie before I have to head off to my next obligation.

The clock strikes 12 and I’m sprinting through the French Quarter to make it to a seminar; The Future of Irish Whiskey hosted by Teeling and Tullamore D.E.W. — time to learn some stuff.

The seminar wraps and I walk down to the lobby of the Monteleone, only to find a massive crowd of people hiding out from the TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR that is occurring outside. I order an Uber, wait 30 minutes, and wade through an ankle-deep river barefoot before I climb in and make my way over to the Ace Hotel for the Fords Gin Trash Tiki party. Not even an apocalyptic rainstorm could keep me from tiki. Plus, it’s for a good cause.

It’s getting late and I’m not feeling tip-top, so I scurry back to my hotel to chug water, take a quick shower, and get my aesthetic together before the evening kicks off. I’ve got a hot date down on Bourbon Street with my favorite brand ambassador: Jägermeister’s Nils Boese. And by hot date I mean tasting various Jägermeister cocktails while he shows me a printed out photo of a German cherry cake. This party is very lit — bar legend Gaz Regan is stirring things with his fingers, there are some cool musical performances, and a man making spice art. Things are getting weird in the best way.

I’m back at the hotel YET AGAIN for another quick outfit change. From there, I mosey over to Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar for a late-night breakfast party, which is basically everything I stand for. G-Eazy is waiting for your girl over at Republic NOLA — I’m interviewing him about his new whiskey venture for Billboard before his show this evening.

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The interview goes swimmingly and now I’m off to a whiskey venture of my own: the Jameson party out in…god knows where. I arrive by Uber and explore a bit before someone convinces me to take a shot, which I NEVER DO but did so anyway against my better judgment, got heartburn immediately, and left.

DAY 6

I wake up snuggled in a tangle of blankets at my hotel next to Shanika, my ride-or-die Tales partner (and fellow Taste the Style editrix) — it’s a pretty ungodly hour so I force myself to get a bit more shuteye before brunch. So this is what it’s like to sleep in…

Brunchtime rolls around; I treat myself to a long, hot shower and a necessary bottle of water before getting dressed and walking over to SoBou, where a very boozy spread awaits. NOLA legends Ti Martin and Lally Brennan give me and Shanika the warmest welcome (they’re the most hospitable ladies I know) and I’m quickly ushered to my seat, where a cocktail magically appears in my hand. There are burlesque dancers, insane amounts of food, and a great crowd — I’m in heaven.

Come on in. The show is about to start.

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Somehow, the day is already halfway over. How did that happen? I’m headed back to the Catahoula to get some work done — I’ve got a hot solo date at Maypop to taste my way through their Tales menu and whet my palate with an app or two before my dinner rezzie at Compère Lapin. Curried goat, mama’s coming for you.

DAY 7

Well, folks, it’s been REALLY REAL. Almost too real…seven whole days is a lot for Tales, but I’m feeling good and am appreciating my decision to have booked an early evening flight in anticipation of wanting a chill exploratory day to myself after the Tales crowd dissipates, taking the madness with them. Shanika and I are mentally exhausted, but still have enough energy for one last brunch — we Uber it out to DTB and are not disappointed.

At this point, we’re both zombies (albeit well-fed) so we crawl back to the hotel to check out; we set up shop in the lobby to get a bit of work done and kill time until our airport departure at 4pm. As luck would have it though, our phones go off simultaneously about an hour prior, informing us that our flight has been DELAYED A FULL 12 HOURS.

I’ll keep this short and sweet but basically we looked at each other, said “fuck it,” booked back-to-back rezzies at all the restaurants and bars we missed on this trip, came back to the lobby, took a nap on the couches, and dragged our bodies and bags into an Uber at 3am, finally airport-bound. The end.

Tune in next year for my inevitably equally insane Tales adventures next year. Bye!

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