Around Tales of the Cocktail, in 5 Drinks

Highlights from one of New Orleans's most spirited celebrations.

At the 8th annual Tales of the Cocktail conference, held July 21-25 in New Orleans, bartenders, distillers, and cocktail enthusiasts gathered to celebrate all things spirited. Couldn’t make it to NOLA?  Here are (some of ) the cocktails and events you missed:

Death In The South Pacific
This potent, newfangled tiki-style Planter’s Punch, including three different types of rum, was the official cocktail of the 2010 conference. It was ladled out at the Tales welcome reception held in front of the Monteleone Hotel. (Recipe below) 

The Blanche DuBois
At Bar Tonique, this crisp gin drink made with local Louisana strawberries, curacao, orgeat, and mint was perfect for beating the hot, muggy New Orleans weather. 

Smokey Old Bastard
One of many memorable libations served at the “Progressive Cocktail Techniques” seminar hosted by Matthew Bax and Ryan Clift, this drink convinced me that we haven’t seen the last of molecular mixology just yet. Essentially an Islay whisky old-fashioned, a PolySci “smoking gun” was used to create and seal maple orange smoke inside a sealed mason jar, coating the ice and inside of the glass with a smoky aroma.

Curtiba Winter
Created by John Lermayer and served at a “Spirited Dinner” (food and cocktail pairing) at Latin-inspired seafood restaurant RioMar. Made with Leblon cachaca, Green Chartreuse, and apple cider, the garnish was a clove-studded green apple slice meant to sit under the nose with every sip, proving once again that scent can be as important as taste in a drink.

Beefeater Punch
Punches were abundant at Tales, and what I recall most about this one, served at a zany “Alice in Wonderland” themed party, was not the gin, fruit, and other ingredients in the punch, but rather the rubber duckies floated on top. 

The blend of rums is critical: The recipe calls for an aged rum, such as Appleton VX or Chairman's Reserve; an aged rhum agricole, such as Rhum Clement or Neisson; and a dark, molasses-based rum such as Cruzan Black Strap.

The orgeat (almond) syrup is available at some Mediterranean markets; syrup made by Fee Brothers can be ordered online through

Death in the South Pacific
1 serving

Created by Evan Martin (Naga Cocktail Bar in Bellevue, Wash.)

3/4 ounce aged rum
3/4 ounce aged rhum agricole
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1/3 ounce orgeat syrup (see headnote)
1/3 ounce falernum, preferably John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
3 dashes absinthe
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Crushed ice
1/2 ounce grenadine
1/2 ounce dark rum, preferably Cruzan Black Strap

Combine the rum, rhum agricole, Grand Marnier, orgeat syrup, falernum, absinthe and juices in a Collins or highball glass (or tiki mug) and fill with crushed ice. Swizzle the drink well to mix and to frost the glass, then add the grenadine.

Overfill the glass with crushed ice, then pour in the dark rum.

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