1. The 10th annual Tales of the Cocktail convention in New Orleans last month was the biggest and best yet. Many (if not most) of Las Vegas’ finest mixologists and most promising rising bar stars jetted down to NOLA for the week of industry seminars, tastings, “spirited” cocktail-pairing dinners, brand parties and late-night, Bourbon Street shenanigans …
2. To put it into context, The Cosmopolitan’s Mariena Mercer later posted on Facebook, “Dear NOLA, have you seen: my left contact, my motor skills, my hand-eye coordination, my rape whistle, my Fernet coin, the tip of my right pinky toe and about 300 packets of Pedialyte?” That pretty much sums it up! Keep an eye on TalesOfTheCocktail.com for next year’s dates.
3. Competing this year, RM Seafood’s Nathan Greene took second place in the Drambui Tales-on-Tap draft cocktail competition. Light Group’s Emilio Tiburcio competed in the Marie Brizard USA Cocktail Challenge Finals (emceed by Southern Wine & Spirits’ Francesco Lafranconi and judged by Delmonico Steakhouse’s Max Solano). And fresh off the plane, Rock & Rita’s Anthony Pullen won second place in the United States Bartenders’ Guild’s National Flair Competition.
4. At Tales, it’s no good trying to keep good news a secret. Tiburcio’s next adventure as Light Group executive mixologist will take him to Morocco, where he will create cocktails for the new Delano Marrakech, which is slated for a September opening.
5. Admittedly, Las Vegas never fares well at the annual Spirited Awards, and this year was no different as London positively cleaned up. But it was a special moment for Las Vegans in the audience when Lafranconi was announced as a nominee for Best Bar Mentor. And even with TV’s Zane Lamprey hosting, our own Tony Abou-Ganim, “the Modern Mixologist,” got the final word of the evening, bestowing the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award on barman, writer and renaissance man Gaz Regan.
6. Immediately following the awards comes the burial of a cocktail in a traditional jazz funeral procession. In the coffin this year was the much-despised Cement Mixer. And if you’ve ever been coerced into trying that curdled hazing ritual, then you know why.
7. Meanwhile, back in Las Vegas, it’s harvest time! Thanks to our short, warm growing season, apples, dates, wine grapes and (soon) pears are being picked at the UNCE Orchard (4600 Horse Drive, 257-5555), and fresh cider is being pressed at Gilcrease Orchard (8103 Racel St., 409-0655). Home-brewers, I’m talking to you.