I arrived on Wednesday morning and made my way straight to the W on Poydras Street, as I had mentioned I opted out of the Monteleone this year, I wanted to be able to Casper
(disappear without saying goodbye) easily. Of course my plan was slightly foiled as many
people had had the same idea this year so I bumped into most of London in the lobby.
I wandered over to the Mont for lunch with some American friends and we all ended up at Coop's, which is a New Orleans institution, proper 'down home' Southern food. I had my first plate of gumbo, I have been, in the past, a super picky eater and am currently trying to broaden my horizons and not turn my fussy nose up at anything.
The great and the good were at Coop's including a big chunk of the blogging community. The gumbo was pretty good even if I couldn't identify most of what I was eating, probably not a bad thing for someone so fussy.
I had time for a cheeky nap and then onto the Beefeater welcome party which was of the normal creative high standard they always seem to pull off. Dinner with a collection of limeys and shermans (more about that reference later). We dined at Jacqueimos on Oak Street, which meant a beautiful drive through the garden district with all its beautiful huge colonial houses. There was an elderly door man of sorts who was also doing tarot card readings, apparently he traveled all around Europe lecturing on metaphysics. He kind of looked like Captain Birdseye, his reading what suitably vague and very work related, no surprises there. Last year I had a reading from a gentleman who worked at the voodoo museum whilst a huge albino python hung round his neck, his reading was far more random something about being a transexual lesbian which if you're already a woman is an oxymoron no?
I ate fried green tomatoes for the first time, it seems that most things in the South are fried, a bit like the Edinburgh of the Europe. Cagney rat made his first appearance at Tales and helped my fellow dining companion Ben finish his food. We then went onto Cure, which is a very swanky serious cocktail bar slightly off the beaten track. This wasn't your normal bar in New Orleans and wouldn't have been out of place in New York or San Francisco. I am very happy to say that on my first night I was safely tucked in bed by midnight.
Thursday was peppered with meetings, pool time (networking) and another pre evening nap.I also attended a tasting room where the seminar was entitled 'Limeys versus Shermans'presented by Jon Santer from SF and Ben Reed from London. They discussed the differences between bartending skills and then had a bit of a competition, I'm pretty sure it was a draw. The drinks at this seminar were some of the best I had during Tales. Our first stop of the evening was the Belvedere party with a large posse of English bartenders, a pit stop at the Monteleone and then it was time for the Old Absinthe House and Alibi. The crowd on the street outside the Old Absinthe House was immense and where pretty much all of Tales congregated each night until the wee hours. I sent myself to bed around 3am as I seemed to be amazed that I was still able to talk and walk, by talk I mean slur by walk, I mean stumble.
Friday was the first of 2 monumental hangovers and lots more meetings. Hangovers in New Orleans are particularly brutal, 90 degrees heat and 90% humidity, like being in a Bikram
yoga studio but I don't go to Bikram after rolling into bed at 3am and never when dehydrated. I managed to struggle up to the Boca Loca Cachaca lunch and revived myself with some tasty cocktails made my Jeffrey Morgenthaler. I was poolside again but lurking in the shade.
My evening started with drinks at the W and then another trip to Cure and the repeat evening of the night before, ending up at the Old Absinthe House and Alibi. Tales is about 90% male so being a female you get a lot of attention! There are all sorts of shenanigans that go on behind closed doors and the Monteleone resembles at some times of the night a frat house during Spring break. The later into the night outside the Old Absinthe House the more random the chat becomes and the audacious the proposals. These are two of the chat up lines I experienced 'would you like to come and try my bitters', this is standard Tales speak as there is a wealth of people that bring their new product or home made 'bla bla' for people to try. It's a little like 'would you like to come and see my etchings?' The second line was 'go on, let me kiss you, if you don't like it we can stop' a logical approach I feel. I caspered around 3am again with my modesty intact.
Saturday was one of the worst hangovers I've ever had, I don't sleep very much and normally bounce out of bed, I missed 'Limeys versus Shermans' part 2 and just about made it to lunch to groan over my salad with the lovely Burr family who I had had the pleasure of meeting at their Rum Renaissance this year in Miami. Another disco nap was required before the Spirits Awards and the firm resolve of not drinking (hadn't touched a drop all day).
The Spirits Awards are the the pinnacle of Tales and where the great and the good both US and Internationally are awarded for outstanding excellence. Anyone can nominate people or
bars for each category and then it is judged by a committee of experts from all over the world. I had the pleasure of being invited by Michael Silvers of Uber Bar Tools and Debbie Rizzo (PR).
I was particularly happy for one winner, The Merchant in Belfast. The Merchant (home of the Connoisseurs Club) is one of my favourite hotels and bars in the world. Every time I've been fortunate enough to visit I've had an amazing evening with great bartenders and hosts (yes even you Steven Pattison).They swept the board with 3 wins and another Brit won best International Bartender of the Year, Tony Conigliaro. I've yet to visit his new bar but plan to upon my return, its in Islington and has no name as yet.
I snuck off early to retrieve Cagney rat and drink tea with a dear friend and have a good Tales gossip! Cagney had been quite a hit with the ladies and was having a little rest.
Cagney's new friends and me!
Tales was even better this year than last year and not only was it educational, huge fun but great for my new business IP Brands.
See you all next year and it was lovely seeing you all.
Now for the de-tox, by de-tox, I mean daily yoga, not going to do anything silly like give up drinking, support your industry is what I say!