GSN Alert: Tales of the Cocktail 2019 Spirited Award Winners

Congratulations to this year’s winners! Cheers!



American Bartender of the Year presented by Amaro Montenegro

Julio Cabrera – Cafe La Trova, Miami, FL

Best American Brand Ambassador presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Tim Cooper, Fords Gin

Best American Bar Team presented by William Grant & Sons

Monica Berg – Tayer and Elementary, London, UK

Best American Bar Team presented by William Grant & Sons

Herbs and Rye – Las Vegas, NV

Best American Cocktail Bar presented by Select Aperitivo

Attaboy – New York, NY

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar presented by Grey Goose Vodka

Herbs and Rye – Las Vegas, NV

Best American Hotel Bar presented by Altos Tequila

Compére Lapin at The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery – New Orleans, LA

Best American Restaurant Bar presented by Woodford Reserve

Dante – New York, NY

Best New American Cocktail Bar presented by Elijah Craig Bourbon

Katana Kitten – New York, NY


International Bartender of the Year presented by BACARDÍ RUM

Monica Berg – Tayer and Elementary, London, UK

Best International Brand Ambassador presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Joe McCanta, Grey Goose

Best International Bar Team presented by The House of Angostura

Licorería Limantour – Mexico City, Mexico

Best International Cocktail Bar presented by Maison Ferrand

Atlas Bar – Singapore

Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar presented by Beam Suntory

Schumann’s Bar – Munich, Germany

Best International Hotel Bar presented by Perrier

Manhattan at Regent Singapore – Singapore

Best International Restaurant Bar presented by Peroni Nastro Azzurro

Hawksmoor Spitalfields – London, UK

Best New International Cocktail Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

MAYBE SAMMY – Sydney, Australia


Best Bar Mentor presented by BARSMARTS

Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient presented by TABASCO® Brand

Fords Gin Officers’ Reserve

World’s Best Cocktail Menu presented by Wine & Spirit Education Trust

Trick Dog – San Francisco, CA

World’s Best Spirits Selection presented by Beam Suntory

Atlas Bar – Singapore


Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

SevenFifty Daily

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Robert Simonson, The New York Times, Imbibe Magazine, PUNCH

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions by Alex Day, David Kaplan, and Nick Fauchald

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History or Spirits presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

A Drinkable Feast: A Cocktail Companion to 1920s Paris by Philip Greene

Best Broadcast, Podcast or Online Video Series presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Bartender at Large



World’s Best Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Dante – New York, NY

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award presented by William Grant & Sons

Javier De Las Muelas

Philanthropy Award presented by Santa Teresa 1796 Rum

Speed Rack

Timeless American Award presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Napoleon House – New Orleans, LA

Timeless International Award presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

El Floridita – Havana, Cuba

The 2018 GSN Holiday Gift Guide Day 1: Bottesi Bar Tools

Tales of the Cocktail shared these exceptionally cool strainers and barspoons in their recent newsletter, and we wanted to pass the news on to our bartending friends. Order one for yourself and more for your co-workers behind the stick! Cheers!

Strainers by Bottesi

Rangda StainerRangda Stainer by Bottes

During this past year, Bottesi is working on a special strainer with a motif in 3D. The strainer on the far right was inspired by the traditional Balinese mask of the demon queen Rangda, who fights against Barong.

Skull Spoon by Bottesi

Skull Spoon by BottesiSkull Spoon by Bottesi

This Skull Spoon is handmade by Bottesi. It is a standard 30 cm barspoon, which they cut, sand, drill and polish by hand. Each spoon is uniquely different. They are made of stainless steel and are dishwasher safe.

Purchase Them Here

GSN Interview: Jim Meehan Shares Thoughts About His Bar Manual

Jim Meehan is a bartenders’ bartender. As a former General Manager at PDT (Please Don’t Tell) in NYC, and author of The PDT Cocktail Book, those alone would qualify him a star on the Bartender Walk of Fame. He recently opened two new bars in Chicago and Hong Kong, is the long-time brand ambassador for Banks Rum, and has received recognition from the James Beard Foundation and the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.

Jim kindly took time to answer a few questions we had after reading his latest volume Meehan’s Bartender Manual.

GSN: Like a lot of us who came into the bartending game in the 21st century, you discovered the classic bar and cocktail guides by Jerry Thomas, Harry Johnson, Harry Craddock, etc… after you’d already been bartending for a while.  How did you approach these venerable recipes and the somewhat outdated service advice?

JM: Discovering these books made me feel part of a long, noble tradition I wasn’t familiar with.  While the world has changed, the fundamentals of the job- serving people food and drink in an engaging environment- has not.  Mixed drinks follow a fashion-like cycle with the recipes reflecting the mood and style of the time, so I don’t worry about them becoming “outdated”, as what was old will be new again in the future.

GSN: Which cocktail & bar guide books do you feel best capture a snapshot of the four ages of cocktail history from the golden age of the 1800’s up to the pre-prohibition era; from the silver age during the emigration of American bartenders to Europe during the 1920’s-30’s; to modern age post-WWII tiki and Mad Men era drinks; to the craft revival age where many of the drinks utilize house-made ingredients?

JM: This is more of a (David) Wondrich question, but if you put me on the spot, I’d recommend The Hoffman House Bartender’s Guide by Charles Mahoney, The Artistry of Mixing Drinks by Frank Meier, David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks or Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide if you want tiki too, and Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s The Bar Book.

GSN: Much of the guests’ experience is not about the drink itself, but rather the overall visual experience of the bar and the personality of the bartender.  How do you see overall bar design aesthetic working with a team of bartenders who all have differing personalities and levels of commitment to the craft?

JM: Audrey Saunders once described the bar as a mouse trap to me and the staff as the cheese.  Expanding upon this analogy, if you want to attract a diverse clientele, you need a variety of “bait” to entice them.  Accordingly, I encourage operators to recruit and hire a diverse staff, whose personalities and interests will be reflected in the clientele.  As for differing levels of commitment, everyone needs to understand the vision for the business, but they don’t all need to go about achieving the bar’s goals the same way.  There are many ways to do things, so as long as you’re getting results, why not promote multiple pathways?

GSN: On that note, is there ever a place for a “star-tender” on a bar team, or do you think that they might be better suited to owning a venue, or transitioning into a brand rep?

Jacob Briars

JM: I recall a Tales of the Cocktail seminar Jacob Briars gave where he suggested great bars need two stars: not just one.  His duos included Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy at Attaboy, Simone Caporale and Alex Kratena formerly of Artesian and others.  You’re only as good as your staff, so I agree with Jacob on this.  As long as the team understands the vision for the business and is mindful of each other’s needs, there’s room for “star-tenders” with other responsibilities to play a supporting role.

GSN: What brands of bar tools do you find yourself reaching for these days? There are so many different jiggers, shakers, bar spoons, and mixing glasses available these days, it makes sense to buy the best if you can.

JM: Cocktail Kingdom remains my favorite place for one stop shopping, but I’ve got a wandering eye when it comes to bar tools.   I’m particularly fond of Japanese tools from Soukichi and Bar Times in Tokyo and Umami Mart in Oakland.  Erik Lorincz (Birdy) and Charles Joly (Crafthouse by Fortessa) each have bar tool lines, which is super cool.

GSN: What are your thoughts about the relatively new idea of cocktail flights and food pairings? Obviously, it can be a huge hassle when you’re in the weeds, but in a slower atmosphere, do you feel that these are of value to either the bartender or the guest?

JM: Absolutely.  Pairings and flights- which I’ve been doing ever since I started working in restaurants in New York in 2002- reinforce the cocktail’s rightful place within the culinary arts.  I’m doing a pairing dinner in Boulder, CO at Frasca on March 26th.  If a guest asks for one or the chef is motivated to feature cocktails as part of their tasting menu, it provides a great opportunity for the bartender to showcase their creativity.

GSN: How do you feel about the distilling industry explosion here in the U.S.? Some would say that having too many choices leaves the consumer overwhelmed and asking for a brand or cocktail that they are already quite familiar with as opposed to experimenting with something new.

JM: The cream will rise to the top.  It’s a bit overwhelming right now, as you want to support local craft distilling, but the quality isn’t there yet for most producers.  It takes time, and most small business owners don’t have the capital to compete with big brands.

GSN: For the bartender who works either for a venue where the owner will only carry a limited number of products, or if they work in a highly regulated state where distribution or availability is limited, how do you suggest they manage to create an interesting cocktail program?

Prairie School

JM: Beauty- or “interesting” for this question- is in the eye of the beholder.  We stock a limited selection of products at Prairie School and PDT because focus matters to me.  Whether your back bar and spirits selection is big or small, it should be curated and relate to the chef’s cuisine or the bar’s cocktail focus.

GSN: Have you ever found that some cocktails you’ve created and thought were sure-fire winners, just didn’t resonate with the guests despite being appealingly described on a menu? If so, what were they? Also, please share a few of your favorite cocktail recipes that you’ve created, and a few that others have made and are on your short list.’

JM: As I said above, taste is subjective; so, in some ways, my opinion of my bar’s cocktails is somewhat irrelevant.  I love many of my recipes like family, but at the end of the day, the guests decide what stays on the menu and what goes.  I have a little over thirty favorites in my new book, and if I had to pick, I’d highlight the Mezcal Mule, East India Negroni, Old Friend and Newark as favorites.

Photograph: Nick Caruana

Old Friend

Old Friend
1.5 oz. Beefeater Gin
.75 oz. grapefruit juice
.5 oz. Campari
.25 oz. St. Germain
Shake with ice, then fine strain into a chilled coupe
Garnish with a lemon twist


East India Negroni

East India Negroni
2 oz. Banks 5-Island Rum
.75 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry
.75 oz. Campari
Stir with ice, then strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with one large ice cube
Garnish with an orange twist




Mezcal Mule
1.5 oz. Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
1 oz. ginger wort
.75 oz. lime juice
.75 oz. Boiron Passion Fruit Purée
.5 oz. agave syrup
4 cucumber slices (reserve 1 for garnish)
Muddle the cucumber slices and agave syrup, then add the remaining ingredients
Shake with ice, then fine strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with ice
Garnish with a piece of candied ginger picked to a slice of cucumber and a pinch of ground chili

Photograph by Ian LauerNewark
2 oz. Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1 oz. Vya Sweet Vermouth
.25 oz. Fernet-Branca
.25 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
Stir with ice, then strain into a chilled coupe
No garnish


GSN: Service is key in our industry. Do you think this is a skill that is inherent in a new employee, or is it generally a learned skill?  What is the best approach that you’ve found in training new staff?

JM: I look for character- most of which is determined by a candidate’s upbringing- when I’m hiring.  I can’t teach someone to care about themselves, others or their job: ideally, their parents already instilled that.  On the other hand, the x’s and o’s of service are totally trainable and I’m happy to teach them because our service style is what distinguishes us from other bars.

There’s no one size fits all approach to training in my book.  You do your best.  There’s never enough time before you open and once you’re open, your bar becomes a work in progress constantly evolving based on the team and the guests’ interests.  Instead of rounding everyone up like it’s a school, I eke out one-on-one time: typically, after a mistake has occurred and there’s a teachable moment to take advantage of.

Audrey Saunders

GSN: Any mentors that you’ve had you’d like to give a shout out to? What was their advice that has had a lasting effect on your career?

JM: There are over fifty portraits of friends, colleagues and mentors in my new book with quotes that lend insight into their expertise and impact upon my career.  Among all of them, Audrey Saunders stands out as my primary mentor, who once told me “Don’t believe the hype.”  It’s something that I took to heart and hold close to the vest when things seem to be going well.  You’ve got to put work in every day and never take your success for granted.

GSN: Last question: Burnout and alcohol abuse abound in an industry founded on a controlled substance.  How have you personally been able to keep a level head over the years and not get sucked in to the dark side of bartending?

JM: I grew up around alcoholism in my family and have always been wary of over indulging.  That ad on TV: “This is your brain.  This is your brain on drugs.” had an impact on me!  I don’t drink when I’m tending bar and forbid my staff from it until the shift is over.  After our first child- and fifteen years of drinking with bartenders- I’ve pulled way back in the last few years.  My hangovers last all day and it’s just not worth it anymore.  I fell head over heels for this industry because I love serving others: not myself.  I love to drink, but I value my health and happiness above it.

GSN: Thanks Jim, and cheers!

You can order a copy of Meehan’s Bartender Manual from Cocktail Kingdom

Tales of the Cocktail® Announces the Top 4 Finalists for the 2017 Spirited Awards®

2017 Spirited Awards® Top Four Finalists


Best American Bar Team

  • Herbs and Rye (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company (Miami, FL)
  • The NoMad Bar (New York, NY)
  • Williams & Graham (Denver, CO)

American Bartender of the Year

  • Jeff Bell of PDT (New York, NY)
  • John Lermayer of Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company (Miami, FL)
  • Kevin Diedrich of Pacific Cocktail Haven (San Francisco, CA)
  • Yael Vengroff of The Spare Room (Los Angeles, CA)

Best American Brand Ambassador

  • Anne Louise Marquis (Campari USA)
  • Lynn House (Heaven Hill)
  • Misty Kalkofen (Del Maguey)
  • Robin Nance (Auchentoshan)

Best American Cocktail Bar

  • Anvil Bar and Refuge (Houston, TX)
  • Attaboy (New York, NY)
  • Columbia Room (Washington, DC)
  • Trick Dog (San Francisco, CA)

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar

  • Harvard & Stone (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Honeycut (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company (Miami, FL)
  • The NoMad Bar (New York, NY)

Best American Hotel Bar

  • Compère Lapin at Old No. 44 Hotel (New Orleans, LA)
  • Proof on Main at 21c Museum Hotel (Louisville, KY)
  • The Hawthorne at The Commonwealth Hotel (Boston, MA)
  • The Spare Room at The Roosevelt Hotel (Los Angeles, CA)

Best American Restaurant Bar

  • Cane & Table (New Orleans, LA)
  • Dante NYC (New York, NY)
  • Gramercy Tavern (New York, NY)
  • Spoon and Stable (Minneapolis, MN)

Best New American Cocktail Bar

  • Bar Clacson (Los Angeles, CA)
  • BlackTail (New York, NY)
  • Jupiter Disco (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Wildhawk (San Francisco, CA)


Best International Bar Team

  • Black Pearl (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Dandelyan (London, UK)
  • Lost + Found Drinkery (Nicosia, Cyprus)
  • The Connaught Bar (London, UK)

International Bartender of the Year

  • Erik Lorincz of The American Bar (London, UK)
  • Iain Griffiths of Dandelyan (London, UK)
  • Nico de Soto of Danico (Paris, France)
  • Shingo Gokan of Speak Low (Shanghai, China)

Best International Brand Ambassador

  • Camille Ralph Vidal (St-Germain)
  • Ian Burrell (Rum Ambassador)
  • Joe McCanta (Grey Goose)
  • Raj Nagra (Bombay Gins)

Best International Cocktail Bar

  • Black Pearl (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Bramble (Edinburgh, UK)
  • Le Syndicat (Paris, France)
  • Little Red Door (Paris, France)

Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar

  • Oriole (London, UK)
  • Panda & Sons (Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • The Baxter Inn (Sydney, Australia)
  • Trailer Happiness (London, UK)

Best International Hotel Bar

  • Dandelyan at The Mondrian (London, UK)
  • Manhattan Bar at The Regent Singapore (Singapore)
  • Punch Room at The Edition (London, UK)
  • The American Bar at The Savoy (London, UK)

Best International Restaurant Bar

  • Le Mary Celeste (Paris, France)
  • Sager + Wilde (London, UK)
  • The Blind Pig (London, UK)
  • Tippling Club (Singapore)

Best New International Cocktail Bar

  • ATLAS (Singapore)
  • Danico (Paris, France)
  • Swift (London, UK)
  • Three Sheets (London, UK)


Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication

  • Class Magazine
  • Difford’s Guide (
  • Hot Rum Cow
  • The Daily Beast Drink + Food

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer

  • Alyson Sheppard
  • Kara Newman
  • Robert Simonson
  • Wayne Curtis

Best New Cocktail & Bartending Book

  • A Proper Drink by Robert Simonson
  • Regarding Cocktails by Sasha Petraske with Georgette Moger-Petraske
  • Shake.Stir.Sip. by Kara Newman
  • Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki by Martin & Rebecca Cate

Best New Spirits Book

  • Amaro by Brad Thomas Parsons
  • Bourbon: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of An American Whiskey by Fred Minnick
  • Colonial Spirits: A Toast to our Drunken History by Steven Grasse
  • Whiskey: A Spirited Story with 75 Classic and Original Cocktails by Michael Dietsch


Best Bar Mentor

  • David Wondrich
  • Don Lee
  • Ivy Mix & Lynnette Marrero
  • Paul McGee

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient

  • Ancho Reyes Verde (Mexico)
  • Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal PUEBLA, San Pablo Ameyaltepec Wild Papalote (Mexico)
  • ITALICUS – Rosolio di Bergamotto (Italy)
  • Plantation O.F.T.D. (France)

World’s Best Cocktail Menu

  • Beaufort Bar (London, UK)
  • BlackTail (New York, United States)
  • The Dead Rabbit (New York, United States)
  • Trick Dog (San Francisco, United States)

World’s Best Spirits Selection

  • ATLAS (Singapore)
  • canon: whiskey and bitters emporium (Seattle, WA)
  • Old Lightning (Los Angeles, United States)
  • The Office (Chicago, United States)

GSN Alert: 2016 Tale of the Cocktail Spirited Award Winners

TOTC2016 - Spirited Awards wo Tickets- 1000x350.jpg.1000x0_q85_crop-smartCongratulations to all of this year’s winners!  Looks like a trip to London is in the works!

International Categories

Best International Bar Team
American Bar at the Savoy, London

Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar
Callooh Callay, London

Best International Restaurant Bar
Hawksmoor Spitalfields, London

International Bartender of the Year
Hidetsugu Ueno, Bar High Five, Tokyo

Best International Cocktail Bar
Happiness Forgets, London

Best International Hotel Bar
The Connaught Bar, London

Best New International Cocktail Bar
Oriole, London

Best International Brand Ambassador
Max Warner, Chivas Regal

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication
Cocktail Lovers, London

Best New Cocktail & Bartending Book
The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer
Jeffery Morgenthaler

Best New Spirits Book
Divided Spirits

Best Bar Mentor
Angus Winchester

World’s Best Cocktail Menu
Dandelyan, London

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient
Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy

World’s Best Spirits Selection
Tommy’s, San Francisco

World’s Best Cocktail Bar
The Connaught Bar, London

Lifetime Achievement Award
Sasha Petraske

American Categories

Best American Bar Team
ABV, San Francisco

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar
Herbs & Rye, Las Vegas

Best American Restaurant Bar
Saxon & Parole, New York

American Bartender of the Year
Jeffery Morgenthaler, Portland

Best American Cocktail Bar
Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco

Best American Hotel Bar
The Elephant Bar, New York

Best American Cocktail Bar
Sweet Liberty, Miami

Best International Brand Ambassador
Colin Asare-Appiah, Bacardi

GSN Alert: Tales of the Cocktail Announces Top Ten Nominees for the 10th Annual Spirited Awards

330x329xScreen-Shot-2015-06-16-at-1.43.57-PM-330x329.png.pagespeed.ic.l5Lf4GWrcuFollowing a rigorous evaluation of over 1500 unique nominees, the top ten for each award category have been chosen for the 10th Annual Spirited Awards®. The Spirited Awards® were created in 2007 to recognize this year’s best bars, bartenders, writers, experts in the hard working service industry.

American and International committees comprised of the most respected minds in the cocktail industry selected the top 10 nominees for the 24 award categories. Each nominee was reviewed in detail to ensure it met the criteria and then presented by ballot to the committee judges. The 110 esteemed judges’ votes yielded this year’s top 10 nominees.

The 25 Spirited Awards® recipients will be announced at the Spirited Awards® at the Sheraton New Orleans on Saturday, July 23, 2016 as a part of the 14th Annual Tales of the Cocktail®. We will also honor and celebrate the life and the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Inductee, Sasha Petraske. In addition, we will remember the other industry pioneers we have lost this year.
American Categories

Best American Bar Team

ABV (San Francisco)
Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
Attaboy (New York City)
The Dead Rabbit (New York City)
Drink (Boston)
Harvard & Stone (Los Angeles)
Herbs & Rye (Las Vegas)
Holiday Cocktail Lounge (New York City)
The NoMad (New York City)
Williams & Graham (Denver)
Best American Cocktail Bar

ABV (San Francisco)
The Aviary (Chicago)
canon: whiskey and bitters emporium (Seattle)
Clover Club (Brooklyn)
The Dead Rabbit (New York City)
The NoMad (New York City)
Prizefighter (Emeryville)
The Normandie Club (Los Angeles)
Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco)
Trick Dog (San Francisco)
American Bartender of the Year

Julio Cabrera of The Regent Cocktail Club (Miami)
Marcovaldo Dionysos of Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco)
Chris Hannah of French 75 (New Orleans)
Bobby Heugel of Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
Giuseppe González of Suffolk Arms (New York City)
John Lermayer of Sweet Liberty (Miami Beach)
Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common (Portland)
Yael Vengroff of The Spare Room (Los Angeles)
Pamela Wiznitzer of Seamstress (New York City)
Naren Young of Dante (New York)
Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour (Phoenix)
The Esquire Tavern (San Antonio)
Flatiron Lounge (New York City)
Harvard & Stone (Los Angeles)
Herbs & Rye (Las Vegas)
Honeycut (Los Angeles)
Melrose Umbrella Co. (Los Angeles)
No. 308 (Nashville)
Pegu Club (New York City)
Polite Provisions (San Diego)
Best American Brand Ambassador

Colin Asare-appiah (Bacardi)
Tim Cooper (The 86 Co.)
Daniel de Oliveira (Leblon)
Gardner Dunn (Beam Suntory)
Anne Louise-Marquis (Marnier Lapostolle)
Bernie Lubbers (Heaven Hill Distilleries)
Ewan Morgan (Whisky at Diageo)
Robin Nance (Auchentoshan)
Chris Patino (Pernod Ricard)
Ria Soler (Chartreuse)
Best American Hotel Bar

Bound by Salvatore at The Cromwell (Las Vegas)
The Elephant Bar at The NoMad (New York City)
The Hawthorne at the Commonwealth Hotel (Boston)
Midnight Rambler at The Joule Dallas (Dallas)
Pepe le Moko at the Ace Hotel Portland (Portland)
Proof on Main at 21c Museum Hotel Louisville (Louisville)
Sable Kitchen & Bar at Hotel Palomar (Chicago)
The Spare Room at The Hollywood Roosevelt (Los Angeles)
The Upstairs Bar at the Ace Hotel Los Angeles (Los Angeles)
Vesper Bar at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas (Las Vegas)
Best American Restaurant Bar

Cane & Table (New Orleans)
Eat the Rich (Washington, DC)
The Eveleigh (Los Angeles)
Gramercy Tavern (New York City)
No. 9 Park (Boston)
nopa (San Francisco)
One Flew South (Atlanta)
Saxon + Parole (New York City)
Scopa Italian Roots (Venice)
The Rieger (Kansas City)
Best New American Cocktail Bar

Bar Goto (New York City)
Dante (New York City)
Forgery (San Francisco)
Leyenda (Brooklyn)
Old Lightning (Marina Del Rey)
Suffolk Arms (New York City)
Sweet Liberty (Miami Beach)
The Treasury (San Francisco)
The Walker Inn (Los Angeles)
Whitechapel (San Francisco)
International Categories

Best International Bar Team

American Bar at the Savoy (London, United Kingdom)
The Baxter Inn (Sydney, Australia)
Black Pearl (Melbourne, Australia)
Callooh Callay (London, United Kingdom)
Connaught Bar (London, United Kingdom)
Dandelyan (London, United Kingdom)
Floridita (Havana, Cuba)
Limantour (Mexico City, Mexico)
Little Red Door (Paris, France)
White Lyan (London, United Kingdom)
Best International Brand Ambassador

Ian Burrell (Rum Ambassador)
Dean Callan (Monkey Shoulder)
Allison Dedianko (Belvedere)
Joe McCanta (Grey Goose)
Raj Nagra (Bombay Gins)
George Nemec (Becherovka)
Shervene Shahbazkhani (Bacardi)
Tim Stones (Beefeater Gin)
Camille Vidal (St-Germain)
Max Warner (Chivas)
International Bartender of the Year

Charles Ainsbury (Sydney, Australia)
Monica Berg of HIMKOK (Oslo, Norway)
Daniele Dalla Pola (Bologna, Italy)
Marcis Dzelzainis of Sager + Wilde Paradise Row (London, United Kingdom)
Chris Lowder of Charles H. (Seoul, South Korea)
Iain Griffiths of White Lyan and Dandelyan (London, United Kingdom)
Zdenek Kastanek of 28 Hong Kong Street (Singapore)
Tess Posthumus of Door 74 (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Carina Soto Velásquez of Candelaria (Paris, France)
Hidetsugu Ueno of Bar High Five (Tokyo, Japan)
Best International Cocktail Bar

Bar High Five (Tokyo, Japan)
Bar Termini (London, United Kingdom)
Bramble Bar (Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
Bulletin Place (Sydney, Australia)
Candelaria (Paris, France)
Happiness Forgets (London, United Kingdom)
Imperial Craft Cocktail Bar (Tel Aviv, Israel)
Limantour (Mexico City, Mexico)
Le Lion Bar de Paris (Hamburg, Germany)
Tales & Spirits (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar

Baba Au Rum (Athens, Greece)
Callooh Callay (London, United Kingdom)
Central Station Boutique Bar (Beirut, Lebanon)
The Clumsies (Athens, Greece)
Eau De Vie (Melbourne, Australia)
The Lobo Plantation (Sydney, Australia)
Potato Head Beach Club (Bali, Indonesia)
Ruby (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Strøm Bar (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Trailer Happiness (London, United Kingdom)
Best International Restaurant Bar

City Social (London, United Kingdom)
Delicatessen (Moscow, Russia)
Duck & Waffle (London, United Kingdom)
Hawksmoor Spitalfields (London, United Kingdom)
Linje Ti and Tjoget (Stockholm, Sweden)
Le Mary Celeste (Paris, France)
Oblix (London, United Kingdom)
Sager + Wilde (London, United Kingdom)
Tippling Club (Singapore)
Zuma (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Best International Hotel Bar

American Bar at The Savoy (London)
Black Angel’s Bar at Hotel U Prince (Prague, Czech Republic)
Chiltern Firehouse (London, United Kingdom)
The Connaught Bar at The Connaught (London, United Kingdom)
Dandelyan at the Mondrian, London (London, United Kingdom)
Lobster Bar and Grill at the Island Shangri-La (Hong Kong)
Manhattan at the Regent Singapore (Singapore)
Punch Room at The London EDITION (London, United Kingdom)
Widder Bar at the Widder Hotel (Zurich, Switzerland)
The Zetter Townhouse at the Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell (London, United Kingdom)

Best New International Cocktail Bar

7 Tales (London, United Kingdom)
Black Rock (London, United Kingdom)
Charles H. (Seoul, South Korea)
The Dark Horse (Bath, United Kingdom)
Dead Ringer (Sydney, Australia)
The Gibson (London, United Kingdom)
Gibson Bar (Singapore)
HIMKOK (Oslo, Norway)
Joyeux Bordel (London, United Kingdom)
Oriole (London, United Kingdom)

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication

Australian Bartender
Bartender Magazine
Chilled Magazine
Cocktail Lovers
Difford’s Guide
Drinks International
Gin Foundry
The Spirits Business
Whisky & Fine Spirits
Best Cocktail and Spirits Writer

Jenny Adams
Wayne Curtis
Simon Difford
Dan Dunn
Camper English
Alice Lascelles
Sandrae Lawrence
Jeffrey Morgenthaler
Robert Simonson
Naren Young
Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book

Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Apertivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau
The Tippling Bros. A Lime and a Shaker: Discovering Mexican-Inspired Cocktails by Tad Carducci, Paul Tanguay and Alia Akkam
Good Things to Drink with Mr Lyan and Friends by Ryan Chetiyawardana
The Cocktail Chronicles: Navigating the Cocktail Renaissance with Jigger, Shaker & Glass by Paul Clarke
The Experimental Cocktail Club: Paris, London, & New York by Romée de Goriainoff, Pierre-Charles Cros, Olivier Bon, Xavier Padavoni
Ten Cocktails: The Art of Convivial Drinking by Alice Lascelles
Drinking the Devil’s Acre: A Love Letter from San Francisco and her Cocktails by Duggan McDonnell
The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual: Secret Recipes and Barroom Tales from Two Belfast Boys Who Conquered the Cocktail World by Sean Muldoon, Jack McGarry, and Ben Schaffer
The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion by Julie Reiner
Best New Spirits Books

Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters & Amari: 500 Bitters; 50 Amari; 123 Recipes for Cocktails, Food & Homemade Bitters by Mark Bitterman
Divided Spirits – Tequila, Mezcal and the Politics of Production by Sarah Bowen
The Year of Drinking Adventurously: 52 Ways to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone by Jeff Colett
Vermouth: The Revival of the Spirit that Created America’s Cocktail Culture by Adam Ford
How the Gringos Stole Tequila: The Modern Age of Mexico’s Most Traditional Spirit by Chantal Martineau
Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker by Fred Minnick
Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey by Reid Mitenbuler
El Gran Libro del Vermut: Con Mas de Cien Maneras de Tomárselo by François Mont
The Art of American Whisky: A Visual History of the Nation’s Most Storied Spirit, Through 100 Iconic Labels by Noah Rothbaum
Global Categories

Best Bar Mentor

Bridget Albert
Derek Brown
Jason Crawley
Francesco Lafranconi
Don Lee
Dré Masso
Lauren Mote
Agostino Perrone
Andy Seymour
Angus Winchester
Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient

Caña Brava 7-year Reserva Añeja Rum by the 86 Co. (Panamá)
Campo de Encanto “Barkeep’s Whimsy” Pisco (Perú)
Lagavulin 8-Year Old – 200th Anniversary Edition (United Kingdom)
Midwestern Dry Gin by J. Rieger & Co. (United States)
Orphan Barrel Gifted Horse Whiskey by Diageo (United States)
Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum (Barbados)
Ragtime Rye by New York Distilling Company (United States)
Riserva Speciale ‘Rubin’ Vermouth by MARTINI & ROSSI (Italy)
Rutte Celery Dry Gin by Rutte Spirits (Netherlands)
Rutte Old Simon Genever by Rutte Spirits (Netherlands)
World’s Best Cocktail Menu

American Bar at the Savoy (London, United Kingdom)
The Aviary (Chicago, United States)
Baba Au Rum (Athens, Greece)
Charles H. (Seoul, South Korea)
Dandelyan (London, United Kingdom)
Little Red Door (Paris, France)
Lost Lake (Chicago, United States)
Mace (New York, United States)
Nightjar (London, United Kingdom)
Trick Dog (San Francisco, United States)
World’s Best Spirits Selection

American Bar at the Savoy (London, United Kingdom)
Amor y Amargo (New York, United States)
The Baxter Inn (Sydney, Australia)
Daddy-O (New York, United States)
Multnomah Whiskey Library (Portland, United States)
Old Lightning (Marina Del Rey, United States)
The Office at The Aviary (Chicago, United States)
Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco, United States)
Tommy’s (San Francisco, United States)
Whitechapel (San Francisco, United States)

Tales of the Cocktail® Announces 2015 Spirited Award® Winners

Spirited-Awards-Logo2015 Spirited Awards® Winners

American Categories
Best American Bar Team- Employees Only (New York)
American Bartender of the Year- Ivy Mix (New York)
Best American Brand Ambassador- Brooke Arthur (House Spirits)
Best American Cocktail Bar- Williams & Graham (Denver)
Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar- Employees Only (New York)
Best American Hotel Bar- The Broken Shaker (Miami Beach)
Best American Restaurant Bar- Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks (Boston)
Best New American Cocktail Bar- ABV (San Francisco)

International Categories
Best International Bar Team- 28 Hong Kong Street (Singapore)
International Bartender of the Year- Ryan Chetiyawardana (London)
Best International Brand Ambassador- Claire Smith-Warner (Belvedere Vodka)
Best International Cocktail Bar- Artesian (London)
Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar- The Black Pearl & The Attic (Melbourne)
Best International Hotel Bar- Beaufort Bar, The Savoy (London)
Best International Restaurant Bar- Blind Pig at Social Eating House (London)
Best New International Cocktail Bar- Dandelyan (London)

Writing Categories
Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication- PUNCH
Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer- Dave Broom
Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book- Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail by Dave Arnold
Best New Spirits Book- Whisky: The Manual by Dave Broom

Overall Categories
Best Bar Mentor- Jim Meehan (Portland)
Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient- Amaro di Angostura
World’s Best Cocktail Menu- Dead Rabbit (New York)
World’s Best Spirits Selection- Canon (Seattle)
World’s Best Bar- Dead Rabbit (New York)

Special Recognitions
Lifetime Achievement Award- Jonathan Downey
Sam Guarino Citation- Steve Mannan

GSN Blogging Tales of the Cocktail®: The Other Side of Tales 2014


Blair Frodelius enjoying an Abita at Felix’s

new-orleans-tales-of-the-cocktail-2013-logo-300x216Don’t take this as sacrilege, but Tales of the Cocktail® isn’t just about the seminars, classes, libations and parties.  It’s also about enjoying traditional New Orleans food and locales while you are in town.  After all, you can’t do much on an empty stomach.  So, when I was at Tales this past July, I made sure to visit several local dining establishments during the week.  Here are a few of my thoughts and recommendations on each.

THU Lunch at Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster House:  Most tourist’s flock to the Acme Oyster House (right across the street) and miss another classic oyster lover’s haven.  Sure, Felix’s doesn’t have the atmosphere or decor that Acme does, but you don’t have to wait in line to get a seat for 30-45 minutes either.  I walked right in to Felix’s during lunch and found a seat at the bar, where I could keep an eye on both the oyster shucker and the bartending.  I opted for the classic Bayou Platter Sampler, a trio of red beans & rice, jambalaya and étouffée, along with a Abita Andygator draft.  It was plenty filling, and I was definitely entertained by the dynamics of the kitchen staff, wait staff and oyster station maestro.  The bartender was one of the hardest working I have ever seen, overseeing the counter, doing back bar, and chatting with the customers making sure they were happy.  She got a 25% tip from me for her efforts.  Overall, a definite stop for anyone looking for good local food without the frills at lunchtime.



FRI Lunch at Remoulade: I was looking for some grilled oysters and decided to stop at this less upscale sibling to Arnaud’s.  The place was quiet, but the host greeted me with a huge smile and asked where I was from.  When I mentioned Syracuse, he lit up and said that he knew several people from there.  As I usually do when visiting a new restaurant, I asked him what he felt were the best dishes on the menu.  Surprisingly, he said that I should skip the oysters until later in the year as they didn’t have nearly as much flavor during the summer months.  Instead, he recommended the Shrimp Arnaud which indeed was killer.  A simple dish of three jumbo shrimp in a remoulade sauce, I could have eaten at least four servings.  I finished with a bowl of the Filé Gumbo and an Abita Amber.  Sated, I thanked the host and went on my way, wishing I had tried the oysters as well.  I guess I’ll have to visit again this Autumn.


Tiki Gummies

SAT Dinner at Killer Po’ Boys: I met up with some friends for dinner and we all decided to check out this tiny po’ boy restaurant located deep within one of NOLA’s bartenders’ favorite after hours hangout, Erin Rose.  Between the four of us who ordered from the kitchen, we each got to share pretty much every sandwich on the menu.  Be warned that there are only a handful of tables if you plan on dining in.  Our party took up half of the room.  The bar serves the restaurant as well, and I ordered a Guinness on draft to accent my meal.  Be sure to check out the Jameson Grilled Cheese Po’ Boy.  Absolutely luscious.

Drinks at Tiki Tolteca: After our dinner, we all decided to check out a new Tiki bar in the French Quarter.  At first I was a bit leery of the idea of New Orleans tiki, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The bar is located on the second floor of a Mexican taqueria, so make sure you don’t have too many drinks before you leave. because those stairs are a doozy.  The decor was delightfully tacky with a definite mid-century exotica feel.  Perhaps the best aspect of the bar is the laid back seating arrangement, which consists of a couch, love seats, and various chairs.  Our party was joined by another group we met earlier in the day, and all of us sat around a low rectangular table while we discussed the various merits of tiki.  Our group shared an Escorpian Punch Bowl which was more than enough to get us through the evening, while the other group had a variety of tropical cocktails along with an order of Tiki Gummies (Zombies, Mai Tais, and Hurricanes).  I finished with a Frozen Hemingway Daiquiri until we all decided we needed to get some shut-eye at 1:00am.


Menu cover at Criollo

SUN Lunch at Criollo: I was really looking forward to sampling the cuisine and cocktails at the new restaurant built within the Hotel Monteleone.  This year, several restaurants teamed up with Tales of the Cocktail to host a number of paired cocktail lunches and dinners.  Chef de Cuisine Joe Maynard met with me while I was there to talk about his inspirations behind the three course meal and working with the Carousel Bar’s head bartender Marvin Allen in designing pisco cocktails.  Not only was the lunch delicious, but it was a bargain at only $30 for three full-size drinks, an appetizer, a main course and a dessert.  Chef Maynard told me the whole concept of the restaurant was to make it as transparent to the customer as possible, so that the guests can see what is happening in the kitchen.  Another important aspect is that they source as much of the food from local farms and fisheries as possible.  When pairing with pisco, this was somewhat of a challenge, but Chef Maynard told me that he worked with several of his wait staff who came from Latin America and helped him craft the menu choices.  The meal included Squid Ceviche, Pompano (a locally available ocean fish) and Pork Belly, and Passion Fruit Creme Brule.  Each dish was a treat and the main course was one of the most inspired I have ever had the pleasure of savoring.  If you are ever in New Orleans, put Criollo on your short list of “must experience” restaurants.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.4578

Dinner at Desire Bistro and Oyster Bar:  Many of the seminars during Tales of the Cocktail took place at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, so it was only natural that I check out the hotel’s restaurant.  It was a fairly quiet night, but I was far from the only person there for a meal.  I was given a seat in the middle of the restaurant where I could keep an eye on everything.  I took my time and enjoyed an Abita Jockamo IPA while watching the dynamics of the staff and guests.  I eventually ordered the Smothered Catfish Lafitte (creole rice, crawfish and bacon cream, southern greens, fried corn bread) and was greeted with an overflowing platter of food that I could barely finish.  The food was quite good, but never quite lived up to the experience I had earlier at Criollo.  Still, I was stuffed and ready for an evening in the Quarter.


May Bailey’s Place

Cocktails at May Bailey’s Place: My last stop of the evening was at my hotel‘s bar.  When I checked in a week earlier, I was given a free drink coupon and decided I might as well use it before I went home.  I walked down around 9:00pm and the place was empty except for the bartender and a middle-aged couple at the far end of the bar who were just about to leave.  After all, this was Sunday night.  But, I looked over the available spirits and asked the bartender for a Sazerac made with Wild Turkey.  We ended up talking for over an hour about the bar scene in New Orleans, Tales, and what it was like to work in a hotel bar.  I have to say, that she was one of the most interesting people I met on this trip.  I came away with a genuine impression that she loved what she did, that it was not just a job to her, and that she had a real heart for the customer.  Not only did she have a knowledge and appreciation for the craft of drink making, but she was a true people person.  This little out-of-the-way hotel bar, had a genuine world class bartender working behind the stick.  After my Sazerac was gone, I had just decided to order a Negroni, when a couple from Australia came in.  The three of us ended up talking until 1:00am about everything from hang gliding to modern warfare until I finally remembered that I had to catch a flight back home in a few hours. Well…

MON Dinner at The Landing @ Crowne Plaza Hotel in Kenner I got to the airport on time, 3496but due to the crazy weather we’d been having all summer, my flight kept getting delayed, until finally they cancelled it altogether late in the afternoon.  Supremely frustrated, I immediately booked a hotel near the airport and a flight for Tuesday morning at o’dark thirty.  The hotel was only a few minutes away by shuttle, and they had a bar and a restaurant. So, life wasn’t all bad.  After checking in, I went down to the restaurant and asked for a cocktail menu.  Oh. My. God.  I was unprepared for the absolutely amazing menu that surpassed 80% of the cocktail menus I have seen in my life time.  For those of you who are familiar with The Dead Rabbit’s menu, this was a lite version, but no less impressive.  The history of cocktails, sections on each spirit, and a handful of cocktails for each with everything from Jerry Thomas era drinks to new creations inside of a leather bound hard cover 20 page volume.  I could have had several cocktails and been happy, but opted for just a few along with the New Orleans Seafood Pasta.  It turns out it was an excellent choice.  Normally I eschew Italian pasta dishes, but this one was amazing featuring sautéed crawfish, crab claws, oysters I finally had them!) & shrimp over linguini in a herb & garlic white wine sauce.  Between the cocktails and the entrée, it was a meal to die for.  And who would have suspected this at an airport hotel?  All in all, a great way to end my trip to NOLA and a reason to go back again as soon as possible!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

GSN Blogging Tales of the Cocktail: Ten Takeaways from Tales 2014


Hotel Monteleone

This was my fifth trip to NOLA and my third Tales.  I had a great time and was on the go pretty much all day, every day experiencing the events and the French Quarter.  I started Thursday morning by checking in with the staff at Tales of the Cocktail registration.

1. Registration & Tales 365 – There’s a real feeling of coming home, when I walk from my hotel on Dauphine St. in the French Quarter up to Royal St. and the Hotel Monteleone.  The familiar face of the doorman welcomes me while he opens the door for me and I step into the ornate lobby.  Scanning the room for familiar faces, glancing into the Carousel Bar and then making my way to the Registration room; it somehow feels like it’s only been a few weeks since I was last here at Tales instead of two years.

Registration was not at all busy and the staff found my name on their list in a few seconds, handed me my tickets and told me to help myself to any Tales buttons in a large bowl on the table.  I did notice that this year there was no canvas bag to hold my inevitable swag and/or purchases.  I was glad I had brought my own.  One of the other tables in the room was devoted to a new program called Tales 365.  Basically a club for cocktail enthusiasts, members who join for a fee are given online access to recorded videos from popular seminars, the ability to attend special events including distillery tours around the world, and discounts on Tales merchandise.  I decided to join and see what benefits I might receive down the road.  To start with, I got a tiny membership button and a Tales 365 canvas bag.  There was also info about the first distillery tour which will take place later this fall in Jalisco, Mexico.

2. Tales Tasting Rooms and Snack Stands – One of the best features of Tales are the many rooms and stations in the Monteleone and the Royal Sonesta where you can sample new products, cocktails and even get a light bite to tide you over until your next meal.  Over the four days I was there, I grabbed a morning bracer at the Drambuie Railroad Spike Coffee Cart,  a sample of Solbeso cocoa liquor alongside a llama on

Llama on Bourbon St.

Llama on Bourbon St.

Bourbon St., cocktails made with Wild Hibiscus’ b’Lure color changing cocktail extract, samples of local Gubba Rum, drinks and snacks at the Cointreau Cocktail Kiosk, and several drinks and hor d’oeuvres at the Pavan Grape Bash.


Foraging for Botanicals

3. Brand Sponsored Events – Along with several parties, tastings and product launches, this year I took part in a foraging excursion at the New Orleans Botanical Garden sponsored by Caorunn Gin.  Master Distiller Simon Buley was along for the trip as well as an herbal expert who pointed out several species of plants that are used in the making of gin.  The trip served two purposes; it was nice to get away from the madness of Tales for an hour in the beauty of a local park, plus it gave me time to meet some of the others on the trip without someone having to rush off to another event.  Although there weren’t any cocktails served on the tour, everyone received a bottle of Caorunn as a souvenir.


Seminar Room at Tales

4. Seminars – Seminars are the main draw for most bartenders and writers in the spirits industry.  This year I attended three Anglo-centric programs.  Bottled in Bond – Ian Fleming & 007, hosted by Simon Ford and Philip Greene; Garden, Field & Forest to Bottle & Glass by Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown; and The Savoy 125 Years of Service History by the Savoy’s American Bar manager Declan McGurk and three compatriots.  Each seminar was accompanied by relevant cocktails served by the awesome Tales Cocktail Apprentices (CAPS).  I enjoyed the seminars because they gave me a chance to sit and relax while learning some educational and historical info.  My takeaways were that Ian Fleming was an amateur mixologist who crafted several fairly tasty original cocktails along with a rum punch; herbal, savory and fruity cocktail ingredients one can grow in your backyard are endless and require constant maintenance; and that The Savoy Hotel’s success over the past century and a quarter is due in part to their incomparable cocktail program along with the classic Savoy Cocktail Book which has never gone out of print since it was first published in 1930.


Jimmy Russell & friend

5. Shindigs – Due my unfortunate travel experience trying to get to New Orleans (read here), I was unable to attend either of the opening night brand parties by Absolut or William Grant & Sons.  However, there were still several events that I did get to experience.  The Las Vegas Mixology Tribute at Harrah’s Casino was a lot of fun.  The dj was killing it, the dancers were having a blast, and the flair-tenders and LV bartenders were all at the top of their game.  Most of the drinks tended to be overly sweet, as I expected; but I did try all of them.  Luckily, there was a Stella Artois station for anyone who wanted a change of pace.

The Industry Toast to Jimmy Russell at Maison Bourbon also gave me a chance to talk with fellow authors Paul Clarke, Camper English, Wayne Curtis, Natalie Bovis and even shake the hand of Mr. Russell himself.

I also attended the jam-packed Imbibe Magazine happy hour at Arnaud’s French 75 bar with a friend I happened to run into earlier in the day.  Head bartender Chris Hannah was on duty mixing up some sparkling cocktails and gave me a smile and nod of recognition even though the bar was three deep.


Willy Shine at The House of Blues

6. Spirited Dinners – The spirited dinners are always held on Thursday night.  This year, I opted for the Jagermeister Summer of Music Spirited Dinner at the House of Blues’ Foundation Room.  The room itself was difficult to find, as I took several wrong turns along the way.  The route involved walking down an unmarked alleyway, checking in with the bouncer, going up a Victorian styled elevator and entering the bar through a beaded curtain.  The bar was dark, velvety and filled with cushions, couches and settees.  I was reminded of what it must have been like to visit a brothel at the turn of the century.  The dining room was similarly decorated, but had several tables and booths set up for the meal to come.  I chose a seat at a half full table and ended up chatting with Karen Locke from Drink Portland, and two young bartenders from Ohio.  The courses of food were fantastic and really paired well with the cocktails crafted by Willy Shine, Ivy Mix, Sean Hoard and Sean Kenyon (who won the Bartender of the Year two days later at the Spirited Awards).  After a leisurely meal, entertainment was provided by Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz as guest dj.


Bulleit & Ruth’s Chris Luncheon


David Wondrich

7. Vieux Carre Room Luncheons – Several luncheons were held on the top floor of the Hotel Monteleone in the Vieux Carre room.  Every day, I was greeted by my good friend Thayer Abaigael with a smile and a hug.  What a friendly lot these New Orleanians are!  I attended the Rare and Defining Spirits luncheon featuring products from Sipsmith and Coppersea distilleries on Thursday, the Angostura luncheon on Friday where they unveiled their new Amaro di Angostura, and the Bulleit Bourbon/Ruth’s Chris “Mad Men” themed luncheon hosted by Tom & Hollis Bulleit.  Each one featured great drinks and food, and gave me more chances to talk with other attendees.

8. Dynamic Duos – This is a new feature at Tales this year.  Basically, “star” bartenders  and celebrities pair up at a local watering hole to make drinks.  Sounds like a great idea, and it is to some degree.  But, even with several of these events taking place over the course of Tales, every time I went to check out some of my favorite bartenders in action, the places were so jammed, that even getting up to the bar to order a drink meant a good 10-15 minute wait.  So, I ended up just hitting a few places.  David Wondrich and Paul Gustings were behind the stick at Broussard’s,  and Chris McMillian and Dale DeGroff (sporting a beard!) were tending at Kingfish.


Cocktail cup at Tales


LuRu from F.O.M.

9. Lagniappe (Swag) – As always, there are plenty of free promotional products and spirits that you will accumulate over the course of Tales.  My haul this year included t-shirts, hats, sunglasses, rocks glasses, flasks, cocktail cherries, cocktail picks, bitters, and spirits.  I ended up sending most of them home via the UPS station located inside the Hotel Monteleone.  Once I got back home, it was like opening a box of presents that I’d sent forward in time.

10. Friends – I’ve saved the best for last.  To me, Tales is much more than the events, seminars, food and cocktails.  It’s the people who make it happen and come together to celebrate the love of fine beverages and drinking culture.  I ran into so many friends, met and made new ones, and talked with so many locals over the course of my stay in NOLA that I felt like I was at a family reunion.  And, in a very real sense, Tales is just that.  It’s a place where everyone is an equal, everyone belongs, and everyone is living in the moment.  One of my favorite memories is running into some folks I know from a tiki enthusiasts group known as F.O.M. (Friends of Moai).  I ended up hanging out with three of them for most of Saturday night.  Even though we all belonged to the same club, we hadn’t really gotten to know one another until that night, since I live in New York, one lives in Texas and the other two live in Florida.  By the end of the night, we were all good friends.  And that I think is the ultimate mission of Tales.  To bring people together to celebrate life over a few drinks.

Here’s to Tales of the Cocktail!


Blair Frodelius

GSN Alert: Tales of the Cocktail® 2014 Spirited Award Winners

TOC-2014WEB-SpiritedAwardsBanner3Good Spirits News congratulates all of the winners of this year’s Tales of the Cocktail® Spirited Award!  Cheers, everyone!

American Categories
American Bartender of the Year
Sean Kenyon (Denver)

Best American Bar Team
Trick Dog (San Francisco)

Best American Brand Ambassador
Neyah White (Suntory Japanese Whiskies)

Best American Cocktail Bar
The Dead Rabbit (New York)

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar
Polite Provisions (San Diego)

Best American Hotel Bar
Clyde Common (Portland)

Best American Restaurant Bar
The NoMad (New York)

Best New American Cocktail Bar
Three Dots and A Dash (Chicago)

International Categories
International Bartender of the Year
Simone Caporale (London)

Best International Bar Team
Artesian at the Langham (London)

Best International Brand Ambassador
Giuseppe Gallo (Martini)

Best International Cocktail Bar
28 Hong Kong Street (Singapore)

Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar
Schumann’s (Munich)

Best International Hotel Bar
Artesian at the Langham (London)

Best International Restaurant Bar
The Bon Vivant (Edinburgh)

Best New International Cocktail Bar
White Lyan (London)

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication
Imbibe Magazine (United States)

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer
Paul Clarke (United States)

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book
Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean by Jeff Berry (United States)

Overall Categories
Best Bar Mentor
Dushan Zaric (United States)

Best New Product
Del Maguey Ibérico Mezcal (Mexico)

World’s Best Cocktail Menu
The Aviary (Chicago)

World’s Best Drinks Selection
The Dead Rabbit (New York)

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award
Julio Bermejo of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant (San Francisco)

World’s Best Bar
Artesian at the Langham (London)

GSN Blogging Tales 2014: Prelude to Adventure

TOTC-2014-BloggingTales of the Cocktail is always an adventure, but even getting there this year was an unexpected adventure.

Based on previous visits to New Orleans, I decided that this time I would arrive a day early and leave the day after the TOTC festival took place. So, on a Tuesday morning I got a flight from Syracuse, NY to Washington DC to catch my connecting flight to NOLA. All went well, in spite of having only a few minutes to get from one gate to another to board the second plane. They were actually boarding as I arrived at the gate. In my seat, I was looking forward to having a cocktail in anticipation of a fairly long flight. We taxied away from the terminal, and then proceeded to drive around the entire airport for the next 20 minutes. The pilot then said that they had been told to change the original direction of take-off, and we were in line. Ten minutes later, he said there was a severe storm front coming in and no planes could take off or land. A half an hour later he said that the entire airport was shut down due to lightning. So, we sat on the plane for another hour. After then storm, the pilot then announced that due to Federal regulations, he and the crew were unable to fly us to New Orleans as they would go over their allotted amount of air time for the day. So, we headed back to the terminal to await another flight.

In the meantime, I texted my wife what had been happening, and as soon as she heard about the cancelled flight, she booked me a sleeper car on Amtrak from DC to NOLA. It was to leave from Union Station at 6:30pm. So, I avoided all the lines of frustrated flyers trying to book other flights, and took a cab to the train station. Of course, it was rush hour in DC by this point and it took a while to get there. All the while, I still hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast or had anything to drink other than a glass of water on the plane. So, after making sure my train ticket was good to go, I sat down at a restaurant in the middle of the station and ordered a dinner of a charcuterie platter (huge!) and a few local beers.

Finally sated, I made my way to the platform only to hear that my train was delayed due to equipment problems. And it continued to be delayed every fifteen minutes for the next few hours. Finally at 9:15pm, I boarded my sleeper car and relaxed. After another beer and a few shots from a bottle of Bushmill’s I bought at the station, I called it a night and slept until 7:00am the next day.

Well, slept isn’t really quite the word. If you’ve never tried to sleep on a train, it’s quite different. Speeding up, slowing down, loud clanking noises from the tracks, conductors making announcements of upcoming stations, etc… woke me up several times during the night. But, it was better than having to sleep in coach or in an airport terminal!

Anyway, the rest of the journey was pleasant, and I got to talk with a few folks at breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining car. One woman is from New Orleans and knew all about Tales of the Cocktail. She told me all kinds of insider information on life in the Crescent City and why she loves it. Another gentlemen had just quit his job to move to New Orleans from Washington DC and be near his son and grandchildren. Turns out that his son is a clarinetist who plays a weekly Saturday night gig at The Spotted Cat on Frenchman St.  Check them out at

I finally arrived at 10:15pm, took a cab to my hotel and even before I unpacked, walked up to the local Compac store and bought myself an Abita Restoration Ale. Believe me, I need restoring after traveling for nearly 36 hours! I was finally in my second home. Lovely and welcoming New Orleans… #totc

GSN Alert: Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour 2015 Announcement

1c63299e-1500-48ca-9d69-b81f3ccb1ae4In the Spring of 2015 Tales of the Cocktail® will take its show on the road once again, this time to Mexico City for a three-day festival with seminars, networking events and more.

NEW ORLEANS—July 6, 2014  After successful stops in Vancouver and Buenos Aires, the world’s premier cocktail festival is on the move again, this time to Mexico City for the 5th Annual Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour. This three-day festival will feature a series of professional seminars hosted by some of the world my respected mixologists, as well as nightly social events that will allow everyone to dive deep into the emerging cocktail scene in Mexico City.

“On a recent trip to Oaxaca, I just knew that Tales of the Cocktail® had to make a future stop in Mexico,” said Ann Tuennerman, Co-Founder of Tales of the Cocktail®. “I was blown away by the passion and diversity of bartending and distilling in Mexico. When you visit you’ll see that Tequila and Mezcal are just the tip of the iceberg.”

For many international spirits professionals and enthusiasts, making it to New Orleans can be difficult so Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour was developed in 2011 to give a taste of what the industry’s premier cocktail event is all about. It was also to shed light on the emerging cocktail cultures of city’s that don’t otherwise get the attention they deserve. The goal is to give bartenders and other spirits professionals in Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour cities the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s brightest minds in mixology as a way to grow the local cocktail culture.

“Unlike many cities like New York City, London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo that are well established, Mexico is a rising scene,” said Phillppe Frake Zaigue, General Manager and Head Bartender at Artemisia in Mexico City. “For us this is an opportunity to increase a global culture and make a change in the way that Mexicans perceives cocktails as a culture.”

“Mexico City’s cocktail bars have, for a while now, been simmering in terms of talent, excitement and creativity,” said Charlotte Voisey, Portfolio Ambassador for William Grant & Sons, Inc. “Each time I visit I am more and more impressed with the scene there. I am delighted to hear that Tales on Tour has chosen Mexico City as next year’s destination. It’s time to turn up the heat and see what that town can really do.”

For the latest updates on dates, events and tickets to Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour in Mexico City, visit—

GSN Alert: Top 10 Finalists for the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards®

indexNEW ORLEANS – May 24, 2014 – Following a rigorous evaluation of hundreds of nominees, ten finalists for each award category have been chosen for the 8th Annual Spirited Awards®, recognizing the year’s best bars, bartenders, writers, experts and more. American and International judging committees comprised of the most respected minds in the cocktail industry selected the finalists for the twenty-three award categories. Winners and our Helen David Lifetime Achievement Inductee will be announced at the Spirited Awards® at the Sheraton New Orleans on Saturday, July 19, 2014 as part of the Tales of the Cocktail® 12th anniversary celebration.

Through its annual Spirited Awards®, Tales of the Cocktail® recognizes those that continue to represent the cocktail industry in exciting new spotlights. To embody the ideals in which Tales of the Cocktail® was originally founded, these awards were developed to recognize both national and international honorees across twenty-three categories. The top four finalists will be announced Friday, June 6, 2014 and invited to be guests at the live ceremony in New Orleans.   Each award recipient will receive an exclusive Riedel Crystal trophy.


American Bartender of the Year
Jeff Bell (New York)
Erick Castro (San Diego)
Marcovaldo Dionysos (San Francisco)
Bobby Heugel (Houston)
Sean Kenyon (Denver)
John Lermayer (Miami)
Ryan Maybee (Kansas City)
Ivy Mix (New York)
Jeffrey Morgenthaler (Portland)
Pamela Wiznitzer (New York)

Best American Brand Ambassador
Brook Arthur (House Spirits)
Colin Asare-Appiah (Bacardi)
Elayne Duff (Diageo Reserve)
Jamie Evans (Oxley gin)
Bernie Lubbers (Heaven Hill Distilleries)
Freddy May (Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky)
Chris Patino (Pernod Ricard USA Portfolio)
Nick van Tiel (Plymouth Gin / Beefeater)
Neyah White (Suntory Japanese Whiskies)
Angus Winchester (Tanqueray Gin)
Best American Cocktail Bar
Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
The Aviary (Chicago)
canon:  whiskey and bitters emporium (Seattle)
Cure (New Orleans)
The Dead Rabbit (New York)
Noble Experiment (San Diego)
Prizefighter (Emeryville)
Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco)
Trick Dog (San Francisco)
Williams & Graham (Denver)

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar
Employees Only (New York)
Flatiron Lounge (New York)
Harvard & Stone (Los Angeles)
Honeycut (Los Angeles)
The NoMad (New York)
Polite Provisions (San Diego)
Sable Kitchen & Bar (Chicago)
Saxon + Parole Restaurant (New York)
Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago)
Trick Dog (San Francisco)

Best American Restaurant Bar
320 Main (Orange County)
Bestia (Los Angeles)
Clyde Common (Portland)
Gramercy Tavern (New York)
No. 9 Park (Boston)
The NoMad (New York)
nopa (San Francisco)
OAK at fourteenth (Boulder)
The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange (Kansas City)
The Silver Dollar (Louisville)

Best American Hotel Bar
Bellocq (New Orleans)
Bemelmans Bar (New York)
The Broken Shaker (Miami)
Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone (New Orleans)
Clyde Common (Portland)
The Hawthorne (Boston)
The Regent Cocktail Club (Miami)
Sable Kitchen & Bar (Chicago)
The Spare Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (Los Angeles)
Vesper Bar (Las Vegas)

Best New American Cocktail Bar
Attaboy (New York)
Cane & Table (New Orleans)
Celeste (Chicago)
Golden Cadillac (New York)
Half Step (Austin)
Kimball House (Atlanta)
Mockingbird Hill (Washington, D.C.)
Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library (Portland)
Scofflaw (Chicago)
Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago)
ZZ’s Clam Bar (New York)

Best American Bar Team – New Category
Attaboy (New York)
Clyde Common (Portland)
The Dead Rabbit (New York)
Drink (Boston)
Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks (Boston)
Employees Only (New York)
The NoMad (New York)
The Regent Cocktail Club (Miami)
Trick Dog (San Francisco)
Williams & Graham (Denver)


International Bartender of the Year
Marian Beke (London)
Monica Berg (London)
Simone Caporale (London)
Ryan Chetiyawardana (London)
Mario Kappes (Hamburg)
Zdenek Kastanek (Singapore)
Tim Phillips (Sydney)
Hidetsugu Ueno (Tokyo)
Tom Walker (London)
Jason Williams (Sydney)

Best International Brand Ambassador
Ian “Rum Ambassador” Burrell
David Cordoba (Bacardi)
Giuseppe Gallo (Martini & Rossi)
Tim Etherington Judge (Diageo Reserve)
George Nemec (Becherovka)
David Piper (Hendrick’s Gin)
Claire Smith (Belvedere Vodka)
Manuel Terron (Midori Melon Liqueur)
Camille Vidal (St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur)
Maximilian Warner (Chivas)

Best International Cocktail Bar
28 Hong Kong Street (Singapore)
69 Colebrooke Row (London)
Bramble Bar (Edinburgh)
Buck and Breck (Berlin)
Bulletin Place (Sydney)
Candelaria (Paris)
Chainaya.  Tea & Cocktails (Moscow)
Door 74 (Amsterdam)
Eau De Vie Melbourne (Melbourne)
Happiness Forgets (London)

Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar
Big Easy Covent Garden (London)
Black Angel’s Bar (Prague)
The Attic at the Black Pearl (Melbourne)
The Cufflink Club (Singapore)
Dvars (Amsterdam)
Eau De Vie Melbourne (Melbourne)
Frank’s (Buenos Aires)
The Lobo Plantation (Sydney)
London Cocktail Club (London)
Schumann’s American Bar (Munich)

Best International Restaurant Bar
The Red Bar at Bam-Bous (London)
The Bon Vivants (Edinburgh)
Delicatessen (Moscow)
The Gilbert Scott (London)
Spitalfields Bar at Hawksmoor (London)
Hix Soho (London)
The Lui Bar at Vue De Monde (Melbourne)
Oblix Restaurant (London)
Porteno Restaurant (Sydney)
Blind Pig at Social Eating House (London)

Best International Hotel Bar
Artesian at the Langham (London)
Bar at Home Hotel (Buenos Aires)
Beaufort Bar at The Savoy Hotel (London)
Black Angel’s Bar (Prague)
Clive’s Classic Lounge (Victoria)
Connaught Bar at the Connaught (London)
Ohla Boutique Bar at Ohla Hotel (Barcelona)
Punch Room at The London Edition (London)
Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London (London)
Widder Bar at the Widder Hotel (Zurich)

Best New International Cocktail Bar
The Barber Shop (Sydney)
Blind Pig at Social Eating House (London)
Hello Sailor (Sydney)
Holmens Kanal (Copenhagen)
Imperial Craft Cocktail Bar (Tel Aviv)
The Liquor Rooms (Dublin)
Little Jumbo (Victoria)
NOLA (London)
Punch Room at The London Edition (London)
White Lyan (London)

Best International Bar Team – New Category
28 Hong Kong Street (Singapore)
The American Bar at The Savoy (London)
Artesian at the Langham (London)
The Baxter Inn (Sydney)
The Black Pearl (Melbourne)
Blind Pig at Social Eating House (London)
Connaught Bar at the Connaught (London)
Le Lion – Bar de Paris (Hamburg)
The Nightjar (London)
Ruby Cocktail Chronicles (Copenhagen)


Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer
Jenny Adams (United States)
Sam Bygrave (Australia)
Toby Cecchini (United States)
Paul Clarke (United States)
Camper English (United States)
Jeffrey Morgenthaler (United States)
Darcy O’Neil (Canada)
Daniel Priseman (United Kingdom)
Jane Ryan (United Kingdom)
Robert Simonson (United Kingdom)

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication (United States)
Australian Bartender magazine (Australia)
BarLifeUK (United Kingdom)
DRINK (China)
Ginger Magazine (France)
Imbibe Magazine (United States) (United States)
PUNCH ( (United States)
The Cocktail Lovers magazine (United Kingdom)
The Spirits Business (United Kingdom)

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book (Top 9)
The Art of the Shim by Dinah Sanders
Apothecary Cocktails:  Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today by Warren Bobrow
Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean by Jeff Berry
Cocktail for a Crowd by Kara Newman
The Curious Bartender by Tristan Stephenson
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
Home Bar Basics (and Not-So-Basics) Cocktail Guidebook, 2nd Edition by Dave Stolte
Wine Cocktails (Planet of the Grapes) by Jason Wilson
Whiskey Women:  The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey by Fred Minnick


Best Bar Mentor
Erik Adkins
Bridget Albert
Jacob Briars
Jackson Cannon
Wayne Collins
Doug Frost
Francesco LaFranconi
Jim Meehan
Andy Seymour
Dushan Zaric

Best New Product
Ancho Reyes
Beefeater Burrough’s Reserve gin
Crawley’s Imperial Shaker Machine
Del Maguey Ibérico mezcal
iSpoon by Monkey Shoulder
Martini Gran Lusso Vermouth
Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky
Plantation Original Dark Rum
Sipsmith VJOP Gin
Small Hand Foods Tonic Syrup

World’s Best Cocktail Menu
69 Colebrooke Row (London)
The Aviary (Chicago)
canon:  whiskey and bitters emporium (Seattle)
Eau De Vie (Sydney)
The Nightjar (London)
The NoMad (New York)
Polite Provisions (San Diego)
Pouring Ribbons (New York)
Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago)
Trick Dog (San Francisco)

World’s Best Drinks Selection
Baba Au Rum (Athens)
Connaught Bar at the Connaught (London)
The Dead Rabbit (New York)
Eau De Vie Melbourne (Melbourne)
Hard Water (San Francisco)
Liberty Bar (Seattle)
Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library (Portland)
Old Crow (Zurich)
Scopa Italian Roots (Los Angeles)
Tommy’s (San Francisco)

GSN Alert: 2014 Tales of the Cocktail® Official Cocktail Competition

2014-Logo-with-New-OrleansTaming the Hurricane For the 2014 Cocktail Competition, Tales of the Cocktail® is getting back to its New Orleans roots by celebrating one of the city’s most renowned cocktails: The Hurricane. A legend of the French Quarter since the 1940s, the Hurricane has become a staple in bars around the world. Now we’re challenging bartenders to pay homage to this classic cocktail with their own creations. The Hurricane hails from Pat O’Brien’s on Bourbon Street.  Whiskey was in short supply after WWII, while liquor distributors were overstocked in rum; their solution was to force bars to buy a case of rum with every Scotch purchase.  Legend has it that Pat O’Brien’s head bartender, Louis Culligan, came up with the Hurricane as a way to get rid of all that rum.  Culligan revealed his recipe to “Cabaret” magazine in 1956:  4 ounces of gold rum, the juice of 2 lemons, and 2 ounces of “Fassionola,” a brand of bottled red passion fruit mix. How you reinterpret this drink for 2014 is up to you, but in order not to stray too far from the original concept, your recipe must follow these three rules:

  •     Your base spirits must include (but are not limited to) at least one rum.
  •     Your sweetening agents must include (but are not limited to) passion fruit.
  •     It doesn’t matter how you get there, but the color of your drink should be red — or at least reddish, which is one of the hallmarks of the Hurricane.  So is the Hurricane’s signature curvaceous tall glass; bonus points for crafting a drink that looks good in one.

Click here to enter: TOTC 2014 Competition