The 10 Best Things We Drank at Tales of the Cocktail

By Cindy Augustine  |  July 24, 2014

Tales of the Cocktail ended Sunday in New Orleans, and it’s safe to say the 12th annual festival left the spirits community with one huge hangover. Bartenders, brand ambassadors and other industry folk convened in the French Quarter for five days of sipping, tasting, educating, and yes, heavily drinking. The weekend ended with a farewell shot – a most fitting close. Here, the 10 best things we drank during the cocktail festival, local brew Abita notwithstanding.

1. Westland Punch

There’s no better way to get through New Orleans in July than with a punch and this one (above) hit the spot. Created by Erik Hakkinen, of Zig Zag Café in Seattle, this concoction with Westland Whiskey, Amontillado Sherry, lemon juice, earl grey syrup and soda — rocks optional.

2. D’Annunzio

Named for an Italian poet, a lover of cherry liqueur, this drink (below) is decadent as it is balanced – a refreshing surprise. The brainchild of mixologist Francesco Lafranconi, this is made with Luxardo Sangue Morlacco cherry liqueur, anejo-style tequila, chocolate liqueur, and fortified wine-soaked cherries, along with an almond sprinkle.

3. The Tender Samoan

A wild card, this banana cocktail, also created by Francesco Lafranconi, could pass for dessert, but it works just fine in a cocktail glass. Made with Zabov (a zabaglione liqueur by Moccia), aged rum, banana juice and tiki spices, served over crushed ice and garnished with a sugary burnt banana bit, it’s how we imagine Samoans would serve eggnog.

4. Canned Cocktails

San Francisco bartender Kevin Diedrich, formerly of Gaspar Brasserie and Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen,  created these portable cocktails served in cans, which worked quite nicely with NoLa’s open container law. The favorite? The Southside Fizz, made with No. 3 London Dry Gin, simple syrup, lime juice and Fever Tree tonic.

5. Summer on the Thames

As the name suggests, this is a very British drink (above); created by the bar team at NOLA’s Gravier Street Social, it’s a simple, satisfying mix of strawberry-infused Ford’s Gin (created by star London bartender Simon Ford), Pimms No. 1 and lemonade.

6. The Laughing Sea

Chicago-based bartender and Tenzing spirits portfolio manager DeJorn Huffman created this cocktail – perfect for summer brunching —  a seasonal take on the bellini. The Laughing Sea (below) is made with No. 3 London Dry Gin, BarSol Perfecto Amor, fresh lemon juice, B.G. Reynolds Don’s Spice Syrup, and prosecco.

7. Monkey Punch

Bar chef Lu Brow of NoLa’s Swizzle Stick Bar came up with this whiskey punch – a familiar blend of spices and flavors that stand up to the summer heat. It starts with Monkey Shoulder whisky and Brow adds Benedictine, orange Curacao, lemon, bitters, honey syrup, and tea and tops it with grated nutmeg.

8. Creole Swizzle

Crushed ice and mint are two simple ways to turn a cocktail into the ideal summer sipper and this creation by Paul Sevigny (a brand ambassador for Disaronno) has both. The Creole Swizzle is made with Disaronno, Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, lime essence, Peychauds Bitters and topped with a mint bouquet.

9. Paint it Black

A nod to the Rolling Stones, NYC’s NoMad Bar team created this cocktail, made with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, fino sherry, Velvet Falernum, lemon, vanilla and blackberries, which packs a sweet punch.

10. Pavan Sangria

Again, swamp-like weather conditions call for a certain kind of beverage and this one hit the mark. This drink features Pavan liqueur (grape with hints of orange blossom) mixed with fruit and water (above) for a lighter take on the classic sangria. Isidro Gutierrez makes his own variation of it at The Press Lounge in NYC.

11. Honorable Mention

Served off the menu at the Bar Fight Club event (where top bars in the country compete), Tales’ winners Trick Dog of San Francisco served gin-infused lemon sorbet garnished with Pop Rocks, their super inventive take on the New Orleans classic cocktail Ramos Gin Fizz.