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Pictures from Tales of the Cocktail in NOLA

Greetings from currently rainy New Orleans! I'm here till Sunday checking out the 10th annual Tales of the Cocktail, a gathering of bartenders, liquor reps and booze enthusiasts that draws attendees from all over the nation for a week of seminars, tasting rooms, dinners, parties and general alcohol-fueled revelry. (I'm hunkered down in my hotel lobby right now, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi and trying to get the taste of last night's whiskey out of my mouth.)

"Rediscovering the Gin & Tonic": This was an incredibly awesome seminar about the evolution of the classic drink. (More details on that next week.)

Ice sphere molds! (And baby bottles of G'Vine gin, which my hotel room is now fully stocked with. Seminar attendees come away with all kinds of free swag from Tales sponsors.) From henceforth, all of my beverages at home will be chilled exclusively with giant ice balls.

The Bramble at Bar Tonique, a cozy little bar slightly removed from the tourist traps of Bourbon Street. (I ran into none other than Dallas' own Chef DAT here.) Tiny and dark but welcoming, if you're at all into cocktails you must come here on your next trip to NOLA. They mostly stick to the classics, and the capable bartenders do the OG recipes justice with super-fresh ingredients and attention to detail.

Beautiful plates at last night's Tia Maria & DiSaronno-sponsored dinner at the Conti Wax Museum. The event was catered by Top Chef alum Marcel Vigneron and fellow LA chef Haru Kishi.

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Those are not actual frozen peas, but rather frozen spheres of pea soup. Awesome.

Kishi in action whipping up Tia Maria coconut ice cream with the aid of liquid nitrogen. (I failed to get any decent shots of Vigneron, but rest assured his pompadour is still in full effect, albeit slightly less gravity-defying than it was during his reality TV stint.)

Chaos at the Employees Only pop-up party. Employees Only party at One Eyed Jack. Jason Kosmas brought in his team of bartenders from NYC to set up shop; the pros their signature delicious drinks for the masses at a frenetic pace while a jazz band entertained rowdy partygoers. (Toward the end I may or may not have spotted drunk dudes pouring liquor on some scantily clad ladies. Ahem.)

That's all for now. It's time for me to start drinking again -- sadly I'm about five hours behind most of the other Tales attendees. I'll have a more in-depth recap for your reading pleasure on Monday, provided I don't decide to stay in New Orleans and become a street busker so I can eat BBQ shrimp and gumbo every day.

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