The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2011

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Page 48 of 124

SIPPED & SCENE Bull riding on Bourbon Street. Back to My BLAINE ASHLEY HITS THE PARTIES AT TALES OF THE COCKTAIL Southern I Roots 'm a girl who moves easily between champagne and Coors Light. Likewise, I can deal equally well with a table at Eleven Madison Park or a corner booth at a Midtown diner. So a trip from haute, bustling New York down to the humble South in July didn't deliver culture shock. Both of my parents were raised in the South, and I spent a solid chunk of my youth in South Carolina. I may continuously drone on about living à la Hawaii and New York, but there was a fond blip of time when fried chicken and okra comprised my dinner plate. I jetted to New Orleans with a metropolitan bunch for Tales of the Cocktail for five non-stop days of tast- ings, meets, greets, meals and parties. Upon touch- down, I headed straight for the historical Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone, the official stay for the mob scene brought to us by Tales. I was on a mission to sample classic cocktails and I thought it a smart choice to start off slow by ordering a French Fun times at the Beefeater Party. 75. The perfectly blended sip eased me back into cocktail mode and ready for the next spot, Maple Leaf, where Pernod Ricard was hosting a Jameson kick-off fete. The low-key bar boasted live local music, New Orleans–crafted brew and plenty of Picklebacks. Wednesday morphed into a menagerie of must-dos starting with a $1.50 Bloody Mary and fried oysters at Mr. B's Bistro, followed by a trip to see Dale DeGroff's Museum of the American Cocktail, where a vintage bottle of Cherry Heering circa 1890 was pre- sented followed by a Diageo Happy Hour, a Beefeater Masquerade Ball, then a William Grant & Sons '40s fête, all capped off with a late-night po' boy, Absinthe Drip and a bull ride—yes, a bull ride. And, the next few days took me to Acme, where I devoured char-grilled oysters washed down with a dark brew with a Toronto industry "ten-some" including Dave Mitton of The Harbord Room and Gavin MacMillan from Bartender One. Keeping the kid-at-heart going, I spent the majority of Saturday night following the Spirited Awards before the disco-themed Plymouth Gin Bartenders Breakfast on the terrace of the Don Q Rum suite in the Royal Sonesta Hotel, sipping Esteban Ordoñez–crafted cocktails and tossing beads off of the balcony. In the blink of an eye, I was back in New York and welcomed home with a bottle of Nine William Grant party goes '40s retro. Walks Sauvignon Blanc. Needless to say, I'm off the fried-food bandwagon for a while, and it's safe to say I've had my fix of Sazeracs and Southern hospitality till next year. From humble to haute, next weekend I'll be basking in the sun at a chic Montauk Beach Resort with Mojito after Mai Tai in hand. But, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, as long as there are tasty tipples and a fun crew in tow, I'm one happy Southern- bred Cosmopolitan girl. 48 / the tasting panel / september 201 1

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