Editor's Note: Our barman Michael Neff is reporting from Tales of the Cocktail. What's that? He filled us in here.


PJ's Coffee Shop, 9:11 a.m.

Morning is not the French Quarter's finest hour. The streets smell like beer and bleach, and the poor souls out are either still up (a sight sorry enough that I won't describe it) or tasked with cleaning up from the revelry of the night before.

I am up at this ungodly hour to participate in the first seminar on the first day of Tales of the Cocktail. Moderated by bartender Franky Marshall, the panel includes myself, Romee de Goriainoff of the Experimental Cocktail Club, Susan Fedroff, Julie Reiner, and Tad Carducci. The topic: The Ups and Downs of Running Multiple Venues.

While today is the official opening of the convention, people like myself began pouring in to New Orleans throughout the day yesterday. I have already done the following:

  • Enjoyed a lunch of fried oysters with Francine Cohen and John Henry at Acme Oyster House, a joint I featured for Serious Eats after last year's event.
  • Had a beer at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone.
  • Tasted the new 6-Year and 1976 Expressions of Rhum Clement.
  • Crossed the street to avoid a man dressed up as the Naked Cowgirl.
  • Drank whiskey in the Chart Room with Jim Pickett of Gotham Artisanal and Matt Purpura of Tito's Vodka.
  • Declined an invitation from the team behind Don Q Rum to have a final drink at The Old Absinthe House.

The last one is most important. "One last drink" doesn't really exist during Tales. There are too many people to talk to, and too few boundaries between the drinker, the bar, and the world outside. While I might have enjoyed catching up with my friend over a final beer, the first official day of Tales starts early, and 'one last drink' isn't the best way to arrive in good shape.

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