Slideshow: Highlights from Tales of the Cocktail On Tour: Buenos Aires

Fernet y Cola, unofficial drink of Buenos Aires
Fernet y Cola, unofficial drink of Buenos Aires

Tales of the Cocktail whisked us by bus to a ranch just outside the city for a welcome asado (Spanish for barbecue). Argentina is the world's biggest consumer of Fernet, so the first drink of the day was the country's most popular drink: Fernet & Coke.

[Photograph: noremaC Studios]

Dame Lorraine
Dame Lorraine

But it wasn't all Fernet y Cola. Buenos Aires bartender Daniel Biber created an aperitif cocktail called the Dame Lorraine, made with Angostura 7 year dark rum, Chandon sparkling rosé, orange marmalade, Angostura bitters, and a spritz of Black Grouse scotch. It was balanced and light, with just the right bitterness to set the stage for the main event: the asado.

[Photograph: Marcia Simmons]

Asado at Estancia la Alameda
Asado at Estancia la Alameda

While the drinks were good, the food stole the show. Short ribs were smoked next to the open fire and were offered alongside grilled sausages and beef. I smelled like barbecue the whole day, and I liked it.

[Photograph: Marcia Simmons]

Bitter Love
Bitter Love

Daniyel Jones, winner of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge, mixed up a post-barbecue drink called Bitter Love, made with Angostura 5 year gold rum, Disaronno Amaretto, Angostura bitters, lemon, rich simple syrup and egg white.

[Photograph: noremaC Studios]

Server races
Server races

The Tales events took place at the same time as an annual race in Buenos Aires where hundreds of servers speed-walked through the city streets carrying trays of drinks. None of them stopped to give me one, however.

[Photograph: Marcia Simmons]

Clover Club
Clover Club

The next day was full of seminars ... and the seminars were full of cocktails. The focus was on sharing US cocktail ingredients, history and techniques with Buenos Aires cocktail enthusiasts. I started the day getting educated about how gin is made and sipping classic gin cocktails. My favorite was the Clover Club, made with Hendrick's gin, Martini Bianco, lemon, raspberry syrup and egg white. Gin for breakfast!

[Photograph: Marcia Simmons]

Dr. Funk
Dr. Funk

The highlight of the tiki cocktails was called Dr. Funk—a mix of rum, absinthe and lime with a bit of grenadine and soda.

[Photograph: noremaC Studios]

Asado infused bourbon
Asado infused bourbon

Mike Ryan and Don Lee geeked out in their seminar on the science of cocktails, complete with dozens of charts, formulas and intricate experiments. They actually took some fat from the previous day's barbecue and infused it into some bourbon, which gave the bourbon a really subtle smoky flavor without taking over and hiding the oak-and-honey side of the spirit.

[Photograph: Marcia Simmons]

Asado Manhattan
Asado Manhattan

The surprisingly balanced smoky yet sweet asado-infused bourbon made for a complex Manhattan that lingered on the palate.

[Photograph: noremaC Studios]

Italian Vineyard
Italian Vineyard

Argentina is well known for its local wines, so it's natural that cocktail bartenders would try to bring the two worlds together and create wine-based cocktails, which are pleasantly low in alcohol. This drink, called the Italian Vineyard, is a light and fruity red-wine cocktail accented with Aperol, orange juice, and a bit of Prosecco.

[Photograph: noremaC Studios]

Manolito
Manolito

Buenos Aires bartenders know their way around intense bitter ingredients. The Manolito is mostly Campari, with a little tonic and pineapple syrup and some blueberries and pineapple thrown in for a balanced mixture of sweet, sour, and bitter.

[Photograph: noremaC Studios]

Milk Punch
Milk Punch

After a night of bitter Buenos Aires cocktails, brunch was filled with classic New Orleans drinks like Milk Punch, made with bourbon, vanilla, sugar and nutmeg.

[Photograph: Marcia Simmons]

Sazerac
Sazerac

Since the theme of the brunch was New Orleans, there were of course Sazeracs. They used Glenfiddich instead of a Cognac, which gave it a hint of smokiness. My high school Spanish is pretty rusty, but I think I overheard two bartenders saying they were going to make a version of the Sazerac that used a Fernet Branca rinse instead of the traditional absinthe, Herbsaint or Pernod.

[Photograph: Marcia Simmons]

It's still all about the Fernet
It's still all about the Fernet

Buenos Aires is a giant city, so bar-hopping was a bit of a challenge. After Cynar Juleps at 878 and coffee cocktails at Isabel, it was time to stop hopping and settle down with a Fernet y Cola. It grows on you.

[Photograph: Marcia Simmons]