Rangoon Punch at the 'Beefeater 24 Spa'
Drinking starts early at Tales, and this refreshing, ginny punch was a perfect noon cocktail: Beefeater 24, Pimms, lemon, ginger, cucumber, and fresh mint.
'Broken Halo' from Cripple Creek
New York-based bartending team Cripple Creek put together a midday pop-up at Booty's Street Food; the 'Broken Halo' was as refreshing as a cocktail can be, from a base of salted watermelon agua fresca, shaken with lime, vermouth, and Barsol pisco with a beer float.
Hophead Bloody Marys
Anchor Distilling hosted a "Hopped-up Bloody Mary Cart" with San Francisco's Jupiter Olympus, featuring Anchor's hopped vodka. The three bloodies honored three SF neighborhoods: the "North Beach" with balsamic, basil, and garlic; the "Mission" with tomatillo, poblano, jalapeño, and spices; and—my favorite—"Chinatown," with a huge umami hit from soy sauce and fish sauce, plus 5-spice, mustard, and chile.
'Creature from the Black Lagoon'
I can't recall a blue drink I've ever liked, but this tiki cocktail from John Henderson at the Diageo World-Class Happy Hour was beautifully balanced, with Ketel One, pineapple, lime, blue curacao, and lingering spice from pimento liqueur and falernum bitters.
While most seminars at Tales are sponsored by liquor brands, "Agave Amigos" brought together mezcal experts for a lecture on small-scale agave spirit production and a tasting of several mezcals. My favorite was from the north of Jalisco, made in a batch of only 80 liters and fermented in clay tanks.
'Marakesh Morning Fizz'
Another favorite drink from the Diageo Happy Hour was the "Marakesh Morning Fizz," created by Jeff Bell—Tanqueray TEN with almond milk, egg white, lemon and lime, and rosewater, with club soda. Rosewater can be cloying, but here it's just a lingering floral note in an otherwise bone-dry fizz.
Fleur de Pologne Punch
The bisongrass vodka Zubrowka works beautifully in this drinkable summer punch created by Daniel Undhammar, made with apple cider, lemon juice, rhubarb bitters, St. Germain to sweeten, and absinthe and mint for an herbaceous lift.
My favorite drink at the Pisco Pavillion was the PortónMATE, a margarita-proportioned base—Porton, lime juice, and agave—with jalapeño and rosemary.
Tomr's Tonic and St. George Gin
I'm a big fan of the bright, full-bodied Tomr's Tonic; and a big fan of St. George's Botanivore gin. Together, they make one of the best G&Ts I've had in a while.