New Orleans & a Taste of Tales

New Orleans – July 2018


St. Louis Cathedral through Jackson Square

A few months ago, my husband’s company announced that they would be having a work meeting in New Orleans in July. “New Orleans in July?” I said, “that’s going to be awful!” Turns out, I was right – at least in terms of the weather. July in New Orleans is objectively awful to a Northern Gal like me but because of that, it’s also cheap. That makes it appealing to people hosting large meetings and conferences.

One of the conferences held in New Orleans in July happens to be Tales of the Cocktail. This year, it happened to be held the week before Chris’ work trip and happened to be at the same hotel as his company meeting. We happened to put two and two together and fly down late Friday night, to catch the tail of Tales.


I’m not usually a fan of slushies, but when the heat index is 112F, it’s hard to say no.

Despite the fact that I’ve been doing the social media for the Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter of the USBG for most of two years, most of that as the elected “Social Media Coordinator” and despite the fact that most of the local bartenders consider me “industry,” I still have a strong case of imposter syndrome when navigating this world. My husband, Chris, is the actual cocktail nerd of the family – I can barely make myself an Old Fashioned and am often that dreaded customer who freezes like a deer in the headlights when asked if I want my Manhattan up or on the rocks. My passion for this world comes from a love of the hospitality of a good bar. In other words, I’m in it for the people.

Any fears that I didn’t belong at Tales started to dissipate when, just minutes after dropping our bags in our room at the Hotel Monteleone after our very late arrival, we walked into The Carousel Bar and within ten feet, I was being hugged by Jonathan Schulze, an MSP rep for A. Hardy Spirits who sponsored our last guild meeting. The chance meeting gave me some confidence that I was in the right place, doing the right thing.


I made myself a spreadsheet of the Tasting Rooms schedule but forgot it at home. I literally squealed with delight when I stepped out of an elevator and saw this on the wall – causing the person who created it to squeal in delight at my delight.

With only one day of Tales overlapping with our trip, our tail of Tales was mostly limited to the Tasting Rooms on Saturday and Pig & Punch on Sunday. I went into the Tasting Rooms hoping to a)taste a lot of cool things and b)feel worthy of both my attendance as an enthusiast and the media credentials I was able to get. Despite starting the trip feeling like a total fraud, I finished Saturday feeling like I’d made some contacts of actual value – several of the spirits we tasted are launching in our area soon and they were thrilled to make contact with the local guild.

Oh, and we also learned that if you wander through Tasting Rooms as a couple with him in a seersucker suit and you in a cocktail print dress, you will get a zillion compliments. That didn’t hurt at all.


Said cocktail print


My only shot of Chris in seersucker. And also of random Malort shots on the street.

Our taste of Tales taught us that we want to get back and experience more of the events next year. We learned that we’ll need to pace ourselves, eat well, drink lots of water, and share samples (at sampling events, I’d rather drink half as much of twice as many). For me, personally, I learned that I can bring value to this industry that I love so much. I need to stop doubting my place in this world, stop thinking about myself as an outsider, and start actually putting more words on paper. (Words on screen just sounds so much less dramatic!)

I’ve been discovering that while I want to write about eating, drinking, travelling, and the hospitality industry in general – I don’t want to be a reviewer. Maybe I could get more followers if I gave scathing reviews of bad places or things – but I’d rather be positive and grow organically, if slowly. If I don’t like something or somewhere, I’m just not going to post about it. Maybe that’s too “laissez faire” but I’m okay with it, because it’s me.


Night time on Bourbon Street

New Orleans is a strange city and hard to categorize. Sometimes the city felt like Paris, other times I imagined I was in Cuba. Rarely did it feel like I was in the US. I went into this trip dreading the weather, the strangeness, the insanity of places like Bourbon Street – but I left with a strong desire to go back and find more oddities and hidden gems. Because of the heat and humidity, I didn’t discover as much of the city as I would have liked but I believe the unique personality of New Orleans helped me discover myself, far more than ever expected. So, as they say on the other end of the Mississippi from my home in St. Paul, “laissez les bons temps rouler.”

Google Maps as a travel archive

I am working hard on bringing more of the travel aspect to this blog – one has to get to the right context somehow! As part of that, I’m working to create useful Google Maps for people to reference when they want recommendations in places we’ve been. It’s a fun project and is getting me very excited for our upcoming trips!

Here are a few sneak peeks, there’s still more to add.



San Francisco

Hitting bottom, at the top – CW: Suicide

21 years ago last month, I tried to take my own life.

I’d been fighting depression and bullying in my senior year of high school and ending my life felt like the only way to end my pain. Once I made the decision, I was actually happier than I’d been in weeks – I was taking control! I was going to be okay! (By, you know, not being.)

I won’t say I regret that decision for myself, but I do regret the pain it caused people around me. For me, however, I had to go through that to get the help I needed. The days I spent in an adolescent psych ward were both frustrating and educational. I met other teens who were dealing with poverty, abuse, and addiction – some of them minimized my depression because I was a spoiled kid from the suburbs.

230215_8604379524_8979_nIn the past ten days we’ve lost two celebrities and, closer to home, I know of two friends of friends who’ve lost their battles with depression. Especially with people like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, people are quick to point out “oh, but they had wealth and fame and help and resources and this and that.”

One of the things that took me a long time to understand is that often, depression is WORSE when things are good. It’s so frustrating to look around and see all the reasons you should be okay, should be happy – and instead, feel worthless and hopeless. Depression is always awful, but the pain can cut twice as deep when you know you should be at least content.

In the past 21 years I have had bad times, some even worse than that senior year of high school. And I have had good times, such good times. Depression comes regardless of where I’m at on this roller coaster we call life. Depression doesn’t care if you’re a celebrity, a spoiled kid from the suburbs, or an addict.

Depression might not care, but I do. I share my story in the hope of reducing the stigma of depression, in the hope that it will make it easier for someone else to get the help they need before it’s too late, in the hope that someone else realizes they aren’t alone and it’s not their fault.


5 Distilleries That Are Redefining Minnesota’s Aquavit Market

When we were drinking cocktails in London and Scotland last summer, we frequently found ourselves discussing the distilling boom back home – with an added emphasis on aquavit. Most bartenders were surprised to hear it was so popular! It’s great to see Minnesota’s aquavit game get national press.


Here are some of the region’s best aquavit producers.

Source: 5 Distilleries That Are Redefining Minnesota’s Aquavit Market

Boozy Advent Calendars! – Master of Malt

Need a great gift or just a way to make the Holiday season more fun? Check out Masters of Malt’s boozy Advent Calendars!

I used Master of Malt last summer to create a 40th birthday gift set of only spirits older than the birthday boy – that was only five drams but still SO MUCH FUN to assemble!

Launched in 2010, Drinks by the Dram was a way of offering spirits enthusiasts and connoisseurs the opportunity to sample releases at a fraction of

Source: Drinks By The Dram – Master of Malt

These Zero-Waste Cocktails Are Made with Old Pineapple and Used Coffee Grounds | MUNCHIES

An average cocktail bar throws away eight bags of organic waste a night. Bartenders Iain Griffiths and Kelsey Ramage want to change this by reusing ingredients.

Source: These Zero-Waste Cocktails Are Made with Old Pineapple and Used Coffee Grounds | MUNCHIES


Some interesting ideas in here.
I was recently in a cocktail class that talked about planning events and one rule of thumb was a pound of ice per cocktail. When you think about the stirring and diluting and serving, it adds up to a massive amount of water.
There are so many ways to use things that will otherwise go bad – this is part of why we so often have a half-dozen different syrups and shrubs at a home bar that serves two. (You should come over, please.) I also always have a bag of veggie waste in the freezer to go in a stockpot when I have a chicken carcass, stock making is basically magically turning trash into food and I love it!

Head of Brewing Operations Todd Haug Steps Down At Surly Brewing – Surly Brewing Co.

After more than 10 years setting the pace of the craft beer revolution in Minnesota, Surly Brewing Co., Head of Brewing Operations Todd Haug has resigned his position at the Twin Cities Brewery. “I’d like to thank our family, friends and fans – Surly Nation – for always believing in our vision. It never gets […]

Source: Head of Brewing Operations Todd Haug Steps Down At Surly Brewing – Surly Brewing Co.