If you want the daily breakdown with commentary, keep reading!
If you want to skip to a list and map of our recommendations, click here.
Friday – July 20th, 2018
Our flight landed about midnight and while I know New Orleans parties late, we knew we wanted to get up “early” so we just threw luggage in our room and hit the hotel bar. Now, to be fair, our hotel bar was the fairly famous Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone, so that was a pretty good way to start the trip.
It was very late (and if you want to get technical about it, Saturday) but I know I ordered the Rev. Stiggin’s Pineapple Daiquiri. The Plantation pineapple rum is amazing stuff and this drink showcased it beautifully. The only negative I will give this bar is that even before I had a cocktail, I was so exhausted from work and travel that the slowly spinning bar was really disorienting. Cool effect, but not when you’re that tired!
Saturday – July 21st, 2018
You can read my other New Orleans post to get a sense of how we experienced the tail end of Tales.
On Saturday night we went out with Lee and Dawn of Dashfire Bitters for dinner and drinks at Cane & Table, and more drinks at Latitude 29. Cane & Table felt like a hole in the wall but the food and drinks were fabulous. Chris and I shared the Prime Ribeye and it was the perfect amount of food for us, and beautifully seasoned. As you might guess from the name, many of the drinks feature rum but they are no means just a rum bar – with drinks featuring sherry, rum, calvados, and many more of my favorite things.
After dinner we went to Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 for some classic tiki cocktails. According to their site, “Jeff “Beachbum” Berry has spent the last two decades unearthing and publishing “lost” exotic drinks.” His dedication to finding unique and drinkable concoction is evident in the menu – it features tiki drinks that feel well thought out and carefully crafted (not always a given in a world of over-the-top booze bombs).
Sunday – July 22nd, 2018
- Brunch and Drinks at Toups South
- Southern Food & Beverage Museum and Museum of the American Cocktail
- Pig & Punch
- Frozen Irish Coffee at Erin Rose
- Drinks at Longway Tavern
- Dinner and Drinks at Latitude 29
- Drinks at The Carousel Bar
- Drinks and Potato Souffles at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar
Monday – July 23rd, 2018
- Breakfast at Brennan’s
- Coffee at Envie
- Drink at the Organic Banana Frozen Daiquiri Stand
- Distillery Tour and Sampling at Old New Orleans Rum
- Dinner and Drinks at St. Cecilia
- Drinks at The Carousel Bar
- Drinks at St. Lawrence
- Drinks at Chart Room
Tuesday – July 24th, 2018
- Coffee at Antoine’s Annex
- Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
- Lunch and Drinks at St. Lawrence
- Dinner and Drinks at Manolito
- Drinks at Chart Room
- Drinks at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar
Wednesday – July 25th, 2018
Want to know where all these things are? You’re in luck! Here’s my custom Google Map containing our recommendations along with places we didn’t go but had recommended to us.
Just the facts…
New Orleans – July 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
In 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.
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.
The lost history and rebirth of America’s first homegrown spirit.
I am 100% in favor of this trend!!