Tales of the Cocktail 2015

Our favorite drinks from this year's New Orleans extravaganza, from peppercorn-infused vodka to champagne and gin punch

As far as trade shows go, there’s really nothing quite like Tales of the Cocktail—a week long meetup of almost every major spirits brand internationally. The annual affair takes place in the sweltering summer sun of New Orleans and hydration is the key to survival. But there, one will find the world’s best bartenders concocting truly one-of-a-kind mixed drinks. The following selections, all but one of which were drawn from the portfolio of distributor (and Tales sponsor) William Grant & Sons, most accurately reflect the wonders of the extravaganza.

The Talisheek

At Peche Seafood Grill, Chef Ryan Prewitt’s award winning establishment, we fell for The Talisheek cocktail. Utilizing Flor de Cana rum, upon our request, and a house-made blueberry basil shrub, it carried the most unique flavor profile of any cocktail we tried. The blueberry notes truly shine through, pairing well with the herbs and citrus. While it’s relatively easy to make your own shrub at home, this is a cocktail worth traveling to New Orleans for.

2 oz Flor de Cana rum

1.5 oz Blueberry Basil shrub

.5 oz fresh lemon juice

Combine components and stir. Serve over ice in a tumbler.

Hudson Whiskey & Cantaloupe

As part of William Grant & Sons’ Spirited Dinner series, this time held at the exceptional Meauxbar restaurant and bar, each course was paired with a distinct cocktail developed by Gina Chersevani. The third course featured an unnamed cocktail constructed around Hudson Whiskey and compressed cantaloupe juice. A lot of imagination went into this drink and it truly worked.

2 oz Hudson Baby Bourbon

1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth infused for one hour with thyme

.5 oz of compressed cantaloupe juice

In a mixing glass combine all ingredients, the add ice. Stir for 30 rotations, strain into large wine glass and serve with large rectangle of compressed cantaloupe. To make compressed cantaloupe: half and seed a cantaloupe, place one half into vacuum bag, then pour 1/4 cup of sugar, 4/5 dashes bitters, one cinnamon stick, one star anise, and 1.5 cups champagne. Then vacuum seal to 95% and repeat for other half.

Pink Peppercorn Reyka Vodka

Another Spirited Dinner stand-out, this unnamed cocktail hits up plenty of spots on the known flavor profile. Featuring pink peppercorn-infused Reyka Vodka, pomegranate and blood orange, there’s sweet and savory notes—and more slowly afoot. With little chocolate balls floating in the actual drink, there’s also a lot to the mouthfeel. Altogether, despite the sheer complexity, this comes together nicely.

Iced cold 1.5 oz Reyka vodka infused with pink peppercorns for one hour

Iced cold .25 Solerno blood orange liqueur

Pomegranate soda

Chocolate balls

In a cold Collins glass, pour Reyka vodka, Solerno, then add two tablespoons of chocolate balls. Fill with pomegranate soda and garnish the glass with a small dollop of crème fraîche and a mint leaf.

Evening at Turnberry

You’ve never had a summer punch like this one, composed of Hendrick’s Gin and chilled champagne. Both ingredients pair perfectly with Earl Grey tea and lavender syrup, altogether making something robust, floral and effervescent.

1 part Hendrick’s Gin

1 part Taylor’s Earl Grey tea

1/2 part fresh lemon juice

1/2 part lavender syrup

1/2 part chilled sparkling water

1/2 part chilled champagne

Peychaud bitters to Taste

Combine ingredients over large ice block into punch bowl and stir. Garnish with lemon wheels, cucumber slices, and sliced strawberries.

Lost in Speyside

Some people shy away from using good Scotch in a cocktail, but this creation supports the Glenfiddich at its core. The apple juice and honey syrup keep the drink refreshing, with the raspberry notes rounding it out. This is best batch made—a vibrant Scotch punch, if you will.

3 parts Glenfiddich 12 Year Old

½ part Small Hand Foods raspberry gum syrup

2 parts cloudy apple juice

½ part honey syrup

1 part fresh lemon juice

apple bitters to taste

fresh raspberries for garnish

Combine ingredients over a large block of ice in a punch bowl. Allow to sit for 20 minutes before serving (for temperature and dilution). Serve neat or over ice.

Absinthe Colada

No trip to the south is complete without an absinthe cocktail. This wonderful colada, made with Pernod Absinthe, is unlike any other. Coconut cream and fresh watermelon delight with the anise taste the green beast is known for. This is another superb batch cocktail—and lends a kick to any party.

30ml Pernod absinthe

50ml coconut cream

100g watermelon

1 pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend lightly until smooth.

Glenfiddich image courtesy of Fine Young Man Productions, Absinthe Colada image courtesy of Pernod, all other images courtesy of Jennifer Mitchell Photography