If you walk into your favorite Miami bar and don't see any familiar faces mixing drinks, it's probably because your favorite mixologist has headed for the Big Easy.
Tales of the Cocktail, the annual five-day spirited celebration of cocktails, has the world's finest mixologists congregating in New Orleans to compete, learn, and drink.
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Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC), like a mixed drink, contains two parts bartender, one part spirits representative, and one part cocktail aficionado. For one glorious long weekend, they all experience libations from some of the best bars in the world and explore new spirits.
It's a chance for bartenders to "shake it" for their peers and to learn new drinks which they can then bring back to their home towns. One of which, luckily enough, is Miami.
In fact, most of Miami's best bartenders are in New Orleans at TOTC, many of them serving as brand ambassadors or guest bartenders for spirits companies. Some of them are entered into the many competitions at Tales, like The Regent Cocktail Club's John Lermayer, who is representing Miami males in Mandarine Napoleon's Battle of the Sexes competition; Broken Shaker's Elad Zvi and Gabe Orta, who are fighting it out at the Bare Knuckle Bar Fight; and Swine's Robert Ferrara, who is representing Miami in the Viva Sangrita Tequila Ocho Finals.
Other Miami bartenders and spirits enthusiasts in NOLA for the weekend include Chris Hudnall; Cricket Nelson; Hector Acevedo and Camilo Taverno from the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel; and Miami Rum Renaissance Festival's Robert Burr (who will be leading a rum tasting).
I am also at Tales of the Cocktail, and will be reporting back on all the mixing and parties (yesterday, for example, there were live monkeys and unicorn tears).
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So, for this weekend, you may want to settle for a shot and a beer at your local bar, while your favorite bartender learns some new tricks in New Orleans.