Cocktails & Spirits

Tales of the Cocktail 2015: Miami Takeover in New Orleans

Another Tales of the Cocktail is over, and Miami bartenders and spirits professionals are back in town after spending nearly a week in the Big Easy drinking, eating, learning, and networking.

This year's Tales of the Cocktail had a large Miami contingent, with dozens of South Florida's finest taking part in cocktail competitions, seminars, and tasting rooms. Still others just came down to experience the annual cocktail convention and enjoy some of New Orleans' best bars and restaurants. 

Speaking of restaurants, Miami visitors didn't have to feel homesick for Panther Coffee, which is proudly poured at Spitfire Coffee in the French Quarter, and Nina Compton's Compere Lapin was a frequent hangout for Miamians.

The highlight of the weekend was Broken Shaker winning the coveted Best American Hotel Bar award at Tales of the Cocktail's Spirited Awards ceremony, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Miami's cocktail scene is a world class city to imbibe in. 

Gabriel Urrutia, brand manager at Bacardi, was in town to host several seminars and tasting rooms, Here, he's enjoying a bellini at the Martini cafe pop-up, which brought a full-fledged Italian trattoria to life for a few days.

The Liquid Projects' Jennifer Massolo hosted Tales of the Craft, a Craft tasting room, showcasing 11 of the best craft distillers in the United States today. Our country's spirits industry is seeing a real renaissance, as evidenced by wealth of interesting spirits like absinthe from Kentucky, rum from Colorado, and barrel-aged gin from Texas. 

Robert Burr of the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival presented several rare Clairins from Haiti at a tasting seminar along with Ian Burrell, Gianluca GArgone, Peter Holland, and Alexandre Vingtier. These rural rhums give a whole new world of meaning to the concept of small batch distilling. In fact, many of the clairin distilleries in Haiti use age old production methods dating back to the 18th century and sugarcane rarely found outside of Haiti. The result are bright, crisp spirits with distinct sweet,citrus,and grassy notes.

Broken Shaker's Gabe Orta shared his experiences in co-owning his own bar at the Shakers and Movers Guide to Advancement seminar. Orta was also seen making cocktails at the Flor de Cana tasting room.

Over at Napoleon House, Rec Room's Adam Delguicci and Erin Hayes competed in Mandarine Napoleon's Battle of the Sexes, which pits male bartenders against female bartenders to see who, ultimately, shakes the most delicious cocktails. This year, both teams won, partially because of Adam's Handsome & Wealthy, made with Mandarine Napoleon, cognac, Olorosso sherry, white Spanish wine, Champagne, and muddled fresh berries.

The Battle of the Sexes was hosted by John Lermayer (The Regent Cocktail Club and soon-to-open Sweet Liberty), who channeled his inner Napoleon for the part. 

Creative Alchemy Group's Frank Moreno was in search of new and interesting spirits for his Craft Spirits Festival. The event organizer seems to be smitten with Monkey Shoulder blended Scotch whisky. 

The Florida Department of Citrus partnered with Tippling Bros' Tad Carducci for a spirited dinner at Grand Isle. Each cocktail and dish prominently displayed the brightness and versatility of our very own oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and limes. 

The Regent Cocktail Club's Julio Cabrera, along with Nick Detrich, turned Cane & Table's courtyard into a sultry garden in Puerto Rico for the Rums of Puerto Rico's Borinquen Night. 

The Trade Commission of Peru in Miami hosted the Defining the Ultimate Pisco Punch tasting room, which featured top bartenders Tony Abou-Ganim (Las Vegas), Jim Kearns (New York), Francesco LaFranconi (Las Vegas), Brother Cleve (Boston), Naomi Levy (Boston), and Roberto Meléndez (Lima) showcasing their takes on the classic libation favored by the likes of Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain.

Miami cocktailers in need of a caffeine fix were delighted to find Spitfire Coffee, a tiny independent shop right around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral, proudly serving (and wearing) Panther Coffee.

Top Chef fan favorite Nina Compton hosted a spirited dinner at her brand new Compere Lapin. The dinner featured Zapaca Rum cocktails created by Lynnette Marrero and Ricky Gomez.

Philip Greene from Papa's Pilar rum (which will soon have a distillery in Key West), co-hosted Cheers to the Chief with Mark Will-Weber. The seminar explored the history of United States presidents and their relationships (or lack of) with alcohol. 

Of course, Miami's proudest moment came when The Broken Shaker was named Best American Hotel Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Way to make a splash in the Big Easy, Miami.

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