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Cheers from Tales of the Cocktail: 2018 Recap

Photo Courtesy: Kathy Casey

Now in its 16th year, Tales of the Cocktail gave us so much to celebrate with many fantastic bars, writers and bartenders proudly winning coveted accolades during this year’s Spirited Awards®! Among the many national recipients include two Northwest favorites; Clyde Common, (Portland, OR) for Best American Restaurant Bar and Navy Strength, (Seattle, WA) for Best New American Cocktail Bar. 

Since its establishment in 2007, the Spirited Awards have grown to become one of the most prestigious honors in the cocktail industry. Winners were selected by a panel of over 140 industry experts including our very own bar chef,  Kathy Casey, along with top sponsors, like The House of Angostura, Bacardi US, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Peroni, Pernod Ricard USA, and Woodford Reserve to name a few.

Check out the full list of Spirited Award Recipients here!

Although it is pretty much impossible to hit all the events, lectures, and tastings – here are some of our favorite highlights from #TOTC2018!

Celebrating with Yochen Verbeeck:

2018 Libbey Glassology Ambassador

Courtesy: Libbey

Yochen Verbeeck made his way to Tales of the Cocktail in style this year after being recently named the winner of the Glassology Competition by Libbey. The finals were held on May 28th during the Perfect Serve Bar Show, in Amsterdam.

Yochen Verbeeck is a bartender at Cocktail at Nine in Belgium and describes himself as a perfectionist with a great passion for the cocktail scene.

His inspiration for his award-winning glass design is none other than The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald which encompasses the essence of the roaring 20’s as well as the peak of the Art Deco movement.

Courtesy: Libbey

“I brought my love for art and history in my design. I really wanted to keep it simple and let the glass speak for itself.” – Yochen Verbeeck

As the winner, Yochen receives 250 pieces of his glass design and is one of the members of the jury in the next edition of Glassology along with acting as Glassology Ambassador at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail celebration.

Congratulations Yochen and we look forward to seeing your award-winning glass design soon! Check out for more details.

Piscotarian Project at Calcasieu

Courtesy: Kathy Casey

On Friday, we were transported on a culinary adventure through Peru in the form of Pisco-based Chilcanos and Peruvian cuisine.

Courtesy: Kathy Casey

Master Mixologist, Tony Abou-Ganim shared the history of Pisco through the mixing glass of one of Peru’s most popular drinks, the Chilcanos –  a beverage central to Peruvian’s way of life. Made with Pisco, lime, bitters and ginger beer – it is the highball of your dreams! Easy to make, and even easier to add a signature twist when incorporating your favorite flavors into the Pisco.

Samplings of different Piscos and Grape brandies enlightened even the most seasoned mixologists in the bunch with their complexities.

Photo Credit: Andrew Kist

The hands-on ceviche making (and eating) demo with Chef Carlos Delgado of China Chilcano (Jose Andres’ Peruvian restaurant in DC) was a hit! Chef Delgado’s mastery of raw fish is something to be seen and tasted!


Garden of Elyx

Photos: Courtesy Absolut Elyx

Copper was king at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail with Absolut Elyx’s Garden of Elyx! The 3 Day poolside event, featured a copper speckled Martini Lounge, Gnome Garden, The Elyx Salon and plenty of Copper Mermaids, (their newest copper cocktail vessel for collectors) filled with spectacular libations.

Set within the beautiful architecture of Audobon Cottages in New Orleans’ French Quarter, this year’s Garden of Elyx had guest appearances from world-famous bartenders including Alex Kratena (formerly of World’s Best Bar, The Artesian), Monica Berg (Himlok, co-founder of P(our) Symposium), Leo Robitschek (Eleven Madison Park and Nomad), Toby Cecchini (creator of the Cosmopolitan and owner of Long Island Bar), Maxime Belfand (Saxon + Parole), and Gareth Evans (Elyx Global Brand Ambassador).

Among the copper vessel concoctions were the Elyx Coconut cocktail served in the new Copper Mermaid as well as the Elyx Martini,  but our favorite drink of the day was the Elyx Pineapple, served in a copper Gnome called Felix! A beautiful combination of Absolut Elyx Vodka, Green Chartreuse, John D Taylor Velvet Falernum, pineapple juice, toasted coconut syrup, lime juice and Angostura Bitters. Other creative cocktails included garden and Eden themes like the Elyx Banana served in a flower pot and the Elyx Apple, garnished with perfect baby apples. Can’t live without a copper coupe? Don’t fret! You can pick up your very own copper vessel at The Elyx Boutique, which donates to Water For People with every purchase.

Tequila Cazadores Presents Bartender Boxing Round 3 – Miami VS. San Francisco Final.

Photo Credit: Mark Tomaras

Bartending can be like any other job, stressful and well, unhealthy at times. The Bartender Boxing Organization is out to change this by promoting health and wellness for bartenders through the sweet science of boxing and raises funds and awareness for local and national charities. Sponsored by Tequila Cazadores, it was Miami vs San Francisco at Tales this year. Catch the full match on the Tequila Cazadores Facebook Page.

But First, A Martini: Plymouth Gin

Photo: Courtesy Plymouth Gin

Plymouth Gin presented attendees with But First, A Martini, where guests were taken on a journey through history, from the classic Marguerite first developed in 1904 to a modern take on the Martinez originally documented in 1884. Plymouth Gin’s Global Brand Ambassador, Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge, introduced reinvented variations of the Martini alongside the classics with flavor profiles ranging from smoky to fruity, dry to citrusy and sweet to savory. The recipes debuted at TOTC will also be featured in an upcoming menu at the Refectory Bar, located at Plymouth Gin’s historic distillery.

Last but not Least: Renée Fitzgerald’s Runner-up Cocktail is worth mentioning!

Gins & Roses by Renée Fitzgerald

We talked about the winner of the TOTC Cocktail Competition in our previous post, but it is seriously worth mentioning the runner-up cocktail, Gins & Roses! A beautiful creation by Renée Fitzgerald from Market Street Restaurant in Reinbeck, NY, featuring Pétillant Naturel Rosé by William Chris Vineyards.

“The William Chris Pétillant Naturel Rosé lends perfect aroma and dry crispness to elevate the drink, as well as providing a necessary and name-appropriate color. Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin puts the flavor of rose at the forefront, but still hits as hard as artillery with its high proof. Honey and sage help anchor this cocktail, giving it a heady base that is then brightened up by the intense acidity of fresh key lime juice. Finally, the name Gins & Roses is vaguely reminiscent of the phrase “guns n’ roses”, but a bit veiled and more feminine – hinting again at all the major inspirations for this drink: guns, gins, girls, and roses.” -Renée

The French 75 was the theme of the competition. A classic cocktail whose name attributes to the powerful hit, packed by military artillery in World War I. 

Renée wanted to use the floral and mild sweetness of Pomp & Whimsy liquor as a modern nod to the women who have also served a myriad of roles during wartime, and in thinking about famous and iconic symbols of both war and women, roses became a focal point.

Gins & Roses

Makes 1 Cocktail

  • 3/4 ounce Pomp & Whimsy Gin Liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin
  • 1/2 ounce fresh squeezed Key lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce honey-sage syrup (*Recipe follows)
  • 2 1/2 ounces William Chris Pétillant Naturel Rosé
  • Garnish: fresh sage leaf

In a shaker, add the Pomp & Whimsy Liqueur, Nolet’s Silver Gin, fresh-squeezed Key lime juice, and honey-sage syrup. Fill a shaker with ice, cap and shake vigorously until all ingredients are chilled and combined. Strain into a coupe glass and top with William Chris Pétillant Naturel Rosé. Garnish with a fresh sage leaf.

*Honey-Sage Syrup

  • 1/2 cup local honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 10-12 fresh sage leaves

Add honey and water to a saucepan. Bruise or tear fresh sage leaves to release essence fully and add to pan. Bring all to a boil for 1 minute and then remove from heat. Let honey-sage syrup cool and steep for at least 1 hour, then strain to remove sage leaves and store in a clean bottle for up to 6 weeks.

For more information, please visit and follow on Facebook and Instagram @WilliamChrisVineyards.

Cheers to another amazing Tales of the Cocktail week and we look forward to 2019! – Kathy Casey