Last night I was lucky enough to attend Tales of the Toddy at the W on Poydras Street, and darned if the event didn’t warm my cockles just a little.
For y’all who don’t know, Tales of the Toddy (put on by Tales of the Cocktail and the New Orleans Culinary and Cocktail Preservation Society) was a giant cocktail party designed to ring in the holiday season and give local bartenders a venue to show off their winter-suitable creations. Proceeds also went to benefit the New Orleans Musician’s Assistance Foundation, which is, of course, a good thing.
Here are the bartenders who were there:
Arnaud’s French 75 • Chris Hannah
Carousel Bar • Marvin Allen
Coquette • Cole Newton
Crescent City School of Bartending • Stahili Glover
Cure • Rhiannon Enlil
Cure • Neal Bodenheimer
Domenica • Michael Glassberg
Dos Jefes • Talia Neal
Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse • Tiffany Soles
Ritz Carlton • Daniel Victory
Whiskey Blue • Lisa Nahay
Pernod Ricard USA • Chris Patino
Iris Restaurant • Sharon Floyd
And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails author • Wayne Curtis
And the chefs:
a Mano • Chefs Joshua Smith and Adolfo Garcia
Arnaud’s • Chef Tommy Di Giovanni
Boucherie • Chef Nathanial Zimet
Creole Creamery • Chef Bryan Gilmore
Cure • Chef Jason McCullar
Jackson Restaurant • Chef John Bolderson
La Cote Brassierie • Chef Chuck Subra
Pelican Club • Chef Richard Hughes
Squeal Barbeque • Brendan, Patrick and Eugene “Gene” Young
Tomatillo’s • Alaina Stokke
ZOE • Chef Chris Brown
Royal House Oyster Bar
Now, I will admit that I didn’t take notes last night, so unfortunately I won’t be able to provide detailed descriptions of most of the drinks. I was on a lady-date with my friend Tattoo, whom I hadn’t seen in a while, and figured quality time trumped bloggy time. We did have a blast, if that makes up for my lack of studiousness.
Most of the cocktail sponsors were blatantly obvious– there were a LOT of drinks made with Absolut vodka, Hendrick’s gin, and Sazerac rye. Now, I don’t consider myself a vodka fan (although I will admit to a Salty Dog or two if I’m at a dive bar and the weather is warm) but both of my favorite cocktails last night turned out to be vodka-based.
The big surprise of the evening was The Stubborn Mule by Marvin Allen of the Carousel Bar consisting of Absolut vanilla, Absolut 100, Fentiman’s ginger beer, and lime. Now this sounds pretty tasty and refreshing, so Tattoo and I bellied up and got one, but when he handed us our cups, the drinks were warm. We looked at each other, first with surprise, then with incredulity, because the prospect of warm vodka appealed to neither of us. Never ones to back down from a cocktail, though, we took our first hesitant sips, and lo, it was good. Mostly lime at the front, with some mild ginger coming out. After eating taking a bite of spicy food, however, the vanilla really shone through, and we each contemplated getting another round.
We couldn’t do that, though– there was too much else to drink! Warm cocktails with tea and Nocello (Lisa Nahay of Whiskey Blue‘s Mad Hatter’s Toddy), cold ones with rye, pear liqueur, Averna, and celery bitters (Neal Bodenheimer of Cure’s Axis of Everything), and punches with gin and absinthe (Rhiannon Enlil of Cure).
Stahili Glover’s Grey Pear proved to be the hands-down favorite of several people I spoke with, and I am inclined to agree. It straddled the line between refreshing and comforting, so it’d be just as good on a hot afternoon in July as it was on a cold December evening. Fruity and unctuous, but not cloying, I’m still fantasizing about it this morning.
Mr. Glover is from the Crescent City School of Bartending and was gracious enough to share his recipe, which you’ll find at the bottom of the post.
Of course, if the planners of the event had only provided booze, they would have ended up with a lot of sloppy people in sparkly clothes on their hands, so they rounded up representatives of some of the city’s best restaurants to provide some sustenance. Duck empanadas from Jason McCullar at Cure and some truly delish pulled pork and corn grits from Squeal Barbeque stood out in particular as good comfort food on a chilly night. Tattoo and I finished things off with pear sorbet and ginger ice cream from Chef Bryan Gilmore of Creole Creamery.
After having our fill of goodies, we found ourselves considerably jollier than when we arrived, and capped off the night with a walk through the winter wonderland that is Fulton Street in December.
Not enough alcohol had been imbibed that we tried to catch the fake snow on our tongues, but I’ll admit the thought did cross my mind. (photo via)
by Stahili Glover
1 oz. Grey Goose La Poire vodka
1 tsp. honey
2 dashes vanilla extract
3 oz. peach nectar
pear slice for garnish
1. Mix vodka and honey in a mixing glass with one pear slice, add 2 dashes vanilla extract, a little ice, and shake for 30 seconds.
2. Pour into a large rocks or collins glass, top with 3 oz. peach nectar, and garnish with a pear slice.
Beautiful and delicious!