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Making Spirits Bright: Tales of the Toddy

December 11th, 2009

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)

Grey Pear

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!

Posted in Cocktails, Eat, Imbibe, Recipe, Tastings Tagged: absolut, christmas, creole creamery, cure, grey goose, squeal, tales of the cocktail, tales of the toddy, winter

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