Grazing: Surviving Tales of the Cocktail
It's not every night that you can walk into a museum and feel fake snow brushing your face. Or, a few seconds later, watch cocktail demigod Dale DeGroff flame an orange peel in front of you, drop it into a glass of sherry and Absolut, and push it forward. Or, a few steps away, realize that the guy presiding over a table of Cosmos is Toby Cecchini, the bartender who created the drink at New York's Odeon in the late 1980s.
Such is the surreal quality of Tales of the Cocktail, a fête that has drawn thousands of mixologists, brand ambassadors, journalists and thirsty drinkers to New Orleans every steamy July for the past 10 years to sample new spirits, exchange ideas, schmooze and party. It's a heady, wild ride, from the moment you arrive in NOLA until that last, wistful cab ride to the airport — and you can't anticipate its scale, pace and ability to squash you like the lightweight you are. Especially if you're a "Virgin." (More on that in a moment).