The Word On The Street At Tales Of The Cocktail

Photographer Gabi Porter spent a week in the New Orleans heat and humidity, attending events and plenty of late-night parties at the year's biggest (professional) party, and shooting portraits of these colorful personalities. The takeaway from all the bartenders and bar owners she spoke with? The single thing everyone looks forward to the most at Tales is the extended family and camaraderie of the international bar community. Here, some of the best bartenders and spirits world VIPs share their favorite moments and events from Tales Of The Cocktail 2015.

Alba Huerta, Julep, Pastry War and the Nightingale Room (Houston)

Shot at Coyote Ugly on N. Peters in the French Quarter

"I always look forward to the adventure, because you make plans and then life happens and all of a sudden you're playing cups at Coyote Ugly and your best friends are with you. And then every year the one thing I look forward to is always having something to walk away with. You always walk away with something new. I never know until it happens."

Alex Day, Proprietors LLC, co-owner Death & Co. (NYC), Honeycut (LA), 151, Nitecap (NYC), Normandie Club (LA)

Shot on the corner of Royal and St. Peter

"So in the last year, after the Death & Co. book launched, we got to travel all over the place and met a bunch of great bartenders and saw all these great bars. Thus far, seeing all the people here at Tales from all over the place has given me this amazing new context for Tales. Like it feels so much bigger and more open than it ever did before. And it's really, really cool and really special. And I'm not committed to anything this year, so I'm having a good time and hanging out with friends."

Chris Bostick, Half Step (Austin)

Shot outside the Chart Room on Chartres in the French Quarter

"Tales is all about the celebration of New Orleans and the culture and the heritage. My belief is that if you respect the locals and you participate, New Orleans will open her arms wide open to you. And so I love the embrace of New Orleans, because I love to participate. As Half Step, we took over One Eyed Jack's last night and we did a Spirited Dinner that was more about conviviality and a party like we like to throw, with "fleur de T's" and some epic burlesque an ice house experience, complete with a strip tease on ice skates on a faux ice skating surface on the stage at One Eyed Jack's. Tales is all about the unexpected and continually keeping people on their toes."

Dylan Snyder, Acme Group & Beertender (Los Angeles)

Shot at Bienville House on Decatur in the French Quarter

"Spring Break 2015! Carson Daly is here!" [Note: He wasn't, FYI.]

Rhiannon Enlil (left), Erin Rose and Chris Hannah, French 75 Bar at Arnaud's (New Orleans)

Shot at Pig 'n' Punch in Washington Square Park on Frenchmen in the Marigny.

Hannah: "I always really look forward to Pig 'n' Punch, it means Tales is over."
Enlil: "I look forward to watching everybody's reaction from out of town as they experience something that is spectacularly New Orleans as this brass band [points to a brass band behind us] or a second line, just really showing off the city. I really, really enjoyed working the Pernod welcome party, which this year was New Orleans–themed. So having the Mardi Gras Indians and Rebirth Brass Band play to everyone's surprise, it moved me to tears. It was really fun to watch everyone dance around to that."

Erin Hayes, Lost Lake (Chicago)

Shot at Latitude 29

"THIS! [Points around her at Latitude 29] I was super-excited to come to Tales to check out the new tiki bar, Latitude 29. Obviously Beachbum (Berry) is a great tiki influencer and a buddy of mine. And obviously to try all of the drinks at all of the events, everyone is doing tiki-influenced drinks across all brands and across all spirit categories, so it's just really cool to see what everybody is doing with tiki."

Jim Meehan, PDT (NYC)

Shot behind the bar at Bellocq

"I think the most surprising and exciting thing about Tales this year is the new location of the Museum of the American Cocktail. It's spacious, bright, the exhibit is beautifully laid out and I think the most important thing is the food and the beverage is really well integrated. It feels like we're all one family."

Joshua Fontaine, Quixotic Projects (Paris) and Candelaria (Paris)

Shot in front of an Abita delivery truck in the Warehouse District

"Sitting on the front bench of our hotel drinking mezcal with Alba [Huerta]."

Julie Reiner, Clover Club (NYC)

Shot at Latitude 29

"The thing I love most about Tales are the random encounters, like the one we're having right now, where I walk into a bar and I see somebody in the industry who I love and had no plans on meeting them, and I get to sit at the bar with them and have a really cool, impromptu bar experience. Last night I went into the French 75 Bar and saw H (Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir in San Francisco) and drank a French 75 with Chris Hannah and H and caught up. And it was totally unexpected — that's the most fun part of Tales."

Maxwell Britten, Maison Premiere (NYC)

Shot at Dooky Chase in Treme

"This [Dooky Chase], drinking wine and Bartender's Breakfast. We're doing a really cool martini room at the Breakfast with all the global brand ambassadors from Beefeater and Plymouth."

Meaghan Dorman, Raines Law Room and Dear Irving (NYC)

Shot at Compère Lapin

"The reason I love coming to Tales is that even as tired as I am when I get home, I'm always excited to get back to work because of all the food and drinks I've had in New Orleans, and all the creativity everyone brings to their seminars. I'm really looking forward to the Letters to a Young Bartender seminar because last year was so great and inspiring."

Nico de Soto, Mace (NYC)

Shot in the pool at Bienville House on Decatur in the French Quarter

"To see all the friends, from France, from England, from everywhere. [Points at the pool] My Parisian friends from Candelaria!"

Desmond Payne (left), master distiller of Beefeater Gin, and Sean Harrison, master distiller of Plymouth Gin

Shot in front of the Old 77 Hotel and Chandlery on Tchoupitoulas in the Warehouse District

Payne: "I look forward to the Bartender's Breakfast, not because it's the end of Tales but because it's one helluva good party."
Harrison: "It's nice to bump into people you haven't seen in ages. I bumped into someone I hadn't seen for seven years a couple of days ago, which was really good."

Ricky Gomez, Compère Lapin (New Orleans)

Shot behind the bar at Compère Lapin

"What I love most about Tales is being able to receive all our friends, to host them in New Orleans, which is probably one of the most unique cities in the United States, let alone the planet. All the culture we have to offer, all the food and drink, the city I've called home my entire life and I love, for people to enjoy it. This bar is my latest, and it was really exciting and challenging and new because I've been working as a brand ambassador for two years, and jumping back behind the bar, this is my first program since working as a brand ambassador. Very anxious, but very excited to be sharing it with my friends."

Sean Frederick, Townsman (Boston)

Shot at Lee Circle in the Warehouse District

"What I look forward to in general, first and foremost, is catching up with friends that I genuinely only have the opportunity to see once a year, and if I'm going to run into them anywhere it's going to be here. Secondly, to a broader point, five years into my Tales patronage I'm learning to finally accept New Orleans for what it is, and not be too preoccupied with swinging from vine to vine, from event to event, and to slow things down, have a long lunch. Galatoire's blew my mind. We harnessed eight or nine people from Boston and got 'em all at the same table, and had a very leisurely, plodding New Orleanian lunch. It was fantastic. It's paradoxical that it sometimes take removing people a thousand miles from your hometown to spend quality time with them, because it removes you from that day-to-day."

Sean Hoard, Teardrop Lounge (Portland, Oregon)

Shot in front of the Old 77 Hotel and Chandlery on Tchoupitoulas in the Warehouse District

"I'm looking forward to seeing all my friends from New York City. [laughs] Oh! You wanted something specific? I'm looking forward to bartending with Jim Meehan at Bellocq. We're going to make cocktails for Monkey 47 for a couple of hours."