Food & Drink

Bitters Shortages, Vegetable Syrups and More from the Country’s Booziest Event

Six Key Takeaways from Tales of the Cocktail

By Kevin Gray ·
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Tales of the Cocktail is an annual drinks fest that brings bartenders, brands and plenty of thirsty consumers to New Orleans each July. Somewhere among the 200-plus events, parties, educational seminars, tasting rooms, late nights, po’boy lunches and frozen Irish coffee runs, we managed to learn a few things. And we even managed to remember six of them.

So below: some takeaways on the current state of cocktailing, key trends and a look at what the future holds.

Hint: Aisha Tyler’s in it.

People still (still) can’t get enough Moscow Mules.
The classic drink served as inspiration for this year’s official cocktail competition (the winning recipe featured manzanilla sherry and fresh-pressed cranberry juice). But the traditional vodka, lime and ginger version is America’s fastest-growing cocktail, according to menu placements around the country. And last year, it accounted for 7% of all cocktail orders.

Stock up on bitters now.
Apparently, the plant responsible for Angostura bark—a key component in many popular bitters—is now an endangered species thanks in part to the proliferation of cocktails. So, dash wisely and accurately.

There’s a fun new way to consume vegetables.
As evidenced by the amount of cocktails sporting vegetable-based syrups, with beets and especially snap peas enjoying a real moment in the liquor-soaked sun.

Global warming is... still not good.
In a panel discussion on the future of cocktails and spirits, drinks writer Paul Clarke noted that global warming may drastically reduce the viability of agave- and grape-based spirits, so look for sugarcane to dominate the future. Also, climate change could hurt oak tree forests, which is bad news for barrel aging. Which is bad news for whiskey and cognac. Which is bad news for us. Which is... depressing.

Aisha Tyler is making you drinks.
Turns out, the Archer actress is a cocktail aficionado and has a forthcoming line of bottled cocktails called Courage + Stone that will launch this fall.

London has some good news, too.
The city cleaned up at the Spirited Awards, the annual, festival-capping ceremony wherein bars, products and people are awarded for their efforts. London took home top prizes for world’s best cocktail bar (Connaught Bar) as well as international awards for best new cocktail bar, best restaurant bar, best hotel bar, best cocktail menu and best bar team.

So if you manage to visit London without swimming in good drinks, well, you may have actually been in London, West Virginia.

Kevin Gray lives in Texas. He likes whiskey, weekends and hammocks, often at the same time.

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