Friday we hit Brennan’s early morning media breakfast hosted by Uluvka vodka’s Mark Holmes and ambassador Colin Apppiah, complete with well-needed Bloody Mary’s. I sat next to the obviously over served Thirsty Traveler who was up early or never to bed, on Mancow’s 5 AM radio show with one of NOLA’s finest, famed chef Paul Prudhomme and San Fran’s Manny.
The day was a buzz of activity as I hit the tail end of A Very Bitter History of Bitter Spirits seminar and slipped in to Sazerac Rye’s whiskey tasting before the Shochu – The Other Japanese Alcohol seminar, which proved to be a perfectly smooth spirit. Another journo and I popped in to Antoine’s for lunch, one of the sweetest spots in the city. The old world gem, recently seen in Brad’s Benjamin Button’s is, like most Creole homes, surprise inside. The restaurant goes on and on to several museum quality rooms riddled with celeb (Garland), Presidential (Roosevelt) and papal (John Paul) history. After oysters, we were back for Grape Expectations, a grapa seminar hosted by Vegas’ Francesco, who has poured for the likes of Cali’s own film folk Arnold & Spielberg.
I stopped by Pernod’s tasting room, one of the best of the fest, with a crepe maker on site, champagne and a bevy of beverages. Going with the festival flow, Moet & Hennessey’s Jeffrey Pogash caught me on my way out, inviting me to dinner at Cochon, a coveted reservation in town and recent James Beard recipient.
Jeffrey, his son Jonathon and the Ten Cane Rum crew and I had several small plates with our perfectly chilled Ten Cane Mojitos. It was a more casual atmosphere than expected, but no less decadent. The group split with some hitting the Bloody Mary Comp at House of Blues, while I hit The W Hotel’s Gran Marnier and Navan Vanilla Liqueur’s Bar Chef Challenge created and hosted by Dale De Groff and co hosted by Thirsty Traveler. Miami’s John Lermayer of The Delano, who pours for Jen’s man Mayer, Lenny Kravitz and Eva Longoria took top prize.