Houston Bartenders Head to NOLA for Tales of the Cocktail

Houston bartenders including Lainey Collum, Ornella Ashcroft, Alba Huerta and Sheridan Fay showed up to represent Houston at Tales of the Cocktail. Photos by Alex Gregg

Now in its tenth year, Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans has become a sort of South by Southwest for serious spirits aficionados: an annual event where bartenders and boozehounds alike can mingle with their own, learn from professionals and peers, attend competitions and conferences or just roam the Big Easy streets at night drinking Ramos Gin Fizzes and eating late-night gyros.

Hundreds of cocktail connoisseurs from all over the nation head down to NOLA for the days-long event -- in fact, 207.2 gallons of bitters alone were used in cocktails for last year's Tales of the Cocktail crowd -- and Houston bartenders are no exception.

Bartender and blogger Alex Gregg -- who is also the treasurer of the Houston chapter of the U.S. Bartenders Guild -- was one of several Houston bartenders who made the trip out to New Orleans this past weekend. The six-day event wrapped up on Sunday with events such as a bitters market in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone, a New Orleans cocktail tour, an "Epic Pool Party" and parting Jager shots at the Erin Rose Bar until 2 a.m.

But before the weeklong party wrapped up, several Houston bartenders cleaned up in competitions.

Anvil's own Bobby Heugel led a seminar on spirits.

Leslie Ross, bartender and brewery tour host for Saint Arnold, competed in the Caorunn Gin Storytellers USA Competition on July 26 against three finalists from around the country and took first place. Ross will be heading to Scotland in September as she represents the U.S. to compete against four other bartenders from the U.K., Scotland, Spain and Australia for the world title.

And when our bartenders weren't competing in events, they were hosting seminars. Anvil Bar & Refuge owner Bobby Heugel led the "Agriculturally Anonymous" panel along with Misty Kalkofen and Thad Vogler on July 28, in which they discussed the historical evolution of spirits from agricultural products to industrialized products.

Gregg was there for almost the entire Tales of the Cocktail, and you won't want to miss his photos from the grand booze-soaked affair in our slideshow.

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