Traditional recipes

Tales of the Cocktail Festival Around the Corner

Tales of the Cocktail Festival Around the Corner

This cocktail festival hosted to promote spirit education is later this month in New Orleans

Participants will meet in New Orleans July 17-21 for the Tales of the Cocktail festival.

Later this month, the industry’s most influential bartenders and spirit lovers from around the world will meet in New Orleans for a unique event.

Tales of the Cocktail is the world’s premier cocktail festival that hosts a non-stop schedule of educational seminars, tasting rooms, Spirited Dinners, Spirited Awards, competitions, and more. This year, the 11th annual festival will take place July 17 to 21 and won’t let thirsty cocktail lovers down. According to the website, the event’s mission is “to be recognized as the world’s premier brand dedicated to the advancement of the craft of the cocktail through education, networking, and promotion.” With a collection of esteemed moderators, panelists, personalities, apprentices, and judges, the festival is sure to have true notability and cocktail expertise.

The poster for this year’s event was designed by Robert Rodriguez with Gatsby-inspired glamour and style with a New Orleans spin. The elements are Art Deco with a romantic, ethereal mood. “Drink It In” is the official theme of the 2013 Tales of the Cocktail event and is featured on the poster.

Tickets to different seminars, special events, and excursions are available for purchase through the event’s website ranging from $40 to $80.


There’s a New Campari in Town and We Love It in Cocktails

It’s the same Campari you know and love, but finished in bourbon barrels.

Italian amari aren’t exactly known for changing with the times. In fact, that’s a huge part of their appeal. Virtually every corner of Italy has its own version of the herbal liqueurs, often with decades, if not centuries, of history.

It’s rare that a stalwart like Campari introduces a new bottle, so when they do, we pay attention. Campari Cask Tales is a beautiful counterpart to the original. It’s the same classic Campari formula, but finished in bourbon barrels𠅊 welcome play on the aperitif we know and love.

Campari purists will find the predominant flavors intact: bright and bitter, with that vivid red hue. There’s an added smoothness around the edges and a bit of softening oak, making the Cask Tales awfully sippable neat.

But it’s even more fun in cocktails, of course. Here are three drinks that really showcase the liqueur’s bitter complexity and subtle bourbon-cask character.


At the Huge Bar Industry Event Tales of the Cocktail, Drinking Is No Longer Everything

Minutes after the sodden drinks industry extravaganza kicked off in New Orleans last month with a brass band, a San Francisco bartender began his own Tales of the Cocktail seminar on the value of silently conveying your sobriety.

“There’s a positivity in saying ‘no,’” says Mark Goodwin, the founder of The Pin Project, which earned a 2018 grant from the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation for his endeavor to create a mechanism to take the awkwardness out of saying you won’t be drinking. “Let’s get back to ‘drink responsibly.’ Let’s get behind that.’”

It may seem incongruous, but it’s all part of the foundation’s plan to support the whole spirits industry profession, not just discuss, and sample, what’s on the menu.

The scandal of 2017—when Tales founder Ann R. Tuennerman resigned after criticism for appearing in blackface in a Mardi Gras parade—forced a reckoning, and since then the organization has been transformed into a foundation with high-minded values, themes and grant opportunities. That’s how The Pin Project got funded last year, and Goodwin was back to formally launch what he and collaborator Didi Saiki have planned next for their community-centered view of sobriety.

“Healthy living can be in tandem with having a good time,” says Saiki. And that, for this grown-up version of Tales, is exactly the point.

“When we took over the foundation in 2018, we knew what’s so lovely about Tales is that it has such an engaging community,” says Tales executive director Caroline Rosen. “It’s an epicenter globally for so many bartenders and industry professionals. We wanted to make sure we put an emphasis on supporting the whole bartender, and that was everything from your mind and body to inclusivity and sustainability.”

The Healthtender, leads a class on self-massage techniques at Ketel One’s “Is It Worth It? Let Me Work It!,” a “Beyond the Bar” seminar at the New Orleans Athletic Center. (Josh Brasted)

That kind of programming expanded from about 15 hours worth in 2018 to about 55 hours in 2019. “This is something we’re dedicated to,” says Rosen.

But if Tales attendees are standing a little straighter, it might also have something to do with the lower-proof drinks in their hands. Campari kicked off the weekend with a takeover of a Harrah’s casino bowling alley, complete with various punches and an entire bar dedicated to Aperol Spritzes and Negronis.

Later in the week, it would host “Afternoon Aperitivo” sessions to dole out branded swag, spritzes and popsicles.

“The last couple of years [low-ABV cocktails] have really started to blossom, and it seems to be happening around the country,” says Tad Carducci, a brand ambassador for Amaro Montenegro. “You can get all the flavor, all of the experience and don’t necessarily have to whack somebody over the head with alcohol to put body into a cocktail and make it delicious.”

Also getting in on the party was Absolut Elyx, which brought back its daytime garden party, complete with 1980s fever-dream outlandishness. This year, however, Elyx global brand director Miranda Dickson arranged for the first time to host a spritz bar.

“It’s about an experience, and a spritz, which is much more sessionable,” says Dickson. “It’s brighter, fresher and something I would want to drink on a bloody hot day.”

Orpheum Theater (image: Josh Brasted)

Other trends were also on display. Spiked sparkling water company Truly offered sips of its new Truly Hard Seltzer Draft, a product its creators hope allows bartenders to integrate its brand more closely with the LaCroix generation’s thirst for low-calorie fizzy and fruity beverages. Slushies, ice pops and other frozen treats were happily slurped up by attendees tired from the New Orleans heat, which settled in after Hurricane Barry came up as a nonstarter in the days leading up to the event.

Even though Tales is still growing into its newly laid roots as a more holistic look at the industry, not to mention its new home base at the French Quarter’s Royal Sonesta hotel, that doesn’t mean it went without its annual display of lavish over-the-top parties and brand activations.

Diageo turned a downtown event space into its own take on New Orleans’ annual Jazz Festival, Hendrick’s transformed an entire theater into its topsy-turvy “Peculiar Palace,” and “Breaking Bad” stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul showed up to sling sips of their new mezcal, Dos Hombres, from behind the bar at Napoleon House, which later won the foundation’s Timeless International Award.

Cranston says he and Paul went to Oaxaca, Mexico, a few times in search of the right mezcal to put their names to, always looking for something that wouldn’t remind Cranston of his high school days sipping something that “smelled like rubbing alcohol.”

“We actually tasted a couple that still had that scent,” says Cranston. “I couldn’t get past the nose of it. . It’s got to be the full package or else why bother?”

Cranston reappeared later for Tales’ annual Spirited Awards dinner, at which New York City’s Dante earned the title of World’s Best Bar. American Bartender of the Year went to Julio Cabrera of Cafe La Trova in Miami, and International Bartender of the Year went to Monica Berg of Tayēr + Elementary in London.


Kokoda Track – Owers’ Corner to Va’ule Creek

Well known to Australians but far less to others, the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea was the site of one of the key battles in the Pacific during WW2. A small number of Australian troops defended successful against a much larger Japanese force hoping to capture Port Moresby overland, after being defeated approaching by sea.

Mostly (about 3/4 apparently) following the original existing trail fought over, the Kokoda Track is a 96km hike between Owers’ Corner and Kokoda (usually done the other way round), with around 6,000m of ascent and descent through thick tropical rainforest. It was a brutal experience during the war, now it is an at times challenging hike, mainly due to steep and often slippery climbs and descents, a number of river crossings, and tropical heat and humidity, particular in the lower sections.

I walked it at the start of June, early in the dry season (close to when the battle was fought, between July and November 1942), over seven days. The locals can walk it in four, while tours take between six and twelve days. It can be done independently but isn’t recommended from a safety perspective, both in terms the remoteness and roughness of the track, and that you’re passing through land owned by local tribes. Local rangers strongly encourage use of a guide, it is almost always done as part of a group, with porters and usually an historian. There are no roads between Owers’ Corner and Kokoda, most things are either locally grown or carried in on foot, though a couple of the largest villages have airstrips with weekly service planes bringing in larger loads.

I walked it with South Sea Horizons, one of only a handful of PNG owned company operating on the track. Australians have a near monopoly, understandable given the reason for interest in the track, and that the vast majority of walkers are Australian, but sad to see money going offshore from a poor country in need of development.

From Port Moresby it was about an hour and half along an increasingly twisty if scenic road out to Owers’ Corner. From there our group of three, myself and a couple of younger Australian guys, and crew of seven, a lead guide, historian, and five porters, set off to spend the next week together.

The first section was representative of much of the track, a steep and slippery clay path descending down to the Goldie River, though usually we’d be surrounded by forest rather than being in the open.

Crossing the Goldie River was the first challenge, being one of the deepest and widest rivers I’ve crossed, with fast flowing water up to my mid-thigh. It’s important to try and keep your boots dry on the track, so they’re taken off whenever it’s not possible to rock hop safely.

Unfortunately in the process of removing my phone from my pocket I basically ended up throwing it in the river. Thankfully a quick recovery and dry resulted it seemingly being fine. Still not an ideal start…

We then got into the track proper, which requires near constant focus on your feet to avoid slipping on clay or mud (though nothing deep) or tripping on tree roots.

We had an early lunch at the Good Water campsite, not the nicest one but representative of campsites on the track. They usually have three huts, two for the crew to cook and sleep in, one for groups to sleep in, a covered eating area, and a large grassy space for tents. Before we left the Adventure Kokoda (the largest operator on the track) crew had set up 13 tents for their group also starting from Owers’ Corner today, though as they were taking ten days we never saw them. I was very happy with our much smaller group, made everything much easier.

An hour uphill along the Golden staircase brought us up to Imita Ridge, to which Australian troops carried a 25 pounder gun weighing 1.25 tons, to shell Japanese positions on other ridges. Here was the first of a number of helpful plaques explaining what happening here in 1942, complementing our local historian. This was the closest to Japanese got to Port Moresby before receiving the order to retreat.

On the ridge were some locals taking advantage of rare mobile phone reception. They were on their way to Port Moresby to sell nuts, a five day round trip from their village! One of the kids had a handy machete, a frequent sight in Papua New Guinea.

From here it was downhill before crossing a river eight times, walking in hiking sandals rather than boots. After about four and half hour of walking, covering around 10km, we finished day one at the quite beautiful Va’ule Creek campsite.

We set up in one of the huts, which had plenty of space, and was cooler and lot less effort than sorting out tents. Amazingly there were no mosquitoes around, quite unexpected and welcome.

The creek was a wonderful place to sit in, wash and cool down.

There are reasonable long drop toilets at all the campsites along the track, though at Va’ule Creek campsite they required a little effort to reach.

Lying on lush grass sketching our hut was a blissful way to spend the end of the afternoon.

After dinner the crew unexpectedly sang us three songs, including their team song ‘Is Not An Easy Road’, a lovely touch. After an eventful first day we crashed out to bed at half seven, despite the near deafening noise of the jungle at night, crickets, river and birds, and high humidity.


Book Around the Corner

The good old days and good old Vienna belong together like husband and wife. When you think of one, the other comes to mind. There is something touching about the fearful assiduousness with which the Viennese seek to uphold the belief that the good old days are still here in Vienna and that the city remains unchanged. (Heinrich Laube)

I’d already planned to spend a few days in Vienna in August when I read Marina’s review of Vienna Tales, a collection of short stories by various authors. As the title gives it away, Vienna is the common point between the stories. Some are snapshots of life in Vienna at different times:

  • Day-Out by Joseph Roth (1894 – 1939)
  • Merry-go-round by Joseph Roth
  • Vienna 1924 to …by Friedericke Mayröcker (1924)
  • The Prater by Adalbert Stifter (1805-1868)
  • Ottakringerstrasse by Christine Nöstlinger (1936)

In these stories, you wander in Vienna along with the writers, discovering neighbourhoods and places. For example, Day-Out is an impressionist description of an outing in the outskirt of Vienna and the story is so short it’s more like a vignette than an actual story. The Prater is the big park in Vienna a mix of Central Park and Tivoli Gardens (Copenhagen). Stifter’s description of people promenading in the park reminded me of Zola in Money or Proust when they show us bourgeois parading in their carriages in the Bois de Boulogne.

Some stories focus on a moment in Vienna’s history.

Vienna by Heinrich Laube (1806-1884) portrays Metternich, a major Austrian political figures of the 19thC century, in the aftermath of Napoleon’s defeat.

Lenin and Demel by Anton Kuh (1890 – 1941) is set between the two world wars and starts with an image of Bela Kun standing at Vienna’s gates. Demel is a famous café in Vienna. It reminded me of the beginning of Anna Edes by Desnő Kostolányi: the first scene is Bela Kun fleeing from Budapest in an airplane, taking with him pastries from Gerbeaud, the Budapest counterpart of Demel.

In The Twilight of the Gods in Vienna, German author and film director Alexander Kluge. (1932) retells the episode of WWII when the Vienna orchestra recorded The Twilight of the Gods during the bombing of Vienna by the Allies.

Other stories are common short stories set in Vienna, like

  • The Four-poster Bed by Arthur Schnitzler. (1862-1931)
  • Oh Happy Eyes. In memoriam Georg Groddeck by Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973)
  • Spas Sleeps by Dimitré Dinev (1968)
  • The Criminal by Veza Canetti (1897-1963)
  • Envy by Eva Menasse (1970)
  • Six-nine-six-six-nine-nine by Doron Rabinovici (1961)

The two stories by Schnitzler are very short too, infused with melancholy and philosophical thoughts. Where Roth is mainly descriptive, journalistic, Schnitzler looks more into the souls of his characters.

Spas Sleeps is one of my favourite stories of the collection. It resonates with today’s news about refugees seeking asylum in Europe. Dimitré Dinev is of Bulgarian origin, just like his character Spas Christov. The story opens to Spas, sleeping outside like a bum. He arrived in Vienna to find work, build a new life. He remembers his years as an immigrant and how work becomes the only thing that matters. It’s the Open Sesame! to a future because it means the end of fear, identity papers, money and dignity.

Work was the most important thing. Everyone was looking for it, not everyone found it. And anyone who didn’t find it had to go back. Work was a magic word. All the other words were inferior to it. It alone determined everything. Work was more than a word, it was salvation.

It takes a special dimension with the migrants pushing through the doors of Eastern Europe these days. The story is really moving. Dinev is not trying to sell misery. He just puts Spas’s hardship at human height. Through this single case, he triggers empathy. You see Spas’s experience with eyes that could be yours and you hear him, you root with him and hope he’ll get a work permit.

Oh Happy Eyes! is a lovely tale of Miranda who’s blind as a bat but refuses to wear her glasses because she finds that the world isn’t that nice when she sees it with clarity.

And last but not least, two stories are about the Viennese literary world.

The Feuilletonists by Ferdinand Kürnberger (1821-1879) is another of my favourites in this collection. With a great sense of humour, Kürnberger pictures the different kind of feuilletonists working in Vienna. You have the house feuilletonist , the street feuilletonist, who strolls through the Hyde Park of modern industry like the serpent in paradise, seducing at every step the modern daughters of Eve who would much rather have the latest style in Parisian fig leaves than the most dewy-eyed innocence in all eternity, the salon feuilletonist, whose natural habitat is actually Paris or London, the tavern feuilletonist, whose species is naturalized in the coffeehouse, the social feuilletonist and the forest feuilletonist who always walks alone. Seen from a distance, he resembles a candidate for suicide. I loved the description of the house feuilletonist:

‘There is, for example, the common house feuilletonist, Feuilletonistus domesticus. Only look at this exemplar and you will see right away that there is actually no need for city or public life to provide inexhaustible subject matter for a feuilleton. The material of the house feuilletonist is just that, his house. He describes to us his staircase, his parlour, his furniture, the view from his window. We are acquainted with the moods of his cat and the philosophical worldview of his poodle. We know the precise spot behind the oven where his coffee machine stands, and when he takes up the cross of civilization every morning with the first cup of the day, we know how many beans he grinds, how many drops of spiritus he uses, how much water is in his milk and chalk in his sugar. Like Humboldt discussing the folds of the earth’s crust, he talks about the tendency of his dressing gown to tear, missing buttons are sewn on before our eyes, in fact, he lives just like a prince whose every private action is performed in public. He seldom airs his own feelings (another aristocratic characteristic!), but shares with us in great historical detail the love affair between his poker and his shoe-horn, or else the stories he sees unfolding amongst the ornamental figures on his mantelpiece in the twilight hour.

I guess the contemporary house feuilletonist is a blogger, a frantic social media user. It seems that the temptation to expose one’s life to others is not new…

Out for a Walk by Arthur Schnitzler is best described by Helen Contantine is her informative foreword to the book:

‘Out for a Walk’ enriches my anthology not only with references to Viennese topography, but also to its literary history. The four friends would have been immediately recognizable to readers of the time as portraits of the central clique of ‘Young Vienna’: Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal, Felix Salten, and Richard Beer-Hofmann.

I totally missed the reference but I can understand that it was obvious to Schnitzler’s contemporaries.

I enjoyed Vienna Tales but I have suggestions about the lay-out of the book. Since we leap from one writer to the other, from one time to another, it would be great to have the year the story was published along with its title. Moreover, I have the Kindle edition and the lay-out of the pictures doesn’t work very well, I found it hard to navigate in the book and it’s something you want to do more with a collection of short stories from various authors than with a novel you’ll read from cover to cover. I also found it a bit difficult to switch from one story to the other, from one style to another and it took me longer than usual to finish the book. It’s still worth reading after a trip to Vienna.

I’ll end this billet with a last quote that really describes my experience with Austrian cuisine:

Overnight, Spas became a cook. He fried Schnitzel, chicken, mushrooms, cheese, and chips. He boiled egg dumplings, soup with strips of pancake or liver dumplings, frankfurter sausages and smoked sausages. He roasted meat and made salads. That’s how easy Austrian cuisine was!


Out here, there's a story around every corner.

No one is more surprised at Dave Paddon’s second career as a performer, author and storyteller than Dave Paddon himself.

Paddon, originally from North West River, Labrador, spent most of his professional career as an airline pilot based in central Canada. He spent “40 years reading manuals and learning procedures – the stuff that turns you into a robot.” As he neared retirement, Paddon and his wife moved back to their home province, settling in St. John’s.

“And within a year, I started to do this,” he laughs. This, meaning writing and performing recitations – rhyming, rhythmic, usually hilarious, stories told from memory – in front of a crowd. That was 10 years ago. Now Paddon is a regular at festivals and events around the province. Many of his recitations have been published in book form, and he’s a member of the St. John’s Storytelling Festival programming committee.

“I don’t know where the urge to tell those stories came from,” he says, “but if it was always there in me, it’s probably there in a lot of people. You just need the right circumstance.”

For Paddon, the right circumstance was checking out the monthly storytelling circle at Erin's Pub.

“The influence of St. John’s cannot be overestimated,” he says. “Everyone is at something here, writing books or composing songs or playing music or writing poetry.”

“I have this picture in my mind of overburdened muses flying around over town, and they’re loaded up with poems and songs and books and they can’t hold on to them all and they’re dropping them and every now and then one falls on somebody’s head. Maybe that’s what happened to me.”

Muses are as good a reason as any for the storytelling that is so deeply woven into the cultural fibre of Newfoundland and Labrador. If they are the cause, they’ve been doing their work for a long time. A distinct, localized storytelling tradition – along with a body of folk tales, legends, ballads, and recitations – can be traced back to the first European settlers, according to folklorist, storyteller and author Dale Jarvis.

It’s not that being able to spin a yarn is unique to the province, he says. But having this oral tradition is a point of pride.

“What is special here is that it is accepted, respected – and expected,” says Jarvis. “One of the ways we build community is through stories. And Newfoundland and Labrador has been good at keeping a sense of place and a sense of community. The link between stories and place and stories and community is stronger here than other places.”

Jarvis describes storytelling as a spectrum: at one end is the performance: someone up on stage, in front of an audience, telling a story or doing a recitation.

At the other end is the type of conversational, water-cooler talk that would happen at the fishing stage or around the kitchen table. That’s where oral knowledge about community history or local legends are often told, but they can be a little trickier to find.

“Sometimes it’s hard to get at those personal, family or community stories,” he says. “Having said that, you can walk into any little shop anywhere around the bay and someone will tell you a story.”

Jarvis’s advice to visitors is to be curious: turn off the highway, visit an outport, and go have a chat. “You may need to befriend a local and get invited to the house party, or at least go in for a cup of tea. That’s when you’re going to hear the stories.”

Performance also has a lot to offer in the province. The St. John’s Storytelling Festival, a week-long event held every October, brings together tellers and listeners from across the province and beyond. Performances are held all over the city – ghost stories in historic wine vaults, story circles in the heart of downtown, seafaring tales at the pub, a story walk in the Botanical Gardens – they are as varied as the tellers that tell them.

Festival president and multidisciplinary artist Catherine Wright, says the festival’s goal is to link the past to the present, and to encourage all voices.

“It’s really important to hear the old recitations and stories and ballads that tell us about a time in history – we make sure to always include tellers that have that kind of knowledge and pass on those kinds of stories,” says Wright. “We live in a changing world and it’s important we tell our stories of now, and who we are.”

In its 17 years, the Storytelling Festival has flourished, attracting a loyal audience and embracing a broader range of voices in a concerted effort to be more inclusive and diverse.

“Storytelling is very much about sharing, and about connection with people. It’s a great vehicle for making us feel connected and breaking down barriers … because when you’re listening to a story or telling a story you’re all in that moment together. There are no walls.

“At this point in our society there is a need for direct person-to-person connection. It’s important that we provide opportunities for people to come out and interact, and to tell stories in ways that reflect our society now.”

Jarvis, also one of the founders of the storytelling festival, agrees. “It’s not just about repeating the old stories but telling new stories that speak to contemporary experiences … that’s the sign of a healthy storytelling tradition.”

And that means providing a venue for first-time tellers, of all backgrounds, to give it a try.

“We all have stories to tell,” says Wright. “This is not about The Storyteller. We’re all storytellers. We all live things that we can share.”

And if you really don’t want to stand in front of the group and tell a story just yet? It’s okay to participate on the sidelines.

“Listening is as important as telling,” says Paddon. “It’s a two-way thing, activating the bonds we all have as people.”


Aperol Cocktails: 20 to Try

A bright and bitter aperitivo that transcends the seasons. | Photo by Emma Janzen. Amen Corner. | Photo by Brittany Ambridge. The Basil Daisy features an easygoing mix of vodka, Aperol, lemon and fresh basil. | Photo by Andrew Cebulka. The Blended Aperol Spritz boasts all the same great personality as the beloved classic, but with a touch more moxie. | Photo by Lara Ferroni. Clockwork Orange. | Photo by Stephen Woodburn. A sultry mix of aged rum, sherry and two Italian liqueurs. | Photo by Eugenio Mazzinghi. The juiciness of sangria meets the sparkle of a spritz. | Photo by John Valls. A modern classic blending mezcal and Aperol. | Photo by John Valls. Negroni di Aquila. | Photo by Emma Janzen. Tasteful Nudes. | Photo by Julia Ross. A mix of white rum, yellow Chartreuse, pineapple sage and Aperol. Pobrecito Passionfruit Cocktail. | Photo by Emma Janzen. A bitter butterfly rooted in amaro and whiskey. | Photo by Katie Burton. Strawberry Rhubarb Margarita. | Photo by Jonathan Boncek. Steelroller. | Photo by Imbibe. The Last Shandy. | Photo by Lara Ferroni. Tequila Watermelon Slushy. | Photo by Katie Burton. The Aperol Spritz inspired this holiday punch. | Photo by Andrew Trinh. A Negroni variation with Aperol and Amaro Montenegro. | Photo by Eric Medsker. Wicked Behavior. | Photo by Emma Janzen.

If you hit St. Mark&rsquos Square in Venice at the right time of afternoon, with the pigeons scuttling about and the sun still warming the topmost angles of the clock tower, you&rsquoll notice that many of those gathered at the tables around the piazza are sipping goblets full of a drink that echoes the color of the sunset they&rsquore soaking in. These spritzes are ubiquitous in this area of Italy, their glowing orange E.T. hearts typically comprised of Aperol, a bittersweet Italian liqueur that&rsquos been on the scene since the early 20th century.

As with so many liqueurs, Aperol&rsquos exact recipe remains secret, though the makers acknowledge bitter and sweet oranges and rhubarb are in the mix. More sweet than bitter, and only 11 percent alcohol, the liqueur is what you&rsquod get if Campari took a beach vacation, returning home with a lighter disposition and tales of sunny hillsides thick with citrus trees. The recipe for a perfect Aperol Spritz is a simple countdown: pour three parts dry prosecco, two parts Aperol and one part seltzer into a wine glass half-full of ice, and boom: you&rsquove got the most popular cocktail in Italy, one that&rsquos helped carry the liqueur across the globe. Alongside the G&T, the Aperol Spritz is perhaps the most easy- drinking cocktail in the world, made for long afternoons at piazzas, patios and picnic tables.

Aperol has long been at home in Italy&rsquos spritz, and as it&rsquos crossed the pond, it&rsquos gotten picked up and incorporated in new cocktails. Here are 20 ways to keep in your drinks arsenal for warm-weather sipping.

Aperitivo del Nonno A bright and bitter aperitivo that transcends the seasons.

Amen Corner A simple twist on the original Paper Plane.

Basil Daisy A bright and herbaceous mix of vodka, Aperol, simple syrup, lemon juice and fresh basil.

Blended Aperol Spritz Fresh lime and orange juice bring a sweet, citrusy zip to this frozen spritz.

Clockwork Orange Aquavit anchors coffee, orange, Aperol and bitters in this lovely nightcap.

Countess of the Caribbean A sultry mix of aged rum, sherry and two Italian liqueurs.

Daybreaker When the juiciness of sangria meets the sparkle of a spritz.

Passion Fruit Cocktail Rye whiskey builds a sturdy backbone for this summery cocktail.

Paper Plane A bitter butterfly rooted in amaro and whiskey.

Naked and Famous A modern classic made with Aperol and mezcal.

Negroni di Aquila A softer take on the Sbagliato.

Strawberry Rhubarb Margarita Fresh ingredients make all the difference in this seasonal margarita.

Steelroller A cocktail that&rsquoll warm you through and through.

Tasteful Nudes Rosemary and tequila perk up with Aperol and grapefruit.

The Last Shandy The classic shandy gets a bitter twist with grapefruit-kissed Aperol.

Tequila Watermelon Slushy Refreshing, balanced and a snap to whip up.

Tropic Like It&rsquos Hot A winning mix of white rum, yellow Chartreuse, pineapple sage and Aperol.

Waterproof Watch A Negroni variation with Aperol and Amaro Montenegro.

Wicked Behavior Whiskey and pineapple lead the charge in this complex medley.

Yellowbelly Vino Punch The Aperol Spritz inspired this holiday punch.


A Drinker’s Tour: New Orleans

Drinking in New Orleans is a dangerous proposition. One cocktail quickly leads to a second, and then a third, until you find yourself closing down Bourbon Street and wandering back to your hotel as the sun comes up. This is a familiar phenomenon for anyone who has attended Tales of the Cocktail, the city’s annual cocktail festival, or has just spent time in the Crescent City. Because, in addition to hundreds of great bars and restaurants, New Orleans cocktail culture runs deep. The city brought us classic favorites like the Sazerac and Vieux Carre, and is home to some of the country’s best, oldest and most important drinking establishments.

So, there’s no shortage of options for spending time in the city. The hard part is narrowing things down to a manageable list of must-visit spots that give you a varied experience. For some inspiration, these are nine great places to drink (and eat) in NOLA.

Beignets and strong chicory coffee have been a hangover-eradicating New Orleans tradition at Café Du Monde since 1862. Few things taste better first thing in the morning than a plate of these pillows of hot fried dough, heavily dusted in powdered sugar. The French Market location is also open 24 hours a day if you have a late-night craving.

New Orleans is famous for drinks like the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz. But if you’re looking for tasty, original cocktails, head to Cure. The Uptown bar employs some of the city’s finest mixologists, who are creative geniuses behind the stick. Order from the impressive menu, or ask the barkeeps to make you something with one of the hundreds of bottles lining the back bar.

No matter what time you stumble into Daisy Dukes, you can order almost every New Orleans classic comfort food—from po’boys and gumbo to jambalaya. This greasy institution is also famous for serving breakfast 24 hours a day and just might be your savior after a long night.

A world of whiskey and beer await you at d.b.a., just past the French Quarter on Frenchman Street. While the funky jazz bar offers an amazing drinks menu (arguably one of the city’s best), you won’t find any pretension or snobbery here: just a good time.

Stepping into the French 75 Bar at Arnaud’s restaurant is like entering a time warp. The bar has an old-world elegance and a menu of fine cognacs and cocktails, including its namesake French 75, of course. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since long-time bartender and cocktail maestro Chris Hannah runs the show here.

Drink in some history at Lafitte’s, which dates back to the early 1700s. Despite its name, the establishment is actually a fine tavern, and it may even be the oldest building used as a bar in the country. Whether or not that’s true, Lafitte’s has centuries of character to explore as you sit at the bar, so make sure you don’t miss it.

Take a break from your bar crawl for a history lesson. Don’t worry: It’s a drinks-related history lesson. Visit the Museum of the American Cocktail, and check out its collection of vintage glassware, tools and classic cocktail books. It’s a great way to put all those great bars and cocktails in perspective, as you learn more about the history of mixology and the people behind some of your favorite drinks.

A favorite watering hole for locals and visitors alike, the historic Old Absinthe House has been around since the 1800s. There is plenty of history to discuss, but that’s just about the last thing on anyone’s mind as the bartenders pour Jameson shots and cups of cold beer. So settle into a worn bar stool, and enjoy the well-earned atmosphere.

As one of the main players in the modern cocktail renaissance and a co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail, Chris McMillian has tended bar all over New Orleans and built up a loyal following. So make sure to go visit him at Revel, the bar he opened with his wife on Carrollton Avenue near Canal Street. Order a bartender’s choice, since, after all, you’re in the hands of a cocktail master, and he’ll surprise you with a well-made drink that’s perfectly matched to your tastes.


More Holiday Tales with John McGivern

November 29-December 1, December 7-8
The Northern Lights Theater
Price: $45/$40/$35

Milwaukee’s very own Christmas ambassador and perennial favorite entertainer, John McGivern, returns to The Northern Lights Theater with his new show, More Holiday Tales with John McGivern.

This exclusive, seven-show engagement is sure to delight, as John serves up a steady stream of hilarious and heartwarming stories from his childhood.

Spend a few moments with John, remembering the simple things that made the holidays so special, from handcrafted Christmas toys and trees purchased at the Odd-Lot-Tree-Lot to the annual Gas Company/WE Energies Christmas Cookie Book, New Year’s Eves in the finished basement and many more.

More Holiday Tales with John McGivern recounts holidays past and present, plus all the richness and joyful chaos of life in the McGivern household around the holidays.

Don’t miss More Holiday Tales with John McGivern a performance from the heart that is sure to give loads of laughs and a warm, holiday glow.

John is best known for his Emmy-award winning work on PBS. His one-man shows, The Early Stories Of John McGivern, Midsummer Night McGivern and John McGivern’s Home For The Holidays tell the stories of being the third born of six kids in a working-class Irish Catholic Family in Milwaukee.

His stories are personal and funny and touching and familiar. His themes are based in family and remind us all that as specific as we might believe our experiences are, we all share a universal human experience.


California oyster cocktail

Our love affair with the seafood cocktail goes back a long time. In fact, it was the very first L.A. food craze.

It started one July night in 1894, when a man named Al Levy wheeled a fancy red pushcart to the corner of 1st and Main streets. From a sleepy cow town in the 1870s, Los Angeles had lately blossomed into a metropolis of 75,000 with all the trimmings that corner boasted an opera house. First and Main was also the hangout of the city’s rootless young men, who loitered away their evenings in the dusty streets, gabbing, chewing tobacco and eating at tamale carts.

The sign on Levy’s pushcart advertised California oyster cocktails. Harvested nearly to extinction in the 19th century and then forced out of many habitats by the larger Manila clam in the 20th, the native California oyster is too small and slow-growing to be much of a commercial crop today. But natives, abundant in those days, are still raised in small numbers in Olympia, Wash. (and known as Olympias). Many oyster lovers prefer their sweetness and briny, coppery tang.

Oysters had long been an American passion by 1894, but oyster cocktails were something new. The loiterers at 1st and Main went wild for them -- they weren’t even fazed by the 10-cent price tag, though a tamale was only a nickel.

What’s more, over the next few weeks opera patrons started leaving their seats to come down and sample this novel delicacy shoulder to shoulder with the street-corner louts.

Soon restaurants in L.A. and Pasadena were advertising that they were serving oyster cocktails too, and there were jokey tales of people ordering “cocktails” only to be told they couldn’t be served liquor because it was Sunday, ha ha.

For tourists, having an oyster cocktail became one of the things to do in Los Angeles, and they spread the craze around the country.

Within a few months, the man who started it all had lost his money on an oyster cocktail bottling scheme, but he bounced right back -- he rented some space in a plumber’s shop at 3rd and Main streets, put up two planks as counters and brought in 14 chairs. He started serving typical 19th century oyster-house dishes such as oyster loaf, oyster stew, fried oysters and fried fish along with his famous cocktails.

And a few months after that, the plumber was out and Al Levy had taken over all three storefronts in the building and turned them into a fashionable seafood restaurant. By 1897, he was one of the leading restaurateurs in the city.

Levy would remain a favorite of Hollywood and high society right up till his death in 1941. He never forgot his old red oyster cart, either. For more than 30 years it was displayed in glory on the roof of his restaurant.

Who was Al Levy? He was an eager, gregarious man, 5 feet tall, who liked sports, pinochle, cars and string ties. He was an enthusiastic joiner of fraternal organizations such as the Elks (during a Shriners convention, he took out a newspaper ad suggesting to his fellow nobles, “tip your fez at Levy’s Cafe”), and he catered events for all of them and many charities as well.

Raised in Ireland, he came to America around 1877 and knocked around awhile before settling for a few years in San Francisco, where he learned the seafood business. In 1890 he decided to throw in his lot with the mushrooming young city to the south.

He was a waiter in Los Angeles for four years. And then he got laid off. With a new family to support, he had to come up with an income fast, and the oyster cocktail cart was his inspired decision.

Oyster cocktails were only the start of his career, though, and as his menu expanded to include steaks and roasts and lobsters, so did his civic role. By 1901 he was such a fixture of L.A. society that he served on the board of the city’s newly formed baseball team (regrettably named the Los Angeles Looloos).

Business kept expanding. In 1905 Levy tore down his building and built a far grander three-story edition of Al Levy’s Cafe. The second floor alone featured three large dining rooms, decorated in English, French and German styles, and 57 private rooms. The pushcart on the roof now had a cupola to shelter it from the elements.

This was no lunch counter -- Al Levy’s Cafe was big enough to seat 1% of the city’s population at the time. The Times called it “one of the West’s swellest cafes.” A former director of the Chicago Symphony directed the house orchestra. When Republican reformer Hiram Johnson launched his gubernatorial campaign in 1910, it was at Al Levy’s Cafe.

From the beginning, Levy had courted the entertainment business, and he encouraged celebrities to sign the napkins or tablecloth after a meal he must have ended up with some sort of museum of autographed linen. His restaurant was the first major movie business hangout.

How Hollywood was it? Charlie Chaplin married Al Levy’s checkroom girl. (Mildred Harris literally was a girl -- she was just 16 when she and Chaplin tied the knot in 1917. After they divorced, she went on to have an affair with the Prince of Wales.)

Levy had a few rough years toward the end of the teens. In 1916 he built a luxury restaurant in what was then the tiny farm town of Watts, so motorists could stop off to dine in grand style on their way to Long Beach. It evidently flopped. When Prohibition arrived in 1919, the country’s dining habits changed, dealing a blow to old-fashioned dining establishments such as Levy’s with their elaborate multicourse meals.

Levy was actually hauled into court in 1920 for selling four cases of sherry. A news story about the trial referred to him as a “formerly well-known restaurateur,” so he’d probably lost his downtown cafe by that time.

In 1921 he showed up in charge of the dining rooms on the luxury liners Harvard and Yale, which plied the coast of California more or less as floating ballrooms, and he was being referred to as a caterer.

But the next year he started two restaurants side by side on Hollywood Boulevard, made a success of them and then sold them off in 1924. He took the money and immediately started a new downtown restaurant, Al Levy’s Grill, on Spring Street.

Five years later, with his downtown chophouse well established, he was back in Hollywood with Al Levy’s Tavern, which a contemporary described as “a Hollywood version of an English inn.” It also featured a separate kitchen for kosher food. It was one of the three leading celebrity hangouts around the fabled corner of Vine Street and Hollywood Boulevard, along with Sardi’s and the Brown Derby.

With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Levy announced he would once again use wine in cooking at both his restaurants. Newspapers later reported that squabs simmered in wine, what we’d now call his signature dish, became famous from coast to coast.

Sometime around 1930, the red pushcart came down from its perch on the roof of Levy’s former restaurant at 3rd and Main. During the 1920s, The Times had published periodic items explaining to the city’s many newcomers what a pushcart was doing up there. (Many assumed it was an old tamale cart.)

By this time Levy was in his 70s, but the only sign he showed of slowing down was taking a partner, Mike Lyman, later to be a well-known restaurateur himself. “Dad” Levy, as he had long been called, was still greeting the celebrities and still active in fraternal organizations. In 1939 the Shriners honored him for his 46 years as a member.

In 1941 Al Levy was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery with a Jewish service at the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather. That year there were 30 times as many people living in Los Angeles as when he’d arrived half a century before. The oyster cocktail king had fed four generations of them.