Aug 2, 2012

My Tail at Tales of The Cocktail 2012

Photo by Gabi Porter for Food Republic
Intense. Debaucherous. Stimulating. But above all SEXXXY!!! These are just some words I use to describe my first time attending Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans at the end of June. I went with Employees Only, the speakeasy restaurant bar in the West Village where I am - as Eric the GM puts it - "our in-house burlesque dancer" and as Gabi Porter of Food Republic likes to say, "EO's resident temptress." EO is not just an employer to me. They are family. I book their "Silky Sunday" one-off burlesque act, and I also have my monthly "Drunken Dragon Nights" burlesque party at their sister restaurant Macao Trading Company. But they are also the hot brothers you can't have sex with! LOL. Every burlesque performer who I send on a regular basis to EO have a crush on someone there. We all have our special crushes and we compare notes. Think of it as the "Secret Girls Club of EO's Boys Club" Ha! So it was a great honor for me to be invited to go along with them this year to celebrate their big win at Tales 2011 ("Best Cocktail Bar in the World) with a pop-up party at One Eyed Jack's in New Orleans.

For those who are not familiar with the world of mixology, Tales is an annual event held in New Orleans, the birthplace of the cocktail. The week long event is attended by national and international bars, restaurants, brand ambassadors, and cocktail enthusiasts to learn about the history of cocktails (for instance, the origin of the blue drink, where the marischino cherry came from, etc), to compete for various titles, and also, to partake in the sampling of many, many, many glasses of specialty drinks and eat the complimentary Nola food! It is definitely not for the inexperienced drinker or the inexperienced late-night-stay-upper. I can only compare it to Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend but on a much, much larger scale and with ALL guys and not show girls. The typical guy attending Tales? Moustache, tattoos, straw Fedora hat. Pretty appetizing, I say, even at 7AM as I boarded my flight at LGA. And like all industries, there are rock stars. The boys of EO are indeed rock stars in their field. I knew a bit about each of the 5 owners' credentials already. You don't get to where they are without a fine ass list of accomplishments from before. (See Dushan Zaric's books on Amazon).

Bar Room Brawl competition on Friday where EO won "People's Choice". This happened after the win!

EO's Pop-up party at One Eyed Jack's - at some point in the night, they all took their tops off

And I should say I've heard about various bartenders' "credentials" as well from the burlesque vine (wink wink). But here, I was experiencing firsthand their rock star status as I danced, sat, writhed, got wet, got bathed, (fill in the blank) on top of the bar watching many a starstruck groupie (male AND female alike) come by to say hello and do a shot with their chosen one. And who could blame them? I was once also on the other side of the bar in the early 20s and had a bartender crush on every block south of Houston. These godlike figures who poured me measured amounts of happiness, flirted with me, and made me feel pretty. Then I dated one (not from EO mind you, a bartender who was far less fun, good looking, and inferior) for eight months, and well, that cured the hangover to say the least. But that's my tail in another tale for another time.

I was on the same flight leaving NYC as the rest of the crew from EO. It felt really weird to see everyone (and to have them see me) at so early in the morning. I feel like if they were going to see me that early at 7am, it better be the walk of shame! When we checked in the hotel, my room wasn't ready and Nikki Le Villain, who met me there, hasn't arrived either so I changed into my bikini and went to chill out by the pool. It was a gorgeous pool overlooking the famous Byzantine-esque cathedral next door. There were two other people by the pool and it was a gorgeous day. I ordered room service and had it delivered to me poolside, and by then Nikki had arrived and we set out on the town before tech/sound run-thru. Nikki knew all the places to go. This was only my second time in NoLa. My first time was last year for the New Orleans Burlesque Festival (read entry). We grabbed a bite at Muriel's and had our first drink. Then we went wandering around through the French Quarter shopping at Trashy Diva, a couple of voodoo shops Nikki knew about, drank some more, hid from a thunderstorm in a bar, drank some more again, went in somewhere famous and peed, drank again, bought tickets to hear jazz at Preservation Hall but we only sat through two songs because it was really late and it was hot as Satan's balls in there.
Nikki belongs in New Orleans
pre-storm afternoon
I really fell in love with the pedicabs this time

The lobby of The Roosevelt. This photo doesn't do it justice.
After our picturesque and leisurely Wednesday things got truly BUSY. Starting with Thursday night's pop-up party which Serious Eats described as,

"The Employees Only Pop-Up Night will become the stuff of legend at future Tales. The West Village staple and winner of last year's Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award for Best Cocktail Bar truly showed everyone how to throw a party. Sure, they made cocktails, but they also threw a honey of a bash, and everyone wanted to go. It's very difficult to balance gravitas and good times, and the boys from EO once again showed that you can be a "serious cocktail bar" without boring people. Or judging them. Or telling them to stop dancing on the bar-top. The Second Line escorting people out at closing time was particularly inspired. Brilliant."

The party started out with Jayna Morgan and her band - they were AMAZING. New Orleans has the best music scene. Every street corner is a talent, it seems like. I am amazed every time I hear live music in NoLa. No wonder why all the burlesque performers there prefer dancing to a live band, a luxury we New York girls rarely get to experience. Nikki opened the show with a recreation of "Silky Sunday" with Grandpa (Henri) as the birthday victim on the stage. Nikki writhed, shimmied, and seduced the audience to "I Put a Spell on You"to a very interactive Grandpa bitting his fist and hanging onto her lingerie. Another hour goes by and Perle Noire took the stage performing with Jayna's band to "Tiger Rag". Perle KILLED it. She got the crowd so amped up - they were already amped up from the open bar, amazing truffle cheese sandwiches, rock shrimp, tuna tartare floating around prepared by EO's Chef Julia The Butcher's Daughter, and along comes this vibrant, fiery, charismatic dancer in flame red and orange throwing her arms around on stage to the rhythm of the drums, and doing backward bends and splits on stage! It's no surprise why Perle is touring with Dita von Teese AGAIN this fall! Nice, friendly, and a true professional, nothing phases her. I know, because last time she performed at my show at Hotel Chantelle, there was a problem with her mp3 and her music wouldn't play. So she yelled, "Put anything on, I'll dance to it!" And the only other playlist was the house list which I was not familiar with so I hit play on a random song and it was a long ass wailing country song! But she did it anyway and knocked it out of the ballpark! Once in a lifetime experience, I tell ya, seeing Perle improvising to a country song.
Perle Noire and Jayna's band! I love the one heel on the side. Haha!
Then around 1AM my champagne bath act started. I was lucky enough to find Mattie Stillwell, a local painter who have worked with burlesque performers before to paint me as if I was wearing a corset and stockings. It took about 2 hours for her to paint me before the party started, and the paint held up quite well despite the heat and me having through a lot of people.

I flew down with my over-sized champagne glass and this is what I used to contain the baby oil/soap water mixture to wash off my "outfit" on top of the bar.  As always, Igor is my main man who helps me with all things slippery and wet on the bar (hahahahhaha) and to help me off the bar so I don't slip and kill myself. Eric made sure no one broke the glass this time (unlike last time at Macao...another story), but nevertheless, once my act was done and the brass band marched through the club and chicken soup was served (the EO tradition if you are still at the bar at closing time), I myself forgot about my glass in favor of sitting on the bar drinking with my new friend Gogo Bell and forgetting what else might have happened after that... but I did NOT wake up with a new EO tattoo although the resident tattoo artist did do 36 in total at the party! Perhaps next year. ;-)
Said glass in Eric's hands

Igor, Dushan, Eric, Jason, Rebecca bringing out the chicken soup!
The brass band closed the night!

Friday night was the Bar Room Brawl in which four of EO's principal bartenders (Dev, Steve, Milos, Vincent) made a different cocktail each as part of a competition with a bunch of other bars around the US and world for the judges to taste. Nikki, Moxie, and myself were there to do atmosphere and be the EO cheerleaders. Moxie and I each did a burlesque act with the band TribeFlow. I sat on the end of the bar where Dev was pouring so I only got to taste the Mata Hari which was amazing!!! I did taste Steve's Ginger Mash at the other end where Nikki and Moxie sat, that was really good too. EO won People's Choice Award at Bar Room Brawl. It was a lot of fun watching all these people come by station to station drinking. Some people had four cups in their hands, and by the end after the awards were given out, we were giving people cognac shots straight down their throats! I discovered that I really like given alcohol away to people while perched on top of a bar manned by handsome boys. You can never make an enemy when you give away alcohol with a smile! Words to live by!

The Win!

More Press about EO in NoLa:

Photo by Rick Delaup


  1. Looks like you had a great time. Wish I was there.


  2. Loved reading your story - I was living vicariously through you girl! xo