Brand recognition is huge in the spirits industry, especially among bar managers tasked with stocking wells with a diverse and impressive spirits list. Although local spirits are intrinsically on many bar menus, local isn’t always better.

So, how can bars and restaurant leaders gain knowledge of available products? One way is at Tales of the Cocktail, which wrapped up July 18-24 in New Orleans. Tales of the Cocktail is the biggest cocktail festival in the world that encompasses a week of seminars, tastings, networking events and much more. There are 200 annual events developed specifically for bartenders, distillers and other spirits professionals.

Admittedly, many of the brands in attendance are owned by Diageo, or other multinational alcoholic beverage companies, however, it doesn’t mean those in search of craft or batch-made spirits are out of luck, and many of the best craft spirits are in attendance.

The Spirited Dinner Series at Tales of the Cocktail creates an environment of dinner and cocktail pairings to showcase both the food and the spirits. In the case of the “A Sumptuous Feast” dinner, the spirits featured were regional favorites.

At this dinner, guests — both industry folks and enthusiasts — were exposed to smaller brands such as Oregon’s Clear Creek Distillery under the Hood River Distillers portfolio, in addition to Lucid Absinthe Supérieure. Captive Spirits Big Gin out of Washington also contributed to the Spirited Dinner at La Petite Grocery.

One cocktail of the night highlighted Clear Creek’s pear brandy while paired with rum cake made from Luxardo cherries, toasted almonds and fig leaf ice cream. Try the Flash of Life recipe at home with with dessert for a taste of what both Tales of the Cocktail and Spirited Dinners have to offer.

Flash Of Life
By Jesse Carr | Bar Director, La Petite Grocery, New Orleans

Makes 1 cocktail

1 1/4 ounces Clear Creek pear brandy
1/2 ounce Nux Alpina
1/4 ounce St-Germain
1/4 ounce Steen’s cane syrup
3 drops vanilla extract
2 drops orange blossom water
Garnish: dehydrated orange slice

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass with a big ice cube. Garnish and enjoy.