The lobby of the Hotel Monteleone is a-twitter with cocktailians, decked in their traditional uniform of camp shirts, straw fedoras, and facial hair. They're scurrying to and fro among the tasting rooms: there's a discussion of triple-distilled Irish whiskey in the Iberville Room! Applejack's being poured in the Bienville Room! The Naked Bartender's in the Bonnet Carre Room! (Incidentally, my friend Helen investigated and discovered that much like the Naked Cowboy, the Naked Bartender was wearing shorts.) PR folks are liberally dispensing swag along with libations; I picked up a Luxardo keyring and a Bulleit Bourbon glass, which Tom Bulleit himself was happy to sign for me.
Outside the hotel, the discussion centers around Tropical Storm Bonnie and its possible effect on the Gulf oil spill. (Favorite souvenir spotted thus far: "I Went To New Orleans And All I Got Was This Oily T-Shirt.") But inside at Tales of the Cocktail, the most discussion of the weather I've heard was a lively debate on what a hypothetical drink dubbed the "Tropical Depression No. 3" might contain. If it pours, I'll stay inside the hotel, venturing outside only for medicinal Powerade refills and fried-oyster po'boys.
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