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The Coachella of Cocktail-Making

We checked out the most recent “Tales of the Cocktail on Tour” confab in Mexico City


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Carina Soto Velasquez of Paris' Candelaria prepares a Green Giant cocktail. | Photo courtesy of Tales of the Cocktail

Tales of the Cocktail, a notorious bar-industry booze schmooze held every year in New Orleans, and dubbed the "Coachella for bartenders," has lately started taking its show on the road—to Vancouver, Buenos Aires, and, most recently, Mexico City. For three days in April, bartenders, restaurant owners, and liquor company reps came from across Mexico and as far away as London and Athens to talk cocktail shop, with educational panels punctuated by mezcal brunches, distillery tours, and a cockfighting-themed bartender battle—complete with real roosters—held in a dimly lit basement nightclub.

You'd have to have a steel-plated liver to sample all the drinks that flowed freely during the conference, starting way before noon and going deep into the night. There were margaritas made with rare small-batch mezcals, a Fernet-spiked twist on a whiskey sour, and shots of sweet-and-spicy ancho-chile liqueur served with a cold Tecate chaser. But the best thing I drank was shaken and strained by Carina Soto Velasquez, a partner in a bunch of hip Paris bars including Candelaria, a speakeasy hidden behind a tiny taco joint in the third arrondissement. Her "Green Giant" required an ingredients list a kilometer long: Hendrick's Gin, Milagro silver tequila, Galliano, cucumber water, cabbage water, coriander leaves, agave syrup, lime juice, grasshopper salt, green Tabasco, pickled jalapeño, dry chilis, and a few drops of lagrimas de unicornio, or unicorn tears (a proprietary mix of olive brine and thyme, she told me).

"It's a Bloody Mary without the blood," I heard somebody say. Smooth, savory and vegetal with a little kick, the Green Giant would've gone great with the pile of chilaquiles I ordered at breakfast the next morning, begging the hangover gods for mercy. After three days at Tales, a little hair-of-the-dog goes a long way.

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