For 10 years, Tales of the Cocktail has been doing for cocktail culture what the James Beard Foundation has been doing for food culture: advancing the craft of the drink through education, networking, promotion and a bit of sanctioned mayhem. Each summer the organization throws a massive party in -- where else? -- New Orleans, sponsoring competitions, seminars and well-lubricated discussions going late into the night. (In case you were wondering, seminars begin at the crack of 10 a.m. each morning. No rest for the wicked, evidently.)
Since 2006, Tales of the Cocktail has sponsored a bevy of honors of its own called the Spirited Awards, rewarding excellence in service and performance in various categories in a given year.
Ten nominees in 17 categories were announced last week, and this year, without a doubt, Los Angeles represents. Three of the nominations for Best American Cocktail Bar were snagged by L.A. establishments -- Harvard & Stone, La Descarga and the Varnish -- only New York can boast similar numbers. And one of these, the Varnish, is in the running as one of 10 nominated as the World's Best Cocktail Bar.
In other categories, Vincenzo Marianella and Eric Alperin were among the nominees for Best Bartender of the Year; Harvard & Stone was nominated in the World's Best New Cocktail Bar category, La Descarga and Seven Grand were nominated for Best High-Volume Cocktail Bar, Rivera got a nod for Best Restaurant Bar, and the Spare Room at the Roosevelt was given a nomination as World's Best Hotel Bar. All in all, it was one of the best showings for the City of Angels since the awards were established.
Winners will be announced at the Spirited Awards ceremony on Saturday, July 28.