A Pre-Tales Q&A with panel moderator Philip Greene
One of the star attractions at Tales of the Cocktail every year isn’t a TV personality or even a bartender, but the city of New Orleans itself. Participants (myself included) are continually charmed, awed, dazzled and wooed by the Big Easy. I could fill this page with florid, occasionally feeble metaphors about all the wonderful things about NOLA, but it is perhaps easiest to see how many people have been drawn to its strange mix of elegance and excess through the narrower lens of one of its many old, seasoned institutions. Philip Greene, Treasurer and Legal Counsel to the Museum of the American Cocktail, has one such location on the brain this year: ground zero of Tales madness, the Hotel Monteleone.
This year the Monty (as it is affectionately known) is celebrating its 125th anniversary and Tales of the Cocktail attendees can immerse themselves in this New Orleans landmark, from the famous names that have called the Monteleone home (Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Louis Prima) to the cocktails of its famed Carousel Bar.
Tales Blog: What prompted you to develop a seminar about the Hotel Monteleone?
Philip: My seminar partner, New Orleans bartending legend Chris McMillian, and I are New Orleans history buffs, and we felt it natural to do the history of the Hotel Monteleone this year for a number of reasons. One, the grand old hotel is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Also, Chris and I have long been fascinated with the great old hotels of New Orleans and the role they’ve played in New Orleans society, as well as, nationally, the way NOLA served as a winter holiday destination from the turn of the century forward. Last year we covered the great cocktail tradition of the Grunewald/Roosevelt/Fairmont/Roosevelt, and this year wanted to focus on the Monteleone. We hope to someday cover other great NOLA classics, such as the old St. Charles, the St. Louis, and others.
Tales Blog: What do you hope attendees in your seminar will come away with?
Philip: We hope they come away with a solid understanding of the great role that the Monteleone, other NOLA hotels, and NOLA in general have played in the history of hospitality and civilized drinking in the USA.
Tales Blog: Which cocktails will be featured in your seminar?
Philip: We’re doing two Monteleone originals, the Goody and the Vieux Carré, and also the classic dry martini, which was a favorite of two of the hotel’s prominent literary guests, Truman Capote and Ernest Hemingway.
Tales Blog: What is your favorite part of Tales of the Cocktail?
Philip: So many reasons. One, I love New Orleans, went to law school at Loyola, got engaged at Napoleon House, and my wife and I come back as often as we can. But I also love how Tales brings together people with a shared passion, if it’s for history, making good food and drinks, whatever.
Purchase your Tales passes to participate in “Hotel Monteleone: 125 Years of History” on Saturday, July 23 from 12:30–2 PM in the Queen Anne Ballroom of the Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal Street, New Orleans.