Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ambassadors of Cocktails, yes, there's such a thing

Cure and Bellocq owners Kirk Estopinal
and Neal Bodenheimer are the 2012
Ambassadors of Tales of the Cocktail,
a five-day spirits festival in New Orleans
July 25-29.
Neal Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal, Louisiana Restaurant Association members, have been selected as co-ambassadors for Tales of the Cocktail, which celebrates its 10th Anniversary July 25-29 in New Orleans. Bodenheimer and Estopinal own Cure and Bellocq and have developed a national reputation for creating world-class craft cocktails and are consistently mentioned as owning one of the country’s best bars.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by Tales as a co-ambassador,” said Bodenheimer. “It’s exciting for us to be at the center of the craft cocktail revitalization as natives of New Orleans.” 
Cure was one of the first businesses to invest in the now vibrant Freret Street corridor in New Orleans, which in a few short years, has become home to numerous restaurants and businesses. The duo’s success with Cure prompted them to open their second venture, Bellocq, located in the Hotel Modern in Lee Circle.

Inspired by the photographer’s
gripping images of a pre-prohibition
sexual revolution, Bellocq
is a new cocktail lounge
 located in
The Hotel Modern New Orleans.
“The making of a perfect cocktail for us is based on fresh ingredients, quality spirits and properly measured contents,” said Estopinal. “Having trained in Chicago and Neal in New York honing our craft, we are extremely proud of our city’s cocktail past, present and future.”
The pair’s cocktail philosophy can be explained in one word—balance. Consistently, the two explore new flavor combinations and with nearly 1,000 spirits on hand, they have a massive collection in which to experiment. When Estopinal’s grandfather passed a few years ago, he inherited his spirits collection which included liquors that are no longer available, some of which line the entrance to the former fire house they converted to Cure.

“I started my hospitality career on the culinary side and an opportunity presented itself to move to cocktails,” said Estopinal. “The culinary aspect of the cocktail craft is what I most enjoy. Being behind the bar, I have face time with the clientele which is important to me. I can see right away if I’ve made the patron happy.” 
Tales of the Cocktail presents a challenge in balancing work and pleasure. They look forward to hosting their industry friends and would like to catch a seminar or tasting event, but owning two establishments that cocktail enthusiasts and industry professionals will certainly stop in at during the five days will mean very little rest for them.
Kevin Brauch was the first ambassador
of Tales of the Cocktail
“We really look forward to Tales, although it is our busiest week of the year,” said Bodenheimer. “With two locations, we are going to be busier than in previous years.”
As Tales of the Cocktail Ambassadors, they join a class of industry professionals like Kevin Brauch of the Thirsty Traveler; Robert Hess, co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail; Wendy Waren, VP of Communications for the LRA; and LRA Past Chair Dickie Brennan and business partner Steve Pettus of Dickie Brennan & Co.
"A favorite feature among Tales of the Cocktail attendees is the highly-regarded Thursday night Spirited Dinner series," said Tales Founder Ann Tuennerman. "Leading New Orleans chefs design creative menus inspired by leading brands and the dinners include guest historians, brand owners, developers and mixologists which brings guests a truly one-of-a-kind experience centered around cocktails, cuisine and conversation."

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