Local mixologist prepares for Tales of a Cocktail
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John Thomas Sides is an apprentice at Cure, a local cocktail bar, where he is learning the tricks of the trade, so he can one day
create his very own cocktail recipes.
Before starting in January, Sides hadn’t bartended a day in his life, but he is now training to be part of Tales of the Cocktail.
Cure opened in 2009, specializing in artesian cocktails with high quality ingredients. Cure’s ambience and attention to detail marks it as one of several New Orleans bars, such as Bar Tonique and Cavan, that share the same affinity for craft bartending.
“There’s not really any more room for mistakes,” Sides said. “A lot of our time throughout the year is preparation for it since it’s such a big industry event.”
Tales of the Cocktail is an annual event that dates back to 2002. Bringing cocktail lovers together from all over the world, the weeklong networking event is a way for industry professionals to put their recipes to the test and exchange new ideas.
“It brings us a lot of business. It’s something that a lot of bartenders completely depend upon to pay rent over the summer,” Sides said.
Alex Anderson, a decade-long professional in the industry, is helping Sides learn the techniques, tricks and recipes used to make the perfect cocktail.
“Being called a mixologist is something that’s funny to me,” Anderson said. “There’s no -ology in what we do. You can’t get a doctorate in bartending. I’m just a bartender.”
Anderson said that dedicated bartenders need to understand the histories, uses and flavor combinations of a large variety of alcohols, syrups, bitters and other ingredients that can be mixed into a cocktail.
“It’s all-encompassing,” Anderson said. “As a high-end cocktail bartender, you have to really commit to it. It’s a lot like being a chef, trying to train your palate to learn what’s good and what’s not.”