Local mixologist Ian Julian honored at World bar event
15th July 2013 · 0 Comments
By Christopher Tidmore
This year saw New Orleans’ internationally renowned Tales of the Cocktail name an African-American mixologist as their “Senior Squeezer”. Previously, it was almost unheard of that a minority candidate would achieve such worldwide recognition in the increasingly competitive culinary profession of creating the newest drink. Nevertheless, starting Wednesday, leading mixologists from all over the world will come to the Crescent City to learn at the feet of the man they honor as one of the best bartender on Earth, Crescent City native Ian Julian, Bar Director at Dominique’s on Magazine Street.As Tales of the Cocktail founder Ann Tuennerman explained, “Similar to head chefs there are very few African American head bartenders…Ian is a local guy who is a graduate from the Crescent City School of Bartending, a member of United States Bartender Guild and was our ‘Senior Squeezer’ which means the head juicer at Tales of the Cocktail which is a huge job! We love him!”
When asked in an interview with The Louisiana Weekly late Thursday, the importance of being named “Senior Squeezer,” Julian replied, “Its the highest honor that can be bestowed upon anyone other than being the child of Mr. and Mrs. Cocktail.”
Mixology is not a professional where the expertise of African Americans practitioners have received just recognition. Responding to those who have dubbed him a “trailblazer” in this field, Julian was quick to deny the title. “I wouldn’t consider myself a trailblazer because there are people that have paved the way for me but in an industry I feel African Americans have not left their stamp on I am honored to be considered a trailblazer. I am just excited to share my passion for the craft and bring my culture to this field.”
Julian will be also featured at an event highlighting African-American contributions to mixology. Seminars with such a focus explain why attendees from around the planet gather at yearly summer conference in the Vieux Carré.
As the Dominique’s head bartender noted, “Tales of the Cocktail brings to light New Orleans’ unique cocktail history; it brings revenue to the hospitality industry during a slow season and we are the birth place of the first cocktail and that makes Tales of the Cocktail so important to New Orleans. Tales of the cocktail is important to the mixology world because it showcases the best of the best from all over the world. Tales is the premier event that allows everyone in this industry to increase their knowledge and network.”
Celebrating its 11th anniversary this year, founder Ann Tuennerman’s small gathering that kicked off in New Orleans with a handful of cocktail lovers sipping and discussing all things spirits has evolved into the world’s premier cocktail festival bringing together the most respected minds on mixology and serving as the annual meeting place for the international cocktail community.
“It’s only fitting that New Orleans, the birthplace of the Sazerac cocktail, serves as the permanent home of Tales of the Cocktail®,” Tuennerman told the Weekly. “The narrow French Quarter streets that gave rise to the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Vieux Carré provide the perfect backdrop of history and culture for this annual affair.”
When asked if she ever expect Tales of the Cocktail to get as big as it has, Tuennerman responded, “Yes and no. In the early years I understand that we were starting to make an impact on the bartending community by bringing people together from around the world but at the same time did not see the full scope that it would develop. It is now the world’s premier global cocktail event and a must attend for a mixologist.”
What Tales told the world “is that it is okay to be a bartender again.” Pre-prohibition, the career had a higher degree of acceptance, she said. Perhaps, more importantly, Tales has brought “a much bigger focus on fresh ingredients and bars and restaurants using fresh ingredients and getting away from pre-made mixes”.
That message, that stirring a drink is no less important than cooking a fine cuisine has led to the New Orleans-born Tales spawning similar events around the world. Tuennerman noted, “We have hosted what we call Tales on Tour for two years in Vancouver and in 2013 hosted our 1st Tales on Tour in Buenos Aires. These are small versions of Tales of the Cocktail that give people a taste of the event and lead them to New Orleans.”
Throughout the rest of the year, the proceeds of the conference support The New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society (NOCCPS). Founded by Ann & Paul G. Tuennerman in 2006, this non-profit organization seeks to preserve the rich history of cuisine and cocktails in New Orleans and around the world by supporting those in the hospitality and cocktail industries. NOCCPS provides members of the cocktail community with educational opportunities and financial support through several on- going programs.
Tales of the Cocktail® runs from July 17-21.
This article originally published in the July 15, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.