A Dark and Stormy Night: meet the cocktail judges!

It wouldn't be A Dark and Stormy Night without our ghost cocktail contest!

We've enlisted some of the best cocktail bars in New Orleans to brew up their spookiest beverages. 11 local bars will be vying for the attention (and tastebuds) of both the audience and a panel of five great judges in order to win awards from them both. Their cocktails are inspired by ghost stories, appropriate for the season and for the creative challenges Big Class students work through in our programs.

Get to know a little about our judges and see what they had to say about what makes a good cocktail below! 

T. Cole Newton is the proprietor of Twelve Mile Limit bar and cocktail consultant around New Orleans.

"A great cocktail is one that fits drinker. Great cocktails can be strong, weak, or even non-alcoholic; they can be sweet, tart, bitter, salty, or all of the above. Taste is subjective, and an individual's taste can change from moment to moment. Sometimes ice and water is the best mixed drink in the world. The art of making a great cocktail has everything to do with recognizing the mood, personality, and context of the person who is going to drink that cocktail."

Dr. Andre Perry is an education scholar, author and advisor to people working to improve education in both K-12 and postsecondary institutions.

"Balance and consistency are the theoretical pillars of a great drink. I prefer classic cocktails for this reason. A balanced and consistent classic cocktail never surprises the drinker. The liquors chosen should be the only things that differentiate one Manhattan from the next. As I listen to beautiful people wax poetic about the wonders of New Orleans, I don't want to think about what's different about my classic drink. Consequently, a perfectly made classic cocktail ensures that a drink never gets in the way of a conversation.    
I want my drink to be handsome without makeup. Meaning, adornments aren't going to make the drink taste any better. If anything, decorations are going to get in the way. Keep it simple. Additives better be required. For instance, one good sized cube or sphere of ice makes a drink looks sexy. Too much ice is an ugly disguise for a bad drink."

Aesha Rasheed is an education advocate and co-publisher of the New Orleans Parents Guide.

"A great cocktail has layers that unfold throughout the experience. My favorite cocktails are similar to my favorite fragrances and blend sweet powdery sensations with rich spicy undertones. My palate tends toward sweet over bitter so my desires drift toward cocktails that incorporate floral and citrus notes and unfold into a spicy finish. But desires are prismatic and as varied as we are so, most importantly, the perfect cocktail brings pleasure to the drinker and tickles their palate just right."

Maurice Ruffin is an award-winning writer.

"A great cocktail is balanced, first and foremost. Taste and the proportions of the elements are also really important. But like New Orleans at Halloween, a great cocktail is fun and maybe even a little surprising." 

Poppy Tooker is a cultural ambassador, cookbook author and host of Louisiana Eats!.

"A great cocktail to me is well balanced, using seasonal ingredients and inventive touches from the bartender.  For instance, I prefer dark liquor in the fall and winter cocktails and light liquor cocktails in the spring and summer.  Just like in a great recipe, a great cocktail often includes ingredients that provide nuanced touches - often undetectable to an unschooled palate.  You may know that you like how something tastes - but are unable to discern the various ingredients."

Excited? Join us this Thursday, October 20 at Felicity Church for our 2nd annual Dark and Stormy Night. Tickets can be found here. But hurry, prices will raise $20 at the door. Last one there gets haunted for all eternity!