A Dash of Sass, Spice and Sparkle- New Orleans Bartender Abigail Gullo

We have many reasons to love New Orleans, from the amazing food and architecture to the southern hospitality and good friends and family. It’s our home away from home, and we always find reasons to return as often as we can and look forward to attending the annual Tales of the Cocktail conference each summer (July 20-24 this year)

We enjoy visiting Chef Nina Compton’s Compère Lapin for the Carribbean spiced food and to see the smiling face of Abigail Gullo who tends to her bar and to her customers with the same generous enthusiasm. A transplant from the North, Abigail’s colorful style and charm fit right at home in the Big Easy.

During our interview with Abigail we learned her theatrical training (her college major) has served her well on her current stage, the bar, where she says she’s learned to listen to her customers and read  person’s body language to decide what cocktail to make.

When Abigail’s not behind the bar at Compère Lapin she’s behind her computer screen blogging at, petting her dog, Ronnie, and dreaming of singing in a rock-n-roll band.

Abigail was recently named Heaven Hill Brands Bartender of the Year, winning $15,000. Now that’s heavenly!

Wednesday, July 13, 2pmEST, on The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY.  Listen here one the and the free iHeart App.




Vision Through a Glass – Ann Tuennerman, Tales of the Cocktail

New Orleans has long been considered the birthplace of the cocktail. In fact there is a Museum of Cocktail located in the city.  Eating and drinking is an essential part of New Orleans’ rich culinary culture, from its storied bars and restaurants and iconic Creole and Cajun dishes to the cocktails that were created there: the Sazerac, the Hurricane, the Grasshopper and New Orleans Ramos Gin Fizz.

Sazerac Cocktail (

New Orleans is also the birthplace of the largest gathering of people who work in and for the cocktail and bar profession.  Tales of the Cocktail® is the world’s premier cocktail festival, bringing together the international spirits community for five days of what’s now, what’s new and what’s next in bartending.  The city heats up even more in July when the cocktail cognoscenti arrive. This year’s Tales of the Cocktail® takes place July 15-19.

The brains behind Tales of the Cocktail® is Founder Ann Tuennerman. A New Orleans native and marketing pro, she first started organizing walking tours of the city’s fabled bars in 2002. The following year she launched the first Tales of the Cocktail®. The rest is cocktail industry history. This event has grown into a global gathering with international offspring events in cities like Buenos Aires, Vancouver and Mexico City…and more to come.

Ann Tuennerman, Founder, Tales of the Cocktail
Ann Tuennerman, Founder, Tales of the Cocktail


David and I first attended Tales in 2008 and we haven’t missed one since. We’ve connected with so wonderful industry people through Tales, all in the spirit of supporting the industry while having an amazingly fun time. Hey! After all it takes place in New Orleans!

David and Melanie with Tom Bulleit, Bulleit Whiskey (2014 TOTC)
David and Melanie with Tom Bulleit, Bulleit Whiskey (2014 TOTC)

Throughout the year Ann and her team organize events like Tales of the Toddy and a Cocktail Film Festival. More recently they created Tales 365, an exclusive membership service providing  bartenders and spirits professionals access to special programs, networking events and distillery tours.

Tales also gives back to support the community who serves the industry. In 2006, Ann and her husband Paul founded the New Orleans Culinary & Cultural Preservation Society (NOCCPS), which has funded more than half a million dollars in programs to support the hospitality industry through grants, scholarships, cocktail apprenticeships and other programs.

I like to say there are three kinds of people: Those who see the glass half empty; those who see the glass half full and those who seize the opportunity and drink up what’s in the glass. Ann saw opportunity in a glass, drank it up and served more to share with others. – Melanie Young

Ann Tuennerman and Melanie with Sazerac, our Maltese
Ann Tuennerman and Melanie with Sazerac, our Maltese



Hear from Ann Tuennerman June 24 on The Connected Table LIVE, 2pmET/1pmCT on, and the iHeart App. Each week we bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality. Follow  ups on Twitter@connectedtable and Facebook/TheConnectedTable


David Ransom Drink Melanie Young THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

The King of Cocktails and Master of Mixology- Dale DeGroff

When you ask almost any bartender in America who they admire most in the industry, one name tops them all- Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff, aka King Cocktail. Dale is credited with reinventing the bartending profession, setting off a cocktail revival that continues to flourish.  Dale’s enormous influence in the bar world has spanned three decades and many crafted cocktails.

Dale DeGroff, King Cocktail
Dale DeGroff, King Cocktail

I had the pleasure of getting to know Dale when he was making a name for himself behind the bar at New York City’s Rainbow Room when I was working with the late Joe Baum to launch New York Restaurant Week. Dale’s charm was magnetic; his drinks impeccable; his bar moves captivating.

A 2015 inductee into The James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America and recipient of the #JBFAward for Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional, Dale is author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail (Random House). He is also a partner in the award-winning bar training program, Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR) and founding president of the Museum of the American Cocktail.

Dale DeGroff cariacature by his talented wife, the artist, Jill DeGroff
Dale DeGroff cariacature by his talented wife, the artist, Jill DeGroff

Saloon singing and storytelling is another passion of Dale’s. His popular presentation: ON THE TOWN; Bars, Speaks, & Legendary Saloons has been performed in over two dozen cities around the world. Dale also offers a bourbon & bitters tasting presentation I’LL TAKE MANHATTANS!  an exploration of aromatic bitters.

176251-dale-degroff-bitters-b1_1 Speaking of aromatic bitters, Dale now has his own line. Crafted entirely from whole botanicals, without commercial flavorings or artificial dyes, Dale DeGroff’s Aromatic Bitters™enhances cocktails without overpowering.

Dale reminisces about working with  Joe Baum and his current role as an educator in this June 3  iHeart segment of The Connected Table LIVE!

posted by Melanie 



Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE!
Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE! W4CY and iHeart Radio

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The Aloha! Edition of the Connected Table Live! Jan 7

Aloha! from beautiful Maui where we celebrated the New Year and Melanie’s birthday in Hana on Maui’s lush eastern coast. Given our beautiful setting, we’re featuring two individuals whose lives have been influenced by Hawaii. One is a native Hawaiian who moved to the East Coast where she made her mark in the world of mixology. French-born chef who made his culinary mark in Philadelphia and now runs a restaurant in Maui.

Julie Reiner
Julie Reiner

Julie Reiner has been elevating the cocktail scene in NYC for fifteen years, most notably with the opening of the Flatiron Lounge (2003), the Pegu Club (2005), Brooklyn’s Clover Club(2008), and Lani Kai (2010). As co-owner and beverage director of the Flatiron Lounge, Reiner drew much of her inspiration from growing up in Hawaii by utilizing the freshest fruits and premier quality spices & spirits available in her original cocktails. Julie’s beverage program at the Clover Club is highly focused on classics, and furthers her signature style of superior quality and green market ingredients. Lani Kai (recently sold), featured a modern tropical décor, Pacific Rim plates, and a more tropical interpretation of Julie’s cocktail styling. Julie’s consulting company, Mixtress Consulting, helps to create top-notch beverage programs and cocktails for restaurants, bars, resorts, and spirits companies.

Flatiron, Pegu and Clover opened to rave reviews and have enjoyed a top ranking among the best bars in the world. In 2009, Clover Club was honored with the award for “Best New Cocktail Lounge in the World” at Tales of the Cocktail and last year, took home the award for “Best American Cocktail Bar”, “Best High Volume Bar”, and Julie was personally awarded “Best Bar Mentor”. Clover Club has also been listed in Drinks Internationals 50 best bars in the world two years in a row.

Julie’s recipes have been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Food & Wine, Imbibe, The Wall Street Journal, Esquire, Playboy, Gourmet Magazine, Food Arts, Bon Appetit, GQ, Fortune, Wine Enthusiast, O Magazine, Crains, Time Out NY and Time Out London, The London Times & Wine & Spirits. Julie has also been featured on The Today Show, The Food Network, the Cooking Channel, Martha Stewart Radio, CNBC, LXTV, and the Fine Living network. In 2011, Julie was honored with a James Beard nomination for spirits professional of the year.


Philippe Chin

James Beard Award-Winning French Master Chef Philippe Chin is one of early pioneers of fusion cooking refining his skills in some of the world’s best restaurants. While in Washington DC, Philippe was fortunate to cook for President Barack Obama as well as various world leaders on a regular basis. Prior to Washington DC, Philippe was Chef-Owner of the highly acclaimed Chanterelle in Philadelphia where he became known for his eclectic style and ability to marry the indigenous flavors of the region. He now calls the Hawaiian island of Maui his home,

Over looking the beautiful Pacific Ocean in the heart of Lahaina Town, Philippe’s Sugar Cane Hawaiian Contemporary Restaurant and Bar marries the flavors of the islands utilizing fresh line caught fish, Hawaiian Ranchers Beef, Haleakala Vegetables and Herbs found in remote areas of the island.

Born and raised in France, Philippe can trace his culinary influences to being raised in a melting pot household to his Chinese father and his French mother. He graduated L’Ecole Hoteliere de Paris, Rue Mederic and worked in some of France’s finest dining establishments, refining his culinary skills and then became chef de cuisine at Le Santal in Saint Martin (at the time the Caribbean’s only Five Star restaurant).

In 1986 Philippe moved to the United States, where he joined the staff at La Cocotte in West Chester, PA. Three years later he moved to Philadelphia and became embedded in the city’s growing restaurant scene. He opened Founders at the Bellevue Hotel, 210 at the Rittenhouse Hotel, becoming Executive Chef/Owner of the nationally renowned and award-winning Chanterelles restaurant, and then Chef-owner of the acclaimed Philippe on Locust, Chin-Chin, and Philippe Bistro, of which would receive national and local honors and top rankings.


Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE!
Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE!

Join Hosts Melanie Young and David Ransom, the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple, each Wednesday, 2pm ET/11am PT on The Connected Table LIVE! Each week we feature the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scene in food, fine beverage and hospitality.

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Meet Two Spirited Women on The Connected Table Live Oct 15

Melanie and David talk with two spirited women on Wednesday’s edition of The Connected Table LIVE Wednesday, October 15th, 2pm ET/6pmPT W4CY

Lizzie da Trindade Macchu Pisco
Lizzie da Trindade
Macchu Pisco

Our first guest is Lizzie da Trindade-Asher, President of Macchu Pisco, who with her sister, Melanie, have helped share Peru’s national drink with the world. A lawyer by training Lizzie directs the legal, marketing, and importing side of Macchu Pisco and its sister brands, La Diablada and Ñusta Pisco. Melanie oversees production in Peru. Together, Lizzie and Melanie have achieved 30 percent growth annually since founding the company in 2004. “Every day, I am inspired by my sister’s dedication to creating authentic pisco,” says Lizzie, who graduated magna cum laude from Duke University, worked for the 1992 presidential campaign for Bill Clinton, and earned a degree with honors from Harvard Law School.

Their pisco is an un-aged 80 proof clear spirit derived from a single distillation of fresh fermented grape juice (wine). It takes at least 4 bottles of wine to produce one bottle of pisco. It is from this costly process that an elegant spirit is born, one which most closely captures the essence of the grape. According to Lizzie, pisco is traditionally a sipping spirit. Because denomination rules require no additives whatsoever, pisco can be considered organic and thus should not produce a hangover, the mark of a real pisco.

Lizzie and her sister are active in supporting and improving Peruvian working conditions and women’s rights, as well as Latinas in business and education both in Peru and the U.S. Macchu Pisco established a precedent in Peru to support traditionally underpaid farmers by paying fair wages to the women who harvest their grape crops. They also ensure their socioeconomic goals are met from ground to glass by employing a vertical integration model—the only pisco company to hold such credentials—owning and overseeing each step of the production process. They also formed the Asher-Ezra Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid to underprivileged Latino children in the Bronx.


Allison Patel Brenne Whiskey
Allison Patel
Brenne Whiskey
Our second guest is Allison Patel, founder and owner of Brenne Single Malt Whisky produced in Cognac region of France. Allison’s professional background combines arts and smarts. As a young girl she was a professional ballerina performing with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City. After retiring from the corps de ballet she worked in national sales and marketing for EXHALE Spa, setting and exceeding sales goals.

Her move from the ballet barre world to the cocktail bar world is just another sign of her entrepreneurial spirit. Traveling in France pursuing her passion for good food and drink and blogging about whiskey for pleasure at, she discovered a single malt whiskey being produced from grapes in the Cognac region of France. Fond of fine whiskeys from lesser known areas, Alison’s interest was piqued. She researched the potential to import smaller production “world whiskies” to the U.S. eventually establishing an import/export company to focus on this category of distilled spirits.

Brenne (rhymes with men) is produced by a third generation cognac producer who was growing estate barley as well as grapes. The cognac was matured in French Limousin oak barrels imparting a smooth taste and fruit forward notes that captured Allison’s attention. Her talent for persuasion and sales helped Allison strike a deal with the producer who had only producing this special cognac whiskey for the family. Over a three and a half year period she refined the process with the producer finishing the spirit in XO cognac barrels after five – six years aging in the Limousin oak ones. The result is smooth, aromatic, spicy yet mellow and unlike any other whiskey we’ve tasted.

Allison was named one of the Top 10 Women in Whisky by Drinks Business Magazine and awarded Highly Commended in the Icon of Whisky award for Brand Innovator of the Year for 2014.


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