A Stirring Occasion This week marks the sixth annual Tales of the Cocktail , a five-day series of presentations, liquor tastings, tours and dinners. The cocktail and culinary festival, held Wednesday through Sunday, is based primarily at the Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St., 523-3341; as well as various restaurants and bars, mostly in the French Quarter. A collection of fine-dining restaurants will present "spirited dinners" on Thursday, July 17, as part of the festival, with cocktails paired with each course. Authors, cocktail experts, chefs and television show hosts will lead seminars and presentations throughout the festival. The extensive calendar of events covers subjects from the commercial return of absinthe to the history of bar snacks. Registration and tickets are required for most events. Visit for complete information. Cocktail Museum to Open Coming fast on the heels of the Tales of the Cocktail festival, a separate nonprofit group will unveil its Museum of the American Cocktail ( in New Orleans on July 21. The museum is housed within the newly opened Southern Food and Beverage Museum ( in the Riverwalk Marketplace, although it is a separate organization from the food museum. Founder Ted Haigh has curated an exhibit on liquor concoctions in American history and culture, which includes vintage cocktail shakers, Prohibition-era literature and cocktail memorabilia. The cocktail museum initially had a yearlong run at the Pharmacy Museum in the French Quarter, which came to an abrupt end with Hurricane Katrina. For another year after that, the museum set up shop in a banquet room at the Commander's Palace location in Las Vegas, space donated by the restaurant's owners. A ribbon-cutting event will be held at the Museum of the American Cocktail on July 21 at 10:30 a.m. with food and drink provided by Café Adelaide (300 Poydras St., 595-3305;

"Gumbo Throwdown" The Food Network will feature a program this week pitting New Orleans food educator and advocate Poppy Tooker ( against television personality and chef Bobby Flay ( in a gumbo cooking competition. It's part of the cable network's Throwdown series, wherein Flay pays surprise visits to cooks across the country with a film crew in tow and challenges them to a cookoff. The episode, taped at the House on Bayou Road (, is scheduled to air on the Food Network on Tuesday, July 15, at 8 p.m. — McNulty

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