One of the coolest parties at Tales of the Cocktail is inside this ‘secret garden’

Inside this whimsical, secret garden is one of the cocktail festival's hottest events.

Imagine being transported inside a whimsical secret garden filled with refreshing cocktails. That’s the scene you’ll find at Absolut’s Garden of Elyx, one of the hottest events during Tales of the Cocktail.

Photo credit: Phil Hudghton

At Garden of Elyx, the devil is in the details. Everything from elaborate floral decor to copper cocktail vessels sets the stage for a perfect Instagram-worthy moment from any angle.

Photo credit: Phil Hudghton

Miranda Dickson, global brand director for Absolut Elyx Vodka, calls the highly sought-after day party a “magical escape” from the frenzy of the festival in the French Quarter.  This year, the Garden of Elyx opens from Thursday, July 18 to Saturday, July 20 at Audubon Cottages.

“The idea of the Garden of Elyx is it’s really like a secret garden with lots of little pockets of areas to see and explore,” Dickson said.

Photo credit: Phil Hudghton

The Elyx pop-up completely renovates the historic venue into an exhibition of decadence. Around the party, guests can visit different areas and rooms filled with interactive surprises.

Internationally-recognized bartenders serve up elaborate cocktails at multiple themed bars around the event. In one section of the party, guests can get pampered with hair styling and glittery makeup in the beauty salon.

Photo credit: Phil Hudghton

Other activities include a handcrafted souvenir station where guests can make their own flower crowns, bracelets and hats inspired by Swedish tradition.

“One of the things people always love about our parties is the swag. So this year, we actually created a dedicated souvenir shop. And within the souvenir shop, you can craft your own souvenir,” Dickson said.

Photo credit: Phil Hudghton

In the center of it all, guests recline or take a dip in the pool while vibing to DJs, a much-needed amenity to beat the July heat and humidity.

Dickson was tight-lipped about a new, surprise guest to expect at the pool on Saturday, which won’t be the popular mermaids seen at the party last year.

“You see, the mermaids were last year, and we never like to repeat something fun that everybody’s talking about. Because every time we do something, people try to copy us. In fact, this year, we have another surprise on Saturday which is not mermaids,” Dickson said.

Photo credit: Phil Hudghton

The floral theme seen around the venue also extends to some cocktails served at the party. One bar features a menu of floral-inspired drinks, drawing influence from rose, jasmine and patchouli.

Absolute Elyx Vodka national ambassador Alex Goode said cocktail trends in 2019 feature the use of more organic and refreshing ingredients with more natural components. Goode also points to another trend growing in popularity — sessionable, low-ABV cocktails.

“This is a trend that we’re really seeing taking off right now,” Goode said.  “And it’s really nice to see everyone taking advantage of that and moving away from the heavier, boozier drinks that were very popular back in the early-2000s.”

Photo credit: Phil Hudghton

Dickson said she thinks New Orleans’ deep-rooted connection to the cocktail’s history is one huge draw for people wanting to experience Tales of the Cocktail.

“I think it’s safe to say, hands-down, that Tales of the Cocktails is regarded globally as the spirits convention,” Dickson said.

“One things that great about Tales of the Cocktail is that everybody from every brand is really showcasing innovation,” Goode said.

Photo credit: Phil Hudghton

The folks from Absolut Elyx offered up two cocktail recipes for a taste of the party at home.

Elyx Spritz

1oz Absolut Elyx

1oz Lillet Rosé

Top Elderflower Tonic

Garnish lemon wheel

Elyx Mule

1.5oz Absolut Elyx

Top Ginger Beer

Squeeze of fresh lime

Garnish with a second fresh lime wedge

Many consider the Garden of Elyx a highlight of the festival every year, and entry into the exclusive, decadent party is by invite only. The Garden of Elyx opens from Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information about the Garden of Elyx and Tales of the Cocktail, visit the website.