Tales of The Cocktail 2012 Review
…..It was one big boozy melting pot, but what else would you expect when you invite thousands of the worlds best bartenders, bar owners, spirits experts, and media/bloggers into one city at the same time. It’s been five days since we left New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail’s 10th anniversary, and to be honest it’s taken that long to recover. Besides having a virtual buzz since we left the city, it’s taken time to adjust to back to real life where starting off with a cup of booze at 9 am, walking outside with open containers of alcohol (not to mention taking any alcoholic beverage “to-go” at restaurants), and being constantly handed more free booze isn’t normal. But we digress. We were Tales of the Cocktail rookies, but with some helpful tips from others, we survived and can’t wait for next year. Here’s some tips for you, should you decide to go next year.
Things we learned at Tales of the Cocktail:
Drink Water: Every event has water available for you to drink. DRINK IT. Tastings start at 9 am and go on until midnight so the last thing you want to be known for is that guy/girl who was passed out or puking on the filthy streets of Nawlins, or worse, in one of the luxurious hotels.
Eat well & Often: This goes hand in hand with the water drinking. It will save you from the embarrassment of missing half the days events because you passed out in your hotel room, or worse, in the street.
Take Naps: As mentioned events literally are planned all day from seminars, to tastings, to parties at night and till the sun rises. Non stop drinking, combined with the mesmerizing food New Orleans has to offer, will have you tired by mid day. We took daily naps around 4 or 5 (usually when things slow up) and got but up around 8-10 and it was WELL worth it.
Pace Yourself: There are literally hundreds of drinks available per day, you can’t possibly finish them all. Well you could, but then you’d end up in TOTC infamy for years to come. Seriously you probably wont like every drink, and even the ones you do like are readily available.
Pack Extra Clothes: We were warned about this, and I figured coming from the almost unbearable Florida summer heat that New Orleans couldn’t be much worse. But combine their heat with ridiculous crowds on the street plus plenty of booze in your system and you’ll be soaked in no time.
…..So what exactly is/was Tales all about? Well, at any given time at Tales there are dozens of events happening. Whether you’re attending one of the free tasting sessions provided by a specific brand/distributor, a spirits seminar, or maybe even a planned breakfast/lunch/dinner with specific spirits representatives, there’s little to no downtime unless you make it happen. Combine that with the already craziness of Bourbon Street, and historic New Orleans culture, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a trip. Oh and did we mention the random pop up shops that form around the Hotel Monteleone? Every hour, a Booze truck (think food truck with booze) would show up, sometimes two or three at a time and provide more drinks and sometimes frozen treats infused with alcohol. Double fist-ing it was a norm for us, so don’t feel embarrassed when it happens to you.
We were lucky enough to sample many products, not yet out, in addition to the many most of us are already familiar with. One of our favorites was a new product, Kahlua Midnight, which is not yet out, but features a stronger proof Kahlua recipe for that perfect wake-me-up cocktail. In addition to new products, several snacks/desserts were served in each room, often being infused with the specific brand being tasted. In the Cointreau tasting room, there were these AMAZING orange liqueur whoopie pies that literally people were grabbing fistfuls at a time.
But don’t think just because we’re drinking and having fun, that we can’t be serious. Several events hosted were for charity, including the “Pig and Punch” which features garbage cans full of exotic punches, and 5 full-sized pigs being roasted to fill your belly, where donations were accepted in exchange for attendance. Some GREAT topics were touched on in ticketed educational seminars including “The rise of the high-proof spirits”, “Reconsidering the gin & tonic”, and “The how and why of flavored spirits” (our favorite). Perhaps the most highly anticipated event though, was the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards, highlighting several great brands, bartenders, and bars around the world. Winners Included:
- Best New Product: Cognac Pierre Ferrand 1840 Formula
- Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: PDT Cocktail Book
- Best Cocktail Writing Non-Book: Liquor.com
- Best Cocktail Writing: Author – Gary Regan
- Best Restaurant Bar: Slanted Door – San Francisco, CA
- Best High Volume Cocktail Bar: Eastern Standard – Boston, MA
- Best Bar Mentor – Steve Olsen
- Best American Bartender: Joaquin Simo
- Best American Cocktail Bar: The Varnish – Los, Angeles
- Best American Brand Ambassador – Jim Ryan
- Best International Brand Ambassador – Angus Winchester (Tanqueray)
- World’s Best Hotel Bar: Artesian at The Langham – London, UK
- World’s Best Cocktail Menu: Callooh Callay – London, UK
- Worlds Best Drinks Selection: Salvatore’s at The Playboy – London, UK
- World’s Best New Cocktail Bar: The Zetter Townhouse – London, UK
- World’s Best Cocktail Bar: The Connaught Bar – London, UK
- Helen David Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award: Gary Regan