Tales is more than just fun-it's also an industry conference and reunion for professionals and cocktail enthusiasts. Seminars cover relevant topics: how to finance and open a bar, building a cocktail menu, the history and modern usage of citrus, handling your social media, making your establishment inclusive and welcoming, debates on rum, designing a liquor bottle or label, how to use sochu, etc. Get your seminar tickets ASAP. Almost all the seminars sell out.
Purchase a $125 access wristband (or $150 in seminar tickets) to enter the famous Tasting Rooms-rooms set up with samples and reps from brands and distributors. The Tasting Rooms are an unparalleled way to taste different varieties of liquor without purchasing an entire bottle.
Spirited Dinners see restaurants team up with a spirit brand to serve a tasting menu paired with cocktails. Usually the chef and brand rep (or distiller) are there to introduce the courses.
Dynamic Duos are similar, but they pair a bartender from another city with a local bartender, combining talents to serve drinks focused on a specific liquor.
And if you score a ticket to any late-night parties hosted by major spirit brands, attend. These invitations are given by the brands themselves. They can't be bought. If you have industry connections, use them.
Tales kicks off July 16. For the full schedule of events and more information, visit talesofthecocktail.org.
A Conversation with Caroline Nabors Rosen, Executive Director of the Tales Foundation
When Caroline Nabors Rosen and I connect, we're shocked that it's already time for this year's Tales of the Cocktail, the spirits industry's annual conference and festival.
"I wish we had cocktails right now,"
But we only have several minutes free between appointments. This is the time of year when she becomes the busiest citizen of New Orleans. So in lieu of drinks, we settle for quickly critiquing the Game of Thrones finale before getting to business. The following is an excerpt from our conversation:
Anything you're personally excited about, regarding this year's Tales?
This year is special for many things. The first is that we're focusing on the word "cultivate." It reflects how the Foundation actively engages our partners and participants to elevate our craft and reinforces a commitment to continuing education.
There seems to be more focus on education than ever.
It's exciting. We're fortunate that Tales is a big event. The education part has a pyramid structure, and we're being thoughtful in how we shape the categories we're concentrating on. There are three this year: Culture, Business, and Beyond the Bar. Beyond the Bar meaning a focus on sustainability and inclusivity.
I appreciate your commitment to bettering the industry.
Thank you. We also encourage healthy lifestyles. We partner with NOAC, the New Orleans Athletic Club, for fitness events. We hope our fellow New Orleanians and visiting colleagues get involved. We're launching The Pin Project, one of our grant initiatives, that gives bartenders "break pins." "If you see this pin behind the bar, it's a day of no drinking for that bartender."
And the grants. How are they doing?
Last year we had 11 in total. We're excited to share [at the conference] what our original grant cohorts have done. And excited to announce our second year of grants.
CAPS [Cocktail Apprentice Program] is still on too, right?
CAPS is back. As you know, we partner bartenders with some incredible industry mentors. And we're announcing our education committee this year. Six people will be on it.
And you're changing hotels, a move to-
The Royal Sonesta. A change in home bases-first time in 17 years. Some new energy.
Change is good.
We just want to continue to grow thoughtfully and with purpose.
Last question. The highball is the official competition cocktail this year. What's your favorite highball right now?
[Laughs.] I've been drinking a lot of-gonna sound crazy-tequila with Q Mixers, especially grapefruit.
Thank you, Caroline. See ya at Tales. Next round's on me.
This was awesome. More than one
Top Five Must-Do's for Tales of the Cocktail
- Spirited Dinner at any participating restaurant
Come to Landry's Seafood House on Thursday, July 19, for a five-course meal with delicious cocktails to match.
- Dynamic Duo at any bar offering it
Tiki Tolteca will pair an expert bartender from New Orleans with a talented bartender from out-of-town to bring inventive cocktails to patrons.
- Seminar: "The Unknown Wonders of the Spanish Aperitivoa."
This seminar focusses on how Spanish cocktail culture has progressed throughout the years.
- Seminar: "Mezcal 101"
This seminar focuses on how Spanish cocktail culture has progressed throughout the years.
- Seminar: Burnout: "How to Manage a Career on Fire"
At this insightful seminar, learn how to keep your passion and extend your career in the drink industry.