If you’re not going to Tales of the Cocktail 2012, the annual cocktail industry boozefest in New Orleans, this week you might want to skip over this post because it’ll make you soo jealous. I should know because for years I had to gaze enviously at all the TOTC Tweets, Facebook updates and blog posts about it. Grrr! Well, since this year marks the festival’s 10th anniversary, I just HAD to go. Seriously, I’ve been blogging about cocktails for seven years and never went to the biggest cocktail event of the year. H’yeah.
Tales is a six-day-long gathering of bartenders, brand ambassadors and cocktail enthusiasts from all over. If you’re in the industry, you’ll run into lots of old friends and make a bunch of new ones. There are overflowing tasting rooms, booze seminars, spirited dinners, pool parties and tours. Naturally, there is no way in hell that anyone can drink that much and still follow a schedule (survival tips can be found here). But I’m going to give it a shot.
Just for posterity’s sake (and easy reference for me), here’s my Tales of the Cocktail schedule starting on Thursday (Tales actually starts on Tuesday and runs through Sunday). Placing bets on whether I make to all of them. By the way, big shout-out to estarLA, who was smart enough to actually apply for a media credential to Tales before the deadline and helped me get into a bunch of these!
Thursday, July 26
This poolside party showcases the Blackwell Fine Jamaican Rum by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records label. There will be reggae and rum cocktails like Blackwell’s signature GoldenEye.
Count Niccoló Branca hosts this happy hour that celebrates everyone’s favorite amaro. Fernet Branca will be flowing on tap, chilled and in specialty cocktails.
I heard this was THE spirited dinner to go to, a beautiful picnic setting with food stations, live music and entertainment, Creole food and rum cocktails by co-founder of LUPEC New York Lynnette Marrero and my girl Kate Grutman (Formosa Cafe).
New York’s Employees Only bar hosts the official after party for all the spirited dinners. There will be bespoke cocktails, appetizers, live music and burlesque as well as the all-star Employees Only staff and the best women bartenders in the country.
Hmm, call it a night or push on? Something to mull over while knocking back Becherovka shots, sweets and eats.
- 12am The Carousel Club Pajama Party with Adult Chocolate Milk and Cookies at Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar
OK, apparently you’re supposed to wear your nightclothes to this party. Yup, PJs, robes, sweats. The attendee with the most creative nightwear wins a prize. And indulge in a last call of adult chocolate milk, Original Moonshine shots and cocktails and fresh baked cookies!
Friday, July 27
The first time I heard about this store in New York, I fell in love. I mean, just look at its inventory. Blue Blazer mugs, Japanese mixing glasses, bitters galore. So squee! to the Cocktail Kingdom pop-up shop at the Monteleone. You can either take your purchases to go or have them shipped home for convenience.
Master mixologist Francesco Lafranconi will make cocktails out of Italian delicacies Amaro Lucano, Luxardo, Distillerie Moccia, Nardini, Pallini, Toschi and Distilleria Varnelli. Attendees will also get to sample each liquor neat.
A cocktail history lesson by David Wondrich? ‘Nuff said. Yeah this one is sold out, and why wouldn’t it be? Wondrich and cocktail author Jeff Berry take attendees on a drinking tour through the Panama Canal’s history, from native Indian spit-beer to pirate punch, and from yellow fever to cocktail fever. Vintage Panamanian recipes will be served.
Twelve bartenders chosen from the top USBG Chapters compete to be the champion of the Hand-Shaken Daiquirí. This year’s judges will include: USBG National President David Nepove, and winner at the National 2012 Legacy Bacardi Cocktail Contest Shingo Gokan, BACARDI Rum Brand Master Juan Coronado, Founder of Tales of the Cocktail Ann Tuennerman, and Managing Editor of In the Mix Magazine Mike Raven.
Back-to-back cocktail competitions! This one pits the best mixologists from the likes of Beretta in SF and The Passenger in DC against one another to create original cocktails using 10 Cane Rum, Belvedere Vodka, Grand Marnier, Hennessy.
Since the nights in New Orleans are known to be hot and humid, best to cool down with Chartreuse ice cream, butterSCOTCH sprinkles. Mezcal whipped cream and more.
Saturday, July 28
This is gonna be the thing to do on Saturday.There’s going to be four trash cans of punch, live music, lawn games and the Bon Vivants!
Yup! Another pool party. There are plenty of them at Tales. This one features cocktails with Licor 43 and Original Moonshine.
OK, not sure I’ll have it in me to make it to this one before the Spirited Awards but would like to keep this on my radar: happy hour with the Imbibe magazine editors. Bartender Chris Hannah will serve up the Tales of the Cocktail anniversary cocktail that was featured in Imbibe’s May/June issue—a combination of Four Roses bourbon, Campari, grenadine, mint, lemon juice and sparkling wine.
Drinking Made Easy star, Zane Lamprey and Simon Ford host this award show that honors the best in the cocktail industry. This is the one event everyone will dress up for. There IS a red carpet after all.
- 11:30pm Juniperlooza Tales at Sugar Mill
Formerly known as the Bartenders Breakfast, this late-night gin party features live music, food trucks, lotsa punch and bartenders galore.
Since Sunday is my last day at Tales, this one is my last event. It’ll be interesting to see if I’ll be able to make it at this point. The Carousel Bar becomes a nightclub with hot music and cool cocktails.