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Previewing the 2012 Tales of the Cocktail

The world's largest Bols Genever Slurp at the 2011 Tales of the Cocktail. Click to enlarge.
The world's largest Bols Genever Slurp at the 2011 Tales of the Cocktail. Click to enlarge.
Photo: Tales of the Cocktail

Tales of the Cocktail is here. Launching on Wednesday, the five day bacchanalia brings people from all over the world to get really drunk learn more about spirits. Last year's iteration brought almost 22,000 bartenders, liquor reps and regular boozehounds and this year?with the event celebrating its tenth year?should be as awesome as ever.

Tickets are required (and available onsite) for most of the Tales events, though there's a number of complimentary events scattered around the Monteleone as well as many unlisted events on the streets surrounding the hotel. And then, of course, there's the invite-only parties. But of the events with tickets still available, here are Eater's picks. Happy drinking, everyone.

The Free Stuff

Complimentary events, not including the "unlisted" ones held by liquor companies around the Quarter. Eater's picks:

· Cocktail Kingdom Pop Up Shop, Wednesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Monteleone lobby. sets up shop in the Tales registration area.
· Saveur Snack Stand, Wednesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Monteleone lobby. Saveur Magazine dishes out snacks and drinks.
· Zwack's Hungarian Hot Dogs, Wednesday 2 to 3:30 p.m. in front of the Monteleone. Hungarian liqueur makers Zwack serve hot dogs and cocktails.
· Pig & Punch, Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Washington Square Park. The Bon Vivants serve pig and punch for free, with t-shirts for sale for $30. Proceeds from shirt sales go to charity, so don't be a cheapo and buy one.
· Imbibe Happy Hour, Saturday 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Arnaud's French 75. Chris Hannah created a special Tales cocktail for the May/June issue of Imbibe Magazine, and it's available at this happy hour.
· Jager Parting Shot, Sunday 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Erin Rose Bar. Just one last shot in honor of Tales of the Cocktail.

The Seminars

The seminars get pretty wonkish, often addressing very specific elements of the bartending and bar-owning life. (See, for example, seminars on how to open a bar or "The Ups & Downs of Running Multiple Venues.") Given that Tales is geared above all to the industry, that's totally cool. But here's a selection of seminars with slightly broader appeal:

· Tiki Host to the Stars Stephen Crane, Wednesday 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the Fleur de Lis Room at the Royal Sonesta. Smuggler's Cove owner Martin Cate discusses the life and times of the third, lesser-known Founding Father of the tiki craze.
· Bartenders in Media, Wednesday 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta. PDT's Jim Meehan, Pernod Ricard brand ambassador Simon Ford and others talk about making media appearances, with a special video bonus via a montage of bartenders in film and television.
· True/Untrue: Exploring Bar World Myths, Thursday 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Royal Sonesta's Grand Ballroom North. Wayne Curtis, Dave Arnold and David Wondrich play Mythbusters with pieces of bar world "common knowledge." It's sold out, but so awesome it's still worth noting.
· The Pisco Wars: Peru vs. Chile Since 1613, Thursday 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Monteleone's La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom. Geeking out about pisco.
· A Tale of Three Cities, Friday 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the Queen Anne Ballroom at the Monteleone. Exploring the lost cocktail bars and bartenders of long-ago San Francisco, London and Melbourne.
· Tasteless: How Taste Alters as We Age, Saturday 12:30 to 2 p.m., Riverview Room at the Hotel Monteleone. Wayne Curtis returns (with a non-sold out seminar), taking a look at how palates mature.
· The Top Ten Cocktails of the Last Ten Years, Saturday 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Monteleone's Riverview Room. For the trend watchers: the name says it all.

The Tasting Rooms

Tickets come with complimentary wristbands for the tasting rooms. There are so many of these that it's silly to even bother listing the "best." Drinks are free with a wristband, so anyone who has the time should just wander around and find what tastes best to them.

The Spirited Dinners

All of the dinners are Thursday night and feature a whole bunch of cocktails paired with killer food. While many are sold out, several still have tickets available, including:

· Aloha for NOLA, Calcasieu, $90. Donald Link's private event space goes Tiki with the help of Jacqueline Lau, corporate chef for Roy's Hawaiian Fusion.
· The Big Boy Tabe, Capdeville, $85. Vidak Sparr cooks up a five course meal with cocktails and burlesque dancers.
· Swigs & Pigs, Coquette. $100. Twelve Mile Limit's Cole Newton is making beer cocktails with craft brews selected by Avenue Pub owner Polly Watts, all to pair with Michael Stoltzfus' pork-based menu.
· Brewing Up Cocktails, Emeril's Delmonico, $100. Beer cocktails by Jacob Grier and Ezra Johnson-Greenough of Portland, Oreg., paired with the cuisine at the St. Charles Avenue steakhouse.
· Three Wonderful Countries in One Night, Iris, $100. Ian Schnoebelen's menu goes from Mexico to Scotland to France, with a cocktail for each stop.
· Wisconsin Supper Club, La Petite Grocery, $85. Justin Devillier and Atlanta-based Adam Evans cook a tasting menu to go with Wisconsin-sourced and -inspired cocktails.
· Embrace the Bitter, Tamarind, $100. Italian bitter Fernet Branca, Punt e Mes and Antica Formula are the focus at the Hotel Modern's French-Vietnamese restaurant.

And, finally, the marquee event of this year's Tales is the Hand-Shaken Daiquiri Competition as part of Bacardi's 150th anniversary celebration. 12 bartenders will compete for both the People's Choice and the Judge's Choice prizes, the latter of which comes with a $1500 prize. That's Friday night, 7:30 to 10 p.m. at The Chicory.

· Tales of the Cocktail [Official Site]
· All Tales of the Cocktail Coverage [-ENOLA-]

Hotel Monteleone

214 Royal St., New Orleans, LA