Tales of the Cocktail is almost here. Launching next Wednesday, July 17, the five day bacchanalia brings people from all over the world to
get really drunk learn more about spirits. Last year's tenth-anniversary event brought almost 22,000 bartenders, liquor reps and regular boozehounds and this year promises to be as cray cray as it gets.
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, as well as pretty much everything you need to know about the event. Happy drinking, everyone.
While you really need a wrist band to take part in any Tales events, these Complimentary Events, not including the "unlisted" ones held by liquor companies around the Quarter are lagniappe for those attending. Eater's picks:
· Cocktail Kingdom Pop Up Shop, Wednesday to Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Monteleone lobby. CocktailKingdom.com sets up shop in the Tales registration area.
· Imbibe Magazine Happy Hour, Saturday 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. at Arnaud's French 75. Chris Hannah has created a special Tales cocktail, the Summer 75, and here you can drink one while schmoozing with the editors of Imbibe.
· Jager Parting Shot at Erin Rose, Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A great farewell until next year's TOTC.
· The Bitter Market at Octavia Bookstore, in the Hotel Monteleone Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Octavia Bookstore actually sets up in the lobby of the hotel, and there will be oodles of bitters you've probably never even heard of for sampling and purchasing.
· 4th Annual 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. Proceeds from shirt sales go to charity, so don't be a cheapo and buy one.
· Parker Beam's ALS Promise of Hope, Wednesday to Saturday 5 to 7 p.m. at Bourbon House. Heaven Hill Bourbons will be on site with Evan Williams Single Barrel, Elijah Craig Small Batch 12 Year Old, and Henry McKenna Single Barrel, with proceeds from each drink going to charity. Buy some drinks, support a good cause, get a free shirt.
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, run a successful bar, build your team, and manage your clientele's buzz) Given that Tales is geared above all to the industry, that's totally cool, and granted, all seminars include some form of cocktail-sampling. But here's a selection of seminars with slightly broader appeal:
· American Whiskey's Evolving Identity. Wednesday, 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Monteleone's Queen Anne Ballroom.
· The Pineapple: A Symbol of Hospitality. Wednesday, 12:30 to 2 p.m. Queen Anne Ballroom. Dean Callan and Jake Burger look at "the wonderful, wild, colourful and tasty world of the not so humble Pineapple" including a tasting of various influential pineapple based cocktails.
· What Rye? Wednesday 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Moteleone's La Nouvelle. This rye bonanza includes the first-ever public tasting of New York Distilling Company's aging rye whiskey AND Belvedere's secret experiment AND a live distilling of Rye Whiskey/Rye Vodka.
· Lowcountry Cocktails. Thursday, 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Queen Anne. A seminar on Charleston's influence in cocktail history and culture with live music from Dave Higgins.
· Advanced Sherry: Secrets, Lies, and Solera. Thursday, 12:30 to 2 p.m. in La Nouvelle.
· An Apple A Day Keeps A Drinker At Play. Friday, 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Grand Ballroom North at the Royal Sonesta. Think: All things calvados, cider, and then some.
· Water World: Water in Spirits. Friday, 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Grand Ballroom North, Royal Sonesta. Camper English, booze journalist and science nerd, leads this seminar dedicated to the study of water and its role in all things booze/cocktails from distillation to ice.
· Global Warming: Spirits and Climate Change. Saturday, 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Monteleone's La Nouvelle. Local writer/rum expert Wayne Curtis leads a panel on climate change's effect on rum with a tasting of spirits at varied temperatures to demonstrate.
· Barking Up the Right Tree. Saturday, 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the Monteleone's Riverview Room. Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist, reveals the overlooked role of trees, yes TREES, from bark to resin, in cocktail history... all with a fabulous view of the river.
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.
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:
· Kingfish, $85. Johnnie Walker, Chris McMillian, and Chef Greg Sonnier's killer menu (including a crab bisque with fried red snapper throats)? It's a good thing.
· Irish House, $100. Chef Matt Murphy celtic cuisine paired with Bushmills Irish Whiskey portfolio.
· One Eyed Jacks, $60. This one actually has 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. seatings. It's SoCal all the way tacos from pop-up fave "Eat Mah Taco", Olmeca Altos Tequila, mariachis, luchadores, bartenders from Las Perlas and 213 Inc. in L.A.
· Tivoli & Lee, $95. Chef Mike Nirenberg whisky-inspired dishes paired with wild whisky concoctions and wilder stories.
· Pelican Club, $115. Chef Richard Hughes' 5 course meal paired with elegant Porto cocktails.
· Emeril's Delmonico, $100. Chef Anthony Scanio prepares spicy, smoky Creole cuisine to pair with whiskys.
· 12 Mile Limit, $60. A Russian-themed menu from chef Chris Shortall (of Shortall's BBQ) and all cocktails made with Samogon, an unaged 90 proof Russian spirit.
· Rio Mar, $88. Tequila and wine from Latin America and a six-course small bites menu from chef Miles Prescott.
· Grand Isle, $85. Chef Mark Falgoust prepares Cajun and Creole dishes (lots of seafood too) with Bayou Rum cocktails.
· Sainte Marie, $75. Chef Kristin Essig pairs five courses with Hennessy cocktails.
· Little Gem Saloon, $90. Montanya Rum goes Moulin Rouge with 'buffet stations' featuring chef Robert Bruce's mostly Louisiana favorites.
· Windsor Court, $120. Chef Kristin Butterworth pairs her elegant dishes with Hendricks Gin cocktails, and other Williams Grant & Sons labels.
· Creole Queen, $69. A full Creole Buffet, Jazz Band, and Bar and Books Cigar pairings will be available for the duration of the cruise, which features TONS of UK cocktail heavyweights including Simon Ford and Jim Meehan.
· Arnaud's, $85. Unlike other spirited dinners, Arnaud's features seating every half hour rather than a single seating. Featuring Arnaud's signature dishes paired with Willett Bourbon and live music from a Jazz Trio.
These events get down to business, with party atmospheres, endless samples, and lots of industry schmoozing. You can purchase tickets here.
· The Finer Side of the Mexico, $55. Thursday 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in Monteleone's La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom. A curated collection of the world's rarest blanco, reposado and añejo tequilas and mezcals all served straight. For the purist.
· A Shot and a Beer, $55. Friday, 7:30 to 10 p.m. at the W Hotel. This party features shots of premium spirits and craft beers, plus live music from New Orleans brass bands.