As Tales of the Cocktail—the world's preeminent booze industry conference—prepares to unleash its lineup of seminars, private parties, and tastings unto hundreds of visiting cocktail pros and nerds from across the world in the French Quarter the third week of July, you may be asking yourself: How do I, a local, score some of this action? While lurking around the Hotel Monteleone might get you some free samples and take home swag, here are the events that you'll actually want to plan for.
You don't need any sort of pass to attend these events, and in some cases you don't need very much money either, but you'll want to book tickets for spirited lunches, dinners and breakfast in advance. You can find all menus and information for the following events right here.
Tuesday, July 14 through Sunday, July 19
This is the best way for locals to enjoy Tales, hands down. There's no entry fee and no reservations are required. It's just New Orleans finest bars showcasing their talent during the week of Tales, pairing their best bartenders with acclaimed visiting bartenders for hours of incredible drinking. It's a great way to try out bars you've never been to, or spirits that seem daunting. Plus, all the tips go to local bartenders.
Try a cocktail from legendary curmudgeon Paul Gustings and David Wondrich at The Empire Bar on Wednesday, July 15 from 4 to 6 p.m. Try brand new bar hotspot Compere Lapinon Tuesday, July 14 from 4 to 6 p.m. or the recently rebranded Q & C on Friday, July 17 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Freret Street Block Party
Sunday, July 19 from 5 p.m. to midnight
As Tales of the Cocktail winds down, Freret Street rolls out a free block party of Dynamic Duos starting at High Hat, with stops at Cure, Company Burger, and Freret Street Publiq House, where a free concert will happen at 8 p.m. Beverages and food will be for purchase. Rum, vermouth, whiskey, and amaro are some of the spirits that will be showcased.
Friday, July 16 and Sunday, July 19
Le Salon does a prohibition tea, MoPho holds down morning-after dining with whole roasted lamb, and historian/author Poppy Tooker brings Madame Begue's Butcher's Breakfast (aka brunch) to Tujague's, during these weekend-oriented midday boozy meals.
Thursday, July 16 at 8 p.m.
These pairing dinners happen on Thursday night, July 16, and feature all sorts of venues and food and drink for every budget, from casual to haute, including The Rusty Nail's vodka dinner ($50) to Meauxbar's epic Greek goddess dinner ($125). Compere Lapin, Johnny Sanchez ($95), Saveur, and Treo are all new to the Spirited Dinners this year.
Wednesday, July 15 through Saturday, July 18 from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.
Breakfasts with master distillers and makers of fine booze inside Criollo at the Hotel Monteleone are limited to twenty people, making this an opportune time for enthusiasts to ask questions and get to know the minds behind their favorite spirits, including Hangar 1 Vodka and Woody Creek Distillers.
Tales Restaurant Week
Monday, July 13 through Monday, July 20
Fourteen restaurants participate, with specialty menus paired with cocktails for lunch or dinner, available all week. "They don't sell out. You don't need a reservation really," Tuennerman says. Think hot new restaurants with affordable boozy pairing menus, including Booty's $25 lunch steal with whiskey cocktails and Salon By Sucre's $40 dinner steal with amaro and grappa pairings. Plus more from Cellardoor, Shaya and (okay, one splurge) Doris Metropolitan.