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Tales of the Cocktail Confronts a Future in Flux

Spirits industry experts weigh in

Tanqueray Brand Ambassador Snoop Dogg performs at The Dogg House during Tales Of The Cocktail Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Getty Images for Diageo

Tales of the Cocktail, the 15-year-old, multi-day, international cocktail conference that brings thousands of people to New Orleans during its hottest season of the year, has had a tumultuous year with many in the cocktail industry asking what is next for the influential event. The conference is considered one of the alcohol industry’s biggest annual events, and winning one of its Spirited Awards is a top honor in the beverage world.

With new leadership and a future in flux, Ian McNulty talked to industry folks about what needs to change, what shouldn’t change, and what people think will change about the organization.

The overwhelming take-away from the comments is that the events over the past year have been big enough that change is inevitable. Many hope that the change would come in the form of a more diverse group participating in the conference, notably more women, LGBTQ people, and people of color.

Some expressed fear that the event could die or move away from New Orleans, while others said that they felt sure that participation among industry people would “dwindle.” That would have “far-reaching consequences” in the industry.

Tales of the Cocktail has been an important part of bringing people to New Orleans during its slowest tourist season. Kristian Sonnier, spokesperson for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, says that whoever is the new owner of the company that manages the event will find support of the local industry.

In an open letter from Melissa Young, President of Tales of the Cocktail, she embraced the future of Tales of the Cocktail and noted her commitment to a culture of inclusivity.

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