Tales of the Cocktail, the largest cocktail festival in the world, descends upon New Orleans next week, July 18-24. Over 15,000 bartenders, brand ambassadors, writers, thinkers, and drink enthusiasts from around the world (35 countries were represented last year alone) are expected to attend.
There are over 300 events this year, from tasting rooms to invite-only parties, and newcomers will benefit with a few quick tips on how to do Tales of the Cocktail with class from the industry vets. Also important: How to pack for Tales (bring comfortable shoes and rain gear).
Here now, a guide for what to be on the lookout for, with many new highlights that reflect the ever-changing trends of the cocktail industry.
THE NEW STUFF
New Registration Locations: This year, Tales of the Cocktail has split up registration for different types of attendees. General registration for ticketed attendees has moved from the Monteleone to Evangeline A&B in the Royal Sonesta. Credentialed presenters, media, and sponsors should head to the Royal Salon at Hotel Monteleone.
Sustainability Summit: One of Tales’ main priorities is ushering in an era of sustainability, in terms of bartending and the conference itself— from recycling all those booze bottles to working with Hollygrove to pick up compost. This year marks the introduction of a sustainability summit. The day-long event, led by last year’s Sustainability Spirits Awards winners Chad Arnholt and Claire Sprouse of Tin Roof Drink Community, will focus on how to promote sustainability in bars. It’s also the first seminar-style event to be held on a Tuesday at Tales. Geared toward bartenders and bar owners, the seminar examines what sustainability behind the bar means, how it can be measured, and what steps the bartending community can take to change its collective impact on the environment. Besides the good it can do for the earth, sustainability helps the bottom line too.
Sexual Assault Prevention Training Seminar: Green Dot Etcetera, professional violence prevention consultants, have created a seminar designed to address the problems of sexual violence in bars and other similar establishments. This seminar will teach bartenders how to spot potential aggressors and stop them, as well as give them the resources to pass this information on to their patrons. And guess what? This seminar is free. There’s absolutely no reason not to go. Tuesday, July 18 from 10:30 - 1 p.m.
More Fleurty Girl: For those who aren’t familiar with this iconic New Orleans t-shirt brand, Fleurty Girl is the genius company behind those Tales of the Cocktail t-shirts every year with witty sayings like “Call me old-fashioned.” This year, Tales goers get more Fleurty Girl with a full Fleurty Girl pop-up, open the entire week of Tales in the Regal Suite of the Royal Sonesta.
Lots of new products: Expect debuts from booze brands. One special product to look for this year: Seedlip. It’s the world's first distilled, non-alcoholic spirit, giving a super-sophisticated option for what to drink when not drinking.
Bar InDepth series: This weeklong series of seminars “goes into the minds of some of the world’s most successful bar entrepreneurs.” Reps from bars such as Dandelyan, The Clumsies, Quinary, and more tell attendees how they got to where they are today.
A better Tales app: Tales has been on a several year quest to improve the app experience for attendees. This year’s bigger, badder app has schedules, event info, and more.
THE NEWS STUFF
How Tales of the Cocktail Changed the Way the World Drinks: More of a brief history of Tales of the Cocktail than a serious examination of how TOTC has changed the way the world drinks. It’s worth reading though — Tales of the Cocktail has come a long way and all cities have better drinks because of it. [NOLA.COM]
THE INDUSTRY-ORIENTED STUFF
Healthy activities: In addition to discounts from local fitness establishments, Tales is again partnering with Sweat Local, a New Orleans fitness group designed for travelers. Tales attendees will be able to get their fitness kick satisfied with pilates classes, kickboxing sessions, and more during the week of the festival.
A Guide to Eating and Drinking for Bartenders from Bartenders: Bartender Chris Hannah (Arnaud’s French 75) and Nicholas Jarrett (The Saint) have updated the evolving list of every place bartenders need to know about during Tales, from Verti Marte (which delivers aspirin and cigarettes and food) to dive bars to French Quarter restaurants and bars. It’s a valuable guide, even outside of Tales.
Hot seminars: Tales likes to keep things fresh, so expect topics that are centered around industry trends. From the line-up posted, expect to see more rum, more Asian spirits, and a greater focus on sustainability.
The hottest tasting rooms: Being at Tales is all about trying new things and some of the hottest samples you'll get your hands on. With a ticket purchase of $150, Tales guests are eligible to enter the exclusive Tasting Rooms.
State Of The Trade address: Mark Brown, Global CEO of the Sazerac Company, will deliver the second annual State of the Trade address at Tales of the Cocktail 2017. During this complimentary event held on the Tuesday of Tales, Brown will discuss his perspective on the current state of the spirits industry and where he sees it going in the future. He’ll also share a bit about the Sazerac Company, where they’re headed and how he’s seen the business change throughout the course of his career. This event is free and open to anyone.
WHAT'S HOT FOR LOCALS
Spirited Dinners: Thursday, July 20, features a night of boozy dinners at local restaurants like Sac-a-Lait, Vessel, Arnaud’s, Mariza, and La Petite Grocery (to name a few) as they pair up with with visiting bartenders and brand ambassadors creating cocktail pairings. Full list is here.
Dynamic Duos: A handful of the world’s most renowned bartenders will be picking up extra shifts at bars around New Orleans during Tales of the Cocktail 2017. But they won’t be going it alone. Local bartenders will be joining them behind the stick to form dynamic bartending teams. Open to the public. Just pay for cocktails. Full list here.