Tales of the Cocktail co-founders, Ann and Paul Tuennerman, have resigned their roles in producing the world-renowned cocktail conference that debuted in New Orleans 15 years ago. The resignations came only a day after Ann Tuennerman’s controversial decision to reinstate her husband to his Tales of the Cocktail post just 7 months after his widely publicized resignation, a move reported by NeatPour.com.
Tales of the Cocktail, a multi-day conference held each summer in New Orleans, 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. Since its debut in New Orleans, the event has expanded to include a traveling event called Tales on Tour, as well as Tales of the Toddy, Daiquiri Season, and others.
This past March, the Tuennermans faced criticism for a Facebook video they posted of Ann Tuennerman wearing Zulu blackface while participating in the Zulu, the Mardi Gras Day parade for the largest and oldest black Carnival krewe in New Orleans. The video’s caption stated, “Paul G Tuennerman interviewing me on Mardi Gras Morning from the Zulu Den. As he said ‘Throw a little Black Face on you lose all your Media Skills.’ He did his best as the interviewer.”
Following the social media backlash to the comment interpreted by many as racially insensitive, Ann Tuennerman issued an apology on the Tales of the Cocktail website and created a Diversity Council to foster inclusivity and diversity in the industry. Her husband, Paul Tuennerman, left the organization.
The decision for Paul Tuennerman to leave Tales of the Cocktail was also controversial. While some viewed it as a necessary step, others thought it was a hasty and unnecessary response to a misinterpretation of his remarks and of the Zulu tradition.
When she moved to reinstate him this weekend, several high-profile members of the Diversity Council resigned in protest, according to the NeatPour report. She issued another apology, promising to engage the Diversity Council before making decisions, rather than after.
A day later, both the co-founders had resigned from Tales of the Cocktail.
Melissa Young, who has served as Director of Operations for the past 9 years, will step up as president of the operating company behind the event, MOJO911, LLC.