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From Rump-Shaking Cardio to AA Meetings, Tales Is Going Beyond Alcohol This Year

The huge spirits event sobers up, just a little


Under new ownership and management, the 16th annual Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, on July 17 through July 22, is going to feel a little different this year.

A typical day could go something like this:

— Join “friends of Bill W.” at the New Orleans Athletic Club (NOAC) for an AA meeting.

— Catch a handful of Tales seminars at the Hotel Monteleone, with sessions like “Mixers Matter!” and “Future Forward Drinking” to “Bystander Training for Bartenders, a Lesson in Violence Prevention.”

— Say ommmm to a daily yoga class.

— Sit in on group therapy run by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

— Check out a trigger therapy demo.

— Catch a nutrition session and a workshop on better sleep habits.

— Learn how to take better care of your feet.

— Go to the first ever booze-free “portfolio party” sponsored by the big spirits importer William Grant & Sons at Mardi Gras World, where guest bartender Julia Momose from Chicago will demo her self-branded ‘spirit-free’ cocktails.

As Alice would say, Tales just got “curiouser and curiouser.” This year, with the Solomon family and Neal Bodenheimer of Cure as new owners and Caroline Rosen as the new executive director, Tales is getting a few twists for the better.

It’s still the gold standard spirits industry event, drawing more than 20,000 superstar bartenders, liquor brand managers, artisanal distillers, and serious imbibers to steamy New Orleans during third week of July. And there are still kick ass parties and booze flowing at tasting events and dinners all over town (including 85 tasting rooms and on the education side, 65 industry seminars). But this year, Tales is focused on its newly minted foundation, with a pledge to disperse $250,000 in grants to the industry.

And the new owners have made an unflinching commitment to holding conversations about the underbelly of the bar industry, tackling topics like substance abuse, mental health, sexual harassment, gender and racial discrimination. Taking into account the physical toll of the job is another conversation that sparked a slew of wellness initiatives and experiences, all available free to Tales attendees.

It’s a big deal.


At the event’s kick-off second line, two checks were presented to the Foundation, one for $25k from Denis Johnson on behalf of Edrington, the Scotland-based Scotch producer, and one for $20K from Jeffrey Goldring on behalf of the New Orleans-based Goldring Family Foundation, which is funded by the country’s second-largest distiller, the Sazerac Co.

“I’m honored to give back to this forward thinking organization,” said Goldring, who doesn’t drink even though his family made a fortune in spirits. “I’ve been in recovery 17 years,” he said. “You can be a part of this industry and not drink. Tales is committed to not just building the alcohol side of the business, but investing in the people who really make it work, the people who give of themselves every single day.”

A sampling of Beyond the Bar and related Tales events

Note: All events within “Beyond the Bar” will be open to everyone — including New Orleans residents (bring photo ID). The New Orleans Athletic Club is also offering a discounted weekly rate for gym access for all Tales of the Cocktail attendees.


  • 8 a.m.: Group run from Healthy Hospo
  • 8:30 a.m.: Daily AA meeting, Bienville Room, NOAC
  • 1:30 p.m.: Daily yoga, Bienville Room, NOAC

Wednesday, July 18

10 a.m.-2 p.m.: HIV/Hep C testing in CrescentCare Van in front of NOAC

1 p.m.: Where did you sleep last night? Tim Etherington-Judge from Healthy Hospo discusses why industry workers need to sleep more, and how they can sleep better.

9:30p.m. - 12:30 p.m.: William Grant & Sons Opening Party - “A Night You Won’t Forget” at Mardi Gras World. Spirit-free cocktails and nibbles will be served.

Thursday, July 19

10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: “Non Alcoholic: Drinks of the Future” or the “Emperor’s New Clothes.” Non-alc evangelists and skeptics gather for a discussion about the past, present and future of this category of drinking.

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.: Harassment and hospitality don’t mix. This free training seminar will develop participants’ understanding of sexual trauma, including sexual harassment and assault on the job.

2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: “Brace Yourself, Injuries Are Coming” teaches an introduction to bracing and taping with kinesiology tape as a method to provide support, increase circulation, and promote healing for aches and pains.

4 p.m. - 5 p.m.: Community acupuncture clinic NOAC

Friday, July 20

10 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.: The “Straight Up with a Twist on Mental Health” panel explores the multiple dimensions of health in the spirits industry.

1 p.m. - 2 p.m.: Eat Fit NOLA’s Molly Kimball discusses stress-eating and its impact on health.

2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Mindfulness workshop led buy Jon Kabat-Zinn, a molecular biologist and meditation practitioner.

Sat. July 21

10 a.m. - 11 a.m. “Twerk Ya Brass” at NOAC is a rump-shaking, core-toning cardio class.

1 p.m. - 2 p.m.: Kat Kinsman leads “An Awkward Conversation Won’t Kill You,” a conversation about mental health issues in the industry.

Sunday, July 22

Noon - 5 p.m.: The 9th Annual Pig & Punch NOLA fundraiser presented by The Bon Vivants in Crescent Park. All proceeds will be donated to KIPP New Orleans Schools.