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Tales of the Cocktail Follows Jazz Fest, Essence Festival in Canceling for 2020

Major New Orleans festivals continue cancel for 2020 rather than postpone

Smirnoff Vodka Celebrates Co-Creating the Iconic Moscow Mule 75 Years Ago with Immersive Dinner Series at Tales of the Cocktail
Tales of the Cocktail demonstration at Little Gem Saloon on July 21, 2016 
Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Smirnoff

Tales of the Cocktail, the multi-day spirits industry conference held each summer in New Orleans, has canceled for 2020, following the lead of other major New Orleans festivals like Jazz Fest and Essence Festival.

Considered one of the alcohol industry’s biggest annual events, Tales of the Cocktail was set to take place for the 14th (official) year in New Orleans from July 21 to July 26. A statement released Monday afternoon said that “in keeping with guidance from Mayor LaToya Cantrell to postpone or cancel all festivals in New Orleans, it goes without saying that Tales of the Cocktail can not take place in its regular format in July.”

Organizers said that while they were working on a digital Tales 2020 platform, “if CDC and local government guidelines allow for smaller in-person gatherings come July, the team will work to supplement digital Tales with physical programming/activations.”

Last Tuesday, April 14, while announcing the 2020 Spirited Awards honorees — considered a top win in the beverage world — Tales organizers said they were “committed to moving forward” with the conference and that “the Foundation feels it is more important now than ever” to honor the industry. It also said they were “optimistically planning to share a more comprehensive update on our plans come May 2020.”

Later that day, Mayor Cantrell held a press conference that included her recommendation to cancel all large events and festivals for the remainder of 2020, though did not issue an executive order to do so. On Wednesday, April 15, Essence Festival canceled for 2020 rather than postpone, saying it would return to New Orleans in 2021. The next day, Jazz Fest canceled plans to hold a rescheduled event in the fall.

As New Orleans faces the potential of a 2020 without the festivals, events, and tourism that drive its hospitality-based economy, calls have grown for the Exhibition Hall Authority (EHA) to step in with support. A coalition of organizations called the GNO Fair Hospitality Fund are pressing the EHA, which governs the New Orleans convention center, to allocate $100 million of its $185 million in cash reserves for a relief fund to help the city’s hospitality industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coalition, which began as 21 organizations at the end of March, has since grown to 37. The group is holding an online rally at 5 p.m. Monday, April 20, to amplify calls for an emergency worker relief fund.

Eater is tracking the impact of the novel coronavirus on the city’s restaurant industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at