Editor's Note: Our barman Michael Neff is reporting from Tales of the Cocktail. What's that? He filled us in here.
Roosevelt Hotel, 5:14 a.m.
The question of how to survive Tales of the Cocktail has come up often in the last few weeks, and at this late hour, retaining the ability to both stay awake and put words together to form sentences, I feel capable of giving the following tips:
1. Remember that you are always working. Tales is attended by both consumers, hobbyists, and professionals, and to the consumers and hobbyists I would say, "Have a great time!" New Orleans is full of opportunities for drinking at any hour, and the events at Tales add even more to the mix. If this is your vacation and you are not in the business, knock yourself out.
For those of us here in a professional capacity, keep it together. Yes, you can be drunk at two in the afternoon and no one will look sideways at you, but you are in public, among your peers, your bosses, and people who may consider hiring you in the future. If you are the one who drunkenly jumped in to the pool, that incident is probably going to be discussed at a future job interview.
2. Do not wear a suit. If you do, you become a magnet for local pan-handlers, prostitutes, and street-corner roustabouts. I have lived in cities all over this country, and have never been approached for money more often than when I am wearing a suit in New Orleans. Every single hustle has started with the same line: "Hey, that's a nice suit."
3. Eat well and often. New Orleans has a fantastic food culture, from the "Peacemaker Po' Boy" to a multi-star meal at Cochon. It is one of those cities where the most pedestrian of food both reflects the local culture and can be amazing for not a lot of money. There is no excuse to drink on an empty stomach.
4. Remember that there are always more drinks to come. Tonight I attended two massive welcome parties, and people were drinking the free cocktails as if the well would run dry and no one ever get a cocktail again. Take your time. Pace yourself. You don't want to be the person at the end of the night who tries to make out with a fire hydrant.
5. Be mindful of safety. The people are nice, but that doesn't mean that they won't kill you. This evening a local bartender warned me that crime is a continuous problem in New Orleans, and the murder rate is one of the highest in the country. Remember that you have to walk through those streets to get back to your hotel, and the very friendly local who pats you on the back on the sidewalk is probably not trying to just make friends. Be careful.