From Behind the Bar: Tales from Tales of the Cocktail


[Photo: Alice Gao]

Those of you who follow the spirits/cocktails/bartender game might know that this is the week for the annual cocktail conference known as Tales of the Cocktail. Held in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Tales consists of seminars on the minutiae of what is happening in the world of cocktails, street-side reunions where bar professionals of all stripes roam cobbled paths drinking Abita Amber, and a four day party in a city that truly never sleeps.

Tales is a unique experience for someone in the bar business because it dumps everyone you've ever wanted to meet next to a gaggle of people you never want to run in to again, all of which is leavened by a larger group of people with whom your only connection is that everyone works to sell or promote the spiritous lifestyle in some way, somewhere around the world. Copious numbers of hands are shaken, hugs given and cards exchanged. The best part is, all of this takes place in and around the storied bars of The Big Easy.

If it sounds boozy, I assure you it is. Beer is for breakfast when it's not Bloody Marys. Seminars start at 10 a.m., most of which feature cocktails. Tales is not for the weak of heart (or liver), but for those of us who get to experience it, the opportunities for networking, bonding, meeting fellow travelers, and rubbing shoulders with the lions of the industry cannot be surpassed.

Over the next few days, I will be posting to this site from on the ground at Tales of the Cocktail. I will be participating in seminars, sampling new spirits, attending celebrations, and generally giving myself over to the spirit of the event. Alongside Serious Eats editor Carey Jones, I'll be talking to people from all aspects of the industry and from all over the world, and we'll be reporting back to you our impressions of what we see and do.

Check back to this space for regular updates. You can also follow us on Twitter (@coyotesallover for me and @careyjones for Carey Jones) for photos, musings, rants, and thoughts on what it is to attend Tales of the Cocktail.


Next up: How to survive Tales of the Cocktail.