Yesterday was occupied by a series of tastings, primarily from the rum food group. Even if you don't officially register for Tales of the Cocktail (which you should), there are still plenty of free events and tasting rooms which are going on constantly around the Hotel Monteleone. Other hotels in the neighborhood offer excellent Tales rates in the $100-$120 per night range if you just want to come down and hang out with the cool crowd.
By not registering you do miss access to the seminars and "Spirited Dinners," but if you need help finding a good meal and a strong drink in the Big Easy, maybe you'd best just stay home on the porch. The seminars cover topics as specific as "The History of Bar Tools from 1800 to Today" and "Big Fish — Small Pond: A Guide to Self-Publishing" to esoteric topics like "Umami in Cocktails" and "Hollywood Cocktails: Louisiana Style." A highlight so far has just been the lobby watching as 15,000 bartenders arrive at the same time as 15,000 Lutheran church campers were checking out.
More later if bandwidth and Cafe Du Monde hangover resuscitation allow.