You don't have to be a member of the industry to enjoy Tales either, as there is a full schedule of seminars, dinners, competitions and tasting rooms where brands showcase their latest products. Many of your favorite local mixologists will be on hand to learn about new trends and products, but mainly to share in the camaraderie of their fellow cocktail enthusiasts. (That's code for bowling in the hallway of the Monteleone Hotel at 3 a.m. That's why I don't stay in the headquarters hotel.)
Because the event is held in New Orleans in late July, you can bet on the fact that it will be sultry, so dress accordingly. Fortunately, that also means that hotel rooms in the Quarter are dirt-cheap, so come and make a fun long weekend of it.
You can purchase tickets to individual events or seminars at the conference website, or you can buy various packages that combine a potpourri of events. I suggest the "Native Spirits Package" for $165, which includes just about all the fun your normal mortal can handle.
The true spirit of our city lives in those that call New Orleans home, so we’re inviting locals to join us at Tales of the Cocktail® 2012 with the Native Spirits Package. This package will take you to the weekend’s best parties so you can mix with cocktail lovers from around the world, giving them a taste of what New Orleans is all about. Native Spirits Packages are limited, so reserve yours today.
1 ticket to Happy Hour presented by Diageo on Thursday
1 ticket to Tales of the Cocktail® Hand-Shaken Daiquiri Competition presented by Bacardi Rums OR Bar Room Brawl presented by Moët Hennessey on Friday
1 ticket to Taste the World’s Best Spirits Grand Tasting presented by Ultimate Spirits Challenge on Saturday
1 invitation to the Native Spirits Brunch with Mr. and Mrs. Cocktail on Sunday
Drinks by Jacques Straub (a reproduction of the 1914 edition) with a new introduction by David Wondrich (Value of $19.95)
There will also be a series of excursions if you want to get out of the Quarter and experience more of the city. Personal experience would suggest that it's good to leave the insanity behind for at least a couple hours each day, but this can also be accomplished by taking a dip in the Monteleone's rooftop swimming pool, which I have on my list of happy places where I go in my mind on particularly crappy days.
Even if you're not in the bar biz, many of the seminar topics look fascinating. From "Tasteless: How taste alters as we age" to "Russian drinking culture" to "Bottle Alley: Drinking the Panama Canal" to "A Forager’s Pharmacy," there's something for everyone, and each seminar usually includes at least two cocktails to enjoy while you learn. I've been to tastings where I was confronted with 10 spirits in snifters to try at 9:30 in the morning, and you won't hear me complain about it.
If you're on the fence about going, feel free to reach out to me here at Bites and I'll push you right off the edge. It's always good to have another drinking buddy along to split the cab fare home.