Every July, spirits professionals, mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts descend on New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, the premier gathering of the spirits community. From July 16-20 thousands of attendees will rub shoulders and bend elbows with liquor luminaries while participating in educational seminars, tastings, cocktail-themed “Spirited Dinners” at some of the Big Easy’s greatest restaurants and the Spirited Awards ceremony which recognizes the best of the best bartenders, liquor emporiums and brand ambassadors.
Tasting rooms sponsored by distillers and distributors are hosted at the flagship Hotel Monteleone and other locations around the French Quarter, and pop-up bars appear around just about every corner in and around the Monteleone. So if you go more than a few minutes without a drink in your mitt, it’s your own damn fault. Mixologists don’t sleep much under normal circumstances, but when multitudes of them get together to learn from each other and enjoy a little (lot!) of fellowship, expect non-stop action around the clock.
Some larger distributors also host lavish night-time parties to show off their wares, so Tales is always an excellent opportunity to discover your next new favorite spirit or cocktail. Nationally-known bartenders often work the rooms at these parties and are enthusiastic to meet their fans and talk about their favorite topics, which usually involve drinking.
Now I’m not gonna lie to you … late July in New Orleans can be pretty nasty heat and humidity-wise. But that just means that hotel rooms are cheap and casual lightweight clothing is encouraged at most events. Do try hard to stay hydrated, though. If you drop into the Walgreens on Bourbon Street by Friday, I can almost guarantee that the shelves will be devoid of Pedialyte and coconut water, the two secret weapons of the parched Tales attendee.
Ticket packages are quite reasonable considering the fun that you will have, and are available at several different levels at the festival website. Music City is usually quite well-represented by a cadre of locals, and there’s even a Facebook group dedicated to planning meet-ups to drink up.
So go online, (oh wait, you already are online) and buy your tickets to Tales, make a hotel and flight reservation and join that Facebook group ASAP. You will not regret it!