In 2011 my boyfriend FutureGreg and I went to Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) in New Orleans, Louisiana. We had heard about it, read about it and finally decided to see it for ourselves.
This has to be the best cocktail convention in the World. Thousands of the most influential and talented members of the cocktail community from all across the globe meet in the sticky heat of New Orleans and spend 5 days experiencing Tastings, Seminars, Parties and Competitions.
Having never been before we really didn’t know what to expect, so we jumped in head first. By the time we came up for air it was Sunday and we were leaving in a taxi to the airport, looking at a sign (below) and wondering ‘What the hell just happened?!’
Our good friend Giovanni Martinez arrived a day after we did, took one look at my drunk boyfriend and said: “Oh my God, you guys are screwed.”
I proceeded to ask him “Why?”, to which he explained how getting drunk that early was a “Rookie move we would regret”
And so began my list of things to avoid. This year is the 10 year anniversary of TOTC and there will be even more people heading out to Louisiana and many more newbies. Here is the best I can think of to prepare for the trip. I suggest you heed my warning if you want to enjoy your time…
(All the photos in this post were taken from our trip to Tales of the Cocktail 2011)
Rookie move: Drink everything you see
Solution: Never finish the drink your holding!
This is a big one, you’re going to be tasting some of the best spirits and cocktail/mixed drinks in the World. If you finished every drink offered, you would die. I’m serious.
The number of full glasses I had to put down was so upsetting but a friend reminded me that I was supposed to be tasting the drinks also, so think of it as similar to a wine tasting. Obviously you can drink some of your favorites, but pace yourself. On our first visit we were wasted by 2pm on day one and struggled to get through the week…this year we know better.
Rookie Move: Play all day, Dance all night
Solution: Get some sleep, if only for an hour.
The events on offer are immense and run from 9am to 2am daily with a variety of after parties, after after parties and 5am meet ups at Absinthe house! You will often find yourself thinking ‘When the hell can I go to bed?!’ However take in to account that a lot of the events (especially tastings and seminars) are repeated throughout the week. Listen to your body, when you feel you need to crash, do it.
Rookie Move: Who needs water, give me Gin.
Solution: Drink NON-Alcoholic drinks too
It is hot as hell in New Orleans during July so make sure you have a bottle of water or pedialyte close by to keep you refreshed. Coconut water was the beverage of choice last year.
All the alcohol will dehydrate you, add that to the sticky heat and it creates a pretty dangerous environment for your body if you don’t take it seriously. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!
Rookie Move: “It’s weird how i’m not hungry”
Solution: For Gods sake, eat something!
I don’t remember much of Tales 2011, and even less about the food. Some events will have snacks to nibble on but these aren’t exactly a meal so don’t rely on them alone. There are some great restaurants and places to grab a Po-boy or grits in New Orleans so make an effort to head there.
The beignets at Cafe Du Monde are a definite must. We ate them daily! People always say ‘Don’t drink on an empty stomach’ so as you’ll be constantly drinking it makes sense that you should make time to go eat something decent.
Rookie Move: 3am and your missing. Again.
Before we lost Dane… After we found him…
Solution: Charge your phone & Keep it close
I can’t tell you how many times we lost people who stumbled off, particularly our friend Dane (pictured above). You may not be back in your hotel room very often, but try if you can to charge your phone between outings. Yes the French Quarter is pretty safe, but this is still a big city and has big city dangers.
You will meet lots of new people, exchange plenty of business cards but it’s always safe to be able to contact your friends (or the police!) so keep your phone charged and easily accessible. Having a means of contact will also mean you can find out about the next secret party location…there are several!
Rookie Move: Do something crazy!
Solution: What happens in Tales… Goes on Facebook!
This isn’t Vegas, there are no ‘codes of conduct’ or rules of what can and cannot be written about. If you talk to a blogger/journalist be sure to say the words ‘Off the record’ when divulging company secrets!
If I learnt anything about last year it’s that the photos taken (however terrible) end up on all the public forums. Bloggers, friends and work colleagues will happily tweet about your projectile vomit episode or instagram a snap of you with way too little clothing on, so be prepared for that to happen.
And if you’re the person taking the photos, try not to put the worst ones up…some of these men have wives back home!!! In all seriousness think before you do something you might regret and if you’re too drunk to think? Well, screw it. Don’t be mad at the person who found your behavior funny enough to post.
Tales 2012 runs from 24th July to 29th July this year. FutureGreg and I will be there again, hopefully no longer making these classic rookie moves.
Just so you know, this year there are many great Los Angeles bars, bartenders and writers up for nomination. The LA bars nominated are Harvard & Stone, La Descarga, The Varnish and Spare Room. It’s a really great time to represent LA and I wish everyone the best of luck in their category. For those of you coming with us, see you in NOLA!
For more information on seminars, tickets etc head to their website www.TalesoftheCocktail.com. I will be blogging and tweeting throughout the week so be sure to follow me on twitter @TheFussyOne1, on Instagram TheFussyOne and my boyfriend too @FutureGreg
See you in New Orleans…