Oh, somewhere the bar patrons are smiling;

And somewhere the shakers are rapidly churning.

Somewhere the whiskey and tequila flow;

And somewhere the rants of “Encore!” bellow.

But there is little joy In New Orleans this week

To alleviate the Hangover’s pain.

There is an empty space

Where just a while ago spirits reigned supreme.

No, there is no joy in a place that celebrates frivolity as a matter of lore

Tales of the Cocktail, 2015, is complete and no longer to the fore.

 

(Inspired, poorly constructed, and shamelessly borrowed from “Mighty Casey at the Bat,” Ernest Thayer, 1888)

 

Tales of the Cocktail (recently concluded, but not nearly forgotten) is something quite unique to the subject matter and the community in which it is staged.

First of all, while New Orleans is adept, beyond all reasonable question, at creating and staging festivals arising from its own community – jazz, oysters, shrimp, French Quarter, Carnival, daiquiris, Zydeco and so on – we are actually serious consumers of spirits but produce them only in very small quantities on a world scale.

Secondly, a festival where the main attractions actually elevate the perception of temperatures in the middle of July is just the sort of thing we do. Why make it logical and easy?

Thirdly, Tales of the Cocktail has taken on global significance. The spotlight of the spirits industry glares on New Orleans for 10 days, and the glow of the event goes on year-round wherever cocktails are served. “Are you from New Orleans? Have you ever been to Tales of the Cocktail? You have? What’s it like? I really want to go someday.”

And that is the big point about Tales. New Orleans has rightfully, we think, earned a huge place in the world of mixology, adult beverages, event management, hospitality, fine dining and commerce. We have enhanced our well-deserved reputation as a city that knows how to have a good time, make visitors feel welcome and serve quality products.

Here again, many of the major multi-national corporation professionals here with Tales pick up on the idea that they ought to bring their own future meetings, sales gatherings, employee rewards programs and the like to our city. Tales is more than just a week in summer. We see benefits all year-round.

These professionals and industry thought-leaders become our ambassadors – without compensation, but singing the praises of a town that knows how to treat its guests. Believe it or not, New Orleans becomes the yardstick for other events held in other cities. “(Fill in the name of any other major city) is pretty good, but it’s not New Orleans.”

Tales of the Cocktail is an annual event, but at the end, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’ve been coming for a few years; I don’t think I need to come back next year.” The comments are usually, “This thing gets better every year and I am going to have to step up my game next year to compete.”

The untold secret about Tales is that it is a marketplace. Buying and selling is taking place. Then, those promised transactions are played out worldwide in the next month or so. Of course, it all revolves around spirits. That’s the business these people are in. And they come back because they see a return on their required investment in airfare, hotel costs, dining and entertaining, transportation around town and gifts. Most of these items are monies that come from outside New Orleans but the funds stay in New Orleans.

I am not privy to what the State, the Visitors’ Bureau or the City does for Tales, if anything, by way of promotion or operating considerations, but if they are not assisting the founders and the management of Tales, they are impediments to the larger potential success of the event. Time to get on the train.  

And speaking of founders, Tales is a purely home-grown event. Ann Tuennerman, along with her husband Paul, has put this event so big on the international spirits map that it cannot be ignored – not that anyone would ever want to do that. The first Tales was 13 years ago, and you would not recognize that one in light of the festival which is staged today. I’ve been to every one, including that first one, and can tell you that they were always fun, but the Tales of today has very little in common with the early efforts.

I don’t think Ann or Paul had any concept of what this would evolve into. They were wise and creative enough to grasp opportunities as they were presented, to have a solid core idea and to only stage quality events. Attracting 24,000 spirits professionals from every corner of the globe to New Orleans in the middle of summer is not an easy feat. They have accomplished it over a long period of time with substance, style and grace.

Thank you, Ann, Paul and the entire Tales staff along with the many local volunteers. Tales is going the way of JazzFest, French Quarter Fest, Mardi Gras and Carnival – annual events that numerous other cities would love to present. But all of those events are ours, uniquely New Orleans, and none are reproducible elsewhere in the way they are done here. More importantly, everyone is invited to come.

 

Tail Wagging

On a completely different topic, sometimes wines that leave the winery are tainted long before they arrive in stores or are placed in front of you. The culprit is TCA (2,4,6-trichloranisole). The casual wine consumer calls the wine “corked,” a condition brought on by the faulty cleaning of corks when they are manufactured that imparts an unacceptable aroma and taste into the wine – often identified as “the smell of a wet dog.”

So, it is only fitting that dogs should get involved to save their reputation as well as the wine’s. A few Australian wineries have trained dogs to sniff out the problem before the wine leaves the winery in order to remove the offending product from the shipment.

This all makes sense when you understand that while humans have about 6 million olfactory receptors, dogs have over 300 million. Now which species would you trust with the task? 

The dogs basically hang around the packaging line and when something amiss comes along, they head for the offending bottle. Besides offering great companionship, they do the work that no machine could even do because they are at the ready with a loving glance and a lick of the tongue. Oh, yes, then there’s the cool, wet nose on bare flesh. An added bonus.

 

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