Tales of the Cocktail Stands Tall

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.


You’ve probably heard or used that expression and applied it to negative situations that just seem to mount up. You can’t solve one crisis before another one pops up and bites you in the ass, or somewhere else.


But in this instance, I am applying this expression to the freight train of parties, celebrations and festivals that continually run through this burg. We finish Carnival Season and then along comes St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Days. We get through Jazz Fest and then comes Greek Fest and the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience. The shells from Oyster Festival have not even made it to the dump when the Tomato Festival and Zydeco Fest roll out.


And here we are just recovering from a grand celebration of Fourth of July and right on our doorstep is Tales of the Cocktail. I am not complaining but am reminded of another expression: "New Orleans is no place for wimps. Eat, drink, dance and stop complaining about how hard you have it."


Tales of the Cocktail is actually more of a marathon than a sprint. If you try to race through this thing, it will own you, with five days from one morning until early the following morning with constant bombardment of alcohol, food, fellowship and frivolity.


In the world of distilled beverages, Tales stands tall. It is considered one of the premier, if not the premier, festival of its kind anywhere. Take pride. It’s home-grown, home-operated and every last one of the 25,000+ attendees goes back to their homes with bragging rights that they were here. Okay, it’s not Yankee Stadium, but Tales has great stature in its own world.


Starting on Wednesday, July 17, and never slowing down until the afternoon of Sunday, July 21, Tales presents the story of spirits like no one else ever does. Whatever you want to make, whatever you are curious about, whatever aspect of mixology you have a passion for, it will be here, at your fingertips, likely before you can even ask the question.


One of the toughest “sells” Founder Ann Tuennerman, and her husband, Paul, had in the beginning were the Spirited Dinners. Eleven years ago, the idea of pairing cocktails with food was not a concept embraced by neither spirit companies nor restaurants. The place for spirits was before or after, but not during. My oh my, how that has changed.


Just about 30 fine dining, white tablecloth restaurants in New Orleans will be working with mixologists from all over the globe, using products from every place imaginable, creating pairings that at times are quite amazing, often very interesting. No matter where you go, and you should go to one of these things, likely the whole night you will be noting to your dining companions, “Gosh, I never would have thought to do that and put it here with this dish.”  


If you're interested, Spirited Dinner information with reservations are to be made directly with the participating restaurant.


There are also seminars if you are intent on sitting down in a formal setting and learning something. Ah, here’s a topical one, “Global Warming: Spirits and Climate Change.” There’s a conversation starter you could use to significantly increase your popularity at cocktail parties. Or how about something less serious, “The Pineapple, a Symbol of Hospitality”?


There’s also “Grape's Great Leap Towards Immortality,” “The Tender Topic of Terroir,” and “The Good Books – Cocktail Books Every Bartender Should Know.”


There are many, many others, with more than 15 seminars each day on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Check them out here.


And then there is a myriad, more than you can imagine, of complementary tastings, featured distillers sharing with you their wares, special rooms and luncheons. It’s what makes Tales so special. All of these companies send representatives and lots of product to New Orleans and they expect us to drink what’s here and to be nice to their people. No problem for us, on either count.


Two things to note, and both are very important in different ways: First, make your reservations. Make your plans. Set your schedule. As the time gets closer to Tales, most of the activities will be filled and you won’t be able to attend. So act now and avoid disappointment later.


Second: When you leave Tales, carefully consider your transportation options. Maybe a cab is a really good idea. Maybe a streetcar. Maybe a friend or relative. I can assure you, that plenty of alcohol will be served, and I can further assure you, you will take full advantage of this abundance of riches. You don’t want to be fodder for law enforcement. They will be doing their job to stop you if you are driving under the influence. They are not picking on you. They are providing a valuable service to the public. You don’t want to be the problem. Be the solution.



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