A splash of excitement in the hot, sleepy summers of New Orleans, Tales of the Cocktail® is the world’s premier festival celebrating the history, artistry and science of mixing fine drinks. It’s an internationally acclaimed event where thousands of the world’s best bartenders, bar owners, spirits experts, bloggers and media – along with thousands more cocktail enthusiasts – converge for five days of tasting original and classic mixed drinks, sampling the finest of New Orleans cuisine, and attending seminars, dinners, competitions and parties.
Legendary for its nightclubs and drinking establishments, New Orleans is a natural for a cocktail festival. It’s the birthplace of some classic concoctions – notably the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz, created at the Roosevelt Hotel; and Peychaud’s Bitters, invented in 1830 by a New Orleanian. And of course it’s home ground for TABASCO® Sauce, an indispensable ingredient in the Bloody Mary and countless other spicy cocktails. Master mixologists are becoming ever more creative with our Original Red Sauce, our Chipotle Sauce and our milder Green Jalapeño Sauce, so be sure to ask for your favorite by name!
This festival really has two parts – the daytime and the nighttime – and while you’ll taste some of “the best cocktails ever made” in either one, you can manage to enjoy both – if you pace yourself! It’s recommended that you fill up on the great food that’s on offer at most every activity, drink lots and lots of water, and take a nap in the afternoons.
First, there are the daytime activities. A busy schedule of free cocktail tastings begins at 9 a.m. (and continues on through midnight). You might find cool Jägermeister slushies at a poolside tasting atop the famous Monteleone Hotel – or a celebrity bartender holding court at a French Quarter drinking establishment infusing exotic drinks with aromatic bitters. And as early as 10 a.m., you can improve your cocktail knowledge with informative seminars; subjects in past years have included “Rum Running: Contraband, Customs and Taxes,” “The Role of Monasteries in Beer and Alcohol Production” and “Hollywood Cocktails: Louisiana Style.” Fancy food to nibble on while imbibing is found at most every event, but make sure to join at least one of the sit-down “spirited lunches” at some of the city’s finest hotels and restaurants, typically hosted by leading liquor and spirits brands.
Then, there’s the night. Each sultry summer evening the festival kicks into high gear at about 8 p.m. with a head-spinning array of tastings, sit-down “spirited dinners,” theme parties, and celebrity bartender receptions – many lasting into the wee hours of the morning. In past years, events have included a “Journey of Global Cocktail Cultures and Trends” welcome reception hosted by Absolut Vodka that featured bartenders from five continents, with food and entertainment paired to the cocktails; an 8-course meal at famous Arnaud’s restaurant re-creating a grand 19th-century dinner; and a “Bar Room Brawl” drink-making competition presented by Grand Marnier. Seminars, lunches, dinners, parties and competitions usually require an admission fee, while the dozens of tastings staged each day in different locations are all free of charge.
For more information, visit talesofthecocktail.com.