Owners to ‘breathe new life’ into Tales of the Cocktail
Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) has been sold to two local entrepreneurs who plan to “breathe new life” into the annual New Orleans festival and turn it into a not-for-profit.
Gary Solomon Jr, head of the Solomon Group, and Neal Bodenheimer, co-owner of cocktail bar Cure, have “formally taken over” TOTC’s parent company Mojo911 from founder Ann Tuennerman and her husband Paul Tuennerman. The founders entered into an agreement to sell TOTC earlier this year.
The local businessmen plan to “grow TOTC into a resource that directly benefits the spirits industry” and New Orleans.
Over the last two months, Solomon Jr and Bodenheimer have consulted the spirits industry to get feedback on the festival. The local businessmen plan to “put an emphasis” on education throughout the event and “enhance” the overall experience to make it more accessible to the industry.
The not-for-profit will also focus on increasing education access, diversity, inclusion and address serious industry issues such as sexual assault and addiction.
Following this year’s TOTC, a grant subcommittee will be formed of representatives from the spirits and cocktail industry who will oversee the donation process and fund allocation.
As a result, the New Orleans Culinary & Cultural Preservation Society will be rebranded as the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. It will commit to giving US$250,000 to causes that support the spirits community in its first year.
To oversee the company, TOTC has also appointed Caroline Nabors Rosen to the role of executive director. Rosen previously held the role of executive director at culinary programme Chefs Move and director of the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund.
According to a report from the University of New Orleans Research Department, Tales of the Cocktail 2017 generated a total economic impact of US$18.9 million for the city.
“Tales of the Cocktail has become one of the essential components to the New Orleans tourism industry,” said Mark Romig, president and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.
“Tales highlights not only New Orleans’ preeminent place in the history of cocktails, but it also holds an important role in helping to ensure a successful summer season for the tourism industry.”
Paul Tuennerman previously announced his resignation as TOTC’s chief business officer in March last year following a row over a ‘blackface’ video of his wife, Ann. A Facebook Live status posted by Ann showed her with a black painted face during a Mardi Gras parade, accompanied by an offensive caption. Both later apologised for the content.
This was followed by the Tuennermans announcement that they were to step down from the company with immediate effect in September last year.
The TOTC festival will return to New Orleans on 17-22 July 2018.