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Top events at Tales of the Cocktail 2019

One of the drinks industry’s most highly anticipated events – Tales of the Cocktail – is almost upon us. SB takes a look at the best seminars, parties and special events taking place down in N’awlins.

Tales of the Cocktail will return to New Orleans next week

It won’t be long un l the great and the good of the drinks world will be basking in the New Orleans heat, ready for the 17th annual Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) festival.

From 16­-21 July, everyone from bartenders and distributors to writers and cocktail enthusiasts will have the chance to immerse themselves in hundreds of seminars, tastings and tours, and drink in as much knowledge as possible from some of the industry’s leading figures.

For 2019, TOTC has named Royal Sonesta New Orleans as its primary host, while additional events will be scattered across the city. But according to Neal Bodenheimer, co-­chairman of the board of directors, the event will be “scaled back” this year.

“Tales is a place where the industry members can network and we have the opportunity to reinforce and support that community,” he says. “This year, our job is to scale back Tales of the Cocktail to normal and to continue reforming; we want to make it as good as we can.

“This year, we made sure to focus on social responsibility in our community to ensure we are servicing the bartending community. We are very proud to offer more seminars and programmes that go to further The [Tales of the Cocktail] Foundation’s mission to educate, advance and support the spirits and global cocktail communities.”

Rounding off this year’s festival will be the annual Spirited Awards, where the world’s finest bartenders, bars, teams, products, publications and writers will be celebrated.

On the following pages, we’ve put together a selection of seminars, tastings and events you won’t want to miss. For the full schedule, visit

Tuesday, 16 July

Royal Sonesta is TOTC’s new host hotel

Social Media: The Promises and Pitfalls


TBD Royal Sonesta

The fast-­paced world of social media can be tricky to navigate – but it’s also a crucial tool for brands and bartenders. Consumers have never been so digitally savvy, so ensuring your bar and brand are up to date with the latest online platforms is a must. Claire

Bertin-­Lang, owner, founder and president of CBL Liquid Consulting, will lead this in-­depth and honest discussion about how to utilise social media to your advantage.


Citrus: Between History and Innovation


TBD Royal Sonesta

Citrus has numerous uses in the cocktail world, and with sustainability at the front of the conversation, the possible uses for such fruits has grown. Today, the use of essential oils is also on the rise, and more fresh products are being processed for industrial purposes. Luca Missaglia will lead guests on a journey covering the biggest changes in citrus production, including taxonomy, different citrus species, unique preservation, and extraction techniques that have affected modern cocktail culture and cuisine, as well as innovation from some of the industry’s leading bartenders.


Creole and Cocktails: The Celebration of Women in the History of Whiskey


Evangeline Restaurant

Women have played a crucial part in shaping the whiskey industry – but their roles have often been overshadowed by their male counterparts. On the first day of the festival, Brandalyn Tabor, founder of Women & Whiskey and executive Bourbon steward, will host a celebration of women in whiskey paired with New Orleans creole cuisine and whiskey cocktails crafted by Paul Gustings. Guests should don their best pre-Prohibition costumes and prepare to indulge in a menu designed by award­-winning Louisiana chef and food innovator Sean ‘Poochy’ Rivera.

Wednesday, 17 July

A plethora of tasting events will take place at TOTC

Sondon Essence Company Lounge


Bienville Room, New Orleans Athletic Club

Health and wellbeing has become an important part of TOTC. For those looking for a bit of R&R during the festival, London Essence is hosting the Relaxation Lounge, where visitors can enjoy some light and refreshing drinks.


The Profitability of Sustainability


TBD Royal Sonesta

The importance of sustainability is a much-discussed topic in drinks. But while the environmental benefits may be more widely understood, the financial incentives for bars remains a topic that is infrequently explored. BlackTail head bartender William Pasternak will moderate a panel exploring how bartenders can save money by reducing their waste output.


Is It Worth It? Let Me Work It!


Bienville Room, New Orleans Athletic Club

Heavy lifting, vigorous shaking and running around on your feet all day can lead to myriad ailments for bartenders. This course aims to teach self-­massage techniques on foam rollers, how to use a lacrosse ball to relieve deep muscle pain, and realign your spine and reconnect your body. No previous workout experience is needed – simply turn up wearing comfortable clothes. Mats and rolling equipment will be provided.


Hospitality with Purpose presented by Santa Teresa 1796 Rum


Jazz Playhouse, Royal Sonesta

It’s time to talk about giving back and having a positive impact on local communities.

Santa Teresa’s Alberto Vollmer will be joined by a panel of experts to explore some of the topical issues affecting communities and how bartenders can create a purposeful

social impact.


‘Happily­-ever­-Awkward’ with Listen Bar & Friends


Bienville Room, New Orleans Athletic Club

As a social lubricant, it’s easy to turn to alcohol to diffuse awkwardness. Drinkers and non­drinkers are invited to this group chat about alternative ways to it make through the most of awkward situations without reaching for the booze.


The American Authors who Taught us How to Drink


TBD Royal Sonesta

Bookworms will delight in this literary seminar that will explore some of the greatest authors who not only penned classic tomes, but also taught their readers how to drink. Guests will learn how the likes of Hemingway, Stein, Faulkner, Parker, Bukowski, and other authors shaped drinking culture in the US.


A Sense of Place & Taste: Farm to Bottle Spirits Bursting with a Taste of Place, presented by Chopin Imports


Fleur de Lis Suite, Royal Sonesta

This tasting will take you on a journey around the world through eight distillates, exploring single-­ingredient vodkas, mezcals, Tequilas and whiskies. Distillers will aim to prove terroir really does exist in spirits and the importance of raw ingredients.

Thursday, 18 July

The show will offer networking opportunities aplenty

When Small Considerations Have Big Effects – Cognac Experts Sound Off presented by BNIC Cognac


Fleur de Lis Suite, Royal Sonesta

How do grapes grown in chalky soil differ from those grown in sand? Does cellar humidity affect Cognac maturation? These questions and more will be touched upon in a discussion hosted by the Cognac regulatory body the BNIC. Guests will also have the chance to take part in a Q&A at the end of the tasting to ensure all their burning questions have been answered.


Anticipating the Unexpected: Business Fundamentals for New Bar Owners


TBD Royal Sonesta

Front­-of-­house service and a stellar drinks menu are not the only important components that go into opening your own bar. Chall Gray, author of The Cocktail Bar: Notes for an Owner & Operator, will lead a panel discussion sharing the secrets needed to succeed with opening a venue, from the best methods of hiring and working with accountants, lawyers and subcontractors, to the minefield of business insurance.


The New Orleans Cocktail Tour


New Orleans is renowned for its world-­class bar scene. A tour guide will lead you through the French Quarter, where you’ll discover some of the city’s best watering holes and have the chance to sample their wares. The tour will leave at 4pm sharp from Arnaud’s.


Meet the Distillers Happy Hour


North & South Ballrooms, Royal Sonesta

An annual homage to the legends behind the spirits brands we know and love, this is a chance to sample a vast assortment of international spirits in their purest forms. Distillers will be on hand to divulge further details about their brands and products.

Friday, 19 July

TOTC: Beyond the Bar

Daily Yoga Class with Camille Vidal (La Maison Wellness)


Bienville Room, New Orleans Athletic Club

Past the halfway stage at Tales of the Cocktail, attendees may be looking for a calming experience to unwind from the busier side of the festival. Camille Vidal will be hosting one of her daily yoga sessions on Friday, designed to make you feel both energised and relaxed by the time you leave.


Kentucky Bourbon vs Tennessee Whiskey: Battle of the Premiums presented by Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey


Le Booze, Royal Sonesta

Fawn Weaver, CEO and co­founder of Uncle Nearest, will explore the premium side of both whiskey styles, unveiling which expression has a more premium production process. Attendees can also meet Uncle Nearest’s head of whiskey and distillery operations, Sherrie Moore.


Scotch: 90 Facts in 90 Minutes


TBD, Royal Sonesta

With so many rules and regulations surrounding Scotch whisky production, it can be easy to get confused about the dos and don’ts of the category. Why must Scotch be at least three years old? Are single malts better than blends? Join Becky Paskin, editor of, for a run­down of 90 Scotch whisky facts in 90 minutes.


Allergies, Diets & Cocktail Menu Warnings


TBD, Royal Sonesta

Should bartenders list every ingredient on a cocktail menu, or is it the customer’s responsibility to ask? This seminar will explore the current science on allergies, specific spirits and mixers that activate them, and cover dairy, nuts, seafood and grains, as well as lesser known allergies such as corn and melon. The session will also aim to separate allergies from sensitivities and intolerances, and look at the ethics regarding bartender training and responsibility.


Mocktail Project – Beyond the Bar


Vaughn’s Pub, New Orleans Athletic Club

Jesse Hawkins, founder of The Mocktail Project, is on a mission to lead a US-­wide movement to help create a social environment where cocktails and mocktails can thrive together. Hawkins will highlight the rising need for non­alcoholic options as the trend for low-­ and no­-alcohol grows.

Saturday, 20 July

Tim Etherington-Judge will kick off a series of marathons


Royal Sonesta


Tim Etherington-­Judge, founder of Healthy Hospo, has pledged to run 42 marathons in 42 consecutive days at 42 years old, to raise money for UK drinks industry charity The Benevolent. Whether you can run one mile or 10, Etherington-­Judge is inviting members of the trade to lace up their trainers and join him as he takes on the first marathon of his challenge. The run will kick off at Royal Sonesta.


Letters to a Young Bartender presented by Grey Goose


Jazz Playhouse, Royal Sonesta

If you could go back in time and give your younger self advice, what would you say?

Worry less? Take a leap of faith? Save for a rainy day? Join bartending mentors, including Dale Degroff, Bridget Albert, Douglas Ankrah and Nectaly Mendoza, to receive wisdom and insight about what they would have told their young bartending selves.


13th Annual Spirited Awards


Orpheum Theater

The stars of the drinks industry will be celebrated at the 13th annual Spirited

Awards. From best bars and brand ambassadors, to best team and spirits and cocktail publication, the awards ceremony, dubbed the ‘Oscars of the drinks world’, is an event not to be missed.


13th Annual Spirited Awards After Hours Party


Orpheum Theater

For the first time, join the Spirited Awards for the after party to raise a glass to all of this year’s winners.

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