Unmissable events at Tales of the Cocktail 2020

14th September, 2020 by Melita Kiely

While Covid-19 may have scuppered plans to host Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, a full-to-the-brim schedule of online events awaits. Here, we highlight some the most intriguing seminars and events to take part in.

The 14th annual Spirited Awards ceremony will be held digitally on 24 September

From feeling the New Orleans sun kissing your skin and sipping ice‐cold cocktails to bumping shoulders with the great and good of the spirits world – not to mention the hundreds of immersive seminars, tastings and tours – there are dozens of reasons why Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) has become such a staple in the drinks trade’s calendar. However, like so many other events, this year’s festival will look a little different because of the effects of the Covid‐19 pandemic.

But fear not – the TOTC organisers have poured their hearts and New Orleans souls into creating a vibrant, jam‐packed digital experience to ensure the industry can still enjoy what TOTC has to offer, even if it is from a distance.

For the first time in 18 years, TOTC is going completely online. The free digital conference will take place from Monday 21 September to Thursday 24 September, offering seminars, live Q&As and panel discussions covering topics such as hospitality, health, innovation and social issues, all in keeping with this year’s theme: catalyst. “Every year, we sit down and we ask our education committee ‘what’s our goal? What’s our drive and focus?’,” says Caroline Rosen, president of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. “This year it was ‘catalyst’. It’s a way to spark change, it’s the beginning of a movement. We should embrace that this is a catalyst of us moving forward as an industry to overcome the challenges we face.”

TOTC 2020 will be accessible in all time zones and will offer a library of on‐demand and pre‐recorded videos, including seminars, roundtables, distillery tours and brand education. The videos will also provide subtitles for Spanish‐speaking viewers.

What’s more, Mentorship Hours will be available for attendees through TOTC’s Beyond the Bar programme, which will see a group of industry leaders from around the world offer 30‐minute one‐to‐one virtual meetings to network, advise and share ideas. For those unable to tune in live, each event will be posted online “within the hour”, says Rosen, to ensure the trade can benefit from the knowledge being shared as it weathers a particularly testing time.

“There are going to be some really fun things to take part in during the show, but also there will be so much information, advice and ideas shared,” enthuses Rosen. “This is a really difficult time for a lot of people in our industry and we need to stick together; this is an opportunity for us to come back stronger.

“There will be a lot of really in‐depth conversations. People are willing to share their experiences, and I think this will be a great opportunity to let people know what bartenders need to get them through this.”

The 14th annual Spirited Awards will also culminate this month when the 2020 winners are revealed on 21 September, ahead of the awards ceremony on 24 September. The glitz and glam of previous ceremonies will be replaced by more meaningful focus on the incredible work and creativity that can be seen in the sector. An International Bar Mentor category has been added to this year’s awards, in addition to the American nomination, to give a ‘more accurate picture of what industry mentorship looks like on a global scale’.

“We really thought carefully about the Spirited Awards this year,” notes Rosen. “A lot of our friends don’t have a job, their bars are closing, they don’t know what the future looks like. What we decided, though, was we don’t want to take anything away from our community that’s worked so hard; we want to celebrate respectfully.”

Over the following pages, we have highlighted some unmissable events to tune into during the 2020 TOTC digital festival.

For more details and the full line‐up, visit talesofthecocktail.org.

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