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Preview: Tales of the Cocktail 2022

Returning for its 20th anniversary, SB looks at what annual New Orleans festival Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) has in store for this landmark year.

Tales of the Cocktail
This year’s festival will “celebrate the strides and transformations” made as a beverage community

Once again, TOTC is returning for a five‐day in‐person celebration in the warm, eclectic city of New Orleans. Starting on 25 July, the globally renowned drinks trade event will host its signature educational programming at The Ritz‐Carlton in the historic French Quarter.

Hosted by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF), the event will return with a line‐up of seminars, events and, of course, imbibing, all in the name of ‘Progress’ – the festival’s official theme for 2022. Chosen for its recognition of the nimble and adaptive development of the drinks industry, ‘Progress’ is all about showcasing the transformative atmosphere and nature of the resilient cocktail community.

“This year’s Tales of the Cocktail theme, Progress, allows us to continue looking ahead while also taking a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come in the cocktail industry,” says Tales of the Cocktail Foundation CEO Eileen Wayner. “It’s in this spirit that we are so thrilled to celebrate the 20‐year anniversary, and unite together to celebrate the strides and transformations we’ve made as a beverage community.”

Resilient industry

TOTCF board member Neal Bodenheimer adds: “It is our great honour to host the global cocktail community, who travel from near and far, to join us in our beloved city of New Orleans. Over the past few years, we’ve proven that we’re a spirited, resilient industry and, most importantly, one that is willing to come together and help each other learn, grow, and hone our collective craft. We look forward to the progress that’s still to come in our community.”

It is the industry’s resilience and enthusiasm that will see an estimated 30,000 drinks professionals from around the globe descend on New Orleans in search of discovering new products and techniques, while sharing ideas and inspiration with their peers – and given the disruption caused by the pandemic over the past two years, the anticipation is almost electric.

Attendees will be encouraged to enjoy and participate in a host of programming, as well as sip, mingle and toast to a communal appreciation of cocktails while immersed in the vibrant spirit of New Orleans.

Tales of the Cocktail
Cheers: TOTC is an excellent way of meeting industry professionals

TOTCF’s ongoing mental health and wellness arm, Beyond the Bar, is returning for 2022, focusing on the ‘holistic bartender’ and addressing critical issues within the industry, from substance use and abuse to sexual harassment, race, equity and inclusion.

Highlights of the Beyond the Bar programme this year consist of educational panels, seminars, Q&As and workshops including interactive information sessions held with a variety of bartender support and scholarship initiatives, all aimed at improving the lives of bartenders and bar owners.

This year’s event will also celebrate a decade of one of the signature events of the conference, the Dame Hall of Fame (DHOF); a celebration of leaders who have made unique and lasting contributions to accessibility and intersectionality within the global hospitality industry who may not have been recognised in more traditional awards and platforms.

Since 2020, the DHOF has aimed to celebrate the accomplishments of non‐binary people, and those within the trans community, as well as those who identify as women or womxn.

The five days will host numerous invite‐only events, so if there were ever a time to have the TOTC agenda bookmarked on your desktop for easy access to updates and RSVP links, it’s now, as events such as Bacardi’s Inaugural Drag Ball at Oz on 25 July, and the Jack Daniel’s Bottled‐in‐Bond Tennessee Whiskey Experience at the Dryades Ballroom on 26 July aren’t going to be ones you’ll want to miss.

On the penultimate night of the week, the 16th annual Spirited Awards will be held at The Ritz‐Carlton, ready to announce and celebrate a full slate of winners including World’s Best Cocktail Menu, Bartender of the Year, and Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient, and the five awards within the Writing and Media categories, for which The Spirits Business was named a top 10 nominee in the category of Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication.

Of course, for those who cannot travel to The Big Easy this month, the conference will be supplemented with a host of digital education and networking opportunities, including 12 seminars that will be pre‐recorded and presented on the Foundation’s Whova platform during TOTC 2022.

We have compiled several must‐see events to attend during the 2022 TOTC festival. For more details and the full line‐up, visit

Tales of the Cocktail panel
Talking shop: seminars and panels

New Orleans Cocktail Tour: Hunting Down the Sazerac
Monday 25 July 12pm‐2pm CDT

The Sazerac is as much a foundation of New Orleans as jazz music and beignets, and kicking off at noon on the festival’s opening day is the New Orleans Cocktail Tour: Hunting Down the Sazerac. Join the event’s guide, Rhiannon Enlil, for an exploration of where the drink first arose, and discover its origin story, before concluding at the impressive Sazerac House where more practical education will take place.

How to Write a Book: Lessons and Learnings from Cocktail Authors
Tuesday 26 July 2.30pm‐3.30pm CDT

If you didn’t use lockdown as your opportunity to write that book you’ve been thinking about writing, this panel of cocktail book authors, hosted by PR guru Hanna Lee, will give you the tips, tricks and inspiration you’re looking for.

Nixology: Understanding The (Best?) Worst Drinks Ever
Wednesday 27 July 3.30pm‐5pm CDT

You know what makes a good cocktail, we know what makes a good cocktail, but do you know what makes a cocktail fundamentally bad? Jeff Berry and David Wondrich will be discussing this during a 90‐minute seminar that will also be live‐streamed. A good one for anyone interested to know why that excellent cocktail created on their mental palate doesn’t taste as great in the glass.

Meet The Distillers
Friday 29 July 2pm‐6pm CDT

They say you should never meet your heroes, but TOTC 2022 is giving you the opportunity to ignore that adage and meet the distillers, owners, blenders, founders, and makers of more than 40 of the world’s best brands, and experience an afternoon of tastings, education and interaction with the people who shape our industry. There is special early access to credentialed media, distributors, and national account representatives; the Friday afternoon event is open to trade and consumers.

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