Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, one of the largest spirits industry events in the world. From my cocktail to water ratio, attendance at the laundry list of events, and number of outfit changes, keeping balance at the forefront of this trip was key.
With it being my first visit to both the event and the Big Easy, I've put together a personal recap of highlights from the nearly-week-long liquor conference.
Imagine being in a room full people you actually want to meet. Tales is the proverbial room, and the event affords the opportunity for attendees to connect with bartenders, brand ambassadors, influencers and journalists IRL. Aside from networking with new folks, Tales personally gave me the chance to rekindle relationships with old colleagues and industry friends. Did I end discussions with my business card? Absolutely. But, I also took this window of opportunity to ditch the work conversation and connect on a different level.
My friends at Brooklyn Gin did a wonderful job of organizing dinners at their "house" at Race & Religious on both Wednesday and Thursday evenings. There, they poured unique wine labels, served a meal prepared by Nicole Gajadhar--Saxon + Parole's chef de cuisine--and curated a guest list of industry folks all in an intimate setting that made it feel more like a gathering at home, which served as the perfect respite before a cocktail-heavy week ahead.
Go With Your Flow
The Tales schedule is chalk full of events that include tastings, seminars, parties, after-parties and rogue events. Come to terms with the fact that you won't be able to attend everything, but make a point to go to the gatherings that 1. your contacts are manning--because we all love support--and 2. that appeal to you the most. The conference is truly what YOU make it.
Explore New Orleans
Dive into the French Quarter, but also take the time to check out what lies outside. Two of my favorite out-of-the-Quarter spots: Cure, a dimly-lit cocktail bar with ladies behind the stick shaking and stirring unique riffs on classic libations. Next up, Bacchanal, part wine and cheese shop, part outdoor garden party, and the perfect oasis after infinite cocktail tastings.
Stay: The Catahoula Hotel- part pisco bar, part boutique hotel within walking distance of the French Quarter.
Eat: This goes without saying. Hit up the buzzed-about Cafe du Monde, Brennan's, Compère Lapin and newer-to-the-scene eateries like Willa Jean and DTB Nola.
Do: ride a streetcar, have the frozen Irish Coffee at Erin Rose, enjoy a beer at Alibi and ride the ferry down the Mississippi River.
New Orleans truly is place like no other. There is a captivating spirit that exists in its history, people and the pulse of the city. Go see you some N'awlins.