Tales of the Cocktail is this week! I won’t be attending this year because of a project I am working on (more on that soon!), but for those of you who are going for the first time or who need a little refresher I compiled a survival guide to help you make it through the week. It’s a marathon, not a sprint after all. They are tips I put together based on my personal experience and those of long time veteran Tales attendees. Although a cocktail conference seems like all fun and games, there are strategies to get the most out of the week and not ending up tanked by 2pm everyday.
It would be a disservice to call Tales of the Cocktail just a conference, it is so much more then that. Bartenders, cocktail enthusiasts, writers, spirits brands, and distillers from all over the world converge on NOLA for one magical week. What ensues is only pure gold, with some fresh shenanigans thrown in for good measure. New spirits get launched, lots of spirits get tasted, and with adventures and experiences tucked it every corner of NOLA, lots of fun is had. Education and the seminars are a main focus of Tales and a huge reason I attend, but there is parties, pop-up bars and experiences all over the city. You’ll also likely to rub elbows with you some of the cocktail worlds most notable figures. I put together this Tales of The Cocktail Tips and Survival Guide that hopefully gives you some guidance on making it to the end of the week coming out more knowledgable, hydrated and unscathed.
Tales of The Cocktail Survival Guide
- You don’t have to finish every drink. Trust me, there will be more! There is booze where ever you look. I only did small sips of tastings during the day and early afternoon. If I had a brand dinner or event in the evening, this might be the first time I have a full cocktail. The nights can be long with multiple events each evening. One of my favorite things is swinging by the Erin Rose at 2 or 3 am and finding lots of friends getting Frozen Irish Coffees and chatting about the day. You will not make it there if you’ve been treating the day like a sprint and downing cocktails left and right.
- Hydrate! Take the water bottles at the seminars, fill up at water stations and always bring a reusable water bottle or two. I have a water pouch that can be rolled up and shoved in a purse or clipped to a wait band or bag. A camel bag is also a smart option. NOLA is hot as Hades in the summer. You’ll sweat a lot, compile that with frequent drinking and you’ll find yourself dehydrated very quickly.
- Write numbers down. Have the numbers of medical, police, cab and close friends in the city written down a piece of paper in your pocket or bag just in case you loose your phone.
- Networking and meeting brands, distillers and fellow cocktail lovers face-today -face is one of the best parts of Tales. Reach out to people, strike up conversations in the elevator or in-line for seminars or parties, and don’t be shy to say hi to people you may recognize from social media. We are all there for the love of cocktails so we have at least one thing in common and most assuredly more! On this same note, although it is a cocktail conference, it’s best not to get too toasted, you never know who you could be making a fool of yourself in front of.
- Pack an umbrella and light waterproof jacket. It’s the rainy season in the south during this time. Clear skies giveaway to torrential down pours in a matter of minutes. If you plan to leave the Hotel Monteleone at all, bring one of these so that you can get to the other fun activities around town.
- Bring a full change of clothes in your backpack or bag everyday. I left my hotel room one morning and didn’t return until 3 am the next morning. That’s a good amount of sweat and possible spilled drinks on you. Having a pair of backup clothes to change into might make or break your night/day, what time is it anyway?! Also, a small spray bottle of rose water helps keep the face fresh and hydrated. I keep this in the fridge at night and take it with me for a cooling face spray.
- Buddy system. Plan to go places at night with at least one other person if walking. Although the locals are friendly in NOLA, there are people who will try to take advantage of drunk people from the conference and there has been reports of robbery in the past. Just stay aware and use the buddy system.
- Prep your room. Go to a convenience store and pick up snacks like bars and fruit if possible as well as water for the hotel room each night on the first day before you get caught up in all the action. These will be good for the morning or for a quick snack throughout the day.
- Be sure to take a break to eat. Not only will it help create a foundation for drinks, NOLA is know for it’s delicious food. There are great places to grab food near the conference. My favorite for a quick bites are:
- Killer Po’ Boys. They have a bigger location now that’s a few blocks from Hotel Monteleone, but the original is still great in the back of the Erin Rose, plus you can get an Frozen Irish Coffee while your there.
- 9 Roses Vietnamese. They have great spring rolls which is a nice contrast to all the fried food of NOLA.
- For a fancier lunch, Brennan’s is a classic NOLA spot and a must.
- Cafe Beignet, the best beignets in town and other lunch options can be found here.
- Sylvain (open for dinner only except weekend brunch)
- For late night food: Cane & Table, Verti Mart Grocery has amazing sandwiches, Compere Lapen (10pm), Cleo’s Mediterranean, Dat Dog, Bar Redeux, Bacchanal Wine Bar, Killer Po’ Boy, Peche (11pm), Sylvain
- Rest when you can. Sleep is a luxury at Tales and 100 degree heat is exhausting. If you can, take a break before dinner and the parties to snack, regroup and possibly take a nap!
- Wear a zipped cross body bag or ever popular fanny pack that holds all of your essentials for the parties and closed toed shoes. They are large parties and some spaces can be packed. Have a zipped bag close to your body will prevent anything falling out or bumping into people with a large bag.
- Pack an empty bag. Brand swag is everywhere and you’ll likely find bottles and tools at the shops you’ll want to bring home so be sure to bring an empty bag or suitcase to lug all of your new fancy stuff home in.
- Keep organized. Use the Tales App to keep your schedule organized, there are a lot of events packed into each, often many overlapping. Add seminars (so you don’t miss them) and parties along with other brand events.
I hope this Tales of The Cocktail Survival Guide and Tips and helps make your week at Tales smooth sailing! Happy drinking!