Tales of the Cocktail, the mother of all cocktail festivals, turns 10 in 2012. And, like Topsy, the girl has grown. In 2003, 100 people showed up. Last year, it was 22,000.
Naturally, this Tales has a few special attractions up its gartered sleeve to mark the anniversary. Among them are a few commemorative, one-off products, such as the Bitter Truth Creole Bitters pictured above.
Further below is the article I wrote about the coming festivities for the New York Times. But first, here's the entire seminar line-up:
Advantageous Drinking - Drink on the Offensive with Anu Apte
Agriculturally Anonymous with Bobby Heugel, Misty Kalkofen, Cecilia Norman and Thad Vogler
Anise: The Treasure Of The Mediterranean with Francesco Lafranconi
Aperitif Culture: From Italy to Argentina with Martin Auzmendi
Bedroom Brands: How to Launch your Spirit with No Budget with Benedict Simpson
Beertails: Mastering the Most Chemically Complex Alcoholic Ingredient as a Cocktail Ingredient with Adam Seger
Bottle Alley: Drinking the Panama Canal with Jeff Berry
Bringing Service Back! with Bridget Albert
Citrus Macerations with Don Lee
Classic Canadian Cocktails with Shawn Soole
Coffee: The Missing Ingredient with Amy Zavatto
Cognac: The Barkeep's Forgotten Friend with Dave Broom and Tristan Stephenson
A Cook Walks into the Bar and Says... with Andrew Bohrer
Curacao: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Favourite Liqueur Flavour with Philip Duff
A Distiller's Dream with Charlotte Voisey
The Drunken Botanist: A Preview with Eric Seed
The Emperor's New Nose: Aroma Re-imagined with Benedict Simpson
From Cocktail Napkin to Cocktail Bar: How to Open Your Own Bar - 3 Part Series with Philip Duff and Dushan Zaric
Fruit of the Still with Paul Clarke and Matthew Rowley
A Forager's Pharmacy with Lauren Mote
Good to the Last Drop with Brad Farran and Nicholas Jarret
Greater Than the Sum of It's Parts: The Art of Spirits Blending with Philip Duff
Hands on Hand Made Bitters Lab with Ira Koplowitz
A How & Why of Flavored Spirits with David Cid
How Every Sense is Tied to the Other with Tony Conigliaro
I Love/I Hate...COCKTAILS! with Claire Smith
The Ins and Outs of Cocktails On Tap with Matthew Seiter
Leading the Dream Team with Layne Mostyn
Making your Own Vermouth with Jackson Cannon
Meet the Two Harrys with Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown
Mixology Media Camp with Gary Hayward
New World Vermouth with Paul Clarke
The Name Game with Angus Winchester
PISCO: Wars & Distilled Delicacies from 1613 with Duggan McDonnell
The Process to Perfection with Robert Hess and Audrey Saunders
Reconsidering the Gin & Tonic with Jason Wilson
The Rise of High Proof Spirits with Chad Solomon
Russian Drinking Culture with Dmitry Sokolov
Salts, Bubbles, Oils, Acid, Bottles & Barrels with Andrew Nicholls
Secrets from Incredible Restaurant Bars with Jacob Briars
The Spirit of Spirits with Derek Brown
Spiritual Brews From India with Rohan Jelkie
Sporting Life II - Stories, Songs & Sketches with Allen Katz
Sugar: How Sweet It Is! with Camper English
A Tale of Three Cities with Sebastian Reaburn
Talking Tequila, the Sensory Science and Descriptive Language with Don Lee
Tangled Up in Blue with Jacob Briars
Tasteless: How Taste Alters as We Age with Wayne Curtis
Tasting the World's Greatest Spirits with Paul Pacult and Sean Ludford
Tiki Host to the Stars, Stephen Crane with Martin Cate
The Top Ten Cocktails of the Last Ten Years with Charlotte Voisey
Traditional Chinese Medicinal Ingredients with Danielle Tatarin
True/Untrue: Exploring Bar World Myths with Wayne Curtis
The Ups & Downs of Running Multiple Venues with Franky Marshall, Tad Carducci, Susan Fedroff and Julie Reiner
A Workshop, The Making of Liqueurs with Dale DeGroff
The World's World-Class Spirit - RUM! with Paul Pacult and Sean Ludford
And now, the article:
A Pioneering Cocktail Conference Turns 10
By Robert Simonson
Two weeks ago, Arizona celebrated its first Arizona Cocktail Week. In January came the inaugural San Antonio Cocktail Conference. Last October, Oregon’s largest city played host to the second annual Portland Cocktail Week.
These days, it seems every metropolis and state has a cocktail convention of its own. You can blame it all on Tales of the Cocktail, the granddaddy of all such sodden confabs. That New Orleans bacchanalia, held every July, celebrates its 10th anniversary this summer.
When its founder, Ann Tuennerman, started the festival in 2003, there were no seminars and the event lasted a single day. Roughly 100 people showed up. This year, there will be more than 60 seminars and a crowd of 22,000 is expected. Tales of the Cocktail 2011 poured $12.7 million into the city’s economy.
“Every year we make an effort to bring in new blood,” said Mrs. Tuennerman of the presenters and panelists on this year’s seminars. “We have our first presenter from Russia this year, and our first from India. There is more talent out there. When we started 10 years ago, there weren’t that many people at this level of eduction.”
This summer’s seminars — the festival runs from July 25 to 29 — will include in-depth examinations of topics as specific as coffee cocktails, Curaçao and the gin and tonic. (Cocktail professionals can stare into a piece of ice and see worlds.):
– “Bottle Alley: Drinking the Panama Canal” will examine “the scandalous, murderous, delicious history of Panamanian alcohology” from 1502 to 1945.
– “The Spirit of Spirits,” which looks at the religious aspects of drinking, features as a panelist the Rev. Bill Dailey, chaplain of the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild.
– “Meet the Two Harrys” takes a look at the late-19th- and early-20th-century mixology luminaries Harry Johnson and Harry Craddock.
– “Classic Canadian Cocktails,” meanwhile, will look into the unexpected phenomenon that there are such things as classic Canadian cocktails.
Then there’s the teasingly titled “I Love/I Hate…Cocktails,” which purports to answer the question “Has the reflection and discussion over what makes a really Great Drink begun to overshadow the actual enjoyment of any Great Drink?”
New this year will a series of six hands-on seminars that teach attendees how to make their own homemade vermouth and bitters, among other potions.
Individual seminars will cost $45 per person. Tickets go on sale March 30.
The 10-year anniversary will be marked in a number of fanciful ways, the most appropriate perhaps being various commemorative bottlings. These will include a special six-year-old “Tales” Sazerac rye whiskey and a dedicated edition of Creole bitters made by Bitter Truth, a German bitters company.