This year marks the 10th anniversary of New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail (July 25-29, 2012), THE must-do event for cocktail geeks and bartenders, and the first time I’ll be attending! So naturally I’m all about prepping my mind, body and especially my liver for it.
I hear there’s A LOT of drinking. Especially at the Hotel Monteleone, which is basically the epicenter for the event, and where I’ll be staying. “By the time you hit the sidewalk [after leaving your room], you will have already consumed the amount of booze that you would on your biggest night out in L.A.,” warns Pour Vous bartender Pablo Moix. Oy.
Fortunately the Tales site offers a guide on how to drink all day without getting too wasted but for more tips, I turned to Tales veterans, Pablo and bartender Devon Tarby (The Varnish, Proprietors LLC), on how a first-timer can possibly survive this intense booze fest. Such know-how can make the difference between going home with gout or with just your fond memories.
- Stock your room with lots of water, coconut water and snacks (energy bars).
- Alcohol will be coming at you from EVERYwhere, especially since it’s legal to drink in the street, so PACE yourself. Be prepared to have shots poured down your throat by well-meaning friends, to have mini bottles stuffed in your bag, to have 750ml bottles shoved into your hand by liquor reps…man, it sounds fabulous. Suffice it to say, you turn down one opportunity to drink, another will certainly pop up. H’yeah, I’m thinking of walking around with a very discreet spit bottle.
- Be careful with your jambalaya and alcohol intake and be sure to get plenty of sleep. “Guaranteed every year someone gets the gout, people leave on ambulances. Too much Po Boys, too much jambalaya, too much alcohol, too much salt. Not enough water, no sleep. Your shit’s getting fucked up,” said Pablo.
- Don’t buy tickets to things that start too early in the day, says Devon. But on the other hand, Pablo said that these early seminars are great because of their low attendance.
- If you’re overwhelmed by all the seminars, just restrict yourself to events involving people you want to hear speak in person (like cocktail historian/author David Wondrich!), but not events about stuff you can just look up online. Also, you don’t want to sign up for too many seminars, and make sure to give yourself free time to check things out on the fly including New Orleans.
- Don’t stop drinking cold turkey, ween yourself off it. Beer is good for that.
- If you never know where to go, go to Old Absinthe House. They’re the only place on Bourbon Street that takes credit cards and where everybody goes.
- At Hotel Monteleone you’ll always run into someone you know, which can be bad if you’re single and want to keep a low profile with who you’re bringing back to your room.
- Bring a lot of business cards, as many as you can carry. Not just a great tip for visiting bartenders but cocktail enthusiasts and writers with the amount of chefs, liquor reps and other industry folk that you’ll want to keep in touch with.
- Events to go to: Bar room brawl, Spirited Awards and Bartenders’ breakfast.