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Tales of the Cocktail 2013 is right around the corner, and if you aren’t familiar with the worlds premier cocktail festival yet, we’ll bring you up to speed with a preview. Tales of the Cocktail brings together some of the most respected members of the mixology family, from brand reps to bar-tending elite, and combines that with drinkers (both novice and expert) looking to learn and taste more. For 5 days (July 17th-21th) you’ll be granted access to some of the best cimages-12rafted cocktails ranging from classic to exotic. Combine that with food pairings that not only will blow your mind, but will keep you sober in a time where it’s EASY to become overwhelmed by drink offerings everywhere you turn. Literally from 8:30 am each day (appropriately starting with an Absolut sponsored Blood Mary Bar) until after midnight there are seminars, cocktail tastings, pool parties, award ceremonies, and spirited dinners all in the name of mixology. For a first timer, it can be pretty overwhelming. Oh hell, for a veteran who let’s his guard down it can be overwhelming.

Ann Tuennerman is the founder of Tales of the Cocktail, and after launching it in 2003, it’s now grown to the globally accepted and respected event that we see today. Since it’s inception, it’s become the premier destination for the top liquor brands, spirit magazines, mixology minds, and even little bloggers like us here at 101. With so much growth in 11 years, it’s become hard to keep up with all the awesome events and seminars so we’ve decided highlight a few “big deals” and do a quick run down for you.

New Brands: If you’re a new brand and you’re looking to make a big splash, Tales is the place to do it. Each year, someone makes a mark and this years can’t miss brand is Louisiana’s own, Bayou Rum.

  • Global Launch of Louisiana’s own BAYOU RUM!: Bayou features handcrafted Louisiana Rum made from raw unrefined Louisiana sugar and fresh Louisiana molasses distilled down the road in Lacassine.

Seminars: Every year new seminars are brought in based on what YOU the drinker or bartender want to learn about. This year there are OVER 50, yes 50, seminars to give you new knowledge and perspective on cocktail culture. Highlights include

  • Part 1: How to Run a Successful Bar Business: This one is HUGE considering the rate of growth start up bars. Every bartenders dream is to own where he pours, but coincidentally almost every Joe Shmoe’s dream is to own where he drinks. This 3 part seminar will take you from A-Z on how to run a successful bar business. Led by bar owner Philip Duff (owner of renowned Amsterdam speakeasy door 74) and acclaimed spirits consultant Andy Seymour, with panelists that  include Sean Muldoon (The Dead Rabbit, New York), Cedd Moses (founder of 213 Nightlife which owns 11 award-winning bars in Los Angeles and San Diego), Dale DeGroff (former partner in Blackbird restaurant and cocktail royalty), Tad Carducci (owner of Tippling Bros and partner in Mercadito Hospitality, owning bars in six US cities), Alba Huerta (owner of the almost-open Julep craft cocktail bar in Houston), Erick Castro (owner of Polite Provisions in San Diego), plus many, many more – all  bar owners.
  • Rise of the Zombie: Tiki’s Deadly Drink: We’re going to this one and we can’t wait. I’m a huge fan of tiki drinks. They’re strong, flavorful, and good on any occasion, not just when at the beach. Here, while sipping samples of vintage Zombie recipes, you’ll learn why this legendary drink was the toast of the Hollywood movie crowd, and hear the true-life detective story behind how the original recipe was lost, and found over a 10 year period by the legend, Jeff “Beach Bum” Berry.
  • Airport Bars: We travel A LOT, both for business and pleasure. Maybe we’re just showing our age here, but weren’t the airport bars in all the movies you watched as a kid cool and hip? Did they all die with Pan Am and those hot little stewardess outfits? Luckily they do still exist, and here you’ll learn the 10 best airport bars still in existence, stories about some of the worst airport bar experiences, AND you’ll receive an in-flight cocktail making kit. Fasten your seat belts and stay seated!

Tasting Rooms: Anything you can imagine will be on display to taste and they’ll be sampled every hour on the hour so here are a few to look out for. Tasting rooms are complimentary with the purchase of any single seminar ticket. You receive a wrist band, and from there the choices (and regrets) are yours.

  • Absolut Bloody Mary / 42 Below Coffee Bar: These will be your lifelines at Tales. Early starts and late finishes is the theme of Tales and there is a lot of drinking in between so make the best of it with these breakfast drinking stations offered first thing each morning.
  • Historic and Modern Milk Punches: Milk Punch is one of the most underrated drinks in the industry in my opinion, but i’m pretty bias. Milk cocktails are my favorite. Here you’ll taste Milk punch recipes from the colonial days all the way up till present time lead by an awesome panel including Tiki Goddess Suzanne Long, Accomplished Barman Christopher James, and the eloquent and prolific Spirits Writer Warren Bobrow.
  • Pisco Pavilion: Pisco curiosity is increasing by the day, here you’ll have a chance to taste several different peruvian piscos all in one area.
  • Rare and Exotic Fruit from around the World: Everyone is looking for the next big thing in mixology, and here you’ll be a step ahead of the game with opportunities to taste some exotic and rare fruits from places like India, Thailand, Italy etc. Remember the passion fruit obsession a few years back? How about the Blood Orange? You get my drift?
  • Four Roses Bourbon 125th Anniversary Celebration: Learn and sample all 10 bourbons from the Four Roses brand with a few surprises in store.
  • Jacob’s Ghost™ Midnight “Ghost Bar”: Jim Beams newest addition, poured at midnight by the ghost of Jacob Beam himself. Yes the hologram movement continues.
  • VeeV Fresh Market Bar: If you’re a fan of the Acai movement, VeeV is the tasting you can’t miss. Join VeeV, the World’s First Acai Spirit and taste “farm to glass” hand-crafted, cold-pressed cocktails.
  • Licor 43 After Dark Midnight Drinks and Tapas: Licor 43, the versatile vanilla-citrus liqueur from Spain made from a secret formula of 43 ingredients, will offer a selection of tasty tapas and sweet bites after midnight for a little after dark excitement.
  • Tales of the Cocktail Farewell with a Shot of Jägermeister: While most of us started our pre-drinking with Jager during college nights out, Tales ends it with a Farewell Shot of Jager.

Special Events: As much fun as Tastings and Seminars are, there are several events used to highlight other aspects of the industry. From meet and greets with distillers, bartending competitions, and charity functions, to tours of the city and award ceremonies. Tales has you covered with tons of special events to choose from.

  • BarSmarts Advanced New Orleans
  • New Orleans Cocktail Tour
  • The Good Books – The Cocktail Books Every Bartender Should Know
  • Spirited Awards® Ceremony
  • 4th Annual Pig & Punch

Spirited Dinners: The spirited dinner series has become a Thursday night tradition at Tales and will take place Thursday the 18th. Restaurants all over NOLA will challenge you to try exclusive dinner pairings of cocktails and cuisines. Each restaurant offers one of the worlds best mixologists paired with some of the city’s most renowned chefs to create a one of a king cuisine. Highlights include:

  • The Irish in New Orleans: A Celtic Creole Courtship
  • Latin American Libations
  • A True Taste of Demerara hosted by El Dorado Rum
  • Maker’s Mark “Make Mine Meat” Whole Hog Dinner
  • Dining and Drinking at the Texas Governor’s Mansion

Invite Only: Got the right credentials, these events are invite only and come with some great perks.

  • Hennessy – Never stop, Never settle. The return of Cognac Cocktails
  • The William Grant & Sons Cocktails in Film Festival
  • Juleps & Southern Porch Party hosted by Ruth’s Chris Steak House featuring Tom Bulleit
  • Juniperlooza
  • Mr. and Mrs. Cocktail’s Sunday Brunch

Keep On Schedule!: If you find it hard to keep up with all the events and drink recipes floating around at tales, we HIGHLY recommend downloading the Tales of the Cocktail drink app. It’s a rookies best friend, and a life line even for us. Every (sanctioned) event is listed and can be easily selected and added to its built in schedule for you to keep handy.

These highlights are just a sample of all the awesome Tales has to offer. The best thing about Tales is the ability to taste so many things you’ve wanted to try but didn’t feel like forking out the money for, or didn’t want an entire bottle in case you hated it. Or maybe your favorite bar only carries the “big” brands. From liqueurs/cordials/apertifs like Drambuie, Becherovka, Lillet, Chartreuse, and Absinthe to the usual suspects like Grey Goose, Absolut, Bacardi, and Disaronno, there’s something for EVERYONE. Step on the ledge and don’t be afraid to jump at Tales, because you might just discover you like something crazy.

If you’re still finding yourself wondering what the hell this Tales of the Cocktail event is all about, I’ve provided a link to their FAQ section here, to help break it all down for you. Unfortunately ticket sales through their online system have ended, but tickets for several events are still available and if you find yourself in NOLA this week, it’s worth a stop.