What a hell of a week (or just short thereof)! Starting on Tuesday with registration and a handful of events, things for Tales of the Cocktail basically only picked up steam from there. Events, tasting rooms, seminars, cocktail legends and free booze abounded. Boy was there ever booze. I don’t think you could walk two feet without there being a tasting room, snack tent or some other marketing ploy to induce you to consume free beverages. After a week of testing most of my limits, I’ve learned a thing or two. While they’ll do us no good right now, they will be preserved for next year.
5. Patience: If you’re not a particularly patient person, this is going to take some work. Don’t expect things to kick off exactly on time or to be able to slide in anywhere without a line. The seminars often require complex setups (like 10 different tasting glasses all filled with different styles of gin) and these set ups are done, for the most part, by volunteers. This all means things will take a bit extra time. Plus, so what if your seminar doesnt’ start on time, it just gives you an extra few minutes at the nearest tasting room. And if you want to go to something, it is a pretty safe bet to assume a whole bunch of other people are too. The doors to these events are only so wide, so lines are inevitable. Just keep your cool, grab a drink from the little freebie stand behind you and before you know it you’ll be in.
4. Water: One of the first things most people do when they enter a bar/event/party is locate where they can score a drink. At Tales, you need to do the exact opposite. Find the water. Whether it is in bottles at the back of the room or pitchers on the table, you’ll need to know exactly where the water is. Hydrating often can be the difference between walking down the steps of the Monteleone and sliding down.
3. Skip Things: Tales is serious business for sure, but you aren’t trying to graduate with a four-year degree in two years. Don’t jam in every event, seminar and tasting room or you won’t be able to make it to the end of the week. Take time to rest, relax and take a nap or sit by the pool. This leads right into the next bit of advice.
2. Don’t Take Every Drink: Alcohol of every size and color is available for your tasting pleasure at every turn. But this doesn’t mean you’ve got to down each one. If you’re not comfortable with saying no to a drink someone with a pretty face handed you, remember you don’t have to drink it all. Considering that the free drinks start up as soon as the sunrises, passing on a few drinks could very well keep your afternoon schedule in tact.
1. Go: Despite the crowds and organized chaos of the Monteleone, Tales offers so much to anyone with any interested in drinks and drinking. You can learn about the 40-something different distinct aromas of gin (that was a cool class), learn how to make your own bitters, taste exotic liquors that aren’t available in your market (or even the United States), have drinks mixed up by some of the country’s best bartenders or discuss the merits of classic cocktails with Gaz Regan or David Wondrich all in an afternoon. When you sit down and think about it, that’s a pretty cool thing to have right in our backyard. So if you haven’t been before, mark your calendar for the end of July, because you’ll need to go.