“Are you going to Tales this year?” If you’re connected with the spirits and cocktail industry, it’s a question you’ll hear more than once in the months preceding Tales of the Cocktail, held mid-July every year in New Orleans. For veterans of Tales, there’s an unspoken understanding that this isn’t just a few days having fun in New Orleans, popping into a few bars with friends and enjoying the occasional free cocktail, courtesy of the hundreds of brand sponsors. No, going to Tales is a commitment. You will push your body to its limit. You will race from event to event in the sweltering New Orleans heat, knowing that for every tasting room, pool party, or French Quarter bar reception you arrive at, there will three other concurrent events that you’ll miss. The FOMO (Fear or Missing Out) can loom large at Tales.
Keeping a clear head with a steady stream of readily available cocktails and spirits is often the least of the challenges. With copious water consumption and judicious sips (Tip 1: DON’T FINISH EVERY COCKTAIL), you can sample everything and not be hammered by noon every day. For we in the media, the bigger challenge is going from 8 AM to midnight (or later) every day, trying to make it to all the can’t-miss sessions, interleaved with events and gatherings you’re invited to, while not forgetting to eat. (Because in New Orleans, forgetting to eat is a crime.) A steady stream of chance meetings and new invites arriving in your inbox keeps you on your toes. It’s live action, spur-of-the-moment decision making. At night, the big brands throw lavish, gigantic parties that compete for your attention after an already exhausting day. You may have an idea of what a day holds for you when you wake up each morning, but when you finally collapse into bed sixteen-plus hours later, you might not have predicted half of what happened that day.