Field Trip to New Orleans
As many of you know, next week, many of us cocktail aficionados both in and outside the beverage industry will be gathering in New Orleans for the annual drinks convention known as Tales of the Cocktail, and Adam and I will be taking part. Founded over ten years ago by Ann Tuennerman and since co-hosted with her husband, Paul Tuennerman (a.k.a. "Mr. and Mrs. Cocktail"), the event gathers an international cast of bartenders, chefs, brand ambassadors, publicists, journalists and enthusiasts of all things drinky, in all their be-sear-suckered and halter-dressed glory, at numerous events held in the French Quarter, centered around the Hotel Monteleone. Days are spent in cocktail seminars, luncheons and tastings, while late afternoons and evenings center around competitions, events, parties and special dinners throughout the city. It's a glorious way to reacquaint with old chums as well as meet new ones. Heck. Some of the best friends to be made can be met smack in the middle of the Mississippi River on a steamboat during a cocktail dinner with a flask of new hooch on its way to the marketplace! That happens at TOTC. That's one of the things that puts the "tales" in Tales. As well as some you might want to keep to yourself. Ahem.
So why New Orleans in July? Isn't it really bloody hot?
I like to explain it this way: To imagine what the air feels like, remove the plastic coating off a large piece of dry cleaning (If you don't have this, a really big trash bag will do.) Turn on your shower using the hottest water setting and close the bathroom door for a few minutes. Now fully clothed, put the dry cleaning plastic over your head and stand in the bathroom (which, especially if you live in New York City, should absorb all this steamy air nicely since it has the approximate square footage of a gym locker. For those with larger bathrooms, try to find the most confined space available and make sure all windows are closed.) For added authenticity, turn on a hair dryer full blast and blow that into the bag too, aiming slightly away from, but at the same time, close to your face.
Now drink. And walk. Repeat for six days.
That said, you get used to it. And we're all having so much fun hanging out that after a couple of days, the body acclimates. But as Ann likes to remind us, "it's a marathon, not a sprint." With so much going on, and things popping up at a moment's notice, one can find ways to drink pretty much all day and night, and some even think this is the best way to sustain momentum. But as someone for whom this ain't the first rodeo, I can say that it's crucially important to find some rest (embrace the power of the disco nap!), stay hydrated and fed (the latter being super easy given all the great places to eat!) Here's a great PSA video from the folks at William Grant & Sons on what not to do. Some of us are also lucky enough to be invited to industry pool parties, which is an excellent way to cool off as well as see people one normally only meets in dim lighting, now half-naked in the sunshine. "So that's what the rest of that tattoo looks like..." "Oh and you have one, there?"
Kidding aside, there's a reason we all attend, besides seeing each other in fewer articles of clothing. We take our calling very seriously. We love cocktails, we love discussing them, we love reading about them, we love exploring what's in them, we love finding out how they came about and what their future holds. We love seeing the people who make them team up to give us insight from behind the bar and share tips with one another. And most of all, we love drinking cocktails together in one place. That place being New Orleans, one of the greatest cities in the world.
Hope to be seeing many of your lovely faces next week! Drink responsibly, everyone!
Stay tuned to Alcohol Professor for our own "Tales" after next week. In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates on what Adam, myself and some of our correspondents are up to throughout our week in New Orleans.
Salud! Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Senior Editor in Chief