All photos by Amanda Schuster.
July is one of the warmest months of the year in the northern hemisphere. For those of us in the beverage industry, it’s all the booziest. For it is time once again for that annual bibulous event known as Tales of the Cocktail!
Adam and I, with some of our professors in tow, will be taking a break from the academy this week and holding off on our usual stream of articles, so we can attend the festivities. We will be joined by bartenders, writers, fellow scholars, brand representatives and drinks enthusiasts from around the world, all convening in New Orleans.
Whenever the location of the event is brought up in conversation with someone new, they always say, “Wow. New Orleans. What a great town for a cocktail convention! But in July? Isn’t that a little warm?”
Yes, but as TOTC founder Ann Tuennerman, a.k.a. Mrs. Cocktail, would explain, it’s also a way of supporting one of the world’s greatest cities during its slowest tourist season, more than a decade after Hurricane Katrina nearly laid it to ruin. In some places, the city is still recovering from the trauma, and in others, trying to keep up in a fluctuating economy.
Sure, it’s hot and sticky. I’ve said this before, but the best way to describe it is:
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 plastic over your head and stand in the bathroom, which, especially if you live in a large 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.
I kid. It’s fun. No, it really is. (Also, you get used to the heat after a couple of days.) We wouldn’t miss it for the world because through seminars, tasting rooms, parties and other events, we always learn something new, meet new people and taste new things. TOTC is also an opportunity to reconnect with the gang of miscreants great people we’ve met along the way, not to mention revisit some of our favorite libations from history.
A few tips for newbies:
- Every drink handed to you need not be finished to the last drop. No one will consider it impolite if you take just a sip or two of something to taste it and put it down. Many will say these words, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Live by that mantra.
- Always hydrate at gatherings serving alcoholic beverages, but because of the heat, hydrate even more than so usual. Water bottles are available at every seminar and event and sometimes in the lobby of the Monteleone, the home base for the convention. If you aren’t a water drinker, make sure you carry your non-alcoholic refreshment of choice with you at all times.
- EAT! You are visiting one of the best food cities in the world that can be enjoyed on any budget. Heat + humidity + alcohol + empty stomach = dangerous and regretful, and the majority of the events and seminars don’t serve food (it is encouraged to consult the events calendar to find ones that do.) Take the time to nourish and fuel yourself.
- First aid friction block: Genius invention, often used by long distance runners to prevent excessive chafing (see first item re marathons). In that heat, chafing happens in places you didn’t know you had places. A few swipes from Band Aid or a drug store brand will keep you comfortable with some touch ups throughout the day.
- Under eye roller: Living the dream means lacking the sleep. This is an eye gel attached to a metal roller ball in stick form. A good one de-puffs and erases some of the circles that accumulate, and this can happen at any age! I’m a huge fan of Clinique’s because it’s hypoallergenic and soothing without irritation. Nothing replaces a good night’s sleep, but at least one can look as if they nearly got one anyway.
- Milk thistle for liver health. Does it really work? Well, it can’t hurt, right?
- That said, never underestimate the power of a disco nap. Just don’t forget to set a loud alarm.
Right. One more thing.
- Make sure your alarm device works.
We look forward to drinking and schvitzing with everyone this week! Please follow us on Twitter @theAlcoholProf and on Facebook for further adventures throughout the week. You can also follow me @winenshine on Instagram.
Editor in Chief