Tales of the Cocktail 2018 is hours away. After all the question marks and rumors, the big event is here and it looks—well, it looks like Tales, but with a few upgrades. The new Foundation, John Lermayer, wellness, a booze-free portfolio party, and some lingering questions will be in the spotlight this week. Check out our rundown of what to watch during the days ahead.
John Lermayer Remembered: In June, the hospitality community lost Miami craft pioneer John Lermayer. Tales first honored the popular bartender during the video reveal of the annual Spirited awards, but there are plenty more tributes planned. On Friday (7.20) evening, a second line (a traditional New Orleans memorial procession) will wind its way through the French Quarter in honor of Lermayer. On Saturday (7.21), Santos on Decatur Street will host a Sweet Liberty takeover following the Spirited Awards. Organizers assure us that a few other Lermayer surprises are in store.
Portfolio Free Portfolio Party: William Grant & Sons has long been associated with Tales’ most lavish parties. Their past portfolio shows featured over-the-top flourishes like live cows and chickens (for Ramos Gin Fizzes, of course,) an airport takeover, and a complete reconfiguring of the WW II Museum. However, this year’s portfolio party will be different; specifically, the portfolio will be absent. The big William Grant soiree will be booze free. “It’s important for us to give bartenders – the backbone of the industry – a night before their seminars and social gatherings where the pressure to imbibe is lifted and meaningful conversations and relationships are forged,” said Grant Director of Brand Advocacy Charlotte Voisey in a statement. (If you must have a tipple, we suggest a flask.)
Beyond the Bar: In response to the health epidemic ravaging the service industry, the programming at Tales 2018 includes the “Beyond the Bar” track. The free series of seminars and events focuses on issues like wellness with programming that tackles topics including sleep deprivation, alcoholism, and even how-to-handle an overdose. In addition, there will be host of fitness activities like yoga and daily runs peppered throughout the fest. Again, all of these events are on-the-house.
The Foundation: Yup, there is a massive cocktail fest about to invade New Orleans, but Tales’ new leadership team envision the event as support, not the purpose of the renamed Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. “I’ve got plenty of events to manage in my life; I didn’t need another event,” Co-Chair Gary Solomon Jr. told NP. “But, what we, as a family, wanted was a real philanthropic effort that could make a difference. So, the opportunity to take the Tales event (and the entire brand) and really leverage the Foundation is what was appealing to us.”
Not surprising, the Foundation’s work will be front and center. On Tuesday (7.17), $250,000 in grants will be awarded and the Foundation will host a State of the Trade conversation moderated by Kat Kinsman. Expect the Foundation to be a ubiquitous presence throughout the week!
Lingering Questions: For about nine months, the fate of Tales provided a guessing game for the industry. It is abundantly clear that Tales is happening and the format looks a lot like the fest’s historic layout; the apocalyptic meltdown feared by many seems to averted. However, the proof is in the pudding and some fest-goers will be watching to see if concerns about diversity, wellness, and representation continued to be addressed.