Hello from New Orleans! Chris spent the weekend at Tales of the Cocktail, arguably the industry’s largest event of the year. We were thinking of you the whole time – and that’s why we created a quick video while we were there. In this video, Chris reviews with some recommendations for how to prioritize your visit, and his 6 tips & tricks to get the most out of the whirlwind event.
As promised, here’s the picture of all of the stuff we got. What’s crazy is that this wasn’t much compared to others – if we hadn’t gone to so many seminars you’d see (at least) twice as many hats!

Were you there? What did you think? Leave a comment for your ideas on how to maximize your time at a big event like Tales.

As always, check out the resources below and leave a comment to let us know what you think!

A couple Restaurant Recommendations while you’re in NoLa:

  • We really enjoyed our dinner at Cafe Amelie.  Eating in the garden courtyard on Sunday was a real treat!
  • I have to admit – I consumed far more than the Recommended Daily Intake of Beignets at the Cafe Beignet, just a few blocks from the Hotel Monteleone
  • Restaurant Stanley – we skipped the hotel’s continental breakfast for this treat.  I’d recommend anything on the menu with the word “benedict” in it!
  • And the best for last – our top meal in New Orleans came to us by surprise as we wandered aimlessly north from the St. Charles trolley line.   High Hat Cafe wins the prize with their fantastic food (my wife almost left me for the chicken fried steak) and phenomenal cocktail program.  Ryan behind the bar has a “mad scientist” approach to homemade liqueurs and bitters – the best Orange Bitters I’ve ever had.  Thanks Ryan and Chip for a delicious visit!

Click Here to view the Transcript

Hi everyone, this is Chris from ABarAbove.com. We’re live here at Tales of the Cocktail and we are having a great time! So far we have gone to a couple tasting rooms and we’re going to hit a couple seminars later in the day and tomorrow. So stay tuned, we’ll keep you posted and we’ll let you know what we learn!

Hi everyone, we’re outside the Hotel Monteleone, we’ve been here for a few days now and now we’re going to give you some tips for the next time you come to Tales of the Cocktail.

So depending on your reasoning for going to Tales of the Cocktail, you definitely want to set your priorities differently. If you’re going primarily for an educational experience, I would definitely put the Seminars at the top of your priority list. This is going to give you an opportunity to meet leaders in the industry, shake their hands and trade business cards which is very powerful. So obviously make sure you have a stack of business cards with you, or if you need to create some business cards or personal cards so that you will be able to hand them out to people that you meet at Tales of the Cocktail. They should contain all of the pertinent information – your name, phone number and email address. And any other ways that you can think of for them to get into contact with you, either through Facebook, twitter or some other cool piece of technology that I haven’t even heard of yet. Keep that in mind when you’re going to Tales.

The other thing is that you will have an opportunity to see some brand new products before anybody else will in the world. It’s really cool – I got to see the brand new Perlini Carbonating system. It’s meant to batch large quantities of cocktails for bottle carbonated programs. We’re talking about like 2-300 at a time. It’s a really cool experience and I got to see it before anybody else did.

The last thing is that you might be attending seminars that you don’t know much about. So I got to go to a Seminar about the Molecular Mixology topic this year. They really focused on a lot of the details, and it would have taken me a few months to figure all of these items out, if I would have ever been able to. So you get a really deep knowledge from some of these Seminars, so it’s another benefit of the Seminars.

Now the Tasting rooms can be an educational experience as well. Now the brands that are there want you to ask questions and they want to teach out about their brands, they want you to understand who they are and what they do. Feel free to ask questions.

If you’re going to the tasting room for the education, I recommend going a little bit later. This will give you much more of an opportunity to say hello the owners and operators and have the conversations that you want. In the beginning of the tasting room experience, vendor will be giving away t-shirts and food, there is typically a mad rush for the food, drinks and any of the free stuff that the vendors are giving away. By going later, you’ll have an opportunity to have a good conversation with them.

Now the special events can be another educational experience as well. Typically the special events are geared specifically to having a great time, to having as much fun as possible an creating a very cool environment. The special events typically some of the best bartenders in the business. Some events are actually competitions, so you will be able to see what the “Best of the Best” in the industry are doing. What cocktails they are creating, how they are garnishing and how their creating that cocktail experience for you. You can gather a lot of information by going to these special events.

Now if your main focus is entertainment, your priorities should change a lot. The tasting rooms should be your main priority. This is where you’re going to get the most vendor supplies from. They also provide a lot of alcohol at these events so you will be able to socialize and meet new people and have a great time.

If you are going to the tasting rooms for entertainment, I highly recommend getting there early. You’re going to be at the beginning of the lines, so you will be able to get the most out of the tasting rooms. They typically offer food and vendor supplies, but also run out quickly. Food will be key. Tasting rooms also provide bottled water, so make sure to grab a few extra. Hydration will be key while you’re here at Tales of the Cocktail.

The second priority should be the special events. These are meant to be the big exciting events of Tales. They will typically be at the best venues, You’re going to hear great music, have great food and typically the best cocktails. So the special events are a party all the time. So make sure you go to a few special events.

Another thing is that in order to get a tasting room pass you either have to buy a ticket to a seminar or a special event. So why not have a little bit of fun with it, grab a ticket for the special event and you get the tasting room for free? Kind of a bonus right there.

The Seminars can be a great source of entertainment as well. If you see a Seminar that you might enjoy and has caught your interest, don’t hesitate to sign up. The presenters are typically very colorful, fun and animated and they are there to have a great time just like you are. So by going to these Seminars and being in the room with them, you’re going to have a lot of fun and entertainment and you’re going to learn something that’s even better.

So here’s a few other tips we have for you.
Before you even come to Tales of the Cocktail, pack an extra bag. Just a little duffel bag – put it in your luggage. You’re going to get a lot of extra swag, goods while you’re here. Typically alcohol, cocktails, hats. We have so many hats! We will take a picture of all of the stuff we got this year at Tales of the Cocktail and put I on the website. Definitely bring an extra piece of luggage with you.

The other thing is, bring an umbrella – bring a small umbrella with you. Tales of the Cocktail is always held in New Orleans in July, and it has a tendency to rain. So you don’t want to be caught by surprise, so bring a small umbrella with you. The other thing is you’re going to be on your feet for a very long time – 8-14 hours a day. So dress comfortably, make sure you have comfortable shoes. You’re going to be walking all over New Orleans and you’re going to forget how tired you are until the last couple hours.

The other thing is that when you go to these Tasting rooms, grab extra water. Bring a couple home with you, put them in your hotel room. You’re going to want to drink a lot of water while you’re down here. It’s hot, you’re drinking more alcohol than water typically and you’re probably not getting enough sleep, so water is definitely going to beneficial your entire time here.

Now one of the last pieces of advice we have for you is – come with a friend or a buddy. You’ll want to share this experience with someone else. The other thing is that you can be in two places at once. So if you have two different tasting rooms going on at the same time, you’ll be able to divide and conquer. So each of you go to a separate tasting room – maybe you want a Fernet shirt and your buddy wants an Amaro Montenegro shirt, you’ll be able to get both, one for each of you.

Also if you go to the same tasting room, they have different areas. So one of you can go grab some food and the other can grab t-shirts and hats or grab cocktails. Then you can meet in the middle. So instead of spending 15 minutes in each line, you only have to do it once. At that point you can have a coupe extra tasting rooms throughout the day ad have even more fun.

Now this is the biggest piece of advice that I have for all of you – something you should all be aware of. Start meeting people the minute you get to Tales. If you’re in a line for a Seminar or a Tasting Room, say hi to everybody around you, find out where they’re from, be Social. If you’re in an event, a seminar and you’re sitting next to somebody, introduce yourself as well. Find out where they’re from, start a dialogue, get in a relationship with these people. You’re going to spend the next 3-4 days seeing these people everywhere, all over town, in different tasting rooms and different seminars, so if you have already gone out of your way to meet people and say hello and introduce yourself, your experience is just going to be that much better. You’re going to be able to know them by name and have a great time, catch up and it’s just a great piece of advice that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.