Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tales of the Cocktail 2011: Seminar Preview



Tales of the Cocktail, the annual New Orleans celebration of, you guessed it, the cocktail, is fast approaching, and the list of events, seminars, and tastings is staggering. As members of the media, we are asked to attend five of the fifty-five seminars on offer. Narrowing down our choices wasn’t easy. So many of the seminars that we wished to attend overlapped, but we managed to be quite pleased with those we ultimately chose and are looking forward to hear what the pros have to say.



1. One of the already sold out Pro-Series seminars (for professionals working in the spirits industry) we’ll be attending is simply titled “Brand Ambassadors.” This seminar—sponsored by Belvedere Vodka and hosted by such cocktail and spirit luminaries as Angus Winchester, Simon Ford, John Lermayer, and Allen Katz—promises to dissect the role of a spirits brand ambassador, a position that has piqued the interest of many a star bartender, and comes with the possibilities of travel, an extravagant expense account, and constant parties, interviews, and spreading the word of spirituous enlightenment. We’re sold.

2. Another sold out Pro-Series seminar—which immediately piqued our interest—is titled “Intellectual Property 2,” sponsored by Absolute Vodka and Plymouth Gin. We missed last year’s seminar, so were very excited to have nabbed some seats for this one, which will focus on protecting your original ideas, with some emphasis on the rights of bloggers, like us.

3. The non–Pro-Series seminars that make up most of the Tales of the Cocktail roster are more creatively titled, such as “The Bad Boys of Saloons,” which quickly caught our eye. Authors Christine Sismondo and James Waller will band together to discuss the “seamy side of the saloon trade,” in which drinks with names such as Mule Skinner, Pop-Skull, Nockem Stiff, Rattlesnake, and Tonsil Varnish were served in joints sometimes referred to as Hell-on-Wheels and Hangdog Bars. Low-life booze delights are promised.

4. It’s always fun to trace the history of a particular cocktail, and this year’s winner is one of our favorites: the Mint Julep. Just thinking about sipping one on a sweltering summer day almost brings tears of joy to our eyes. “Persia to Ponies—Julep Journey,” hosted by a panel of Australian award-winning drink educators (!), aims to limn with humor the development of this bourbon-mint-ice drink, from its roots in Perisa, through the post–Civil War era, right up to the modern age (did we just hear the words Kentucky Derby?). Giggles are guaranteed, as well as juleps galore.

5. Spirits writers David Wondrich and Wayne Curtis, along with moderator Paul Clarke, tackle the ever-widening field of spirits writing in their seminar titled “Drinking on Deadline.” (It really is difficult to write about a spirits event after sipping nine different cocktails with very little food in your belly—trust us.) Book, magazine, and online spirits writing will be covered in all from starting up your own blog, to great spirits writers both pioneering and recent.

For a description of all seminars, click here.
Description of all Pro-Series seminars, click here.

Tales of the Cocktail
runs from Wednesday, July 20, through Sunday, July 24.

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