Saturday, July 4, 2009

Preparation for Tales of the Cocktail

In 5 days I will be boarding a plane in Newark to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail 2009, this is my 2nd year at Tales so hopefully I will be a little more prepared than last year.

Tales is the largest cocktail convention in the world, cocktail enthusiasts, bartenders, brand owners, distributors and journalists all congregate in New Orleans for 5 informative, steamy, boozy days on all matters cocktail related. So how am I preparing this year? and what did I learn last year?

Actually lets start with what I learnt last year?

The first two days of seeing everyone I had ever met in the drinks industry in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone was fun, after that I would creep through in disguise or under the cover of the darkness.

Organisation - so many seminars, events, people to meet its important to remember your
diary and run a tight schedule for yourself, always allowing important time for 'networking'
by the pool.

Pace your drinking and eating - being from the UK we often forget about food when
distracted by tasty cocktails. Eating is obviously important especially breakfast.

Sleep - I am not the world's greatest sleeper and can often survive on 4 hours a night but
at Tales a cheeky nap in between seminars or before many of the parties is not only wise but
means you can stay out longer.

Time going into the lifts in the Monteleone well, it is very easy to get stuck for ages as people
shuttle between the lobby and seminars. Maybe try and use the stairs as its the only exercise you will get during the event other than raising glass to hand. I did manage one Bikram class last year but am not going to put such pressures on myself this year.

Hangovers are best spent by the roof top pool bar at the Monteleone drinking Americanos
with good company.

I actually left my voice at Tales last year, I completely lost it for about 4 days which was entertaining for all that know me. I went from Tales straight to a yoga retreat with a bunch of people I'd never met and literally couldn't talk for the first 3 days!

I'm more excited this year as I know I what to expect and also get to re-connect with so many friends from all over the world some of who I met for the first time last year at Tales and some of which I run into often on my travels. The global community of the drinks industry is impressive and there is a real sense of community that I witnessed first hand recently when everyone came together at the untimely loss of one of our much loved bartenders, Gregor de Gruyther, he would have been at Tales. I, and many others, had made plans to meet with him there. It has made me realise how lucky I am to work with such a group of interesting, creative people who keep me inspired and motivated.

How am I preparing this year?

Firstly I used the trip to the US as an excuse to catch up with family and friends on the East Coast, of course this doesn't help with the whole 'taking it easy' before Tales theory. Catching up with family and friends is always a reason for celebration but perhaps this is the best training of all?

This year I plan on taking some cocktail kit and some interesting new brands that aren't available in the US so that I can make drinks in my room. Most days and nights you end up having a drink or 2 back at someone's room or suite, the Hotel Monteleone resembles a kind of frat house/dormitory but all the students look a bit older and definitely have more refined drinking habits!

I have packed my gym kit, my hotel has a comprehensive gym and rooftop pool, I opted out of the Monteleone this year in favour of the W, the theory being I will be able to Casper (leave without saying goodbye, I know a little rude but affective) and retreat back to my room. The gym kit will hopefully get used as its that funny game we all play of if I do something good I can then indulge myself?

I will have Cagney rat too as a travelling companion, if you're not familiar with him, he is a rat (toy) that used to live in Jake Burger's bar, the Portobello Star. Myself, or one of the LUPEC London ladies 'borrowed' him at our first meeting in January and he has travelled extensively since. He is currently in NY after his road trip through France and England but really looking forward to his first Tales.

I am also taking blogging equipment, computer, camera, a flip video gizmo. I have been lucky enough to be included as one of the Tales bloggers this year and plan to blog daily so will keep you posted.


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