Whew! As my fellow On the House blogger, the incomparable Ms. Donna Hood Crecca, suggests in her post, Tales of the Cocktail can be an overwhelming experience. Part Cocktail University, part schmooze fest and a big part party – hey, it’s New Orleans, baby! – Tales is truly an experience like no other. The amount of drinks knowledge and expertise alone, gathered in a single place, is nothing less than awe-inspiring.
I have recorded in my earlier Tales posts some of the good and not-so-good points of the event, but let me stress here that the good (and very good and excellent) parts outnumbered the occasional hiccups by a very, very wide margin. Simply, if you consider bar service, drinks knowledge and understanding, and your cocktail program to be important, you should already be making plans to attend next year’s edition.
I attended many of the Friday and Saturday sessions that Donna did, so I won’t bother reiterating much of what she has already written here, save for adding my comments on the glassware seminar hosted by George Riedel. I entered the session as skeptic, as no doubt have many attending Riedel’s wine glass tutorials, but I left a believer. The Riedel tequila, cognac and single malt whisky glasses work almost perfectly for their allotted spirits, and proved to me the power of glass shape in drinks service. Riedel is a strong and persuasive speaker, but it was what I nosed and tasted that convinced me of the worth of the company’s spirits glass line.
(It also, incidentally, made me more determined than ever in my crusade against the ubiquitous frosted shaker glass for beer. If ever there was a taste killer, that glass is it!)
In summation, I have to echo the sentiment expressed by many who have been with Tales for longer than have I, which is that this is an event with significant momentum. In a way, although it was the fifth edition of the conference, it seemed a bit like it was the first, or at least its first in a new and more ambitious guise. As Donna wrote, the cocktails movement is not hype, it’s very real, and Tales promises to be a catalyst of its growth for many years to come.