Drink Tales of the Cocktail® In

By Allyson Hodapp, Michael Jones, Frank Kerner, and Alie Simon

Tales of the Cocktail® 2013 has some stirring new events this year; so, raise your glasses and enjoy these first-class events.

Tales of the Cocktail® kicks off on Wednesday, July 17th with a tasting event you dare not to miss, Gin & Tonic is Only the Beginning. The gin and tonic is a perfectly simple drink, but has been treated so poorly over the past 50 years. Well, at Tales of the Cocktail® 2013, we’re going to give the gin and tonic the respect it deserves. At Gin & Tonic is Only the Beginning, bartenders from around the world will be mixing up gin and tonic and who knows what else to make delicious new creations of this classic drink. So join us to taste how complex this simple cocktail can be.

At Tales of the Cocktail®, we don’t discriminate against drinks. If you prefer tequila over gin, make sure you check out this other superb tasting event, Experience the Finer Side of Mexico. Join us for a few hours of Tales of the Cocktail® on Thursday, July 18th as we take your taste buds south of the border at the Finer Side of Mexico. This special tasting event will feature a curated collection of the world’s rarest blanco, reposado and añejo tequilas and mezcals all served straight so you can get to know these spirits in their purest form. No matter how well you think you know tequila and mezcal, we guarantee you’ve never tasted the spirits of Mexico like this before.

By popular demand, Tales of the Cocktail® is bring back the popular Craft Distillers tasting on Friday, July 19, 2013. In the last decade, the number of small distillers in the U.S. has grown from a few dozen to more than 200. Over the years, these brands have become a big part of the spirits industry. A group of America’s most renowned craft distillers will come together to sample and discuss their artisan whiskeys, brandies, vodkas, gins, liqueurs and more.

After trying artisanal spirits, meet us at W Hotel for A Shot and A Beer. Throughout Tales of the Cocktail® 2013 we’ll be sampling some of the most inventive and intricate drinks the world has ever tasted. But sometimes nothing beats the simple pleasure of a shot and a beer. At a Shot and a Beer, we’ll be exploring the simpler side of bartending with potent pairings of premium spirit shots and craft beers. And if the strong flavors aren’t enough, we’ll be filling the air with the big, bold sounds of New Orleans brass. Join us as our talented team of mixologists keeps it simple, pouring shots and popping tops all for your pleasure.

Tales of the Cocktail® takes pride in our participating bartenders, brands and mixologists that participate in events like these. Tales of the Cocktail® would not be possible if it wasn’t for these outstanding men and women and we want to honor them at the Spirited Awards®.

The Spirited Awards®, the annual event at Tales of the Cocktail®, is going to be bigger and better than ever in 2013. As with our previous years, each awards show has a specific theme and our Spirited Awards® are always a hit. This year, the Spirited Awards® are “Going Gatsby” and in the words of Jay Gatsby, “…I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” So let everyone come together to intimately celebrate the world of mixology.

What does it mean to “Go Gatsby,” though? Based off of the novel-turned-film of the same name, you should come prepared to be classy, sophisticated, and ready to enjoy sipping your cocktails in much the same way the great Jay Gatsby would. Grab your suit and tie or your cocktail dress and come looking like you stepped right out of the 20s!

Our internationally-known Spirited Awards® show is known for its entertainment, cocktails, and the awards, which are the envy of the cocktail world. Simon Ford, the friend to bars everywhere will be hosting the award’s show again, so you’ll never know what fun surprises we have in store at the Spirited Awards®.

The Top 10 nominees for the Spirited Awards® will be announced on Friday, May 17, 2013 and the Top 4 nominees will be announced on Friday, June 7, 2013. After that, you’re going to have to wait until Tales of the Cocktail® to find out who will take home the coveted trophy in each category! Some of the categories that are being recognized are American Bartender of the Year, International Bartender of the Year, Best High Volume Cocktail Bar, and much more!

So come out dressed to the nines in your suit and tie, and “Go Gatsby” with us! Cheer on your friends and colleagues as we find out who is the best of the best! The 2013 Spirited Awards® will be held at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans on Saturday, July 20, 2013. Tickets for the Spirited Awards® are $72.50 each or $725.00 for a table of 10. We hope to see you there and dressed to impress!

Of course none of these tasting rooms, seminars or dinners would be possible without our behind the scenes workers. Every year, Tales of the Cocktail® posts an application to find promising individuals to join the Tales of the Cocktail® team during the festival and to expand their experience in the world of mixology.

The Cocktail Apprentice Program (CAP) was established in 2008 and since 2009, Cointreau has partnered with the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society (NOCCSPS) to help foster the relationship between the best up-and-coming bartenders around the globe with the leading names in mixology. Each year, 60 applicants are selected through an application reviewed by past Cocktail Apprentices. The application includes submitting cocktail recipes and answering questions related to their experience in the world of mixology.

The CAP leadership team, comprised of six members who are well respected in the mixology community Mike Ryan, John Deragon, Leo Robitschek, Don Lee, Eric Simpkins and Jeff Grdinich.

Each class has a one-of-a-kind New Orleans and Tales of the Cocktail® experience which includes hard work, education and life long friendships.

During the festival, the apprentices assist in seminars, by making each and every delicious cocktail that our guests’ experience. Through our original program, innovative mixologists and bartenders network and further their career. Tales of the Cocktail® takes pride in the list of alumnae and fulfill the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society’s mission of making it the world’s premiere cocktail festival that is dedicated to the advancement of the craft of the cocktail through education, networking and promotion.

Tales of the Cocktail® opens the apprentices to exciting experiences, as well as, opportunities to different programs that The New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society (NOCCPS) offers.

The New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society (NOCCPS) continues to grant scholarships to past Cocktail Apprentices that are involved in CAP. Ten lucky cocktail apprentices will have the opportunity to apply to receive a scholarship in value of $4,200 ($3800 for tuition and a $500 travel stipend) to attend the Beverage Alcohol Resource (B.A.R.) Program in New York City.

The scholarship recipients will spend five days in New York going through this program that consists of a tasting and a paper test.

“B.A.R. is currently one of very few outlets for bartenders to take their education to another level. It is an intense 5-days of tasting and training led by some of the most brilliant and passionate minds in our industry,” said David Delaney Jr. a Graduate of B.A.R. and CAP scholarship recipient. “Much like Tales of the Cocktail has proven to do, B.A.R aids in the education and awareness of our industry to bartenders and consumers alike, and much like the CAP program, you walk away with a true sense of accomplishment and knowledge that you are now part of a small, growing family that you can always learn and grow with.”

The Cocktail Apprentice Scholarship Program is in its third year of granting scholarships to former cocktail apprentices. This scholarship program is guided to give apprentices the opportunities to seek out further knowledge of cocktail formulation and experience research projects to benefit themselves, as well as the cocktail industry as a whole.

Tales of the Cocktail® always has something going on, something to look forward to, and something to celebrate. Join us this summer, July 17-21, as we toast with old and new friends, learn some new tricks, and celebrate the art of the cocktail.