Tales shows it's shifting focus

23 August, 2022

Tess Posthumus reports from the recent tales of the cocktail – and finds it’s becoming so much more than just a cocktail festival.

It’s taken a couple of weeks to let the dust settle and reflect on what was a very successful Tales of the Cocktail in August. In lots of ways it felt like good ol’ Tales. We were soaked by the torrential rain, drank Sazeracs with old friends and got our mitts on po’boy sandwiches, yet it felt extra special because it was the first time since the pandemic that our industry was able to freely attend the event in person. The festival itself hit a landmark age, celebrating its 20th edition, which for me was reflected in a slightly more sophisticated atmosphere.

Logistically, one of the biggest changes was the new location for the main hub. Instead of being in the heart of Bourbon Street, the notorious party zone in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the programme of seminars and tasting sessions was held at the Ritz-Carlton on Canal Street. Physically this isn’t a big change, about 200m in fact, but it represents a slight shift in focus towards education and networking. The late-night dive bars and boisterous jazz music will always be part of New Orleans culture and an important part of the Tales experience, but with the hub being slightly offset it felt like people could choose when to put their study hats on and when to indulge. The educational aspect is something Tales has been building on for the past few years, so it was satisfying to watch it flex for the first time.

With my new role on the board I’d like to make Tales more international. When I say international, I don’t just mean the UK and Australia, I want to give non English-speaking countries better representation. To do this, we need Tales to offer as much as possible in terms of quality seminars and unique experiences to give guests more value, particularly if they’re coming from the other side of the world. The representation of women and the LGBTQ+ community is also close to my heart and something I want to keep building at Tales, which is why the return of events like Speedrack and Bacardis Inaugural Drag Ball are so important. With this increasing representation Tales is becoming far more than just a cocktail festival, but a hub for raising awareness for social issues going on around the world and working towards a more inclusive global industry – that’s what makes Tales so special.

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