Every year, we come back from Tales of the Cocktail and think that the convention can’t get any bigger or more interesting, but somehow it always does. This year was, of course, no exception.
Before we tell you about all the things we saw, we wanted to take a moment and officially congratulate the Spirited Award winners, including several of our advisory board members. Gary Regan took home the title for best cocktail author, and Simon Ford’s and Dushan Zaric’s Fords Gin was named best new product.
But the night truly belonged to Julie Reiner, whose bar Clover Club won the awards for Best American Cocktail Bar and Best High Volume Cocktail Bar. She was also honored with the Best Bar Mentor and LUPEC Pioneer awards.
However, the Spirited Awards weren’t the only prizes given out at Tales. There were an unprecedented number of bartending competitions—the conference schedule lists at least 10. Our own editor-in-chief Noah Rothbaum judged Stoli’s Most Original Bartender contest hosted by UrbanDaddy, which was won by Dallas’ Omar Yeefoon; the USBG Mixing Star Competition, sponsored by Disaronno, which was won by LA’s Nathan Burdette; and the semi-finals for the Peter F. Heering Sling Award, which sent five talented bartenders on to the finals in Berlin this fall.
Arguably, the other big TOTC winner was craft spirits, which are playing an increasingly large role in the festivities every year. Not only did attendees have numerous chances to taste products from a range of boutique distilleries, but these brands also sponsored major events like the Bare Knuckle Bar Fight, put on by The 86 Co., and Indie Spirits that Rock, a tasting featuring more than 15 small distillers and a performance by bartender/DJ Brother Cleve.
Tales is also becoming more international, attracting top bartenders and experts from around the globe, including, this year, Salvatore Calabrese from London’s Salvatore at Playboy, Erik Lorincz from London’s legendary American Bar, Colin Field from Paris’ The Hemingway Bar and Hidetsugu Ueno from Toyko’s Bar High Five.
And if you missed Tales this year, or would like to relive your time in NOLA, check out our Facebook gallery featuring images from a number of different events.
See you in New Orleans for the 2014 installment of Tales of the Cocktail!