After five days of seminars, countless parties and too many drinks to remember, this year’s Tales of the Cocktail came to an end late last weekend. Tales at its best can be an incubator for small trends that later turn into national phenomena. So, what did we learn at the spirited convention? After careful consideration and consultation with our all-star team of advisors, here are a few of the most interesting things we spotted.
Beyond the Big Three:
London, New York and San Francisco helped bring back the cocktail, and as a result the cities have had a large presence at Tales in the past. While there were plenty of bartenders from the big three, there seemed to be even more bartenders from other cities this year. We met mixologists from around the globe, including Pittsburgh, Austin and even Brisbane, Australia. To top it off, Murray Stenson of Seattle’s Zig Zag Café was named American bartender of the year.
The Return of Rum:
For many years, the spirit of Tales was gin. While the juniper-flavored alcohol still had a big presence, “rum was one of the stars of the show,” says master mixologist and Liquor.com advisor Dale DeGroff. There were several seminars about the liquor, including one on rum-running and another on tiki drinks. Another popular spirit was mezcal. “It was just all over the place,” says Dushan Zaric, Liquor.com advisor and co-owner of New York bars Employees Only and Macao Trading Co. How far has it come? Mayahuel, the Big Apple temple to all things agave, was named the world’s best new cocktail bar.
Tales of the Whiskey:
Despite the festival’s name, this year some of the most popular events involved whiskey straight-up. “The hordes overwhelmed the space,” says Liquor.com advisor Allen Katz of the tasting rooms. One reason was the impressive group of master distillers, including Barry Crockett from Jameson and Harlen Wheatley from Buffalo Trace, and master blenders, including Colin Scott from Chivas Regal and Shinji Fukuyo from Suntory. It didn’t hurt that they were pouring some of their best spirits, too.