"It's a marathon, not a sprint" is sage advice you'll hear from Tales of the Cocktail conference veterans. Ms. Cocktail Den and I heard it in 2014 when we first went to New Orleans for Tales. Early that year we dealt with a serious health issue (which fortunately resolved) and the death of our long time cat (the basis of the Mooch, my first original creation). Those events helped us decide to go to Tales. We're so glad we did. We met so many talented, cool, and friendly people (there were many, but I'll go ahead and name check Lauren Mote and Josh Morton) and had such a great experience it inspired us to create the Wulf Cocktail Den.
Back to the "marathon, not a sprint" advice. What does it really mean? Pace yourself while you have fun. You will have a lot of fun because of the people at Tales and the wonderfully unique city of New Orleans. Of course, New Orleans is not known for moderation. Tales veterans know a little moderation makes your time at Tales a lot more fun, but a lack of moderation can be a problem. Here's a hilariously horrifying example -- one afternoon in 2016 we saw a Tales attendee (we knew because he had the right wristband) passed out in front of the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street. Not the lobby of the hotel, where he probably was a guest. Not the hotel entryway. Not the sidewalk. On Bourbon Street itself. I hope the poor guy showered with bleach and burned his clothes.
Whether you're a Tales virgin, a Tales veteran, or someone who simply likes cocktails (and you probably are if you're reading this), you may enjoy these other suggestions for attending Tales:
1. Rehydrate as you dehydrate. Even if you only have a sip or two of the drinks (I definitely recommend you do not drink everything unless you have a disturbingly weird desire to end up like Mr. Bourbon Street), it'll add up quicker than you think. Combine that with the torrid (not in a good way) heat of New Orleans, and you can become dehydrated quickly. You don't want to end up like Pheidipiddes, the original marathoner (spoiler alert -- he died). However, if you steadily drink water throughout the day, you'll be like the Energizer Bunny. Who would you rather be?
2. It's about the people, people. You know how most people normally bond over alcohol? That effect is exponentially larger at Tales. You may remember the drinks, the music, or the atmosphere, but it'll be the people who will resonate with you.
3. Try and try again. Ask questions and go to seminars because you will learn all sorts of things. Tales is where Ms. Cocktail Den and I learned we really don't hate all gin. Similarly, there were some concoctions new to us that looked disgusting when we read them but tasted great. I know I'm going to sound like a stereotypical parent trying to get their kid to eat food, but I don't care ... if you don't try something, how do you know if you like it or not?
4. Expand your New Orleans horizons. We like New Orleans so much we named Mooch's successor Satchmo (featured in the Orange Satchmo and Hurricane posts). New Orleans is a city with its own traditions and rhythms, and it's fine if you have your own traditions and rhythms when you're there. For example, whenever Ms. Cocktail Den and I go to New Orleans we always have dinner at Antoine's (pictured in the Vieux Carre post and the source of the Antoine's Smile). However, we always try to see or do something different when we're in town. This has led to some memorable experiences such as visiting the National World War II Museum, or listening to Linnzi Zaorski at a club in the Marigny.
Are you looking to learn more about cocktails? Thirsty for a drink? Ready to go to Tales? Then, ahem, pardon my French -- laissez les bon temps roulé!