On Monday September 21, bartenders, brand ambassadors, journalists, distillers and more will come together for the 18th annual Tales of the Cocktail conference. But, in many ways, this year’s event—quite appropriately themed “Catalyst”—is the first of its kind.
For one it won’t be in New Orleans but will instead be fully digital and completely free to attendees across the globe (register here). Tales aims to provide virtual camaraderie and support to the hospitality and liquor community as it navigates unprecedented challenges and continues to feel the impact of COVID-19.
It will stretch over four days and feature 29 pre-recorded seminars on a range of topics featuring industry leaders from around the world. There is also a schedule of live panel discussions and roundtables, which run the gamut from how bars can support their communities and evolve in the midst of a global pandemic to how to better support BIPOC and LGBTQ+ industry members.
“We are honored that so many industry luminaries are lending their time and talent to make this caliber of education and programming available to the global spirits community,” said Caroline Rosen, president of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation in a statement. “This has been an incredibly challenging year, and while it’s not quite the same as gathering together in New Orleans, we are grateful to have this platform and time to be together to collectively forge a path ahead and become a catalyst for change.”
No matter where you are in the world, tune into this year’s Tales of the Cocktail conference and don’t miss these ten seminars and roundtable discussions.
The Value of Innovation for Bars and Bartenders
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CDT
Moderated by spirits expert Reinhard Pohorec, this panel will dive into not only the theoretical foundations of disruption, but also how bars and bartenders can increase productivity and implement innovative practices in bar programs as they adapt to a new normal. Panelists include bartenders Alexis Belton, A-K Hada and Iain McPherson.
Storytelling Behind The Bar
4:30 PM - 5:30 PM CDT
Storytelling takes many different forms in the cocktail and spirits industry, whether it’s a history about how a brand got its start or an entertaining account from behind the bar. During this panel, moderator Charlotte Voisey, head of ambassadors for William Grant, will tap into the particular expertise of three kinds of storytellers in our industry with the help of panelists Fernando Sousa, a bartender and bar consultant; Gemma Paterson, Global Ambassador for The Balvenie, and Wayne Curtis, award-winning cocktail journalist and Half Full columnist.
The Man Behind James Bond: Ian Fleming
4:45 PM - 5:45 PM CDT
English author Ian Fleming is famous for his creation of the debonair spy 007 who prefers his Martinis “shaken, not stirred.” During this panel, moderated by Half Full editor Noah Rothbaum, you’ll get a peek into the author’s life, which was partially spent on his Jamaican estate Golden Eye. Expert panelists Shannon Mustipher, Simon Ford, Chris Blackwell and Phil Greene will explore who Fleming was, his penchant for a fine cocktail, and how he came up with that famous drink order.
The Queer Handbook for The Recently Woke
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM CDT
In this hour-and-a-half long panel, chef Deborah Vantrece, sommelier Alejandro Mazza, and bar pros Ezra Star, Tiffanie Barriere and Sagan Gray will guide the audience through how they can better support the LGBTQ+ community to create safe and inclusive spaces. Moderated by Grey Goose ambassador Chris Cabrera, panelists will delve into the meanings of terms like gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, correct common misconceptions, and explore how to be a proactive ally.
Creation, Equity, and Building a New Table
2:30 PM - 3:30 PM CDT
In this can’t-miss panel, entrepreneur Jackie Summers moderates a discussion between sommelier Yannick Benjamin, bar consultant Lynnette Marrero and Samara Rivers, founder of the Black Bourbon Society, on the systemic inequalities marginalized communities face in the spirits and bar industries, how that prevents talent from advancing, and what needs to be done to create a more equitable future.
The Museum of Rum Distillation: Exploring the Ancient Secrets of Rum-Making
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM CDT
Tune into this visual journey to be transported to the Caribbean and back through 200 years of rum history. The first stop will be at the West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados and then you’ll travel to Jamaica for a visit to two historic distilleries, Clarendon and Long Pond. Following the tour, there will be a live Q&A with spirits historian and Half Full’s Senior Drinks Columnist David Wondrich and Alexandre Gabriel, owner and master blender of the West Indies Rum Distillery.
The Rat Pack: Cocktails With Frank, Sam and Dino
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM CDT
Decades after their heyday, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin—the leaders of the so-called Rat Pack—are still the epitome of cool. This panel, featuring award-winning writers and cocktail historians Phil Greene and Noah Rothbaum, and Las Vegas bartenders Mariena Boarini and Tony Abou-Ganim, will take a look back at this famous group, some of their favorite drinks and their enduring legacy.
The Low Waste, Low Carbon Revolution: Environmental Impact of Brands and Businesses
9:00 PM - 10:00 PM CDT
Led by bartender Zdenek Kastanek, this panel will provide a fascinating dive into how bars around the world are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. It will touch on everything from single-use plastics and bar waste to sustainability case studies of bars big and small with the help of industry leaders Kelsey Ramage, Chris Lowder, Matt Whiley and Tim Etherington-Judge.
Roundtable: Creating Pathways: Women in Spirits
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM CDT
Moderated by Nicola Riske, The Macallan European brand ambassador, this roundtable discussion brings together an incredible group of female industry leaders, from distillers and blenders to brand founders and ambassadors, to discuss their paths to success, the challenges they’ve faced throughout their careers and words of wisdom for future generations.
Re-envisioning Community: The Basics of Providing Mental and Emotional Support
10 AM - 11 AM CDT
In these unprecedented times, the importance of creating a community of support and understanding is more necessary than ever. This seminar from bartenders Jessica Pomerantz and Sabrina Kudic and Beam-Suntory whiskey ambassador Amanda Gunderson will provide industry professionals with basic education and tools for emotional and mental health support, so that they’re able to better help themselves, each other and their communities when it’s needed most.