Tales of the Cocktail brings thousands of people to New Orleans every July to learn about new happenings and trends in the cocktail industry. As the weather heats up, cocktails and spirits are flowing to beat the heat. I attended this year and am sharing my thoughts on everything from popular parties and seminars, to dinners trending in this industry. (View last year's standout trends here.)
Creating a Healthy Balance of Wellness
One trend was a focus on incorporating a healthy lifestyle and wellness into the industry. There were several different events that helped promote and support a healthy lifestyle. These events varied from massages to organized runs, which allowed attendees to create a healthy balance. Mezcal El Silencio sponsored the Suite Silencio, which served a healthy cocktail made from coconut water, mezcal, and honeydew. The suite also offered a serene place for event goers to relax and unwind with a massage. Novo Fogo, a cachaça brand, held their annual Novo Fogo Miles: A 5k Dash of Balance. The first five to finish the 5k received a $1,000 sponsorship from Novo Fogo to host an industry wellness event in their town.
Presence of Central America and South America Rum
Zacapa Rum from Guatemala sponsored several seminars and a spirited dinner at Tales. One of those seminars titled “Talk With a Pro: An Awesome Threesome” featured the Master Blender from Zacapa Rum, Lorena Vásquez. Lorena has spent her whole career making Zacapa Rum beautiful and perfectly balanced. I got the pleasure of meeting and talking to Lorena at the Zacapa Rum spirited dinner at the new Compére Lapin Restaurant. She has been able to keep tradition alive while putting her own stamp on the Zacapa Rum brand. The dinner included five courses paired with five cocktails, which represented notes found in Zacapa Rum. These included green, aging, maturation, floral, and sherry notes. My favorite course was the floral notes, which was a roasted sirloin, mushroom sugo, and foie gras. The beef was paired with the Liquid Bouquet Cocktail, which was Zacapa Rum 23, Promesa Moscatel, plum shrub, and rooibos tea aromatic.
Rum Diplomático from Venezuela hosted a “Dynamic Duo: Meet the Maestro With Diplomático Master Distiller Tito Cordero” at the French 75 bar. Tito, like Lorena, is the master blender for Rum Diplomático. This event gave attendees the chance to try Rum Diplomático both neat and in cocktails. Tito has been working with Diplomático since its creation and helped the distillery to be the first ISO 14001 certified in Venezuela for environmental initiatives. In 2014, Drinks International concluded that Rum Diplomático was the No. 1 trending rum in America’s hottest bars.
Amaro Beyond the Italian Tradition
Amaro is a traditional Italian herbal liqueur that has been showing up all over cocktail bars across the country. To bartenders, this is probably a product that has always been visible, but perhaps not so much for a consumer or home bartender. Being exposed to several brands at Tales was the perfect way to become more knowledgeable about the components and tasty cocktails it produces. Beyond that, Tales showcased regions beyond Italy that are producing Amaro. The Best New Spirit at the Spirited Awards was the new Amaro di Angostura, which comes from Trindad. Another Amaro that was featured was Balsam, which is a new American Amaro that is produced out of Chicago.
Tales of the Cocktail is an amazing event that brings people with the same passion together. Not only do you get to learn about new trends in the cocktail world, you get to discover and learn from others. The above three trends are just a few of the standouts from the event.