The Story Behind Premier Cocktail Festival, Tales of the Cocktail

Tales of the Cocktail is committed to the growth of the cocktail industry through providing a week of seminars, tastings, networking events, and more, and is specifically designed for bartenders, mixologists, distillers, and other spirits professionals around the globe. This annual meeting place to share new techniques, products, and ideas seems like a huge endeavor — but how did it first stir up? In this episode of "On Foodable Weekly," we get the inside sip with co-founders Ann and Paul Tuennerman.

The concept began in 2002, but was originally a walking tour where a small gathering of cocktail lovers explored bars and restaurants across New Orleans.

"So, I started this walking tour to tell the story of all the famous drinks invented in New Orleans, all the famous spirits invented here...to take people behind the scenes who really didn't know or understand this information," Ann said.

In the days before Facebook and other social media platforms, Ann had to hit the phones and pavement. During its first year, she managed to got 10 top mixologists to share their insights and it has only evolved since then.

"There hasn't been a meeting place for folks from around the world — the most influential of the industry — to gather and share...best practices and what's on the forefront, and learn from one another, and really just get energized and continue that rolling innovation that's taking place now," Paul said.

But more than the seminars and exchange of knowledge, attendees are able to celebrate personal connections and find other professionals with the same passion, whether they are from Ghana, New Zealand, or in the United States. It's all about connecting, not networking. And this premier cocktail festival "makes it okay to be a bartender again," where like when a person says he or she is a chef, there is no follow-up question of "What else do you do?"

There are other events Tales of a Cocktail hosts each year — about 200 of them. There are walking tours in other cities and a membership program, but the most important element is education. 

"I think now our philosophy is as long as we're providing education, it really doesn't matter what form it's in," Ann said.

Watch the full episode to learn more!