The one event I knew I had to attend at Tales of the Cocktail, amid all the circus-like brand tastings and high-budget-circus-like brand parties, was the Dame Hall of Fame inductions. Tales was co-founded by Ann and Paul Tunnerman, and since the beginning, it seems there was a strong drive to celebrate the women in the cocktail biz. Which is absolutely appropriate, when you think about it. The craft cocktail scene is generally more meritocratic than the swinging-d*ck culture of, say, sports bars, or a push-up bra worshiping club scene. To be successful in craft, you need to be smart, fast, creative and hardworking; all gender neutral attributes.
The more women bartenders and brand reps I talk to, the more they are baffled by the idea that people would think their presence in their fields is anomalous. Frankly, as total badass and Big Bar director Cari Hah told me, “There are [a lot of] women in the industry.” I know this, the nerds know this, why don’t journalists seem to know this?
We did it. We made it to Sunday without blacking out, breaking up, or embracing a NOLA-induced existential crisis! Now as I take a moment for some long-awaited hotel-room-lazing, here are some reflections.
I interviewed some amazing humans. People with passion who are great at their jobs. Highlights:
Coconut water x4 for electrolytes, in theory, but really just because one likes it.
Bottled cold brew with Peruvian superfood maca
Melatonin, for use in the absence of cannabinoids, which even in liquid high-CBD medical form one is too sensible to try to fly into the South with
Energy bars to ward off hangry travel tantrums
Sandals for hot weather running around
Wad-able cardigan for conference rooms chilled to meat locker temps
Extra strength natural deodorant mini to carry around
Large “bite-and-suck” camelback bottle aka “the water boob” for constant hydration
Large granny purse for carrying cardigan and water boob
More than week’s worth of outfits for inevitable sweat-throughs
Agreement between partners, Tuan and Hope
Thankfully, I’m not in this alone. I’m here with my partner in life and in journalism, photographer Tuan Lee. He’s taking the photos and doing what he does best, spreading the word on his enthusiasms to everyone who will listen. It is dangerous, however, to travel with a loved one to a bacchanalia. No, not for nefarious reasons. Because nobody likes that drunk arguing at the bar. Here’s how we are going to keep the peace and our sanity.
Utilize spit buckets in all tasting rooms. Really.
Share sample cocktails at industry pairing events.
One-and-done policy at evening events. Soda water for lengthy networking.
No drinking in the hotel room.
Use hotel gym every morning even if feeling awful
No turning stress and liver fatigue into quarrels
Maintain a united front. If partner appears neglectful, it is because they are drowning. Go rescue them.
Stay away from bad influences, those industry lifers who appear to be operating just fine with a low-level hangover going 24 hours a day. These people will pressure one to over-imbibe with them, then be right back up and at ‘em while one is buried in bedclothes praying for the merciful hand of death the following morning.